Friday, September 28, 2007

Traditional Media Panel

Sylvia Adcock:

economic pressures put on print media by large corporations--eating away at talent necessary to put out great paper; will future media be able to provide necessary firepower?

Malcolm Moran:

"knows how painful this episode was" to people at the NYT
but things could get worse--technology might make it easier to spread false information, with 24-7 real-time environment, safety net of editorial process is gone

Eric Lieberman (attorney for Williams & Connolly, clients include Washington Post):

media tends to be very thin-skinned about its failings: ombudsman, blogosphere have potential to catch any error

"our most valuable asset is our credibility; if we lose our credibility, we have nothing at the end of the day."

Loren Ghiglione:

journalists need to be especially conscious of avoiding myths in race/class/gender stereotype

institutions within the press--ombudsmen, public editors; also bloggers--that can hold the press accountable

Ari Shapiro:

easier for government to manipulate media in terrorism cases--nature of process, government stopping something before it happens, therefore difficult to determine government's rationale for acting when it does

news media needs to act as filter--public doesn't need uncritical transmission of whatever government says

William Raspberry:

question of how news is made can put the media in a bad light--the end product is often good, but the mess in the production can look bad; in live-coverage, almost impossible for reporters not to lapse into speculation

also--tough for media to simply say it doesn't have new information--reporters have to advance the story, make it more likely to have speculation; pressure to report what competition has and leapfrog it

How to avoid this problem? Not sure it can be avoided. Editors help--but no editors on internet?; internet stories can force the hand of good editors

Beale: how can things get better?

Adcock: ombudsmen;
Shapiro: changing news consumer--no longer sense that need to get news from source that does it well, drags down the whole enterprise
Raspberry: tendency to write more than what reporters know--Whitewater good example of this.

Beale: how much of this problem can be attributed to prosecutors' behavior? Press have to report prosecutor's actions?

Lieberman: no--system supposed to be contest between press and gov't--media can't cede its obligation to have discipline and question the powers that be

Moran: in too many places, being wrong is OK, because desire is to get story out quickly

Ghiglione: when a news organization screws up, what does it do then? Praises Ruth Sheehan for apologizing for her early columns

Raspberry: dangers of making guidelines based on hugely exceptional cases

26 comments:

Ralph Phelan said...

""knows how painful this episode was" to people at the NYT
but things could get worse--technology might make it easier to spread false information, with 24-7 real-time environment, safety net of editorial process is gone"

"Safety net of editorial process"! Gimme a break. I can't find it right now, but you had a quote from a NYT sportswriter who was pulled off the case because he was too concerned with the possibility of innocence and not conerned enough with the issues of race, class and gender.

The NYT's editors are a major source of misinformation, and the internet is our safety net against them.

AMac said...

Re: Eric Leiberman's remark about ombudsmen and the blogosphere having potential to catch any error --

Seems to me that Ombudsmen and Public Editors do more harm than good; newspapers should abolish these positions. They can use the money saved to... whatever.

Pre-Ombudsman, it was rare for papers to correct embarrassing and deniable errors in their coverage. In the Ombudsman era, it is rare for papers to correct embarrassing and deniable errors in their coverage.

But there's one more source for self-serving P.R. An employee of the paper who looks at things and usually concludes: the editor's judgement was sound!

The conflict of interest is so severe as to be unfixable.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Burke of Duke's Econ department has two interesting papers on media bias. Here are the abstracts.

Unfairly Balanced: Unbiased News Coverage and Information Loss

A majority of Americans view news organizations as politically biased, creating a strong incentive for firms to try to present themselves as impartial. This paper argues that the desire to appear unbiased leads to information loss. In the formal model, firms withhold information in an effort to appear neutral. It is shown that information loss is exacerbated by competition, policies that regulate content are welfare reducing, and that regulating the size of the market can increase the amount of information revealed. Finally, the introduction of imperfectly informed sources of news, such as blogs, can decrease the incentives for traditional news outlets to provide information, yet they may also enhance welfare when information is being suppressed.

