Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pelicans Come Home to Roost, Zakaria on Crazy Media, CJR on Media Triviality

Tags: Zakaria, Obama Emotions Crazy Media, Oil Reporting, CJR Campaign Reporting, NY Times Influence and Control of News,
Don’t miss this short video where Zakaria called the Media crazy about constantly talking about Obama’s lack of emotion in the face of tragedy. This tragedy and hardship to many in the Gulf States, but there is nothing Obama can do in the short term and now the media seems to be shifting the blame for this to Obama’s decisions rather than all the Bush/Cheney oil decisions and lack of regulations or supervision. Monday morning quarterbacking seems to be quite popular in explaining the errors by the Obama administration.
My blog belong explains what is happening from my reading and analysis of the marvelous Columbia Journalism Review, a very readable website which illuminates us in an non-ideological manner unless you think understanding what is really happening is not acceptable!

Sunday, June 12, 2010, Fareed Zakaria, the only one on television brave enough to discuss the stupidity or not of the corporate print press and media emphasizing the lack of emotion by President Obama regarding the oil spill. Zakaria got it wrong.

This parade of “useless” news is a clever propaganda method to undermine President Obama and his administration to weaken his attempt to reduce the power of corporations including Wall Street and the Super Banks and the wealthy top one percent which includes corporate CEOs and executives who tried successfully to keep government in their pockets to get subsidies and laws favoring their wealth and power.

Here again, just like the press and media surge of criticism against the pedophile priests, something that has been known by the print press and media for decades got permission from the New York Times (Boston Globe) to discuss this openly.

The same occurred regarding a comment never made by Al Gore about his inventing the Internet, his stiff body movements, and selection of suits. Maureen Dowd and David Brooks who is more subtle are the places to look for the campaign by the New York Times to change what we “should” think about our leaders. They did a wonderful job influencing us to pick Obama to try to fix the disasters left by the Republicans, especially Bush and Cheney, but failing to the enormity of the problems left. We almost see something new every day. They did not want Hilary Clinton because she will be very tough and not as easily persuaded to not help suffering Americans. The establishment also picked an unknown Jimmy Carter to take the fall of inflation and job loss. The huge job loss during Reagan’s first term was not reported as often as it is reported now with the blame shifted cleverly to President Obama.

Another way the corporate press and media control news is to omit important news or hide it with the judicious use of a bank of editors who write the headlines in news stories and hide them on the jump page which few have time to read or delete news damaging to the powerful and wealthy corporate clients.

The strong attacks on President Obama and congress by the corporate press and media is surprising considering how corporate leaning the Democrats and Obama have shown. This indicates to me that the greed complex of what’s yours is mine has made them crazy.

I read the Columbia Journalism Review CJR daily so I can better understand what is really happening in the mainstream press and media. It is really smart reporting on the whole truth. One example is Greg Marx on the Campaign Desk where he recently has two articles necessary to understand how the press and media is reporting on the November 2010 midterm elections and not. I consider the daily reporting on the oil disaster necessary, but more than a little overblown.

... J. Patrick Coolican of the Las Vegas Sun, about the real source of Harry Reid’s troubles. CJR ... elections are important, and elections are entertaining, but at least in most cases, they’re pretty straightforward, and can be explained with a fraction of the words we devote to them. ...

Jim Kawakami, June 13, 2010,

Columbia Journalism Review Greg Marx June 08, 2010,

I’m late in flagging it, but Slate’s Chris Beam, riffing of my magazine article on what political journalists can learn from political science, has a funny parody piece that asks, “What if political scientists covered the news?” Here’s a taste:

Obama now faces some of the most difficult challenges of his young presidency: the ongoing oil spill, the Gaza flotilla disaster, and revelations about possibly inappropriate conversations between the White House and candidates for federal office. But while these narratives may affect fleeting public perceptions, Americans will ultimately judge Obama on the crude economic fundamentals of jobs numbers and GDP.

That’s pretty apt, even if the last sentence should really emphasize real income growth rather than employment. And it captures one bit of protest I heard from a former newsroom colleague-turned-Ph.D. candidate in political science, which is that many academics can’t seem to be bothered to write with a broader audience in mind.

But there’s a more important point here, which is that political science—in addition to adding some much-needed rigor to the hazy speculation that too often passes for journalistic analysis—could, by rendering much of the “horse race” part of politics simple, predictable, and a bit boring, orient journalists’ attention toward policy debates and their consequences. This is exactly the point that Matthew Yglesias, a regular advocate for poli-sci, makes about Beam’s piece.

It’s also, as it happens, a point that’s been advanced by political scientists themselves. In 1993, Andrew Gelman and Gary King published a much-cited (364 times, according to Google Scholar) paper (PDF) that asked why campaign polls are variable when the results of presidential elections are predictable, and concluded that short-term survey swings—the things that can drive campaign coverage for weeks at a time—don’t amount to much. In a blog post Monday, Gelman explained what he was hoping to achieve:

When we wrote the article, Gary and I wanted to make a difference, to elevate public discourse. It was so frustrating to see the news media focus on the horse race, especially given that there was no evidence that these horse-race stories made any difference. We thought our article might change things, because instead of the usual strategy—criticizing the media for distorting politics with endless stories on the horse race—we were taking the opposite tack, essentially mocking the media for running story after story about campaign gaffes etc. that had no effect. If it’s really true (as we found from our analysis) that what’s most important are the so-called fundamentals (political ideology, party identification, and the economy), then the way the media could have the most influence would be to report on the fundamentals—report what’s happening in the economy and report the candidates’ positions on major issues—rather than the trivialities.

Those are some big ambitions, and it would be a stretch to say that they were achieved in short order, perhaps because journalists weren’t paying attention, perhaps because they wanted to delude themselves into thinking that all the churn and noise do matter, and perhaps because, as Gelman has elsewhere suggested, horse-race coverage is what political news readers—who are by definition inordinately engaged with politics, and thus quite likely to have established views and a “horse” they’re rooting for—really want, and most reporters don’t enjoy writing the same story every day.

Even if the horse-race story really is What the Reader Wants, though, journalists have a responsibility to get the horse-race story right—which means, in addition to getting more comfortable with repetition, taking note of what political science has to say. And there are, finally, signs that this is happening. In addition to the examples I flagged in the story, consider work like this from J. Patrick Coolican of the Las Vegas Sun, about the real source of Harry Reid’s troubles.

Over e-mail, Coolican added an important note: “in some respects political science grounding has more to do with what you don’t write than what you write”; a poli-sci primer is like an injunction against “nonsense momentum stories and such.” That takes us back to the key point: for readers and reporters alike, elections are important, and elections are entertaining, but at least in most cases, they’re pretty straightforward, and can be explained with a fraction of the words we devote to them. Meanwhile, there’s a whole fascinating, compelling, consequential world of political activity out there waiting to be covered. So by all means, let’s have fun with Super Duper Tuesday. Then let’s get on to the hard stuff.

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