Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

Fox News Channel has mastered the art of cable news over the past decade. They turned the battle into a partisan centered grudge match with MSNBC and have run away with the ratings year after year. CNN can barely compete with its objective based approach. ESPN mastered the sports news market and has created a network that most sports loving Americans can’t live without. Has Fox News entered the realm of ESPN in which cable subscribers need the channel to be satisfied in their television service? According to the article by Alex Weprin for TVNewser, News Corp. COO Chase Carey thinks so.

Fox News is beginning a new round of carriage negotiations with several cable operators and is trying to increase the amount of money they are getting per subscriber by more than twice as much as they are currently getting. The article states they are receiving $0.58 per subcriber per month and they’re believed to be looking for $1.25 per subscriber per month. Carey said that FNC was “as important a channel as exists.” He also said that FNC was up to par with ESPN in importance of channels. “ESPN is currently the most valuable cable network in the U.S., pulling in over $4 per subscriber per month in fees,” according to the article.

Fox News saying they are on the level of ESPN is like saying they are to news what HBO is to cable movie channels or PBS to public broadcasting. ESPN dominates sports television to a degree that Fox News couldn’t compare to. FNC does have a large following of viewers, yet that following isn’t large enough to compare to the tens of millions of sports fans than rely on comprehensive sports coverage spanning all professional and collegiate teams. Without ESPN, television viewers would have to resort to local sports networks that offer limited coverage.

If FoxNews was taken off television, there would be a lot of angry viewers, but people would still have various ways to get their news intake. The channel doesn’t cover a wider array of news than other networks. People wouldn’t miss anything without the network. All FoxNews offers is a different approach to presenting the news. Nothing extra is gained other than a partisan angle that many conservative republicans want to watch.

For the purpose of transparency, I think that viewers would be better off without the largest propaganda pushing network in the United States. The most popular programs are biased talking heads that are forcing an agenda. The actual news shows aren’t much different from the other 24-hour news networks. Mr. Carey is simply trying to boost his company’s image with the hope of driving the price up for cable operators. FoxNews is big, but not that big.

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Censorship in America is accepted in only two circumstances, obscenity and national security. The latter is as prevalent today as it was in 1787 when the ink dried on the U.S. Constitution. Does the public have a right to know what the government is doing? In this country the answer has been yes, more often than not. The problem lies with who is deciding what the public has a right to know and when. Does the image of a politician count as national security? That depends on the government.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played an integral role in the Watergate scandal, by exposing the corruption of the Nixon administration. Sure, Nixon didn’t want this information to get out, but the public had a right to know. Daniel Ellsburg revealed vast amounts of information leading up to and following the War in Vietnam. The Supreme Court attempted to prevent this information from leaking by placing an injunction on the New York Times in the infamous Pentagon Papers case. Ultimately, the public won again when the files were released. The discussion today falls to the recent WikiLeaks cables that have shed light on America’s foreign affairs and dealings.

In the article from http://www.NPR.org, Senator Joe Lieberman claimed the New York Times committed a crime, while chief Washington correspondent David Sanger defended his newspaper’s right to publish the information found in these cables. This is obviously not the first time the Times has come under this scrutiny and probably won’t be the last. In the end, the press should prevail. So, the question returns: Does the public have a right to know?

I respond with a resounding, YES. The public votes to put politicians in power, and they should always remember the power they possess is given to them by the public. The people need to know what their government is doing. Their tax money pays for the government’s spending and their wants and desires should direct the governing of the country. As a realist, this doesn’t always occur. Unfortunately, I think once most politicians are elected they’re going to do whatever they want. That is until the next election anyway. Regardless, like I said, the public definitely has a right to know what the government is doing.

The Times provided a service to the public by drudging through the thousands upon thousands of documents for the purpose of interpreting the meaning and significance of the WikiLeaks cables. Sure, they could have just pasted them in the paper, but nobody would take the time to read the lengthy documents, never mind being able to decipher what they meant. Not to mention, before the Times ever released the information they talked to the Obama administration about what should and would be redacted from the files. The Times followed the necessary steps to reduce the possibility of affecting national security.

