By Dean Starkman Dec 16, 2013 at 11:00 AM
85 percent of professionally reported accountability news comes from newspapers, but I have heard guesses from credible sources that go as high as 95 percent - Alex S. Jones, Losing the News
The Wall Street Journal last week dropped a searing three-part series that ended Saturday on how the Veterans Administration lobotomized at least 1,930 returning World War II veterans suffering from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or some other mental illness that doctors just did not know how to treat.
“It’s just that we didn’t have anything else to do for them,” one retired doctor, now 90, is quoted as saying.
The series, by longtime Journal veteranf Michel M. Phillips, himself a war correspondent, is meticulously reported, makes use of a newly unearthed discovered trove of documentation, and is written with an understated elegance in the finest tradition of Journal “leders,” the longform innovation institutionalized by the great Bernard Kilgore in the 1940s and 1950s.
Deploying technology with great discretion, the digital version is flat gorgeous. No bling for bling’s sake here, the series integrates text and other elements seamlessly. An intriguing video introduction of musty files being wheeled through a library dissolves to a haunting photograph of an aging veteran above cleanly laid-out text. The first installment begins with a nightmarish scene of the same veteran as a 29-year-old man fighting off hospital orderlies come to take him away. Current and archival photographs, maps, and documents are deftly woven into the text to create a seamless, immersive experience. The first day ends with a full document of the period offering advice for the families of lobotomized veterans. The document was intended to be helpful but for us it is heartbreaking: “…you may find he does not act as he did before he got sick or before the operation.”
The second day adds to the public record of the now-discredited Walter J. Freeman, well-known for prostelytizing the benefits of lobotomies for civilians deemed mentally ill, and here shown also to be much sought-after by the VA. (Phillips is on Reddit AMA as we speak.)
If you missed that series it was probably because you were reading Andrea Elliott’s masterpiece—and that’s the only word for it— in the Times about the life of an unforgettable 11-year-old homeless girl, Dasani, and her family.
One of the great newspaper series of any kind that I can recall, it draws on a time-honored genre that traces its lineage to the late 19th century and Jacob Riis, and no doubt before, and is right in line with Alex Kotlowitz’s work in The Wall Street Journal in the 1980s that provided the basis for There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America (1991), set in Chicago’s housing projects. It also made me think of J. Anthony Lukas’s Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade In the Lives of Three American Families, mostly because of the incredible wealth of detail that only comes from spending massive, massive amounts of time with a subject. In the current case, a note at the end of the series tells us, it was the better part of a year for both Elliott and a photographer, Ruth Fremson.
One of the things newspapers do well when they’re working right is to connect people who would normally have nothing to do with each other. That is still true in the digital age, when “newspapers” is shorthand for legacy news organizations. In this case, the connection is made between the Times’ middle-class audience with a New York that feels as if it occupies a parallel universe. In one universe, bottled water is an afterthought. In another, it’s an aspiration.
I read the five-part series (yes, after balking at the length), well over 20,000 words, in two or three sittings, online and on my phone. It, too, makes use of digital advantages, the most important innovation being footnotes.
But it’s the story as a story that is just plain unforgettable: It has pace, tension, a narrative arc, and most of all, character. Granted, Dasani is exceptional in many ways: complex, vulnerable, tough, innocent, and wise way, way beyond her years. But that’s rather the point of the series. She is, but so are the other 22,000 homeless children in New York (the highest number since the Great Depression; we have the highest child poverty rate of any developed country outside of Romania [!?], etc.). But the supporting cast is also compelling, including her mom, Chanel, and stepdad, Supreme, both complicated, troubled, and in their way, striving; and most memorably for me the public school figures, her teacher, Faith Hester, and principal, Paula Holmes. Here’s a snippet from one of the many occasions Dasani is called to Holmes’s office for clashing with other kids:
“Please don’t call my mother,” Dasani whispers.
Miss Holmes is seated in a rolling pleather chair held together by duct tape. She stares at the anguished girl. She has been at McKinney long enough to know when a child’s transgressions at school might bring a beating at home.
The principal slowly scoots her chair up to Dasani and leans within inches of her face.
“O.K.,” she says softly. “Let’s make a deal.”
When Chanel doesn’t come home after an arrest on a drug-related charge, we get a sense of what it’s like to be a kid rousted in the middle of the night:
When Chanel did not return that night, Dasani felt something in the air. There was a knock at the door. Dasani shushed the kids. They pretended to be asleep. Then the door opened as an Auburn supervisor and Homeless Services police told the children to get dressed.
And so on.
The notes don’t say how that particular scene was obtained, but it’s typical of the intimacy the series achieves. It’s remarkable. It’s impossible, for instance, not to both pull for Dasani and get that sinking feeling after a chance encounter with a self-help celebrity gives her what appears to be the chance of a lifetime. Reading how it all goes wrong, one gets an inkling of the myriad of things that still have to go right even to make even a lucky break pay off in real advancement.
It’s this mountain of detail—not to mention the enumerated structural issues and policy choices that contribute to this family’s wanderings—that overwhelms crude, paint-by-the-numbers arguments from the peanut gallery about personal responsibility, such as those made by the New York Post’s editorial board. Sorry, but it’s complicated.
Cynics might say this is Pulitzer season, when newspapers roll out their big projects to meet year-end prize deadlines, and they’re not wrong. But for me, that says more about the value of prizes than anything else. If that’s what it takes to get this kind of work done, what’s the harm, exactly?
Sometimes it’s a case of credit where it’s due.
Alex Jones published his book back in 2009, but I’m not sure the figures he mentions have changed all that much. Sure, there is much to be said for new digital entrants and their growing list of achievements. But we’re talking, as I’ve said, about the difference between journalism done on an artisanal scale and an industrial one.
Not all investigations are great; not all of longform is worth the space. But when I wrote about the decline of major newspapers’ longform writing (including and especially at the WSJ), including this graph…
… this is the kind of work—investigations undone, public knowledge lost—that’s at stake.
And here’s a coda:
Last week marked the passing, too young, of Bob Kramer, a master of the stakeout and probably the greatest investigative reporter that the Providence Journal ever produced. Among other achievements, he exposed the organized crime ties of a Rhode Island supreme court chief justice, leading to his impeachment.
