By Colby Cosh - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 0 Comments
In January, the Globe and Mail appointed longtime editor and correspondent Sylvia Stead its first “public editor”. What say we pause right there, before we go any further? The job of “public editor” is one most closely associated with the New York Times, which has had five different people doing the job since it created a post with that title in 2003—soon after the Jayson Blair fabrication scandal. The function of the public editor at the Times, as the title suggests, is to advocate for journalism ethics, fairness, and proper practice on behalf of the paper’s readership, dealing with concerns and challenges as they arise.
To that end, the Times—quite naturally, one would think—has always recruited people for the job who haven’t been associated with the Times for their entire adult lives, but who do have some knowledge of journalism and non-fiction practice. The first Times public editor was Daniel Okrent, a legendary book and magazine editor. The new one, Margaret Sullivan, has been associated with the Warren Buffett-owned Buffalo News since 1980.
The Times is probably careful about this because it created the “public editor” job in the wake of a serious credibility crisis. It could ill afford to choose somebody who had grown up in the Times cocoon and was an irrecoverable permanent hostage to old friendships, work relationships, and office politics. In fact, it would be fair for you, dear reader, to ask the question “Why would you?” Why wouldn’t you hire someone with some independent standing to represent the public, if you were serious about it?
Well: those last six words bring us to Ms. Stead’s remarkable papal bull, published Friday, concerning Globe columnist Margaret Wente. Continue…
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 3:37 PM - 0 Comments
Television news does not beg to be remembered. It is made to feed the hot moment, for right now. It’s an ever-spewing tap of hot and cold (or left and right) running talk. Slow it down, play it back, or think about it too much, and it can all fall apart. That’s what Jon Stewart built his career upon.
Now you can do it too. The folks at the incredible Internet Archive have just released an amazing new resource. It’s the last 3 years of U.S. TV news, in a searchable format, online and free to use. Every aspect of this is astonishing.
Firstly, think about the scope of the project. No, it’s not literally all TV news produced in America in the last three years, but it’s pretty damn good. Twenty stations have been recorded—that’s 350,000 episodes of television. Second, all of this is searchable. As a journalist who has spent, I’m guessing, months of my life transcribing audio interviews into text, I couldn’t figure out how they did this. My mind conjured up some vastly distributed crowdsourcing effort—a “mechanical Turk” operation where thousands of volunteer participants transcribed a minute or two of news footage when they had a minute to spare. Turns out, it’s nothing so fancy. Closed-captioning provides a more or less exact written record of every word spoken on the news, linked to timecode. Ingenious or obvious? Who cares, it’s awesome. Finally, the whole archive is accessible anywhere in the world via the web, for free. Hallelujah!
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 12:02 PM - 0 Comments
In the process of reporting on a dispute between the Conservative party and the CRTC, Stephen Maher demonstrates—with three words—how to refer to what one side is saying, while also reporting the truth (emphasis mine).
In May, he recorded a caller from “supporter services” seeking money. The caller starts by saying that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair had revealed that “he wants to impose a carbon tax on Canadians,” which isn’t true.
Here, again, are the reasons why this is farcical.
By Julia Belluz - Friday, August 31, 2012 at 3:31 PM - 0 Comments
The morning started late at the United Nations conference centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On the gated compound—surrounded by muddy roads, and a mash-up of steel huts, unfinished buildings and Western-style hotels—it was day one of a World Health Organization forum about how to get better evidence into health policy-making.
Science-ish had travelled to the Horn of Africa to talk about the role media can play in divulging information about health research and holding policymakers to account when they ignore or misuse it.
The room suddenly filled with some 50 delegates from all over Africa and the world—Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, the U.S., Great Britain, the Sudan. Most of them have been working for the better part of the last decade on tools and methods to ensure that high-quality research gets out of the ivory tower and makes its way into policy and the realm of public knowledge.
After the translators readied themselves to connect us through our many languages, the meeting began. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it quickly became clear that reporters and researchers working on getting the evidence message across in this region face a number of unique challenges. One journalist from Ethiopia asked about how to start a national professional group for reporters because none exists here and the state controls the media. A researcher from South Africa said reporters in her country routinely botch health stories because there are few dedicated journalists who understand the beat. A Sudanese health columnist told Science-ish that everything she writes has to be vetted by government officials before it goes to print; words they don’t like get cut. “I will still write it anyway,” she said defiantly, adding that the government of Omar al-Bashir recently sanctioned a colleague for speaking out. “Now he sits in the corner of the newsroom, silent.”
