March 27, 2019

What happens after Mueller time?

There are still plenty of miles left in this story as both the right and left will continue to lob allegations and threats at one another until the full Mueller report is released — if that ever happens. But after dominating the news for the past two years, this story will lack the fever pitch of the last few weeks.

Then what?

As Newsweek’s Tim Marcin writes, “Perhaps more of the same.”

Marcin was talking specifically about MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who has racked up big ratings by talking about the possible ties between President Donald Trump and Russia. In fact, MSNBC has talked more about Mueller than any cable news network.

FiveThirtyEight’s research showed that in 2018, MSNBC spent about 4.2 percent of its time covering Mueller. That does not count commercials and non-news programming. Fox News spent only 1.7 percent of the time on Mueller and CNN was in the middle at 3.1 percent. (Those numbers, by the way, seem to support the reputations that MSNBC leans left, Fox News leans right and CNN is in the middle.)

Meantime, the three major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) spent more nightly news time on the Mueller investigation than another other story in 2018 except the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination.

Since Sunday, when attorney general William Barr released his summary of the Mueller report, the cable news networks have remained hot and heavy on Mueller-related stories with MSNBC and CNN talking about the report and Fox News talking about the report while criticizing some of the media’s coverage of the story. Don’t be surprised if that kind of coverage continues for the time being.

Media observer Andrew Tyndall told Time, “Even after Mueller has ended his investigation, the appetite for aggressive scrutiny of Trump among the niche audience that tunes into Maddow on a nightly basis will not be satisfied. I doubt that it will even diminish.”

thank u, next

Ariana Grande attends the 13th annual Billboard Women in Music event at Pier 36, in New York in 2018. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Freedom of the press has found an unlikely opponent: pop singer Ariana Grande. The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and 15 other media groups, including The Associated Press, Gannett, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, have sent a letter to Grande’s tour company objecting to an agreement that photographers are forced to sign to take photos of Grande in concert.

The main objections are that Grande wants to own the copyright to all photos and that any photograph of Grande in concert must be approved by Grande or her representatives before it can run online or in print. Even then, it can only be used once as a part of the news story about her performance.

There also are other restrictions that are fairly typical in the concert business, such as only being able to shoot during the first three songs of a show.

Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the NPPA, told me on Tuesday, “Asking to own the copyright is overreaching. And to tell papers which photos they can and cannot run is against everything a free and independent press stands for.”

Other performers — including Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Foo Fighters — have tried to place restrictions on photographers, according to Osterreicher. So have politicians. Often new outlets are given “handouts,’’ which are photos taken by those representing the performer or politician. In such cases, Osterreicher has warned outlets from using them.

“You’re hurting your own cause when you do that,” Osterreicher said. “(Those photos are) like state-run propaganda.”

Osterreicher said he already has heard back from Grande’s representatives, who said they would review his letter and get back to him “shortly.”

Watching TV

Here’s Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds with this next item:

TV remains the preferred source for local news, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. And by a wide margin, weather is the topic local news consumers most want to know about in their daily lives. Assigning editors may be missing a bet by not doing more on “changing prices,” another topic of high interest.  And a nasty duo of findings among 35,000 people surveyed: 70 percent believe local news outlets are doing fine financially, and very few (17 percent) say they ever pay for local news or see a need to.

Check it out

How do you report on an important but complicated topic? The Atlantic’s Yasmeen Serhan writes about making Brexit understandable.

Adnan Virk was fired by ESPN for what seemed to be a minor leak. Now he’s starting over. The Washington Post’s Ben Strauss tells Virk’s story.

In the spirit of March Madness, the New York Post has put out a bracket called “Mueller Madness,” which calls out media members that the Post claims were “most wrong” about President Trump and alleged ties to Russia.

Poynter’s Al Tompkins writes about what news organizations need to consider before reporting on suicides.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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