Apparently, Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee doesn’t agree. This is a classic case of the government wanting to prevent the public from knowing the truth. Since the information was being released all over the world with or without the Times, there was nothing the courts could do to stop these documents from being released. The Times would’ve failed the American people if it did not release this information.

The Times provided a service to the people, Sen. Lieberman and they should not be punished for it. One of the best things about this country is the rights given for a free press. Don’t try and limit a necessary element of this country and don’t lash out at America’s most respectable news organization. Take your aggression out on trying to prosecute Julian Assange and leave editorial decisions to the professionals.

Over the past few weeks, one of the major stories in the news was the Transportation Security Administration pat-downs and x-ray scans in airports. After the one of the busiest travel days of the year, Thanksgiving Eve, the question arises: Did the T.S.A. pat-downs cause the story or did the media? What started out as a video link, turned into a Twitter and Google explosion of outrage and unrest. The story flooded headlines and reporters flocked to airports to see the results of the online protest, National Opt-Out Day. According to David Carr’s article in The New York Times, the hysteria was nothing but hype during a slow time for news.

In a perfect world, the media’s role is to report the news, not create it. But, as we all know, this is far from a perfect world. The number of media outlets is uncountable and newspapers, news broadcasts and the internet have to report about something. There can never be a day without news. Not to mention the millions of amateurs out there that have twitter and facebook accounts that can’t go a day without posting something on their mind. After all, it’s part of the human genome to want to share and receive information. But, is the media overplaying their role by reporting about something that hasn’t happened yet? Are they causing turmoil by making assumptions about how people will react? I hate to be indecisive, but I will anyway, yes and no.

The media needs to provide the public with information they want to hear, as well as the information they need to hear. Let’s say, John Doe reads on his facebook about a major issue concerning security measures at his local airport and he happens to have a flight planned in the near future. He would definitely want to know the facts that surround the story. If he were to only have facebook and twitter stories to build his knowledge on the issue, it’s quite possible he’ll receive little to no factual information. His local media outlets wouldn’t be doing its viewers and readers justice to ignore a potential situation.

Now to portray the Al Pacino aspect (Devil’s Advocate), the media should not be causing distress among the masses like many may have experienced leading up to the potential Y2K fiasco. Sure it could’ve been a world wide disaster, but when the day came and went, the stress and fear was all for naught. Is it possible that the media helped prepare the country for the worst…sure, but in the end it was a lot of hype for nothing. The media is supposed to present the facts in a well-researched fashion for all to determine their own decisions. When the media pounces on an issue before it even becomes an issue, it is only hurting its own image. Everyone has heard about the boy who cried wolf, in this instance, that boy happens to be the town crier. So, to all my future media colleagues, how about a little less speculation and a more concise presentation of the facts.

When I made the choice to go to school for journalism, my decision was based on following that path towards a career. Which would imply making money in this occupation. Unfortunately, many people feel that it is a dying field. The New York State Department of Labor even told me that this is not a field that will likely land me a job. Suffice to say, this is not very encouraging. Well, to all those doubters, I say, screw it. This is what I want to do and nobody can tell me different. I’ve never been unsuccessful at a job before and it sure is not going to happen in the future. The facts do point towards a decline in print journalism, so the logical thing to do is look towards the online element. A major issue with this is the lack of money online journalists are making these days. One of the most successful online publications, THe Huffington Post, is primarily filled with unpaid writers. It would be wonderful if everyone could publish their work without worrying about making money, but along with millions of other Americans, I need a damn paycheck.

In an interview on the aforementioned Huffington Post, award winning New York journalist, Pete Hamill says there is hope for online journalism yielding real editors and real pay. Hallelujah, perhaps there is an optimistic future after all. The future does depend on quality and integrity being sustained on internet publications. Other websites mentioned by Hamill were The Daily Beast and Global Post. Another that could’ve been mentioned is ProPublica. These credible news outlets portray a positive light on online journalism that could easily be bogged down by the blogosphere and other propaganda pushing .coms.

