Cosign With Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen

This:

Editing by click rate is stupid and unethical. Chasing traffic is an abyss. The hamsterization of journalism is degrading the work environment for news professionals. Expecting reporters to report, write, blog, tweet, shoot video, sift the web, raise their metabolism, and produce more without time and training is guaranteed to fail. Trading in print dollars for digital dimes has been an economic disaster for newsrooms that ran on those dollars. Online advertising will never replace what was lost. The editorial staff is the engine that makes the whole thing go. You cannot cut your way to the future. The term “content” is a barbarism that bit by bit devalues what journalists do. Pure aggregation is parasitic on original reporting. Untended, online comment sections have become sewers, protectorates for the deranged, depraved and deluded. That we have fewer eyes on power, fewer journalists at the statehouse or city hall watching what goes on, almost guarantees that there will be more corruption. Bloggers and citizen journalists cannot fill the gap. Experienced beat reporters are the community’s institutional memory. Everyone needs an editor. It’s absurd to claim that “anyone” can be a journalist if we mean by that someone who knows how to find the right sources and ask the right questions, dig for information, counter the spin, produce a fair, accurate and unflinching account without libeling anybody– and do it all on deadline.

Also (and especially) this:

A journalist is just a heightened case of an informed citizen, not a special class.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Johann Hari Vs. Johann Hari On The Ethics Of Making Sh!t Up

by matttbastard

Johann Hari, September 2011:

“If I had asked the many experienced colleagues I have here at The Independent… they would have explained just how wrong I was. It was arrogant and stupid of me not to ask.”

Indeed it was — or was it…?

Johann Hari, June 2011:

“I called round…other interviewers for British newspapers and they said what I did was normal practice and they had done it themselves.”

Either way, at the end of the day the purple-prosed, narcissistic little shit-stain gets to keep his plum position as UK journamalism’s favourite idiot-savant fabulist, despite having brazenly made shit up (including at least one viciously libellous Wikipedia sockpuppet) — and all he had to do to save his bacon was give back his undeserved Orwell Prize and pen an intellectually insulting J’accuse in lieu of a proper apology (actual sincerity would have required a modicum of shame/regret on Hari’s part — IOW, don’t hold yer breath, cupcake). 

Nice work if you can get it.

In other news, Ben DomenechJayson Blair, and Stephen Glass are reportedly emigrating to Mother London en masse, caps & (HIGHLY CREATIVE) CVs in hand (low hanging fruit, yes, but sometimes it pays to slake one’s hunger for snark with some easy pickings).

h/t The Media Blog

Obligatory WFT McChrystal?! Post

by matttbastard

Cole drops an Apocalypse Now reference, while The Artist Formerly Known as Tacitus thinks shitcanning is imperative if the republic is to survive the impact of McChrystal’s insta-infamous still-unpublished Rolling Stone interview [h/t Ben Smith].

Perhaps.

Laura Rozen usually has sound instincts and excellent sources:

One early thought: does [McChrystal] want to get fired for insubordination before his strategy is shown to fail?

But I also think Ed Morrissey might be illustrating ye olde canard about stopped clocks with this apt (if cynical) observation:

 [T]o paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, Obama may prefer to keep McChrystal in the tent even if he’s pissing out, rather than outside the tent pissing into it.  Once relieved of his command, McChrystal may have a lot more to say about the Obama administration than what will appear in Rolling Stone this month.

The good general is now walking backwards at quite the furious pace for someone supposedly trying to commit career seppuko. Plus, as Spackerman notes, thanks to the swift and overwhelmingly negative fallout from his comments, the White House may believe that “a chastened McChrystal isn’t going to say anything else outside of his lane to any reporter.”  We’ll have to see if the groveling, coupled with pragmatic political considerations, gives McChrystal a last-minute reprieve as he walks the Green Mile.

Last word, via the 140:

McChrystal oversaw prisoner abuse and Pat Tillman cover-up, but let’s get mad at him for a rude interview. [links added]

Touche.

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Canadian Libel Reform, Meet Economic Reality

by matttbastard

So, you think that recent SCOC ruling will help fight the chilling effects of Canada’s draconian libel laws? Think again, says Ryerson journ prof Jeffrey Dvorkin:

While editors are hailing the ruling as a breakthrough for more aggressive journalism, it also makes it clear that these days, news organizations may be less able than ever to deliver on these expectations.

That’s because as layoffs continue at news organizations and as newsrooms are pared down to the editorial bone, the ability of news organizations to engage in deep, contextual investigative journalism is far from what it once was, or what it should be.

