Inaccuracies of Christian Science Monitor’s Moscow Correspondent

The American public has been losing confidence in the media for some time. A causal factor may be the now-decades-old reversion of the news as a profit center, and away from the “public good” that it had been for most of the 20th Century. Another factor surely is the democratization of information gathering as the former gatekeepers, whether a newspaper or wire service or TV network, were displaced by the “friends and family” plan of acquiring, sharing, and commenting on news events. Continue reading “Inaccuracies of Christian Science Monitor’s Moscow Correspondent”

Lippman on the Media

Walter Lippmann was an astute political philosopher, journalist, and economist. He (rightly) viewed competent journalists as critical to democracy, while ignorant journalists, and ignorance of journalism, was a threat to democracy.

“Men who have lost their grip upon the relevant facts of their environment are the inevitable victims of agitation and propaganda. The quack, the charlatan, the jingo, and the terrorist, can flourish only where the audience is deprived of independent access to information.”

— Walter Lippmann, Liberty and the News, 1920

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Commentary: Democracy is not just another ideology; freedom is not just another point of view

At the recent public meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Public Diplomacy Council President, and Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California, Adam Clayton Powell, III, offered his comments on the direction of BBG media. His words are a must read, whether in the context of journalism in general but particularly in the area of foreign affairs reporting.  Continue reading “Commentary: Democracy is not just another ideology; freedom is not just another point of view”

False Rivals: how RT is larger & targets different audiences than the BBG

If you’re paying attention to the global struggle against Kremlin subversion through propaganda, you’ll often hear a narrative that the Broadcasting Board of Governors and RT, the Kremlin broadcaster formerly known as Russia Today, are competitors standing toe-to-toe. Responses to my recent article on whether RT was a lobbyist or a foreign agent included this comparison. The notion that they square off against each other or seek the same audiences is based on two simplified, shared attributes: funded by their respective governments and seeking audiences abroad.  Continue reading “False Rivals: how RT is larger & targets different audiences than the BBG”

Russia’s War on Information

Source: Russia Today, downloaded Jan 4, 2011
Source: Russia Today, downloaded Jan 4, 2011

Read my December 15, 2014 article at War on the Rocks where I describe the threat posed by the Kremlin’s propaganda and influence activities. It is a brief overview of Putin’s purging of internal dissent and independent thought and efforts to create confusion, chaos, and subversion across Russia’s near-abroad and everywhere else. 

The best counter to propaganda is truth and transparency, not more propaganda. Honest, unbiased facts coupled with unimpeded discussion by an informed citizenry is the most powerful weapon against the Kremlin’s disinformation that drains the future from Russia’s people and threatens Russia’s neighbors. … This is not about Russia Today. This is about Russia’s tomorrow.

Read the whole article here

North Koreans Quietly Open to International Broadcasts

By Alan Heil
(This post originally appeared at The Public Diplomacy Council.)

For well more than a decade, Korea experts who specialize in international media have been examining the impact of foreign broadcasts and DVDs on users in North Korea. They have done so through a combination of in-country surveys and debriefings of defectors from North Korea, refugees and travelers abroad. In annual reports, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders invariably have ranked that country as having the “least free” media in the world. Yet the curtain of near total silence appears to be opening as never before in North Korea.

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Looking for a headline aggregator for Europe? The Rundown is one of the best

Are you looking for a headline aggregator covering Europe, Russia, and South Central Asia?  The Rundown, compiled by Zach (@ZachPrague) at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), is one of the best.  The mission of RFE/RL is to “promote democratic values and institutions by reporting the news in countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.”  Naturally, the headlines Zach gathers focus on this mission.
Continue reading “Looking for a headline aggregator for Europe? The Rundown is one of the best”

Bye NPR. Hello BBC, Al Jazeera, Chinese Radio.

The decision by Congress the House of Representatives to defund NPR and block local public radio stations from using federal money to acquire NPR content is, like any action, likely to have interesting unintended consequences. This action comes at a time when demand for information and knowledge of affairs around the globe continues to grow, to focus on just of the many values of NPR. 

Congress The House is creating an opportunity that the US commercial media is unlikely to take advantage of, for whatever reason. The old giants of radio news, from CBS to NBC to the AP are unlikely to jump into the new gap and coverage of similar breadth and depth. The AP has the content, but will their agreements with their members – they are an association with members – allow them to provide content to radio that may also be carried by the local paper? Will Federal Communication Commission rules prevent local newspapers and television from expanding into the space presumably to be vacated by NPR?