Primetime Spin: Media Bias and Belief Confirming Information Revise and Resubmit: Journal of Economics and Management Strategy

This paper develops a model of media bias in which rational agents acquire all their news from the source that is most likely to confirm their prior beliefs. Despite only wishing to make the correct decision, agents act as if they enjoy receiving news that supports their preconceptions. By exclusively gathering information from a source biased towards his prior, there is little chance an agent will be persuaded to change his mind. Moreover, it is shown that even an unbiased agent prefers to receive biased news as it is unlikely to produce conflicting reports. The media caters to the informational demands of consumers and accordingly slants its reporting. It is shown that competition may not decrease bias, but may actually enhance it. Finally, even when it increases bias, competition may improve welfare by expanding the market for news.

gwdprice said...

KC...they misspelled your blog name in the program...am I being paranoid?

Anonymous said...

I am glad that these people are echoing a concern I've long had about the news -- when actual facts are not known, extensive speculation is invented or solicited to fill the gap. This leads to absurdities like Lester Munson responding to the revelation of Reade Seligmann's alibi with speculation that Reade might be arrested for obstruction of justice if the police were to find "something [that] doesn't fit in the alibi evidence". Yeah, Lester, and you might be arrested for child pornography tomorrow, if the police were to find it on your sock drawer. Is it responsible for us to go speculating that you have such material in your sock drawer when we have no indication of it being there?

no justice, no peace said...

An interesting article by Larry Ponemon, Ph.D. of The Ponemon Insitute regarding privacy.

It deals with the dumbing down of our sensitivities about privacy loss through breachs either intentional (illegal hacks) or inadvertant releases.

Most interesting is that it does NOT address when the controlling organiztion intentionally releases or provides access to private records.

The idea that an organization in a position of TRUST would INTENTIONALLY RELEASE private data does NOT even show up on this experts radar! It is beyond the pale...

To me this is one of the most despicable acts, on the long list of despicable acts, that the Duke administrators committed.

These acts were especially egregious as they were driven by the gender/race/class narrative.

5 things I've learned about privacy

"...In general, however, I do put my trust in an organization if I want to do business with them. No company is perfect, so there's an element of privacy risk in most consumer transactions. But I believe that by doing business with trustworthy companies, and being smart about how I conduct my transactions, my information risks can be minimized..."

As mentioned before, these people are dangerous.

Antaeus Feldspar said...

argh. followup from previous comment, same Munson story:

"SI.com: District Attorney Mike Nifong claims he has a third suspect, another team member. What do you know about him?

Munson: We know nothing at the moment. The question we must ask is whether this third player is in the process of negotiating with the prosecutor and is seeking immunity from prosecution or is seeking leniency for his testimony against the other players. Has the prosecution succeeded in driving a wedge into the veneer of solidarity the team has presented so far?"

No, Munson, there is no reason you "must" ask such a speculative question when you have already admitted that you know nothing.

no justice, no peace said...

Off topic...it occured to me yesterday that there is likely even more pent up anger inside the angry studies departments.

Since they rarely publish they don't generate royalties.

I wouldn't imagine, with the exception of Jesse Jackson, that there is much money in extortion on the basis of race/gender/class.

On the other hand, other professors, who add real-value can license IP, become shareholders in companies, consult, and of course, publish well received books like "Until Proven Innocent".

It is amazing how unfair life can be once one moves outside of the controlled experiment called academia.

Gary Packwood said...

Sylvia Adcock said:

...economic pressures put on print media by large corporations--eating away at talent necessary to put out great paper; will future media be able to provide necessary firepower?
::
Now Sylvia, the NYTimes is a large corporation and if firepower (talent) is a problem it is because the NYTimes has forgotten how to compete.

There are several really good courses and professors in economics at Duke Sylvia, if anyone at the NYT needs a little refresher work.
::
GP

Gary Packwood said...

Who writes the Nut (para) graph – a summation paragraph (usually fairly near the top of the article)- and is the Nut Graph seen as the word of the Lord by young journalists?

