The Angriest Man In Television: “Behold the Hack, the veteran newsman, wise beyond his years, a man who’s seen it all, twice. He’s honest, knowing, cynical, his occasional bitterness leavened with humor. He’s a friend to the little scam, and a scourge of the big one. Experience has acquainted him with suffering and stupidity, venality and vice. His anger is softened by the sure knowledge of his own futility. And now behold David Simon, the mind behind the brilliant HBO series The Wire. A gruff fireplug of a man, balding and big-featured, he speaks with an earthy, almost theatrical bluntness, and his blue-collar crust belies his comfortable suburban upbringing. He’s for all the world the quintessential Hack, down to his ink-stained fingertips—the kind of old newshound who will remind you that a ‘journalist’ is a dead reporter. But Simon takes the cliché one step further; he’s an old newsman who feels betrayed by newspapers themselves.”
CJR: Secrets of the City: “It could be a scene from The Wire, particularly this year. The fifth and final season of David Simon’s dramatic HBO series will focus on the newsroom of a fictional paper called, like the real one, the Sun. The Wire, although fictional, explores an increasingly brutal and coarse society through the prism of Baltimore, where postindustrial capitalism has decimated the working-class wage and sharply divided the haves and have-nots. The city’s bloated bureaucracies sustain the inequality. The absence of a decent public-school education or meaningful political reform leaves an unskilled underclass trapped between a rampant illegal drug economy and a vicious ‘war on drugs.’ In the final season, Simon asks why we aren’t getting the message. Why can’t we achieve meaningful reform? What are we telling ourselves about ourselves? To get at these questions, he wants us to see the city from the perspective of a shrinking newsroom.”
Comment is free: Ink-stained wretches: “But as The Wire plunges headlong into its fifth and final season, those layers of sloppy kiss print coverage have not been reciprocated by the show’s creator, David Simon.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Much of The Wire’s new season grapples with the American newspaper, a once-glorious enterprise ransacked by a dismal convergence of investors’ heedless and rapacious pursuit of double-digit profit and a tectonic shift in media technology. It’s a storyline rooted in Simon’s experiences as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun from 1983-995 – and his unhappy departure from that paper during its precipitous decline in ambition and prestige.
It is surprising is that it has taken so long to create a snappy dramatisation of the decline of US newspapers. Television’s last serious look at the business was CBS’ Lou Grant – which aired from 1977-1982, an era when ‘stop the presses’ still meant, literally, stop the machines that print the newspapers.”
Teaching Online Journalism » Tools for young journalists: “My colleague who teaches (newspaper) editing asked me to guest-lecture in his class yesterday. He wanted me to speak about current online journalism practices.
As I guest-lecture in a number of classes in our college, I have to be careful not to always say the same thing and show the same examples. In this case, I considered that a fair number of the students in the room might be planning to graduate this May. So I thought about things I could share with them to get them ready for job interviews.”
Journalism Groups Chart False Statements on Iraq War: “A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.”
Telling War Stories: “Jeff Bundy, a photographer with the Omaha World-Herald, covered a Nebraska Army National Guard unit in Iraq during fall 2005. Bundy said books he has read about Vietnam suggest it was a much easier war to cover simply because of mobility.
‘When you talk to those guys, they’d just jump on a Huey, and they go out,’ Bundy said. ‘There was no jumping on a Huey for us. Now you have to do the paperwork and the disclaimers and get yourself on a flight. Because of the way the world has moved, it’s tougher to move throughout the country.’
And unlike the reporters who covered Vietnam, the journalists embedded with the military in Iraq signed an agreement acknowledging that all comments of military personnel are ‘on the record.’ In Vietnam, reporters made much greater use of unnamed sources.”
Frontline Blogger Covers War in Iraq With a Soldier’s Eyes – New York Times: “Instead, he has spent most of the last three years in Iraq, writing prolifically and graphically, and racking up more time embedded with combat units than any other journalist, according to the United States military. He has been shot at, buffeted by explosions and seen more people maimed — fighters and civilians, adults and children — than he can count.
‘The easiest thing in the world to write about is combat, because all the drama is there,’ said Mr. Yon, a fit, ruddy-faced 43-year-old who was a Special Forces soldier more than two decades ago. He insists that he still does not really know the rules of journalism, but says he has recently, grudgingly, accepted that he has become a journalist.