By Scaachi Koul - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 6:59 PM - 0 Comments
But for another—one of our interns—it’s more depressing to complain about it
When I graduated last month, everyone told me that it was the beginning of the rest of my life. This, they told me, was when it would all start becoming really difficult, and it would show what I was made of. I would come into my own.
But why didn’t anyone tell me I wouldn’t get everything I waaaaaaaaaaant?
Taylor Cotter, a 22-year-old American writer and editor, already has a job, an apartment, a 401k and financial autonomy from her parents. But she’s sad. She’s sad because things are working out for her. Cotter, you see, never had to struggle for her success the way others have had to. From her blog post on The Huffington Post:
But what about that 10-cents-a-word life that I always wanted? What about New York City? What about freelancing, penning newspaper columns and urban adventures? What about the struggles that I see on Girls and the tales of credit card debt and ramen noodle dinners? Aren’t these the things that really make you 22?
No, that is not what makes you 22. But I’ll get back to that.
The first line in her post, if it isn’t the most egregious, is certainly the least accurate: “Like most female journalists, I assume, I only grew up with two real inspirations in my life: Carrie Bradshaw and Harriet the Spy.”
First of all, neither of these people are real. They aren’t real journalists. Harriet the Spy never had an editor tell her to rewrite a first draft, and the closest Bradshaw ever got to winning a Pulitzer was breaking the record of the highest number of lazy rhetorical questions used in a single column.
And as one of those female journalists she speaks of, neither of those people were anywhere near to a “real” “inspiration.” I don’t know if it’s offensive or hilarious but surely Helen Thomas is thrilled that the best Cotter can do in thinking up a female inspiration is the walking glitter-sneeze that is Sarah Jessica Parker.
I’m 21. I have no debt because my credit card is cold. I pay my rent on time but I don’t own a car and will not let a quarter fall from my purse because that, that is laundry money and I’m not a monster. I don’t expect to always be employed because I can’t: I made the choice—foolish or not—to be a journalist in a volatile time.
When did eating ramen get so sexy? Cotter, you know you can buy it even if you can afford actual vegetables, right?
It’s so easy to fall in love with your own melancholy. In your 20s, it’s romantic to be lost and read The Catcher in the Rye AGAIN. But if Cotter is under the delusion that this industry—or just simply being—isn’t already some sort of struggle, she doesn’t know what’s coming.
Being poor isn’t that fun. If she wants that “10-cents-a-word life [she] always wanted,” it can be arranged. In fact, she might already be on her way: it’s not like HuffPost paid her for this blog post.
Frankly, if making these “life-defining” decisions so early in your precious youth is making you nervous—and youth is, indeed, precious, mostly because you can’t appreciate it when you actually have it—then don’t. Don’t take the full-time job, don’t take the pension, don’t pay your rent. Make a mess of your life while it’s still socially acceptable to do so. No one will bat an eye if you don’t pay off your debt in your 20s.
To answer the original question: “Aren’t these the things that really make you 22?” I guess that depends on what you want to be when you grow up. If you want to be entitled to both the glory of success and the clout that struggle lends to you, then sure, being a plaintive 20-something with a blog is probably what it’s all about. But it can also be about making choices that are good for you without complaining about your crisis of abundance and still trying to figure yourself out. It can also mean stealing mesh crop-tops from your local American Apparel while screaming “YOLO” and buying $7 pitchers. Even with the “right” job and the “right” life, it’s nearly guaranteed that in your early 20s, you are still screwing up all over the place.
Life is hard enough. Don’t ask anyone to make it harder for you.
Now how’s that for young women in struggle?
By Dave Bidini - Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 9:52 AM - 0 Comments
Once upon a time, I despised the writer Eric Duhatschek. I despised him because…
Once upon a time, I despised the writer Eric Duhatschek. I despised him because he wrote: “People in Toronto aren’t hockey fans; they’re Leaf fans.” When I first read this, I wanted to hit him. Hard. In the stomach; maybe the ribs. Using his column’s postage stamp photo as my guide, I looked out for him whenever I travelled to Calgary. I imagined seeing him in a bar, and pouring a beer over his head, or finding him on the sidewalk, and pushing him into thorny shrubs, or watching him climb with groceries into his car, only to club him into submission with a can of stewed tomatoes.
