Posts from January 11, 2005

Hey New York Times: Go after Apple

Hey New York Times: Go after Apple

: The New York Times is editorializing up a storm trying to extend journalists’ shield laws to the federal level and to protect its reporter, Judith Miller, who’s headed to jail for not revealing a confidential source.

Well, The Times should stand up to editorialize and fight for equal protection for the citizen journalists — the fellow journalists — being sued by Apple as it seeks the sites’ sources of leaked information.

It’s the least The Times can do for putting down citizen journalists again and again (today’s: “the so-called blogosphere”). It’s the least The Times can do to protect the future of news.

The EFF has stepped up to represent the two bloggers — at AppleInsider and Powerpage.

The EFF countered saying bloggers’ sources are protected by the same laws that protect sources providing information to journalists.

“Bloggers break the news, just like journalists do. They must be able to promise confidentiality in order to maintain the free flow of information,” EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said in a statement. “Without legal protection, informants will refuse to talk to reporters, diminishing the power of the open press that is the cornerstone of a free society.”

Steve Safran at LostRemote calls for a boycott of Apple coverage. Calacanis is fuming at Steve Jobs. Staci Kramer at PaidContent piles on. Ditto Dan Gillmor.

Now it’s time for The New York Times to join the parade to protect journalists, all journalists, under shield laws.

Of course, Apple should be forever ashamed of itself. The company has been built on its cult-love status: exactly what motivates customers and bloggers to try to find out what the company is going to do next.

But Steve Jobs and Apple are control freaks.

They should be freaks about giving their customers control.

: UPDATE: Forgot to link the NY Times news coverage today. The story’s good. It’s the editorial I’m waiting to read, though.

: WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Jonathan Miller (who writes for the NYT) leaves this good comment:

I think you’re getting a little too exercised over the NYT, Jeff. Recall just a few years ago the case of Vanessa Leggett, the ‘non-journalist’ who was jailed for failing to give up a source? The editors came out very strongly against prosecutors. Here is an excerpt from 2001:

“Integral to our freedom of the press is the notion that the First Amendment protects those who are engaged in journalism, not those certified as journalists by the government. If the government refuses to recognize a fledgling freelancer as a real journalist, it may next decree that someone who works for a small newspaper also fails to make the grade.”

I’d hardly categorize that as “putting down citizen journalists again and again.”

Out of control

Out of control

: Has the iPod jumped the shark? The entire point of the iPod is that it gives you control. Hell, the entire point of media that succeeds these days is that it gives you control. But the new, cheap, cute iPod takes that control away by shuffling the cuts you put on it. Gimmick. Off target. Doesn’t mean it won’t sell — it’s cheap; it’s iPod — but it corrupts the Apple/iPod message.

More about Apple’s other major corruption of its good-guy image later.

: UPDATE: In a more careful reading of the site, I see that it has an in-order mode but they do deemphasize that to emphasize the shuffle shtick. I think that’s a marketing mistake, then. Glenn Reynolds had the same uneasy feeling.

: Mossberg likes it.

Viacom: Sell CBS News

Viacom: Sell CBS News

: The only cure for what ails CBS News is to sell it.

I was going to say “kill it.” But that would be wasteful. There is still a lot of good reporting coming out of this old, tarnished jewel. More reporting is better than less.

But one theme we keep hearing regarding the problems at CBS is the “culture” there. Said CBS Chairman Les Moonves: “This is a rude awakening for CBS News and the CBS News culture has to change.” It’s the culture that needs curing. And you don’t do that the way CBS is going about it: keeping the same president; appointing a 39-year veteran to be the new watchdog; refusing to acknowledge the full sins and biases; finding no new means to listen to the public….

The only way to cure this culture is to kill it. And the only way to kill the culture — aside from killing the patient — is to sell it.

Note that I did not say “merge.” In a merger, the CBS snots would act like the top dogs still. Hey, they’d say, we come from the Tiffany Network; we’re CBS, ferchrissakes.

They need to be humbled.

Considering what has been happening lately — Rathergate and ratings that keep dropping — you’d think they’d be humbled already. But they’re not. It’s that damned culture. It’s harder to kill than yogurt.

