TV News Anchors Speaking From the Heart — Uh, TelePrompter

Did you see the video that was making the rounds this weekend? It features a seemingly endless parade of Sinclair Broadcast Group TV news anchors — those smiley folks so trusted by their local audiences — speaking from the heart. OK, not from the heart, necessarily, but from the TelePrompter, all with the same script. The video was put together by Timothy Burke at Deadspin, and to date it’s been viewed over 7.5 million times. And it has put the spotlight back on Sinclair's political activism. Its 2016 election coverage fawned over Trump and its ongoing White House coverage still does. Meanwhile, Sinclair is in negotiations with the FCC and the Department of Justice over its purchase of Tribune Media, a deal that would expand its reach to 72% of US households, and with it a vast platform — over public airwaves — for its conservative message. Last summer Bob spoke to Felix Gillette, who profiled Sinclair for Bloomberg News, about the company's focus on profit above all. 

We, the Liberators

In March of 2003, U.S.–led coalition forces invaded Iraq, sparking a seemingly endless conflagration that claimed tens of thousands of lives and continues to shape events both international and domestic. Fifteen years later, what have we forgotten? What lessons can we carry forward? And what, if anything, of life in pre-invasion Iraq remains? 
  1. Max Fischer [@Max_Fisher], editor and writer at the New York Times, on the ideologies that led the U.S. to invade Iraq in 2003Listen. 
  2. Deb Amos [@deborahamos], international correspondent for NPR, and John Burnett [@radiobigtex], Southwest correspondent for NPR, on their experiences reporting on the early months of the Iraq WarListen.

  3. Sinan Antoon [@sinanantoon], writer and New York University professor, on watching from afar as the Iraq War destroyed his home countryListen.

  4. Corey Robin [@CoreyRobin Continue reading "We, the Liberators"

Iraq’s Accidental Journalists

Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the night of “Shock and Awe” exploding across the night sky over Baghdad, the opening salvo in an ongoing war. It was a deadly conflict to cover and foreign reporters increasingly relied on Iraqis to take the risks on the ground. Back in 2006, Brooke spoke to three Iraqis who were pulled into journalism by a trick of fate and caught up in the wave of correspondents pouring in from the West. Then, we caught up with them years later. 

Big, If True

Cambridge Analytica claims that, with the help of 50 million Facebook users' data, it was able to target ads so specifically and so effectively that it helped swing the election for Donald Trump. The media have been more than happy to boost the claim, but many experts are skeptical. This week, a look at what exactly went on with Cambridge Analytica and whether we shouldn't be focusing more on Facebook. Plus, how social media works to undermine free will and what the future might hold for Facebook.
  1. Antonio García Martínez, columnist at WIRED and former tech entrepreneur, on Cambridge Analytica's "psychographic" techniques. Listen.
  2. Siva Vaidhyanathan, director of University of Virginia's Center for Media and Citizenship, on past regulatory efforts to reign in Facebook. Listen.

  3. Franklin Foer, staff writer at The Atlantic, on what he sees as Facebook's war on free will. Listen.

4. Clay Shirky Continue reading "Big, If True"

The Past Is Never Dead

This week, we look at how selective coverage shapes our view of foreign borders, conflicts and historical figures — from Syria to Winston Churchill. Plus, a conversation with the editor-in-chief of National Geographic about their latest issue unpacking tricky issues of race, starting with the magazine's troubled past.
  1. Thalia Beaty [@tkbeaty], reporter for Storyful, on the latest coverage of the war in Syria.

  2. Miranda Bogen [@mbogen], policy analyst at Upturn, on the perilous geopolitics of Google Maps

  3. Susan Goldberg [@susanbgoldberg], editor-in-chief of National Geographic, on how the magazine is reckoning with racist coverage in its past.

  4. Madhusree Mukerjee [@Madhusree1984], author of Churchill's Secret War, on the ruthless legacy of Winston Churchill you didn't see in his latest Hollywood treatment. 

Did Farhad “Unplug”?

Last week we spoke with New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo after he published an article titled, “For two months, I got my news from print newspapers. Here’s what I learned.” He wrote that, earlier this year, "after the breaking-newsiest year in recent memory, I decided to travel back in time. I turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of three print newspapers.” It was a crash diet.  Lots of healthy analog, and just a little digital — podcasts, email newsletters — for dessert. Farhad found the experience so uplifting and liberating that he was moved to evangelize. He told Bob during their conversation, which you can still listen to, "I boiled it down into three Michael Pollan-esque prescriptions: Get news, not too quick, avoid social." The only problem was, according to analysis by Dan Continue reading "Did Farhad “Unplug”?"

Like We Used To Do

In an age of constant breaking news, it can be hard to tell what matters and what’s just noise. This week, a look at what we’ve learned from recent coverage of the Russia investigation, and what we’ve missed everywhere else — particularly in West Virginia, where a recent teachers' strike made history. Plus, a dive into the complicated history of country music and why we so often get it wrong.
  1. Marcy Wheeler [@emptywheel], independent investigative reporter, on decontextualized Mueller scooplets. Listen.

  2. Farhad Manjoo [@fmanjoo], columnist at the New York Times, on his month of print-only newsListen.

  3. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and co-host of the podcast Belabored, on the teachers' strike in West Virginia, and Elizabeth Catte [@elizabethcatte], historian and writer, on the news media's narratives regarding Appalachia. Listen.

  4. J. Lester Feder [@jlfeder], Continue reading "Like We Used To Do"