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"Norway’s largest newspaper has published a front-page open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, lambasting the company’s decision to censor a historic photograph of the Vietnam war and calling on Zuckerberg to recognize and live up to his role as 'the world’s most powerful editor.'" (The Guardian)
This involves a Norwegian writer posting the Pulitzer Prize-winning shot by Nick Ut of children, including a naked 9-year-old girl, running from a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Facebook suspended the writer's account, and the paper reported on the suspension with the photo on its own page. It prompted the social network to delete both the paper's article and the photo from Facebook.
"Any photographs of people displaying fully nude genitalia or buttocks, or fully nude female breast, will be removed,” said Facebook to the Norwegians. It's a pretty outrageous move over an iconic image, as quickly perceived by Espen Egil Hansen, the editor in chief and CEO of Aftenposten, the country's biggest paper.
In his letter, Hansen alleges that Facebook is exhibiting an inability to "distinguish between child pornography and famous war photographs," as well as an unwillingness to allow "space for good judgement."
"Even though I am editor in chief of Norway’s largest newspaper, I have to realize that you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility. I think you are abusing your power, and I find it hard to believe that you have thought it through thoroughly."
Hansen contends that instead of achieving Zuckerberg's stated aim to "make the world more open and connected," the censorship "will simply promote stupidity and fail to bring human beings closer to each other."
Can one really argue? If Zuckerberg cares about matters of justice, he ought be reminded that it is in no small measure through the unadulterated horror of such imagery and reporting that the world gets at basic truth about many human actions, such as war. You've got to stare at our handiwork, not censor it.
Geraldo turns on Ailes, calls TV culture endemic
In a "Roger and Me" Facebook posting that wasn't deleted, Geraldo Rivera blasted his old boss. "The man we knew as the blustering genius who invented our mighty Fox News Channel is a deceitful, selfish misogynist, if the charges against him are true. And if they are true, then his shame and banishment are well earned. Like virtually all my colleagues at Fox News, I was totally blindsided by his sexual harassment scandal, which is why I responded to Gretchen Carlson’s initial filing of her lawsuit with extreme skepticism. The man she described in her pleadings was unknown even to those of us who thought we knew him well." (Facebook)
The morning chatter you perhaps missed
Quinnipiac University should charge the cable news networks for all the time they waste regurgitating every facet of every poll by Quinnipiac, which is based in Hamden, Connecticut. It was the same this morning, especially on "Fox & Friends," where Trump reporter John Roberts seemed quite upbeat detailing supposed Trump inroads, then this: "Pennsylvania still problematic, Hillary Clinton continues to lead by five points there, 48 to 43."
All in all, it seemed good news for the three co-hosts, let by Steve Doocy, all of whom also defended Matt Lauer's performance theater night. He's being "completely decimated by the political left because he did was too hard on her and he did not destroy Donald Trump," opined Doocy.
Over at "Morning Joe," Mika Brzezinski went to bat for Lauer, too, with colleagues generally sympathetic to her basic take that he asked good questions of a guy, Trump, who even flummoxed Bob Woodward when he had a go at Trump once on the show. "People say, 'You need to ask the question,'" she said with her preternatural look of chagrin. "We are, people." Got that?
Over at CNN's "New Day," there was actual reporting, not mere gabbing, on the very same matter, as the network went live to Geneva this morning for trusty international correspondent Nic Robertson to update likely-to-fail talks there about Syria between Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart.
Yes, it would later be immersed in the presidential horse race, with a "winners and losers" list for the week past. But it was nice to see some actual journalism, too, including a later CNN live report from Tokyo on an apparently serious North Korean nuclear test.
Can Google really slow down ISIS?
"To deter potential ISIS recruits, Google is trying a new strategy. Jigsaw, Google’s technology incubator, has figured out words and phrases that people associated with ISIS often search for. The aim isn’t to track or identify them, but to change their minds; Jigsaw will seed the search results with ads that link to YouTube channels filled with anti-ISIS videos." (Popular Science)
Got the Hollywood bug?
In an attempt to improve diversity in the rather homogeneous world of TV writing, the City of New York is combining with the Writers Guild of America, East, which has had great success of late organizing editorial workers at digital news operations. They'll offer a six-month fellowship to provide opportunities for wannabes from varied backgrounds to work in New York, which was home to 52 scripted TV series last year.
The union says the "Made In NY Writing Room" will accept up to 12 applicants, either individuals or writing teams, to take part in the program. They'll get a stipend, participation in various professional development program and be twinned with what's known as a "showrunner" based on their career interests "and produce a table read of their script by union actors." (Writers Guild of America)
A rare opportunity, well-executed
Alexa Mills, a graduate journalism student at Northeastern University, just crafted a terrific piece for The Washington Post as part of a class where students are assigned a pre-Civil Rights cold-case homicide to solve. For her, it involved a Black soldier, Private Felix Hall, who was training to fight in World War II but became victim of the only known lynching on a U.S. military base in American history. Her fascinating effort was published in The Post. But how did it come to be?
