Friday, April 18, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:50 PM EST

Monthly Archive

September 2011

Q&A: Columnist Charles Stile on Chris Christie

“Now he’s standing in the center of the political universe”

For a man who’s not running for president, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has gotten a whole lot of attention... More

Unknown Quantities

How social network verification can show us what we don’t know

We don’t know. Those are three difficult words for a journalist to say. For many, it's an admission of failure.... More

Ensuring Independence

How university journalism centers establish boundaries

An office. Desks, chairs, Internet, phone. Maybe even a printer. More and more, universities are providing these organizational basics to... More

Business Insider and Over-Aggregation

Henry Blodget has a long and detailed response to Marco Arment, which is fascinating to anybody interested in the nuts... More

Is Occupy Wall Street Getting Its Fair Share of Press?

What would Charles Tilly say?

#Occupy Wall Street. To cover or not to cover? That is of course the question that, 13 days into the... More

TNR Highlights Perry’s ‘Crony Capitalist’ Past

Will his indifference to ideology present a primary problem?

Former Washington Post reporter Alec MacGillis, who has joined The New Republic to cover the 2012 campaign, has his first... More

Norm Ornstein Gets Congress; WaPo Doesn’t

Result of Republican FEMA brinksmanship described as ‘almost accidental’

Remember that New York Times story earlier this week on the (since-resolved) showdown over federal disaster aid—the one that misleadingly... More

What a Country

Two new efforts to make sense of America’s struggles

In the midst of a cross-country pilgrimage, Iraq war veteran Colby Buzzell finds himself transfixed by an “old dusty American... More

Does This Mean the Iowa Caucuses Are Like eHarmony?

Web headline on the lead campaign story in The New York Times today: “Romney Waits as G.O.P. Flirts with Alternates.”... More

What Wadah Khanfar Did For Al Jazeera…

And what the sudden departure of the network’s managing director might mean for its future

From the very first moment I joined Al Jazeera in 2005 to lead the launch of the English channel’s Washington... More

Jonathan Raban Takes the Scenic Route

A review of Driving Home, the essayist’s latest collection

Driving Home: An American Journey | By Jonathan Raban | Pantheon Books | 496 pp, $29.95 It’s a shame that... More

Skeptical of Science

Among other new roles, journalists becoming more critical of research

The recent coverage of the subatomic particles found to have travelled faster than the speed of light—tentative evidence that could... More

A Frustrating AP Series on Nuclear Safety

The industry’s blunder-buss response doesn’t help; public left confused

Editor's note: This is an installment of our Audit Arbiter series, which looks into complaints about business news stories.... More

Audit Notes: The Costs of Trade, WSJ Op-Ed Page, Frontier Days

The Wall Street Journal covers an MIT study that found the downsides of trade with China have been worse than... More

How Not to Cover Your Paper’s New Owner

The Oklahoman glosses over Philip Anschutz’s political activism

The Oklahoman recently profiled Philip Anschutz, who bought the paper from the Gaylord family, which had owned it for 108... More

Obama Campaign Shows Fundraising “Strength”?

Reuters, AP (and NYT) offer differing takes

Should Team Obama be feeling optimistic or concerned about its fundraising prospects this election cycle? That depends. It depends, of... More

Count the Chris Christie Headlines…

…appearing on Politico’s home page right now (here's a screen shot): I spy these four highly informative headlines: "Christie Still... More

HuffPost Goes Deep On Google

Too deep, in fact. Arianna, how about hiring an editor?