But then I met the tall, wispy Albertan. It turned out that he was friendly, with impeccable taste in music. During our first encounter, he compared Selina Martin to Rachel Sweet, which was good enough for me. Eric also used to room with James Muritech, the late Calgary Herald music writer. James was one of the first and only journalists to review the Rheostatics’ 1987 debut album, Greatest Hits. The Hat remembers his roommate effusing over the work, then setting down to write about it. So I can’t be mad at him. And I no longer want to hit him. Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM - 4 Comments
Universities are rolling out newly minted master’s programs. Just don’t call it a profession.
Carmen Smith used to think she didn’t need graduate school. And why would she? Even before finishing her bachelor of journalism degree at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., Smith was the publisher of a women’s magazine called Belle, which she founded.
But she changed her mind after an academic adviser told her about a new master’s in journalism program offered at King’s College in Halifax that could help her do better with her own publication. “I really thought it was interesting to see how they were developing their program around entrepreneurial journalism,” Smith recalls. “That’s why I came.”
Smith, now 22, is one of a growing number of wannabe journalists heading to master’s programs in Canada. Before 2000, there were only two degrees available in the country, at Carleton University and the University of Western Ontario. Today, there are six, with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University both gearing up their own programs.
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
The News of the World scandal is a lot like the comedy The Front Page, only without any redeeming qualities
The News of the World turns out to be a lot like The Front Page, but somehow that fills us with disgust, not nostalgia. The often-performed, frequently filmed newspaper comedy has defined much of what we know about the good old days of journalism, and it seems a lot like today’s bad days. The lead character of the play, reporter Hildy Johnson, describes his job as, “Peeking through keyholes! Running after fire engines like a lot of coach dogs! Waking people up in the middle of the night to ask them what they think of companionate marriage. Stealing pictures off old ladies of their daughters that get raped in Oak Park.” It turns out that today he’d simply be hacking into a computer to get the pictures, but otherwise, not much seems to have changed.
Hildy’s editor, Walter Burns, will do anything to get an exclusive story and the advertiser dollars that come with it: he hires a small-time gangster to do dirty work for him (including kidnapping an old woman), lies to everyone, plants evidence, and violates all kinds of ethics and laws in his 1½ acts of stage time. The result was a beloved comic rogue who was portrayed by Cary Grant in the movie His Girl Friday. It’s a little different with similar alleged behaviour on tabloids today: instead of getting played by Cary Grant, you get busted by Hugh Grant.
Old-school portrayals of unethical journalism are easier to love because, for one thing, they’re fictional. But they’re also about a time when we could believe that reporters, however awful, served a noble purpose. The story of The Front Page is that by pursuing a sensationalistic story, the journalists manage to expose the corruption of the city government. Most of them don’t seem to care about anything more than their headlines, and they’re happy to ruin people’s lives (including driving a woman to attempt suicide) to get them. Many of their tactics, like bribing the police to get information, would seem at home in a story about News International. But in the end, the play promises us, muckraking reporters will make politics more honest.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 2:45 PM - 14 Comments
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 3:52 PM - 21 Comments
The Boston Globe compares what Barack Obama was asked about during yesterday’s Twitter town hall with what journalists asked during the last two weeks of White House press briefings.
A similar experiment here would likely produce similar results: comparing, for instance, what Michael Ignatieff was asked about during his various town halls with what the departed Liberal leader was asked about during scrums would probably find the same disconnect.
You could theorize all sorts of reasons to explain that disconnect, but it is perhaps worth wondering whether something should be done to shrink the gap.
From the American standpoint, Matthew Yglesias sees the “leading failure of the press”
By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 5 Comments
The TV journalist who famously ‘got’ Charlie Sheen has a surprising Canadian target in her sights
It’s 10:30 on a Sunday night in mid-April, and ABC TV’s Andrea Canning is gently grilling a 17-year-old girl about the serial killer who allegedly murdered her sister. The hunt for the prostitute-killing psychopath is big news in New York; Canning has just snagged the first on-air interview with the Buffalo, N.Y., teenager who says she received calls on her sister’s cell from the man two years ago. The girl is filmed in shadow to protect her identity. Before tape rolls at an ABC studio in Manhattan, Canning expresses her sympathy, then breaks the ice by joking that some days she’d like to be filmed in shadow. “No hair and makeup!” The southern Ontario native then bonds with the girl’s entourage: “I grew up knowing too much about Buffalo news,” she says. Then she gets down to extracting enough footage for a one-minute clip for her regular stint on Good Morning America (GMA) the next day. It’s a challenge: the girl’s answers are monosyllabic. The scene has a mutually predatory aspect to it. The lurking question, “Why are you risking your life?” isn’t asked. The answer is obvious: it’s her 15 seconds of fame.
