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So, the Des Moines Register has issued its endorsements. Big deal. But there is this nugget of self-promotion in the article:

In 2004, the newspaper’s endorsement of John Edwards coincided with his dramatic surge in the state. Edwards, then a North Carolina senator, moved from single digits in an Iowa poll taken in November 2003 to a second-place finish in the state’s 2004 January caucuses.
This year? Clinton, she might get a bump because a few of the few Democrats in Iowa who actually read the Des Moines Register might think that the Register editorial staff is informed enough to help them make a decision. But it won't dent Obama's 9% jump on Hillary.

And no Republican voter looks to the Des Moines Register for advice on voting. The editors at the Register don't get Republicans. Which is why they backed McCain.


Tags: politics | media
by Brett Rogers, 12/15/2007 10:40:54 PM


Sunlight - of a Different Kind


You've probably heard before that any publicity is good publicity. It's face time. It's exposure. You're now famous and important.

Tom Friedman has an article in NYT that suggests a quarterly Hatemongers list. His reasoning is that these hatemongers will then be exposed and scurry away like cockroaches.

The hate spreaders assume that they are talking only to their own, in their own language, and can get away with murder. When their words are spotlighted, they often feel pressure to retract, defend or explain them.
I get his reasoning, but I don't agree.

People go on Jerry Springer knowing that they will be ambushed and shamed and encouraged to expose themselves and their private life to the world, but they do it anyway. And that's just for the thrill of being momentarily famous.

The hatemongers among us believe what they believe to their core. If confronted, many of them will not back down, but see it as a test of their beliefs. Theo Van Gogh's killer recently expressed no remorse and insisted that he did the right thing. This he did under the spotlight of the world. But he didn't flinch. He didn't retract, defend, or explain away his actions. He had no remorse and instead said this:

"If I ever get free, I would do it again."
I think Friedman is a thoughtful guy, but he doesn't understand the enemy. The last thing we should do is give them publicity. A responsible media would give no time whatsoever to the killers in our midst. By doing so, it only emboldens others to copycat their acts, or makes others believe that their hatred is legitimate because it is shared.

It feels like Friedman wants something effective like America's Most Wanted. Only there is no jail at the end of the line for the hatemongers given facetime. Only massive media exposure. And with the right audience, any publicity for them would be good publicity. Which would be bad for the rest of us.


Tags: terrorism | media
by Brett Rogers, 7/22/2005 12:49:39 PM


Very Cool


Good for the USA Today, putting front and center the good news of re-enlistment figures.


Tags: media
by Brett Rogers, 7/18/2005 8:28:40 AM

The Bad News about the Good News


I came home from work today to take a break. I started messing with my watercolors and decided to multi-task a bit. If you've read this site lately, you know that I'm discontent with the amount of bad news that is always reported. How about some good news?

Last fall, in studying how the press reported on Kerry and on Bush, I did what I felt was as unbiased a study as I could possibly do. I built me a little engine that can harness the 500 most recent stories on Google News that mentioned Bush and Kerry in the same story. By doing such a thing, you see the same story several times because the AP or UPI feed is repeated by different news outlets. Therefore, the more outlets that carried the story, the bigger the footprint and the more well-known the story would be. My engine would show me a headline and the number of outlets that carried it.

What I found was that pro-Kerry/anti-Bush stories reached a much wider audience than pro-Bush/anti-Kerry stories.

I don't say that today to philosophize or sermonize; I say that as a means of background.

So in my effort to find "good news" stories, I remodeled my engine and let it rip. I did a search for the top 500 stories that had the phrase "good news" in them. Of those 500, only 2 stories are getting reported in 5 or more media outlets. (The column on the left is the headline and the column on the right is the number of outlets that carried that headline.)

GoogleNews Keywords: "good news"
Baseball Canada settles on Ernie Whitt as manager for World ...8
Marquez back for shaken Mexico6

Only two - and they're both sports stories. The rest of the 486 results for "good news" are more or less isolated and not widely covered. No truly big footprint for good news stories.

On a whim, I decided to see how "bad news" would fare...

GoogleNews Keywords: "bad news"
A Tech Trio's Hard Cell42
US confirms mad cow case; animal believed to have been born here12
Baseball Canada settles on Ernie Whitt as manager for World ...8
Narrative a cure to media's "AIDS fatigue"6
Yen Weakens; Record Oil Price May Hamper Japanese Recovery6
Hospital’s smoking ban shows a worrying lack of human kindness6

Much better. Bigger footprint. Obviously, bad news is more popular. (I also find it funny that Ernie Whitt's appointment by Baseball Canada shows up in both good news and bad.)

