Category Archives: MSM

Quote of the day: From narrative to ephemera

From a post by brilliant BBC documentarian Adam Curtis, writing at his blog:

Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.

But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

And journalism – that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative – now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.

Events come and go like waves of a fever. We – and the journalists – live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog – and then disappear again, unexplained.

And the formats – in news and documentaries – have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.

I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy – because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable.

Headline of the day III: Pot calls kettle black

Ironies abound.

From the Guardian:

Fox News accuses Donald Trump of ‘terrorizing’ network after debate exit

Channel, which says Trump campaign threatened ‘rough days’ for Megyn Kelly if she hosted event, rejected ‘capitulating to politicians’ ultimatums’

Headline of the day: There’s no business like. . .

From the Los Angeles Times:

Paramount sued by production assistants over wages, bathroom breaks

The suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, also says the workers were not allowed to take breaks for meals or to use the restroom, leaving them to instead use their cars as bathrooms. 

The Empire Files: The U.S. role in birthing ISIS

Our respect for Abby Martin continues to grow as she matures as a journalist, first moving from hosting a show on Berkeley’s community access cable station to RT America, where she hosted Braking the Set, and then, after a brief hiatus, moving on to teleSur where she now hosts The Empire Files.

Each step of the way she has matured as a journalist, attaining a sense of gravitas that is the antithesis of what it takes to survive on this country’s corporate media.

In this latest edition of The Empire Files, she conducts what is probably the best interview we’ve seen on the troubles now afflicting the Middle East and North Africa, and lays the blame squarely at the doorstep of those most responsible, the U.S. Department of State and successive presidential administrations, and their use of oil as a weapon to bring down governments.

Her guest is Vijay Prasad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and he dissects the U.S. role in the violence now unfolding in Libya and Syria.

One of his most trenchant statement brilliantly sums up the nexus of crises across the globe: “The rich have gone on strike and are refusing to pay taxes.”

And so, from teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Examining the Syria War Chessboard

Program notes:

The war in Syria is an unparalleled crisis. It has gone far beyond an internal political struggle, and is marked by a complex array of forces that the U.S. Empire hopes to command: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and more. To simplify this web of enemies and friends, Abby Martin interviews Dr. Vijay Prashad, professor of International Studies at Trinity College and author of several books.

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .

Bad news just keeps coming for stalwarts of the Fourth Estate north of the border.

First, CBC News covers the latest layoffs, this time in Halifax, Nova Scotia:

Eighteen Chronicle Herald staff have received layoff notices on the first day of their strike [Friday] at Canada’s oldest independently owned newspaper.

Frank Campbell, vice president of the Halifax Typographical Union, said Saturday layoff notices had been issued to four photographers, 12 editors and two page technicians. He said the union’s lawyers are analyzing the legality of the move.

“It wasn’t on our radar that people would receive layoff notices while we were on strike,” Campbell told CBC News.

And from the Toronto Globe and Mail, specifics on layoffs by Canada’s media giant:

The country’s largest newspaper chain, Postmedia Network Canada Corp., is merging once-competing newsrooms and cutting about 90 staff as it tries to cope with declining revenue and a heavy debt load.

In Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa – cities where Postmedia owns two daily papers – editorial staff will be joined together to work under one senior editor, filing stories and images to both publications. But the company is not closing any newspapers, promising to continue publishing two in each city, albeit with less distinctive content and fewer rival reporters working local beats.

Last April, as Postmedia closed a deal to buy 175 newspapers and digital publications from Quebecor Inc., executives from the company were promising that the newly acquired Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun and Ottawa Sun would remain competitors with the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Citizen. The consolidation of written media that resulted was unprecedented for Canada, but Postmedia stressed that newsrooms would stay separate, pointing to its existing control of both the Vancouver Province and Vancouver Sun.

And some interpretation from a post headlined “Right-wing newspapers take over media markets in four more cities”:

Recent developments surrounding Postmedia’s layoffs and restructuring are particularly unsettling. Postmedia, which is largely U.S. owned, prints both the National Post and the Toronto Sun separately. But in its restructured form, newspapers like the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun will have one editor with roots in the Sun news side. Good newsrooms with balanced editorial policies will likely be replaced with right-wing automatons like Lorne Motley, the figure responsible for transforming the Calgary Herald into an attack dog for the oil and gas industry.