For Canning, the girl is a minor prize in her roster of high-profile “gets,” a list that includes fugitive actor Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, 13-year-old Rebecca Black, whose song Friday elicited Internet snark, and, most famously, an unhinged Charlie Sheen. Canning’s 90-minute February sit-down with the actor, his first network interview after being fired, was a sensation. Sheen’s mash-up spoof of the encounter, now part of his North American tour, was a YouTube hit. It propelled Canning’s rising star at a time when it’s not enough for network news to simply report the news; it now has to make news itself. Celebrities and scandal are the ideal vehicles. “Gadhafi is important but Sheen pays the bills,” Canning says, quoting an ABC executive.
Coaxing ratings gold from Malibu’s “warlock” is a world away from Canning’s childhood in the Collingwood, Ont., area, where her grandfather founded the Blue Mountain ski resort, now run by her father. A “shy kid” who skied competitively, she majored in psychology at the University of Western Ontario before a summer acting course at the University of California led to the TV journalism program at Toronto’s Ryerson University. A gig as a Baywatch intern (David Hasselhoff remains “a good friend”) paved her way to an intern position at the tabloid TV show Extra. While in L.A., Canning shared a house with the then-unknown Ryan Seacrest, who was “very driven,” she recalls. “We say there was something in the water in that house.” Extra provided her first taste of the adrenalin rush of breaking scandal when she confirmed a 1997 phone tip that the woman accusing sportscaster Marv Albert of sexual assault faced criminal indictments.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 11:03 AM - 70 Comments
Does B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Mike de Jong think you should take Drano for heartburn? Does he think the Canucks would win more often if the Sedins were traded for magic beans? Anything’s possible. Literally anything.
B.C. teenagers should be able to vote in provincial elections when they are old enough to drive, Liberal leadership candidate Mike de Jong said Wednesday.
De Jong said if elected premier he would introduce legislation to lower the voting age to 16 from 18 in an attempt to interest teenagers in the democratic process before they graduate high school.
“What happens now is Grade 12 students leave and the vast majority of them never vote, or if they do, they are 40 or 50 by the time they get around to it,” he said.
Lowering the voting age could also help boost low voter turnout, he said. Only 51 per cent of 3.24 million eligible voters cast ballots in the 2009 B.C. election, down from 58 per cent in 2005 and 55 per cent in 2001.
The most natural next sentence, you’d think, would mention that the figure was a miserable 27% with the youngest voters, those aged 18-24. Numbers from the last couple of federal elections suggest that even within that 18-24 cohort, younger voters are less interested in voting; in the ’06 election, eligible voters aged 18-19½ (many still in high school) turned out less than voters aged 19½-21½, and those voters, in turn, were less likely to show up than voters aged 21½-24.
You’ll notice that those figures are irreconcilable with de Jong’s just-so story of eager schoolchildren instantly losing interest in voting when we open the gates and turn them loose for the last time. But who’d buy that anyway? Kids who leave high school either take up post-secondary education, and enter the most politically engaged space they’re likely to occupy in their entire lives, or they start earning paycheques—a moment at which government policy becomes frighteningly real, as if a monster in a children’s book had suddenly leapt off the page and started devouring the furniture.
De Jong is proposing a “solution” that helped cause the problem he is addressing: the Western world already essentially made a collective decision to sacrifice voter turnout on the altar of youth when it lowered voting ages to 18. It’s not clear why higher turnout ought to be considered a virtue in itself, but if it is, then that’s the dumbest move we could possibly have made. As André Blais observed in 2006, it’s hard to pin down the variables that influence turnout, but the effect of adding young voters in the ’60s and ’70s is pretty much the most unambiguous factor of all:
It is a well-established fact that the propensity to vote increases with age (Wolfinger & Rosenstone 1980, Blais 2000), and so we would expect turnout to be lower when the voting age is 18 instead of 21. Research that examines turnout in contemporary advanced democracies does not incorporate that variable for the simple reason that the voting age is now 18 almost everywhere (Massicotte et al. 2004), and there is thus no variation.
