July 26, 2002

Content-free commentary…

Economic Platitude Watch: David Gergen This is Slate’s Timothy Noah introducing an “occasional series spotlighting content-free commentary about America’s financial woes.” Perhaps we need an oxymoron watch instead. In this installment, Noah seems to take issue with a headline…it’s not entirely clear. The Gergen article offers Bush some good advice.

July 25, 2002

News media ethics…

Media Minded highlights an excellent point of journalistic ethics this morning regarding the covering of an “uproar” that the news outlet itself creates. Avoiding this is tough considering that the narrative bias of journalism demands drama.

July 25, 2002

Executive arrests…

Arrests Make a Kodak Moment (washingtonpost.com) Media Notes by Howard Kurtz. This morning Kurtz seems gleeful about the arrests of John Rigas and two of his sons for looting Adelphia Communications. The 78-year-old Rigas being taken away in handcuffs is the Kodak moment Kurtz refers to. The stock market jumped 489-points. And Kurtz says: “Hot dog! Somebody finally got arrested.” Hmmmmm…Does this mean the administration is getting tough on corporate scandal? I prefer to wait and see before letting loose with a “Hot dog!” based on the emotional impact of these photos.

July 24, 2002

Bush adminstration slogan…

According to The Boston Globe, “the Bush administration seems to hinge on a simple motto” that changes from week to week, e.g. “Strengthening Our Economy,” or “Protecting the Homeland.” Administration insiders say the effort will continue because such slogans work by “giving distracted television viewers a quick guide to the official message of the day.” They “work” rhetorically for a simple grammatical reason: Many of these slogans rely on progressive verbs that suggest the activity is ongoing, thus creating the impression of progress.

July 24, 2002

Bush, the economy, the 2002 elections…

Is Bush Flu Contagious? (washingtonpost.com) Media Notes by Howard Kurtz. This morning Kurtz asks: “Are the Republicans in trouble this fall? The honest answer is, nobody really knows. But the media buzz is that their political stock is slipping along with the plunging numbers in 401(k) America. And, say the prognosticators, it’s Dubya’s fault.” Key words: “media buzz.” It’s not Bush’s fault–neither the economy nor any Republican election troubles. But voters will believe it is as long as the “media buzz” crams it down their throats.

July 24, 2002

Could a liberal media miss the big story of the 90s?…

Writing for TomPaine.com, Dr. Michael Dolny has this to say about bias in the news media:

“Both print and broadcast media have practiced in recent years an uncritical, if not reflexive, cheerleading of CEOs, mergers and acquisitions, the latest earnings, and deregulation. That hardly amounts to a liberal bias. This conservative, pro-corporate propagandizing has been the dominant tone for some time, although the still-unfolding corporate accounting scandals have cracked this veneer.”

He blames by inference media corporatization for this cheerleading (by citing authors who lay such blame). So, is this evidence of a conservative bias? I doubt it. Reporters get cozy with those they cover because it’s difficult to do the job without striking a balance between being critics and confidants. Plus, business reporters are constrained by the private nature even of public companies. Politicians must talk. CEOs talk only if it suits them. Government information is, for the most part, public. Business information is, for the most part, private.

This bias Dr. Dolny writes about is more structural and less political, although structural bias certainly creates the political consequences Dolny decries. That’s not so say his article is without merit. Rather, I question contentions about broad political bias in the news media.

July 23, 2002

Bush and press scandal-mongering…

Bush Gets the Bubba Treatment (washingtonpost.com) Media Notes by Howard Kurtz. In today’s column, Kurtz asks: “Can things be as bad for Bush as the media are suggesting? Or are journalists just wrapped up in their own scandal-mongering?”

July 23, 2002

Program for media democracy…

A 12-Step Program for Media Democracy While I’ve never been comfortable with the term “media democracy,” I am largely in agreement with much of this. I would also suggest Robert McChesney’s Rich Media, Poor Democracy.

July 23, 2002

Gallup Poll on the stock market…

Gallup Poll Analyses: Investors Still Optimistic About Long-Term Performance of Stock Market According to the second paragraph of this press release, the “survey was completed July 14, before last Friday’s nearly 400-point drop, but still after the market dropped below the 9,000 level.” Sounds like these data are now useless. So I’m left wondering about the rhetorical effect (or purpose) of releasing this information today.

July 22, 2002

Media business practices…

Spin of the Day: Creative Accounting in Medialand The folks at PRWatch.org–along with many others–mention that some newspapers have engaged in business practices similar to Enron and Worldcom despite leveling criticism at these companies. I would point out, however, that at most newspapers the business and editorial sides are separate units…although there are disturbing signs that these boundaries are blurring.

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