Audit Notes: Fox on Energy, Journalists and Programmers, Bloomberg

Media Matters has an amusing compilation of Fox News reactions to $4 a gallon gasoline in 2008, when George W. Bush was in office, and its reactions today, when Barack Obama is.



Back then, gas prices were based on global supply and demand issues at Fox, but now you’d think Obama single-handedly fixes prices.

It’s incredibly dishonest to talk about how gas prices have doubled under Obama, while not mentioning how they went even higher under Bush. Obama came in during the worst months of a financial crisis and depression when demand had fallen off a cliff, oil prices had collapsed, and people were pricing in Armageddon.

That’s the definition of cherry-picking.

Meantime, oil and gas production have skyrocketed under Obama’s watch. That’s not because of him either, but you won’t hear those numbers and Obama mentioned in the same breath on Fox.

— Here’s a good post by Edward Benson, a programmer at MIT on a nonjournalist’s view of last week’s National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting conference. Here’s a snippet (emphasis is his):

The need for computer science as a liberal arts requirement. If ever I haveeen a good argument for computer science as a liberal arts requirement, going to NICAR was it. It was amazing and energizing to see the extent to which computers are enabling better reporting and storytelling. In some cases, surprising to see how programming has become an essential tool for some areas of reporting. In today’s world, knowing how to program better equips you to make sense of the information around you and communicate your findings to others.

The need for computer scientists to grok liberal arts. On the other hand, we as computer scientists need to be delivering tools — serious data crunching tools, visualization tools, curation tools, scraping tools — that are built for use by people who spend their days thinking about things other than computers. Because I want my local reporters to spend their days fact checking the good stories, not brushing up on Python.

— Speaking of Bloomberg weirdness, Chris Roush reports the company has a new terminal feature for its employees: A timer to clock their smoke breaks, lunches, and the like:

Whatever they do, they’ll be asked to time those breaks, according to the function on the Bloomberg terminal. It is not required that they use the function, but editor in chief Matthew Winkler suggested it “to encourage punctuality.”

That reminds me of a passage from Dean Starkman’s Matthew Winkler piece a few years back on paranoia in the Bloomberg newsroom:

Some reporters believe their movements are monitored to the extent that when they fail to touch their keyboard for fifteen minutes, a dot next to their name in the Bloomberg computer system shifts from green (meaning, basically, “logged in and active”) to yellow (for “idle”). This is technically true but in fact the dot system applies to all Bloomberg users, including customers. Winkler himself didn’t know the actual meaning of the yellow light when I asked him about it. Czelusniak says Bloomberg’s system is designed to allow staffers to get touch with each other quickly and to know, for instance, whether it’s worth messaging someone knowing they may not be at their desk.

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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: , , , ,