The Huffington Post trio of Ryan Grim, Zach Carter, and Paul Blumenthal dropped their 6,800-word take on “Google, Microsoft, and... More

A Times Conflict of Interest Resolved

In 2009, Ethan Bronner, who has run the Jerusalem bureau for The New York Times since March 2008, joined the... More

60 Minutes, Meet the AP

Scott Pelley’s paean to Ray Kelly’s anti-terrorism juggernaut ignores the wire’s good work

On Sunday, 60 Minutes broadcast this fifteen-minute report, “Fighting terrorism in New York City,” in which CBS’s Scott Pelley delivers... More

Boom Towns Amid the Bust

NPR finds “man camps” and $1,200 parking spaces in North Dakota

This paragraph jumps out from an NPR's All Things Considered report on an oil boom town in North Dakota: Two... More

The Cheap Seats

Joe Bageant told uncomfortable truths about class in America

In the last decade of his life, Joe Bageant came full circle. He and his third wife, Barbara, were... More

LAT On Why Solyndra Dazzled the Private and Public Sectors

The Los Angeles Times has a really good look at the failure of Solyndra, the solar-power company that went bankrupt... More

‘Congress’ Not to Blame for FEMA Feud

New York Times channels misplaced ‘pox-on-both-their-houses’ anger

A memo to reporters who write about federal policy disputes: “Congress” is not an actor. “Congress” has no mind. “Congress”... More

Meet the Bay State’s Uninsured

The national media pass on an important story

Last week the Census Bureau released new numbers showing that 5.6 percent of the population in Massachusetts remained without health... More

NYTimes Misleads on Pace of Flood Relief

FEMA’s disaster delays are structural, not Congressional

Congress: dysfunctional, broken, mad, maybe even the worst. Ever. But The New York Times went one too far today in... More

Unequal Rights

All synonyms are not the same

Strunk and White’s Elements of Style counsels to avoid euphemism, and, as we wrote on the book’s fiftieth anniversary,... More

The Morning Call’s Amazon Sweatshop Probe

An excellent investigation exposes poor conditions at a big Pennsylvania warehouse

What's going on with labor in Pennsylvania? It was just last month that foreign students working at Hershey's for the... More

After the Google/Fox Debate, Five Annoyances

Dog poop jokes and that blasted chat chime at GOP debate suggest Google’s not that smart

Some things irritated us about last night’s debate and the post-debate wrap-up. Some were small—say, the use of the Gmail... More

ProPublica Shines a Light on Secret Gerrymandering Money

Every ten years, politicians get together in statehouses and redraw congressional districts to squeeze their opponents and entrench themselves in... More

Keeping an Eye on Patient Safety, Part IV

Sac Bee catches nursing home lies

Slowly the public is coming to realize that health care institutions are not always safe places. Since the Institute of... More

Dear News Organizations: Stop Being Deadbeats

If you’ve promised to pay your freelancers, do it

If I paid my bills as slowly as many news organizations pay their freelancers, I’d be homeless, have a deactivated... More

Nigeria’s New FOIA

Reporters enjoy new freedoms in a long-repressive society

Journalism in Nigeria has never been easy work, and the new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which finally became law... More

ESPN Obscures Its Own Role in the Conference Realignment Mess

The network’s $300 million deal with Texas, at the heart of the news, goes almost unmentioned

If you cover college sports for ESPN, you've got a real problem right now. The biggest story these days is... More

The Countrywide Fraud Machine

Michael Hudson tallies up dozens of allegations that executives retaliated against whistleblowers

The Center for Public Integrity's Michael Hudson, who's done as much as any journalist—both before and after the crash—to expose... More

Darts and Laurels

Telling the whole story about Thailand

For much of his career, the British journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall has covered Southeast Asia for Thomson Reuters. During that... More

Audit Notes: Bloomberg Headlines, Bad Ad News, Wall Street Protests

The Audit has a love-hate reading relationship with Bloomberg News's wacky headlines. Here are a few we've flagged over the... More

This Time Around, Little Traction for ‘Class Warfare’

This bit of faint praise may reflect—to borrow a phrase—the soft bigotry of low expectations, but I’ll offer it anyway:... More

Failures of Vision

Errol Morris interrogates photography’s place in the public imagination

Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography | by Errol Morris | The Penguin Press | 336 pages,... More

Sound Off

How audience reaction distorts political debates

Ah, another week, another gimmick-ridden Republican debate. Tomorrow’s, in Orlando, is billed as the Fox News/Google debate and is held... More