News organizations almost everywhere are dropping their investigative units as too expensive, too time-consuming and far too unable to deliver the requisite audience numbers. Instead, investigative reporting is being contracted out in the U.S. and other countries to “stand-alone” not-for-profits such as ProPublica, Global Post, and the Center for Public Integrity, among others. In Canada, we don’t even have that option.

[...]

My guess is that media law departments are now advising chief editors to restrain their journalists from doing more aggressive reporting unless they can prove that every effort (including a demonstrable commitment to editorial resources) has been made to get all sides of the story. It’s that commitment to shoe-leather reporting that is among the first things to be dropped in a downsizing news organization.

Dvorkin also addresses a matter that Jeff Jedras brought up the other day, the perceived lack of “professionalism” among us foul-mouthed Cheeto-eaters, and may finally have come up with a viable solution on how to effectively net-nanny teh ornery tubes:

The ruling addresses the issue of ethics, standards and practices among bloggers – those independent reporters and opinion-mongers whose power and influence are growing just as legacy media’s reach and heft are diminishing. The ruling brings the blogosphere under the same right, responsibilities and obligations as the mainstream media.

[...]

The challenge for the online community is to create a set of ethical standards that will give bloggers the same credibility with the public as valid as those espoused by the mainstream media. In effect, bloggers need an ombudsman.

Indeed. A ‘blogbudsman’, if you will. I nominate Canadian Cynic.

What?

h/t Bill Doskoch

Update 12/29: Via the wonders of Twitter, Jay Rosen points to a 2008 post of his regarding the seemingly endless handwringing from legacy media types re: blogger ethics:

If “ethics” are the codification in rules of the practices that lead to trust on the platform where the users actually are—which is how I think of them—then journalists have their ethics and bloggers have theirs.

  • They correct themselves early, easily and often.
  • They don’t claim neutrality but they do practice transparency.
  • They aren’t remote, they habitually converse.
  • They give you their site, but also other sites as a proper frame of reference. (As with the blogroll.)
  • When they grab on to something they don’t let go; they “track” it.

In all these ways, good bloggers build up trust with a base of users online. And over time, the practices that lead to trust on the platform where the users actually are… these become their ethic, their rules.

Those in journalism who want to bring ethics to blogging ought to start with why people trust (some) bloggers, not with an ethics template made for a prior platform that operated as a closed system in a one-to-many world.

That’s why I say: if bloggers had no ethics, blogging would have failed. Of course it didn’t. Now you have a clue.

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Hey, WaPo — Peeing On the Floor = Wingnut SOP

by matttbastard

Jesse Taylor explains why, contra aimai, the latest example of desperate hand wringing on the part of the traditional media over the scourge that is online incivility (fetch forth teh fainting couch!) misses the mark by honing in on the trees, rather than the forest:

I understand that us bloggers use cursewords and invective and sometimes call reporters mud-flinging slapfucks (or we do now!), but the entire point of the conservative anger is that it allows them to push forward complete and total lies and yell down anyone who debates against them.

[...]

The reason conservatives are so able to build up lies is because, by being nasty about it, they know that the dreaded MSM will only focus on the nastiness.  Eventually, the entire thing turns into a series of op-eds by Davids Broder and Brooks excoriating both sides for lowering the discourse, asking where President Obama’s promise of postpartisanship went, and then endorsing the three elected Republican officials who haven’t accused Obama of flouridating our children’s water supply as a method of mind control as the new centrist way forward.

Precisely. I could give a flying rainbow butt monkey fuck about how ZOMG RUDE!11 wingnuts are; it’s the fucking lying, stupid. Alas, judging by the continued preponderance of lazy ‘he said, she said’ stenography, too many in the press apparently consider it far more important to fret about the term ‘bullshit’ than to, y’know, call it.

Priorities. They can totally has them.

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Don’t call it a comeback (well, OK, if you must…)

by matttbastard

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna put forth a sorry Nikki Finke-style excuse for my lack of productivity this summer. All responsibility for low creative yield is entirely mine and mine alone (FYI, the dog ate my motivation). Ok, so Twitter shares at least part of the blame — though if you follow me there (and if you don’t, well, why the hell not??) you’ll see that I’ve merely shifted platforms when it comes to deliverin’ teh linky goodness, snarky invective and one-line squibs.

Still, for the past 3 (!) years, this site has been my primary base of operations. And though I’ve begun to focus more on feature writing (for cash — hell, at this point, will write for potato chips and soda pop, though booze is preferred) the blog format — this parasitic, freewheeling burst medium that still gets little-to-no respect from more formalistic practioners of the journalistic arts — is my first love.