Who participates in the selection of the Nut Graph?
::
GP

Anonymous said...

As long as Duff Wilson still has a job as a reporter at the New York Times, it's hard to take seriously any claims that the paper is capable of fixing itself. I certainly can't see any reason to believe anything he writes in the future. And given that the Times had a competent reporter on the case initially and then removed him when the facts didn't line up with the paper's politics, it's hard to take any other reporter selected by that editor seriously either.

Anonymous said...

Huh? Recent history shows blogs are the source of correcting erroneous stories from the traditional press. The civilian reporter with a camera phone and a web blog is our hope for better news reporting. The dinasaur press has thumbed its noses at the truth.

Anonymous said...

Going by these quotes, maybe one person on this panel Gets It. The rest are pushing tired, old non-explanations and excuses.

F451

scott said...

amac @ 10:19 AM --

You nailed it on Ombudsmen. The concept of an employee of the newspaper being charged to hold the newspaper accountable is a joke. It has been a flop everywhere it's been tried. Calame (NYT) and Vaden (N&O) provided zero value in helping their respective newspapers improve coverage of the rape frame-up.

SOME (and I emphasize some) of the blogosphere is a different matter entirely. DIW, LS, Johnsville News, JinC, and others were instrumental in pointing out the blatant lies and distortions provided by the various mainstream print and broadcast media. Their role is invaluable. On the other hand, blogs such as Pandagon are even more ridiculous than the NYT in their bias and serve no value whatsoever except to titillate the moonbats.

It all boils down to agenda. KC's and Liestoppers' agenda was to search for the truth. Amanda Marcotte's and Les Munson's agenda was to flame on white males they portrayed as evil.

Until newspapers approach a story by searching for the truth instead of presenting an agenda, their circulations will continue to spiral
downward and all the ombudsmen in the world aren't going to fix that.

bill anderson said...

Oh, yes, "corporate pressures" made the NY Times and Hurled-Scum give us its horrible coverage. We got the coverage we did because both papers are dedicated to Political Correctness Uber Alles. That does not come because of "corporate pressure," but rather because these people are intent on politicizing all of life.

Anonymous said...

They're casting the bloggers as the problem instead of part of the solution. They can't let go of their hundred-year-old paradigm of how the newspapers should function in society.

Sad. Probably the same thing happened in radio fifty or sixty years ago with the advent of TV.

inman said...

njnp @ 11:04

A suggested correction:

Academia is an "uncontrolled" experiment.

Anonymous said...

I definitely totally reject the 'corporate pressures' excuse for incompetence as journalists. Nobody made them take the job, and the press has power over people's lives. With that power goes responsibility that whining cannot erase.

One agenda driving the bad reporting, and I realize it sounds as petty as Nifong's grabbiness over his pension, is the grudges of the subset of reporters who are sportswriters. It's a race to the bottom I agree, but given what they should know, sportswriters as a class performed outstandingly poorly in this case.
It strikes me that many of them are snots who think they are better than the athletes that they cover. This case may have fed their ideologies - and it did for some reporters - but it also fed their egos and gave them an opening for payback. Must be tough, with your big degree in English from a first or second tier Ivy, to see people fawn over someone you think is beneath you. Some of them may have fantasies of being Damon Runyon or Red Allen and they're stuck watching college - or high school - athletes whom they think are dumb.
iirc I heard one WaPo writer state on NPR that he was an 'athlete' at Duke when he swam for one semester.
The irony is, this was the big story that got some of them - Duff Wilson comes to mind - a front page byline for the first time. And they blew the story big time. So they're back to the minors.

Anonymous said...

MSM wanted this story to be true. For all the obvious reasons.

Steven Horwitz said...

NJNP:

Hardly ANY academic publications make any serious royalties, no matter the division or the degree of "anger" in the studies. Textbooks do and the occasional book that crosses over, but outside of the applied sciences where a patent or the like might emerge, most books make next to nothing. Journal articles make nothing.

