Why The Boston Globe’s anti-Trump fake front page falls flat
- The challenge of satire
The Globe announced a plan for "reinvention" last week, with the premise that the staff should mull how one might structure and execute a local news product if it were bankrolled by a wealthy individual and started from scratch. That doesn't require a huge flight of fancy since its owner, John Henry, is a billionaire former commodities trader who also owns two world famous sports franchises, not a penniless diocesan priest. By coincidence (we hope), Sunday brought a mock front page on what a Trump presidency would look like, news-wise, replete with massive deportations. (Poynter)
There were headlines such as "US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families" and "markets sink as trade war looms," all envisioning life early in a Trump presidency. There was also an editorial on why "The GOP must stop Trump." The gist: "His vision for the future of our nation is as deeply disturbing as it is profoundly un-American." (The Boston Globe)
As for the mock front page, which served as the front of its Sunday "Ideas" section, it was overkill, too cute by half and unavoidably implied that Trump supporters are all idiots. It read a bit less like humor than like a serious attempt to predict what a Globe front page might really, truly look like early in a Trump presidency. It wasn't funny, and it was only ridicule if you share the Globe's point of view that Trump himself is absurd.
It served to reinforce an impression one constantly gets when reporters make it as guests on late-night TV shows: They're journalists, not satirists, and premeditated attempts at being the latter tend to be transparent and unconvincing. This mix of conjecture, chagrin and mere imagining verged more on fiction than thoughtful, even for an "Ideas" section. Reinvention need not produce a poor man's version of The Onion but perhaps just more really well-reported tales on Trump positions. And maybe one on the historical disjoint between some presidents' campaign positions and their eventual actions. It might just ease (somewhat) the apparent anxiety along the banks of the Charles River.
- 100 million fewer tablet sales than some figured
It's the sixth anniversary of the iPad, which has been an obvious success. But while Apple has sold 300 million of them, the tablet market isn't where folks figured (some projections were for annual sales of 300 million units by now, including 150 million iPads). Wassup? One theory is that smartphones are capturing a share of the market as they continue their ascendancy, with sales of 1.4 billion last year and ever-increasing screen sizes. Screen size of five inches and greater now comprise about 70 percent of smartphone sales. (Re/code)
- Daily Mail joins the Yahoo hunt
"The U.K.’s Daily Mail has emerged as a suitor for Yahoo Inc.’s assets, joining a wide group of interested companies that includes telecom giant Verizon Communications Inc. as an April 18 deadline for preliminary offers nears, according to people familiar with the matter." (The Wall Street Journal) Some private equity firms would back its bid. The Daily Mail on Monday confirmed that, as the Journal indicated, it's in preliminary discussions.
- Guilt over blowing a tip
Bruce DeSilva is an award-winning crime novelist who was a journalist for 40 years. In the 1970s, as a newspaperman in Providence, Rhode Island, he got a tip about alleged sexual abuse by a priest. He ultimately dropped the matter, even after some initial reporting that suggested its truth. Now, he looks back at how, in his mind, he blew it, and wonders what ever happened to that priest, with his own notes long gone. (The Washington Post) Conversely, The Chicago Tribune offers a tale of belated discovery of sexual abuse as it pieces together how federal prosecutors figured out the sordid past of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert back in his high school wrestling coach days.
- '60 Minutes' on the 9/11 report
Last night's show did a good job on why former U.S Sen. Bob Graham, who was the co-chair of the bipartisan "joint inquiry" into 9/11-related intelligence failures, wants 28 pages of the key report finally declassified. The aim would be to reveal suggestive matters involving possible Saudi support for some of the hijackers. For example, "In January of 2000, the first of the hijackers landed in Los Angeles after attending an al Qaeda summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The two Saudi nationals, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, arrived with extremely limited language skills and no experience with Western culture. Yet, through an incredible series of circumstances, they managed to get everything they needed, from housing to flight lessons." (CBS News) Yup, an incredible series of circumstances.
- Are we in an era of 'Big breach' journalism?
Jim Rutenberg, who succeeded the late David Carr as the weekly media columnist for The New York Times, recently put the massive Panama Papers leak in the context of a developing genre of journalism that fuses the fourth estate and a "fifth estate" of hacktivist information brokers.
- Michael Wolff critiques the Panama Papers
The Newser founder finds no small hypocrisy in coverage of the leaked documents concerning the bidding offshore of financial assets, including by at least chums of Vladimir Putin, if not Putin himself. "With obvious irony, many of the left-leaning privacy advocates who might cheer Apple’s stand against the government’s intrusion into its system, are now, as transparency advocates, on the side of the leakers of the Panama Papers. And here’s another question: How is the hacking of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm whose 40 years and several terabytes of data lay bare the offshore financial strategies of a wide variety of unpopular world leaders and their families and friends, different from the hack of Sony Pictures, laying bare assorted instances of moral turpitude and hypocrisy in the media industry? Different in the degree of turpitude perhaps, but not necessarily in the nature of the intrusion." (GQ) Whatever, here's a real bottom line: Those tax shelters will persist. (Bloomberg View)
- Perils of comics critiquing journalists
Jason Jones, the former Jon Stewart regular, now has his own TBS show, "The Detour," and is perturbed by Trump and media sucking up to him. "If they say something, they get kicked off the bus," Mr. Jones said. "Everyone is afraid of losing access. Everyone is afraid. And the truth is, the access comes by being harder on people. You are going to be more respected. And the people who truly want to talk will talk." (The New York Times) Now, Jason, back to the comedy.
- The Newspaper Doogie Howser
Hilde Lysiak, the 8-year-old daughter of a former New York Daily News reporter, got some attention by breaking news of a murder in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, via her Orange Street News, which comes out monthly. A few months earlier, POLITICO Media's Joe Pompeo did a lovely profile in Columbia Journalism Review including word that "Hilde wants to increase circulation so she can start selling advertising. Don’t laugh — a member of the local swimming pool’s board of directors told Matt that when the pool’s ad budget was discussed at a meeting this summer, The Orange Street News came up as a publication in which they should advertise. Apparently, board members were familiar with the News, but not all of them knew it was made by a kid."
- Jordan Spieth's awful afternoon
For golf mavens, his was "a collapse around Amen Corner that was shocking even by Augusta National standards." (ESPN) His was a "sequence of horrors" (Sports Illustrated), an "improbable collapse" (Bleacher Report), a day that "will forever live in Masters infamy" (Fox Sports), a "stunning collapse" (USA TODAY), a "back-nine horror show" (Yahoo) and a span in which "his victory hopes unraveled like a cheap imitation of the coveted Masters green jacket" (The New York Times) Ah, well, even if you're not a sports fan, or leave strained analogies about cheap imitation attire to fashion mavens like Tim Gunn or Heidi Klum, the poor kid (well, really, a very rich kid) did have a very tough day in an international spotlight. Oh, as you start your work week, be informed that he earned $880,000 for four days of work in Georgia sunshine and finishing second. Like Gloria Gaynor, he will survive.