Profiling Paint Creek

CBS News, NYT point the way

So, you’re a member of the national media tasked with heading to west Texas to capture for your non-west Texas... More

The SEC’s Madoff Mess Gets Worse

The commission’s former top lawyer faces a possible criminal conflict of interest investigation

Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson report that the SEC's inspector general is referring the David M. Becker case to the... More

Some Context With Your David Brooks

Obama's pitch to make the ultrarich pay as high a tax rate as their secretaries sent David Brooks into spasms... More

The Glass-Half-Full Beat

Exploring the positive news niche

Plenty of people claim that they don’t pay attention to the news because it’s too depressing. The sentiment is certainly... More

Passing Interference

As politicians find new ways to connect with voters, journalists need a fresh playbook

At the Poynter site last week, Jason Fry had a sharp post about a major change reshaping the sports journalism... More

The Long Tale

New homes for stories that fall between a book and an article

When author Jon Krakauer started looking into the altruistic claims of his former friend, the best-selling author of Three... More

Audit Notes: Economic Headwinds, Refinancing, Google’s Dominance

Crain's New York Business's Aaron Elstein takes a good look anecdotes at the headwinds New York's economy is facing from... More

On priorities and presidents

If you tuned into one of the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday—that most coveted of political press spots, conveying what... More

Q&A: New NBC Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin

“Part of me wants to speak to the global audience, and a part of me wants to speak to America”

This spring, just before he turned thirty-two, Ayman Mohyeldin’s contract with Al Jazeera was ending and he was faced with... More

The AP Puts Faces on the Poverty Numbers

The Associated Press fans out across the country to put faces on the poverty numbers released last week. Needless to... More

None of the Above

Plural or singular? Yes.

How many of you were taught that “none” stands for “no one,” and must always take a singular verb? Bet... More

“The National Media” and Perry

Some interesting bits from Politico’s recent piece on "the hunger for information" about Rick Perry and how “the Texas press... More

Perry Misleads on RomneyCare

Socialized medicine, really?

It's becoming clear that Rick Perry has never met a buzzword he doesn’t like. We’ve heard that Social Security is... More

Damning With Absurd Praise

Check out the comments in Adweek by Gannett’s new chief marketing officer about the company’s flagship newspaper, USA Today. Maryam... More

Audit Notes: Scotland Yard Thugs, Reuters Raises Its Sights, An NYT Miss

It looks like they ought to just shut Scotland Yard down and start over from scratch. The Metropolitan Police is... More

Reporting on Solyndra

Missing basic concepts about the government’s loan-guarantee program.

Much of the press coverage of the Solyndra bankruptcy has been poor on some basic concepts at the heart of... More

Witnessing Somalia

Just a quick note: Jeffrey Gettleman's New York Times article from yesterday on famine in Somalia merits an appreciation. It's... More

Eight Simple Rules for Doing Accurate Journalism

Some new, some old, some wonderfully clichéd

It’s a cliché to say clichés exist for a reason. As journalists, we’re supposed to avoid them like the, um,... More

Fletch (1985)

Getting the story, one quip at a time

Irwin Fletcher, Fletch to his friends, is an investigative reporter for a Los Angeles newspaper. He writes his columns under... More

Ron Suskind on Obama’s Weakness

A new book reports Geithner ignored the president on overhauling Citigroup

It's been apparent for a good while that Obama is a weak president. But so weak that his own people... More

Audit Notes: Bloomberg’s Euphemisms, ETFs and CDOs, TechCrunch and Goldman

It's sort of darkly amusing to read all the euphemisms in this Bloomberg News story reporting on the latest warnings... More

Palin’s Basketball Diaries

Yes, we've been reviewing the media's coverage of social security and health care and the jobs plan, but we've also... More

Parsing Perry’s ‘Ponzi’ Claim

My short post last week on the failure of a CBS News story to assess the accuracy of Rick Perry’s... More

CJR Rewind: Hot Air

Why don’t TV weathermen believe in climate change?