Just how many readers do you think there are for the Mayan floating phallus or even macroeconomics of the Austrian school? :)

The point is that if you are right that a lack of royalties makes academics mad then that anger should include the traditional disciplines, including economics.

Academics write scholarly work for reputation not royalties.

And, while I'm at it, I love the way the "six figure income" thing gets tossed around. Most faculty in the humanities and social sciences across the country are not making six figures from their university salary. Full professors, maybe, but certainly not assistants or associates. At higher ranked schools like Duke, matters are different. But most academics are not making six figures.

Of the 170 faculty at my school, I would venture that no more than 10% are making over 100K from their university salary. There are many other benefits of being a college professor, but only the very few at the very top in the humanities and social sciences are getting rich off of it.

Anonymous said...

Salary schmalary. If you write a textbook, or even edit a collection of the essays of others, you do get royalties, and in a 'rapidly developing' field the more so if you have Duke creds. If you mandate your text in your classes - as you would - then getting royalties is a given. If you exploit the Duke case to get a weak president and a captive ad hoc self interested group to mandate certain courses, namely yours, as a remedy to the pain of the campus - which you yourself helped cause - you get to look virtuous and make money off your students at the same time. And since more of your courses are now required, your little division gets a bigger piece of the department pie.
Beats workin.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 4:05 said...

Salary schmalary. If you write a textbook, or even edit a collection of the essays of others, you do get royalties, and in a 'rapidly developing' field the more so if you have Duke creds. If you mandate your text in your classes - as you would - then getting royalties is a given. If you exploit the Duke case to get a weak president and a captive ad hoc self interested group to mandate certain courses, namely yours, as a remedy to the pain of the campus - which you yourself helped cause - you get to look virtuous and make money off your students at the same time. And since more of your courses are now required, your little division gets a bigger piece of the department pie.
Beats workin.
::
Read 3:26 above.

You are way out there in dream land.

We are taking about the humanities here. Not Rice University Nanotechnology applications or Duke University surgical instrumentation breakthroughs.

The royalties associated with using your textbook with your own students might pay for your weekly trip to Starbucks.
::
GP

Steven Horwitz said...

Please. Even assigning your own book in your own classes (which I find to be problematic), you're still not selling hundreds of books. Dozens maybe, even then, they're probably getting used copies. And you're making, what?, even at 10%, 2 or 3 bucks a book.

And if you're in the "Studies" area, with, as folks here constantly point out, very low enrollments, how exactly is assigning your own books to your students a big cash cow?

Sorry, it doesn't add up.

And note that I *excluded* textbooks from my calculation. Those do indeed make money. Anything else? No way. Edited volumes? No way.

Having written two academic books and edited a third volume, I think I know a little about this.

Anonymous said...

Only Americans feel American media is self-policed -- no one else does. The media here is 1)unrestrained in its pretrial reporting; 2) relatively subservient to government; 3)incurious; 4) fossilized & 5) more importantly is owned by large conglomerates who are beholden to the Federal government in order to maintain the franchise value of their very, very, very valuable broadcast licenses.

Debrah said...

"...economic pressures put on print media by large corporations--eating away at talent necessary to put out great paper; will future media be able to provide necessary firepower?"

No.

As long as a newspaper is tightly controlled by a large corporation and profit is the first priority, there will be no quality in journalism.

News outlets like the NYTimes become lazy and use their perches to display their own views of the world....expecting to funnel this distorted insanity down the throats of the public.

As Stuart Taylor said, regarding the rush to judgment and the concocted narrative of the lacrosse case...."They loved it."

mac said...

Many sports reporters are wannabee jocks: can't make it themselves, and they're resentful of those who can. They're obsequious, but they're quick to turn on a jock. After they're through with crucifying one jock, they say: "next!" as if they're ready for another course in a meal.

And then they're often too lazy to get up and get the food themselves, failing to understand that with the new lines of information available, it's a buffet, not a sit-down meal.

If you want to change MSM, jock-sniffers included, make them more accountable to libel laws.