Blais & Dobrzynska (1998), whose sample of elections starts in the 1970s, do include a voting age variable and they find a relatively strong effect; their results suggest that lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 reduces turnout by five points. Voting age is also a key factor in Franklin’s (2004) study of turnout dynamics. He estimates that the lowering of the voting age in most democracies has produced a turnout decline of about three percentage points.
Leaving aside the Mike de Jong-bashing for a moment, what hardly anybody ever asks when discussing turnout is whether it might be rational for young people not to vote. An economist, after all, would start with the presumption that since they don’t, it must in some sense be rational for them not to. Political reporters and columnists, unless their names rhyme with Bandrew Boyne, do not tend to take an economist’s attitude toward social questions; but I would argue that these people have the strongest reasons of all to suspect that young people are right to re-enter the voting pool one toe at a time.
I was first put on a political beat at the age of 24 or 25. I had an education and plenty of information, but I was still at sea nine-tenths of the time, simply because I had only followed electoral politics for about seven or eight years (since the federal election of 1988, really). I didn’t know the personalities; I hadn’t amassed a store of anecdotes, tall tales, and gossip; I had no personal memory of what had been tried and untried, what policies and political strategies had a tendency to work or not to work, what promises are almost certain to be broken. I hadn’t been surprised a hundred times and just plain gotten things wrong another hundred.
There is no substitute for living through history. The older I get, the more I notice how much of my wisdom comes from simply having hung around a while and watching old friends climb the ladders of power and wealth. And the older I get, the less qualified I feel to have secure opinions about horserace politics, even though my profession requires me to feign omniscience. I defy you to find any political journalist who doesn’t feel the same way.
In this case, what’s true of an occasional political feuilletonist must surely be true of the ordinary citizen, who is (presumably) absorbing practical political knowledge even more passively, slowly, and intuitively. And if the vote is important primarily as a sign of humanity, or of being bound by the social contract, then there can be no argument for any voting-age limits; let’s have Fisher-Price design a ballot interface for infants. How could de Jong possibly object? What could he possibly say, even now, to some other thumbsucking pseudo-innovator who made the argument that the limit really ought to be 15?
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 3, 2010 at 2:23 PM - 22 Comments
Rob Silver calls for the outing of misleading sources.
I have lost count of how many stories in Canada over just the last 12 months have been mirror images of this case. Writer puts forward juicy story based on unnamed sources, PMO denies any truth to the story, life goes on as if the story was never filed. It is certainly not confined to The Globe as pretty much every paper has been “burned” this way.
There are two solutions – and only two solutions – to this problem. Either papers should stop relying on unnamed sources and given the impossibility that this will happen, the other option is this: When a source burns a paper – when they put something out that turns out to be patently false – the affected paper should immediately refile the story with the names of the sources relied on included.
By Jason Unrau - Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 1 Comment
The Yukon News defended a CBC reporter’s controversial report. Now, to defend itself, it’s taking her to court.
“I’ve never encountered this,” says Fred Kozak, president of the Canadian Media Lawyers Association, of being called this summer to defend one reporter’s journalist-source privilege against another media outlet. Kozak was hired by the CBC in a case involving the Yukon News and Watson Lake physician Said Secerbegovic, who alleges the paper defamed him in a November 2004 editorial.
The editorial was based on CBC reporter Nancy Thomson’s coverage of drug and alcohol abuse in Watson Lake, including federal documents she had obtained that revealed that claims for Tylenol 3 and Ativan in the community had more than doubled and tripled respectively between 2002 and 2003. Her series caused a stir. Secerbegovic, who owns Watson Lake’s only private pharmacy, dismissed Thomson on a phone-in show as a National Enquirer journalist. On another show, Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie (also Watson Lake’s MLA) repeatedly challenged her “to make your accusation,” before walking out of the studio. The Yukon News editorial that came out shortly after defended Thomson’s report as a public service and criticized Fentie’s response. It also noted that Fentie’s wife worked for Secerbegovic, and the doctor had a contract to buy property from Fentie.
By Andrew Potter - Monday, June 7, 2010 at 5:18 PM - 3 Comments
Michael Schudson is not super well-known, even by the relatively anonymous standards of academia….