But I am determined. I'll tweak this little project when I'm done with the project at work.


1 Comment
Tags: media | politics
by Brett Rogers, 6/25/2005 4:23:07 PM

The Meaning of


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Via RedState, the campaign finance reformers have said this in their brief to the FEC regarding the regulation of blogs:

Finally, we do not believe anyone described as a "blogger" is by definition entitled to the benefit of the press exemption. An individual writing material for distribution on the Internet may or may not be a press entity. While some bloggers may provide a function very similar to more classic media activities, and thus could reasonably be said to fall within the exemption, others surely do not . The test here should be the same test that the Commission has applied in other contexts - is the entity a "press entity" and is it acting in its "legitimate press function"?
I'm no lawyer, but I can sure as hell read. The first amendment is quite clear that Congress cannot make a law that curtails what I say or what I print. The "press" is not an entity, but a facility. To suggest that the "press" is an entity would require some agency to give an official blessing and decree writing as protected.

Where do we live, China?? What "American" actually wrote that authoritarian paragraph for the reformers?"

Read that amendment again. It limits government, not the people. Wow... I'll go to the mat on this one.


Tags: free speech | media | government | politics
by Brett Rogers, 6/3/2005 3:32:40 PM

Dumb Reporting


I don't get this...

Senior Al Qaeda Leader's Notebook Seized - Al-Libbi's Notebook Believed to Contain Valuable Contact Information, Source Says
What public good can come from letting everyone know that Al Qaeda should relocate and get new cell phones, now that we know their contact information?


Tags: media
by Brett Rogers, 5/7/2005 10:17:33 AM

Print is Not Dead - Just the Content Is


Hugh Hewitt has a great note on the decline of print media.

"'Print is dead,' Sports Illustrated President John Squires told a room full of newspaper and magazine circulation executives at a conference in Toronto in November."
Which is silly. I like print. I can't imagine my life without my subscription to Wired magazine, which my kids also read avidly.

But I would never consider a subscription to the local newspaper.

The reason for declining readership at newspapers and magazines is not what they imagine.

Under sustained assault from cable television, the Internet, all-news radio and lifestyles so cram-packed they leave little time for the daily paper, the industry is struggling to remake itself.

Papers are conducting exhaustive surveys to find out what readers want. They are launching new sections, beefing up Web sites and spinning off free community papers and commuter giveaways in hopes of widening their audience.

It's not the competition. I still have to visit the library once a day and need reading material for my 5 or 10 minute excursion. A newspaper would be ideal for this.

But no, it has nothing to do with competition. It has to do with lousy, lop-sided, biased, negative content. There is nothing provocative in the newspaper any more. It's predictable. The editors will always choose the Democrat running for office and denounce Iraq as an abject failure. If it bleeds, it leads. Even the cartoonist is never a surprise.

In today's fast news cycle, where I generally know the headlines the day before they appear in print, analysis and alternative points of view would make print valuable. Give me information from multiple points of view and let me form my own opinion. But it ain't gonna happen. The Des Moines Register and its AP newsfeed can't help but lean left, which only sends it circling toward nowhere productive.

Therein lies newspaper's mortality... but it's not because it's "print."


Tags: media
by Brett Rogers, 2/20/2005 7:50:59 PM

The Purveyors of News


Yesterday afternoon, I picked up my younger sons from school and brought them to my place. I had the radio on. I typically don't listen to music while driving, but rather talk/news radio. The news feed at the top of the hour came on and went something like this:

Michael Jackson has flu-like symptoms and is in the hospital. A fan, holding vigil for Jackson at the hospital, fainted... A fifteen-year-old boy is found guilty for shooting his grandparents... and so on...
These were the most important stories of the day for ABC to tell us. Nothing else in the world had more consequence to our lives than these stories, according to the editors and chiefs at ABC News.

And we're supposed to trust the news judgment of these people.

What drives the selection of the stories? Public interest? Best guess? Polls? Advertisers' choice?

It was once the case that DJ's made the choice of music that filled our day because it was all that was available. Then the Sony Walkman came along and that was the end of the power of the DJ. Anyone could be a DJ and make their own playlist. The iPod embodies that power today.

I wonder what the transport mechanism will be user-driven news selection. It's not here yet, but it's coming. I suppose when that day arrives there will be a lot of fretting about how consumers just pick the news that they want to hear. They'll miss the important and confrontational news of the day that they need to hear.

Such as a fan fainting because Michael Jackson has the flu. Oh - wait. Breaking news. We've learned that Michael is expected to make a full recovery.


Tags: media
by Brett Rogers, 2/16/2005 5:17:26 AM