The most likely winner, at least the short term, will be foreign government broadcasters. Already, local public radio stations often fill gaps in programming with news from the BBC. It is easy to imagine demand for the BBC will increase if programming from NPR becomes unavailable or drops in quality. But BBC is not the only game in town. The recent performance of Al Jazeera English in covering the Middle East may embolden AJE to explore avenues. I would be surprised if Russia Today wasn’t actively seeking to expand its reach. The same for Chinese Government broadcasters, including Xinhua and Radio China International. I do not anticipate a large expansion into public radio, however.

Forget of course other tax-payer supported news organizations from being legally available to news consumers within America’s borders.

What are you thoughts on this potential example of the law of unintended consequences?

Update/clarification: As NPR points out, including NPR’s Andy Carvin, only 2% of NPR’s funding is federal.

Freedom to Connect

By Jerry Edling

“You will not be able to stay home, brother.

You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.” — Gil Scott-Heron, From the album “Small Talk at 125th and Lennox” (1970)

“The revolution will not be televised…but it may be tweeted.” Posted on weeseeyou.com

January 28, 2011

Freedom to ConnectIn some ways, Gil Scott-Heron’s song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was ahead of its time. The lyrics were recited rather than sung, accompanied by congas and a bongo drum, making it either a vestige of beat poetry or one of the first examples of rap. His point, which must be understood in the context of domestic unrest in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the U.S., was that the revolution was not a pre-packaged bit of pop culture, sanitized for your protection and brought to you with minimal commercial interruption by Xerox. The revolution, in his opinion, was real; or, as the final line of the song reads,

“The revolution will be no re-run, brothers; The revolution will be live.”

Little did he know that in the 21st century a revolution of a different sort would be live and it would be televised. And yes, as the quip on weeseeyou.com vividly notes, it would be tweeted. As of this writing, the Biblical land of Egypt is illuminated with cell phone lights and fireworks as mobs with no definable leaders spill into the streets to celebrate the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as president after weeks of protest and unrest. The revolution was televised, and the power to bring those images to the world was in the hands of the revolutionaries themselves.

Continue reading “Freedom to Connect”

Three signs your newsroom is not ready to cross the digital divide

The Knight Digital Media Center posted ‘three signs’ that indicate a newsroom remains focused on print, with online activities an ‘add-on’ operation. In today’s “now media” of converging platforms and audiences, the newsroom needs to think about where and when both the audience and the information are to be found. Alter the recommendations somewhat and the lessons apply to public diplomacy and public affairs offices as well.

1. The staff still reports to an assignment desk that is focused on print and/or is organized in departments that correspond to the sections of a newspaper. This inevitably means that newsgathering for print gets more time than the news organization can afford and print production demands drive the daily reporting and editing assembly line. The fix: Newsgathering staff reports to the online assignment desk. Print becomes a production team that draws heavily on the online report for content at the end of the day.

2. News meetings focus on top news for the next day’s paper and meeting times reflect print. If your frontline editors are focused on daily meetings that happen in the middle of the morning and late afternoon, you’ve got a big problem. If you’re spending more than one-fifth of the meeting time talking about the next day’s newspaper, you’ve got an even bigger problem. The fix: Meetings run by online editors at times that reflect digital publication timetables (like when to serve peak traffic) and focus primarily on online content, traffic and engagement metrics.

3. The top newsroom executives – say the Editor and Managing Editor(s) – are all print veterans who look at online from the outside. …

The change is a shift from the clock of the producer to that of the consumer. Lost to memory is that current print schedules were based on the consumer: when the commuter picked up his paper to work and from work. Today, the consumer no longer ‘picks up’ the paper as much as she grazes for information during the day across multiple devices and sites.

While technology-poor communities may not have the luxury or time to ‘graze’, their news providers tend to have that access. Other news organizations are a ‘market segment’ that is a valid target for information professionals as the roles of consumer and producer of news become blurred.

Organizations that fail to adapt to the modern information environment will loose access and relevance to audiences that matter. of course this is not true if the paper simply wants to serve a discrete community within a fixed geography, determined primarily by balancing printing and distribution against revenue, where there are no serious competitors.