Journalism’s new (not really) vehicle for delivering news — email newsletters

CATEGORY: JournalismI don’t read The Washington Post any more. I don’t see a hard copy. I don’t go prowling around its website.

Instead, I read four of its newsletters delivered by email every day. In fact, WashPo offers 68 newsletters culled from the work of its journalists and pundits. So it’s easy to select the kind of news anyone might want (rather than have an algorithm do it).

These newsletters are well-crafted and not necessarily hastily churned-out hodgepodges of factoids. For example, the Daily 202 (all about news from the American capital), begins like this today:

10 important questions raised by Sally Yates’s testimony on the ‘compromised’ Michael Flynn

Sally Yates’s Senate testimony in three minutes

THE BIG IDEA: Sally Yates’s riveting testimony Monday raised far more questions than it answered. Most of all, it cast fresh doubts on Donald Trump’s judgment. [boldface in original]

Each Daily 202 from WashPo is designed to be quickly read. Each item is one or two paragraphs and contains a link or two for further consumption.

WashPo’s not alone in the newsletter game. Continue reading

Remembering Andy Rooney. Moving on.

Andy Rooney is dead.

When Kurt Cobain died in 1994 Rooney launched perhaps his most infamous rant. From the Wikipedia summary:

“I’d love to relieve the pain you’re going through by switching my age for yours.” In addition, he asked “What would all these young people be doing if they had real problems like a Depression, World War II or Vietnam?” and commented that “If [Cobain] applied the same brain to his music that he applied to his drug-infested life, it’s reasonable to think that his music may not have made much sense either.”

I swore then that on the day Rooney died there’d be a party at my house where we’d dance on the grave of the hateful bastard just as he had Cobain’s.

That Rooney apologized the following week doesn’t really matter to me. Continue reading

Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

Today at 11 EST: the most important story in the entire world, live

Finally, after all these months, Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods is going to apologize. To you, to me, and to all the other people around the world that he cheated on. I know, I know, it’s not really his fault. He has an addiction. To cocktail waitresses (I think this is on page 486 of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual V, due out in 2013).

Most importantly, his apology will be carried live by CBS. By NBC. By ABC. By CNN, CNBC, HLN, Fox News, Fox Business and MSNBC. That makes it a bigger story than health care. It’s bigger than the guy who crashed a plane into the IRS building in Austin. It’s bigger than Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It’s even bigger than the Winter Olympics, which are offered on tape-delay.

And it’s sure as hell bigger than this assortment of crybaby hippie socialist bullshit. Continue reading

Nota Bene #86: Blog Post Go Boom

I learned something new today Continue reading

Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, pt. 2

Part 2 of a series; Previously: What Bell Labs and French Intellectuals Can Tell Us About Cronkite and Couric

The Signal-to-Noise Journey of American Media

The 20th Century represented a Golden Age of Institutional Journalism. The Yellow Journalism wars of the late 19th Century gave way to a more responsible mode of reporting built on ethical and professional codes that encouraged fairness and “objectivity.” (Granted, these concepts, like their bastard cousin “balance,” are not wholly unproblematic. Still, they represented a far better way of conducting journalism than we had seen before.) It’s probably not idealizing too much to assert that reporting in the Cronkite Era, for instance, was characterized by a commitment to rise above partisanship and manipulation. The journalist was expected to hold him/herself to a higher standard and to serve the public interest. These professionals – and I have met a few who are more than worthy of the title – believed they had a duty to search for the facts and to present them in a fashion that was as free of bias as possible.

In other words, their careers, like that of Claude Shannon, were devoted to maximizing the signal in the system – the system here being the “marketplace of ideas.” Continue reading

Our latest tragic shooting: who's to blame?

Another church shooting, this time in Knoxville. By now you’ve probably read the accounts and know that the shooter, Jim Adkisson, was motivated by, among other things, an apparent hatred of “liberals.”

Before diving too much deeper, there are a couple things we can probably safely say about Adkisson. First, these weren’t the actions of a rational man. Rational people don’t wade into crowds of people attempting to kill as many as possible.

So whatever else may have been at play, and no doubt the causes were many and complex, let’s be clear that we’re dealing with a disturbed individual. Continue reading

S&R Poll: the press and trust

The results of the latest S&R poll are in. Readers were asked “Which major press entity do you regard as the most credible source of news?”

1. Other/None of the above (70)
2. BBC (64)
3. PBS (39)
4. CNN (15)
5. New York Times (11)
6. Washington Post (6)
NBC/MSNBC (6)
Wall Street Journal (6)
9. FOX News (4)
10. ABC (2)
USA Today/Gannett (2)
12. CBS (1)

Our new poll, which asks you about important issues that have not been adequately addressed, is now posted in the column to the right.

Moonves calls Rather’s remarks sexist, but who’s the real sexist here?

So, CBS CEO Les Moonves thinks Dan Rather’s comments about Katie Couric are sexist, huh?

CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves shot back at former CBS news anchor Dan Rather today, saying remarks Rather made about his successor, Katie Couric, were “sexist.”Rather, speaking on MSNBC by phone on Monday, said CBS had made the mistake of taking the evening news broadcast and “dumbing it down, tarting it up,” and playing up topics such as celebrities over war coverage. The comments appeared in blogs and in a story published today in the New York Daily News.

While referring to Couric as a “nice person,” Rather said “the mistake was to try to bring the ‘Today’ show ethos to the ‘Evening News,’ and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience.” (Story.)

Well, here’s what I think. Continue reading