This story, which recently won a Science in Society award from the National Association of Science Writers, originally ran in... More

Size Matters

News Corp.’s corruption would matter less if it weren’t so big

In the August 8 issue of New York magazine, the columnist Frank Rich suggests this takeaway from the News... More

Framing the Jobs Plan… Er, Second Stimulus

This time Democrats get that language matters, and the press plays along

Barack Obama proposed his second stimulus last week, pitching a $450 billion measure. Or is it a jobs plan? Let's... More

Bloomberg Versus Reuters on Obama Polls

Correlation is not causation. That's a hard lesson to internalize for the press, which insists on slapping a narrative on... More

Transparency Watch: A Closed Door

From the EPA to NASA, the FDA to OSHA, President Obama has failed to make science accessible

In July 2009, just months after President Obama took office promising to revolutionize government transparency, leaders of the Society of... More

Tracing the Roots of Modern Conservatism

Remembering the legacies of Thomas Dewey and Robert Taft

The Roots of Modern Conservatism: Dewey, Taft, and the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party | By Michael... More

Conflict in Israel?

A problematic speaking deal at The New York Times

Running the Jerusalem bureau for The New York Times is a tough job in a hypersensitive area, one that attracts... More

Deep Health Care Problems under Rick Perry’s Watch

Deep in the heart of Texas

With the media hyper-focused on Texas governor Rick Perry’s not-too-flattering comments about Social Security, health care in his state seems... More

Adventures With E-books, Kindle Single Edition

Ryan Avent’s 90-page Kindle single, The Gated City, is a bargain at $1.99. It was produced in close consultation with... More

Audit Notes: College Sports, NY AG Probing Lehman Execs, Shale Drilling

— Taylor Branch's cover story in the new Atlantic is a devastating indictment of the NCAA, a must-read for anyone... More

Starving for Coverage

Unlike the 1980s, journalists pay little attention to famine ravaging the Horn of Africa

What a difference a generation makes. Back in 1984-85, groundbreaking media coverage of the terrible drought and famine that affected... More

Standout 9/11 Coverage

In the sea of anniversary coverage, where to look?

In the tremendous swell of tenth anniversary of 9/11 news coverage and commentary—in print, broadcast, online, on Twitter—what has stood... More

Urgent Call

Cell phones help a marginalized Indian community speak out

On the evening of May 16, 2010, Vijjobai Talami, the headwoman of Gumiapal village, phoned CGNet Swara, a fledgling mobile... More

Rhetorical Differences

Drew Westen misses the constraints on Obama’s presidential oratory

About five weeks ago, the psychology professor Drew Westen published a very long and not very persuasive essay in The... More

Wealth Over Work

The Washington Post excels; Indiviglio misses the point

Press friends, if there's one thing that shows how our system is set up to favor capital over labor, wealth... More

Best Business Writing, 2012: Send Us Your Favorites

Hey, Internet: A team at the Columbia Journalism Review—yours truly, Dean Starkman, Ryan Chittum, Martha Hamilton, ex-of the WaPo and... More

Procter & Gamble and the Hollowing Out of the U.S. Economy

It's always nice to see a paragraph like this on the front page of the country's biggest paper: In the... More

Forget That Ponzi Scheme Stuff

It’s the tax holiday, stupid

At the end of August, Nebraska senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat up for reelection next year, told members of the... More

Bodily Functions

The scent of a language

The scene may have been a long coach ride or a London park bench on a hot day, but the... More

The Scandal Beat

Does the press’s obsession with rule-breaking get in the way of real reform of college sports?

In December, Ohio State University suspended five of its football players for violating the rules governing intercollegiate athletics by... More

Audit Notes: The 14th Century, Gilded China, The Second Stimulus

Treasury bonds yields hit another low today, dropping to 1.917 percent for ten-year bonds. You might even say markets are... More

The Business Press’s Favorite Talking Head

Mark Zandi on speed dial

My first reaction to this Bloomberg article was to write this on the Twitter: hey, whaddya know, Mark Zandi is... More

CJR Rewind: Back to the Future

September 11th and the future of journalism

This article, by Andie Tucher, ran in our November 2001 issue. Back in August, when I agreed to write a... More

CJR Rewind: What I Saw On 9-11

“I wanted to record everything.”

