Category Archives: MSM

Chart of the day: Generational media divides


For someone involved in journalism for half a century, the latest findings on American media habits prove especially disturbing.

From the Pew Research Center [click on the image to enlarge]:

blog-papers

What’s particularly worrisome is that local newspapers are the conduits to give national and international news a local focus.

Throughout much of our time working for community papers, we would look at national developments and show how they impacted local individuals, organizations, and governments.

National level papers, by definition, deal largely in abstractions,  descrying broad patterns that point to trends, while local papers deal with particulars, revealing how those generalizations would impact folks you know.

The death of the nation’s community, either through closure, merger, or takeover by corporations interested more in profit that in furthering the goals of democracy, has severed much of journalism from its roots and left us with a population more susceptible to manipulations by politicians skilled in manipulating emotion to accomplish the ends of their financial sponsors.

Trump: Press is “enemy of the American people”


And it’s making international headlines.

It came in the guise of a tweet:

blog-trump-tweet

International news media took note, as in the case of the Japan Times:

Donald Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the media Friday, describing the press as “the enemy of the American people!” in a tweet.

Shortly after landing at his holiday home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida — where he is spending a third consecutive weekend — the president lashed out in 140 characters.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump wrote.

Trump had tweeted an earlier post which targeted the New York Times, CNN, NBC “and many more” media — and ended with the exclamation “SICK!” But he swiftly deleted that missive before reposting the definitive version — adding two more “enemies” to his blacklist.

Many U.S. presidents have criticized the press, but Trump’s language has more closely echoed criticism leveled by authoritarian leaders around the world.

And BBC News:

At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence.

Being branded an “enemy of the people” by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.

Now the chilling phrase – which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called “hostis publicus”, enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 – is making something of a comeback.

>snip<

“Charming that our uneducated President manages to channel the words of Stalin and fails to hear the historical resonance of this phrase,” tweeted Mitchell Orenstein, a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: “The most dangerous ‘enemy of the people’ is presidential lying — always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon’s.”

Mr Trump is not the first US president to have an antagonistic relationship with the media — Nixon is known to have privately referred to the press as “the enemy” — but his latest broadside, with all its attendant historical echoes, is unprecedented.

As a journalist for more than decades, we find Trump’s declaration to be gravely ominous.

For the Fourth Estate, trouble lies ahead.

Headline of the day: Kill the messenger


From the London Daily Mail:

Trump’s journalism police: President calls on the help of his fans by sending ‘accountability surveys’ which ask them to grade the press’ performance – and report cases of ‘unfairness’

  • The president sent out the survey just hours after he ranted against the press 
  • It included questions that had a similar tone to much of Trump’s earlier remarks 
  • ‘You are our last line of defense against the media’s hit jobs,’ a Trump letter read
  • Trump stepped up his attacks on the press while speaking at the White House

Charts of the day: How we get, act on online news


Two charts from How Americans Encounter, Recall and Act Upon Digital News, a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The first chart reveals how we get to online news sources:

blog-news

And the second chart shows which of those avenues are more likely to lead us to act, and on which topics:

blog-news-2

Headline of the day: Bad news for journalists


Some ominous news from The Hill:

Trump administration seen as more truthful than news media: poll

  • The Trump administration is more trusted than the news media among voters, according to a new Emerson College poll.
  • The administration is considered truthful by 49 percent of registered voters and untruthful by 48 percent.
  • But the news media is less trusted than the administration, with 53 percent calling it untruthful and just 39 percent finding it honest.

Chart of the day: The potent impacts of algorithms


Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

From Code-Dependent: Pros and Cons of the Algorithm Age, a new report from the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and based on responses from “ technology experts, scholars, corporate practitioners and government leaders” who were asked this question: “Will the net overall effect of algorithms be positive for individuals and society or negative for individuals and society?.”

Algorithms are programs designed to identify and respond to inputs, and are the basis for all machine learning and so-called artificial intelligence. As Merriam-Webster notes, the word “was formed from algorism ‘the system of Arabic numerals,’ a word that goes back to Middle English and ultimately stems from the name of a 9th-century Persian mathematician, abu-Jafar Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khuwarizmi, who did important work in the fields of algebra and numeric systems.”

