A Paris police raid: High drama, few facts for cable TV

Good morning.

  1. Lots of shots but far more speculation

    This morning, there was a French police raid in a Paris suburb. There were reports of much shooting. Early on the cable networks appeared to compete to see which third-string late-night anchors could disseminate the most unconfirmed data the fastest. It was live TV at its most unavoidable and precarious. It was going to a scene live with nobody having much of a clue what was actually happening for a very long time. CNN found one local citizen, put him on the phone and asked what it was like when he heard gunshots. "I don't know what's going on," he said. The CNN anchor would not take ignorance for an answer and persisted. "I don't know what went on there," the French citizen repeated. "I don't know what's going on." It was no better on Fox, which was showing some Twitter video, relying on faraway terrorism "experts" and having its anchor inform us that "The people of Paris, France trying to move on and get their resolve back. They are resilient people and the world is standing with them."

    MSNBC was relegated to the same vamping and at one point even conceded that it didn't know if the video it was showing was tape (it was a live feed). Fortunately, it had the very capable NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel, who zipped close to the scene along virtually empty roadways as most of Paris slept. Mercifully, he underscored what he actually knew, namely not much at all. It was a refreshing break from the ceaseless reporter speculation, use of the phrase "it is believed that," "it's possible" and the utter blather of pundits speculating via phone from the U.S., perhaps in their pajamas. By lunchtime in Paris, it appeared one suspect was dead. Or maybe it was two. Media claims clashed. It was all very live, very untidy and probably alluring to some insomniacs.

  2. Fox anchor thanks guest for being "proud American"

    Just a short time earlier, Fox broke into its late-night re-airing of Bill O'Reilly's show for an update on two Air France flights bound for Paris but diverted to Salt Lake City and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The unidentified news reader engaged Keith Russo, a 26-year-old passenger on the flight stuck in Salt Lake City, in a conversation about terrorism. There was no mention of what the fellow does for gainful employment and why we might care about his take on terrorism. But Russo did say it was only time before all the terrorists were eliminated. The Fox anchor then asked, "Keith Russo, do you have any military background?" Answer: "No, I do not." Anchor: "But you have a good American background?" Answer: "Absolutely." Anchor: "Keith, I want to thank you for being a proud American." I then thanked the world for a late Kansas-Michigan State basketball game on ESPN.

  3. Conde Nast held in contempt due to phone hacking story

    It was found guilty of contempt of court today in London due to an article in GQ about the phone-hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. This involves all that mess at Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World and an article by USA Today columnist Michael Wolff that ran during the hacking trial last April. It included "allegations that Rupert Murdoch was implicated in phone hacking, the high court in London was told." It appears that "Condé Nast is facing a large fine after the judges — the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies — ruled that the article clearly created 'a substantial risk' that the trial of Brooks, Coulson and other employees of the newspaper 'would be seriously impeded or prejudiced.'" (The Guardian)

  4. And why did we pay such little attention to terrorism in Beirut?

    Two awful terrorist attacks and the media gives far more attention to Paris. Is it a function of bias, tragedy in Paris simply being sexier, a combo of those factors or none of the above? Says a top New York Times editor, "I do think Paris was more newsworthy than Beirut for a host of reasons, including the death toll, the scale of the attack, and the challenge to intelligence agencies in the US and abroad that tend to work closely together. It is also true that coverage of terrorist attacks does vary according to other, more subtle factors, such as how surprising the attack is, how likely it is to impact policy among the Western powers, and how likely it is to resonate with large numbers of our readers." (CJR)

  5. Obama derides GOP deriding the media to the media

    Did you catch that quick rhetorical shot the president took at anti-Syrian refugee proponents among Republicans during a press conference in Manilla last night (Monday his time)? "At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three-year-old orphans."

