|Great Eastern Hotel, Glasgow|
|Cops “protect and serve” at Occupy Phoenix Photo: Mauro Whiteman|
Imagine this scenario in a T.V. show:
A man and a woman are kissing. We see the woman reach into her pocket and pull out a knife. They continue to kiss. We now see only their faces, but the woman makes a sudden, violent movement, the man cries out in pain, and it is clear that she has stabbed him with the knife.
Now imagine this scenario:
The first of these could easily be shown on broadcast T.V. in the U.S. The second could not.
None of the many witnesses I spoke with yesterday saw the young victim either holding or shooting a gun and firmly believe he was unarmed. ABC7’s Carolyn Tyler balanced the police claim that they shot the youngster in self-defense by interviewing Trivon Dixon, who said: “He was running. How could he be a threat in retreat? And he wasn’t running backwards, turning around shooting. He was in full throttle, running away from the police. I don’t see in any way how he could be a threat to the police.”
The Associated Press has warned its journalists not to express any opinions on social networks. In a memo to staff, managing editor Tom Kent wrote:
In at least two recent cases, we have seen a few postings on social networks by AP staffers expressing personal opinions on issues in the news.
This has happened on the New York Senate vote on gay marriage and on the Casey Anthony trial. These posts undermine the credibility of our colleagues who have been working so hard to assure balanced and unbiased coverage of these issues.
AP’s News Values and Principles state that anyone who works for AP must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. This point is contained in our social network guidelines as well.
Failure to abide by these rules can lead to disciplinary action.
The vast majority of our tweets on these stories — and on other issues in the news — have been completely in line with our guidelines. They pose no problem at all, and are consistent with the importance of AP staffers being active on social networks.
But social networks, however we may configure our accounts or select our friends, should be considered a public forum. AP staffers should not make postings there that amount to personal opinions on contentious public issues.
Please let your supervisor or me know if you have any questions on this. And thanks.
It’s interesting that Obama waits to announce the killing of Osama bin Laden on the anniversary of Bush’s “mission accomplished” claim - and at a time that interrupts Donald Trump’s T.V. show.
Neil Postman and Guy Debord both called it.
Someone asked me, “How can you report on the death penalty when you’re so openly opposed to it? How is that objective reporting?”
Good luck finding a reporter who doesn’t have an opinion about their subject. Here’s something I wrote about this last year.
Here’s a fascinating dialogue between Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath about self-publishing and e-books, in which Eisler talks about how he turned down a half-million dollars from a publisher.
I’m something of a Luddite, and I predicted that e-books would never catch on, but it turns out that Amazon is selling more e-books than paperbacks. Very soon, I’m going to put out my backlist as e-books, and also my novel How Do You Like Your Blue-Eyed Boy? which is being published in French as part of Regarde les Hommes Mourir, but has never been published in English.
I found the following exchange between Eisler and Konrath particularly interesting (I’ll explain why after the excerpt):
Barry: The royalty/peasant mentality is pervasive, largely invisible to the people who are part of it, and manifests itself in a lot of contexts. Look what happened when I published my blog post, The Ministry of Truth.
Joe: The one about your NPR essay?
Barry: Right, my essay examining Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four as a thriller, which I wrote at NPR’s invitation. The blog post examined the way NPR edited the essay, and how NPR’s edits revealed that fundamentally, NPR is an establishment media player.
Joe: Your editor was pissed.
Barry: He was. NPR called up Random House and complained about my blog post. And my editor then dutifully complained to me. At first, I didn’t understand the complaints at all. I said, “Why don’t they complain in the comments section of my blog? You know, the box where it says, ‘Leave Your Comment.’ Why not engage my argument? Why are they complaining to you in private?”
Joe: Because they didn’t want to imply you were an equal.
Barry: Bingo. Their attitude was, “If we argue in public with this unwashed blogger, by implication it puts the blogger on the same footing as NPR.” So instead, they called another establishment player, Random House, to settle it all privately. “Straighten out this peasant, won’t you? He’s making us all look bad.”
The weird thing was how much sense the whole thing made to my editor and how little it made to me. I mean, it’s not like I took a dump all over NPR; I just pointed out that they’re an establishment media player playing by establishment media rules. An entirely legitimate and worthwhile argument. But they weren’t concerned about the merits of the argument; they were concerned that the argument was being raised at all, and by someone without the appropriate status to raise it. I just didn’t get it. I asked my editor what, is there some lese majeste law protecting NPR from respectful public criticism? It’s bizarre, how delicate establishment egos can be, how frightened they are of criticism from the wrong quarters.
Joe: Peasants aren’t allowed to criticize the royalty.