Michael Schudson is not super well-known, even by the relatively anonymous standards of academia. But his book The Uneasy Persuasion completely upended my thinking about the way advertising does (and, more often, doesn’t) work, and now another one of his books is having a similar impact on my thinking about journalism and its relationship to democracy. The book is called Why Democracies Need An Unloveable Press, and it’s a short but really smart look at the different democratic functions played by the media, and the curcumstances under which it does (and, sometimes, does not) serve those functions. One line of argument I especially like is his claim that our understanding of journalism’s role is tainted by tacit populist assumptions, and that we would do better to understand journalism’s democratic mission in a representative democracy.
If Schudson is right, one consequence for the media is that we need to pay more attention to institutions. Informing people in the name of helping voters hold the government to account is important, yes. But recognizing the way most of the effective checks on government power are not vertical (i.e. between government and voters) but horizontal (i.e. through opposing branches or institutions) would change the nature of journalism in a way that could help it play a more effective role in enhancing democracy.
More tomorrow — especially in light of this highly-blogged article.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 4:20 PM - 1 Comment
Russian journalist Voitenko says ‘serious people’ told him to flee
Last week, there was yet another reminder that journalists are far from safe in Russia. Media outlets around the world were reporting that the Arctic Sea cargo ship—which went missing for more than two weeks in early August—might have been transporting Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. But a Russian journalist who repeated those claims was forced to flee his country, fearing repercussions.
Mikhail Voitenko, editor of the online Maritime Bulletin-Sovfrakht, claimed he’d received a phone call from “serious people” after publicly contradicting Russian officials. It’s just further proof, says Jean-François Julliard, secretary-general of Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), that “it’s not safe to be a journalist in Russia.”
Indeed, Russia ranks as one of the deadliest countries in the world for working journalists: only Iraq and Algeria are more dangerous, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. On RSF’s press freedom index, Russia ranked 141st of 173 countries in 2008, putting it slightly behind Sudan.
By Philippe Gohier - Friday, July 24, 2009 at 6:17 PM - 11 Comments
Exasperated, the 253 locked-out employees of the Journal de Montréal briefly waded into the…
Exasperated, the 253 locked-out employees of the Journal de Montréal briefly waded into the newsroom on Wednesday afternoon during a protest to mark the six-month anniversary of their labour conflict. They protested noisily but peacefully for a few minutes.
The union members stayed in the building for a few minutes before leaving of their accord. There were no reports of untoward behaviour by the union. However, some protesters were roughed up by security guards: a young female journalist was tossed to the ground and a reporter from the sports section was grabbed by the throat.
By macleans.ca - Friday, July 24, 2009 at 2:10 PM - 0 Comments
At 18, the future anchorman writes of the novelist’s comfortable shoes, close-cropped hair and of the rumours of a war that would later launch his career
In the wake of his death, Walter Cronkite’s old student newspaper at the University of Texas in Austin, the Daily Texan, unearths a 1935 profile that an 18-year-old cub Cronkite bashed out after an interview with avant-garde American novelist Gertrude Stein. “Dressed in a mannish blouse, a tweed skirt, a peculiar but attractive vest affair, and comfortable looking shoes, Miss Stein appeared much more of the woman than do the pictures that currently circulate,” Cronkite writes. The piece, in its crispness and attention to detail, is as much a portrait of a budding reporter as it is of Stein, the aphoristic genius who’d beguiled the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and—with her that evening as always—Alice B. Toklas, she of the cannabis brownies. “Miss Alice B. Toklas, Miss Stein’s traveling companion whose title is not ‘secretary,’ according to the author, was present,” writes the young Cronkite with a deft touch that belies his years. “Miss Stein attributed the depression to the psychology of the people. ‘The depression is more moral than actual,’ she observed. ‘No longer the people think they are depressed, the depression is over.’” And what, Cronkite asks, of the rumours of war from Europe? “Before I left, those who know in France didn’t believe that there would be a war,’ she answered. “But then war is just like anything else. When people get tired of peace they will have war and when they get tired of war they will have peace. Don’t you, when you have been good for a long time, want to be bad?”
By Andrew Potter - Monday, June 29, 2009 at 12:50 PM - 17 Comments
YouTube has launched a training hub for journalists who want to learn from the…
YouTube has launched a training hub for journalists who want to learn from the best in the business. It features short video tutorials including Katie Couric on how to interview, Nicholas Kristof on covering a global crisis, and Arianna Huffington on citizen (i.e. “unpaid”) journalism. Her accent kills me:
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 10:14 AM - 0 Comments
Turkish magazine editor claims she was sacked for putting Darwin on the cover
A magazine editor in Turkey says she was fired because she wanted to put a story about Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution on the cover of her publication. Der Spiegel has an interview with Cigdem Atakuman, the editor-in-chief of Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology).
