Morning Ed: Media {2018.09.03.M}

[Me1] Josephine Livingstone has some things to say about women’s media, which seems… kinda scammy. {Related?}

[Me2] Then what is even the point of having a Wells Fargo beat if Wells Fargo is calling the shots?

[Me3] Adam Ozimek says that the economics of the media isn’t the problem with media. We are.

[Me4] Fake News from 1968.

[Me5] This seems pretty obvious.

[Me6] First Amendment, baby! We aren’t perfect with it, but I’m glad we have it written down.

[Me7] Hard not to admire the ambition.

[Me8] Oscar Schwartz worries that the media is getting conned by “AI influencers” {more}

[Me9] Ben Smith does not like the monster he created.

[Me0] Village Voice is down. Here’s an interesting thought:


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Will Truman is the pseudonym of a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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20 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Media {2018.09.03.M}

  1. Me1: “Lifestyle” media is very often a scam designed to either sell you crap or make you feel bad about your life not being as impossibly perfect as those featured. The local news here has a dumb segment called “Moms Everyday” which functions as free advertising for (at best) a local zoo and (at worst) a scammy medical-adjacent service that sells “supplements” claiming to do more than they actually can do.

    I call it what it is: advertising that lacks the guts to admit to being that.

    Even some of the “medial minutes” featured on the local news are essentially ads for weight-loss surgery, cosmetic surgery, and the like.

    And actual, meaningful news stories are teased in dreadful ways: “What local town is it not safe to go out into this morning……coming up next” followed by five minutes of ads as I wonder which local city has had a hazmat spill.

    I don’t expect that kind of thing to get any better over time. We seem to have reached the era of clickbait.

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  2. Me1: IIRC there were still speculating whether the Refinery29 article was a clever prank/troll because it just seemed too perfect to get the hate-clicks. There was a guy (as in XY chromosome holder) who managed do a similar troll with a fake music festival goer. I don’t remember the details. Since Poe’s law infects everything these days, I can’t tell.

    Not disclosed sponsored posts is not unique to women’s media but might be stronger there.

    Me3: A few weeks ago Pillsy came up with the unique theory that the Internet’s real problem is that it bursts bubbles in really unfortunate ways. I think there is a lot of truth to this. In the pre-net days, you could clamp down on the kooks. Now you can’t and this means I see something of horror nearly every day. Someone who sincerely believes in an off the wall conspiracy theory or something really offensive like Holocaust Denial.

    Me0: Maybe. It is true that The NY Times will post gay wedding announcements without blinking an eye but the content is still upper-middle class bourgeois. The alt-weeklies were supposed to be more Bohemian and edgier, the Gawker’s of their day but also high brow arts coverage. What isn’t said is the kind of ad that fed the alt-weeklies was very different than MSM. Alt-weeklies survived on ads for “massage” parlors*, even less hidden ads for sex workers, and illegal drugs. There is not anything wrong with this per se but it is a different kind of market than cars and fancy department stores. Alt-weekly advertisers also dried up more quickly because of the net.

    It is amazing about all the essays mourning the death of the Village Voice and other alt-weeklies don’t want to talk about this. They talk about how The Village Voice taught me to be a New Yorker or all the great writers to come from the Voice.

    What is interesting about the Voice is that they have fifteen years on most alt-weeklies. It would be interesting to trace their ads from 1955 to see when the ads became more sex and drug related. Were there barely hidden ads for sex workers in 1957 issues of the Voice?

    *If you are advertising the ethnicity and/or attractiveness levels of your staff, you are not a legitimate massage parlor. Legitimate massage parlors tend to have a more GOOP feel than anything else.

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  3. [Me3] Shorter version, it’s Trump’s fault. The apparent corollary to that is everything will be fine and dandy in two to six years. The linked discussion is really about a fairly small piece of the media environment, the Washington-based political analysts. I don’t think that piece is that important, though clearly they are in the business of telling people what they should think about things, and how those things are broadly categorized will impact public policy. But the larger issue is when those “things” are factually incorrect. I liked this analogy from Russ Roberts that is the source of the linked piece:

    You may remember Deflategate?—?the scandal where Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was accused of deflating footballs below the regulation level of pressure to make them easier to throw. It was hard to know what really happened. There was evidence on both sides of the issue.

    In one survey I saw, 75% of the American people thought Tom Brady was a cheater. But in four states, that number was less than 22%. I think you can probably guess which states those were?—?Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Deliciously, Connecticut, which is the dividing line between Boston and New York sports fans, was in between, at 55%.

    So people’s views on Deflategate were correlated with their tribe, the group they identified with and rooted for or the group they hated. Evidence isn’t what determined your view of Deflategate. Tribalism is a much better predictor. This is not surprising. And it’s not really important to the ultimate scheme of things even if you’re a Patriots fan or a Patriots hater.

    Politically, people have formed opinions based upon tribes and confuse those opinions for facts.

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  4. Me6: The thing for me is that after all this time and so many occurrences, there are still people who don’t know that simply changing the background to the same color as the text doesn’t remove the text from the file.

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  5. [Me4] OTOH, there was a recent Panel on the 1968 Chicago Convention Riots, featuring people who were there, mainly reporters. They describe a situation where a violent minority went to Chicago to provoke the police, throwing bags of shit at the pigs, urinating on them, shouting obscenities at their faces about their wives and children, and even grabbing their batons and hitting them with it. Eventually after long shifts of abuse, the police broke and the rest is recorded history.

