By Christopher B. Daly
Hats off to NPR’s estimable media reporter, David Folkenflik, for a thorough, calm, balanced, well-reported piece about the recent succession crisis at the New York Times. What distinguishes Folkenflik’s work from a lot of what I have read is that it is based on original reporting. He conducted the first interview I’m aware of with the new executive editor, Dean Baquet, and his decision to seek out Amanda Bennett was smart. I was out of the country when the news broke about the dismissal of Jill Abramson (full disclosure: we went to college together long ago; actually, Amanda Bennett was there, too), so I refrained from saying anything about it after I got back. I read a lot of other people’s “work,” though, and found that most of it was armchair speculation, Monday-morning q’b-ing, and pure projection. So, thanks to David F for actually expanding the universe of known facts, upon which the rest of us can get busy speculating.
(And thanks for helping us learn how to pronounce the new guy’s name! Sounds like “bah-KAY”)
Dean Baquet, the new executive editor of The New York Times
Photo: Bill Haber/AP
A hat-tip to the talented team at NPR’s “Planet Money.” They are spinning a yarn this week about how a T-shirt is made, from start to finish. Best of all, they decided to actually make a specific T-shirt of their own, and reporters worldwide are contributing to a narrative that traces the arc of that T-shirt from the cotton fields of the Deep South to a robotic yarn-spinning factory in Indonesia and god-knows-where next.
Great idea, great sound, intelligent reporting. Way to go.
Read. Listen. Enjoy.
By Christopher B. Daly
Finally, it’s here: the electronic version of my book about the history of U.S. journalism, Covering America.
Just in time for the anniversary of the rollout of the hardback, this prize-winning book is now available in all major formats:
Apple iBook, (This is the format I am checking it out on, and it looks great.)
you name it.
I am very pleased because I know that some folks have been waiting for the e-book. These formats make the book quite a bit cheaper and dramatically lighter! For people who don’t feel drawn to the ~$50 hardcover, here’s your chance to read Covering America. The book won the 2012 Prose Award for Media and Cultural Studies, and it has been selling well and drawing rave reviews (except for one stinker on Amazon — sheesh).
Enjoy it, and write to me about your reactions. You can comment here, or email me: email@example.com
Filed under broadcasting, CNN, Covering America, David Halberstam, FCC, First Amendment, Fox News, history, Huffington Post, Journalism, journalism history, leaks, Murdoch scandal, New York Times, NPR, Photography, Photojournalism, Politics, publishing, Supreme Court, The New Yorker
By Christopher B. Daly
I heard a fantastic story yesterday on the “This American Life” radio program. It was about the business/ethics/professional issues raised for the field of journalism by a new-ish company called Journatic. The story, by producer Sarah Koenig had the brilliant memorable headline “Forgive us our press passes.” It explained the creepy side of how out-sourcing has arrived, almost completely under the radar, in the American newspaper business. Turns out, lots of the routine fillers (school lunches, ordinary obits, etc.) that fill up small-town and suburban newspapers are actually “written” by worker bees in the Philippines, Eastern Europe, and Africa. They toil away for peanuts, then transmit their “stories” to editors in the states, who get paid next to nothing to “edit” those “stories,” even though the editor could be more than 1,000 miles away from the community being “covered” in this way. The whole operation seems to make a mockery of the idea of “hyper-local” news.
To her credit, Koenig really pursues the issue in great depth and nuance.
Also, a note to journalism teachers: you should share this piece with your classes. It is really a two-fer: it tells some important truths about the direction the news business is heading in, and it is a model of how to use audio to tell a complicated story. It is must-listen journalism.
By Chris Daly
So, Republicans have proposed cutting the budget for public broadcasting to zero. This is a perennial issue, as I have discussed before.
For my two cents, here goes: the amount of taxpayer funds as a fraction of the total of all PBS and NPR budgets is very small. Public broadcasting would be better off without it. They should send the check back to the Treasury today, and then they can tell Republicans how they really feel about them. That would take a club out of the hands of Republicans (who never liked public broadcasting from its inception late in the Johnson administration), and it would unite public broadcasting with the real source of its strength — the audience.
Rip off that band-aid, and I will double my annual pledge.
By Chris Daly
In Boston, we are lucky to have two NPR affiliates. One of them, WBUR (Full disclosure: the station’s broadcast license is held by Boston University’s trustees), just got a new general manager — Charlie Kravtez. He was the longtime head of news at New England Cable News, which bodes well. Universally respected, he seems like a good choice.
Best of luck to Kravetz and to ‘BUR.
by Chris Daly
The Juan Williams affair has not only exploded throughout the blogosphere, it is already producing echoes. I will stipulate that it is entirely possible that there is nothing to add at this point. That said, I also observe that it is imperative for anyone who comments on the performance of news media to step up and say something about this episode.
So, here goes:
NPR should not wait in fear as Rep. DeMint and other Republicans sharpen their knives to cut the taxpayer-funded portion of NPR’s budget. Estimates of the size of that public subsidy vary, but they all fall within a range that NPR should be able to live without.
As a news organization, NPR should stop taking public funding, period.
In fact, NPR should have done so long ago.
The fact is, no news organization is worth anything unless it is in a position to tell other people — including especially the government — to buzz off. (Michael Kinsley has called this “fuck you” money.) Journalism cannot be done without independence. In the long run, NPR would be far better off by freeing itself from any taxpayer funding.
The company should probably change its name, too. They could save money in the transition if they just called themselves something like Non-Profit Radio, or NPR. Has a nice familiar ring to it.