Therefore, prospective journalists, such as myself, should support respectable online publications that will make the likelihood of finding a job in the field stronger. Versatility and perseverance will be the qualities needed to survive in this incredibly competitive world. I’m eager to see how I match up and very satisfied with the ammo I’m currently being given by Stony Brook to better arm myself for the upcoming battle that will determine my place in the media world. Whether I end up writing about breaking news, sports, movies or even video games, I hope the professional journalism world is ready to pay me, because I’ll be ready to contribute.


In the midst of the formation of a new business model for journalism, Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs are adding a new approach to the discussion. The Daily will be appearing on tablet-styled computers near you early next year. Print publications have been trying to figure out how to make enough money since craigslist took classifieds out of newspapers. Web publications are trying to figure out how to make money without a print edition. Print publications with websites are considering whether or not to use paywalls to boost sales. Murdoch and Jobs have created the only app-only news edition, which if successful can avoid all of these issues.

According to the article on guardian.co.uk, “Murdoch believes the iPad is going to be a “game changer” and he has seen projections that there will be 40 million iPads in circulation by the end of 2011.” He thinks that there will be an iPad in every home in the near future and they will become many American’s main avenue for news and information. If this turns out to be true, Murdoch and Jobs may be the first to tap the untapped information keg. Apparently, the Daily will only cost 99 cents a week to produce, due to the lack of printing and distribution costs. I find this number to be fairly farfetched, considering they’re going to have to pay some people to create the content provided on the application. I guess not if they’re going to regurgitate information from Murdoch’s other news outlets such as the NY Post, Wall Street Journal and everyone’s favorite propaganda pusher FoxNews. If that’s the case, then they are hardly creating a tablet only news edition. For arguments sake, I’ll assume they are telling the truth about the exclusivity of the project, so I think it is safe to say they will spend more than 99 cents a week.

I have to give them credit for being the first to approach this idea, but there is the simple fact that it’s fairly simple for these two billionaires to risk failure when they have so many other sources of income. Murdoch is the most successful media mogul today and Jobs is almost always exposing the world to new user-based digital technology such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad (not exactly first, but he took it to a new level). If two individuals have a chance at making this idea successful, it’s definitely these two gentlemen (this term is used loosely). The success of the iPad and the quality of the content on the Daily are going to weigh heavily on the amount of exposure this “newspaper” will receive.

If this concept does prove to be a success, you can be sure other media members will attempt to follow the work of Murdoch and Jobs. With the way the media is shaped these days, there may be conservative, liberal, independent, objective, radical, and tabloid editions plaguing the iPad in just a few years. Why not? That’s what happened to newspapers, television, and the internet. There’s no reason iPads and Kindles would be protected from the menagerie that is the media today.

The ideal goal of professional journalism has always been to provide objective news and information to the masses to ensure they are informed enough to make intelligent decisions. This goal has become tougher and tougher as technology has flooded the world of media with misinformation. Resisting bias for a journalist can be the hardest part of the occupation. Everyone possesses their own opinions and thoughts; the challenge for a professional is to curb those biases in their writings. The blogosphere has made that a near impossibility for most people since they can spew their ideas all over the world from the safe confines of their own home. But, for an employed journalist, they must prevent their beliefs from spilling out onto their keyboards to preserve the integrity of their hard-earned credibility. So, the question at the forefront of the journalism world in this day and age is: Is there still hope for objective journalism?

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller doesn’t believe so, according to this article from thehill.com. He believes the watchdog has dissipated into a 24-hour “barkfest” that has plagued our televisions with rumors and a lack of concern for the facts. He couldn’t be more right; in certain situations. Sure, it’s widely known that FoxNews and MSNBC have political agendas which drive their opinionated time slots. But, we live in an age where sitting on your couch and watching television should not be the only way a person consumes news and information. The internet is readily available almost anywhere and it provides vast amounts of truthful information for people to see. Wait, there is probably just as much bullshit on the net, if not more than television. We can’t forget about good ole fashioned print journalism. It may be dying, but it’s not dead yet folks. Surely, we can rely on the faithful newspapers that have been around since Gutenberg (And no, not Steve Guttenberg from 80s film classics such as Police Academy and Short Circuit). But, alas, there is still an incredible amount of incredibility in the world of newspapers. So, what is a hopelessly romantic journalist to do with the present state of the media?

