Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Jon Stewart: Real Journalism

March 14, 2009

Jon Stewart’s recent series of reports critiquing the CNBC and the financial media, culminating with the interview Thursday night with Jim Cramer, was absolutely brilliant. The satire in the segments over the course of the week was superb, which I expect. And by superb, I’m talking about keen insight and relevance. This was not an instance of cherry-picking honest mistakes by certain TV personalities, but a well-deserved indictment of the widespread dereliction of duty within the media (a regular theme on the Daily Show; here’s a transcript of a keen observation from the 2004 election). As Stewart showed, CNBC was one of the many within the financial media who had simply become cheerleaders for the financial industry, aiding and abetting the malfeasance of Wall Street through their complacency—at times even encouraging activity which was at least unethical, if not outright illegal.

But the interview with Cramer himself was a revelation. Stewart’s performance was a phenomenal example of what real journalism, financial or any other sort, should be. He asked very pointed questions, challenged Cramer’s statements, and held his feet to the fire. That is what the fourth estate is supposed to do; not act as a megaphone through which any given interest (the financial industry, the President, or anyone else) can publicize their message. Too bad we’ve had so little of that sort of journalism on the big stage this last decade.

Some fine essays on the topic:

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Support KCPW (no, this isn’t about a pledge drive…)

March 10, 2008

I’m an NPR junkie. If I don’t have it on the radio, I’ve got NPR podcasts playing on my computer or iPod. Nothing else compares to the quality of journalism on NPR, or it’s willingness to look at all sides.

My Station of choice is KCPW, a Salt Lake City station broadcasting on 88.3 and 105.3 FM. I find their in depth local news coverage the best in the valley. They report very extensively and in-depth on the Utah legislature and other local political events, and their Mid-Day Metro showfeatures regular on-air interviews with local politicians, public servants, business leaders, and community activists. The dialogue is thoughtful and extensive. I also enjoy that, unlike most NPR stations, it is a 24-hour talk format, switching to BBC Radio News (the best news source for international news) at night.

Unfortunately, the future of KCPW is at risk. Parent company Community Wireless is preparing to sell KCPW. They are giving the local community the opportunity to organize a new organization, Wasatch Public Media, to acquire the station. But they are also open to other offers as well.

It would be a shame to lose this vibrant, local, independent news source. Wasatch Public Media is encouraging all who support this type of news to write letters of support for KCPW to strengthen their case with Community Wireless. They even have a form letter available to be printed (I prefer writing my own letter, but this is better than nothing for those who don’t feel they have much time).

If you live or work in SLC and care about locally owned media sources, or about quality news and opinion, please support Wasatch Public Media.

Bob Francis Calls for a Free and Independent Press

April 27, 2007

“Liberalmedia.” That’s the word conservative leaders use often when they talk about the mainstream media (outside of AM radio, of course, which is dominated by thsoe same conservative leaders and pundits). The words are no longer separated in their minds, but are now one compound word: liberalmedia. This is their explanation whenever reports do not fit their concept of reality (as Stephen Colbert pointed out in his superb satirical presentation at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner “reality has a well-known liberal bias”).

I used to think that the epithet was merely sour grapes, or a self-deluding mantra with which to console themselves when facts didn’t go their way. However, Eric Alterman has suggested another alternative. In his book, What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News, Eric relates conservative charges of liberalmedia bias to the ref baiting. In sports, it isn’t uncommon for coaches and fans to accuse referees of bias against their teams, haranguing the referees for perceived slights and errors. Referees are only human, and there is a very real possibility that the repeated haranguing may make them more gunshy in the future, or willing to give the home team the benefit of the doubt in the future. Coaches understand this, and some will bait the refs with very deliberate, calculated intent in order to gain favorable treatment for their own team. Alterman suggests that leading conservative politicians and media figures have adopted the exact same strategy in their treatment of the media. Its an interesting theory.

Whatever the reason for the pretense, the concept of the liberalmedia is false. The foundation upon which they build that contention is quicksand. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t any bias in the media. The reporters, editors, and owners who make up the media have their own sets of biases. Additionally, the media as individual units and as a group as a whole are subject to influence from outside sources. They are only human.

