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3 mistakes mainstream media made with regard to Rolling Stone’s Stanley McChrystal story | Daily Links

July 1, 2010

More criticism of Lara Logan’s criticism of Rolling Stone’s Stanley McChrystal story, this time from The New Yorker (via @gabbycat). The Lara Logans of the world are definitely idiots, but their idiocy is compounded due to the mainstream media’s original misstep: making MSM-versus-Rolling Stone a conversation in the first place. Would an average consumer of news have thought Rolling Stone’s scoop was anything remarkable? I argue no, because Rolling Stone is not the counterculture icon that it once was or that the out-of-touch think it is (at 43, it can barely get its shoes on in time to beat other news outlets at reporting its own story).

So let’s recap: The mainstream media (1) (apparently) has been snuffing out news for years based on an unspoken understanding to protect sources in exchange for access; (2) got their asses handed to them by Michael Hastings; and finally (3) went on to use (1) as an excuse for (2). All the while what’s saddest is that MSM’s buffoonery—arguably a huge story in and of itself—seems to have only received mainstream attention from the afore-linked-to Jon Stewart.

Speaking of buffoonery, several newspapers are (somewhat) under fire for allegedly dropping references to waterboarding as torture after the Bush Administration made their infamous argument that it wasn’t (via @jayrosen_nyu). Yahoo! talked to The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan with regard to The New York Times, one of the papers in question:

“So their journalism is dictated by whatever any government says,” Sullivan said over email. “In any dispute, their view is not: What is true? But: How can we preserve our access to the political right and not lose pro-torture readers? If you want a locus classicus for why the legacy media has collapsed, look no further.”

Sullivan criticized the Times for “ceding the meaning of words to others, rather than actually deciding for itself how to call torture torture.” Referencing George Orwell’s famous term for press manipulation under totalitarianism, Sullivan added that in changing a word “as not to offend,” the Times “knowingly printed newspeak in their paper — not because they believed in it, but because someone else might.”


In describing what he calls “brand fragmentation” (Note: Awkward and possibly NSFW Lady Gaga photo at the link)—the fact that people get their news story-by-story these days and not from landing pages or cohesive websites—Jason Fry spends two paragraphs making the most compelling argument for paywalls I’ve ever heard (via @jayrosen_nyu). A snippet:

If destination sites crumble, how do the bills get paid? I believe that people will pay for content [disclosure: I’m a consultant for Journalism Online], but paywalls and meters limited to a single site may be short-term solutions, because they’re ideas that spring from the old model of large brands and destination sites. Ultimately, what we may need is not paywalls but paytags — bits of code that accompany individual articles or features, and that allow them to be paid for.

(His emphasis in bold.)

Leave here. Go read it.

Lastly, the L.A. Times is either selling its soul to Universal Studios and King Kong, or having some fun and making some money (via @TheNewsChick).

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