Monday, March 08, 2010

Why Your Media Sucks, Part 8,122

"...and he'll talk about all of us really being salesmen." -- Albert Brooks, "Broadcast News"

Steve Rhodes of the indispensable "Beachwood Reporter" confirms your worst fears here:

"NBC's local Web site is earning a reputation for publishing all the news that's fit to lift," Michael Miner writes.

And how.

It wasn't that way when NBC first embarked on a new Web strategy that I thought was smart and had potential. But when the site relaunched under a new managing editor with no foundation in journalism and a cleavage obsession, things changed.

Suddenly us writers weren't supposed to attribute the news we were writing about to its source, we were to pretend we came up with it by ourselves. Right from our little apartments.

"We don't quote publications, we only quote people," I was told by another new editor.

That meant not quoting from publications, either. They would just take the quote marks off. "That's plagiarism!" I railed. To dumbfoundedness. So I worked around it my own way, writing my posts in a way that would mostly prevent mischief, even as I was told that the strategy was to take other people's stories and "make them our own!"

I hope I didn't do this. My strategy was to find angles and commentary on what was in the news and give due credit. At the same time, I warned the bosses: You can't do that. That is stealing, just what aggregators are so often wrongly accused of doing.

To no avail.

I also warned that rewriting other people's stories in which the words were chosen with at least some measure of care would inevitably lead to errors as facts, nuances and context got muddied. Indeed, the site was - and is - littered with errors and mischaracterizations. I have a long list of them just from my time there alone.

Nobody cared.

Most important, though, is that the absence of any sort of basic journalist framework extends to the top - to the president of NBC Universal's local news division, who is a sales guy.

"I started as a salesman, Mr. Beale..."

Ned Beatty, "Network"

As long these people rule this country -- run our media, our markets, our banks, our government, our businesses, our churches and our charities -- we are all screwed.


Priscilla said...

PBS News in the San Francisco Bay Area invited two guests to discuss the US postal service: Professor Frank Wolak, Professor of Economics, and Ed O'Keefe, "who has been covering the story for the Washington Post". PBS has a clever format - ask each guest a question, switch to the other guest then, because Ed O'Keefe was talking a mile-a-minute about nothing - keep him on air most of the time. If they let one guest speak for a period of time and then switch to the other guest, Professor Wolak would have had time to explain the situation and I would have had time to feed the cat while Ed O'Keefe was speaking. They will never do this because they are dishonest.

College Term Papers said...

I'm actually glad to see all this stuff, to see that this world offers creativity and ideas other than what my lonesome small town provides.

Laci the Chinese Crested said...

NBC is now offering the Internet equivalent of page three girls?

You are solidifying my conviction that the US media is crap.

NPR is commercial in the fact that it needs corporate underwriting to survive. Corporate Underwriting is a fancy name for commercials. The conservatives want to make sure that US media knows who they work for: the corporations.

So, US media organisations are nothing other than PR firms.

I'll stick to the BBC and Radio Nederland for my news from now on.

Rev.Paperboy said...

Its not just US media, you should see how the Japanese do things. Rhodes story sounds eerily familiar to me, and since I'm still under contract until the end of the month, that is all I'm gonna say, except to ask why can't every day be podcast day? You observations about Palin and Ken Nordine and word jazz were so spot on I had to go out and buy some Nordine. Now I want to set Palin's speeches to bebop. Also.

Connecticut Man1 said...

The Hartford Courant was doing that for a while. Lifting all kinds of material from journalists and Bloggers alike.

When the court case hit them from a bunch of their "undisclosed sources" Rick Green did a post on it saying stupid stuff to justify it.

I said that the Courant had stolen material from me, quotes that could have only come from my own materail because I was the only one with it period, and his answer?

"They did it too!"

Yep. They felt they were entitled to steal the material unattributed just because other corporate news sources had done the same. Had to ask him if he felt murder was justified as legal just because other people did it too.

At least the Blogosphere had shown the courtesy of linking to my Blog, ePluribus Media or My Left Nutmeg where I had posted it when they did stories on it.

For the most part? Bloggers have more ethics than most of corporate news rags.

Batocchio said...

Silly! The little people don't matter! And the beast must be fed with content! Now we'll take another round of fake news, please.