Category Archives: The Press

Great Fun Being a Journalist

Mollie Z. Hemingway offers great advice on how to excel in journalism in today’s world.

“Don’t Sweat the Details. Is there a difference between an Evangelical and an evangelist? Who cares?”

“Don’t question authority. … if a politician suggests that the reports of scandal surrounding his administration are overblown, leave him alone already. Would he lie?”

A journalist’s job is to advance his ideological narrative. “CNBC’s John Harwood said recently, ‘Those of us in political-media world should just shut up about “narratives” and focus on what’s true.’ Spoken like a real nobody.”

She’s got a good piece. I recommend it too all non-fiction writers. Of course, all of it could be summarized by quoting Henry Kissinger, who said, “Allow me to be the first to say that what we have done here is not a good thing. It’s definitely not a good thing. But it was, given the circumstances, the smart play.”

Is a Content Creator Required to Interact with Readers?

Matthew Ingram argues that media companies, particularly content creators like Reuters, should allow their readers to comment on articles. If they don’t, they are shutting out potential fan support.

Reuters recently removed its comment section, saying self-policing social networks were already handling lively discussion well so they didn’t need to duplicate the effort. Ingram says by doing this, Reuters is handing a large slice of market value to Facebook and Twitter (among other networks) as well as move any arguments over an article onto other venues where Reuters’ writers will have to decide how to respond on their own. He explains:

Is moderation a pain, and an expensive proposition? Sure it is. Lots of things that matter to your business are expensive. And if you have an engaged community, they can become your moderators, as successful online communities like Slashdot and Metafilter have shown — which in turn helps strengthen your community. Ending comments means removing any chance that this will ever happen.

A news service probably needs all the love it can get. Does Reuters really want their writers to tweet their defense of contentious reports or take the debate to Medium?

Sharyl Attkisson on Liberal Media’s Disinterest in Investigation

Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson could not pursue her line of questioning on many interesting stories because her sources in The White House or her own bosses at CBS were interested in advocating their side, not revealing the truth. Attkisson says this and more in her new book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.

The New York Post gives us many details:

“Many in the media,” Attkisson writes, “are wrestling with their own souls: They know that ObamaCare is in serious trouble, but they’re conflicted about reporting that. Some worry that the news coverage will hurt a cause that they personally believe in. They’re all too eager to dismiss damaging documentary evidence while embracing, sometimes unquestioningly, the Obama administration’s ever-evolving and unproven explanations.”

One of her bosses had a rule that conservative analysts must always be labeled conservatives, but liberal analysts were simply “analysts.” “And if a conservative analyst’s opinion really rubbed the supervisor the wrong way,” says Attkisson, “she might rewrite the script to label him a ‘right-wing’ analyst.”

She says she asked by Katie Couric about a possible interview with Attorney General Eric Holder on the Fast and Furious scandal. Attkisson, who had done many reports on that subject, said it should be a relevant interview, but after that weekend (without a Couric interview on air) the network began cancelling her stories, saying she had reported everything already. Attkisson wonders if Holder ordered CBS to stop talking about it.

She also believes the Obama administration had someone hack her laptop to listen to her and plant classified documents on her hard drive, possibly intending to use them to prosecute her as needed.

Chris Hedges Copied This

Columnist Chris Hedges, who wrote such pieces as “We All Must Become Zapatistas” “Thomas Paine, Our Contemporary,” has been accused of plagiarism by Harper’s and others. The New Republic spells it out:

The plagiarism at Harper’s was not an isolated incident. Hedges has a history of lifting material from other writers that goes back at least to his first book, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, published in 2002. He has echoed language from Nation author Naomi Klein. He has lifted lines from radical social critic Neil Postman. He has even purloined lines from Ernest Hemingway.

Editors at Harper’s were surprised. “A leading moralist of the left, however, had now been caught plagiarizing at one of the oldest magazines of the left,” Christopher Ketcham explains. “These examples suggest not inadvertent plagiarism,” Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute tells him, “but carefully thought out plagiarism meant to skirt the most liberal definition of plagiarism.”

Professor D.G. Myers comments on Twitter, “The case of Chris Hedges teaches a basic truth about literature: every fraud will be unmasked eventually.”

Crowdfund a Movie on Kermit Gosnell

This is where we are in the world today. We self-publish our own books. We can solicit our own funds for movies. We can circumvent the nightly news, if it still exists.

Here’s a trio, who have made award-winning documentaries in the past, wanting to blow the lid off the media silence on the man they call the most prolific serial killer in America.