Bob Francis of Sojourners discusses how the media were very successfully influenced by the Right to support the conservative agenda and that of President Bush’s administration after 9/11 in his essay “Can You Help Me Find the Free and Independent Press?” And he is right on the money. The media were willing, if typically unwitting, accomplices in the deceptions perpetrated upon the American people. The voices who challenged the administration’s claims—and there were many—were largely excluded from the mainstream media.

Despite what conservatives may think, it isn’t the role of the media to accept the statements of the establishment at face value, or to play “nice” with people in power—conservative or liberal. The role of the Fourth Estate is to challenge the established powers, to look for contradictions or fallacies, and to permit a voice to the dissenting perspectives which the political powers would ignore or repress. It is by filling that role that the Fourth Estate can help check ambitious men from expanding their power beyond acceptable limits and exercising unrighteous dominion (such as warrantless wiretapping, provisions in the Patriot Act challenging our civil liberties, using political influence to alter scientific data to suit their own political agenda, and most importantly, taking a nation into war under false pretenses). As Francis suggests, when we needed an aggressive and determined Fourth Estate most of all, they were nowhere to be found.

So the Shooter was Muslim

February 16, 2007

So what? What does that have to do with anything?

I’m not surprised that Michael Savage, perhaps the most vile and hateful voice in the media I’ve ever heard, would try to make the connection between our recent tragedy and terrorism. Savage has relished religious warmongering and hate-baiting over the past few years. But I am rather disappointed to hear people within our community and faith giving vent to such ignorance.

Anytime the media reports on an LDS person involved in some crime, I hear fellow Mormons grumbling about the media making note of the criminal’s faith. After all, their religion has nothing to do with their crimes.

But some of these same people are complaining that the media hasn’t been loud enough in broadcasting the faith of Talovic.

So much for the Golden Rule.

Other thoughts on elements of the public response to the shootings:

I’m not Going to Talk About It

February 14, 2007

I was rather intrigued this morning during the President’s press conference when he was asked whether or not he had authorized the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. President Bush steadfastly—and rather petulantly—refused to answer the question. Why not? If the President is as opposed to leaks as he claimed while condemning the leak about the financial tracking of suspected terrorist agents, why not deny any involvement and publically condemn the leak? Does he have something to hide? Is there some unexplained double-standard when it comes to leaks? “Leaks that may potentially threaten the lives of operatives and punish opponents of the administration are okay, but leaks that expose questionable government operations are disgraceful.” What does the President’s testy response say about his integrity?

More on Social Entrepreneurship

October 28, 2006

It seems that the success and acclaim of Grameen Bank continues to attract attention for the social entrepreneurship. The NPR show A World of Possibilities did a great job of exploring the issue through the stories of other ventures similarly focused on improving communities and saving lives rather than merely profit—including the man who coined the term, Bill Drayton. Give it a listen.

As the show concluded, host Mark Sommer invited listeners to call in with examples of social entrepreneurship they had seen or experienced in their lives. I’m considering sharing the story of Signs of Hope International. SOHI is an organization dedicated to improving deaf education in Africa, a condition all too common in Africa due to a number of illnesses, and one with which many of the impoverished nations in Africa struggle to handle. Founded by a cousin, I have been privileged to help out SOHI with a few projects. I really enjoy the experience, and I hope that I can find more opportunities to use my skills to help such worthy causes.

Listening to Chomsky

October 9, 2006

“Hi, Honey!” I boomed out as I walked through the door last Tuesday after my Elders Quorum Presidency meeting.

Shhh!” My wife admonished from the couch where she sat, wrapped in a blanket, a textbook on her lap. But she wasn’t reading. She was listening to the radio.

A few moments later, I heard a rather calm, quiet voice, and I realized why she was listening so intently. Noam Chomsky, noted linguist and social critic was being interviewed by Tom Ashbrook of NPR’s On Point program.

I can’t tell you how exciting that is to me. Not that I like to be “shhh”-ed, particularly before I get a hug. But I find it very thrilling that my wife is not generally interested in the latest sitcom or celebrity news. She’s as interested as I in keeping up with current events and voices on the topics of our day. She likes to her and evaluate voices in the news like Chomsky (whom we’ve both come to respect a great deal) for herself. We’ve developed our liberalism in tandem, but still independent of one another. We are eager to talk to one another about the news and share ideas and opinions.

When I hear about friends whose spouse’s just don’t care about politics or social issues, or who have viewpoints opposing one another, it makes me appreciate our situation that much more.

My wife is incredibly cool!