I'm in a private Slack with some other media/journalist people, and someone brought up the idea of pay transparency. After all: if you don't know what your colleagues are being paid, it's hard to negotiate for a fair rate. We're all conditioned to believe that our financials should be private, but as far as salaries are concerned, that secrecy only ever tends to work in favor of your employer.
So this particular someone made a Google Form and a corresponding spreadsheet where journalists and other media professionals could anonymously add their salary information. And in barely 24 hours, it's spread to CJR and Bloomberg and even inspired Mike Cernovich to go off on some completely unsubstantiated rant to set off his army of loyal trolls because apparently all journalists are scum and also trustfund babies even though there isn't any proof of that (and I can personally assure you that my personal information is on that list and that my public school teacher mom and print salesman dad are not rolling in the dough).
As of this writing, more than 200 people have responded. On one hand, it is admittedly difficult to verify the claims contained within the data. On the other hand, there's still lots of eye-opening information to glean. Unsurprisingly, there are pay disparities across race and gender; but the same thing happens across geographic location, and work experience. Perhaps the most shocking revelation so far is just the absurd range of income of people working in news media. Read the rest
The Board of County Commissioners in Citrus County, Florida opposed the renewal of the regional public library's digital subscription to the New York Times. Why? "Fake news," said the board's second vice chairman Scott Carnahan. "“I agree with President Trump. I will not be voting for this. I don’t want The New York Times in this county.” From Reuters:
Carnahan was joined by Commissioners Ronald Kitchen, who balked at the annual cost of about $2,700, and Jimmie Smith, who wondered, “why the heck would we spend money on something like that?”
Reading the room, First Vice Chairman Brian Coleman withdrew the motion he made to approve the funding request...
The (Citrus County) Chronicle, noting that the decision would affect some 70,000 library card holders, reported that its readers “reacted strongly” to the commissioners’ decision, with “most but not all” critical of it.
The county already pays about $3,000 a year to supply its four regional libraries with the print edition of The Times, Library Services Director Eric Head told the newspaper.
Graphic above borrowed from this fantastic t-shirt.
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Cops in Warrnambool, Australia, broke Chris Karadaglis' neck when they arrested him. But The Age reports this as "man's neck breaks during arrest" because they're afraid of identifying the breakers, even in an article that's supposedly about their failings.
Barrett told The Age that while he can’t talk about the specifics of the ongoing investigation into Chris’s arrest, he immediately concedes what in the past may have been shrouded in police speak: no innocent Victorian should be so seriously injured after an interaction with police.
Barrett describes Chris’s interaction with the three uniformed officers as a ‘‘life-changing experience, devastating for the family of that individual.’’
"Precisely what police did to cause his injury that November day two years ago has been blurred in a sea of pain and terror," write Nick McKenzie and Grace Tobin, whose story remedies this lack of clarity by suggesting Karadaglis' neck broke itself.
It's interesting they mention "police speak" because that's what the headline is. I covered cops for a while as a young reporter and this is the language of arrest and incident reports. Cops are trained not to describe themselves in the active voice, which makes them appear responsible for their actions. Instead they are mere observers, there when things did happen. The gun did fire. The bullet did enter the suspect's body. The suspect did die at that time.
This example is particularly grim because The Age's story is supposed to be a heartfelt investigation into the victim's plight and police misconduct—one subverted from the outset with that mangled, servile headline. Read the rest
Kate Storey reports on the rise and fall of Gawker 2.0, this week's essential reading for new-media navelgazers. After the smoking remains of the site were auctioned off, the new owner (Bryan Goldberg, a frequent target of the original Gawker) had a plan to revive the site and its aggressive model of journalism. But two years on, the latest post is still founder Nick Denton's 2016 signoff. What went wrong?
A year after he bought it, hired a pricey staff of media veterans, and announced big plans, Goldberg and Bustle Digital Group abruptly shut it down. Or, to be more precise, decided not to get it going again in the first place.
The master plan of Bryan Goldberg, potential media mogul, was becoming increasingly difficult to decipher. But a close examination of what, exactly, happened at the new almost-Gawker reveals a great deal about a man who appears to know what he wants but isn’t exactly sure how to get it.
Here's the new owner's cousin, also a subject of hostile Gawker reportage:
“It was pretty satisfying to see [Gawker] destroyed by Peter Thiel,” Lodwick told me this spring. “My favorite thing about how the Gawker story ended for us was we got to own it. It wasn't even a big deal for Bryan; he just bought the brand for, relatively speaking, pocket change at an auction. It was kinda like Gawker was destroyed by the world, and then we got to have this little victory lap at the end.”
Uh Oh. Read the rest
The New York Times reported today that a video mashup depicting Trump slaughtering a church packed with his "fake news" enemies, from Barack Obama to the BBC, was shown last week to supporters at one of his Miami resorts. This 1000-view video is surely it. It's found by fixing the perspective on the oblique screengrab shown by the Times and then reverse image searching it. The Times didn't include the video in its reportage, as far as I could tell, but it did mention that it was significantly derived from something posted on YouTube.
