Fox News, Obama talk right past one another

February 11, 2016
Category: Newsletters

Good morning.

  1. What speech?
    President Obama took a sentimental but also substantive journey to Springfield, Illinois nine years to the day he announced there that he was running for president. He started with private meetings in the legislature with old buds, including poker-playing Democrats and Republicans of old.

    He then addressed the legislature and conceded his failure in bridging political divisions. He noted, too, ideologically driven media divisions. “And you’ve got a fractured media. Some folks watch Fox News; some folks read The Huffington Post. And very often, what’s profitable is the most sensational conflict and the most incendiary sound bites.”

    CNN and MSNBC were airing his remarks live. Fox did not. MSNBC later broke away from the speech (which was at least 15 minutes too long) in which he mentioned the perils of calling one another “idiots and fascists.” Fox, instead, opted for reports from New Hampshire and even an interview with Monica Crowley, an acolyte of former President Richard Nixon who likened Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to Nixon but in utterly positive ways. That might have been a first.

    Fox thus missed a notable, even poignant return to the building where Abe Lincoln labored and where Obama began his legislative career. The Fox station in Chicago did not, with reporter Mike Flannery running a solid piece last night that tied it into political dysfunction in Illinois. (Fox 32) Meanwhile, an archives check finds this: “Despite the fame he has achieved through his books and speeches in his brief Senate career, Obama is still not well known nationally,” wrote The Chicago Tribune on that cold day nine years ago when he was a very long-shot versus Hillary Clinton. (Chicago Tribune) Fox and The Huffington Post might at least concur that he surmounted that challenge.

  2. Death in Mexico
    Grisly. “Mexican authorities confirmed that a body found in the state of Puebla is that of journalist Anabel Flores Salazar, who was kidnapped from her house in Veracruz this past Monday.” She was a crime reporter for various publications in a very dangerous area. According to one Mexican news site, “the body was found hanging from a tree, with a plastic bag over its head.” She was only partially clothed. (Journalism in the Americas)
  3. Jacob Weisberg, Melittologist
    Journalists spend way too much time with self-absorbed tweets. But sometimes, they are forgiven, especially when melding political science with melittology (go look it up yourself), as did Slate boss Jacob Weisberg. “Chris Christie is like a bee. He stung Marco Rubio, then he died.” (@jacobwe) Alright, time is money, so here: Melittology is the study of bees.
  4. The campaign for a Bloomberg campaign
    The pollster and top political aide to Michael Bloomberg are testing the notion of his running for president in the aftermath of a New Hampshire primary that leaves a seeming mess within Republican ranks. (MSNBC) The political aide tweeted a New York Post story headlined, “Sanders, Trump wins could open door for Bloomberg.” (New York Post) The Wall Street Journal ran a story headlined, “Bloomberg May See Opening in New Hampshire Primary Results.” (The Wall Street Journal)

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s own politics website was, like the rest of the organization, mostly disinclined to take much note of anything involving the founder. Of 44 separate stories and videos on the site at one point last evening, there was one piece that focused on the prospects of a theoretical “third-party run” in light of New Hampshire. The thrust was that they haven’t done well historically and, anyway, it’s too early to say right now. But you needed a SWAT team to find the opus by Tim Jones, a very good reporter. (Bloomberg)

    It mentioned that the boss had told the Financial Times last week he was thinking of this. But as far any prominently displayed tale, with what surely is a fascinating inside saga around and about Bloomberg himself (how much money would he be willing to spend? What does his research really tell him?), there was zilch.

  5. McClatchy stock down
    McClatchy, which has 29 papers, including The Sacramento Bee in California, reported a higher profit margin in the final quarter of 2015 but sharp declines in ad revenues. Its stock went down. It said print ads now comprise just one-third of total revenues. It’s the same old problem with newspapers’ inability to fill that gap with digital ads or paid subscriptions. (Poynter) Meanwhile, Tribune Publishing, whose empire includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, saw its stock drop yet again, this time more than 8 percent. (The Wall Street Journal) Its share price is down to $5.68 from $21.94 a year ago. It’s facing Wall Street chagrin over suspending its dividend in the wake of a $44 million deal that saw Chicago software entrepreneur Michael Ferro become its biggest shareholder. This is the sort of stock drop that, if it continues, can look enticing to potential buyers looking to purchase a company on the cheap.
  6. Shameless self-promotion warning
    There’s a new feature on the website. Right below the primary article on our homepage, you’ll notice a digest of headlines and summaries that shed light on the changing profession of journalism. They’re stories about important industry trends, major media deals, the ongoing digital transformation remaking our industry and the good ideas that can make that transition sustainable. Herein ends shameless self-promotion of a potentially informative sort. Perhaps they’ll be grist for some tavern wagers.
  7. Ebola and Zika reporting
    The media did at times blow it with the Ebola outbreak. What are the lessons in covering the Zika virus? Follow the data more closely, ask tougher questions of government agencies and realize the complexities and nuances of an epidemic versus a disease. That’s according to Dr. Seema Yasmin, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News who’s an epidemiologist with a background at the Centers for Disease Control. (Poynter)
  8. Educating New York’s Department of Education
    The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and New York’s Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz are battling for Jessica Huseman, an investigative reporter for The Teacher Project at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The New York City Department of Education has apparently “stonewalled” her requests for records of complaints received on a special education center hotline, as well as other materials. But now Huseman is filing requests to get information about her stalled requests. (Reporters Committee) It may well lead to requests about her requests concerning her requests. This results from the sort of gambit governments increasingly deploy, knowing that fighting them is an expensive undertaking when tight news and journalism school budgets don’t have much to spend on lawyers.
  9. Twitter’s new timeline
    Its timeline has gone algorithmic. “The ‘best tweets’ will appear first in every user’s timeline. The end is nigh. Or so some on the real-time social network would have you believe.” (First Draft News) Journalists tend to like the longstanding reverse-chronological order. And they tend to love chattering with one another about anything, offering views on their every waking moment. “But the in-jokes and ongoing conversations are what Twitter bosses believe stops new users from coming back.” Ok. Be informed I’m now going to take my 12-year-old to the school bus. Got that? I’m going to sip coffee from a blue mug in 10-degree cold. I’ll be wearing an ugly green Patagonia winter coat and a Ravenswood Elementary School scarf. Fascinating, eh?

  10. What’s up at ESPN?
    Here’s one for an often compliant sports press: What’s up with a decline of juggernaut ESPN? Disney shares went down as “Wall Street analysts clearly focused again on Disney’s cable sports behemoth ESPN, beset with declining subscriber numbers and higher college football costs that helped drag down the company’s cable unit’s earnings by 6 percent.” (TheStreet)

    Disney CEO Bob Iger “seems to have a new mission in life these days. Faster than Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton changes direction, Iger is promoting Disney’s image as a company that bent on diversifying away from ESPN, for years its most powerful asset.” Sports editors, assign somebody to check this all out. Don’t leave it to the guys in the financial section to merely mention it briefly in low-traffic quarterly earnings stories. But, please, try to hold off on the pedestrian analogies to NFL quarterbacks changing direction.

  11. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin
    Michael McCarthy is joining sporting news as a reporter. He has written for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal and (Email) | David Ramli will join Bloomberg’s technology team. Previously, he was a journalist at The Australian Financial Review. (@Davidramli) | Job of the day: Scientific American is looking for a news editor. Get your resumes in! (MediaBistro)

    Send Ben your job moves:

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