Ten years ago, on September 11, 2001, Nicholas Spangler was a journalism student covering a primary election in downtown New... More

Calling Out a Source that Lied

The Memphis Commercial Appeal holds Schnucks accountable

As far as official denials go, it was clear and emphatic. Lori Willis, communications director of the Schnucks grocery chain,... More

Call Northside 777 (1948)

Real journalism is too boring for the movies

In an early scene of the 1948 film Call Northside 777, Jimmy Stewart, who plays a reporter at the Chicago... More

Audit Notes: Social Security and Ponzi, Regulation, Hamster Wheel

The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler has a nice rebuttal to Rick Perry's false claim in last night's Republican debate... More

The Other Rogue

Is Joe McGinniss a jerk? Sarah Palin certainly thinks so: she didn't like it when McGinniss rented the Wasilla house... More

Shouldn’t All Stories be ‘Fact-Check’ Stories?

On the subject of fact-checking the presidential debates, it’s worth noting that while the proliferation of “fact-check” stories over the... More

Diverse Concerns

The unfortunate messages sent by Telemundo’s debate treatment

Among the stranger moments of the MSNBC-Politico debate last night was the brief cameo of a Spanish-language journalist—the “Brian Williams... More

FHFA Suits Try to Hold Individual Execs Accountable

Jonathan Stempel of Reuters points out something that the press has all but ignored about the Federal Housing Finance Agency's... More

An Inflated Claim

After Republican debate, facts needed on monetary policy

Last night was debate night for the Republican presidential contenders, which means today is “fact-check” day for the political press.... More

Poking Holes in the Massachusetts Mantra

The part of the story that the Times didn’t tell

Sunday’s New York Times piece comparing the records of GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman on... More

Q&A: Beware the Gonzo Director Bryan Goluboff

“We want a talisman of these times, even in a digital age.”

Beware the Gonzo, the directorial debut of Bryan Goluboff (writer of The Basketball Diaries), stars Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Amy... More

SolveClimate Goes Inside

How an environmental news startup found its way to investigative reporting

After experimenting with a variety of quick-hit approaches to environmental coverage, a four-year-old online news startup focused on climate change... More

Fade to Black

As a video revolution sweeps the world, US television news caps its lens

For the first time in history, mankind is developing a universal language: video. People now communicate with video on... More

Audit Notes: Detroit Foreclosures, Soros on the Euro Crisis, NYT on Stimulus

The Detroit News reports that some homeowners in the city are letting their houses go into foreclosure over unpaid tax... More

A Heavy Blow to The Wall Street Journal

An editor’s departure is a big deal

Anyone who thinks the departure of Alix M. Freedman, the WSJ’s Page One editor, a twenty-seven-year Journal mainstay, and winner... More

American Banker Shows DOJ Sat On a Bank-Kickback Scandal

HUD says big banks got $6 billion, but the attorney general does nothing

American Banker has really been doing some superb stuff lately. Jeff Horwitz has a big scoop in today's paper, reporting... More

Ham-fisted Racism at Fox Sports

So Fox Sports hired a comedian to go to the USC campus and make fun of "All American" Asian students... More

Talking Back

‘Revert’ gains a new meaning

The recruiter was pleased that the law firm was interested in one of his clients. “I will revert with candidate... More

A More Than Marginally Embarrassing Mistake

USA Weekend caught flatfooted on tax goof

See update at bottom of this post. I don’t want to encroach too far onto Craig Silverman’s territory, but USA... More

What Might an ‘American World Service’ Look Like?