The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. ... The disclosure that the video was played shows how Mr. Trump’s anti-media language has influenced his supporters and bled into their own propaganda. Mr. Trump has made attacks on the news media a mainstay of his presidency, and he tweeted a similar — but far less violent video — in 2017. In recent weeks as he has confronted impeachment proceedings, he has ramped up his attacks on the news media, repeatedly calling it the “enemy of the people.”
It's evidently a scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service with Trump's head (among others) crudely superimposed on characters from the film. Read the rest
Sure has been one heck of a news week. And it ain't over yet. Read the rest
After 23 years at Fox News, its chief news anchor Shep Smith is off to pastures new.
"Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter," Smith said. "After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged. The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many. It’s been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor. I’ve worked with the most talented, dedicated and focused professionals I know and I’m proud to have anchored their work each day — I will deeply miss them.”
His contract was reportedly renewed only last year. Rumor is that he was told to stop being critical of all the pro-Trump rhetoric on the channel and abruptly quit rather than eat it.
His instant departure comes hours after
Secretary of State Attorney General William Barr met privately with Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, presumably to discuss wavering support for President Donald Trump among the channel's on-air personalities. Read the rest
Splinter was the news site at G/O Media (the successor to Gawker Media), housing left-leaning current affairs commentary and anchoring the groups' more advertiser-friendly tech, game and sports "verticals". The new owners have already demonstrated some unexpectedly poor judgment, and now they're shuttering Splinter and ordering other editors there not to write about it.
In an email to staffers obtained by HuffPost, Paul Maidment, the media group’s editorial director, instructed editors not to publish posts about Splinter’s demise.
“I see no compelling reason for any of our sites to be writing about the decision to cease publishing Splinter,” Maidment wrote. “There is already external coverage, LeadPR will handle our external communications, and this is a time to be respectful of colleagues who have just received difficult news and for whom we will be trying to find new positions.”
He went on to issue a warning: “Any reference to Splinter in anything we publish needs my prior approval, as per our editorial policy. Please make sure all your staff are aware of that. You will be accountable if anything not approved by me gets published.”
This is how you run a McDonalds franchise. The managerial talk here sounds alien to most journalists and like nails on a chalkboard to Gawker writers, whose "unsparing self-coverage" is merciless and traditional.
The new CEO, Jim Spanfeller, formerly was at Forbes and Playboy, prestigious media brands that have faded in recent years: Forbes began publishing anything pumped into its database by unpaid bloggers and Playboy has fewer readers than we do. Read the rest
Assuming facts not in evidence is a time-honored courtroom objection, and one which could be stamped on almost every page of this week’s tawdry tabloids.
As AOL's anime-haired "Digital Prophet", David Shing was often portrayed as a blatant poser, a voltron of web 2.0 buzzwords with a tellingly quiet social media following. But he was also a marketing director there. The excesses of the "Shingy" persona, with its silly TED talks and news appearances, dressed up a "fairly standard job" of running interference with advertisers.
New York Magazine:
Did the idea that anything you do can be taken out of context freak you out? Did you start second-guessing yourself?
I definitely was cautious about it because when you get trolled several times, you’re kind of like, “I’m good. I’ll just put my head down and keep working and doing the work I need to do,” which is not to be invisible.
Hundreds of meetings a year. I especially appreciate that "Digital Prophet" intentionally mocked the anodyne creepiness of the term Google and Facebook were using for the equivalent role—"Evangelist"—and feel rather like I should have noticed that at the time. He's absolutely a corporate talker of the marketing tribe, but what he was saying on stage (or to New Yorker profilers) was not what he was saying behind closed doors.
What does Verizon get out of [AOL]?
Incredible ad tech
He has a 2-year-old and the 2-year-old is "screen-free." Read the rest
In a blog post, Facebook executive Nick Clegg announced that Facebook will exempt politicians from rules that prohibit users from posting hate speech, encouraging criminal activity, inciting violence and, of course, posting fake news.
Facebook has had a newsworthiness exemption since 2016. This means that if someone makes a statement or shares a post which breaks our community standards we will still allow it on our platform if we believe the public interest in seeing it outweighs the risk of harm. Today, I announced that from now on we will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard. However, in keeping with the principle that we apply different standards to content for which we receive payment, this will not apply to ads
In the same posting, Clegg disclosed that Facebook hasn't been fact-checking politicans' posts as indicated in the past:
Facebook's approach to fake news and hate speech was always a gloss on its endless cowering before conservative politicians and pundits. This is another act of supplication to the right, Zuckerberg and co. whining but we gave you everything you wanted as congress and Trump set out to regulate them for good.
Clegg was himself a politician, oddly enough, most famous for an ultimately humiliating stint as Britain's deputy prime minister that nearly destroyed his party. Read the rest
Fredo Corleone is the childish, easily-led brother from The Godfather whose weakness and insecurity lead him to betray his family. Chris Cuomo is the childish, easily-led CNN anchor whose weakness and insecurity lead him to getting into public fights with people who call him Fredo.