Algorithms are ubiquitous in a wired world, used to track us and sell us on products and ideas, yet they themselves remain hidden from view as they harvest data about our likes and dislikes, habits, hobbies, driving patterns, and much, much more.

Here are some of the responses we think are particularly telling:

Chris Showell, an independent health informatics researcher based in Australia, said, “The organisation developing the algorithm has significant capacity to influence or moderate the behaviour of those who rely on the algorithm’s output. Two current examples: manipulation of the process displayed in online marketplaces, and use of ‘secret’ algorithms in evaluating social welfare recipients. There will be many others in years to come. It will be challenging for even well-educated users to understand how an algorithm might assess them, or manipulate their behaviour. Disadvantaged and poorly educated users are likely to be left completely unprotected.”

Writer James Hinton commented, “The fact the internet can, through algorithms, be used to almost read our minds, means those who have access to the algorithms and their databases have a vast opportunity to manipulate large population groups. The much-talked-about ‘experiment’ conducted by Facebook to determine if it could manipulate people emotionally through deliberate tampering with news feeds is but one example of both the power, and the lack of ethics, that can be displayed.”

An anonymous president of a consulting firm said, “LinkedIn tries to manipulate me to benefit from my contacts’ contacts and much more. If everyone is intentionally using or manipulating each other, is it acceptable? We need to see more-honest, trust-building innovations and fewer snarky corporate manipulative design tricks. Someone told me that someday only rich people will not have smartphones, suggesting that buying back the time in our day will soon become the key to quality lifestyles in our age of information overload. At what cost, and with what ‘best practices’ for the use of our recovered time per day? The overall question is whether good or bad behaviors will predominate globally.”

This consultant suggested: “Once people understand which algorithms manipulate them to build corporate revenues without benefiting users, they will be looking for more-honest algorithm systems that share the benefits as fairly as possible. When everyone globally is online, another 4 billion young and poor learners will be coming online. A system could go viral to win trillions in annual revenues based on micropayments due to sheer volume.

Example: The Facebook denumerator app removes the manipulative aspects of Facebook, allowing users to return to more typically social behavior.”

Several respondents expressed concerns about a particular industry – insurers. An anonymous respondent commented, “The increasing migration of health data into the realm of ‘big data’ has potential for the nightmare scenario of Gattaca writ real.”

An executive director for an open source software organization commented, “Most people will simply lose agency as they don’t understand how choices are being made for them.”

One respondent said, “Everything will be ‘custom’-tailored based on the groupthink of the algorithms; the destruction of free thought and critical thinking will ensure the best generation is totally subordinate to the ruling class.”

Another respondent wrote, “Current systems are designed to emphasize the collection, concentration and use of data and algorithms by relatively few large institutions that are not accountable to anyone, and/or if they are theoretically accountable are so hard to hold accountable that they are practically unaccountable to anyone. This concentration of data and knowledge creates a new form of surveillance and oppression (writ large). It is antithetical to and undermines the entire underlying fabric of the erstwhile social form enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and our current political-economic-legal system. Just because people don’t see it happening doesn’t mean that it’s not, or that it’s not undermining our social structures. It is. It will only get worse because there’s no ‘crisis’ to respond to, and hence, not only no motivation to change, but every reason to keep it going – especially by the powerful interests involved. We are heading for a nightmare.”

A scientific editor observed, “The system will win; people will lose. Call it ‘The Selfish Algorithm’; algorithms will naturally find and exploit our built-in behavioral compulsions for their own purposes. We’re not even consumers anymore. As if that wasn’t already degrading enough, it’s commonplace to observe that these days people are the product. The increasing use of ‘algorithms’ will only – very rapidly – accelerate that trend. Web 1.0 was actually pretty exciting. Web 2.0 provides more convenience for citizens who need to get a ride home, but at the same time – and it’s naive to think this is a coincidence – it’s also a monetized, corporatized, disempowering, cannibalizing harbinger of the End Times. (I exaggerate for effect. But not by much.)”

