Tag Archives: Auletta

Inside the Meme Factory: Hilary edition

By Christopher B. Daly 

Unlike some people, I enjoyed Ken Auletta’s recent piece in the New Yorker, which was ostensibly about Hilary Clinton’s problems with the news media. (Yes, Fox and the like: she has her problems with reporters, too.)  I don’t know whether is right about her media problems, and frankly, this far out from the election, I don’t give a hoot.

What I enjoyed in his piece was his swerve into the history of right-wing media and his documenting of what I call “the Meme Factory” — that interlocking directorate of conservative media, think tanks, and other institutions built since WWII with huge donations from the right. Auletta delves into the doings of Matthew Continetti — who is something of a third-generation of conservatives who have been building a parallel set of media institutions. (Continetti was mentored by Bill Kristol, who is, in turn, a direct descendant of one of the major builders of conservative media and think tanks of the 20th century, Irving Kristol.) Continetti founded a non-profit news operation called the Washington Free Beacon. (It’s like a normal DC-focused news website, but every article serves a conservative purpose.)

Hillary Clinton once famously complained that she and her husband were the targets of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” That’s only half-true. There is a vast (and growing) network of right-wing institutions that are mutually reinforcing. Their existence is no accident. But it is a touch paranoid to refer to all those people and institutions as a “conspiracy.” They do not need to conspire to carry out their mission.

Clinton is also wide of the mark in another sense. While it is true that all of the people on the right hate her and her husband and strive unceasingly to destroy them, it is not true that they are her only problem. If Scaife and Murdoch and Limbaugh and the whole gang were to suddenly vanish, Hillary Clinton would not enjoy the glide into the White House that she may envision.

 

 

 

 

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OPTIMISM AND JOURNALISM (in the same headline!)

By Chris Daly

I had the good fortune to attend the annual Conference on Narrative Non-Fiction, hosted at Boston University. It was a gathering of the tribe of people who do (and think about and care about) narrative non-fiction, long-form journalism, or any of the allied arts.

I was struck by the comments of Ken Auletta, the indispensable chronicler of the media business. Unlike a lot of the panelists, Auletta, a veteran New Yorker writer, said he saw reasons for optimism in the current situation. With his permission, I want to share his 14 reasons to look on the bright side:

1. e-books (which eliminate all the impediments associated with printing and distributing books — plus, no returns!)

2. (Apologies: I can’t read Auletta’s handwriting on this one, and it didn’t register as a separate item in my own notes.)

3. The Web puts a virtual library at every writer’s fingertips, greatly speeding up the pace and bringing down the cost of doing research.

4. Google books, which is bringing out-of-print books back to life.

5. Apps, which are teaching people that they should expect to pay for content.

6. Multimedia tools for story-tellers. (Auletta cited the pioneering use of video by the NYT in Art Buchwald’s obit)

7. The old media are beginning to “lean in” and engage with new tools and social media, rather than always deciding to “lean back” and feel sorry for themselves.

8. Writers have more platforms than ever before, so writers can pick the one that best fits a particular project.

9. The media have become more democratic, since readers now have a voice, which they can use for (among other things) contributing reports from places where there are no journalists.

10. Because the media are two-way, readers can help with fact-checking.

11. Because the media are two-way, readers can also help with suggesting story ideas. (“Hey, Auletta, why don’t you look into …”)

12. Blogging gives content-creators more options.

13. Links allow readers to find our work in all sorts of ways; they can stumble on something they didn’t already “subscribe” to.

14. The speed of publication allows some old media (like books) to keep up with developments in a way they never could hope to when it took 12 months to get a book into stores.

It’s quite a list, and many thanks to Ken Auletta for A), coming up with it, and B), sharing it.

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