media


From The Washington Post:

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) responded defiantly to President Obama’s comments earlier Wednesday about the impending “fiscal cliff.”

In an appearance before cameras that lasted less than one minute, Boehner said the House would pass his “Plan B” on Thursday “to make permanent tax relief for nearly every American – 99.81 percent of the American people.”

“I hope the president will get serious soon about providing and working with us on a balanced approach,” Boehner said. “Then the president will have the decision to make: He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”

With that, the Speaker walked away from the microphones without taking questions.

According to CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller, Boehner’s statement lasted 51 seconds. I’m not sure why Boehner didn’t just send out a press release — except he probably wanted some face time on television and a clip to be played on the radio. That’s fine, except that a press conference should be exactly that — let at least a few questions be asked.

Maybe he’ll get it right next time.

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President Obama held a press conference today to announce the formation of a gun violence task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden. This seems like a good idea considering that in 1994, then-U.S. Sen. Biden was a key author of a 1994 crime bill that banned assault weapons. The ban expired in 2004, but there are renewed calls to reinstate it after the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Many questions asked by the press concerned the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations, but the one that stood out most to me was the last one, asked by ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper. The question itself wasn’t a bad one per se, but the way he asked it seemed a bit rude and confrontational (especially if you hear it rather than just read it in a transcript):

“It seems to a lot of observers that you made the political calculation in 2008, in your first term and in 2012, not to talk about gun violence,” Tapper said. “You had your position on renewing the ban on semiautomatic rifles that then-Sen. Biden put into place, but you didn’t do much about it. This is not the first issue — the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years. Where have you been?”

Obama responded with what I thought was an appropriate “smackdown” response:

Well, here’s where I’ve been, Jake. I’ve been president of the United States, dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. I don’t think I’ve been on vacation.

And so, you know, I think all of us have to do some reflection on how we prioritize what we do here in Washington. And as I said on Sunday, you know, this should be a wake-up call for all of us to say that if we are not getting right the need to keep our children safe, then nothing else matters. And it’s my commitment to make sure that, that we do everything we can to keep our children safe. A lot of things go — are involved in that, Jake. So making sure they’ve got decent health care and making sure they’ve got a good education, making sure that their parents have jobs — those are all relevant as well. Those aren’t just sort of side issues. But there’s no doubt that this has to be a central issue. And that’s exactly why I’m confident that Joe is going to take this so seriously over the next couple months.

Again, it was not inappropriate for Tapper to question Obama why he hasn’t done something about gun violence sooner, but I believe he could’ve asked his question in a less-confrontational manner.

You can read a full transcript of the press conference here.

Oh, what a night! Osama bin Laden is dead!

I’m not going to spend a lot of time typing this post because, frankly, I want to concentrate on watching news coverage of the al-Qaida leader’s death. But I’d like to point out that the news broke and spread quickly on Twitter, before the television anchors told us (particularly CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who metaphorically seemed to be the last person to arrive at the party). Yesterday I wrote about the news value of Twitter and its varied acceptance level by print reporters (you can read that post by clicking here), and the way so many people learned about bin Laden’s death is a perfect example of why all reporters should be on board with the use of social media.

As I tweeted earlier tonight, “I hope all the print journalists who don’t buy into the news value of Twitter are paying attention to how the bin Laden news broke/spread.”

Finally, I’ll end this post with the sentence I tweeted immediately after President Obama finished his speech tonight: “If I could type the sound of America clapping, I would.”

It’s my observation that there are three types of newspaper reporters when it comes to Internet use beyond searching for information: those who “get” it and totally embrace its use as a way to report news; those who don’t understand the Internet’s value as a media source and, as a result, resist its use as much as possible; and those who fall somewhere in the middle (they essentially understand or accept the value of online media methods but don’t use them quite right).

The first type is self-explanatory. If you understand the power of online reporting and the use of social media to further the reach of a reporter’s words, you know a reporter who “gets” it when you see his or her work.

The second type is still too common. A great example of this type can be found locally. There are two smaller daily newspapers that primarily cover La Salle County — The Times and the NewsTribune — and they both have reporters who “get” it and reporters who resist having to do anything beyond writing and occasionally shooting a photo for the print product. Reporters at both newspapers obviously were directed to create and use Twitter accounts, and as best I can tell, all the NewsTribune reporters embrace this to varying degrees, but there are still some Times reporters who don’t use Twitter at all — one reporter even locked his account so you can’t follow him unless he approves you doing so! They obviously don’t understand the value of reaching out to a wider audience through such newfangled means.

An example of the third type works for the Chicago Sun-Times. Lynn Sweet, a columnist and Washington bureau chief for the newspaper, uses Twitter and blogs, but she doesn’t do it quite right. Earlier today, she tweeted a reminder that the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner is tonight, and that people can follow her at @lynnsweet for notes and photos from it. That is a good use of Twitter. But when I clicked on the link she included in her tweet, I found her accompanying blog post, which began as follows:

WASHINGTON–The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner is tonight, with Saturday Night Live headwriter and comic Seth Meyers the headliner. Meyers–I locked eyes with him for a mini-moment at the New Yorker party Friday night–speaks after President Obama, always a hard act to follow.