Fox censors Super Bowl ad featuring Trump’s wall


When it comes to television commercials, the one day that reigns supreme in the advertising world.

You might even call it the Super Bowl of the Madison Avenue set.

And, oh yeah, it’s the real Super Bowl, the one day of the year when television spots become the news, the objects of the most lavish and controversial efforts of the Mad Man.

There’s always controversy, but this year the furor was over what didn’t air.

The problem, you see, is that the annual pigskin extravaganza airs on Fox, which also happens to be the same company that owns Fox News, the Official Propaganda Network of the Trump-a-palooza™.

And Fox wasn’t about to allow anything that they thought might besmirch the alleged honor of Herr Pussygrabber.

So when 84 Lumber, a family owned chain, wanted to air an ad honoring America’s undocumented immigrants from South of the border, Fox decided they weren’t having it, at least as long as the ad contained images of Pussygrabber’s proudest erection-in-the-making,

From 84 Lumber, here’s the ad you didn’t see:

84 Lumber Super Bowl Commercial – The Journey Begins


Program notes:

The full, uncut 84 Lumber Super Bowl promotional film. See a mother and daughter’s symbolic migrant journey towards becoming legal American citizens. Contains content deemed too controversial for the original ad and banned from broadcast.

And here’s the ad Fox finally allowed, the one without that material “too controversial” :

So what’s most notable thing missing from the ad?

Maybe a wall?

And why wouldn’t Fox air the ad?

Well,  the network isn’t saying.

Banned from a an event celebrating the GOP

More on the story from the Washington Post:

Perhaps more than any other time in history, politics appear to be playing a larger role than ever in the Super Bowl. Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Trump in an interview that aired before the game; former president George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, did the coin toss; and some of the ads have tackled controversial social issues such as immigration.

One such ad was imagined by the family-owned company 84 Lumber, which decided to tackle the subject in its first Super Bowl ad. It wasn’t exactly how the company originally planned it, however.

In the ad’s initial iteration, a Mexican mother and daughter, who appear to be on their way to the United States, come across a depiction of an imposing border wall, reminiscent of the one Trump has touted will eventually divide the country from Mexico.

“Ignoring the border wall and the conversation around immigration that’s taking place in the media and at every kitchen table in America just didn’t seem right,” said Rob Shapiro, the chief client officer at Brunner, the agency that worked with 84 Lumber to come up with the ad. “If everyone else is trying to avoid controversy, isn’t that the time when brands should take a stand for what they believe in?”

But while 84 Lumber believed in its message, Fox, which aired Sunday’s game, thought it was a little too controversial.

“Fox would not let us air ‘the wall,’ ” Schapiro said. 

And another border wall makes the news

The Trump border wall wasn’t the only barrier making news this weekend.

Another border blocker was also in the news, this time a barrier much further to the south.

Ftom teleSUR English:

Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke out Thursday against a proposed wall by Argentina’s Mauricio Macri government alongside its shared northern border with Bolivia and Paraguay.

“We are countries of the Patria Grande (Latin America) and we cannot follow the North and its policies, building walls to divide us,” Morales tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier this week, right-wing Argentine congressman Alfredo Olmedo proposed legislation promoting the construction of a wall in an effort to curb immigration.

“I agree 100% with Trump,” Olmedo said, according to The Guardian.

“I know that border very well, and a wall is the solution. We have to build a wall.”

Olmedo was born and raised in Argentina’s northern Rosario de la Frontera province, which shares a border with both Bolivia and Paraguay.

Morales also criticized President Macri’s recent executive order on immigration. Last Monday, the right-wing head of state signed a decree amending the country’s immigration laws in order to speed up the deportation of foreigners who have committed crimes. The decree also prohibits the entry of foreign citizens into the South American country if they have prior criminal convictions.

“Discriminatory policies that condemn and criminalize migration are a shameful retreat to rights conquered by our peoples,” Morales tweeted on Friday morning, adding that the Bolivian government is urging the international community to take action.