His detailed, mostly admiring accounts of front-line soldiers’ daily work have won him a loyal following, especially among service members and journalists and bloggers who follow the war. One of his photographs showing an American soldier cradling an Iraqi girl injured in a car bombing (the girl later died) appeared on Time magazine’s Web site and was later voted one of top images of the year by visitors.”
Gang Leader for a Day – Sudhir Venkatesh – Book Review – New York Times: “On a hot summer day in 1989, Sudhir Venkatesh, a callow sociology student with a ponytail and tie-dyed T-shirt, walked into one of Chicago’s toughest housing projects, clipboard in hand, ready to ask residents about their lives. Sample question: ‘How does it feel to be black and poor?’ Suggested answers: ‘very bad, somewhat bad, neither bad nor good, somewhat good, very good.’ Actual answers: unprintable.
Mr. Venkatesh got rid of the clipboard and the questionnaire, but not his fascination with life in the Chicago housing projects. He stuck around, befriended a gang leader and for the next decade lived a curious insider-outsider life at the notorious Robert Taylor Homes on the city’s South Side, an eye-opening experience he documents in the high-octane ‘Gang Leader for a Day.’
In a bit of bravado Mr. Venkatesh, who now teaches at Columbia, styles himself a ‘rogue sociologist.’ Dissatisfied with opinion surveys and statistical analysis as ways to describe the life of the poor, he reverted to the methods of his predecessors at the University of Chicago, who took an ethnographic approach to the study of hobos, hustlers and politicians. Much like a journalist, he observed, asked questions and drew conclusions as he accumulated raw data.”
The four best online and multimedia professional journalism groups | Will Sullivan’s Journerdism: “Now, on to The Four:
* The Online News Association
* The National Press Photographer Association
* The Society for News Design
* Sports Shooter”
For the first time this year, “tabloid gold” fever seized at least some of the news media last week in a significant way, according to PEJ’s News Coverage Index from February 4 to February 9. Though it only made up two days of coverage, the sudden death of the Playmate turned heiress turned reality star was the No. 3 story in the news last week, almost edging out a bloody week in Iraq.
And that may be understating the feel of the coverage. The bosomy blonde’s demise consumed a staggering 50% of the cable newshole PEJ examined on February 8 and 9. Those are levels reminiscent of those pre-9/11 celebrity sagas—think Princess Di and JFK Jr.
Regret The Error:
Gather ’round for our annual collection of the funny, shocking, sad and disturbing media errors and corrections from the past year. From typos that celebrate Queen Elizabeth and her remarkable egg-laying abilities, to media hoaxes, unreliable sources, the Sago disaster and apologies for mistakes nearly 120 years ago, it was a good year for Regret. Though not a banner one for our media brethren.
We dubbed 2005 the Year of Consequences. This latest was the Year of the Belated Apology. Read on for the details and, in our vernacular, The Crunks.
In recent years, Al Qaeda has formed a special media production division called Al Sahab to produce videos about leaders like Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri, terrorism experts say. The group largely once relied on Arab television channels like Al Jazeera to broadcast its videos and taped messages.
Al Sahab, whose name means the cloud, has continued to draw on a video library featuring everything from taped suicide messages by the Sept. 11 hijackers to images of gun battles and bombings spearheaded by Al Qaeda and others, said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert on Islamist movements with the Vision Research Institute in Amman who has close ties to jihadists in Jordan and Syria.
Roy Gutman, DART, via Romenesko:
For example: a deportation of Bosnian Muslims from a village on the Drina by the Serbian state railways in sealed passenger cars—which could only have happened on the orders of the top officials in the state. Upon hearing about the existence of concentration camps, I made an enormous effort to put together a complete picture of what went on in one place—I chose Omarska. It was not just because of the atrocity, but because in a fixed location under state control, any crime can be attributed to the state.
After reporting that there was a string of concentration camps throughout Bosnia, I had a rather rude awakening. What I discovered was that I was not just up against the rump Yugoslav state and its criminal leadership, but the US and nearly every other western government as well, who had every ability to find out the facts on their own but chose not to. The US government response to my initial stories on Omarska—confirmation, denial, and then after several weeks of supposed careful collation of intelligence, a more considered denial—spoke volumes about the West’s overall attitude toward Bosnia, toward European Muslims, toward war crimes, and toward genocide.