Tag Archives | Journalism

Pete Seeger As Media Maker and Critic

Pete Seeger NYWTS 2Pete Seeger, my American idol, was a great singer, songsmith. Troubadour and progressive voice. His death was celebrated with tributes in leading newspapers the world over.

What’s less well known is that Seeger wanted to be a newspaperman, but thanks to his unique skills, deep talent and incredible artistry, he actually “covered” the world in ways that went above and beyond what appeared in much of the media.

He was ahead of the News with the Times never quite able to catch up. He touched hearts as well as heads.

At the same time, he sang about the media with an edge that didn’t win him many friends in outlets that treated him as an eccentric, not a major cultural voice.
Here’s a song he liked to sing, written by Vern Partlow, and reported on by the Guardian, safely outside the USA.

“Oh, a newspaperman meets such interesting people
He knows the lowdown (now it can be told);

I’ll tell you quite reliably off the record,

About some charming people I have known.

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Why the Washington Post’s New Ties to the CIA Are So Ominous

Photo: Dan X. O'Neill (CC)

Photo: Dan X. O’Neill (CC)

American journalism has entered highly dangerous terrain.

A tip-off is that the Washington Post refuses to face up to a conflict of interest involving Jeff Bezos — who’s now the sole owner of the powerful newspaper at the same time he remains Amazon’s CEO and main stakeholder.

The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA.

The situation is unprecedented. But in an email exchange early this month, Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron told me that the newspaper doesn’t need to routinely inform readers of the CIA-Amazon-Bezos ties when reporting on the CIA. He wrote that such in-story acknowledgment would be “far outside the norm of disclosures about potential conflicts of interest at media organizations.

But there isn’t anything normal about the new situation. As I wrote to Baron, “few journalists could have anticipated ownership of the paper by a multibillionaire whose outside company would be so closely tied to the CIA.”

The Washington Post’s refusal to provide readers with minimal disclosure in coverage of the CIA is important on its own.… Read the rest

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The CIA, Amazon, Bezos and the Washington Post: An Exchange with Executive Editor Martin Baron

Jeff Bezos 2005To: Martin Baron, Executive Editor, and Kevin Merida, Managing Editor, The Washington Post

Dear Mr. Baron and Mr. Merida:

On behalf of more than 25,000 signers of a petition to The Washington Post, I’m writing this letter to request a brief meeting to present the petition at a time that would be convenient for you on Jan. 14 or 15.

Here is the text of the petition, launched by RootsAction.org:

“A basic principle of journalism is to acknowledge when the owner of a media outlet has a major financial relationship with the subject of coverage. We strongly urge the Washington Post to be fully candid with its readers about the fact that the newspaper’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon — and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.Read the rest

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Happy News Year: ‘The News Dissector’ Looks Beyond The Top Stories of the Year to Examine the News System

Times Square,New York CC-BY-SAAt year end, the news agenda fills up with stories on top stories, a chance for networks to repackage footage or highlight favorite newsmakers.  These stories rarely look at the news system that picks them or why.

There are two news systems in America–the official parody of journalism that represents most of what the mainstream or what some call the “lame stream” media offers.

These are the “products” an “official” news business, an industry now under growing pressure from within and without to maintain a semblance of credibility with an  global audience that has so many other divergent sources to rely on or suck information from.

A part of a global entertainment combine, the advertising sponsored “news biz” also spends inordinate amounts of money marketing itself and referencing its own output.

It is that system that has become one of the major pillars of established power like the institutions of government and the office holders it covers to a fault.… Read the rest

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Is MoveOn Less Progressive Than the New York Times Editorial Board?

The New York Times is hardly a progressive newspaper — but when it comes to the surveillance state and ongoing militarism of the Obama White House, the establishment’s “paper of record” puts MoveOn.org to shame.

New York Times building in NYC. Photo: Haxorjoe (CC)

New York Times building in NYC. Photo: Haxorjoe (CC)

And so, the same day that the Times editorialized to excoriate President Obama for his latest betrayal of civil liberties, MoveOn sent out a huge email blast sucking up to Obama.

The Times was blunt in its Saturday editorial: “By the time President Obama gave his news conference on Friday, there was really only one course to take on surveillance policy from an ethical, moral, constitutional and even political point of view. And that was to embrace the recommendations of his handpicked panel on government spying — and bills pending in Congress — to end the obvious excesses. He could have started by suspending the constitutionally questionable (and evidently pointless) collection of data on every phone call and email that Americans make.”