This same structure will be replicated across Postmedia-owned newspapers in Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver. The Province, the Citizen, the Herald, the Journal will now be in essence the Sun, Sun, Sun and Sun, respectively.

None of these corporate-backed media chains were ever known for their progressive views. But it’s bad news for democracy when Canadian news ownership is even more concentrated than in 2012: when Canada ranked first place in the G8 for concentrated media ownership.

Finally, on this side of the border, some specifics on a notable shutdown of a cable news network from TVNewser:

Winding down an entire cable news network takes time–and plenty of paperwork. When Al Jazeera America announced earlier this month it would end operations in April, hundreds of employees learned they would be losing their jobs.


The mechanics of laying off a workforce estimated at around 700 people across twelve U.S. bureaus includes government-mandated reports that must be give at least 60 days notice of layoffs. The first of those reports was filed in New York State the day of AJAM’s January announcement on January 13, giving 90 days notice.

The New York Department of Labor filing discloses that 197 employees will be laid off, beginning as early as April 13. In the filing, Al Jazeera lists the reason for the layoffs as a “plant closing.”

And finally, via Mediaite, terrorism in the newsroom:

The backlash is mounting against Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer for a horrible joke she attempted to make recently at a companywide meeting, and now many in her presumably deflated workforce fear for their jobs.

Mayer reportedly told the company that there will be “no layoffs… this week,” and although her comments were intended to be humorous, many who call the tech giant home are left wondering about their employment status within the company. “This is the reason employee morale is so low,” said one employee to the New York Post, who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.

According to reports, the comment in question from the CEO came at a January 8 meeting known as the “Friday FYI”. Mayer has served as President and CEO of Yahoo since June 2012, though many have questioned the direction of the company under her leadership.

Richard Seymour eviscerates Charlie Rose

During a half century or so of practicing the craft of journalism, we encountered an endless parade of folks who claimed to share the trade, but were, in fact a combination of shill and vainglorious empty suits.

They speak in orotund pomposity, emitting utterances that combine a somber stage presence with an utter vacuity, a lack of any kind of original thought. Instead, they are pampered parrots, uttering precisely what pleases their masters as they pocket the wealth that comes from giving good show.

We were initially surprised that folks other journalists often dubbed “haircuts,” because they pay an obsessive care to personal presentation that makes them immediate standouts from the generally scruffy appearance of the rest of us.

Oh, but they were much appreciated by folks who sign paychecks, and it wasn’t too long that the scruffy sorts were eliminated in waves of downsizing as corporate control of the media tightened and folks who ask the wrong sorts of questions were cast by the wayside.

Perhaps no one today embodies the bloviating pretense of the highly paid pseudojournalist so well as Charlie Rose, pal of plutocrats and kisser of powerful asses, and it’s a sheer delight to watch British journalist and radical Richard Seymour eviscerate his fetid corpse on this segment of Media Review from teleSUR English:

Media Review: Charlie Rose

Program notes:

Richard Seymour reviews Charlie Rose and his weekly TV show on PBS. Interviewing a broad range of well-known celebrities and establishment figures, his interview style clearly reflects his affiliations and politics.

At least we’re better than used car peddlers

Family Feud, for folks who don’t watch American TV game shows, pits two families against each other in a battle to guess the top eight answers given to pollsters in response to specific questions.

Jim Romenesko, perhaps the country’s most popular jouranlism blog, posted an image from the 20 January broadcast of the top four responses given to the description “An occupation where you tell a lot of lies.”

Sadly to say, despite the five decades we’re devoted to the calling, given the sad state of contemporary American journalism we’d have to go along with the popular sentiment.


[Screenshot from the “Family Feud” that aired on January 20, 2016. Via @nicholaspersac.]

[Screenshot from the “Family Feud” that aired on January 20, 2016. Via @nicholaspersac.]