There are at least two angles on the media silence on this case. The biggest one is that Gosnell is an abortionist operating within the scope allowed by those who have argued they want abortions in our country to be safe and rare. This man’s clinic was nowhere near safe, so the political agenda doesn’t support exposing him at the risk of undermining the most scared battleground for the political left.

The second angle is not as politically defined as the first. It’s what Ann McElhinney describes in the video below. The women who were murdered were poor, unseemly, and minority–the kind that gets killed everyday in some cities, so what’s the news? You might think those who cry loudly about the rights of woman and minorities would cry out about this too, but perhaps their classism gets in the way. Maybe it just doesn’t trump the first angle. Abortionists are priests in the Church of Ne’re Do Ill. The blood on their hands is only red fruit punch.

If you have the funds to contribute to this, I encourage you to consider it.

Journalism tips from (Mollie) Hemingway

Our friend Anthony Sacramone sends a link to a snarky column at Intercollegiate Review: “How to Be a Really Lousy Journalist for Fun and Profit”:

Start with the assumption that your own views are moderate. Within your newsroom, they probably are, even if last night at a colleague’s dinner party you argued for single-payer health care and mandatory re-education camps for homeschoolers. Then, instead of describing the views of people outside your newsroom, just label them “right-wing,” “anti-abortion,” or “extremely conservative.” You might be wondering if, finding rational argument too burdensome, you can just resort to calling the people you disagree with bigots and dismiss them. Turns out you can!

If you need to beef up your word count, throw in a few stereotypes and clichés about backwoods believers. Be careful even here, though, as you don’t want to showcase views that might catch on.

Read the whole thing here.

Do Daily Dispatches Dumb Us Down?

Joe Carter asks whether our daily news is making us dumb. For instance, Dan Rather “spent roughly 75,000 hours reporting, researching, or reading about current events,” so why isn’t he considered to be one of the wisest or most knowledgable men in America?

Courage, friends. TV Guide #2015

Clearly, daily news will not make us wise, but can be very useful. A report I caught by chance (if chance means anything) the other day warned of frost that night, so my wife and I covered up our newly planted herbs, spinach, okra, and tomatoes. Had I not had that news, I would have been very frustrated. I haven’t had much success with our backyard garden over the years, and it’s not supposed to frost after April 15 in the contented pastures neighboring the Chattanooga valley. The news of anticipated frost did not make me wise, and it won’t be relevant to any other day in my entire life, but it was relevant to me on that day.

Of course, how much of what is sold as news is relavent even in this way? Carter closes his piece with this from Muggeridge: “Events that are truly important are rarely those captured on the front page of a daily paper. As Malcolm Muggeridge, himself a journalist, admitted, ‘I’ve often thought that if I’d been a journalist in the Holy Land at the time of our Lord’s ministry, I should have spent my time looking into what was happening in Herod’s court. I’d be wanting to sign Salome for her exclusive memoirs, and finding out what Pilate was up to, and—I would have missed completely the most important event there ever was.’

I haven’t been taking in much news lately, and I can’t see the reason I need to return to it. I’m fairly fed up with my life at the moment. I don’t think the news will help me with that at all.

Evil: Eight Reason Media Ignore #Gosnell

Trevin Wax has eight reasons to explain media editors’ decision to ignore Kermit “the Ripper” Gosnell’s trial over the past several days.

1. The Gosnell case involves an abortionist.

Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the abortionist must be portrayed as a victim of hate and intolerance, not a perpetrator of violence. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps “abortionist” separate from testimony about dead women and children.

2. The Gosnell case involves an unregulated abortion clinic.



Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the clinic must be portrayed as a “refuge” for women in distress, not a “house of horrors” where women are taken advantage of. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps “abortion clinic” away from negative connotations.

3. The Gosnell case involves protestors who, for years, stood outside 3801 Lancaster and prayed, warning people about what was taking place inside.



Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the protestors must be portrayed as agitators and extremists, not peaceful people who urge mothers to treasure the miracle inside them. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps the abortion protestors from looking like heroes.

Keep reading. One reason Trevin doesn’t give is that a 15-year-old girl helped kill babies too.

View the Review

A reader told me today that a bookseller had told her that the TV series Vikings was based on my novel West Oversea.

I hadn’t heard about this, but if I’ve got money coming, I hereby retract all my hard words and declare that Vikings is the greatest depiction of the Viking Age ever depicted. (I think the episode where the de-Pict Scotland is yet to be aired.)

Today my essay on Christian Fantasy, entitled The Christian Fantasy, appears at The Intercollegiate Review‘s web page. Thanks to Anthony Sacramone for the invitation.

I think that gives you enough to read this evening.

