Friday, January 19, 2018

The Dallas Morning Snooze slouches yet further toward Gomorrah

Three specific ways in which the last remnant of the mighty Belo empire continues toward new levels of craptacularness.

That's even as it claims to be the flagship newspaper of A.H. Belo. Well, yea, if you have only two print products, and the other's a Spanish-language tab, that's going to be you by default.

First, the Snooze, between Austin bureau writers like Bob Garrett and political analyst Gromer Jeffers, seem hell bent for high water to make the Democratic gubernatorial primary a two-person race only, despite Tom Wakely having run for Congress before and having entered the gubernatorial race before Andrew "Maybe we won't fry them" White and Loopy Lupe Valdez. They know what they're doing, too. Garrett did it again at the state AFL-CIO rally.

Garrett and Jeffers are technically skilled enough, and have a contact list of state politicos enough that they could do better. Either they're doing this on their own or else editorial higher-ups are making this call. In either case, it's deliberate.

I'm not sure if the state's other big dailies are engaged in the same. I do know the Stateless mentioned Wakely by name at the San Angelo party forum.

Second is the naming of Brendan Miniter to replace Keven Ann Willey as editorial page editor, or as the snooty Snooze says, "editor of editorials." (The story later says the new title is to emphasize the Snooze's push to be digital first. This from the company that was a sucker for the CueCat then rolled out not one but two clusterfucked attempts at paywalls.)

The Snooze is known for its "one Democrat a year" general election endorsements. Hiring someone who is a Wall Street Journal editorial page alum is bad enough. That tenure includes:

From 2000 to 2010, Miniter was an assistant editorial page editor at the Wall Street Journal, which included writing a column and crafting political analysis for its "Political Diary" newsletter. He also collaborated with Republican strategist Karl Rove on two books, and with Republican Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana, on another.
But wait, that's not all!

He then worked at Shrub Bush's presidential library!
Miniter moved to North Texas in 2011 and worked for three years with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, where he was director of scholarship and editorial content.  There, he led a team of more than 50 that created a 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit about the Bush presidency, including 35 films and interactives and four audio tours.
Editor Mike Wilson said this does not represent a "shift to the right." Publisher Jim Monroney said he's sure that Miniter will continue to uphold the Snooze being "progressive on social issues."

Yea, like Shrub hating gay marriage or even civil unions? Like Shrub as governor doing the Karla Faye Tucker imitation cackle?

I've not read much out of Wilson's pen, but I've seen Monroney turd-polish the Snooze and Belo for years. This is nothing new, either on the idea that Miniter will be progressive on social issues or that the Snooze has been progressive on them in the past.

(Bill McKenzie calls him a "compassionate conservative" who "cares about ... neighborhoods." Oh, yeah? Cops following the "crack in the sidewalk" model of policing "care about neighborhoods." Crack dealers not wanting competition "care about neighborhoods.")

Besides, getting below national, or even state, issues, Miniter probably will be a fucking hack on editorials and columns about Dallas, Dallas County, Dallas ISD and other Metroplex governance.

I hope Jim Schutze kicks his ass at first opportunity.

But, that's only two of three. 

The third?

The Snooze's ad sales continue to decline.

On Thursdays during the Thankgiving-Christmas shopping season, even then, its adhole was barely above 25 percent. This doesn't count any house ads, and deducts for part of PR space on things like classys and auto liner listings, but does count obits inches as paid ad space. 

Thursdays in general are supposed to be a fairly solid ad day, in part to prime people for shopping and buying over the weekend.

It's worse since then. I know January is a slow month, but SIXTEEN PERCENT on an adhole for Thursday, Jan. 18? Cut the page if you have to.

Seriously, that would be meh on a Monday, bad on a Tuesday, in my book. Horrible on a Thursday. Period.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

No, Jay Rosen, this Yascha Mounk screed was NOT the story of 2017

Albert Camus wannabe Yascha Mounk
Journalistic overviewer and sometimes scourge of the industry Jay Rosen says this NYT piece by Yascha Mounk is "the story of the year." 

Well, to expand on a Twitter thread of mine last week, maybe, maybe not. Or, to move from the teaser? Probably not that close.

First?

Rosen also knows the history of US journalism, and that, before its alleged golden age, we had an openly partisan press. (See more below on this.) Now, there was no electronic media, let alone social media, and presidents were relatively weak. But, are these more differences of kind, or of degree? Rosen doesn't answer, and his Tweet did NOT appear to be part of a thread.

Second?