  6. Blocking the blockers

    This might chagrin Edward Snowden, a new apostle of ad blockers. "The details are still being hammered out, but the aim is to provide an alternative to the approaches taken so far by various publishers, which give people two options: pay up or put up with the ads in their current form. The Guardian is trying a third way that “puts the user in control,” according to the publisher’s global revenue director Tim Gentry." (Digiday) Meanwhile, Snowden seems to qualify his First Amendment devotion by suggesting that the more ad blockers, the merrier. (Mashable)

  7. Gawker layoffs

    A shakeout at Gawker Media laid off seven editorial employees Tuesday "as part of a strategic shift that involves a pivot to politics coverage on the company's flagship site and largely abandoning Kinja, the company's ambitious — and expensive — bid to create a proprietary blogging platform." (New York) The chief of operations is exiting, too, as a much-watched digital news outlet prepares "for a site-wide focus on politics under the leadership of former Wonkette editor and Salon columnist Alex Pareene, named editor-in-chief last month." Several verticals will die, including a weather blog. The founder wants sites with "clear editorial missions," which seems a good if not necessarily visionary objective. (Poynter) Meanwhile, Re/code confirmed that a new COO, Josh Albertson of Vox Media's Curbed, is on the way. (Re/code)

  8. Ethics. Remember ethics?

    A site called Accountable Journalism launched a service that allows users to parse "more than 400 searchable codes of ethics from media outlets around the world." (Poynter) It aims "to help journalists, educators and anyone in the business of communications make ethical decisions which are widely accepted by international media professionals." There are 71 entries for "Obscenities, Vulgarities, and Slurs" and 134 for a dying species amid U.S. media outlets called "Corrections." That's spelled C-O-R-R-E-C-T-I-O-N-S. It's a term that's rather exotic for many, including local TV news directors who have their anchors fess up to errors about as frequently as they cover red moon lunar eclipses.

  9. You use Periscope?

    Journalists probably should since it allows them to take out their phone and, bingo, livestream video. Now it's updated the new and successful live broadcasting app, including loading replays from the last 24 hours that will let you watch replayed material. "It makes the app incredibly useful for journalists who may have missed some eyewitness news and want to see if there were pictures from that location." (Journalism.co.uk)

  10. Don Lemon says he might have been another James Baldwin

    He's a CNN late-night anchor given to asking arguably odd questions and qualifying the query with, "Just asking." Sort of like, "Do you think Barack Obama is a KGB agent? Just asking." In a very light New York Times Magazine profile (yes, Lemon has achieved such apparent legitimacy) one finds this Q and A: "Question: Do you have any idea what you would be doing if you weren’t a journalist? Answer: I’d probably be a writer like James Baldwin. Or I would probably be an activist. But not like Dr. King, even though I admire him. I'd probably be more of a Malcolm X. I believe the best way to improve yourself is to improve yourself." He really and truly thinks he might be James Baldwin or Malcolm X? Just asking! (The New York Times)

  11. Yankees hater, rejoice

    As a Yankees diehard, I know the evil that lurks in the hearts of many, notably Red Sox fans. They're probably delighted that the Yankees' YES cable network was threatened with a blackout last night on Comcast systems in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania due to a now-typical cable vs. network money impasse, this one between giant Comcast and YES-owner Fox Sports. Bargaining leverage supposedly favored Comcast since the Yankees season is obviously over and the NBA's Nets, who also appear on the channel, stink. The Nets' ratings are so low, apparently even ISIS would have a hard time finding viewers. (Sports Business Daily) While the world wasn't probably watching, a midnight deadline passed without a deal. (Multichannel News) I'd ask Fan Duel and DraftKings officials in New York about the odds of resolution but a pesky New York attorney general is trying to shut them down. (The New York Times)

  12. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare

    Today's front page of the day comes from The Times of London , which led with an image from a moment of silence at Tuesday's soccer friendly between France and England. (Courtesy the Newseum)

  13. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Alfredo Murillo is the founding editor of BuzzFeed Spain. Previously, he was the director and editor of Hail! Pop. (BuzzFeed Spain) | Isaac Lee is now chief news and digital officer for Univision Communications. He is CEO of Fusion. (Email) | Bill Nichols will be vice president at Freedman Consulting. Previously, he was editor at large at POLITICO. (Fishbowl DC) | Josh Albertson will be COO of Gawker Media. He co-founded Curbed. (Re/code) | Jeff O’Connell is now executive vice president of technology at First Look Media. Previously, he was senior vice president of technology at Maker Studios. (First Look Media) | Job of the day: New York is looking for a night freelancer. Get your resumes in! (New York) | 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 chief media writer, The Poynter Institute.


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