How to succeed in journalism without really reporting

Those MSNBC and CNN political journalists and analysts are still on the air? I would have fired most of them last week. What a bunch of fuck ups. Blind, deaf and lazy. Not one saw the Trumpslide coming yet even the rumbling was there, the polling data was there, and it would have taken very little work to have seen it coming. Instead, aside from (I hate to say) Joe Scarborough, who is not even a trained journalist, not one of the reporters, commentators or analysts who wasn’t a surrogate on MSNBC or CNN claimed to have had a clue this was coming. They just stared dumbfounded into the camera and hoped we wouldn’t notice.

If they can’t fire them all–they can’t, they have contracts and fan clubs and groupies–at the very least network executives need to stamp out the celebrity journalist TV culture that values preening on panels (and laughing at each others jokes, incestuously popping up on each others shows, egomaniacal self-assurance and hours spent following each others tweets) over genuine reporting.

The lack of issues reporting and the complete inability to see trends among the working class in the very battle ground states these people had been reporting from since the conventions is completely the fault of lazy, self aggrandizing, piss poor journalism. Fire ’em all and hire new. Or cancel a couple shows, anyway, just to show them there is a price to be paid for such astonishing incompetence. Otherwise, you just reward stupidity.

So has political journalism hit the skids or what? Has it ever had a lower moment? You have to wonder how many viewers are taking these guys seriously anymore. I know I am having trouble, a bunch of crazies in the White House and we’re stuck with journalists who may or may not have a clue as to what is going on. It’s like feeling sick and having idiots for doctors. Well, not quite. You can sue your doctors. Reporters just get their own shows.

Manipulation

(2014)

All the online news sites from traditional media to the fringe blogs will be experiencing a huge spike in traffic in the next few days, sending their online advertising, SEO and links revenue to very high levels. The timing is perfect with the Christmas shopping season underway, the Ferguson grand jury’s decision coming the very week of Black Friday. They’ll be nice fat holiday bonuses for management this season. But if they want to maintain this high traffic through Christmas, they will have to keep pounding away on controversial stories to try to get them to go viral. Bill Cosby is fucked.

His only hope is some celebrity will die tragically, though the heroin overdose and suicide thing has been done. But the editors will think of something. Keep checking Slate, they tend to be ahead of the game on this.

I’m not making light of a serious issue, but I do think people should be aware that their anger, outrage, grief and emotion can be manipulated to maximize revenue. News, like everything else, is a product now. The news is real, the stories are real, the reporters deadly earnest and photos often stunning. But that’s content. It’s how website editors present and market that content that gets questionable. News becomes malleable, the audience infinitely suggestible, naïve, a marketer’s dream.

Reporters, photographers, film crews, and bloggers in Ferguson.

Reporters, photographers, film crews, and bloggers in Ferguson.

The end of privacy

(2014)

I’m amazed at how the media is plunging into all the hacked Sony stuff without ever mentioning the right to privacy. What a quaint thing that was. I keep reading and hearing these Sony emails in the press as if they were public property and thinking when are we next? Apparently anything ever written on a computer keyboard is now considered fair game. And that means you and me, not just big corporations or government employees. It’s a stunning shift in attitudes toward privacy. People apparently have the right to peer into and publicize whatever we write in a digital format. You send an email, it’s public property. Where does this stop? Are phone conversations next? This is completely creeping me out. The vicious thugs who run North Korea get pissed at a movie that makes fun of them and splatter the studio responsible’s information all over the web, right down to individual employee’s  social security numbers. Reporters, bloggers and the public go nuts publicizing it, without compunction. Somehow hacking is no longer a crime, and our very thoughts are now public property, WikiLeaks expanded ad infinitum. There’s no limit. And this isn’t 1984, it wasn’t the government that did this, or big corporations, or any mega anything. It was the people. Just people. The North Koreans realized this, and used our own creepiness to spread the information. They understood that deep down we’re basically people peeking into other people’s windows. All they had to do was dump all the info they stole onto public sites and watch the rats race to feed on it.  We’re the ones who are so ravenous for all these intimate details. We’re the ones who crave other people’s secret thoughts. We’re the ones who love the dirt. We flushed our own right to privacy down the toilet. We created this nightmare. Though almost none of you see it as a nightmare. But this is just beginning, people. Any of you could find yourself gone viral, and have no control over it, even as it destroys your life. This will happen more and more and more. Now that we’ve given away our right to privacy, we don’t even have the right to complain. This is a brand new world and I, for one, don’t like it at all.

You might laugh now, think this is just paranoia, but when it’s your photo-shopped fake sex offender mugshot registering a couple million hits a day, you’ll remember the old days.

Four score and seven tweets ago…

Donald Trump has utterly transformed the way the media covers the presidential election. Now, running on issues is considered a weakness by both Trump and the media. Try as you might, you will see almost zero coverage on any actual issues this week. Trump and the Alt-Right dominate the media’s thinking. When Tom Brokaw screams that Hillary needs to see a neurologist immediately, you can see just how fundamentally news coverage has been altered.

And unless you spend hours daily on Twitter, you will be completely mystified as to how this is happening. But it’s happening because Trump turned Twitter into the dominant medium this campaign, even more so than television itself, and on Twitter the news cycle runs in seconds, with everyone trying to be the first person to tweet the latest story. When Gary Johnson made his What is Aleppo goof on Morning Joe (on MSNBC), he was barely a minute away from the set when panelist Mark Halperin–one of the country’s leading political reporters–got him on his iPhone. Within two minutes that conversation was broadcast on the air, with Johnson still inside the building, but even more remarkably, Halperin tweeted about that phone conversation while still talking to Johnson. That news cycle was literally less than sixty seconds, and What is Aleppo was trending within two minutes (I watched it happen.)

I think the reason that news coverage of the campaign is so distorted is that political reporters and pundits are addicted to Twitter. 140 characters or less. Even telegraphy was not so terse. Ironically, though, vastly more of us voters get our news on social media from Facebook instead of Twitter, and the disconnect between media and voters has never been so stark. We each live in our own social media universes. You and me here, on Facebook, and reporters and pundits on Twitter, and neither platform can access the other. That happens second hand, via television news. Twitterized reporting is stretched out into news stories and pundits shouting at each other, which filters into Facebook and down to us. “I was just asking a few farmers about grain prices & all they wanted to talk about was how the Clinton campaign handled the media Sunday” Mark Halperin tweeted today. It’s like policy issues don’t even exist.

Trump will lose the election–he gets slaughtered on Facebook–but his campaign stays even in the media because he tweets incessantly, and the media follows every tweeted utterance like it is a message from on high. No one, not even Hillary now, can compete for the media’s attention when the media has become conceptually twitterized. It certainly beats doing any real issues reporting. You can’t discuss, say, the ramifications of the new Filipino president pivoting his nation away from the U.S. and towards China in 140 characters or less. Anything politically newsworthy today can be no more than a catch phrase. Even sound bites are too long for Twitter. And certainly sound thinking is.

The Gettysburg Address, a mere 272 words long, has 1,369 too many characters and spaces for Twitter. 87 yrs ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty & dedicated to the prop that ppl are created equal. That’s about all that fits. Then on to the real news that Lincoln picked up a case of smallpox in Gettysburg.

CNN

Every time I switch on CNN there seems to be a panel of good looking black men and very attractive blondes. Almost without fail, some good looking black men and some very attractive blondes. It’s like FoxNews but with black guys.
I thought I saw a Latina once but I had accidentally switched to Telemundo. Hace calor, she said.