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November 2, 2013 at 6:08 AM
Join us for a Google Hangout at noon Monday on money, media and elections.
Our guests will be joining us from all over the country to talk about the influence of big money on political equality just in time for election day on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
John Nichols is co-author of “Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.” Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.
Robert W. McChesney is co-author of “Dollarocracy.” He is a professor of communication at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Washington and he received his bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College.
Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the nonprofit Free Press. He joined Free Press in 2004 and speaks across the country on media, Internet and journalism issues. Craig is a frequent guest on talk radio and is quoted often in the national press. His commentaries also appear regularly in the Guardian and the Huffington Post. Before joining Free Press, he was an investigative reporter for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch and the managing editor of In These Times magazine.
Thanh Tan, multimedia editorial writer, will moderate the Hangout. Tan is a former broadcast journalist for a local news station in Portland and the PBS station in Boise.
Lance Dickie, editorial writer, will also join the hangout. Dickie closely follows media consolidation and the Federal Communications Commission for the editorial board.
September 13, 2013 at 4:03 PM
It’s been a week of surreal debate about women and journalism.
Julie Chen, co-host of CBS show “The Talk,” revealed that she had undergone plastic surgery on her eyes after a former news director and an agent told her that she looked too Chinese.
Earlier, Harvard released a landmark study about why the news industry has floundered, showcasing interviews with more than 60 people — five of which were women.
Here’s the common thread between them: Men dictate how we see the world. Their perspective becomes the history of record and dictates the shape of things to come.
Why bother leaning in?
In Chen’s case, the words of powerful men made her future. Her news director in Akron, Ohio, and a talent agent’s remarks motivated her to get plastic surgery to enlarge her eyes. She is open about the fact that her career took off after she underwent the procedure. She moved out of local news to the network, joining CBS’s “The Early Show” before going to “The Talk.”
At Harvard’s Kennedy School, three male researchers undertook an important project to document the downturn in the news industry over the last 30 years. Funded by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, they interviewed 60 thought leaders in technology and journalism, ranging from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt to New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. Five of the people were interviewed were women. Dubbed Riptide, it was history told by men about men.
(The study had other serious diversity issues regarding race and age; here is a statement from UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, which I serve on the board of.)
I don’t have a problem with Chen’s decision. She was brave to share it and open herself up to the inevitable criticism. Hopefully she’s created space for people to talk openly about the challenges women face in in broadcast journalism.
Incidentally, many Asian women living in Asia get eyelid surgery. A cousin of mine, who grew up in Asia and now lives in the U.S., had the eyelid surgery done. (We have never talked about it. She’s a distant relation.)
It’s unfair to criticize Chen for her plastic surgery while overlooking the many other broadcast journalists of all races, men and women, who quietly undergo chin tucks, face lifts, hair implants and brow lifts.
Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Hate on the beauty and fashion industry that worships youth and European features. Remember when Don Draper said in “Mad Men” that love was invented by ad men to sell nylons? Beauty was invented too.
Here is video of Chen’s confession:
This blog post, originally published at 4:03 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2013, was corrected at 11:40 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2013. The previous version incorrectly referred to an organization by its former name UNITY: Journalists of Color.
August 6, 2013 at 6:16 AM
Jeff Bezos is one of the creators of the modern economy around here (and I literally mean around here, because Amazon.com’s buildings are a few blocks of The Seattle Times). He has made a success of Amazon. Maybe he can make a success of one of the country’s best daily newspapers.
I interviewed him only once. It was 1999, or maybe 1998. I was a business reporter at the old Seattle P-I. Amazon’s offices were in a seedy block of Seattle’s Second Avenue near the Pike Place Market, across the street from the Green Tortoise hostel and above an Indian restaurant. Bezos was then worth $9 billion in stock: Amazon’s sales were already large and growing, though I believe it had not yet made a profit.
The chief financial officer was there. I asked him about the company not making a profit and he said it could have a profit any time they wanted. All they had to do was slow the rate of growth–but they didn’t want to do that. They would make a profit later. Don’t worry.
He was right. Lots of dot-coms failed soon after that. Amazon didn’t.
Whether Bezos is right in buying the Post nobody does. But he is willing to commit big money, which is good, and he is patient, which is good. He has deep pockets. Also good.
Some people worry about his politics, which are libertarian. Well, so are mine, so I am not terrified, nor am I in the slightest bit worried that America will have a shortage of liberal newspapers. But I don’t think Bezos is buying the paper to stuff it full of his political opinions. He’s too smart to do that, and also too busy running Amazon.
I like that the Washington Post will be owned by a person, not a public corporation. Bezos’ name will be on it, his pride in it. Good.
Bezos is a long-term thinker.
Update 8:06 a.m.
Check out this interactive timeline from the Associated Press on the history of the Washington Post.
August 5, 2013 at 3:34 PM
As a child growing up just outside of Washington, D.C., reading the Washington Post was a time-honored daily tradition. As a young journalist, I aspired to work at the venerable newspaper and did for four years. As a consumer of news, I’m cautiously optimistic about the newspaper’s sale to Jeff Bezos, owner of e-commerce giant, Amazon.
The paper, owned for generations by the Graham-family, continues family-ownership with the Bezos family. For similar reasons, I’m also cheering the New York Times sale of The Boston Globe to the owner of the Boston Red Sox. That sale returned a good, but struggling paper to local ownership. Under ownership of someone who lives and breathes all things Boston, I’m betting the Globe begins a turnaround of decades of circulation and financial decline.
Back to the Washington Post. Bezos is paying $250 million for the paper, a surprisingly low price for one of the world’s most respected institutions. Hopefully, he’s paying sales tax on this purchase. My tongue is only slightly planted in my cheek. Bezos and Amazon have aggressively sought to avoid collecting sales tax on online purchases. New Jersey in June became just the 10th state where Amazon collects sales tax.
Among the many questions raised by the sale, is whether Bezos, who has zero experience in journalism, has at least an appreciation for its public service value. How much he values the fourth estate will be one of the things that will guide how much he invests in the expensive business of newsgathering. The Washington Post is a heavyweight in journalism. The paper was enshrined in American political history for breaking the Watergate scandal that brought down a president, and for the Pentagon Papers. But more recently, it has led on disclosures about the National Security Administration’s surveillance program and is still one of the best in terms of local and regional reporting. It is in the public’s interest that the Post continue to excel in public journalism. On Monday, Bezos sent a statement to Post employees that sought to allay any such fears.
“The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we’ll work hard not to make mistakes.”
But Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon—that will be released by Little, Brown in October, sets the stage differently. (more…)
June 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM
There’s no doubt viewer habits are changing and the newspaper industry’s traditional business model has been disrupted by the rise of the Internet. Everyone is trying to survive, including The Seattle Times.
When my friend in Portland texted me the news about The Oregonian, I thought, “Which print daily is next?” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer stopped printing altogether in 2009. The New Orleans Times-Picayune shifted to three-days-a-week in 2012.
I hate to see the art and craft of printing newspapers go unappreciated.
Last weekend, I joined one of The Seattle Times’ “Saturday Night Live” tours, where employees are led on a seven-hour journey from the lobby of the Times building to the newsroom, the North Creek printing facility in Bothell and, finally, one of several warehouses in Lynnwood where an incredible diversity of newspaper carriers prepare their home deliveries.
I spend my time at headquarters in South Lake Union and previously worked for online and television organizations, so I didn’t truly understand the complex process it takes to get the print edition of The Seattle Times to our readers. (more…)