Audit Notes: 60 Minutes correx flops, sharing economy, paywalls

CBS News must resolve the serious remaining questions about Lara Logan's debacle

Jay Rosen has a must-read piece on 60 Minutes’ and Lara Logan’s disastrous Benghazi report based on the lies of a fabulist named Dylan Davies, a few days before his book on the subject—published by a CBS unit—was to come out.

Rosen published this before the show ran its 90-second correction on Sunday:

I will be watching. Let me tell you what I will be watching for. CBS will no doubt apologize for inadequate vetting of “Morgan Jones,” whose story should not have been trusted. It will say that it should have viewed his story more skeptically and done more reporting. It will say that it should have been clearer that its book division had given the same source a contract and paid an advance.

But will CBS apologize for its reckless denials from Oct. 31 to the day the story collapsed? It should, but probably it won’t. I don’t make a lot of predictions, but I will here: Tonight’s apology by CBS will not deal in any serious way with its misguided response to the very legitimate questions that were raised about its Benghazi report. If I am wrong, that will be good news for journalism at CBS and I will happily report it in an update here.

Actually, Rosen turned out to be too optimistic about CBS. The network didn’t bother to mention its clear conflict of interest with the Davies book in its on-air correction:

That’s not nearly good enough, CBS. We need a full accounting of how the network got snookered into running the lies of someone who should have set off warning lights about his credibility long before he was on air.

Read Kevin Drum on exactly what CBS News needs to answer.

Crain’s New York Business reports that Airbnb has driven together two implacably opposed forces: New York landlords and New York tenant advocates. That alliance bodes ill for Airbnb and the future of the misleadingly named “sharing economy.”

Apart from being illegal, opponents of Airbnb say, short-term rentals take valuable housing stock off the market, bring in a constant flow of strangers and create a dangerous or at least unpleasant environment for other tenants in the building.

Not all building owners see common ground with their old enemies, but some are surely as troubled by Airbnb abuses as tenant advocates are.

“Airbnb has achieved what everyone thought was impossible,” said Patrick Siconolfi, executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program, which represents some 2,500 apartment building owners in New York City. “Building owners and tenants now share a common concern.”

— Ken Doctor scoops that the largest paywall company, Press+, is up for sale just two and a half years after RR Donnelly bought it for a reported $35 million to $45 million.

Another paywall provider, Tinypass, just raised another $3 million in venture capital, Peter Kafka reports:

The last time we checked in with Tinypass CEO Trevor Kaufman, in January, he had 45 paying clients. That number is now up to 250, he said. That growth helped him raise the round, along with investors’ increasing confidence in the idea that not all information wants to be free, after all.

“Up until recently, I don’t think VCs were interested in it,” Kaufman said. “But now we’re seeing conversion rates averaging 2.7 percent, and it’s getting easier.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,