Thursday, 28 February 2008

The Press

I'd just like to know whose side they're on

The story so far:

In the days before [the London bus and subway bombings of] 7/7 [2005], when the BBC were still worrying about a post-9/11 backlash, someone had the idea of a programme depicting ordinary Muslims coping with other people's prejudices. Don't Panic, I'm Islamic, went out on 12th June 2005, to mixed reaction.  - Biased BBC
As it turns out, while making that program the BBC filmed some rather interesting people:
The missed opportunities in relation to the July 21 [2005] bombers can be disclosed today following the conviction of one of the most senior terrorist recruiters in Britain - a man who called himself “Osama bin London”.

Street preacher Mohammed Hamid - who once told young Muslims the 52 deaths in the July 7 attacks on London were "not even breakfast to me" - ... was found guilty of organising terrorist training camps and encouraging Muslims to murder non-believers at the end of a four-month trial at Woolwich Crown Court.
Perhaps the ultimate irony came courtesy of a BBC documentary called Don't Panic I'm Islamic broadcast in June 2005. Hamid was recruited from his stall on Oxford Street to represent the acceptable face of modern Islam.

He was filmed, along with co-accused Mohammed al-Figari and 14 other men at a paintball centre in Tonbridge, Kent... - The Telegraph
But wait, there's more:
Nasreen Suleaman, a researcher on the programme, told the court that Mr Hamid, 50, contacted her after the July 2005 attack and told her of his association with the bombers. But she said that she felt no obligation to contact the police with this information. Ms Suleaman said that she informed senior BBC managers but was not told to contact the police.
 - The Times

Questions, all: Who were the “senior managers?” Did they inform the police? And how does Ms. Suleaman’s conduct square with her obligations under the U.K.’s Terrorism Act 2000?

Now read on. (Here, too. And here.)

LATER:  More questions, from The Iconoclast, who fears a failure of nerve.

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 00:36:03 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Saturday, 23 February 2008

The Press

Just for the record, it's still happening

Same old same old at the Associated Press.

Reporter writes a story about an indicted congressman.  The indicted congressman's party is, ummm, implied.  In the 9th paragraph.  The same reporter writes a story about a different indicted congressman.  That indicted congressman's party is the first word of the story.  Guess which party gets which treatment?

BizzyBlog has it all, including this (priceless!) reader comment:

As a journalist, I was always instructed that, on first use, a member of Congress must be identified in a standardized way, i.e. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), John Boehner (R-Florida). If this practice were still followed, it wouldn’t matter whether the reporter ever mentioned party affiliation elsewhere.

Oh, and this guidance came from a quaint little book known as the AP Stylebook. I wonder if the AP still has copies around.

UPDATE 080223 21:16:  Swapped sentences in the 1st para to get the chronology right.

Via: Ace

Elsewhere:  The “Name That Party” category at Don Surber’s weblog


Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 20:45:50 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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The Press

A stealth McCain campaign?

Two items from this morning’s Instapundit:

The New York Times says John McCain received a major boost in fundraising and support thanks to another New York Times article about his alleged affair with a lobbyist. - Michael Totten
I'm related to the Swing Voter, aka my mother.  Her vote is an infallible indicator of who will win the general election.  We had dinner last night, and somewhat to my surprise, The Swing Voter is completely outraged by the New York Times story-- she vows to no longer take the Times, nay, not even for the Sunday crossword.  She is also now thinking seriously about voting for McCain just to spite the New York Times.
- Megan McArdle
Naw, The Pinch Gang couldn’t be that smart, could they?

(RELATED 080224 19:21:  Buzzmachine link added to last sentence.)

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 15:32:15 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Saturday, 09 February 2008

The Press


“This is the second time in a month we've caved to a political campaign, kowtowing under pressure for what were basically legitimate observations... We're not even pretending to be journalists anymore.” - MSNBC insider,” quoted at TV Newser
Advice for talking heads: Next time, call President Bush “a monkey” instead. It's safer.

Backstory here and here.

UPDATE 080211 19:04: (Via IP) The grovel continues. Reality trumps fiction, again.

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 20:27:21 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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Friday, 01 February 2008

The Press

"Public bias[ed] against the press"?

Poynter Institute scholar Roy Peter Clark reads the Sacred Heart study and then turns the situation on its head:

I hold journalists less responsible -- and the public more responsible -- for misperceptions of news media performance. In short, the last two decades have seen unprecedented attacks upon the legitimacy of the news media, so many messages from so many directions that they are as impossible to ignore as, say, the soft-core sexual images that pervade American culture.
(Cute analogy. Those awful critics... why, they're just like pornographers!)

Clark blames everyone- the “culture of entertainment and celebrity,” politicians (especially the Bush administration), the public (for “lump[ing] the news media (journalism!) with other forms of entertainment and professional gossip,” talk radio (with its agenda to “destroy the credibility of the mainstream press”), “partisan bloggers,” members of the “alienated technocracy” who dismiss “‘dead tree’ journalism,” television’s depiction of reporters as “slimeballs or part of the wolf pack[1],” even David Letterman, Jay Leno, and “The Daily Show”- everyone, that is, except the reporters, editors, and publishers who sold us on the idea of journalistic objectivity, and then failed to deliver.

And who polluted the news with “entertainment and celebrity”? Seems to me it was a newspaperman[2] who said, “what’s in the public interest isn’t necessarily what the public is interested in,” meaning the press had a duty to be sure that the dull, boring stuff got covered, even if nobody read it. Claiming to be giving the public what it wants is no defence. (After all, pornographers give the public what it wants, too.)

Even with shrinking resources, journalists have never been more responsible or better trained.
I would disagree on both points. First, too many journalists want to be pundits. They got into the business “to make a difference,” not to “report the news.” The new-journalism concept of “compelling narratives” too often results in advocacy, instead of reporting. And I’m not sure that the degree-requiring professionalization of the press has produced “better trained” reporters. “Better trained” at the mechanics of their trade, perhaps, but often astonishingly ignorant of history and the greater world.

Finally, Clark laments:
But nothing journalists do will reverse the dark tides of popular cynicism. The wrecking balls destroying the credibility of the press cannot be stopped until we focus more attention on the credibility of those who are pulling the levers, including a public that has been conditioned, like rats in a Skinnerian dystopia, to hate us.
So citizens are too dumb, too propagandized, and too conditioned to be able to rationally judge the press’ output. It’s not the press, it’s those evil lever-pullers!  We’re victims!

What arrogance! What chutzpah! What a shame.


Afterword: Poynter has a comments thread for Clark’s article. Unfortunately, you must register, even if you only want to read the existing comments. Talk about staying inside the walled garden. I wonder what Jeff Jarvis would think.

Via: McClatchy Watch
[1] Clark recalls
...the days when the alter-ego of Superman was crusading reporter Clark Kent, or when the heroes of Frank Capra movies were dashing reporters, the booze-swilling champions of the little guy.
He needs to watch some more movies: Like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (in which the evil publishers line up their newspapers and radio networks against a courageous senator), or The Return of the Thin Man (the sharpest reporter in the pressroom phones in his “on the spot” reports without getting off the couch).

[2] Google failed me here. Any readers recognize the quote?

Posted by: Old Grouch in The Press at 17:50:18 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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