This is just a brief point, but I must note it. We must remember that this is an op-ed, not a news piece. Rosen knows that as well, but didn’t note that in his Tweeting either. Yeah, op-eds can at times include news analysis. This one doesn’t. It’s a straight opinion piece. So, Rosen's Tweet shout-out is itself a bit iffy.

Third?

We must also ask, which the op-ed does not, how much of this, or how little, in Trump's case is deliberate strategy? With Modi, Erdogan, etc., that's not a question; we know it. But in Trump's case, some of this is simply narcissism. Now, tis true that actual dictators may be driven by similar narcissism. But they aren't always so. Take Erdogan's predecessor Ataturk. He ruled with a relatively light hand over Turkey's media.

Related?

Mounk also ignores the clownishness of Trump and his ilk. That's related to the above. But, per the quip that Mussolini made the trains run on time, I'm not sure Trump could make his own bowel movements run on time. (I must add that John Kelly as the latest chief of staff appears to be doing some of that, while also appears largely simpatico with Trump's political beliefs.)

Fourth?

He ignores other factors.

If Hillary Clinton had a cakewalk lined up after Biden took a pass and Bernie treated her with relatively kid gloves, Trump had his own good fortune.

Mitch McConnell would never leave his Senate mancave. House GOPers were too fractious for anybody to emerge. That left smarmy Booger Ted Cruz as the most viable alternative after Jeb! Bush had an even worse campaign than his first try at being Florida's gov, Little Marco Rubio and his Marco Polo-ing himself, Carly Fiorina reminding us she is as inept a CEO as Trump, and god ... I mean George Pataki at one time talked about running, which shows how craptacular the GOP field was.

That's even as Trump henchman Steve Bannon claims Donald Duck is the best political orator since William Jennings Bryan. No,really!

Fifth?

Mounk — and Rosen, for good measure — also overlook bits of authoritarianism from Dear Leader even before Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to rig the Dem primaries for Hillary Clinton. That includes his AG, Eric Holder, spying on the Associated Press, and his AG's FBI impersonating an AP reporter, among other things.

And, speaking of? 

It's also "amazing" that neither Mounk nor Rosen notes the possibility of neoliberal authoritarianism, even as in France, as we speak, Emmanuel Macron seems to be acting sub specie Louis Quatorze with the idea of "L'etat, c'est Macron!" And here is a GREAT profile of him being just that. The author also notes that Mounk cluelessly thinks Macron is boosting democracy even as he's undercutting it. (Maybe it's not cluesless, though; per the piece, Mounk may be enough of a neoliberal elitist to claim that IS democracy.)

Sixth?

Not everybody on Fox plays along with such things. Not even counting Shepard Smith, it's not as monolithic as Mounk claims, and I know Rosen knows that, and that it's not the same as World News Daily or even worse.

And, to the degree a relatively sane bigger conservative media player like Fox is involved, if it goes overboard for Trump, there's the possibility of getting burned even within the GOP later. Say a paleoconservative or Paulist is the next GOP president; to the degree Fox still has warmongers, it could be out of the loop.

Related to that?

As both Mounk and Rosen should also know, and maybe do know, the real authoritarianism isn't so much with Trump but with one faction of the conservative movement that has glommed on to him, starting with Rupert Murdoch — and Murdoch at the WSJ, which he still runs himself without as much interference from his kids as at Fox. Sam Tanenhaus has the details.

Granted, that’s not the same as governmental authoritarianism. It’s more cultism. But Trump would by no means have the same apparent power as he actually does if more of the conservative media and think tank world were more oppositional and stronger in it.

Seventh?

How about a sense of history?

That's not to say this isn't some kind of a problem, or that it's not worse, even if "only" in degree, than the Gilded Age partisan journalism. Or, say, the Jefferson-Adams election. Or the Jackson-Quincy Adams battle of 1828. Trump's travel ban doesn't rise to the level of the Alien Acts, and nothing he's done comes close to the Sedition Act. If Mounk, a German native, doesn't know that, Rosen certainly does, or should.

Eighth?

While Mounk notes that Barack Obama might have had too much optimism about the American voter and that he might have had his own blind spots about Hillary Clinton's weaknesses,, he has written noting about things like the DNC fraud lawsuit, and appears to be a deep-fried "Putin Did It" person. Jay didn't note that, either. And, it took me just 30 secs with the Google to find his "Putin Did It" and his lack of concern about the DNC.

Finally, he's a fellow of both New America and the German Marshall Fund. In other words, some sort of left-neoliberal interventionist.

Yes, not everybody at New America is like that. I’ll call a Matt Stoller a left-left-neoliberal. ((I’m not ready to call him a leftist.) German Marshall Fund, on the other hand? Mix of straight neoliberalism on domestic issues with straight NATO/Atlanticist “consensus” on foreign policy. People at a think tank like that write "consensus" foreign policy pieces for places like the NYT, or CNN (the Obama link).

