Tag Archives: news

A new kind of news network


I just read a fascinating piece on Jon Stewart in Esquire magazine. Although the article is a little downbeat, tracing the evolution of Jon Stewart from someone poking fun at media personalities to becoming one himself (with all the “selling out” baggage that implies), I found the most interesting line to be buried way near the end.

This is Stewart talking to fired NPR newsman Juan Williams:

“If somebody wanted to start a twenty-four-hour news network that would focus on corruption and governance as opposed to the politics of it, do you think that that would have a chance to be successful and change the way debate occurs?”

Huh. Now isn’t that an interesting idea? Sure, in Esquire, they portray it as one more step in the de-Jon Stewartification of Jon Stewart himself, but I think the idea’s got legs.

I recently (and to much furor) postulated on Facebook that there was very little difference between sports journalism and entertainment journalism, and I made an allusion to TMZ that drove every sports fan I know absolutely nuts with rage.

Recently, though, I’ve been thinking that a lot of journalism, period, is reduced to the common dramatic elements that I was calling out in sports and entertainment journalism. Political coverage, for example, is often limited to breathless coverage of what chances a bill has to be passed, not whether it would be a good law, or what its consequences would be.

I’d be curious to see if a news show (let alone network) that devoted itself to covering governing rather than covering politicking would be able to make a go of it.

Telling stories would be harder. You’d have to hire really great reporters, able to craft compelling stories out of difficult raw material. You’d have to pay them well and you’d have to give them the time and resources to cover stories in the depth that they require. Are there enough viewers and advertisers to make that feasible?

I don’t know. But I hope so. And I think Stewart might be the only person I can think of with the juice to get it done.

Read the whole profile: Jon Stewart and the Burden of History – Esquire.

A news team does their own satire of social network ‘reporting’

I don’t mind a little banter between the on-air personalities, and I know they have to push other avenues of getting the news, like the station’s website, or Twitter feed or whatever, but this spoof of the social network explosion in news coverage feels pretty spot-on.

Better? It was produced by the actual Fox news team in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

According to a blog on the Dallas Observer, the video (which was originally posted to the station’s Facebook page) appears to have been produced for the Lone Star Emmys.

Boom. Roasted.

(via tdw)

Booksellers – the last line of defense

When the FBI wants help capturing mobsters that have been on the run for years, who do they turn to?  That’s right.  Booksellers.

According to this Globe and Mail article:

Several Greater Victoria booksellers confirmed Monday that FBI agents have visited their stores in the past week and asked staff to be on the lookout for 80-year-old James J. (Whitey) Bulger, a known book lover and former Boston mobster with a long list of brutal crimes on his rap sheet.

Because, you know, when you want someone going head-to-head and toe-to-toe with a violent octagenarian, you want it to be someone who sells books.

Apparently the photo they are circulating is about 20 years out of date and Bulger himself is adept at disguises, so I wonder how exactly these booksellers are supposed to pick out this criminal.  His penchant for history books?

The FBI website isn’t much help, noting that:

Mr. Bulger stands between 5 foot 7 and 5 foot 9, weighs 150 to 160 pounds, and has blue eyes and silver white hair. He loves animals and enjoys taking long walks on the beach…
A description that, to me, seems likely to appear on a seniors’ dating site.  But at least the crime-fighting forces of booksellers have been warned.

BREAKING NEWS: Disney buying Marvel

spidermanI fail to see how this is a good thing:  the Walt Disney Company is buying Marvel Entertainment.  The price?  Four billion dollars.

Full story here.

I will be posting more on this topic, once I’ve had a chance to think it through.  You see, Marvel’s greatest strength in recent years has been it’s ability to translate various properties into cinematic success (Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, etc), while DC has had immense difficulties.  The primary reason for DC’s problems has been the interference run by higher levels of corporate structure, as DC is owned by Time Warner.

Will Marvel begin to suffer the same fate?  I hope not, especially since the announcement of the Avengers Initiative.

“News” can mean “good news”

It’s like a rash that won’t go away.  An extremely minor rash on a non-embarassing part of my body, but a rash nontheless.  Maybe in a place I can’t properly reach.  It’s not oozing or painful, but it’s there and it irritates occassionally and I can do nothing about it except complain.

Here it is:  why does “the news” far more often than not mean “the bad news”?

I understand it.  I, like everyone else self-aware enough not to be in denial, will admit to participating in the horrible rubbernecking phenomenon that takes place when passing  by the scene of some terrible accident, fire or other awful event.  It is a deficit of our species. 

The media, thus, being cogs in the engine of consumerism, feed us what we want to see and hear: fire, war, crime, death, destruction.  Most of it — a vast majority of it, in fact — has absolutely no impact on my life.  Sure, I like to be informed of world events, but honestly, fires in Kuwait, explosions in Russia and kidnappings in Columbia have no effect on my daily life.  Knowing about them, on the other hand, cannot be good for my health.

Being constantly bombarded with bad news wilts the soul and weighs heavily on the spirit.  In short, it sucks.  I’d like to see some blue sky and sunshine, too (metaphorically speaking).

Whew.  All that leads to my point:  “the news” CAN mean “good news.” 

You just need to know where to look.

Roger Ebert critiques the “news”

It was posted almost ten days ago, but I just came across an interesting article by Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times.

In it, Ebert examines the bully-style tactics of Bill O’Reilly and how he, and other “news” figures like him are changing the way people not only receive their information, but the information itself.

I am not interested in discussing O’Reilly’s politics here. That would open a hornet’s nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other by angry men. O’Reilly is not the worst offender. That would be Glenn Beck. Keith Olbermann is gaining ground. Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for nogt shouting.

Ebert goes on to decry the way radio and television have changed — which struck me as a comment on “the good ol’ days” that I have no sympathy for — but his analysis of O’Reilly, and others like him, is spot on. The bottom line, in Ebert’s mind, is that the polarization in the media has to stop. I would have to agree.