In a Facebook post among Journal ex-pats, a colleague remembers a tip that Kramer gave on the best way to stake out targets from a car: Sit in the passenger seat; that way passersby will think you’re waiting for the driver.
This is the kind of reporting capacity, all around the country, that we should be aiming for.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 13, 2013 at 06:50 AM
Bloomberg reported in October that Blackstone lent money to a Spanish gambling company on the condition that it default on other loan payments in order to trigger a credit-default event, giving Blackstone a sure profit on credit-default swaps.
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart compared it last week to Goodfellas, where the mafiosos buy insurance on a restaurant and burn it down.
It’s an analogy that makes intuitive sense but doesn’t really work, as Felix Salmon and Dan Primack write. The default engineered by Blackstone actually allowed the private-equity giant to put more money into Cordere, helping save it—at least for now—from bankruptcy.
Tway it went about it certainly was unfair to whomever wrote the CDS insurance policy/gambling contract for Blackstone and thus had to pay out to them. No one’s crying for these people, believe me. But The Daily Show is right that what Blackstone did was sleazy.
My problem with the segment was how Samantha Bee used Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times as a punching bag for a weak business press not following Bloomberg’s scoop.
BEE: Whyyy didn’t you cover this storyyy?
MORGENSON: You know, we are busier than one-armed paper-hangers, covering the miscreants that we identify. This is just another day on Wall Street.
BEE: so a front-page headline for you would be, ‘Hedge fund with evil-sounding name didn’t do anything terrible today.”
MORGENSON: I am drowning in material.
There’s no business reporter anywhere who has done more, week after week, year after year, to expose Wall Street wrongdoing than Gretchen Morgenson. Period.
Getting cheap yuks at her expense for not following someone else’s nice-but-not-world-shattering story is just lame. Morgenson isn’t the type of reporter who really does a lot of follows. She breaks her own news.
While it would have been nice if someone else on The New York Times’s business staff had covered the news, it’s hardly a journalistic sin that they didn’t.
Obviously The Daily Show is comedy and can take a lot of liberties in cracking wise. But this joke just wasn’t funny.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 12, 2013 at 03:00 PM
The New York Times reports on page one today that the Justice Department will bring a “criminal action” against Jamie Dimon’s fraud-ridden JPMorgan Chase.
What is this criminal action? A big ($2 billion) fine and a deferred-prosecution agreement, which is where the defendant promises not to commit the crime again for a few years ago.
Until now, no big Wall Street bank has ever been subjected to such an agreement, which is typically deployed only when misconduct is severe. JPMorgan, the authorities suspect, continued to serve as Mr. Madoff’s primary bank even as questions mounted about his operation, with one bank executive acknowledging before the arrest that Mr. Madoff’s “Oz-like signals” were “too difficult to ignore,” according to a private lawsuit.
JPMorgan, which declined to comment for this article, has repeatedly said that “all personnel acted in good faith” in the Madoff matter. No one at JPMorgan has been accused of wrongdoing and the bank was not the only one to miss Mr. Madoff’s fraud, which duped regulators and clients for decades.
Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil:
And following the law is something JPMorgan has recently had trouble doing from time to time. But even if it did get caught breaking the law again, the government probably would still find some rationale for not indicting the bank.
— Weil also notices a striking comment from Dimon at a Goldman Sachs conference this week:
“We have control issues we’ve got to fix,” the JPMorgan chief executive officer said. “We’re taking an ax to it. We’re going to fix the problems that have been identified.” This is an interesting thing for him to say, because in JPMorgan’s latest quarterly report, Dimon certified that JPMorgan’s disclosure controls and procedures were effective. The company didn’t flag any problems with the bank’s internal accounting controls, either.
Weil’s referring to the Sarbanes-Oxley law, which forced CEOs to attest under penalty of law that their controls are effective. That rule, once seen as a powerful tool for prosecutors, been a bust.
Perhaps Dimon only learned that his controls were ineffective after his bank’s third-quarter report.
Then check out Yves Smith from 2011 on why these Sox sections should have been used to prosecute bank CEOs for their actions that led to the financial crisis.
— Falsehoods on The Wall Street Journal editorial page are like fleas on a dog, but this one, in an anti-Elizabeth Warren editorial, is particularly disingenuous:
Messrs. Cowan and Kessler had the temerity to suggest that the average American voter might not be as liberal as the New Yorkers who chose Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio or the Massachusetts voters who fell for Senator Elizabeth Warren. They argued that economic populism of the redistributionist kind was a political loser in most of America…
But the progressives didn’t try to rebut the op-ed’s arguments. Instead they set out to silence Third Way, intimidate Democratic politicians and donors into disavowing the group, and discredit the think tank on grounds that—gasp!—some of its supporters work at financial companies.
Here are just a few of the many progressive rebuttals the WSJ somehow missed. Yves Smith:
The article contained the usual canards about pending Social Security “insolvency” and played the predictable age cohort warfare card. In fact, merely raising the cap on payroll taxes would be a sufficient fix; Dean Baker points out that the cost of Social Security will increase from 5% of GDP to 6%, which if the US focused on job and wage growth, is entirely manageable.
As it turns out, the policies Third Way trashes as “disastrous” are overwhelmingly popular with a broad spectrum of Americans. Meanwhile the alternatives proposed by Third Way are rejected by voters by even greater margins.
On Social Security, they’re still in the camp insisting that because the system might possibly have to pay lower benefits in the future, we must move now to cut future benefits. Oh, kay.
But anyway, they declare that Medicare is the bigger issue. So what’s this about “staunch refusal” to address Medicare? The Affordable Care Act contains lots of measures to limit Medicare costs and health care more generally — it’s Republicans, not progressive Democrats, who have been screaming against cost-saving measures (death panels!). And health cost growth has slowed dramatically, feeding into much better Medicare projections.
And finally, Elizabeth Warren herself:
“It’s just flatly wrong,” Warren said of Third Way’s critique. “We could make modest adjustments and make the system financially stable for a century, and we could make somewhat larger adjustments and make the system pay more for seniors who rely on it … The conversation for too long has been about whether to cut Social Security benefits a little bit or a lot. And that is flatly the wrong debate to have in mind.”
By Ryan Chittum Dec 12, 2013 at 07:00 AM
Keith Kelly of the New York Post reports some inauspicious news for the soon-to-be-spun-off Time Inc.