In other words, the type of people who might not like Trump because he might create a non-“consensus” foreign policy. The type of people who might, elsewhere, smear Jill Stein for appearing on RT.

Either Rosen knows these things better, too, or maybe he gives too much credence to the "Putin Did It" bullshit himself. (He doesn't actually write that often at his website, and what he has during this year doesn't even mention the Russiophobia McCarthyism 2.0, and the MSM's part in fueling it. He has, elsewhere, mildly scolded the Deep State but I don't think it's a fixation of him.)

What this does is remind me of why I don't follow Rosen on Twitter, why I think he's overrated, why he's rightly called a liberal not a left-liberal, and is certainly not a leftist. (Anybody who links multiple times to Josh Marshall in one piece, and uncritically, impresses me little.)

Thomas Frank is also not a big fan of Jay Rosen, and rightly so. (Their dialogue also underscores Rosen's political identification is correctly pegged.) That also said, per his dialogue with Frank, Rosen's website, PressThink, is not his alone. It's specifically labeled "a project of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University."

Ninth?

Jay, you're a wonk about how the media operates. The MSM's uncritical pushing of claims that the Russians hacked the 2016 election and that Trump is a Putin stooge, claims pushed in semi-lockstep with much of the Democratic party, is the story of the year as also noted at The Nation — and specifically the story of the year on media malfeasance.

Rosen also won't tell you, per the Macron link, that Mounk is at minimum, not a fan of the likes of Corbyn, and lumps all sorts of "populisms" together.

My guess is that Rosen is simply signal-boosting Mounk, while content to play along with worshiping neoliberalism in general.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

US media gets craven over RT being named a foreign agent

The Nation, in a good piece by Aaron Mate, has the silence of American media — and American and international human rights groups — over the U.S. government's recent requirement that RT, the former Russia Today, has to register as a foreign agent.

First, it has less than 30K daily viewers. Nielsen doesn't list it among its top 94 cable networks.

Related, whether Russian-related purchases of ads in the U.S., and the minuscule amount spent on them, influenced our election last year or not (pro tip: it didn't), nobody's traced any of those buys to RT.

And yet, this:

RT has found few defenders among the foremost advocates of media freedom and free speech in the United States. The Nation sent queries about RT America’s foreign-agent designation to the leading US civil-liberties and media-freedom groups. Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Poynter Institute, and Columbia Journalism Review did not respond. Human Rights Watch and the National Coalition Against Censorship declined to comment. The silence by Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders contrasts sharply with their condemning of the ongoing Gulf-state effort to close Al Jazeera. 
There are some exceptions. Michael W. Macleod-Ball, a legal adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the foreign-agent investigation of Russian outlets “highlights the potential for mischief” in having FARA applied unequally, but that not enough is known about the government’s criteria to reach a conclusion.
Pathetic.

But not quite as bad as this:
At a recent Atlantic Council event, columnist and Brookings Fellow James Kirchick advocated “private sector initiatives…to name and shame and isolate RT and push it out of the respectable precincts of society.” For “young up-and-coming 22- and 23-year old journalists in the West,” considering employment at RT, Kirchick explained, “maybe they won’t take that job offer if they know they will never get a job afterwards at any reputable news organization.” On Twitter, a former Daily Show producer has just urged fellow comedians who work at RT’s comedy news show, Redacted Tonight, to stop being “useful idiots,” and instead “get work elsewhere.” 
Horrible.

Meanwhile, Google is reportedly considering banning RT. Other tech companies are looking at similar.

What's also shameful is the bipartisan collusion behind it.

As the action came from the Department of Justice, this arguably is AG Jeff Sessions throwing a bone back to President Donald Trump over Trump's alleged continuing anger over Sessions recusing himself from the alleged Russia collusion investigation, which necessitated the naming of Robert Mueller as special counsel.

For Democrats, this is another way to beat the Putin Did It drums and try to disempower Trump at the same time.

Both political parties, right along with journalists and journalism organizations, are showing their contempt for the First Amendment.

Beyond wingnuts who don't trust "the media," many intelligent left-liberals and leftists don't trust it for other reasons. Like this.

Monday, October 02, 2017

An ethics problem at the 'eastern front' headquarters

Near the bottom of this piece about the biolab on Galveston, where journalism turns straight to PR.

Multiple ethical issues here.

First is the local newspaper not doing a story like the Consortium News reporter actually did. That's PR by omission.

Second is multiple subsets of ethics issues in Ferguson's attack.

