Old and new media were in tune for Grammys coverage

Good morning.

  1. Singing same tune with overwhelming force
    Yes, "The performances and pageantry matter a lot more than the awards" whose credibility is negligible. (The Atlantic) But that didn't stop blanket coverage by media old and new. "Who is Meghan Trainor?" The Washington Post asked rhetorically. "Remember the saccharine empowerment earworm 'All About That Bass'? That’s Trainor." (The Washington Post) During a Lionel Ritchie tribute, The New York Times noted that just because he's been reduced "to a lite-soul caricature" doesn't mean he's not "a serious vocalist, with real texture." (The New York Times) Chicago Tribune ace rock critic Greg Kot tweeted, "Strobe-lit close-up of Kendrick firing away, with sax blowing free behind him is that rare, excellent made-for-TV musical moment." (@gregkot)

    But the millennials everybody's chasing were likely elsewhere. They're reading Pitchfork, which is the new SPIN, which itself was once the new Rolling Stone. Its take? "Taylor Swift has won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for 1989. She beat Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color, Chris Stapleton's Traveller, and the Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness." (Pitchfork) Pretty ho-hum. SPIN called the highlight "Stevie Wonder Advocating for Inclusivity. The iconic and unfailingly gracious singer turned a potentially awkward moment at the mic into an opportunity to advocate for more widespread Braille training and usage." (SPIN) Better. And Rolling Stone? It underscored Lady Gaga's "transformative performance" in tribute to David Bowie. (Rolling Stone) Good.

    But analyses from the major newspapers were sharper as they discerned the show's internal structural and tonal contradictions (The New York Times), underscored awkward pairings of singers (Chicago Tribune), the show's conscious thrust to diversity (Los Angeles Times) and what it meant to deny rapper Lamar the two biggest prizes. (The Washington Post)

  2. Scalia vacancy speculation
    Conventional media wisdom remains that congressional Republicans will get their way as they hope to recapture the White House, stall any nomination and try to get a preferred pick with a GOP president. The speculation includes that from SCOTUSblog, a must-read site for court buffs. Writes blog boss Tom Goldstein: "At this point I think that Attorney General Lynch is the most likely candidate." But he doesn't see her making it all the way. (SCOTUSblog)

    Meanwhile, the best piece Tuesday on the constitutional implications came from the University of Chicago constitutional scholar Geoffrey Stone, a respectful Scalia nemesis ideologically and former colleague. "Senate Republicans should work with the president to identify a relatively moderate nominee and they should then just suck it up and do their job. Sometimes one’s oath of office — to preserve and protect the Constitution — requires one to do the right thing." (TIME)

  3. The power of celebrity dirt
    You want to know how TMZ does what it does? Well, learn how it "resembles an intelligence agency as much as a news organization, and it has turned its domain, Los Angeles, into a city of stool pigeons," writes Nicholas Schmidle. (The New Yorker) "In an e-mail from last year, a photographer reported having four airport sources for the day, including 'Harold at Delta, Leon at Baggage service, Fred at hudson news, Lyle at Fruit and nut stand.'" A former TMZ cameraman showed him "expense reports that he had submitted in 2010, reflecting payments of forty or fifty dollars to various sources...'Everybody rats everybody else out,' Simon Cardoza, a former cameraman for the site, told me. 'That’s the beauty of TMZ.'" Well, we at Poynter don't expect any imminent calls to conduct an ethics seminar there.
  4. 13.5 million watched GOP on CBS
    Well, it wasn't the 24 million who watched a GOP debate last August on Fox. But it wasn't bad at all considering it was a Saturday night. Last week's Democratic debate on PBS and CNN drew just over 8 million. (CNN)
  5. U.S. journalists arrested in media-manipulating Bahrain
    Four were arrested in Bahrain but only one identified, namely Anna Therese Day, a freelancer who's worked for Huffington Post. (Poynter) They were covering the anniversary of mass protests and arrests. Bahrain has been filled with unrest since a 2011 uprising, with a Shia majority demanding rights from a Sunni-run government. Dozens have been killed and hundreds injured. (BBC)

    Meanwhile, control of media in Bahrain is the subject of coverage from Al Jazeera English's excellent "The Listening Post" (not seen in the U.S.), which finds that "the Bahraini government has been scaling up its information control apparatus and media access to the country is rigorously monitored and managed by the government and its team of Western PR advisors." (Al Jazeera English) It's pretty outrageous government propaganda overseen by a royal family. On the first anniversary of protests last week, the first 24 minutes and 52 seconds of the nation's primary 30-minute daily newscast were spent on total puffery about the royals. Most media organizations were barred entry to cover the anniversary.

  6. BBC's sledgehammer restructuring
    You know Lord Hall, correct? "The director-general of the BBC?" He's on the verge of what's claimed to be the "most far-reaching organizational overhaul" in the BBC's 93-year-history. He apparently plans to recommend ditching the existing TV- and radio-based structures since he apparently believes "the quickening pace of technological change means that the boundaries between media such as television, radio and online are blurring." (The Telegraph)

    This also sounds like an easy way to justify quick savings by ditching lots of executives and managers. Of course, that still leaves rather significant questions of what content to produce and how to pay for it. Same old, same old, on that score, with assured desires to get a younger audience. Lord Hall, all I can say for the moment is cheers.

  7. Kanye West and a free press
    Kanye West asks that Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The New York Times and "any other white publication" stops writing about black music. He's apparently unhappy that his reviews aren't unequivocally fawning. (The Huffington Post) Maybe he should move to Bahrain and cut a deal with the royal family since it controls all.
  8. Lord Hall also apologizes
    Some news travels slowly. Lord Hall's BBC last week apologized for running a series of documentaries produced by a London company that was making millions of dollars from PR clients it featured in the documentaries. (Independent) It made eight documentaries on Malaysia, including one on a controversial industry, while being paid $26 million from the same government for "global strategic communications." It also did one on the Egyptian uprising but didn't come clean that it was taking money for public relations from, yup, the government of then-boss Hosni Mubarak. These relationships were all exposed initially by The Independent and now covered extensively by Al Jazeera English.
  9. Does a monkey own media rights to his own selfie?
    Media frequently reprint the selfies of various individuals. But who owns the rights? The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin is behind a paywall, so you can't see his piece, but entertainment attorney E. Leonard Rubin argues that, quite obviously, it's got to be the person who took or created them. "Easy question, easy answer." Well, can you believe that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is arguing that a monkey actually owns rights, too, to a selfie accidentally taken by a monkey during a photo shoot by a professional nature photographer (the photog then used the photo in a book, prompting the legal dispute). A federal judge ruled against PETA, the nonprofit is mulling an appeal and attorney Rubin, who was once general counsel at Playboy Enterprises, concludes, "for now, at least, we can all surrender our cellphones to our pets, secure in the knowledge that we can use any selfies or pictures they take without fear of violating their copyright rights." (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin)
  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Richard Quest will be editor-at-large of CNN Money. He is the host of "Quest Means Business." (The Guardian) | Shula Neuman is now executive editor of St. Louis Public Radio. Previously, she was interim editor there. (St. Louis Public Radio) | Christopher Cormier is now associate publisher at InStyle. Previously, he was associate publisher at Details. (Mediabistro) | Job of the day: The Naples Daily News is looking for a features reporter. Get your resumes in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Corrections? Tips? Please email me: jwarren@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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