Journalism by–and for–the Sponsors


The headline of a recent article posted at the website of the Atlantic–“David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year”–probably tipped readers that something was more than a little off. It wasn’t an article, really; above the headline, in a yellow box, was the phrase “Sponsor Content.” But is what the Atlantic did–and quickly apologized for–really unusual?


Are Apple and Publishers Helping Readers by Ripping Them Off?

Apple iPad (cc photo: Tom Raftery)

The Justice Department alleges that Apple‘s collusion with book publishers to fix ebook prices has cost readers $100 million. So why are so many news reports on the anti-trust suit suggesting that the Apple/publisher alliance is actually good for consumers? The New York Times‘ David Streitfeld (4/12/12) warns: Amazon, which already controls about 60 percent of the ebook market, can take a loss on every book it sells to gain market share for its Kindle devices. When it has enough competitive advantage, it can dictate its own terms, something publishers say is beginning to happen. Likewise CNN‘s Doug Gross (4/11/12): […]


Tea Party Rally? Alert the Liberal Media!

I was struck by how much coverage yesterday’srather small-looking Tea Party rally in Washington got in the national media. Slate‘s Dave Weigel has a piece(3/31/11) explaining that the event wasn’t as “extreme asDemocrats would like it to be,” as the subhead says. But the movement’salso not nearly as popular as the media coverage would lead you to believe. As Weigel notes, this rally was rather sparsely attended–especially if you weren’t counting reporters: About 200 Tea Party activists trod over damp grass to hear their leaders respond to [House Speaker John] Boehner. There was at least one reporter for every three […]


Sherrod Hoax Exposed, but Breitbart’s ACORN Fraud Lives On

Reporting on Andrew Breitbart’s latest bit of deceit–using a selectively edited video to paint a low-level USDA official Shirley Sherrod as a racist–has given the media a chance to resurrect one of their favorite myths: Breitbart’s triumphant takedown of the community-organizing group ACORN. In September 2009, Breitbart’s website BigGovernment.com posted videos, made by conservative activists Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe, supposedly showing ACORN employees counseling the pair–ostensibly pretending to be a prostitute and a pimp–on how to avoid paying taxes and other illegal activities. The videos were later found to be completely misleading. Among other things, it was revealed that […]


Cokie Roberts: Bad Beyond Sports Analogies

Slate‘s Jack Shafer (5/1/09) has had his fill of NPR senior news analyst Cokie Roberts’ “four minutes of on-air blather about politics, the economy and world events with whichever unlucky Morning Edition host has drawn the short straw” on Mondays. Shafer writes of how, “drained of controversy and conflict, the Cokie minutes provide perfect editorial balance if your idea of balance is zero”: I can think of no comparably sized media space that’s as void of original insight and information as Roberts’. Her segments, though billed as “analysis” by NPR, do little but speed-graze the headlines and add a few […]