    Side note: Much of the conventional account draws on the Walker Report, named after one of the former Illinois governors convicted of a felony. Walker later described his report as “a little one-sided in favor of the protesters,” and regretted using the phrase “police riot.” Still it all helped get him elected as Governor in 1972 on an anti-Daley platform.

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          • I wouldn’t mind that point, but I read her article as stating that the networks were honest brokers about the Mayor’s claims and the networks had kept a keen eye out for violent provocations and didn’t see any. I just linked to newspaper reporters (or future reporters) who saw plenty.

            One of the delegates on the convention floor pointed out that cameras in those days were big lumbering devices that were not mobile. They filmed staged proceedings with advance notice to people who wanted to play the media. In soccer, the yellow card usually goes to the one who retaliates for a personal foul. The camera turns and picks up either nothing or the retaliation.

            I disagree with her back-patting of the networks here. They were useful fools just like da Mayor. Technology makes them irrelevant for a situation like this though.

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            • Part of the problem with discarding the neutral voice is that everyone can do it.
              Those links you point to- what makes them more authoritative than those who saw the opposite?

              In a situation where a lot of people are doing a lot of various things, its possible to have multiple voices all speaking a truthful, yet incomplete perspective.

              Compare the story of the Chicago Convention to say, the Boston Massacre we all learned in grade school.

              It could easily be described by a Loyalist, right, much differently than by a Colonist? But the Colonists won the war and wrote the books.

              But ultimately this is lazy, a BDSI, above-it-all way of refusing to grapple with the difficulty of making choices.

              However stupid and clumsy and inarticulate the anti-Vietnam war protesters were, they had the right of the argument.

              Which is my big takeaway, that I only learned much later, that finding the correct side of an argument sometimes means looking past who is the more well spoken, who is more telegenic, who is better at keeping us unchallenged.

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              • It could easily be described by a Loyalist, right, much differently than by a Colonist? But the Colonists won the war and wrote the books.

                Didn’t the British produce any historians?

                Also, many Vietnamese in Vietnam think maybe they should’ve gone ahead and lost that one.

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  6. Me6:

    This seems reasonable to me:


    Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said the newspaper flouted her order that portions of a school district report about Cruz should remain shielded from the public. In the future, she declared, she will consider listing exactly what the newspaper can and cannot print.

    Her office tried, quite legitimately, to redact some sensitive information, but messed that up. She’s saying that next time, in addition to blacking stuff out, which has proven not to be foolproof, she’ll indicate what is intended to be redacted. This isn’t fascism, it’s making her point more clearly.

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  7. Me1: Just like how many men watch Mad Men and wish they could be Don Draper, many women might see the type of life promoted by lifestyle journalism as an aspirational fantasy. Which leads us to a fascinating discussion on what are legitimate or illegitimate fantasies for men and women. Its pretty easy to intellectually pick apart why wanting to be Don Draper or that young woman from Refinery29 are bad things but fantasies are persistent things. You can’t get rid of them through logical arguments.

    Me3: Joining Saul and by implication pillsy on this. The Internet increases broadcast power and makes it harder to control the kooks.

    Me7: I hope she doesn’t come across Iran doing the traditional authoritarian thing when people believe they are cleverly exploiting a loophole. That is smash the person anyway because the authoritarian regime can.

    Me0: Saul has it right. The Village Voice collapsed because it lost its’ advertising revenue to the Internet rather than the mainstream media catching up with it. Mainstream newspapers might be more LGBT friendly but they can’t get as bohemian or dissident as the Village Voice could. When ads for drugs and sex moved from the alt-weeklies to the Dark Web or even Craig’s List, it lost its’ funding.

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    • I hope she doesn’t come across Iran/
      doing the traditional authoritarian thing when /
      people believe they are cleverly exploiting a loophole.
      That is smash the person /
      anyway /
      because the authoritarian regime can.

      I know on some level this is auto-correct gone wild, but I prefer to imagine it in Shatner’s voice, with bongos and a flute.

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  8. The New Yorker briefly invited Steve Bannon to their annual festival. They dropped it quickly after several other guests canceled and several staff complained. Here is Remmick’s statement:

    I know it will get tsked tsked by people here and the free speech brigade but Bannon should have been invited but I disagree. Quite strongly. There is no debating a dishonest debater like Bannon. However, I don’t think he was invited because our top journalists just see politics as a game. Remmick’s anti-Trump stance is quite clear. I think Bannon was invited because our top journalists are naive and can be dopey at times. They think they are living in the old world of honest debate and a carefully worded question and follow up rebuttal can defeat someone like Bannon or Trump or Sessions or Miller. This is not true anymore.

    Also the New Yorker festival is a prime example of preaching to the choir.

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    • I think the comedian John Mulaney, who was scheduled to appear also, said it really well on Twitter so I’ll quote him here:
      “I’m out. I genuinely support public intellectual debate, and have paid to see people speak with whom I strongly disagree. But this isn’t James Baldwin vs William F Buckley. This is PT Barnum level horseshit. And it was announced on a weekend just before tix went on sale.”

      As I would with anyone, Bannon has a right to free speech and protections there of, and if they were violated I would defend him. That is not the case here. Civil society has free speech rights also and should shun him from all such events. Frankly, it shows a lack of understand or imagination to go for Bannon for the shock value and not expect the outcry. Bannon is nothing but a circus, and a evil, wicked, unredeemable circus at that, and has no place in our debates.

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