Kelly reports Time Warner is considering saddling the publishing spinoff with $1.5 billion worth of debt and a $90 million annual debt payment.
This is worse:
At the Monday management meeting, Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp surprised some in attendance by insisting “debt is good,” according to insiders.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bairstow elaborated at the meeting that the company was “trying to find the right balance between long-term and short-term debt.”
That’s just baloney.
Debt can be good. If you’re a growing company, debt is good if you can borrow at, say, 4 percent, and return 10 percent. In that way it can spur growth without getting out of hand. Your increased revenue more than pays for your higher debt service.
But if you’re a declining company like Time Inc., debt is mostly bad—particularly if it’s money already spent. If Time was borrowing money to invest in new businesses or even to shore up existing ones, it would be risky but potentially worthwhile.
Taking on lots of existing debt, though, just sucks money out of the company and makes it that much more difficult to survive, much less thrive. If its existing debt that was taken on by other businesses, as it is here (see below), it’s basically looting.
Time’s revenue is falling sharply—last year it dropped 7 percent—and its operating income is falling even faster, down 29 percent last year. The declines have slowed considerably this year, but they’re still bad. In the first three quarters, Time’s revenue was down 3 percent and its operating income dropped 12 percent.
In 2012 a standalone Time Inc. would have had a debt-service coverage ratio of 4.7, assuming that $90 million debt service. This year, it would be 4.1. If Time’s operating profit continues falling at 12 percent a year, its debt-service ratio would drop below 2.5 by 2017—dangerously low.
Back in late March, when Carol Loomis, the Hall of Fame financial editor at Fortune, was a keynote speaker at a Time Inc. alumni club gathering, she said that she felt “a debt level of $500 million to $1 billion was manageable.”
She said a debt level of $2 billion would be ” problematic.”
A $1.5 billion level seems to fall somewhere between “manageable” and “problematic.”
As Fortune and Time Inc. employee Dan Primack noted in a very good piece last month, Time Inc. itself has just $36 million of debt. Time Warner would be dumping a billion and a half dollars in debt from other parts of the company onto the part least able to handle it.
If Time Warner loads up Time Inc. with $1.5 billion in debt (or even a half-billion dollars) it will be using private-equity-style financial engineering to milk its publishing assets—the foundation of the entire company, by the way—on the way down. If it’s actually interested in the future health of its publishing business, it will give Time Inc. far less debt and let its cashflow-rich businesses handle a slightly higher debt load.
Don’t bet on the latter, particularly since Time Warner has pledged that the spun-off Time Inc. “will have substantial indebtedness.”
That’s a crying shame, particularly since a fair (yes, I said it) spinoff would be essentially debt-free. Time Warner’s plan will ensure a far weaker Time Inc. and likely, before too many years, a bankrupt one.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 11, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Fox Business Network’s Dennis Kneale asks “Are unions out of control in America?” in a segment about fast-food workers striking for a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Not noted: If unions are out of control then they’re, like, doing their job. Their reason for being, after all, is to fight control of labor by bosses and capital.
That it’s surprising that unions can organize protests at all these days—even among the poorest workers in the country—is itself evidence that unions are not out of control.
Also, there’s this:
Kneale is the former CNBC personality who made a daring bid for Most Craven Journalist in America a few years ago when he advocated and bragged about protecting powerful sources at the expense of telling the truth. Kneale also put himself up for Worst Analysis of the Crisis with this gem two months before Lehman Brothers collapsed:
So you’ll not be surprised that this union segment is an atrocious few minutes of teevee, with a “debate” between Alan Colmes, the pathetic liberal concocted in Roger Ailes’s dungeon laboratory, and Michael Saltsman, employed by the notorious Rick Berman to shill for low-wage employers.
Note how Kneale introduces Colmes as “Fox News liberal commentator Alan Colmes” but ID’s Saltsman as simply “from the Employment Policies Institute,” which sounds all objective and think tank-y if you don’t know that it’s a front funded by businesses to advocate against things like higher minimum wages.
You don’t become one of Dr. Evil’s trusted lieutenants unless you’ve got some kinda chutzpah, which Saltsman puts on full display here:
Labor’s not even willing to defend the idea that these are grass-roots strikes anymore. I mean, they’re acknowledging that ‘yeah, we’re kinda backing this.’ I think at the end of the day I think it’s pretty clear that this is kind of another corporate campaign in disguise just trying to demonize an industry that labor would like to get its hands on.
This disingenuous robo-flack also slams Colmes for citing a “talking point” from the “union-backed think tank at the labor center at UC Berkeley”!
Compare the questions Kneale lobs at Saltsman and Colmes. To Saltsman, “Aren’t we going to incentivize french-fry shufflers not to get a better job?”
To Colmes, “Aren’t the unions kinda going to have to sit down and negotiate real cuts in these ridiculous government pensions?”
Dennis Kneale is a former high-ranking editor at Forbes and The Wall Street Journal.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 11, 2013 at 06:50 AM
I really didn’t think the Beastie Boys would risk the bad PR to sue GoldieBlox for ripping them off in a toy ad.
Boy, was I wrong: “GoldieBlox has acted intentionally and despicably with oppression, fraud, and malice toward the Beastie Boys,” reads their countersuit, reported by GigaOm’s Jeff John Roberts, who has helpfully highlighted the best parts of the suit (embedded at the bottom of this post).
The Beasties’ surprising decision means we could get a definitive answer after all on whether GoldieBlox’s parody of “Girls” falls under fair use. The Beastie Boys are suing for damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and lost profits as well as any “gains, profits, and advantages” GoldieBlox made from using their song.
Adding to GoldieBlox’s legal woes, the Beasties allege a “systematic campaign of infringement” by GoldieBlox that ripped off songs from the Beasties, Queen, Daft Punk, and several other artists. Two weeks ago I noticed that GoldieBlox had removed its advertisement that used Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” and the company refused to tell me whether it had bought a license. If the Beasties are right there, the toy company’s lawyers are going to be busy negotiating pricy settlements.
While it’s at least unclear whether GoldieBlox’s fair-use argument can prevail in court, the Beasties are also suing for trademark infringement, passing off, false designation of origin, false advertising, false endorsement, and unfair competition for “misleading and deceiving the public into believing that the Beastie Boys Parties’ goods and services are associated with or authorized by GoldieBlox,” though it’s worth noting that trademark infringement has fair-use exemptions too. The Beasties note that “Girls” is a “sarcastic anthem,” which ought to mean GoldieBlox’s parody gets less protection.