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 8:36 AM - 6 Comments
Since Sunday evening, two Canadian diplomats — UN Special Envoy Robert Fowler, his assistant…
Since Sunday evening, two Canadian diplomats — UN Special Envoy Robert Fowler, his assistant Louis Guay, along with their driver (and possibly a fourth person) — have been missing in Niger. Initial indications were that they had been taken by a splinter cell of the MNJ, the Tuareg group that has been fighting the Nigerien gov for control of the massive uranium deposits under the Saharan desert that takes up the top 80% of the country.
By yesterday evening, the situation had grown more murky, not less. The splinter cell changed its mind and said nope, we don’t have them. The UN is now saying they don’t even know for sure that a kidnapping has taken place. All in all, not a pleasant situation.
By Andrew Potter - Thursday, November 13, 2008 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
For reasons both personal and professional, I’m concerned about ridiculous amount of turmoil in…
For reasons both personal and professional, I’m concerned about ridiculous amount of turmoil in the media sector. It’s getting to the point where I’m tempted to shut off my mediabistro and paidcontent feeds before I end up with a massive ulcer. How bad is it going to get? Gawker honcho Nick Denton is battening down the hatches:
These supposedly brutal layoffs at Time and other titles amount to only 6% of headcount at the bloated Time Warner magazine group. Other media groups such as the New York Times and Conde Nast—a hiring freeze, how callous!—are being even more squeamish. From conglomerates to internet ventures, executives should be planning now on a decline of up to 40% in advertising spending during this cycle. Instead they’re sleepwalking into economic extinction—even those lean online ventures which were supposed to take up the mantle and preserve New York’s position as a media capital.
Even Denton admits that there might be a smidgen of gamesmanship here, but his analysis is important and worth reading to the end. I’m still trying to get my thoughts clear on this, but this corner will have more to say on newspapers, print media, and the future of media over the next few days. I hope.
By selley - Monday, November 10, 2008 at 1:49 PM - 14 Comments
Down to business
In which the audacity of hope meets reality, and a bunch of know-it-all newspaper pundits. Phooey!
The Globe and Mail‘s John Ibbitson looks at the delicate politics of dealing with the ongoing financial crisis when only Barack Obama’s plans really matter, but George W. Bush is still president, and Obama wants nothing less than to be seen to be cozying up to Dubya. “It is the president-elect who has a clear agenda to solve an economic crisis”—i.e., a stimulus package likely costing $100 billion or thereabouts, coupled with bailouts for crappy American automakers—”and who must convince a lame-duck Congress to pass it, and a lame-duck President not to veto it,” Ibbitson observes. And thus far, he says Obama has looked very “presidential” in handling the crisis. But events will dictate whether he’s able to use the recession “to justify strong measures in energy conservation, infrastructure renewal, reform of financial regulations and improvements to health care and education,” or whether he gets swallowed by it whole.
Obama faces much the same economic situation Bill Clinton did when he became president-elect, Terence Corcoran argues in the National Post. “Harold Poling, then chairman of Ford, called on Washington to bail the auto industry out of its health care costs by setting up a national health care system;” some economists demanded a stimulus package, while others urged restraint; and “environmental activists called for strategic taxes on investment to encourage capital to flow into energy efficient and waste-reducing activities.” What happened instead during the Bush-Clinton interregnum was that simple messages and solutions became burdened with complexity, doubt and conflict amongst experts. It “drown[ed] out any Yes We Can belief that solutions are simple and at hand and all that’s needed is a decisive can-do attitude,” says Corcoran. And he sees much the same fate befalling Obama.
By Andrew Potter - Monday, May 12, 2008 at 2:20 PM - 0 Comments
Driving back from Montreal last night I caught a great speech on NPR’s Word…
Driving back from Montreal last night I caught a great speech on NPR’s Word for Word by former CBS correspondent Roger Mudd, reminiscing about the glory days of broadcast journalism. Mudd is enough of a fogey to be wistful for the days when people had “twenty four hours and not ten seconds” to digest the news of the day, but he’s self-aware enough to realise that it isn’t all doom and gloom, and that what really matters is not the technology but the story – as long as there are stories to be told there will be quality journalism.
It’s a valuable listen for anyone out there thinking about or looking for a career in this biz.