Did Wall Street Fat Cats Really Put President Obama on Hold?

Obama_on_holdMetaphor — you’re doing it wrong.

One of the big stories today involves President Obama’s Monday meeting with bailed-out Wall Street executives that included a conference call with three of them. The Huffington Post is running the giant headline “BANKERS PUT OBAMA ON HOLD”, with a picture of the President holding a phone.

So, not only did 3 of these guys not even show up, they actually had the brass to say “Can you hold a sec, Barry? We gotta take this?” Not exactly.

The headline is pegged to this New York Times column, entitled “Putting Obama on Hold, in a Hint of Who’s Boss.” The column starts out describing the conference call, but there’s nothing about putting the President on hold. A lazy or casual reader could easily get that impression, but it didn’t happen.

Such is the nature of headline-writing, I suppose, but isn’t it a good idea to put a little bit of distance between your metaphor and your actual subject matter? If you were writing a story about an insolvent racing team, you wouldn’t headline it “Racing Team Goes Off Track, Crashes and Burns,” would you?

There’s no real need to oversell the story, anyway. It takes a special kind of person to treat the President of the United States the way you would the fry station at your local McDonald’s.


Tiger Woods Crashes His Career, Creates The Future Of News

Picture 3Who knew the fallout from Tiger Woods driving his car into a fire hydrant could be so far-reaching. The least surprising outcome from last month’s debacle is perhaps that sponsors are reconsidering their support — Shep Smith noted yesterday that perhaps husbands and wives will be reconsidering presents with the Tiger endorsement on it this Christmas. One of the most surprising things — other than the fact such a small incident has turned into such a large one — is how it may be changing the way we get our news. Literally.

By this point, if you spend any time on the Internet, you have likely seen the Tiger Woods CGI animated news videos coming out of Hong Kong, which reenact the alleged events of Tigergate (how come no one has given it this label yet? He almost literally hit a gate.).

A week or so ago the New York Times expressed concern that these “maybe journalism” videos signaled the end of news as we know it: “a best guess at the news as it might well have been, rendered as a video game and built on a bed of pure surmise.” Which seems like a fair description, though it takes all the fun out of it.

Now Gordon Crovitz at the Wall St. Journal is speculating that the media legacy of Tiger Woods may be the “the animated news report”:

This may or may not be what actually happened, but one lesson of technology applied to information is that every medium finds its ultimate conclusion, from talk radio to reality television. In the case of online video, animated “news” will fill the gap where there is no actual video. Journalistic traditionalists tut-tut; animations are not re-enactments so much as a potential version of the news.

The key problem, as mentioned, is what is being depicted may or may not have actually happened and if a picture is worth a thousand words, than in our increasingly online video dependent media culture it’s hard to measure the real impact of these “reenactments.” Could Tiger Woods sue for defamation? I have no idea, but I imagine if this medium in fact does become the future of news we are going to discover rather quickly the limits of “maybe journalism.” In the meantime, enjoy away.



This Exists: ‘Afro Picks’ In Publisher’s Weekly, Literally

Um, has everyone in media lost their mind when it comes to media aimed at African Americans? Last week brought us the New York Timessmart, informed” gift guide for people of color. This week, publishing staple Publisher’s Weekly cover is devoted to “new books and trends in African American publishing,” which in and of itself is not such a bad idea. Alas, the same cannot be said for the cover. At all.

PW-cover-12-14-091-600x798

(h/t Harper Studio)


Fox Asks Glenn Beck To Clarify His ‘Passion’ For Gold

Picture 3Are Glenn Beck’s gold-digging days coming to an end? It would seem even Fox News is losing patience with the questions over Beck’s status as paid spokesman for Goldline International, which sells gold coins, and his habit of devoting time on his show to expounding on why gold is a good investment (video below).

Now, according to the New York Times, Fox has sent a letter to Beck’s people “seeking clarification.” Whether or not they’ll get it seems to be another matter. However, it does appear that Beck and/or Goldline have gone so far as to remove the “paid spokesman” label that accompanied his commercials and replaced it with “radio sponsor.” Additionally, Fox News has released a statement saying “Fox News prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson.”

Did the timing of all this have anything to do with last week’s Daily Show excoriation? The Times’ Bill Carter appears to think it might, though Fox says the letter was sent beforehand. Media Matters has also been on the case for a while. Also, it’s hard to miss the very subtle snark in this graf:

Fox News stressed that it was not aware that Mr. Beck was listed on the Internet as a paid spokesman. But he definitely was, until very recently. On cached editions of the Goldline Web site over the last week to 10 days, a photograph of Mr. Beck was accompanied by an asterisk which led to a line at the bottom of the site that read: “paid spokesman.”