Hopefully, the press will be a lot more careful in reporting this news than it was when GoldieBlox sued the Beasties last month. Reports falsely said the Beasties had sued GoldieBlox and set off a major backlash against the band for picking on a corporation with a positive message for little girls.
Keep in mind that GoldieBlox has clearly operated in bad faith—or at least in Silicon Valley hubris—with regard to copyright, which has become increasingly important to musicians as music sales have collapsed. The Beasties’ complaint says GoldieBlox’s lawyers filed their lawsuit the same day the Beasties asked why they they were using “Girls” without permission, and the company apparently thumbed its nose at copyright law with several other songs, too.
As Roberts wrote two weeks ago when GoldieBlox removed the “Girls” parody, “All this makes it feel like the new lyric switch is just the latest phase in a cynical marketing ploy by GoldieBlox to generate as much press controversy as they can to sell their toys (which have received poor reviews).”
Always beware the marketers.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 10, 2013 at 03:00 PM
The Memphis Commercial Appeal has some very good reporting on the questions surrounding the late Steve Jobs’s liver transplant in Memphis in 2009.
Jobs bought a house there in a fire sale from the state of Tennessee, and then sold it to his transplant surgeon two years later for what he’d paid for it. The Commercial Appeal reports that the surgeon lived in the house for two years before his LLC bought it from Jobs’ LLC—all while Jobs’ attorney paid the bills:
“I took care of him and visited him in that home. When I learned that it was going to be going on the market, I asked … if I could purchase it,” Eason told commissioners.
Yet Eason didn’t tell commissioners all he knew.
Eason was going through a divorce and moved into the house two years before buying it. And while he was there, from early summer 2009 until he acquired the deed in May 2011, the utilities and property taxes were paid by Riley, Jobs’ San Francisco lawyer. Records show Riley, who’s worked as Apple’s outside counsel, wrote personal checks in 2010 and 2011 totaling $23,585 to cover the property taxes. Riley also used his MasterCard to pay Memphis Light, Gas & Water $8,770 for utilities at the home through 14 payments between May 2010 and May 2011 — again as Dr. Eason lived there before buying the house. Eason put the utilities in his name after he purchased the home on May 5, 2011, records show. Eason said he lived in the home only part-time during the first of those two years as he tried to reconcile with his wife. “And then, in 2010, sometime in spring of 2010, I moved in there and stayed there until I purchased the house. And live there now,” he said.
Interesting, to say the least.
After I began investigating the complaint by interviewing journalists at Bloomberg and at The Times, Bloomberg postponed and then canceled my scheduled interview with Mr. Winkler. A public relations representative told me that a follow-up Times article on Nov. 25 — a broader look at Bloomberg’s corporate mission — was “much more accurate” and made the interview unnecessary.
Bloomberg’s insistence that its China exposé simply wasn’t ready for publication, and that therefore the original Times story was invalid, is off the point. The core of the Times story had to do with media self-censorship in China: A top American news executive’s telling his reporters that a story was being pulled back at least partly because it might get their news organization kicked out of the country. The details of Mr. Winkler’s conference call, in which he spoke to the reporters, are “verifiable,” The Times’s foreign editor, Joseph Kahn, told me. Other journalists, inside and outside The Times, mentioned the existence of audio recordings of that call.
— This reads like a Wall Street Journal editorial page headline:
As Boomers Retire, We’ll All Be Detroiters Soon
Detroit, as in bankrupt government unable to afford its pensions. Alas, this is the news side, not the edit page.
There’s certainly a serious problem with Baby Boomers not having saved enough money for retirement—largely because of the rise of the 401(k).
But there’s really no need to go with the clickbait Fox News-style headline there. It’s just not true, so don’t print it.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 10, 2013 at 11:00 AM
If you’ve at all followed the Airbnb story, in which the rent-a-room startup is in trouble with New York and other cities for allowing people to turn their apartments into hotels, you could sniff out the problems in this Fortune piece from the headline and deck alone:
Behind Airbnb’s legal fights, grassroots activism
In courtroom battles against the room-rental service, elected officials find themselves facing a surprising opponent: the people.
“The people” and their “grassroots activism” Fortune’s referring to are organized by Peers, the lobbying group founded by big Silicon Valley corporations to protect their fortunes from existing law and regulation.
And even the regular people Fortune refers to here are effectively mini-corporations themselves—ones that skip the taxes and other regulatory requirements competitors face. I’d bet few of these Airbnb activists breaking into groups and heading to Albany to lobby legislators are folks who rent their flat out for a few days a year while they’re on vacation. They’re much more likely to be people who make serious money doing it. Fortune reports that some Airbnb users bring in more than $400,000 a year in sales.
Airbnb created Peers earlier this year and one of Airbnb’s executives is its
co-director cofounder. Ebay billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s foundation is the “major backer,” according to this Fast Company story (the Omidyar Network is also a funder of CJR). Omidyar’s foundation is an investor in a for-profit Airbnb-like site and Omidyar’s eBay has taken up the antitax mantle from Jeff Bezos and Amazon, fighting against an Internet sales tax in a bid to keep his sellers’ unfair price advantage over bricks-and-mortar retailers.
The so-called sharing economy would be more accurately called the sublet economy, which would be more neutral, to boot. Who could possibly come out against sharing? Subletting, however, is a more complicated term. It raises questions about the rights of neighbors and of owners not to have their building turned into a hotel—not to mention the ability of the government to tax these transactions.
Naturally, Airbnb, whose valuation at last check was $2.5 billion and surging, is facing legal and regulatory scrutiny as its business grows exponentially. Those democratically imposed woes need to be fixed before it goes public in order for Airbnb’s investors to get their highest possible return on investment.
Perhaps it will turn out that people want these kinds of services so much they’ll insist on their elected representatives repeal hotel ordinances that threaten Airbnb and the types of taxi regulations that cramp Uber’s style. In the cyberlibertarian paradise of Silicon Valley, fusty old representative government must adapt to market whims and the “disruptors” who stand to
change the world make billions off them.