That is an example of Sweet trying too hard to impress and not quite “getting” it, which she tends to do on her blog. Believe me, nobody cares that Lynn Sweet locked eyes with Seth Meyers for “a mini-moment.” Another example of her trying too hard on her blog is the many instances of her writing “as I reported earlier” or a similar phrase. Newspapers have a long tradition of patting themselves on the back for reporting something first — and I have no problem with that — but when it’s done often by the same reporter in the first person, the writer can come across less favorably.

With that said, at least Sweet is using social media, and she gets credit for that. Too many reporters still resist using social media, and that’s a real problem in the journalism industry.

It is the best of times and the worst of times on the radio now, at least as far as these two stories are concerned:

First,  the good news. Apparently conservative crazy Glenn Beck has lost significant ground among people under 50 in the Nielsen ratings. In the past quarter, Beck’s FOX News Channel show dropped 46 percent in the younger demographic of ages 18 to 49. It seems the wolf in sheep’s clothing has been exposed, and the only demographic that seems to be sticking with Beck is the 50-and-older crowd, which tends to buy more into his suspicion-feeding, fear-mongering rants than younger people.

Now, the bad news. Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is being given a microphone to speak behind again. The Chicago radio station WLS (890 AM) is letting him and his wife, Patty, fill in for the vacationing Don and Roma, who normally occupy the 5 to 9 a.m. time slot. Why does WLS keep giving Blagojevich a platform to spew his half-truths and Blago-spin versions of reality? Other than reporters who have to listen to him for work purposes, I don’t know of anyone who ever listens to Blagojevich on the radio. Then again, I don’t run with a crazy crowd that finds our corrupt ex-governor to be a speaker of truth.

I cannot wait for Blagojevich’s retrial to be over so he can be locked up already. It will be nice to not hear his name or his inane ramblings for a few years.

As soon as I learned about the hydrogen blast that happened at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan last night, I turned on my television so I could listen to coverage of the event while reading updates online. As has been the case throughout the aftermath of the Japan disaster, CNN has continuously provided the most extensive coverage on television, and I went straight to that channel. (Since it was still the weekend at that point, I also had to check MSNBC to see if it deemed the breaking news event important enough to drop its lame weekend programming — which was a Charlie Sheen special at that time, incidentally. MSNBC didn’t let me down this time. Meanwhile, FOX News Channel had Geraldo Rivera anchoring coverage that hour because that’s when his show is on. Watching CNN really was a no-brainer.)

Anyway, soon after I turned on CNN, I saw the familiar face of Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano. I had two immediate thoughts — that during this disaster,  Japan’s press conferences have been timelier than the typical American one, resulting in accurate information getting out faster, and that Edano seems to be the guy relaying all the information, no matter what time of day or night it is.

Apparently that second observation of mine was right on target, because this morning I read that Japanese Twitter users are urging Edano to get some sleep. From The Washington Post‘s BlogPost:

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has been working tirelessly, and he needs to get some rest, Japanese twitter users said Monday.

The hashtag #edano_nero has become a global trending topic on Twitter. “Nero” means to sleep in Japanese.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s right-hand man, Edano has won respect after attending endless press conferences at all hours of the day and night to relay every development since the earthquake and tsunami hit.

A Twitter trend has become popular around the prime minister as well, but his is #kan_okiro. “Okiro” means to wake up in Japanese.

Popular Japanese blogger Michael Gakuran tweeted:

#edano_nero is trending! It means ‘go to sleep, Edano!’ The wishes of fellow Twitterers who see a tireless man working morning and night”

It is my hope that Edano is following their advice. He has been an important source of information for not only the Japanese people, but the rest of the world, too.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Dan Sinker, a journalism teacher at Columbia College, says he was behind the fictitious Twitter account “@MayorEmanuel,” the foul-mouthed doppelganger to the real candidate and mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel.

The Atlantic released the story today, and Sinker confirmed it on his blog and through a Twitter message exchange with the Chicago Tribune.

Sinker’s tweeting as a satirical version of Emanuel was epic.  You can read the tweets, in chronologically backward order, here.

You can read the Atlantic story here. It’s a good read, despite the author’s obvious opinion that Sinker is some kind of modern-day demigod. Don’t get me wrong — I followed @MayorEmanuel and enjoyed his tweets — but the only thing missing from the Atlantic article is the sound of trumpets blowing when you click on the story link.

Sinker probably will be on all the Chicago newscasts tonight, but his first full broadcast interview reportedly will be on WBEZ’s “Eight Forty-Eight” show tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope Sinker takes the advice of the Chicago Reader, which tweeted, “Hopefully @dansinker will get to work on a fake Charlie Sheen Twitterfeed.”

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