“Who’s getting what at the oil pump? With all the frenzy over oil prices, I’d like to see a simple but definitive story that takes a gallon of the gasoline Americans buy and breaks down exactly who gets how much of the $4.00 (or whatever the price is), starting with owners of the oil fields and including drillers, shippers, refiners, distributors, retailers, and, of course, the tax collectors. And which of these parties benefits the most when the price goes up?”—
Steven Brill in his column Stories I’d Like to See, which spotlights topics that he feels have received insufficient media attention. (via CJR)
Alexa Kravitz, a j-school student at U Maryland, wrote this interesting piece debating whether or not having non-journalists host political talk shows is a problem. Here are some highlights we found thought-provoking:
Journalists: They are trained to minimize the impact of their bias.
Even though many of the cable political talkfests focus on opinion rather than reporting, Deggans says there’s value in having journalists at the helm. “I think if you are a trained journalist, part of that training involves being taught a process that will allow you to minimize the impact of your bias even if you are an opinion person,” he says. “When I make my arguments, I try to be fair to the other side and to present the information as accurately as I can, without leaving out information about the opposing argument.”
Non-Journalists: They offer expertise on specific topics from years of experience.
Jerome Groopman, for one, is a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and an author who doubles as a staff writer for The New Yorker. Although not inherently a journalist, his medical knowledge gives value to his contributions.
And well, journalists aren’t necessarily the best (or most dynamic) talk-show hosts.
Plus, a country that covets freedom of the press also doesn’t define journalist in a neat little box. NPR’s media correspondent, David Folkenflik comments:
Journalism is a profession, an avocation, in which nobody gets to license you; the government doesn’t get to say you get to be a journalist and you don’t, and that’s a good thing. That’s part of our tradition of freedom of the press and the openness of the field to those who seek it out.
So what’s the real problem with having non-journalists hosting political talk-shows? The fact the viewers don’t always realize these people aren’t journalists.
Broadcast Marvin Kalb weighs in:
Argument on cable TV is now the bread and butter of the media. You have someone from the left arguing with someone from the right, and everyone’s happy. But they are not in a classic sense reporting the news; they are moderating or even instigating an exchange of opinion about the issue at hand.
FJP: Agreed. We can’t assume that people know who is a journalist (or educated and adherent to media ethics) and who isn’t.
Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik says:
No, people don’t know that these are opinion shows during prime time, And one of the reasons they don’t is because cable executives are lying their butts off and putting out ads trying to present these people as journalists. There isn’t a clear line between the two.
It’s one of the things that helps confuse the public about what journalists do but, even worse, makes parts of the public think of journalists as frauds, phonies, biased, players in this sort of media game of cable TV news.
So good journalism can lose credibility too. Thoughts? —Jihii
“[Asiana Airline’s] guidelines on appearance and uniform even regulate the number of bobby pins they can use, which color eye makeup to use and even the color of their stockings. Since glasses are not allowed to be worn inside the cabin, they have to wear contact lenses in that dry environment. The right to wear short hairstyles was one they fought for and achieved through a strike few years ago. It is a clear indication how the company views their female labor force and its desire to control and utilize it.”—
“In some ways, we have the same problem as Ron Paul. He made the Federal Reserve a central pillar of his campaign and had to find a way to cut through the jargon and connect with people. As it turns out, he’s done a remarkable job…He’s made the Fed mainstream almost. As for whether he was ignored by the media, I don’t think he was. But one problem he has is with producers. The media wants a candidate who addresses a broad range of issues. Ron Paul doesn’t really address a broad range of issues except from his narrow perspective: The government is bad. Fair enough. But how much airtime do you spend on a guy who doesn’t want to discuss reform and just wants to discuss abolition? Naturally, you magnetize to the Bachmanns and the Gingriches and the Romneys.”—Stuart Varney, discussing the media, and his own media diet in The Atlantic.
“Of the 65 journalists arrested since September while covering Occupy Wall Street and its offspring around the country, nearly all of them have had no one to call. According to a list compiled by Josh Stearns, Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director for Free Press, the media policy reform group, the overwhelming majority of those arrested are independent journalists. Some were stringing for mainstream organizations at the time; others, for alternative media, community outlets, or the student press. But a particular feature of the current Occupy moment, coming as it has after a decade of downsizing in journalism, is that the journalists least able to tussle with the criminal justice system—young, alternative, lacking institutional backing, or struggling to pay rent, let alone legal fees—are also the ones who have had to do so.”—
And this trend in echoed around the world according to CPJ and others. Independent and digital journalists run the highest risks and enjoy the least support. As the demographics of journalism change, It’s time to change that.
“Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”—
Sophocles, as quoted by Tiffany Shlain, director of the film Connected and founder of the Webby Awards, in this new Pew Internet Report.
This survey is fifth in the series “Future of the Internet” conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center. Results from past surveys can be seen here and here.
The survey was conducted from August 28 to October 31, 2011 through an online questionnaire sent to selected experts who were encouraged to share the link with other informed friends. The task: consider the future of the internet-connected world between now and 2020 by selecting a choice in each of eight “tension pairs,” pairs of scenarios that might emerge by 2020. The overall finding:
In 2020, the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are “wired” differently from those over age 35 and overall it yields baleful results.
55% chose the statement that this rewiring yields helpful results. 42% chose the statement that this rewiring yields baleful results.
The study does note that,
We did not offer a third alternative – that young people’s brains would not be wired differently – but some of the respondents made that argument in their elaborations. They often noted that people’s patterns of thinking will likely change, though the actual mechanisms of brain function will not change.
Strong, consistent predictions listed the most desired life skills for young people in 2020. These include:
public problem-solving through cooperative work (sometimes referred to as crowd-sourcing solutions)
the ability to search effectively for information online and to be able to discern the quality and veracity of the information one finds and then communicate these findings well (referred to as digital literacy)
synthesizing (being able to bring together details from many sources
being strategically future-minded
the ability to concentrate
the ability to distinguish between the “noise” and the message in the ever-growing sea of information
Answers were supplemented by narrative elaborations, which are the fascinating portion of this study. One of the insights I found most interesting came from Barry Chudakov, a Florida-based consultant and a research fellow in the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto.
He wrote that by 2020, “Technology will be so seamlessly integrated into our lives that it will effectively disappear. The line between self and technology is thin today; by then it will effectively vanish. We will think with, think into, and think through our smart tools but their presence and reach into our lives will be less visible. Youth will assume their minds and intentions are extended by technology, while tracking technologies will seek further incursions into behavioral monitoring and choice manipulation. Children will assume this is the way the world works. The cognitive challenge children and youth will face (as we are beginning to face now) is integrity, the state of being whole and undivided. There will be a premium on the skill of maintaining presence, of mindfulness, of awareness in the face of persistent and pervasive tool extensions and incursions into our lives. Is this my intention, or is the tool inciting me to feel and think this way? That question, more than multitasking or brain atrophy due to accessing collective intelligence via the internet, will be the challenge of the future.”
FJP: Sounds frightening and fascinating at the same time. Now, our question to you. What impact might this have on innovation? A repeated theme in the study is summarized by this comment:
Young people accustomed to a diet of quick-fix information nuggets will be less likely to undertake deep, critical analysis of issues and challenging information. Shallow choices, an expectation of instant gratification, and a lack of patience are likely to be common results, especially for those who do not have the motivation or training that will help them master this new environment. One possible outcome is stagnation in innovation.
FJP: Is this true? Stagnation in innovation? The whole report is worth a read. Really insightful comments from great thinkers.