Fortune’s on board with that, of course:
The Internet is disrupting traditional businesses by providing more effective and better designed services. Over the course of history, lawmakers have set up rules and regulations that are designed to help those traditional businesses — hotels, for example, or taxi services — operate successfully while keeping consumers safe. As new Internet-enabled businesses like Airbnb and the on-demand driver service Uber are introduced, those laws will need to be reexamined.
Letting an astroturf group present its corporate advocacy as organically springing forth from the people is just bad journalism.
Worse: Fortune knows that Peers is a fake grassroots organization, but it stuffs that critical information in the second-to-last-paragraph of the story. Even then it allows the group to spin that uncountered.
Perhaps they should have talked to Tom Slee.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 6, 2013 at 06:50 AM
Rule of thumb, journalists: If the “study” you’re writing about is based on a SurveyMonkey.com survey, it probably deserves a wee bit of skepticism.
But skepticism was almost entirely absent in the widespread coverage of a report by the International News Safety Institute and the International Women’s Media Foundation, which issued findings asserting that female journalists suffer an alarming amount of abuse on the job.
Slate reported that “Most Female Journalists Have Been Threatened, Assaulted, or Harassed at Work. Here’s Why We Don’t Talk About It.”
Huffington Post wrote, “Women Journalists Face Rampant Workplace Abuse, Sexual Harassment: Study.”
Poynter said, “For many women journalists, workplaces are dangerous, study says.”
Click through Slate’s piece, though, and what should have been a red flag comes out right away, in the lede:
This week, the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International News Safety Institute released the results of an online survey asking female journalists around the world to detail the abuse they’ve experienced on the job.
Ah, yes. The old online survey. Perhaps a bit more rigorous than CNBC’s insta “polls”, but still statistically dubious at best, and more likely useless.
The International News Safety Institute and the International Women’s Media Foundation posted this survey on SurveyMonkey back in August, and it has been floating around Twitter since. Anyone can take it as long as you say you submit your full name—or at least a full name. In fact, the survey is still up and accepting responses.
A scientific survey would seek to get a truly random sample of journalists who are women, which would probably require finding them, rather than them finding you. But that’s a much more costly and time-consuming process.
It’s unclear how the survey’s authors would be able to tell whether the respondents are who they say they are, are journalists, or, for that matter, female (in fact, nearly a hundred respondents said they were male, though the report didn’t count their answers). The report says that “The questionnaire was designed and analysed on behalf of INSI by Samantha Scott, AFBPS, Chartered Psychologist and Registered Occupational Psychologist.” Scott says on her website that she “has extensive experience in selecting, retaining and developing talent including the design, delivery and management of leadership assessment and development centres, leadership development coaching and psychometric feedback,” but there’s nothing about polling (I have questions out to Scott and to INSI and will update if I hear back).
Beyond the whole don’t-really-know-who-answered-the-survey problem, there is the high likelihood of selection bias via self-selection. Women who are journalists who have suffered abuse on the job may be more likely to take time to take the survey. Megan McArdle, the lone skeptical voice I’ve seen on this report, has a great take on that. She also notes that the questions are poorly worded.
Contrast that with Bustle, which shows what not to do when you notice serious problems with a report’s methodology. It stuffed them in the last paragraph of a breathless 16-paragraph piece, where it also stuffed mention that this was a global survey, not a US one.
I also wonder about the finding that 22 percent of female journalists have had their phones tapped—or at least would know they’ve had their phones tapped. That seems awfully high.
And it’s worth noting, as no one else has, that the survey found that just 63 percent of the abuses came from males (we’ll assume 37 percent came from fellow women), which, if nothing else, complicates the frames offered by most of the coverage. How many of these threats came because the journalists were women or because the women were journalists? Verbal threats, or at least angry words, are rather an occupational hazard for all reporters. To really get a fix on that, you’d have to survey men too and compare the results.
Bottom line: if you want to report on this, and if you want to call it a “study,” you have to note that it’s a completely unscientific one and almost certainly not accurate. In other words, best not to hang a story on it at all.
And that’s unfortunate. Because no doubt there is a story to be told. Anecdotal reports of women journalists being abused verbally or physically on the job are all too plentiful—I’ve seen it firsthand.
I’d like to see a study on just how common gender-based abuse and threats are—in the US and globally—including how common newsroom harassment is.
Until someone does the real work, though, let’s bring more skepticism to the statistically challenged kind.
By Ryan Chittum Dec 6, 2013 at 06:50 AM
Dave Weigel goes after BuzzFeed, which wants to be taken seriously as a news organization, but doesn’t want the responsibilities that entails—like giving a rip when you report false news.
BuzzFeed helped spread the fake story about a Thanksgiving airplane feud that was actually a hoax:
What is aggregation FOR, anyway? And are people willing to create a lower standard for “reporting” — Zarrell is a reporter, who has worked for other news organizations — if it’s only about a viral story? Earlier this year, the Washington Post fired an overworked aggregator-reporter after she botched some facts. The Washington Post’s aggregation style is fairly unpopular — the paper wants to have SOME version of stories on its own site, so readers stay there instead of Yahoo! or Politico. But none of its aggregated tales go as mega-viral as “This Epic Note-Passing War on a Delayed Flight Wins Thanksgiving.” And Zarrell’s story WOULDN’T have gone viral if she’d decided that Gale’s story was too flimsy. She wouldn’t have gotten 1.3 million hits. She would be, today, a less valuable employee to Buzzfeed.
This is fairly fucked. Yes, people on the Internet want to believe salacious stories. Reporters want to publish stories that people read. If there’s a great reward, and little downside, to be had in publishing bullshit, the Internet’s going to get more bullshit. As one of my colleagues put it, “‘Too good to check’ used to be a warning to newspaper editors not to jump on bullshit stories. Now it’s a business model.”
Money quote in bold.
— Speaking of dumbing down the news, the most popular Wall Street Journal story online now is “Five Signs Your Dog Loves You.”
Sign No. 3? “Your dog freaks out when you leave,” which turns out not to be a sign your dog loves you after all: “Sorry to disappoint, but that is not a sign of love.”
There is no groundswell for minimum wage hike. It’s SEIU trying to organize more members and more dues for left-wing causes.
Moreover, Gallup’s poll finds a groundswell for raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour and indexing it to inflation: 69 percent favor that with just 28 percent opposed.