But he definitely was. Ha. Of course, none of this controversy has kept Beck from talking gold (or God, or guns for that matter) on his nightly show. Behold this segment from Friday’s show where Beck talks about the safety of “hunkering down” (gold, God, guns etc) which leads into a promo for Goldline, a sponsor of the show. Draw your own conclusions (which presumably is what Goldline is hoping you will do). Video below.


Apple + YouTube = An Ad You’ll Like

Yes, there are several reasons why I’m more predisposed to pay attention to Apple’s (AAPL) Web ad experiments than other marketers’. But you gotta admit it: These guys do a consistently good job of insisting that you pay attention, without making you feel like you’re being hit upside the head.

Here’s the latest, currently running on YouTube’s homepage. (Don’t worry — it’s not your computer. This one’s mute):

While we’re doling out praise, let’s also single out Google’s (GOOG) video site, which has done some very clever — and appropriate — stuff with its real estate. This one’s a classic:

Granted, it’s easier for a site like YouTube, which draws an audience that wants to be entertained, to muck around with its site design than it is for, say, a newspaper. (That said, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among others, have handed over front page real estate to Apple). Still, while YouTube is still trying to figure out the best to sell ads on its videos themselves, it has turned its front page into a lucrative opportunity.

Political Bias? Wall Street Journal Editor Fires Back At New York Times

img-cs---the-new-york-times_162152736088In this morning’s New York Times, media columnist David Carr showed his hand early in a column about the two-year anniversary of Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of the Wall Street Journal, writing in his opening paragraph that he counted himself among the “chorus of journalism church ladies” who “warned that one of the crown jewels of American journalism now resided in the hands of a roughneck.” Carr goes on to say that the paper has experienced “pro-business, antigovernment shift” and developed a conservative bias. Now, the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief Robert Thomson is firing back in a statement, as reported by John Koblin in The Observer.

“The news column by a Mr. David Carr today is yet more evidence that The New York Times is uncomfortable about the rise of an increasingly successful rival while its own circulation and credibility are in retreat,” Thomson’s statement begins, going on to say that, “principle is but a bystander at .”

Koblin reached out to both Carr and Times editor Bill Keller for a response to the response, with Carr writing back, “No, seems fair to have him have his say. I had mine and stand by it.”

The full text of Thomson’s comment is below:

The news column by a Mr David Carr today is yet more evidence that The New York Times is uncomfortable about the rise of an increasingly successful rival while its own circulation and credibility are in retreat. The usual practice of quoting ex-employees was supplemented by a succession of anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated assertions. The attack follows the extraordinary actions of Mr Bill Keller, the Executive Editor, who, among other things, last year wrote personally and at length to a prize committee casting aspersions on Journal journalists and journalism. Whether it be in the quest for prizes or in the disparagement of competitors, principle is but a bystander at The New York Times.

In his rebuttal, Keller said, “The column was scrupulously fair and, if anything, understated…” Read the rest here.

Under Murdoch, Tilting Rightward at The Journal [New York Times]
Robert Thomson Takes Swing at David Carr, Bill Keller [The Observer]


Is The C.I.A. Monitoring Your Facebook And Twitter?

6a00c2251f58b7549d00e3989994b40004-500piAs the fallout from last week’s Facebook privacy changes continues (will famous people revolt as a group, perhaps?) it looks like advertisers aren’t the only ones set to profit from the new relaxed policies at the uber-popular social networking site. Enter the government, who is apparently cottoning on to the fact that a lot of people volunteer a LOT of information about themselves, albeit at 140 characters or less. Also, watch out who you friend! Apparently there are undercover agents in disguise roaming unsuspecting Facebookers. This from a worrisome editorial in this weekend’s New York Times:

The government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters…In some cases, the government appears to be engaged in deception. The Boston Globe recently quoted a Massachusetts district attorney as saying that some police officers were going undercover on Facebook as part of their investigations.

Wired magazine reported last month that In-Q-Tel, an investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, has put money into Visible Technologies, a software company that crawls across blogs, online forums, and open networks like Twitter and YouTube to monitor what is being said.

The editorial is advocating for new federal privacy rules that reflect the new digital age we are careening into at top speed, and which the government will clearly be playing catch-up with for the next ten years. So what’s the solution in the meantime? The simplest one is to stop sharing so much information! Whether an entire generation raised on posting most of their personal lives online will adhere to that is another story, so maybe in the meantime only friend people whom you’ve actually met?