"Punk-ass bitches from the right call me Fredo!" Cuomo says in this video clip, which presumably starts after he was thusly named by someone. "My name is Chris Cuomo! I'm an anchor on CNN. Fredo is from The Godfather. He's the weak brother. They use it as an Italian aspersion. Any of you Italian? It's a fuckin insult to your people. It's an insult to your fuckin people. It's like the N-word for us. Is that a cool fuckin thing?"
"You're a much more reasonable guy in person than you seem on television," says the man who called him Fredo.
"You wanna play, we'll fuckin play. If you've got something to say about what I do on television then say it."
"Hey man, listen, I don't have a problem"
"Well you're gonna have a big fuckin problem. Don't fucking insult me. You call me Fredo, I'll call you punk bitch, you like that? You want that to be your nickname?"
"I didn't call you that."
"You called me Fredo! You know my name's not fuckin Fredo! You did not think my name's Fredo, don't be a fuckin liar. Stand up like a man. Own it, own what you said. You're gonnna have a fuckin problem. Read the rest
Sarah Krouse reports that Automattic, the company behind WordPress, is buying Tumblr from Verizon. WordPress is the software reportedly powering a third of the world's websites, and was itself originally focused on blogging. Tumblr was the blogging service of choice for millions of young people, but floundered after being sold to
AOL Yahoo and subsequently cleansed of smut and other advertiser-unfriendly material when Yahoo was itself sold to Verizon.
Verizon Communications Inc. has agreed to sell its blogging website Tumblr to the owner of popular online-publishing tool WordPress, unloading for a nominal amount a site that once fetched a purchase price of more than $1 billion. Automattic Inc. will buy Tumblr for an undisclosed sum and take on about 200 staffers, the companies said. Tumblr is a free service that hosts millions of blogs where users can upload photos, music and art, but it has been dwarfed by Facebook, Reddit and other services.
Surprise news, and surely good news for those still using Tumblr. It still has plenty of life in it despite the damp carpets and stagnant air. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.
But for one thing, the porn will not be back.
Mr. Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. “It’s just fun,” he said of Tumblr. “We’re not going to change any of that.”
Bought on a whim, for a song. Read the rest
Seymour Hersh (82) has been an investigative reporter for over 50 years. In this Salon interview conducted by Chauncey Devega, Hersh says Trump has trolled journalism by getting them addicted to his "kitty-litter box of tweets."
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America is a kakistocracy and a pathocracy. Donald Trump's regime is just the crystallization of that fact. You have decades of experience as a reporter and journalist. How should one write about something that is so utterly outrageous and yet still find a way to make the public care, in a time when so many Americans are numb to it all?
Do you really want me to try and make you feel better? Because I want you to make me feel better. This is where we are. It is incredibly messy. One mistake that was made by the media — and which is constantly being made — is living off Donald Trump's tweets. I call it the kitty-litter box full of Trump's tweets.
The way it works is Donald Trump sends out a tweet. The cable news immediately repeats Trump's tweet, instead of doing what I would have done if I were king of the world and editor. I would look and see the changes inside the bureaucracy and the system. What is Trump doing? He is replacing good people everywhere with these extreme conservatives — they are not all necessarily fascists. These Trump government types do not want to give food to the poor. They don't think that immigrants should be treated well.
We're through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole in this week’s tabloids that give Alice in Wonderland a run for her money in their wild imaginings.
New data visualization project to reveal bias in media coverage on transgender topics could use your support.
Mediawatch was a column that ran in Britain's Gay Times for almost 25 years, with author Terry Sanderson cataloging coverage of LGBT issues by the mainstream press. The archives are being posted online in a blog format, and Buzzfeed published an interview and retrospective with Sanderson himself.
Poofters. Benders. Shirtlifters. Bumboys. Lezzies. This was how British tabloid headlines referred to gay men and lesbians in the 1980s — an echo of the taunts heard on the street before a beating. The stories beneath would expand on the pejoratives, justifying them with news of “sick”, “evil”, “predatory” gays — all arising from a presumption: that readers would agree.
The twist is that the readers didn't agree. The pervasive homophobia of British newspapers was increasingly out of step with the times, revealing more about the neurotic obsessions of Fleet Street creeps than the country at large. The open bigotry evaporated in the early 1990s as circulations began to decline and reality asserted itself.
But I must admit to being taken aback by just how homophobic they were. Sanderson chronicles not merely slurs and AIDS-baiting headlines, but calls for reprohibition, pogroms and executions--all delivered in the same blurting, jokey yet seething-angry tabloid cadence that foreshadows the reactionary right's approach to social media now.
One thing stood out to me in particular: an old quote from Garry Bushell, then a columnist in The Sun, remarking that Stalin had the right idea by getting rid of the poofs. By the time I hit my teens in the 1990s and started paying attention, such talk was not merely history, but forgotten: Bushell was a mainstream TV star by then, an award-winning critic, but I never saw a whisper of that talk. Read the rest