In fact, even Kudlow’s fellow Republicans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage (though not indexing it):
Bonus fun: Watch the devout Catholic Kudlow’s head explode over the pope’s denunciation of runaway capitalism:
— Third Way has come in for a deserved drubbing for its fallacious concern trolling in The Wall Street Journal this week arguing against “economic populism.”
It’s critical to understand that Third Way presents itself as “centrist” which is code for “oligarchy promoters pretending to be reasonable” and has consistently advocated gutting Social Security and Medicare.
Third Way wrote, falsely, that Social Security had an “undebatable solvency crisis,” as Elizabeth Warren, one of the targets of the attack, notes:
“More importantly, if we made no changes at all, Social Security would pay out at its current level for about 20 years, at which point it would drop by about 25 percent and pay out forever into the future.”
But the most revealing takedown comes from a simple image at Daily Kos, which says it all about why a group claiming to promote consensus is so concerned about popular policies:
By Dean Starkman Dec 4, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Newsweek’s announcement that it is resurrecting its print edition is probably the most dramatic sign yet that digital-only ad models predicated on free content were a disastrously wrong turn for legacy news organizations.
Indeed, for these legacy organizations, it’s the free-content idea—even more than print—that’s really gasping for breath. But this has been apparent for a while as paywalls rise around the world. Guardian!—come in, please.
The emphasis must be on the qualifier: legacy news organizations with large staffs and big fixed costs. News startups are another issue.
Jim Impoco, Newsweek’s new editor in chief, told Christine Haughney that the new Newsweek would rely more heavily on readers than advertisers for revenue and that subscription prices would rise. He says the magazine hopes to get its circulation up to 100,000 in the first year—obviously a huge drop-off from the old Newsweek, as we’ll see below.
“It’s going to be a more subscription-based model, closer to what The Economist is compared to what Time magazine is,” Mr. Impoco said. “We see it as a premium product, a boutique product.”
And, in a note to me this morning, Impoco says this will be a push for quality subscriptions, as oppose to the giveaways and super-heavy discounts that have traditionally bloated sales figures of mass-circulation titles:
The [old] figure included a lot of giveaways and near giveaways and a lot of churn in order to keep that rate base promised to advertisers. We estimate that there were about half a million core readers—the ones who renew their subs over and over. We’re going after that 500,000—and that’s where the initial goal of 100,000 comes from. The math is simple. It costs a certain amount to produce and distribute a print product. Traditionally, magazines sold it for less than that cost and counted on advertisers to make up the different (and profits). We won’t do that.
The new model is also reminiscent of the The Economist’s sister publication, the Financial Times, which has always had a stiff paywall, and has managed to achieve the twin milestones of gaining more revenue from readers than advertisers and more from digital than print. Print is still important but digital gains are making up for print declines. And subscriptions are expensive.
So there are two issues here: One is print. The other is free.
Print is where the legacy news organizations still get the bulk of their revenue.
Here’s the big chart for magazines, courtesy of Pew. The headline talks about digital growth, but the important thing here is the base: low for digital and still high for print:
True, print ads and circulation are both trending down, but clearly there’s money still on the table on that side of the business, as the Newsweek move recognizes.
What’s more, magazine circulation has been holding its own lately, despite terrible numbers for single-copy sales at the newsstand, and (ADDING: and subscriptions) even ticked up in 2012. Newsweek’s own figures were flat before IAC/InterActiveCorp, announced in October of that year that they were shuttering Newsweek’s print side to save $40 million a year.
True, there was a lot of chum in that figure, as Impoco says, but the trend was flat, not down. Impoco also says the new owners are negotiating new printing and distribution contracts.
The Newsweek announcement is significant because it’s a complete reversal of a previously implemented policy, albeit under a different regime. It echoes an even-more telling about-face/train wreck in New Orleans. There, Advance Publications, after basically trashing the print model and cutting publication to three days a week, reversed itself under pressure from new competition from a rival, The Advocate, and brought out a tabloid on the days it had stopped publishing. Brilliant. But not.
Both Newsweek’s and Advance’s abandonment of print were decisions made based on what are now clearly outdated assumptions about the robustness of the digital ad market and fuzzy ideas about the value—again, for legacy news organizations—of buzz and engagement online. This view had its heyday for a while, but now the legacy organizations have moved on and are charting a more pragmatic course. And that’s all to the good.
By Ryan Chittum Nov 29, 2013 at 03:59 PM
I wrote on Monday that GoldieBlox’s parody of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” was a a “clear case” of copyright infringement.
I do still think GoldieBlox’s actions were egregious enough and in such bad faith that it would lose if this case ever went to trial. It won’t: The toy company has re-made the offending ad without the Beastie Boys music and the band is not stupid enough to risk another round of the kind of awful PR it already, unfairly, received. But that would depend on a judge’s interpretation of the inherently murky fair-use law.
Rachel Sklar argues that GoldieBlox’s ad was indeed fair use and breaks down her case under the four factors judges must use to resolve fair use disputes. “Is GoldieBlox’s song a transformative piece of social commentary or a cheap toy ploy? I come down for GoldieBlox here, as the Court did for 2 Live Crew in ‘94,” she writes, saying the decision “held that their commercial parody was fair use despite being commercial.”
Sklar’s a lawyer and I’m not, so watch as I step out on this limb.
But the court explicitly said that it did not decide that 2 Live Crew’s parody was fair use—it said it “may be a fair use.” Souter’s opinion found that the Court of Appeals had ruled improperly because it considered the commercial nature of the recording to the exclusion of all other factors, writing that “It was error for the Court of Appeals to conclude that the commercial nature of 2 Live Crew’s parody of ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ rendered it presumptively unfair… While we might not assign a high rank to the parodic element here, we think it fair to say that 2 Live Crew’s song reasonably could be perceived as commenting on the original or criticizing it, to some degree.”
It then sent the case back down to the Court of Appeals to decide—based on all the factors—whether it was fair use. The appeals court never got to revisit the case, though, because 2 Live Crew settled with Orbison out of court, agreeing to pay to license the song—something Orbison’s estate had initially refused to allow.
The Souter opinion did find that 2 Live Crew’s rewriting of Orbison’s lyrics was fair use. There’s no question that GoldieBlox’s rewritten lyrics were fair use, as well. The key point is whether its use of the music, which it made to sound as close to the original as possible for nearly two minutes, was fair use. That’s pushing things, to say the least.
