Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The snow, in NY, more than 48 hours after it stopped falling

Monday, December 27, 2010

That NYT story on Deepwater Horizon

I'm not familiar enough with the history to know what's what, but AP's Harry Weber says everything in the Times piece was in fact previously reported by AP.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Assange, part 2

The context of the Assange story is this: while many media (including Stewart) joke about "sex by surprise" or whatever, what we have here is an accusation of rape and sexual assault.

But Michael Moore and others are leading a defend-Assange-at-all-costs crusade, and belittling the accusation and the accuser. For more, see the coverage at Tiger Beatdown.

What Assange is accused of

No, it's not "sex by surprise" or whatever. It's rape and sexual assault. The Guardian reports on the accusations.

The Newseum's "Covering Katrina" Exhibit Basically Gets it Wrong

When the Newseum re-opened with a downtown DC site in 2008, it got many friendly reviews. And the museum is fairly popular here. But it also got a batch of negative reviews, for being a self-congratulatory monument and not an objective undertaking. In the words of the Denver Post's Joanne Ostrow, it's "not so much a museum as a vanity project." Jack Shafer criticized the museum's "fetishizing of trivial relics" and called it a "stunning shrine."

The museum's "Covering Katrina" exhibit, which opened in August and will stay till next September, suffers from these same problems that infect the museum generally.

The exhibit tells of heroic work by journalists, focusing particularly on the Times-Picayune and the Biloxi Sun-Herald (each won a Pulitzer). That's all well and good. But the bigger picture of Katrina and the press is a negative one, not a positive one.

A big feature of national press coverage in the days after the storm, especially on TV, was on the anarchy and violence. The murders and rapes of children in the Superdome. The marauding gangs of armed men who in some cases shot at police officers. Civilians shooting at rescue helicopters.

The problem is that these stories turned out not to be true. They were rumors, in some cases passed on by top Nagin administration officials. The Times-Picayune helped tell the true story later that month.

The other story -- of police officer and white civilians shooting and in some cases killing unarmed black men -- has only really started to come out since AC Thompson's Dec 2008 piece in The Nation.

The national press did lots of great work during that first week. But they nearly universally got it wrong on the violence. The federal and city government effort quickly became too focused on restoring security, with at least some expense to other priorities -- rescue and health. The press's role in that process needs scrutiny.

The false narrative of Katrina as a tale of black civilian violence lives on today. Some national outlets such as the NYTimes ran pieces showing that the story of violence had been largely incorrect. But sadly that wasn't enough to undo the public perception from the initial "history" that we got for several days straight on TV after the storm struck.

The Newseum's exhibit does have one good panel on these issues. It should have been a primary theme of the exhibit.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


For a more critical look, see Democracy Now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Henry Glover follow-up

Jury Convicts Three, Acquits Two in Post-Katrina Police Shooting

Washington Post Fronts Facebook for 18th Time

The first sign of trouble came at 10:33pm last night. The Washington Post sent out the following to its "Breaking News Alert" ("Be the first to know when major news breaks") email list:

Now in fairness, they've started to use that email list of late to promote their exclusive investigations, their big enterprise stories, even when it's not a breaking development. But I'm not sure that makes it any better.

Sure enough, the story is on the front page today. It is the 18th Facebook-focused story the Post has fronted. The first was in September 2006. The most recent was 4.5 months ago -- July 23rd. The list:

Sept 2006, Oct 2006, Feb 2007, Nov 2007, March 2008, April 2008, May 2008, June 2008, July 2008, Sept 2008, March 2009, April 2009, Aug 2009, Aug 2009, Oct 2009, May 2010, July 2010, Dec 2010.

See what you think about today's piece. It tells the story of eight months of the life of Shana Greatman Swers, who was pregnant, had a baby, and then fell into worse and worse health from a complication. It's all told through her Facebook postings, and the repsonses. Kind of odd, though sure enough it is at times a gripping story. After the jump it takes up a huge one and almost a third page spread.

Writer Ian Shapira explains in a "Story Lab" piece online that he found the story because his wife worked at the same office as Swers and saw her messages.

I have mixed feelings about this one. It's a tragedy chronicled in someone's own words and there's something there. But in the end I feel the same way about it as I do about most of the Post's Facebook stories: it doesn't belong on the front page. And in this case, it doesn't deserve so many column inches, at least not in the front section. The Post is trying too hard to be hip and with it. Today's piece would be more valuable if this were indeed some new trend about people telling very personal things about their life to their friends through Facebook. But that story was "new" a few years ago.