Work harder and harder to make reliable journalism available to the public. Perhaps, objectivity is an utopian ideal that many perfectionists would find a hard time achieving. Then again, nobody is perfect. If objectivity is the supreme goal, falling just short of that could be sufficient enough. Is it not good enough reporting to provide all the facts necessary to a story in order to involve all the truth available, with just a slight pinch of subjective material? People want their opinions and ideas heard and with the popularity of talking heads, apparently people want to hear others opinions as well. Regardless of whether they want to hear arguments that support their beliefs, if a writer can smack them in the face with the truth and they still don’t believe it, the writer can’t be held accountable for the readers misbeliefs.

Now, being the student journalist I am, all I know of the field is to aim at being objective. On the other hand, being the human being that I am, I have strong opinions that I struggle to bottle up inside. So, being the blue-hearted American I’ve grown into I could probably sit and banter about the evils of NewsCorp and the utter disgust I have for Sarah Palin, but today I will take the upper roadway and offer the only solution I have to this forever evolving issue.

There is no clear cut way to eliminate subjective journalism, but I have perhaps a foolish faith in objective journalism as well. In my first semester at Stony Brook University, I took probably the most useful and all-around beneficial course to all Americans, News Literacy (No, this is not a shameful plug for Dean Schneider’s course). This course can teach anybody how to become an intelligent news consumer and learn how to accurately decipher the crap that bombards us everyday. This course should be mandatory for all freshman in all colleges across the country. How is a young adult going to know what to trust in a world filled with such deceit? This course gives us the ammo we need to defend ourselves. I’d even go as far as to say it could be installed in high schools as well. I do see a problem with a lack of interest since most high school students are simply looking forward to what they’re going to do over the weekend and not who they’re going to vote for in the next election.

Truth is, I really don’t know if an unbiased media will survive in the future. I really hope so, cause if an occupation as necessary as journalism loses it’s supreme goal, there’s not much hope for our youth. Everyone needs goals in life. Sometimes the long term goals don’t always pan out, but if you can manage to achieve a whole bunch of short term goals along the way, you didn’t do too bad. That objective goal has been around for a long time, but it seems to be getting further and further away. Hopefully, journalism doesn’t ever give up on it though. For now, I’ll keep my faith objectively optimistic.

Newsweek Getting Beasted

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Journalism


With the sale of Newsweek for $1 to the Daily Beast, the future of the publication couldn’t have been too optimistic. Now, the Beast is considering dropping the online site altogether. Due to the changing trend in journalism, which is focusing on an online interactive approach to news, the Beast has a better chance at succeeding in the long run.

Newsweek does have a more credible brand name than the Daily Beast and also receives more visitors per month, according to gigaom.com article by Mathew Ingram. However, Beast newsers tend to visit more often and view the site for longer periods of time while looking at more articles. This is more in tune with what advertisers are looking for when choosing sites to display their ads. If a single person visits newsweek.com and only looks at two articles and that same person visits thedailybeast.com and views five articles, the advertising space is more valuable with the latter. For a website that doesn’t have a paywall, advertising is king. I agree with the idea to maintain what is already archived on the site and forward viewers to new content on the Beast. If the journalists working on Newsweek’s website move over to the Beast, the same quality of reporting can be done under a different name. It would also be more economically feasible to put all expenses towards running one site as opposed to two.

Newsweek’s fate hasn’t been sealed yet, but its well-known reputation seems to be the main factor keeping the site alive. The Beast’s audience is growing, so providing more articles from respected journalists from Newsweek.com will only help improve its reputation. By combining the efforts of the two sites, it could bring the viewers from Newsweek over to the Beast instead of eliminating the popular following altogether. The merger can be reaped for all its benefits whether newsweek.com survives the overhaul or not.