Behind the scenes at the new NYTimes TV show ‘The Weekly,’ plus Laura Ingraham’s conflict of interest and a year without a Pentagon briefing

Your Friday news roundup

May 31, 2019
Category: Newsletters

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May 31, 2019

Good morning! Here are some of the media stories that are catching our attention today.

Growing from ‘Daily’ to ‘Weekly’

On Sunday, The New York Times will debut a TV show designed to lift the curtain on the Times’ journalism.

The New York Times’ Jason Stallman thinks he has the best job in journalism.

“We sit in a room on the fourth floor of the newsroom and reporters and editors from around the building talk to us about what they’re working on, what they’re excited about … and we try to think of ways to execute those stories on film,” Stallman said. “It’s a fairly exquisite existence just hearing Times reporters and editors talk about the stories they’re most passionate about.’’

Stallman’s job is a little more complicated than that, and the Times reporters do more than just talk. The result is a new project more than a year in the making.

The New York Times’ much-anticipated venture into television is finally here. “The Weekly” makes its debut Sunday night at 10 p.m. Eastern time on FX. It will be available on Hulu starting Monday.

Each week, the half-hour show will feature one deeply reported story that, typically, will have taken several months to produce, although the show will react to major breaking news if possible. As editor of the show, Stallman is a key figure in what stories “The Weekly” will air.

“We like to think it’s quite different than anything that’s out there,” Stallman said.

The difference between the Times and most TV news shows, according to Stallman, is the reach of the Times, with more than 1,600 journalists spread throughout 160 countries.

“There is no other news engine like that in the world, so we’re plugging into that to find our stories and to leverage the reporters who are most expert on those stories,” Stallman said. “I do think these pieces are going to give you a real sense of place and being out in the world and being alongside the reporters.”

Stallman said this is a reminder that the Times isn’t your typical newspaper anymore.

“The idea that The New York Times is a written-word, print publication is fairly outdated at this point,” Stallman said. “Pretty much everybody in the newsroom — reporters, editors — for several years now have embraced digital technologies with different types of storytelling with very profound visual characteristics. The idea of doing visual journalism isn’t all together new to The Times.”

The new TV show also owes a debt to “The Daily,” the weekday podcast that debuted in February 2017 and features Times’ reporters talking about story of the day.

“It really signaled to every reporter on the staff,” Stallman said, “that there are lots of different ways to get your story out there.”

Thank you for your support?

Laura Ingraham’s podcast is financially supported by a Trump/RNC fundraising committee — problematic for a pundit on a news network.


Laura Ingraham speaks during the Republican National Convention in 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This will come as no surprise, yet it still feels problematic. Among the sponsors of Laura Ingraham’s podcast is The Trump Make America Great Again Committee. (Listen for yourself.)

Let’s not be naive. Ingraham is not a true journalist. She’s a pundit on a network (Fox News) that labels itself as a 24-hour cable news channel. And Ingraham has never tried to hide her political leanings, nor her sponsorships.

Yet she must know that any political opinion she has will be heard with the knowledge that she is taking money from a group that supports the president. It’s one thing to have a strong opinions, which she certainly is entitled to express. It’s another to accept money from a political group and then express political opinions, often about that group. If she wants to be considered a news observer with at least some objectivity, this not only damages her credibility, but that of her network.

In the past, Fox News has had issues with its personalities publicly supporting President Donald Trump, such as when Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro went on stage with Trump at a rally last year.

Fox News spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, “Laura Ingraham’s podcast is run independently of Fox News and we have nothing to do with its sponsorships.”

But Ingraham is popular because of her affiliation with Fox News. Maybe the network can’t place rules on her podcast, but it can’t be happy with these developments. Considering how much it has done for her career, you would think Ingraham would have more respect for Fox News — and for her own credibility.

365 days and counting …

It’s been a year since the Pentagon held a press briefing, hindering  journalists’ ability to ask tough questions about military actions.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, left, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speak to members of the media. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The streak of not having an official briefing from the White House press room is well documented. We’re now at 81 days, although press secretary Sarah Sanders often speaks to reporters in other settings. For instance, on Wednesday after Robert Mueller’s news conference, Sanders met with reporters outside the White House.

Getting less attention, however, is the lack of briefings from the Pentagon. The last time a Pentagon spokesperson held an official press briefing was May of 2018. In fact, today marks the one-year anniversary of the last press briefing from the Pentagon, even though things continue to be shaky for the United States in the Middle East, among other spots.

One unnamed Pentagon reporter told Politico’s Michael Calderone, “This is not just about having things on camera. But the reason we push on-camera is we want people to publicly stand by their decisions to send other people’s children into harm’s way.”

 

Naught for teacher

The NYU class that was supposed to be taught by a fact-checker — embroiled in an earlier controversy — was cancelled for lack of enrollment.

Former New Yorker fact-checker Talia Lavin was scheduled to teach an elective class at New York University called “Reporting on the Far Right.” But according to TheWrap’s Jon Levine, NYU has canceled the class because only two students signed up.

Adam Penenberg, director of undergraduate studies at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, told Levine, “Canceling the class had nothing to do with Talia’s writings, tweets, or anything else. We cancelled it because too few students enrolled.”

Lavin resigned from her New Yorker job last year after she tweeted than an ICE agent had an Iron Cross tattoo, often associated with Nazis. She deleted the tweet and apologized after she learned the tattoo was a Maltese Cross, which is associated with members of the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars. That led to another high-profile media controversy when conservative columnist John Podhoretz tweeted journalism schools should be “neutron bombed” for hiring the likes of Lavin. He deleted the tweet and apologized.

Lavin recently told The Daily Beast that she had received death threats after Fox News host Laura Ingraham called her and fellow NYU instructor Lauren Duca “little journo-terrorists.”

Stopping before it starts

It’s incumbent on journalism institutions to help stop the spread of misinformation — here’s one organization’s recommendations.

AP Images.

Media Matters for America has recommendations on how newsrooms can avoid spreading misinformation in headlines and tweets. This can be especially difficult when some elected leaders say something that is blatantly false. Media Matters’ Beth Cope and Parker Molly suggest writing headlines and tweets as though they’re the only thing readers will see. When doing so, here’s what should be considered:

  • Is this statement true?

  • Is there news value in tweeting it?

  • Who benefits from putting this statement in a headline? Readers or those pushing misinformation?

  • What are my options if a statement is not immediately verifiable?

  • What are my options if a statement is false?

The piece also includes insight from several media experts, including Poynter Senior Vice President Kelly McBride.

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and intriguing media.


A discarded plastic bottle lies on the beach at Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  A report released by the environmental group Clean Ocean Action found that volunteers picked up more than 450,000 pieces of litter from New Jersey’s coastline last year. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

  • If you don’t want to be depressed about the health of the planet, you might want to skip this. But if you care about plastic recycling, here’s an eye-opener from Vice News’ Alex Lubben.
  • Ba-ba-ba-ba Barbara Ann, Buh-Buh-Bennie and, of course, Baby. Just how many songs have names in the title? Amber Thomas’ “Sing My Name” looks for the answer.
  • Her high school graduation was in Texas. Her father was deported to Mexico when she was 4. She wanted him to see her in her cap and gown. CNN picks it up from there.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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