Posts from February 8, 2005

Party on

Party on

: It’s Fat Tuesday: Time for my annual bit of bragging about my proudest professional accomplishment: Bourbocam!

Selling to the sellers

Selling to the sellers

: At iMedia right now, Steve Rubel — bloggers’ best evangelist to the marketers — is now doing a wonderful job teaching a room filled with ad sellers and ad buyers how to embrace consumer control, even letting them create ads. “Meet George Masters,” he said as he showed this teacher’s iPod commercial. The room was wowed; applause broke out. Steve said George is looking for work and I’ll just bet he gets hired.

Prudes on parade

Prudes on parade

: Thirty-three members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush begging him to hire a real prude as the nextr chairman of the FCC. Daily Variety has the letter (it’s behind a wall) but Brian Linse has excerpts from the story:

The letter arrived at the White House after Bush told a C-SPAN interviewer last week that parents should play the primary role in protecting children from indecent material. “While we acknowledge the importance of parental controls over children’s viewing habits,” the letter said, “Hollywood and certain media companies work to ensure that children are exposed to it whether they or their parents like it or not.” …

“The next FCC chairman will oversee an important time in our nation’s history, and they must be ready to aggressively enforce the laws that Congress has passed. We encourage you to nominate an individual of boldness, strength, and vision who will continue the work already begun. We must not let immorality become normalized nor federal laws ignored.”

The letter originated as a collaborative effort between Reps. Joe Pitts (Pa.) and Charles Pickering (Miss.). Among others signing it were Dave Weldon (Fla.), Steve King (Iowa) and Jim Ryun (Kan.). No Democrats signed it.

Get this: “We must not let immorality become normalized.” That’s not your job, boys. Run the government. Our morality is our business. I feel like sending them all a framed copy of the First Amendment.

But I’m glad to see them nervous, for Bush is more reasonable than they are; he knows that parenting is a parent’s job. Sure, he’ll sign the indecent indecency legislation rushing through Congress. But by this, I hope he’s not ready to name Pat Robertson to the FCC.

This is what Bush said on C-Span:

As a free speech advocate, I often told parents who were complaining about content, you’re the first line of responsibility; they put an off button on the TV for a reason. Turn it off.

Listen to your leader, boys.

When I sent them the First Amendment, I’ll enclose a universal remote control.

: And this is the legislation these self-appointed national nannies are about to pass:

The maximum fines now run $32,500 per incident but would jump to $500,000. The fine for a performer would jump from $11,000 to $500,000, and the Federal Communications Commission regulation that requires an individual to first receive a warning would be repealed.

Eason Jordan makes the big time – and – The gates fall

Eason Jordan makes the big time – and – The gates fall

: In today’s Washington Post, Howard Kurtz (finally) reports on the Eason Jordan controversy and Jordan (finally) clarifies what he said in clearer words than his various emails.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who attended the World Economic Forum panel at which Jordan spoke, recalled yesterday that Jordan said he knew of 12 journalists who were killed by coalition forces in Iraq. At first, said Frank, “it sounded like he was saying it was official military policy to take out journalists.” But Jordan later “modified” his remarks to say some U.S. soldiers did this “maybe knowing they were killing journalists, out of anger. . . . He did say he was talking about cases of deliberate killing,” Frank said.

Jordan denied that last night, saying he had been responding to Frank’s comment that the 63 journalists who have been killed in Iraq were “collateral damage” in the war. “I was trying to make a distinction between ‘collateral damage’ and people who got killed in other ways,” Jordan said last night. “I have never once in my life thought anyone from the U.S. military tried to kill a journalist. Never meant to suggest that. Obviously I wasn’t as clear as I should have been on that panel.”

: Meanwhile, Jay Rosen sends an email to blogging friends (which I assume he’ll turn into a post soon) that talks about how bloggers filled out the story with journalism while the press remained silent. (Says Jay: “That is not necessarily bad that the press remains silent. If it’s a non-story, remaining NON is just fine.” I agree.) Sisyphus gets the WEF to admit it has a tape of Jordan’s comments and tries to get them to release it. He “commits an act of journalism in a shockingly simple way. Email the right guy.” Rebecca MacKinnon gives her account and gets Jordan to tell his side (though he made it a lot clearer by the time he got to Kurtz) and sets up a delicious tag to track the story. Jay gets the account of another witness, BBC boss Richard Sambrook. Michelle Malkin gets a statement from Barney Frank and another from David Gergen, more witnesses. Yes, there was a snitfit, a blogstorm — and until there was clarification, that’s what it takes sometimes. And there was also journalism. Both were pressure to get to the bottom of the story. Are we there yet?


: This is also about the speed of news. Back in the day of the news gatekeepers — now long gone, whether they know it or not — journalists could take their time reporting a story, for news wasn’t news until they said it was. And that wasn’t all bad: It allowed journalists to check facts, call sources, get it right.

But news got faster. All in all, that’s good; we’re informed faster.

But there are certainly issues. Witness the fog of war: Breaking News! We found a truck trailer that some expert says is used to make biological weapons. Later… Oh, nevermind, it’s used to make yogurt.

That’s an issue for the public; we have to learn to judge news better, to recognize that an early report can often be found to be a wrong report.

That’s also an issue for newsmakers: You can say something you didn’t mean to say or said in such a way that it is misinterpreted and your words will spread fast and so can the storms they cause. If you want to correct or clarify, there is no time to waste. Do it quickly and directly and talk to the people who are questioning you, the citizens.

And, obviously, this is an issue for news organizations: You can’t take your sweet time reporting a story anymore, for the citizens will get ahead of you even without your resources and access. You should still get it right and do what it takes to do that, of course. But if you care about the truth, then you’d better go hunting it faster.

And, by the way, you’re no longer the gatekeeper.

: And this is about the death of off-the-record at any event citizens attend. The WEF is now trying to decide whether the event was or wasn’t off the record. Doesn’t matter anymore, folks; that’s irrelevant. The citizens in the room haven’t agreed to play by your rules the way journalists have. If they hear something, they’ll repeat it. If Jordan had, in fact, said that journalists were targeted as journalists by soldiers — which he didn’t; just speaking in the hypothetical here — then how can anyone expect the citizens, the citizen journalists, the bloggers in the room to remain silent? They shouldn’t.

The off-the-record gate has also fallen.

: UPDATE: More comments and links from Kaus, Hewitt, and the king of the roundup: Gandelman.

: LATER: Ernie Miller asks good questions about whether it is ethical for journalists to agree to an off-the-record rule for such an event and whether it is ethical for a journalist to speak off-the-record at such an event.