This makes great business sense for Viacom: I’m sure they don’t really want to be in the ever-shrinking network news business, where audience and then, inevitably, revenue will continue to fall. CBS is overly expensive. Viacom has proven to be incapable of managing CBS News effectively; it’s hard to manage sacred cows, as the Rathergate commission demonstrates (if these guys should have been fired, they should have been fired by management long ago; you can’t manage via blue-ribbon panels). CBS does not have the advantage NBC does of a cable division that can share promotion and cost and benefits. CBS News is the odd man out at Viacom, the cow in the chicken farm. Selling it off lets them concentrate on entertaining us (and dealing with the FCC) and doesn’t affect the brand and audience on the rest of CBS at all. So Viacom should sell CBS News — and its news timeslots — and make a good buck on the deal.

And this makes sense for the future of CBS News, for it demonstrates to everyone there that the future of network news is not network news. It’s cable. It’s the internet. It’s mobile. It’s news on demand: anywhere, anytime news. It’s conversation that leads to news and follows news. It’s news produced by citizens or, to paraphrase Jay Rosen: Our producers are viewers and our viewers are producers. (See the start of Jay’s and my prescription here.) It’s news distributed by the public, like Jon Stewart’s Crossfire and tsunami videos. It’s news remixed by the public, adding editing and value and credibility along the way. It’s news that serves no end of niches and no more masses. It’s nothing like CBS News today.

And besides, the new bosses would have the balls to fire Dan Rather’s ass — and Andy Heyward with him.

So who should buy it? The candidates:

CNN: Well, that is the first, most obvious, and frequently cited nominee. And it makes sense: CNN needs a broadcast outlet to share promotion and cost. They already have a news operation and it’s run more efficiently than CBS. The staff at CBS would find them more palatable than some of the other choices I’ll list.

Fox: Shushing antitrust worries, think about the possibilities: Fox buys CBS and turns it into the kernal of a liberal cable news channel. So we get right TV and left TV: now that’s fair and balanced. Oh, sure, it’s impossible to imagine a greater culture clash than Fox and CBS News, but that’s precisely what makes this such an entertaining prospect.

The New York Times or Washington Post: This teaches a lesson in reverse: The future of print news isn’t print anymore, folks. It’s everything I listed above. The problem with these organizations is, of course, that they think of themselves as the Tiffanys of print. Or perhaps it would shake up their old ways. Long shot.

The Guardian: They want a beachhead in the U.S., having contemplated American publications. The brand is very popular online here. The political positioning is exactly in sync.

Yahoo or Google: They each have news aspirations but they’re as challenged as publishers as Microsoft has been. So they buy CBS News and explode the distribution network, turning every story into a video post that can be permalinked and searched and distributed and commented on.

Comcast: Please no.

The DNC: Why the hell not? That’s one sure way to guarantee that we know the political bias: It’s the world through a liberal lens.

The public: What if they spun off CBS News as a public company that suddenly had to be responsive to that public? What if bloggers bought up as many shares as they could? BlogTV? Public News?

: UPDATE: A commenter adds another nomined Bloomberg.

Fogging? Mogging? Bogging? Dogging? Jogging?

Fogging? Mogging? Bogging? Dogging? Jogging?

: Howard Kurtz finds out that blogging is a bad word:

Has “blog” become a radioactive word? Check out these comments from Editor & Publisher:

“‘I think there’s a real role for blogs in the future of online journalism,’ says Doug Feaver, executive editor of But how exactly to handle them, he says, ‘is one of the main questions for mainline news sites.’ For starters, there’s the question of terminology. ‘We’re going to have to call them something else,’ Feaver says, noting the ‘baggage’ the term carries with some newspaper editors.

“His designated successor, Jim Brady, who takes over in February, notes that when they discuss blogs with editors from the print Post, they don’t use the ‘b’ word.”

And here I thought I was blogging away! How deluded of me. It’s actually an online compilation written in real time with links to news stories and some bl–I mean, some journals of Web opinion. I stand corrected.