Even ISIS can't resist critiquing the media
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Everybody's a (media) critic. That includes the guys and gals with ISIS.
We now know more about the media consumption habits of terrorists after a Poynter profile of Rukmini Callimachi, a wonderful reporter on terrorism for The New York Times. Not that long ago she was covering the Christmas tree lighting in Streamwood, Illinois for the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Now she's one of the best on what's arguably the most important beat in the world, and a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist to boot.
I tweeted out my Poynter profile of her, as did Poynter. The headline I'd stuck on the story was "The reporter ISIS hates — and respects."
Within about 90 minutes, Callimachi informed that one of the many encrypted terrorist chat rooms that she monitors responded to the Poynter tweet.
"Who said we respect her? We'll sell her in our slave markets for the cheapest price."
Thirty-six seconds later came another, "Who said we respect her?....She can wash our toilets."
Apparently this is somewhat par for the course for Callimachi, who got in touch from Mosul, Iraq. "But I know from speaking to their members in private that they read my stuff and take notice of me, so I think your headline is correct."
Whew. It would have been my first correction forced by ISIS. That might have inspired a six-minute Sean Hannity diatribe on the mainstream media "kowtowing to Islamic terrorists." After all, the president and the bad guys (and Hannity, come to think of it) do have a broad definition of "fake news" in common.
And no sooner was the profile posted than Callimachi returned to the deadly serious reporting business at hand. Indeed, she was right there as Iraqi authorities took an ISIS member into custody. She snapped a compelling shot of the interrogation.
As for how she shot it, she explains, "It's my phone!"
Well, media employers, government bureaucracies, software startups and terrorists themselves have at least one thing in common: the unceasing search for efficiencies.
Nice image, but no professional photographer with a per diem and union-bargained benefits. Everybody's looking to save a buck.
Disney's bold (and sketchy) move
Disney said it would pull movies from Netflix and start a new Disney streaming service. But details were "sketchy." (Hollywood Reporter)
"It could mean that the upcoming 'Frozen 2' would be available for streaming exclusively on Disney's new service while 'Star Wars: Episode IX' presumably would not, though they are both set for release in 2019. Star Wars and Marvel movies in the future could be on the Disney service exclusively, could not be there at all or could be there as well as on other services. Those decisions are yet to be made, but the decision to not renew with Netflix is a done deal."
Targeting the nefarious Betty Crocker
"Betty Crocker might want to check her inbox Thursday. The iconic brand is one of roughly a thousand online publishers that are set to receive an email from Google warning them that they are showing 'highly annoying, misleading or harmful' ads. Although there aren't many ads on Betty Crocker's website, it does have pop-ups, especially on its mobile site." (Ad Age)
How the Trump White House spins itself
An interesting if predictable reality from Vice: "Twice a day since the beginning of the Trump administration, a special folder is prepared for the president. The first document is prepared around 9:30 a.m. and the follow-up, around 4:30 p.m. Former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer both wanted the privilege of delivering the 20-to-25-page packet to President Trump personally, White House sources say."
"These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful."
"I think we haven't hit the bottom yet"
Frederic Filloux is a very astute French media observer who co-authors a terrific analysis of world media on Monday Note. He's getting an extended stay at Stanford via the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, in large measure on work on ways to spotlight quality journalism via algorithms and machine learning.
So, Poynter asks, how does he see the media landscape changing in the next year?
"I think we haven't hit the bottom yet. Those who still rely massively on advertising will suffer as the share of the platforms will continue to increase."
"Those who will survive will be: (a) the ones with a dominant subscription model, preferably a sophisticated one, with multiple products at different prices to address the market in the most granular way; (b) the most creativity advertising-wise: I'm a true believer in fewer ads but better ads, like branded content; news media are in the best possible position to take advantage of this market opportunity and (c), the one who will invest the most in technology: CMS; super-fast sites and apps, personalizations, smart recommendation engines, etc. That will be the key differentiator; based on this you can already bet on who will be here in three years and who will not."
