16 April 2004

Nader Wants Filmmaker Moore to Come Home By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Ralph Nader (news - web sites) wants renegade filmmaker Michael Moore to end his dalliance with the Democratic Party and return to his anti-establishment roots.

The independent presidential candidate sent an open letter to Moore on Friday pleading with him to support Nader's third-party candidacy, as Moore did in 2000.

"Ok Michael, you've had your realpolitik fling with ex-General Wesley Clark (news - web sites)," Nader writes. "Your endorsed presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries has withdrawn. It is time for you to come home, to join your buddies and resume your only genuine role which is that of defiance and resistance."
Whaaaat? Wesley Clark, realpolitik?
It makes me feel all warm inside that Nader cares more about his fantasy ideology of defiance than about the reality of the terrorist threat.

15 April 2004

"If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed."
-Mark Twain
In honor of the press's dismal display at President Bush's recent news conference and the resultant LGF discussion about it, I compiled ideas from LGF posters and added my own thoughts in hopes of generating further discussion.

Who watches the watchers

Two questions for the press

How do you feel about Daniel Pearl, a journalist, being murdered by terrorist thugs?

Second question, how did you feel when two terrorist thugs with forged press credentials assassinated the Northern Alliance commander?

The above demonstrates that the press can some under scrutiny as well. The public has a right to ask questions of the press as much as the press asks questions (supposedly on behalf of the public) of public officials. Bloggers/protestwarriors can look for opportunities to ask journalistic questions of the journalists, scrutinizing and reporting on their journalism. Celebrities have fan clubs. Journalists should be flattered to have … Watch clubs.


Explain to the press the nature of their credibility problem. Explain often. Keep pounding it home. Write letters to editors and publishers about the general nature of the problem, to reporters about specifics (be sure to cc their bosses)
C-Span has been taking calls from voters expressing the questions they would like to hear the 9/11 commission ask the principals. National news organizations should be petitioned to create a communication channel so readers can submit questions they want to see asked. Feedback should be provided in the form of a list of the most popular questions.
A service that reports on which reporter covered which events and gives links to transcripts and contact info, for critiquing purposes, would be useful.

Watch trends in local reporting and opinion

Watch your local college paper’s opinion columns. Learn about the student editors’ backgrounds and learn where they go to work when they graduate.
Don’t discount smaller local publications. The local media have influence on voters and public opinion. Is there a correlation between what gets published in the paper and voting trends in your area? Clipping service: If something egregious comes up like in Florida, scan and send. Make note of trends: how many pro and anti something per month. Track trends over years.
Use the “People’s Database” – the internet. Post info to something googleable, wayback-able, and otherwise archivable (newsfroups are archived forever and don’t expire like google caches right?) so it’s there years from now.

Be there

Bloggers/protestwarriors/journalismwarriors can look for opportunities to ask journalistic questions of the journalists, scrutinizing and reporting on their journalism
Protest warrioring: go to anti-war manifestations and get the message out.

Competing news outlets jujitsu

Fact-checking their asses to death: every time you see a mistake or bias, send a letter to the editor (and competing papers as well -- they love to bitchslap one another).
-picketing of local TV stations and newspapers.

Addendum: for “actions” like picketing – learn to use the news cycle
I do like the idea of getting media attention by playing these folks off of one another. If you make the point that 'this specific station' is distorting news, the bozo from the other station might not even pick up on the fact that it's the slander they all propagate that is being protested.
Journalism as objective truth is being destroyed in this country.

I’d like to know if the reporters know much about the history of the media and what happens to a country when the media loses its integrity. I have no trust that reporters know any history, I won’t take the word of journalism professors and I won’t take the word of publishers – I want to see it with my own eyes.

I want news outlets to compete with each other in proving to me how learned they are, how well they understand history as well as current events. Bloggers do that as a matter of course.

Reporters learned history in grade school

Journalists and readers, like the rest of us, had their basic world view begin to take shape in grade school and high school history class. We have to look down the road. Ten and twenty years from now, public discourse will have been shaped by what kids are being taught right now.

If you have kids in school or pay money into a school district, examine the textbooks and workbooks that are being used. The Hindu International Council Against Defamation pointed out an article on FrontPage Mag: Textbooks for Jihad. Do read that article and learn about the radical professors who contributed to history textbooks used in American 9th and 12th grades – it’s an eye-opener.

Pitch consumer’s focus groups to university journalism courses. Get a couple of associates to commit some time to showing up in a classroom once a semester for a panel discussion in front of students. Approach professors with the offer. Try graduate assistants also.

Get personal

Talking to friends and family: do your best to keep your cool, bring solid arguments, and invite people not to believe you blindly but check for themselves, if possible using non-traditional sources.
-email campaigns
- send out links to news stories (an example would be Kerry's "legitimate voice" view). The caveat to this is to make sure the story is valid before sending it out. The email needs to be sent to everyone you know, not just those that agree with you.

Corollary: we need to know how to check the validity of a story and indicate in our email/post that we have fact-checked ourselves.
Thought: I can’t bring myself to send email to “everyone I know” because I know I’d be making myself obnoxious. How about a forum where all can post news stories, and refer reporters to it along with family and friends. Don't those already exist or do the jihadists have the corner on the market?
The President's press secretary should ask in some bloggers to the press conference and make sure the President allows THEM to ask questions.

Use the law

-suing an outlet or two for fraudulent data

Use economics

- email campaigns to the FINANCIAL decision on makers of these papers (and to advertisers) pointing out obvious bias, distortion, and ignoring of news.
-blogging (although not a lot of people check out blogs) and promoting good blogs via emailing friends.

What would it take to start an honest news agency?

Money to subscribe to wire services, to pay reporters, fact checkers, editors. Or if we ignore wire services, do we rely on grass-roots submissions only? We still have to avoid becoming like Indymedia.

Don’t forget about Honestreporting and Backspin:

"In June 2002, major editorial changes occurred at CNN which greatly shifted public perception of the Arab-Israel conflict in general, and the role of Palestinian suicide bombers in particular. HonestReporting was cited in The New York Times (July 1, 2002) as playing a role in this shift."

The press missed all these opportunities to ask for clarification on any one of the things he touched on, which would have been so much more interesting. All I can think to do is email each reporter critiquing their performance.

HonestReporting’s focus is on reporting about Israel, which is a big enough task. We can learn a lot from its techniques and use its spinoff Backspin to focus on reporting about American foreign policy. (I just sent feedback to Reuters using their form)

The standards of responsible journalism put forth on HonestReporting can be applied to local media outlets as well.

The "7 Violations of Media Objectivity":

  1. Misleading definitions and terminology.

  2. Imbalanced reporting.

  3. Opinions disguised as news.

  4. Lack of context.

  5. Selective omission.

  6. Using true facts to draw false conclusions.

  7. Distortion of facts.