The Court said in Campbell that “we express no opinion whether repetition of the bass riff is excessive copying, and we remand to permit evaluation of the amount taken, in light of the song’s parodic purpose and character, its transformative elements, and considerations of the potential for market substitution sketched more fully below.”
Critically, though, 2 Live Crew’s commercial use was an artist recording a song to sell an album, and that’s quite a bit different than a corporation recording a song to sell its toys.
As Felix pointed out, Souter explicitly wrote “The use, for example, of a copyrighted work to advertise a product, even in a parody, will be entitled to less indulgence under the first factor of the fair use enquiry than the sale of a parody for its own sake, let alone one performed a single time by students in school.”
But there has since been a case that does give GoldieBlox a better defense—one that I didn’t consider. Read Andy Baio for a good synopsis of Paramount Pictures’s victory over Annie Liebovitz, who sued over a Naked Gun 33 1/3 ad that parodied her Vanity Fair portrait of a pregnant Demi Moore. He quotes the Second Circuit Court of Appeals saying, “On balance, the strong parodic nature of the ad tips the first factor significantly toward fair use, even after making some discount for the fact that it promotes a commercial product.” Unfortunately, Leibovitz didn’t appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court.
It’s unclear whether courts would find that GoldieBlox’s extensive use was protected by fair use, but it’s clear that an infringement finding is not the slam dunk I thought it was, even if it’s morally and ethically wrong. If, as Felix asserts, the Beasties’ version of “Girls” itself was a parody of hip hop misogyny, that would seriously undercut GoldieBlox. In 1998, Yauch told the NME that the band had re-thought its earlier songs, saying, “some of the things we did in the past that we thought were a joke ended up having lasting negative effects.”
Regardless, it’s clear GoldieBlox wasn’t dealing in good faith here. Had GoldieBlox parodied the lyrics without copying the music note for note for two minutes, there would be no issue. Had it simply used the riff as a tease, it would probably be in the clear, as well.
But it used the whole thing, and it never asked the Beastie Boys if that was okay, much less offered to pay them for it. That’s not because it knew that the Beasties wouldn’t license it—its founder writes that “we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising.” Why did it act so offensively? Felix put it best:
Under what Paul Carr has diagnosed as the rules of the Cult of Disruption, GoldieBlox neither sought nor received permission to create these videos: it never licensed the music it used from the artists who wrote it. That wouldn’t be the Silicon Valley way.
It’s also worth noting that GoldieBlox used a large amount of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” in an advertisement this summer. In that case, there’s no chance it could claim fair use (if it didn’t license it), because it barely changed the words. Using these two classic songs spread GoldieBlox’s commercials much farther, much faster than they would have with any song the company could have come up with. Other people’s songs have sold it a whole lot of toys.
You’ll note that the official GoldieBlox ad has now disappeared from YouTube (or at least been made private. You can still see a copy here). I’ve got questions out to both Queen and GoldieBlox about whether the company licensed the song. I’ll bet you the cost of a Queen license that it didn’t.
I’ll update when and if I hear back.
UPDATE 12/2: A GoldieBlox spokeswoman tells me, “We have no comment on that video.”
By Ryan Chittum Nov 27, 2013 at 01:21 PM
That’s a knowing slap at Fox News’s annual campaign against the trumped-up “War on Christmas.”
But, say, how has Fox covered what is an actual attack on a sacred American holiday? It hasn’t, really.
Google pulls up 842 hits on FoxNews.com for “War on Christmas”:
It pulls up just five for “War on Thanksgiving,” none of which is about retailers commercializing the holiday, luring shoppers away from their families, and forcing workers away from theirs:
Searching through Factiva and Google using other terms than “War on Thanksgiving”, I still couldn’t find any outrage on Fox about the Thanksgiving retail story. It did merit a very brief mention on the O’Reilly Factor
Finally, Marie Thomasson, Sedalia, Colorado, “Stores open on Thanksgiving Day make me mad. They are destroying the meaning and magic of the holiday season.”
On this one, I disagree with you, Marie. Nobody is dragging you to the store. Now, with economy so bad, retailers have to make the money when they can.
Nobody is dragging you to the store. Unless you work there. In which case, your boss is dragging you to the store. But who cares about workers making single digits an hour? They probably can’t afford turkey anyway.
To his credit, O’Reilly later ran a note from a viewer who disagreed with him and pointed to the workers:
Kasey Kuzma, Endicott, New York: “Bill, for once you may be wrong. No one drags me to the stores on Thanksgiving. But what about those employees who are forced to work.”
I know of no such situation, Kasey. Working on a federal holiday is voluntary. And if you know differently, please let me know and I’ll take care of it.
That’s just laughably wrong.
While some retailers say they try to staff their stores with volunteers who want holiday pay, it’s very clear that’s not the case for most of them. There’s no federal law that mandates time off or even holiday pay for private-sector workers.
Let me again quote the Seattle Times, which actually talked to retail workers:
A local Sports Authority worker said he’ll miss out on Thanksgiving dinner with his family because he has to report for duty at 5 p.m. Thursday for the store’s 6 p.m. opening. He said the holiday shift comes with no extra pay or perks.
“My family doesn’t plan to eat dinner until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, so I won’t be spending Thanksgiving with them, basically,” said the twenty-something worker, who spoke on condition that his name not be used, citing a fear of getting fired.
Hey, Seattle Sports Authority employee forced to miss Thanksgiving and afraid of getting fired: Bill O’Reilly will take care of it.
Shopping on Thanksgiving kills poor workers’ holidays. But labor gets short shrift in too much of the coverage of encroaching commercialization
By Ryan Chittum Nov 27, 2013 at 06:50 AM
The current issue of Fast Company has Anne Wojcicki—founder of 23andMe and estranged wife of billionaire cyborg Sergey Brin—on its cover with the headline “The Most Daring CEO in America.”
She’s daring all right. So daring that her DNA-testing company, which will monetize your DNA by putting it in a database and mining it for pharmaceuticals, has since May ignored the Food and Drug Administration’s requests for information on whether her product actually worked.
Now the FDA has banned 23andMe from selling or marketing its home tests because of the firm’s intransigence and because it is “concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device.” Like telling people they’re bound to get nasty diseases when they’re really not.
