aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
How anonymous sourcing has changed
As I watch the four hour Frontline series News War in the coming weeks (via TiVo, if you missed any you can watch online) I will regularly quote whatever strikes me as interesting.
First up, Tom Rosenstiel, the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose mission is to research and evaluate the performance of the press, asked to speak broadly about how anonymous sourcing in journalism has evolved since Watergate:
I think that it’s important in understanding the [Valerie] Plame case to understand how anonymous sourcing has changed over the last generation. During Watergate and before that, confidentiality was a tool that journalists would offer to reluctant sources to coax them to come forward. It was the journalist who would say: “If you won’t tell me on the record, why not go on background? I won’t name you. I’ll protect you. You’re safe.”
Over the last 25 years, that has shifted to the point where confidentiality and anonymity are conditions that the source often imposes on the journalist before even talking to them in the first place. We’ve reached the point in Washington where today, it’s a standing, understood rule that every press spokesman on Capitol Hill will be anonymous. Why? Because only the members should speak for his or her office.
So you have a situation where people who are paid by taxpayers’ money are granted freedom to not be accountable for what they say on the record because everybody uses background all the time, and it’s just the way of the world: “If you won’t play by those rules, I won’t talk to you.” It’s been a complete power shift in which what was once a journalistic tool for coaxing sources, whistleblowers, to come forward, has shifted over and is now in the employ of the source, not the journalist. Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Hillary in New Hampshire
A New Hampshire friend sent an email with photos around today. The friend just happens to be the same friend who at Christmas gave me a copy of Obama’s Audacity of Hope that she had picked up at his Portsmouth book signing.
The subject line of today’s email: Hillary comes to the sea coast! (The exclamation point is hers):
Hillary Clinton came to the Seacoast last weekend and we got to meet her… I was very impressed by her “presence” with people (had never met her or even seen her in person), and even moreso by how candid she is about her thought process and what she is trying to pursue. She is a consensus-builder and a problem-solver, and I think her skills will be incredibly useful for leading our country. We were all impressed.
I’d say that kind of reaction bodes well for Hillary!
Teachers are more dangerous than al Qaeda
Last night on Fox News’s Hannity and Colmes, right-wing radio host Neal Boortz claimed that teachers unions are “destroying a generation” and are “much more dangerous than al Qaeda.” He stated, “Look, Al Qaeda, they could bring in a nuke into this country and kill 100,000 people with a well-placed nuke somewhere. Ok. We would recover from that. It would be a terrible tragedy, but the teachers unions in this country can destroy a generation.” Sean Hannity agreed, noting, “They are ruining our school system.”
An MTV renaissance?
Robert Young at GigaOM says MTV is poised for a comeback.
Generally speaking, I’ve bought into the mainstream blogosphere wisdom that it was a big mistake for Viacom to pull its clips from YouTube. I still see the move as nothing more than a negotiating ploy. But what if it is more?
Young says, “Viacom is doing absolutely the right thing” and quotes this press release as evidence:
You won’t find clips of comedian Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” and MTV’s “Pimp My Ride” on YouTube any more, but Viacom Inc. is laying the groundwork for its videos to be available to hundreds of thousands of other sitesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ In the next few months, Web users will be able to grab videos from nearly all MTV-owned sites and post them on their own blogs or Web sites, lessening the need to go to YouTube, the top online video service that Google Inc. acquired last year.
MTV’s newly-appointed President of Global Digital Media, Mike Salmi, says, “The move is part of a strategy to bring Viacom’s Web sites up to “Web 2.0’ standards… Part of that is allowing people to take our content and embed it and make your own things out of it, whatever they want.”
I might ask why Viacom is pulling the clips before they’re ready with their own site; that doesn’t seem “absolutely right” to me. But I could imagine that by making their “vast video libraries archived within MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, SpikeTV, etc.” available, exactly the “kind of “video snacks” that are so popular on online video-sharing sites,” we could see MTV reshape the web-video landscape the way MTV Networks did cable in the 1980s.
My two caveats are, 1) if they were going to, the roll-out should have been done differently - making fans mad by pulling videos from YouTube with only talk of an alternative doesn’t work for me, and 2) how are they going to handle advertising? Pre-roll ads of the kind the television-types use all over the net now are rejected by fans.
The ad industry itself should learn that interruption, clutter and irrelevance alienate viewers. The TV industry must learn that their content’s not worth half as much as their greedy little broadcast-monopoly manufactured-scarcity models suppose. They can make a bundle in small increments. Just look at Google.
Georgia’s growth industry: prisons
I let this pass without posting when I saw it last week:
Georgia’s prison population is projected to grow by more than 5,700 inmates over the next five years, an increase that would cost the state nearly $100 million, according to a study released Wednesday.
The report by the Pew Charitable Trusts projects that the U.S. will have more than 1.7 million men and women in prison by 2011 - costing taxpayers an additional $27.5 billion - if states don’t make changes to their incarceration policies.
Georgia’s projected prison population gain would amount to an 11 percent increase over the current population. At the current annual cost of about $17,000 per inmate, that would amount to a cost increase of more than $98 million, according to the report.
The report says rising overall populations and state policy decisions like mandatory minimum sentences and reduced parole grants are contributing to the spiraling prison populations.
In states like Georgia, the growth in methamphetamine cases also was cited as key factor.
Meth-related admissions more than tripled in Georgia between 1999 and 2005, the study says.
Admissions? Is that “convictions?” I don’t get it. If so, Georgia is bucking the trend:
[T]he federal National Survey on Drug Use and Health released results from a survey that showed meth use had “declined overall between 2002 and 2005” and that the number of “initiates"- people using the drug for the first time in the 12 months before the survey-had “remained relatively stable between 2002 and 2004, but decreased between 2004 and 2005.”
Protecting kids, Georgia-style: lock them up & throw away the key
I’m appalled to read this in the NYTimes today:
The second piece of legislation introduced with the intent of helping Genarlow Wilson, a former honor student and star athlete who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for having oral sex with a 15-year-old classmate, may be in trouble in the Georgia General Assembly.
Senator Emanuel D. Jones, a Democrat, sponsored the legislation, which would make it possible for judges to reconsider the cases of hundreds of young adults, including Mr. Wilson, who are serving long mandatory minimum sentences in prison for having consensual sex with teenage minors. Mr. Jones said the bill was mysteriously left off the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
And on Monday, the Senate’s leader, Eric Johnson, publicly denounced the bill and said that although Mr. Wilson, now 20, was serving a harsh sentence, he deserved no leniency.
You’ll recall that evidence, jurors be damned, Senator Johnson says it’s rape.
SEE ALSO: The Sex Panic: Why we’re freaking out.