Posts concerning media

Dropping the San Francisco Chronicle

23:54 19 May 2013

I’ve been a subscriber to the San Francisco Chronicle for almost 13 years, the entire time I’ve lived in the city. I started that subscription because I was used to living in a household where newspapers were a daily staple, and because I wanted to support local journalism. I also felt that major cities should have newspapers and I should thus support the city paper.

And now I’m ending my subscription.

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Some Bribery Statistics

11:40 05 Jul 2011

Using data culled from secret police records, John McMillan and Pablo Zoldo examined bribes made (by the secret police) to various figures in Peru during the 1990s: legislators, judges, and… the media. It was the television stations that commanded the most in bribes, about ten times as much per month as the other groups combined. The article explores why the media were worth more than the politicians and judges, and has some interesting hypotheses on how the incentives worked.

Also, it has data tables about bribes, something you don’t come across too often.

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How Not to Spell “Gibraltar”

23:57 13 Dec 2009. Updated: 01:09 14 Dec 2009

Proofreading appears to be appreciated less and less, a trend I’m not fond of in the least. I’m all for more democratic and widespread content production, but I still think that professional publications and media outlets should distinguish themselves at least in part by having good copy editors and proofreaders.

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Noam Chomsky at the Paramount

12:09 08 Oct 2009

I went to see see Chomsky speak last Saturday night at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre. The speech was on “Obama, the Middle East, and Prospects for Peace”.

It felt like a somewhat low-key talk, in the sense that there weren’t many revelations in it. Plenty of interesting information, and perhaps most illuminating in the way that even thought I knew many of the broad outlines, I was still surprised by some of the specifics that he cited.

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Cycling: Not Strange, Not Unsafe

21:52 06 Oct 2009

But rather, a very safe and rather normal, indeed innocuous and beneficial, activity. Via MetaFilter I came across a series of sociological essays on attitudes towards cycling, most of them concerned with the idea that cycling is a dangerous activity. The series, by Dave Horton, is titled “Fear of Cycling”:


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23:08 07 Nov 2008. Updated: 17:18 28 Jan 2009

Really, how can people say things like this?

“You know, if you were a slave in the old South, what did you get as a slave? You got free room and board, you got free money, and you got rewarded for having children because that was just, you know, tomorrow’s slave. … Can I ask a question? How’s that different from welfare? You get a free house, you get free food, and you get rewarded for having children. Oh, wait a minute, hold on a second. There is a difference: The slave had to work for it.”
—Jim Quinn, The War Room with Quinn & Rose, 6 Nov 2008

I know that idiots like this go on the air just to spew controversial inanities that both outrage others and sit well with their base, but still. (Via Media Matters.)

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Local News at its Best

22:55 13 Oct 2008. Updated: 17:31 28 Jan 2009

I’ve never been to Oklahoma, but I have to say that this article by Tulsa-area media, about a child’s doll allegedly spouting Islamic or Satanic slogans, doesn’t make me want to visit…

It’s so obviously people reading way too much into indistinct sounds, and the article does nothing but feed paranoia and sensationalism while applying no critical thinking whatsoever to the reporting. I know none of that is shocking, but still, this is ridiculous.

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cursor.org Closing

11:15 12 Oct 2008. Updated: 17:31 28 Jan 2009

For several years, I’ve read cursor.org more or less daily, and it has been one of my primary starting points for political news.

On Friday, due to ongoing resource problems, they suspended publication. I think that’s a major loss, given the amount of ground they covered. They did some good original research, but much of their value came from their aggregation/filtering role. With so much information out there, filtering is unbelievably important, and they did it really well. I hope they manage to get some funding and to come back.

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How Hard Were They Trying?

23:30 07 Oct 2008. Updated: 17:32 28 Jan 2009

Apparently, at a recent Sarah Palin rally in Florida, Palin’s handlers kept reporters not merely away from Palin, but away from her supporters:

When one reporter asked an escort, who would not give her name, why the press wasn’t allowed to mingle, she said that in the past, negative things had been written.
tampabay.com, 06 Oct 2008


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It’s Not Censorship, Of Course

19:42 28 Aug 2008. Updated: 17:54 28 Jan 2009

This story about CBS Outdoor refusing art billboards in Minneapolis/St. Paul is quite illustrative of how tightly the public sphere is controlled in this country. CBS worries, essentially, about offending some powerful Republican patrons—at least, that’s my guess, it might not even get to that level of conscious thought.

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Greenwald on the Anthrax Attacks

18:26 04 Aug 2008. Updated: 18:04 28 Jan 2009

I don’t know how much the media has been covering the recent developments in the 2001 anthrax attacks, but I suspect they’re not doing much coverage of their own role—just as with the “weapons of mass destruction” story, or maybe even worse, they were a conduit for what the government wasn’t willing to come out and assert: the link with Iraq.

Glenn Greenwald has been doing a good job covering it.

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No Fine For ‘Wardrobe Malfunction’

20:28 21 Jul 2008. Updated: 18:08 28 Jan 2009

Four years later, an appeals court has thrown out the FCC’s ridiculous fine for Janet Jackson’s infamous Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction”.

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04:02 20 Jun 2008

A distraction of an entirely different kind, taking my mind off things by being deeply reprehensible, creepy, and disturbing:

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Noise News Service

21:08 09 Jun 2008

This morning, via A Tiny Revolution, I came across a wire news story from Bloomberg that has the form of informational content but contains almost no useful information.

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McClellan Miscellany

07:32 01 Jun 2008

Jay Rosen has a good article covering the Scott McClellan brouhaha from a historical perspective. The gist of it is that the Bush administration’s approach to handling the media is a total reversal of Theodore Roosevelt’s initial creation of a White House press room. This might well be the case, although in many respects I think that’s fairly minor in comparison to the institutional problems of the American media (highlighted here by Glenn Greenwald, just to choose a recent example, but really exposed years ago, most systematically by Chomksy and Herman).

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Op-Ed Column From Hell

07:35 20 May 2008

What shows up in the op-ed pages of American newspapers should no longer surprise me, but somehow it still does. Last Thursday, “conservative” commentator Kathleen Parker wrote a truly awful column that was syndicated throughout the US, essentially trying to defend racism as patriotism.

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Tom Cruise: Scientologist

23:59 18 Jan 2008

Last night I got around to watching the recently-leaked Tom Cruise Scientology video. Probably old news to a lot of people, since it’s been doing the rounds online, but if you missed it, it’s worth a look.

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Critical Mass Incident: A Study in Biased Reporting

15:26 05 Apr 2007

The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Matier & Ross discussed an ugly incident that happened during the Critical Mass bike ride last month, in which some cyclists ended up attacking the minivan of a family visiting from Redwood City. Critical Mass is already controversial, and Matier & Ross do a great job of axe-grind reporting to add fuel to the fire. Bike/car politics aside, I think it’s a highly instructive example of how to slant a story.

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