But, the newspaper added: “He did not do any of that.”

As the Times editorial went on to say, “any actions that Mr.… Read the rest

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Under the Global Shadow of Big Brother, Journalism Must Light Up the Political Sky

GSM base station 2Every new revelation about the global reach of the National Security Agency underscores that the extremism of the surveillance state has reached gargantuan proportions. The Washington Post just reported that the NSA “is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden have forced top officials in Washington to admit the indefensible while defending it. One of the main obstacles to further expansion of their Orwellian empire is real journalism.

Real journalism is “subversive” of deception that can’t stand the light of day. This is a huge problem for the Obama administration and the many surveillance-state flunkies of both parties in Congress. What they want is fake journalism, deferring to government storylines and respectful of authority even when it is illegitimate.

In motion now, on both sides of the Atlantic, are top-down efforts to quash real journalism when and how it matters most.… Read the rest

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CBS Still Under Attack for Benghazi And Other Reports

240px-CBS_logoGood news amidst the bad at CBS: Their drama, “Criminal Minds” had its biggest audience this week. Am I alone in believing that the network, once known for the stellar journalism of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite can at the same time be on the receiving end of at least three attacks, suggesting there is something far from kosher going on in the minds of the people in charge?

First, we have the now infamous 60 Minutes Benghazi report, which when criticized, was defended, as if it was a papal encyclical, by the powers that be, until problems were acknowledged, a lukewarm apology offered by chief correspondent, Lara Logan, that, boo hoo, did not quite silence the doubters who are still besieging CBS HQ at the Manhattan building known as Black Rock with fresh doubts and unanswered questions.

Back to Benghazi, once known as Al Qaeda’s favorite Libyan port, in a hot second.… Read the rest

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The Battle Over The Future of Journalism is Becoming More Intense

free pressNew York, NY: I was among the many media wannabe reformers to attend the tenth anniversary party of Free Press, the mostly online organization and lobby that promotes itself as a movement to transform our media system, and save our democracy.

I certainly support their policy goals like net neutrality and curbs on media consolidation,  and also admire their staying power, even if their style is very upwardly mobile, and rather un-left like, starting with this trendy soireee in an ultra modern upscale hotel lounge where drinks went for $15.00.

Free Press has been very effective in raising large sums of money using top-down means of organizing support.  (To be honest, as the editor of Mediachannel.org, a site that is barely holding on, I am a bit jealous of their evident skills as fundraisers and organization builders.)

I would like to see them do more to encourage other progressive groups to do more than electoral politics and take on media issues.… Read the rest

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Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s Big Brother Bundle

Reagan’s relaxation of media ownership rules in the 80s not only caused a massive loss of jobs, it seems, but distorted the flow of information that’s essential to democracy. Corporate news media is in it to make money and to help those who have it — not inform citizens.

So what can we do about it? The Internet and citizen journalism has been seen by many as the way to fill the media vacuum, but it’s still a challenge getting critical perspectives out there. VODO’s Big Brother Bundle is one promising attempt. Combining serious critical documentaries like Shadows of Liberty and Secrecy, which looks at the case for and against keeping secrets in the context of the “war on terrror”, with graphic novels and even games, VODO is aiming to take the debate around privacy mainstream.

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Having known Daniel Domscheit Berg through old friends at The Pirate Bay, VODO asked the ex-spokesperson of Wikileaks to help them curate this collection of media.… Read the rest

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Glenn Greenwald Gets $250 Million For Startup News Channel

Glenn greenwald portraitFirst Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos buys the Washington Post, now eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is chucking a quarter billion dollars at Glenn Greenwald to create a news organization that, presumably, will reflect the progressive politics that are Mr. Greenwald’s stock in trade.

Who will be the next Silicon Valley billionaire to buy his or her own major media presence? From Mr. Greenwald’s erstwhile employer, The Guardian:

Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, has revealed more details of the media organization he is creating with journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the Guardian, where he has broken a series of stories on the National Security Agency, based on documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In an interview with Jay Rosen, media critic and NYU professor of journalism, Omidyar said he was committing an initial $250m to the as-yet-unnamed venture. Omidyar told Rosen the decision was fuelled by his “rising concern about press freedoms in the United States and around the world”.

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