PC Mag’s Sascha Segan writes that 23andMe, like GoldieBlox, is an example of Silicon Valley’s techno-libertarian arrogance, noting that the company had years to show the FDA that it’s product was safe:
But 23AndMe, apparently, just hasn’t bothered. Petty government regulators just get in the way of disruption, right? Shouldn’t the free market be able to determine the difference between real medicine and snake oil? I really hope that’s not a world you want to live in - or if it is, you’re the one who ends up consuming the snake oil…
The bold innovators of Silicon Valley clearly aim to innovate and drag the rest of society behind them into a glorious future, making money along the way. But an attitude that entitled is obviously going to raise some hackles. Technologists need to remember that they aren’t above society - they’re part of it.
The company will take taxpayer-funded grants from the National Institute of Health, of course.
It all adds up to unfortunate timing for Fast Company, particularly since the magazine doesn’t ever mention the FDA or ask whether 23andMe’s test actually works.
By Ryan Chittum Nov 26, 2013 at 03:37 PM
What kind of company takes a copyrighted hit song, rewrites the lyrics, and uses it in a commercial—without bothering to even ask the artist if that was okay? As Felix Salmon points out, the kind that comes from Silicon Valley’s “cult of disruption.”
I’ve followed GoldieBlox since its Kickstarter because the founder is a friend of a friend. My interest heightened after a misbegotten trip to see family last summer, whereupon my 3 year old twin girls picked up a highly regrettable princess and pink obsession. Long story short, I’m against all the stuff Goldieblox says it’s against.
I saw the “Girls” parody last week and thought it was an awfully clever bit of marketing. It sure made its way around my Facebook feed this weekend. And perhaps marketing is what it takes to fight Barbie/princess culture with its ungodly ad budgets. If girls are going to be marketed to (and frankly, I’d be a-okay with a full ban on advertising to children), let it be this kind. But let’s be clear: the GoldieBlox ad is marketing whose intention is to sell a product.
And so all the freehadist protests of fair use don’t cut it. You can’t take an entire song that’s not yours, change the words, use it to sell your stuff, and not pay the artist royalties. This is not a close call.
But the Beasties are in a no-win situation: Sue and they look like assholes. Don’t sue, and watch their work stolen to hawk somebody else’s merch (and open the floodgates to other parodies that are really just commercials).
Compounding the matter is the fact the Beasties are one of the few remaining bands that have refused to sell out to advertisers. The late Adam Yauch believed in this principle so fervently he put a clause in his will prohibiting his songs from being used in ads.
You’d think the press would have taken two seconds to be skeptical about this story—and to question whether they’re allowing themselves to become part of a sophisticated marketing campaign—but so far coverage has been just miserable.
For days, GoldieBlox had the PR upper hand, despite clearly being the predatory party.
The Hollywood Reporter kicked things off on the 22nd, writing “Beastie Boys Threaten Creator of Viral Video With Copyright Infringement,” a headline that’s been disappeared, rather than corrected.
Because, it turns out, the Beastie Boys never threatened GoldieBlox with anything. This is from an open letter the band released:
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song “Girls” had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.
And a band rep says, “There was no complaint filed, no demand letter (no demand, for that matter) when they sued Beastie Boys.”
So when the Los Angeles Times wrote this, it was wrong:
The Beastie Boys are reportedly pursuing legal action against the makers of a video that went viral this week by putting a pink-empowerment spin on the artists’ “Girls.”
The Internet’s reaction to the alleged copyright infringement claim? What a bunch of babies!
Copyright foe Cory Doctorow wrote at Boing Boing that “Before GoldieBlox, Beasties plundered the ‘Girls’ melody (fair and square)” from the Isley Brothers’ ‘Shout.’” Uh, no:
Doctorow also wrote, falsely, in a separate post that, “The Beastie Boys have sent a legal threat to toymaker GoldieBlox over the company’s extremely clever ad, which parodies the Beasties’ early track ‘Girls’.” That post is uncorrected.
But Time gets credit for the worst performance of all. It headlined a piece “Beastie Boys Sue Little Girls,” which is a trifecta of bad journalism: dumb, inflammatory, and false. The mag disappeared its boo-boo, though. The story’s headline now reads “Toy Company Files Suit After Beastie Boys Threaten Action Over ‘Girls’ Video” and there’s no indication of its earlier whopper.
… in the key precedent for such issues, Campbell vs Acuff-Rose Music, Justice Souter explicitly said that “the use of a copyrighted work to advertise a product, even in a parody, will be entitled to less indulgence” under the law than “the sale of a parody for its own sake”.
This is a distinction the Beasties intuitively understand. After all, this version of Girls has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube, without so much as a peep from the Beasties. And if you simply lop off the last few seconds of the GoldieBlox version — the bit where they shoehorn in the GoldieBlox branding — then that, too, would surely have been fine. If all GoldieBlox wanted to do was get out a viral message about empowering girls, they could easily have done that without gratuitously antagonizing the Beastie Boys, or putting the Beasties in their current impossible situation.
Instead, however, GoldieBlox did exactly what you’d expect an entitled and well-lawyered Silicon Valley startup to do, which is pick a fight. It’s the way of the Valley — you can’t be winning unless some household-name dinosaur is losing.
Again, GoldieBlox took a Beasties song, repackaged it, used it to sell toys, and when asked by the band why they did it, sued them. Egregious.
GoldieBlox deserves the PR disaster, not the Beastie Boys.
Entitled to better reporting - There’s a wider (and increasingly urgent) Social Security story out there—beyond the Beltway and deficit talk
Squeezing Time Inc. dry - Time Warner prepares to dump a dangerous debt load on its publishing spinoff
Covering Sandy Hook, one year later - The town is asking reporters to stay away, but many victims’ families have started speaking out
The future of longform - A conference at the Columbia Journalism School explored the craft’s digital prospects
Healthcare in Great Britain vs. healthcare in the USA: part one - A conversation with Chris Smyth, health reporter for The Times of London
Email blasts from CJR writers and editors
Many people wonder how they too can become Thought Leaders and what the life cycle of one looks like
The next editor will have a heavy lift
Google cracks down
CBS’ long-running TV news-magazine has had a terrible year
Jane Hall interviews Barton Gellman about his NSA stories, including how Edward Snowden contacted him
Who Owns What
A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Questions and exercises for journalism students.