Building on Lee Bollinger’s call for a BBC-like service from the United States

It is time for the US to follow the example of other modern democracies and provide citizens with a government-supported,... More

Amazon’s California Tax Battle

Fighting to delay the end of its unfair advantage

While billionaire Jeff Bezos is off crashing spaceships (or wannabe spaceships, anyway) in the West Texas desert, his company's unfair... More

Rate Regulation Blow-up in California

WellPoint and co. win again

The big news in health reform last week was the insurance industry’s victory in the California legislature, which scotched any... More

In Defense of (the Right Kind of) Horse Race Journalism

When primaries decide party priorities, voters should be brought in on the conversation

Horse race journalism has a bad reputation among press critics. The NYU professor Jay Rosen, in a recent talk on... More

News Literacy Expands to DC

Project now serves 2,000 students

For three years, The News Literacy Project has been helping middle- and high-school students in Chicago, New York City, and... More

Fuzzy Kittens, Fuzzier Science

Claims of hypoallergenic cats continue to go unchallenged by press

In October 2008, Mike Sela, a lifelong sufferer of cat allergies, discovered a company called Allerca Lifestyle Pets. According to... More

Audit Notes: FHFA Suits, Corporate Taxes, SEC Out of Step

I've just skimmed through some of the Federal Housing Finance Agency's huge lawsuits against seventeen big banks, but it was... More

Escape From Thailand

A simple story about plagiarism forced me to flee a country I love

Editors’ Note: this is a companion piece to the Darts & Laurels column that appears in the September/October 2011 issues... More

Fannie’s Regulator Isn’t Playing Obama Team Ball

Suing the banks rather than protecting them

The New York Times scoop that Fannie and Freddie's regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, is suing the big banks... More

Escape From Thailand

A simple story about plagiarism forced me to flee a country I love

Editors’ Note: this is a companion piece to the Darts & Laurels column that appears in the September/October 2011 issue... More

Errors in Anytown, U.S.A.

Academic brings an anonymous newsroom’s corrections practices to light

Last spring, Kirstie Hettinga spent several months working two days a week as an unpaid intern at what she will... More

Haven Bound

A Q&A with Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir

In 2008, Iceland was hit hard by the global financial crisis. Citizen outrage and political unrest followed, sparking a... More

Why the Sun Set on Solyndra

How the bad news about green jobs could be better

With Labor Day on the horizon, it was another grim week in green-job news, as a solar panel manufacturer in... More

The Wall Street Journal and the Waffle House

The Wall Street Journal has a terrific ahed today on the Waffle House and how the company goes all out... More

The Parallax View (1974)

(Sometimes) Good Guys Finish Last: Pakula’s sober counterpoint to All The President’s Men

It’s the Fourth of July in Seattle. We’re on the scene with Lee Carter, a young television reporter, who is... More

Along Recession Road

Meet some of the people who are falling out of the American middle class

To earn rent money, a laid-off single mother in Moulton, Alabama, has a yard sale. She parts with the bed... More

The Foreclosure Scandal Continues (UPDATED)

American Banker and Reuters show banks thumbing their nose at the law

It's clear that the banks aren't much chastened by the foreclosure scandal that erupted last fall and which threatens to... More

Golden Teeth

Dallas’s WFAA shows crooked Medicaid spending on orthodontia

These days it’s rare for local TV stations to produce anything resembling an expose. With their steady diet of crime,... More

16 women whose digital startups deserve Vox-level plaudits - A look at the media entrepreneurs who aren’t grabbing headlines

Why was ‘Dasani’ shut out of the Pulitzers? - 5 problems with The New York Times’ ambitious, influential series on the life of one homeless Brooklyn girl

The AP downplays its Obamacare scoop - Repeal on deductible caps marks another step in The Great Cost Shift

The enduring pull of mag covers - Why do magazine cover images still hold so much cultural power in this decline-of-print era?

Michael Wolff’s digital media bloopers - The Newser founder trolls (other) digital-news companies


The shirt on your back

How did the clothes you’re wearing get to you? We trace the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry in video, words and pictures

Anxious royalist

Fantastic letter in The Times

Coming out as a porn star

How do you tell your family and friends?

The truth about Google X

A look behind the secretive lab’s closed doors

New Jersey’s good government

Despite the bridge scandal, Chris Christie’s state is relatively transparent and accountable. CJR’s Greg Marx talks to Gordon Witkin

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Who Owns What

The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

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