First subpiece is publicly attacking another journo for fake journalistic reasons.

Second is, er, lying, as it seems, about what the other journalist actually said and did not say.

Third is repeating that seeming lie to yet other outlets.

I don't know if there's a third main ethics issue, but that could be. That would be if the Consortium News author contacted the Galveston publisher, who then doubled down on Ferguson.

==

The bigger picture is that the "eastern front" probably does its fair share of turd-polishing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The war is being lost on the 'eastern' front

Nice, or 'nice,' to have an actual lead editorial tactician at this particular outpost on the 'eastern' front with the old head editorial tactician becoming the tactician for the entire publishing operation in this division when the previous Italian owner sold the division to the Germans.

Not so nice when it seems the only reason the new editorial tactician got the job was from being native to this division's patrol area and possibly being low-ballable due to her freelance work thinning out more and more.

Other than not being native to this brimstone site and only recently moved here, this staff sergeant in the editorial regiment could do a better job than the lead tactician. That includes page-building speed, page design quality, photo editing, story editing and other things.

Well, eventually a staff sergeant stops volunteering so much for the first louie when he or she is a seeming 90-day wonder. The 90-day wonder also, despite having had 4-5 years of freelance time for personal reconnaissance of the news scene, appears unaware of some terminology in her home state.

That's a 90-day wonder, who despite all her alleged writing experience, doesn't know AP Style well, doesn't know that "entrée" is a synonym for "entry" and not just a French meal course, and who doesn't know that a phrase like "second annual" should not be capitalized because it's not part of a title, and many more thing. Worse yet, from a daily paper's POV, is that she has nobody else proofread her front pages. So, besides crappy layout, even if she's edited stories, cutline spelling mistakes and more continue.

I've said enough, as I continue to trudge with the other troops in the trenches, and also up my recon of the surrounding scene.

I've attached a map of a recent day's tactics by the louie. Just enough to give the big picture without giving away secrets. And no, that's not the worst possible map.

Monday, September 04, 2017

The 'eastern front' may be hitting headwinds in France

What would people think about a six-day daily regiment that

Is looking (again) for an editorial captain.
That’s after promoting the city news First Louie to the position in May.
Hired an exercise, athletics and competitions First Louie at the start of fall competition season.
That is after a possible fall competition First Louie from another army company decided not to go there.
And, turnover in editorial non-coms.

Interesting, no?

Been there once myself.

Eventually, the top general got rid of the regimental commander at the outpost, but it took  more than a year of the local marching staff describing command problems before action was taken.

And, no, no secrets. These are all publicly known openings. 

---

Turns out the regimental commander has been gotten rid of at this post, too. Wasn't handling the troops correctly in some cases, and may have wanted to "handle" them in others.

---

And, five months later, is looking for another editorial captain.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Morning News and Star-Telegram JOA five years off? Less?

The Morning News recently announced it was outsourcing most of its advertising graphics work to Gannett. That's with a layoff of 45 people.

That, in turn comes just six months after the Snooze said it was outsourcing its page-building to GateHell. That got rid of about 20 jobs.

The Snooze cited "declining revenue," but didn't say how bad the decline was, whether the paper or the Belo parent is still profitable, if so, by how much, etc.

Speculation about the Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram entering a joint operating agreement has run rampant for several years, starting when they started divvying up, and sharing the packaged product of, pro sports coverage in the Metroplex.

Of course, that was before Belo split TV and newspaper sides, followed by the newspaper successor half selling all non-Dallas print properties. Oh, and Belo sold off its share of Cars.com for short-term money, but what's a long-term revenue hole that's soon starting to hit. More on that here, on the deal, and here, on the five-year preferred treatment that has has two years left.

During the previous speculation, everybody figured the Snooze was operating from the side of strength. I didn't totally think that then, and certainly don't know.

McClatchy is a pretty strong newspaper company, and has held the StartleGram long enough to develop some stability there. If anybody is in a position of at least relative strength, it's the StartleGram, in my book.

==

In all of this, the smugness of the Snooze, year after year, is part of why I blog about this. I have a friend who works there, and his girlfriend used to. I don't know that she still does, as she was a copy editor/paginator, per the outsourcing to Gatehouse. No schadenfreude against them, but the company's smugness stinks.

Plus spinning off the graphics to Gannett? I guess Belo's alternative biz of providing graphics, advertising and PR services in Dallas isn't working, else these people would have been moved rather than shit-canned, right?

==

Update, Sept. 19: The Snooze must be getting closer to packing it in .... I saw help wanteds for SIX different intern slots. Yes, they'd be taking interns anyway, but with fewer staff to supervise them, how much do they learn? Or are they replacements?