The Post also has a conflict of interest problem with Facebook. I don't think that's what causes the front-pagers, but it needs to be disclosed more regularly. Facebook announced, in December 2008, that Washington Post CEO Donald Graham would be joining its board the following month. Eight of the Post's 18 front-page articles on Facebook have come since January 2009. Of those, only one disclosed the connection. Today's does not.

Post writers Rob Pegoraro and Cecilia Kang have generally been very good about disclosure; the rest have not been. Referring to the Post's own internal policies, Ombudsman Andy Alexander wrote in August that "stories about Facebook must mention that its board includes Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham."


A lot of the stuff in the punditry, and even in hard news, has been pretty far off from reality, even on the very basics, like how many documents have been released. The person leading the real coverage in the U.S. is Glenn Greenwald.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The NYT's woman problem

Amanda Hess in TBD:
Allow me to address this trend-piece-of-all-trend-pieces in terms it will understand: The New York Times seems to be producing an unknown number of stories at an indeterminate rate of growth that spin copy out of essentializing women.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tiny Houses

Via the Boston Globe, photos of tinycozy houses some dude makes.

NYT: "National Debt is Near the Top of any List of Voter Concerns at the Moment"

The economy and jobs are increasingly and overwhelmingly cited by Americans as the most important problems facing the country, while the deficit barely registers as a topic of concern when survey respondents were asked to volunteer their worries.
That's the NYTimes, discussing their own poll findings, in September.

Now, the paper has taken a turn back to deficit hyping:
The national debt is near the top of any list of voter concerns at the moment.
You've gotta differentiate your product from the Washington Post, please.

(Hat tip Peter Hart at FAIR Blog.)

Catching up on the Post's deficit commission coverage

Shoot, I have fallen behind on the Lori Montgomery beat.

See Steve Rendall at FAIR Blog on the Post's coverage of the deficit commission last week. You might have thought the news was that the deficit commissions failed to get 14 votes, but not at the Post.

Monday, December 06, 2010

WashPost edit page still trying to tell us they were right about the need to attack Iraq

From ThinkProgress, Eight Years Later, Washington Post Still Defending The Saddam-Niger-Yellowcake Story.

Paging Fred Hiatt: get over it!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Good photos

Via the Boston Globe, some highlights of entries into the 2010 National Geographic photo contest.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Obama finally issues a few pardons

On a Friday afternoon. Dan Froomkin at HuffPo has a look.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

An evolving Katrina history

I finally got around to watching Frontline's Law and Disorder, which first aired in August, around the 5-year anniversary of Katrina, and is viewable online. It's a good overview on what we now know, thanks to the ProPublica and Times Picayune reporting (they teamed with Frontline), about NOPD shootings of unarmed civilians in the days after the storm.

The post-Katrina story started to unravel with the Dec 2008 article in The Nation by ProPublica's A.C. Thompson, which focused on shootings of black civilians, some fatal, by white civilians. The article got very little attention at the time, but turned out to be the beginning of many discoveries, and renewed interest that would bring in the U.S. Justice Department.

As Rebecca Solnit put it in her 5-year anniversary piece in The Nation:
The widely told initial version of Hurricane Katrina was a lie and a slander, based on rumors and racism, and it's been falling apart steadily ever since. For the past two years an antithetical version has been overtaking it, one that tells the real story of who went crazy and who was in danger in the days after the hurricane. It has gained more ground than I ever imagined it would, and the history books may yet get this one right.
I very much hope so. Much of the media, judging by the 5-year anniversary stories, still doesn't really get it, and I'm pretty confident most of the public still thinks what we heard on TV at the time was basically what was happening.

I think it's relevant beyond New Orleans because we're likely to have more and more weather-related disasters, and police departments are going to be tested. Some will probably do better than NOPD, others worse.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

More on the pay "freeze"

Organizing for America, the remnants of the Obama campaign that became the DNC organization to support Obama's agenda, actually had the gall to try to get supporters excited about this. Kind of offensive.

Here's Ezra Klein from this afternoon, looking back across all of this White House's giveaways and asking when they might get it.

New Sea Shepherd boat

Good god. More info here.