Jul
01
2009

Infomercials Amok

Paid programming a win-win-lose for owners, marketers and the public

When critics talk about “saving journalism,” the image one gets is of ink-stained toilers bringing important truths into the light of public scrutiny. But this bears little relation to most people’s experience of news media. For one thing, most people get their news from TV, not generally the poster child for journalism worth saving. Certainly, television has brought us many fine news and public affairs programs. But if we are trying to assess the kind of job TV does informing the public, it seems silly not to acknowledge that informing the public is not mainly what it does. What it […]

Jul
01
2009

Building a Better Journalism

Media activists and scholars share their ideas

Extra! asked progressive media activists and scholars to share their ideas on how to make journalism's future better than its present; the following are some of the highlights. The one thing that we should do in the face of the erosion of commercial journalism is invest heavily in libraries. That means we should publicly support the human capital, technological tools, and collections of public, school and university libraries.The problem is not journalism per se. It's the health of the public sphere, of which quality journalism is a major part. So if we accept that the landscape we have grown accustomed […]

Jul
01
2009

Did Google Kill the Newspaper Star?

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/FindYourSearch

While the Internet in general is sometimes fingered as the newspaper industry’s problem, these days the search engine Google seems to get more attention, and vitriol, from corporate media. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (4/15/09) summed up the media industry’s complaint: Robert Thomson, the top editor of the Wall Street Journal, denounced websites like Google as “tapeworms.” His boss, Rupert Murdoch, said that big newspapers do not have to let Google “steal our copyrights.” The AP has threatened to take legal action against Google and others that use the work of news organizations without obtaining permission and sharing a […]

Jul
01
2009

SoundBites

Guessing the Views of Pro-Choice Advocates New York Times reporter Charlie Savage (5/28/09) reported on the “unease” some abortion rights advocates feel about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, because “when she has written opinions that touched tangentially on abortion disputes, she has reached outcomes in some cases that were favorable to abortion opponents.” Savage cited rulings in favor of the Bush administration’s reinstatement of the global gag rule, in favor of anti-abortion protesters being able to sue police for using excessive force and in favor of Chinese refugees seeking asylum because of China’s forced abortion policies. […]

Jul
01
2009

Proposed Cure: More of the Disease

Some voices in the corporate media have pushed for government intervention to relax ownership restrictions in order to allow for the creation of even bigger media conglomerates—which seems a bit like a hangover victim’s thirst for the hair of the dog that bit them. New York Times reporter Carr (5/9/09) confessed that while as a younger reporter he viewed media consolidation as “the dark overlords of the newspaper industry” meeting to “decid[e] how to set prices and the news agenda at the same time,” at this moment of crisis, “I’m hoping that meeting takes place. I’ll even buy the cigars.” […]

Jul
01
2009

Open-Source Journalism

New technologies bring citizens into the newsroom

On December 6, 2008, a 15-year-old in Athens was shot and killed by a police officer. The event sparked nationwide riots and protests, with news spreading rapidly through word of mouth and new media platforms like cell phones and Internet sites. Meanwhile, reported Andrew Lam at New America Media (12/16/08), some 500 media professionals were gathered in Athens for the Global Forum for Media Development, discussing the future of media. They saw traditional media playing a marginal role in coverage of the breaking news, as unorganized citizen journalists reported continuously from on the ground. Greek columnist and TV commentator Pavlos […]

Jul
01
2009

Who Pays for Journalism in the Post-Print Era?

Crumbling corporate finance and the future of news

OWS first amendment savetheinternet

Newspapers are faltering. Their traditional economic base is continually being eroded by the Internet, and this trend will only increase with time. The lot of print newspapers is unlikely to improve, and the sooner journalists and those who care about the press accept this foregone conclusion, the better. Because there is a critical question confronting journalism: When the publishing giants fall, who will pay the reporters? Text-based journalism needs a new business model, one that supports public interest stories and maintains financial stability, without relying overwhelmingly on large-scale corporate advertising contracts. As recently noted by Nation columnist Eric Alterman (5/11/09): […]

Jul
01
2009

Before We 'Save' Journalism

The future of news reporting shouldn't reproduce its past

Time: How to Save Your Newspaper

One thing to keep in mind while worrying about the future of journalism is that its past hasn’t been all that great either. Journalism ought to be judged not on the profits it makes for stockholders but on the service it provides to democracy. By that measure, the reporting profession has been falling down on the job: Leading us into an aggressive war with evidence based on lies (FAIR Media Advisory, 3/19/07), overlooking an asset bubble whose predictable deflation devastated our economy (Extra!, 11-12/08), failing to raise alarms about the erosion of key civil liberties (Extra!, 5-6/08). And it’s not […]