Monthly Archives: January 2011

What is wrong with these people?

By Chris Daly

The Times brings us a story today on the shoddy behavior of people who should know better: Justices Thomas and Scalia. The upshot is that those two conservative justices think nothing of accepting the largesse of the vast, conservative idea-generating industry.

Shame on them, of course. But more disappointing is that the story points up the limits of the supposed remedy: disclosure. Disclosure is often put forward as the answer to our ills, and I think journalists are especially drawn to it as a remedy — given our belief in the curative powers of information.

But, what happens when people don’t disclose? (Because they couldn’t figure out the disclosure requirements? Come on.)



Or, what happens when they do disclose and nothing happens? (I guess Scalia figures there is nothing wrong with letting the Federalist Society pay for him to go to a retreat organized by Charles Koch and speak to a dinner of rich, powerful conservatives.)

They don’t seem to get the simple idea that they are supposed to BE impartial and APPPEAR impartial. Call me naive, but I would have thought that would be the minimum standard for a Supreme Court justice. At least, the coverage allows us to keep track of how they are performing.



Filed under Supreme Court

Free(r) Radio

By Chris Daly

Radio in the United States has not really been free since Congress passed the Radio Act of 1927 and got in to the business of regulating over-the-air broadcasting.

In a little-noticed good move, President Obama recently signed the Local Community Radio Act, which does not take us all the way back to the wide-open early days of radio but at least makes it possible for people of modest means to get back into the business of radio. The FCC can now start issuing licenses for 100-watt stations.

So, push those buttons on your radio that say “scan” or “search” or whatever and see if you can find some programming not cooked up by some corporate radio giant like Clear Channel.

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Filed under broadcasting, FCC, regulation, Uncategorized

Future of local news?

By Chris Daly


A must-read: Ken Auletta’s new piece in The New Yorker about AOL’s venture into local news, Patch.

One eye-popping fact:

“In the past year, AOL has hired nine hundred journalists, and each week it hires forty more.”

There’s lots more in the full article.

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Filed under AOL, local news, Patch, The New Yorker

The “psycho killer” problem

By Chris Daly

Today’s NYTimes has a piece that tries to address an issue that I believe was raised by the Tucson shootings: What are people supposed to do when they think a young man is losing his grip on reality and appears headed toward some violent act.? Turns out, there is not a really good answer — at least in most states, most of the time, with most cases.

This is an issue that I raised last week, shortly after the shootings in an op-ed I wrote in the Boston Globe.

Regrettably, though, the Globe editing process knocked out a key point I was trying to make. Midway through the op-ed, I wrote:

For one thing, the age at which both men are thought to have committed violent acts — their early 20s — is around the time when men tend to experience the onset of schizophrenia, a major mental illness that affects less than 1 percent of the population, most of whom will never commit an act of violence.

The regrettable part is that an editor at the Globe cut the final phrase — “. . . most of whom will never commit an act of violence.” — leaving the impression that some, most, or all schizophrenics are dangerous, which is not true and not my point. The editor who accepted the piece and saw it through most of the editing process agreed that it was an editorial mistake to have cut that phrase.

The major point: A lot more people need to learn a lot more about effective interventions for people suffering major mental illnesses.

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Filed under mental illness, New York Times, schizophrenia, Tucson, Tucson shooting

Watchdog or cheerleader?

By Chris Daly 

After watching the recent documentary “Inside Job,” about the U.S. economic collapse in 2008, I couldn’t help wondering: Where was the business press during all the run-up to the edge of the cliff?

The film is not shy about pointing fingers at villains: greedy bankers, revolving-door  government officials who go to Washington to look out for Wall Street, academic economists who write “studies” that “show” that whatever Wall Street wants to do is rational, efficient, etc.

But while the film allocates plenty of blame to markets and to feckless regulators, it says nothing about an institution that is supposed to help protect consumers, investors, and the general public: the media that cover business. The well-paid reporters and editors work for newspapers, magazines, television and websites — everybody from the NYT and WSJ to the Economist and Forbes to CNBC. Where were they?

–Did they explain the rotten core of CDO’s before they imploded (i.e., when the information would have been really timely and useful)?

–Did they spot the housing bubble?

–Did they reveal how bogus the standards had become for subprime loans?

Or, did they do what they usually do — admire executives who had a good quarter, cheer for the Dow to rise, and repeat pro-business dogmas about low taxes?

Hmm… If any academics are looking for a topic to study, that might be a good place to start.




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Filed under business, CNBC, media, New York Times

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 46 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 47 posts. There were 41 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 17mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 15th with 144 views. The most popular post that day was Covering America, Chap 12.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,, Google Reader,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for chris daly, journalism professor, chris daly blog, wikileaks prosecution, and boston university narrative conference.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Covering America, Chap 12 December 2010


About December 2008
1 comment


Wikileaks and the Pentagon Papers October 2010
1 comment and 1 Like on,


Narrative Conference March 2010


WikiLeaks prosecution? December 2010
1 comment

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Filed under Uncategorized