Alan Sipress, who edited the piece, says that Northeastern's Dina Kraft, a former AP foreign correspondent and Mills' adviser, thought Mills had a great potential piece. After looking at a draft, he agreed. But he concedes that the process ultimately took longer than would be expected from a regular staffer, and the paper wasn't 100 percent sure things would work out.
On each draft, Kraft did a first edit, Sipress a second. As time wore on, it was clear the tale "could help illuminate the racial tensions that continue to afflict American society." Ultimately, "we came to recognize that the story would surface important issues of government accountability, which we take seriously at the Post, and would resonate with readers amid the current national conversation about race relations."
Mixed media marriages
Old media is doing lots of heavy investing in new media, like Comcast throwing tons of dough at BuzzFeed. But those alliances "are dotted with cases of new media biting the hand that feeds it." (Bloomberg) Vice's founder takes old media largesse (notably from Disney) but bashes some as dinosaurs, describing media as a "private club, so closed that most young people feel disenfranchised."
Matthews vs. Giuliani
It was a heavyweight matchup as grim and persistent Chris Matthews questioned the breezily self-confident Rudy Giuliani on "Hardball," largely about Trump's kind words on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his many suggestions that Barack Obama was born outside the U.S. and thus not a legitimate president.
Matthews was the anti-Lauer, especially in persisting in not letting the former New York mayor get away with baloney on the birth issue. Seeing Giuliani backtracking was unusual and a universe from the awed reverence he inspires on Fox News Channel. It's intriguing to consider what might happen if you'd had his inquisitorial modus operandi at play in one of the three presidential debates. He can be very effective, if very jarring. (Hardball)
What Apple didn't say much about
The Wall Street Journal dissects what wasn't detailed onstage as Apple unveiled the iPhone7. It explains how "32GB is the new 16GB," "the 64GB iPhone SE is cheaper" and "the iPad Pro is cheaper too." (The Wall Street Journal)
Troy Aikman's still pissed
Former Dallas Cowboys star Troy Aikman, now a longtime Fox NFL analyst, remains furious that sportswriter/TV pundit Skip Bayless flicked at intimations Aikman was gay in a long-ago Bayless book. He's unfettered in his view of Fox hiring Bayless away from ESPN for its cable sports channel.
A few days ago he made clear, “To say I’m disappointed in the hiring of Skip Bayless would be an enormous understatement. Clearly, [Fox Sports president of national networks] Jamie Horowitz and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to building a successful organization. I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless.” (Sports Illustrated) Now Forbes contributor Alex Reimer chides Aikman for lingering on the long-debunked rumor, even as he concedes it was pretty sleazy on the part of Bayless. (Forbes)
A media writer cut loose
Longtime Chicago media observer Rob Feder disclosed "the company's decision not to renew their licensing and marketing agreement on his website, RobertFeder.com." (Patch) He was told it was for business reasons but business includes a pretty thin skin of a new corporate regime. Feder is no bomb-thrower and his coverage of the regime, and its obvious missteps, has been fairly mild.
It didn't get much more incendiary that his assessment of the new boss Michael Ferro, the previous boss of The Chicago Sun-Times, changing the corporate name to tronc from Tribune Publishing: "As corporate names go, it’s even worse than Wrapports, which Ferro inflicted on the Sun-Times before the self-styled tech entrepreneur began his five-year reign of failure there."
What to do with the press and Trump, Clinton
The attacks on Matt Lauer for his performance in interviewing the two presidential candidates get to larger questions involving uninspired performances by the press at many events during the campaign year. They were briefly flicked at in tweets after the New York event by Glenn Thrush, a fine political reporter for Politico. I followed up and discussed the matter with him. One issue: What do you do when you ask good questions and politicians simply evade a straight answer? Do you bring out your inner Chris Matthews and doggedly hammer the guy? Here's Thrush:
"Polite-but-firm pushback is a skill every serious interviewer needs. Just watch a few YouTubes of the late Tim Russert — or watch debate moderator Chris Wallace on FOX, a very tough interlocutor who — to my complete mystification — declared that his job wasn't to fact-check the candidates. That's bullshit. Fact-checking is job one for any reporter." (Poynter)
A good man
Marv Gittler, a beloved Chicago union-side labor attorney and tough teddy bear of a guy, passed away yesterday. We were united by our New York backgrounds, involvement with the labor movement and preference for Jack Daniels. His link to the media largely resulted from representing newspaper productions unions, including workers who struck the Chicago Tribune in 1987 and were replaced.
He was a good source of mine, and I was fortunate for his post-strike Solomonic decision to cancel his subscription to the paper but continue being a source. Our primary difference was I remained a Giants fan, while he morphed into a season ticket-holding, long-suffering Bears fan.
As I told a son-in-law yesterday, it was thus not unusual in succeeding years to pick up the newsroom phone and hear a gravelly voice simply declare, "So I hear I was quoted in the scab paper today." Yup. As he lay at rest with a Bears knit cap Thursday (his four daughters thought it only fitting), we toasted him with a shot of Jack. Have a good weekend.