And, damn it all, I miss it.

Therefore, in the coming weeks, yours truly will be returning to regular daily (yes, daily) blogging, both here at bastard.logic and my other haunt, Comments From Left Field. Am sure some of you are pleased by this bit of news, others gravely disappointed — while the vast majority are, in all likelihood, entirely indifferent. It is this last group with whom I intend to make the biggest impact; would rather that you love — or loathe — me than not give a toss.

Anyway, forgive the brief foray into self-indulgence; on with the show.

PS: Buy a t-shirt — help support Canada’s left-wing fringe (ie, women — buh?!)

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What If They Threw a War and Nobody Came?

by matttbastard

It appears John Cruickshank has dumped Kathy English as his designated useful idiot in The Toronto Star’s ongoing asymmetrical (and largely one-sided) proxy tussle with the intertoobs. This time the projectile has been launched by the normally not-failtastic columnist David Olive, who, in a fit of self-satisfied pique, has convinced himself that the blogosphere has finally and decidedly been overtaken by the “MSM” (See? He’s totally down with our kooky lingo!) in what Olive describes as a “war” between New and Old Media. All because “bloggers” *gasp* like to get paid.

Or something.

His examples, though, make one wonder if Olive actually reads a broad cross-section of blogs (political, music, pop-cult, etc), or merely browses a tiny cross-section of select Old Media exiles who have, at some point or another, utilized the medium, usually as part of a pre-existing business relationship with traditional print venues:

There was always a tendency for bloggers to save their best stuff for the MSM.
For instance, when it came time for a Rush Limbaugh takedown, David Frum penned a cover story last March for Newsweek. But now, even the pretence of independence is going by the wayside. Andrew Sullivan has moved his one-man blog to The Atlantic. Fellow former independent bloggers Andrew Coyne and Eric Alterman (Altercation) now blog for Maclean’s and The Nation, respectively.

Let’s see: Andrew Sullivan (former editor of The New Republic, longtime Times of London columnist); Andrew Coyne (longtime National Post columnist, mainstay of The National’s At Issue panel, and now Macleans national editor, not merely a ‘blogger’); David Frum (former Bush 43 speechwriter, columnist for Sun Media & formerly The National Review, author of numerous books); and Eric Alterman (OG Bearded Librul, longtime Nation columnist, also an author of numerous books and someone who, AFAIK, has, um, always been a paid blogger, going back to the early days of Altercation when it was hosted by MSNBC.com).

Not exactly what I’d call a representative selection of insurgent hostility to mainstream conventional wisdom.

If Olive REALLY wanted to make his point, he could have mentioned recent Old Media wagon-hitchings on the part of Ezra Klein and Ross Douthat. Of course, both Klein and Douthat sold out ages ago (to The American Prospect and The Atlantic, respectively). See, despite the “us” vs. “them” narrative Olive has constructed, us “independent” online opinionators have been reaching for the brass ring of mainstream acceptance (and monetization) since before there was a cool catchphrase to describe the world of “Internet diarists” (Hello? ‘Big Media Matt’?) But, of course, one would have to actually be a regular consumer of blogs to actually be aware of this; wading into the fever swamp of online discourse is clearly below Olive’s paygrade.

Plus, the fact that Olive also neglects to mention recent defections from old media to those online venues Olive sniffily dismisses as mere ‘aggregator’ sites (eg, Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Washington Post and now Washington Bureau Chief of The Huffington Post) is a pretty telling omission. But, hey, no need to hightlight that inconvenient fact, nor the extensive original reporting done by purportedly parasitic (sigh) venues like Talking Points Memo or HuffPo. Because Nico Pitney is such a dick.

Or something.

That few if any ‘independent’ political bloggers (other than some of the brighter lights of the far-right wingnutosphere) are under the delusion that a few scrappy Cheeto-eaters in sweatpants are going to eventually topple the mighty Fourth Estate with WordPress accounts and collective chutzpah is apparently irrelevant. You see, Olive has to fill 800 words for his Sunday column, and if he has to construct the mother of all straw-man arguments to do so, well, so be it.

Look, I’m sure SOME bloggers do see their relationship with Old Media as antagonistic, rather than symbiotic. I’m also sure SOME columnists will never allow the overwhelming burden of unbelievable ignorance to prevent them from offering an opinion — especially one that conveniently dovetails with the biases of his or her boss.

Hey, we all gotta eat.

Update: Wow, that was fast — haven’t seen someone backpedal this quickly since Sebelius threw the public option under the bus.

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