Rahm Emanuel and his media posse
As the Chicago Sun-Times' 24/7 iconic City Hall reporter Fran Spielman notes, Mayor Rahm Emanuel "has emphatically denied that politics is behind his decision to file a pre-emptive lawsuit seeking to block U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions from cutting off federal crime-fighting funds to sanctuary cities.
"If that’s true, why did Emanuel play the media like a fiddle by dribbling out details of the lawsuit over a three-day period?"
Spielman looks through the latest batch of court-mandated email disclosures — Emanuel has possessed the not atypical habit of doing government business via personal emails — and found a bunch several months ago "to movers-and-shakers in the national media," pushing stories on the city's diversity.
He sent similar pitches to ABC's George Stephanopoulos (a Clinton White House colleague), Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg, The New York Times’ Carl Hulse, David Brooks (a seemingly longtime favorite for Emanuel spinning) and Mark Halperin of MSNBC.
“I wanted to put this on your radar,” he wrote Stephanopoulos, telling him that he's heard immigrant communities' "strong sense of anxiety and alarm about the rhetoric and policies coming from the Trump administration.”
Emanuel faces significant political difficulties these days, especially with virtual disdain in large swaths of the black community. So it's no huge surprise that, given his self-image of being a master of Washington media, he should try to get some positive press beyond the city boundaries.
Stinging James O'Keefe
The League of Conservation Voters "has filed a complaint against three individuals who infiltrated its operations, at least two of whom, the group alleges, 'could be associated with'" with James O’Keefe, the conservative activist notorious for his stings against liberal groups, according to Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. She writes:
"O’Keefe, whom I reached by phone on Tuesday, said that he was unaware of the letter and otherwise declined to discuss the matter. 'I don’t comment on investigations real or imagined, or work with mainstream reporters who operate in bad faith,' he told me. In 2016, I wrote an article for this magazine about O’Keefe’s bungled attempt to sting George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, a liberal nonprofit group that O’Keefe had targeted."
Covering Notre Dame practices (or not)
Notre Dame unveiled restrictions on reporting practices. The include "No references to plays run or game strategy," "No reporting of which players are practicing with individual units (goal line offense, nickel defense, etc.)" and not reporting on practice injuries "until the team has provided an official update." (ND Insider)
"Netflix is carrying twice as much debt, relative to its reported profits, as other major media companies, according to credit ratings agency Moody’s. The figures highlight the financial risk the streaming service is taking as it spends tons of money to create original films and TV shows." (The Information)
Teen influencers cashing in
"Once upon a time, teenagers simply got a paper route or worked at the supermarket to earn a little spending cash. Oh, what fools we were." (Adweek) Now an influencer marketing company is paying 1,000 kids in junior high, high school and college an average of $2,000 a month to deliver clients' ads on the company's network, including on Snapchat.
A podcasting suit comes to apparent end
Personal Audio has claimed for years that it has a patent that covers all of podcasting. "The actual patent is about delivering news on audio cassettes" and now a federal appeals court said the company is wrong. (Techdirt)
The morning babble
"Trump & Friends" did a bit of saber-rattling and underscored the president's "stern warning" to North Korea. Stern warning to some, the subject of ridicule from Stephen Colbert, who last night pleaded with Trump to shut up. But, "I believe it was right on target," said co-host Brian Kilmeade, an analysis echoed by co-host Steve Doocy who cited as precedent Harry Truman saying in 1945 about the Japanese "They may expect a rain of ruin from the air the like of which has never been seen on the earth."
CNN's "New Day" was rather more analytical (and dubious) about a lower-level North Korean military official threatening an attack on Guam (though it invoked the Truman line, too). The North Korean ability, capability and intention to pull off anything dastardly still seems ambiguous, said one military observer, while CNN reporter Will Ripley offered non-studio bloviating by chiming in from Beijing with his sense that North Korea doesn't want to use those much-reviled weapons but sees them as a deterrent.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" called the Trump comments "frightening," while reporter Julie Pace underscored that there's at least one camp in the White House that "cringes" over such rhetoric, but another that backs it heartily. But the repetitive assessing inevitably broached whether Trump would ever back up the words and if the "fire and fury" line was perhaps directed really at China's leadership as a warning to start getting tougher on North Korea.