‘Homophobia’ Dropped from AP Stylebook

In the upcoming update to The Associated Press’ online stylebook, the suffix “-phobia” “should not be used ‘in political or social contexts,’ including ‘homophobia’ and ‘Islamophobia.’

AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn explains the move:

Homophobia especially — it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don’t have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case.”

“We want to be precise and accurate and neutral in our phrasing,” he said.

If current argumentative trends apply here, this move will be described as homophobic.

Losing the Election

Newspapers B&W (4) Marvin Olasky describes how last night’s presidential election (and many others) began to be lost about 50 years ago. Here’s one strong point:

Twenty years ago, as the advent of talk radio left many conservatives thinking they had a weapon adequate to overcome the influences of liberal newspapers and news magazines. That proved untrue, because those print publications still do the original reporting and storytelling that frames national debates.

That’s what we see in the current reporting on what happened in Benghazi and everything related to Muslims in the news. That’s what we see in the established process for candidate debates (“Mr. Ryan, should women be afraid of your election?”). That’s what we see in the reporting on government spending, budget modifications, fiscal cliff, etc.

I stopped listening to NPR over the summer when they used the news on Pixar’s Brave to deride the idea of princesses and ask a homosexual entertainer, who I think goes by the name Princess, to expand on being a princess means. I turned it on the other day to hear them pass lightly over a colonel’s criticism of the grossly irresponsible handling of our Libyan embassy’s defenses to focus on what he believed was miscommunication from the Marines on the ground.

We live in an infoworld today. Our kings or kingmakers are the information keepers.

D’Scandal of D’Souza

Oh bother. Another scandal among evangelicals (although the principal figure here is actually a Catholic, I believe). It involves Dinesh D’Souza, bestselling author and current president of The King’s College in New York City, which is owned by Campus Crusade for Christ. World Magazine reports:

About 2,000 people gathered on Sept. 28 at First Baptist North in Spartanburg, S.C., to hear high-profile Christians speak on defending the faith and applying a Christian worldview to their lives. Among the speakers: Eric Metaxas, Josh McDowell, and—keynote speaker for the evening—best-selling author, filmmaker, and Christian college president Dinesh D’Souza.

D’Souza’s speech earned him a standing ovation and a long line at the book-signing table immediately afterward. Although D’Souza has been married for 20 years to his wife, Dixie, in South Carolina he was with a young woman, Denise Odie Joseph II, and introduced her to at least three people as his fiancée.

When event organizer Tony Beam confronted D’Souza about sharing a hotel room with Joseph, he learned that D’Souza had filed for divorce (that very day, as it turned out), and that he felt he’d done nothing wrong.

I first read this story at Anthony Sacramone’s Strange Herring blog, where Sacramone asked the reasonable question, “What was he thinking?”

But the question that occurs to me is a different one. It seems to me we see this sort of thing more and more, not only among “Christian celebrities,” but among ordinary Christian leaders in local churches. And I get the impression that, for a lot of younger Christians, it’s just not a big deal anymore. The world’s attitude toward sex seems to be taking over. “Everybody does it. No big deal. As long as we’re in love.” It’s no surprise many Christian youth from good churches have no problem with the issue of gay marriage. They don’t even see the point of waiting until marriage.

I’m old, and I know I’m the more bitter sort of puritan. But still I see this as a sign of spiritual death. In my mind, I’m seeing what Revelation describes as “the lampstand being taken away.”

Can Journalists Be Objective (In the Way They Define It)?

Glenn Greenwald writes:

In fact, one could reasonably make the case that those whose thinking is shaped by unexamined, unacknowledged assumptions are more biased than those who have consciously examined and knowingly embraced their assumptions, because the refusal or inability to recognize one’s own assumptions creates the self-delusion of unbiased objectivity, placing those assumptions beyond the realm of what can be challenged and thus leading one to lay claim to an unearned authority steeped in nonexistent neutrality.

Greenwald discusses objectivity in light of the vice-presidential debate.

It’s True, Despite Lies

What is truth outside of the facts? If someone writes a memoir describing his remarkable experiences, drawing from these profound truths about the world, do people not treat this differently than a novel? If it is learned that his experiences were completely fabricated, do we not see the book in a completely different light? And if an author writes fiction but claims it is fact, is he not appealing to the evidence of reality which he can’t do in a novel? He is, and yet some will still argue that his intentions outweigh his lies.

Mike Daisey has a one-man show called, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Mike D’Virgilio writes, “Daisey conveys his experiences on a visit to China of seeing the allegedly deplorable working conditions in Apple’s production facilities. It turns out much of what he speaks about in his theatrical monologue and on the ‘This American Life’ episode about it, never happened.” That liberals will defend this non-factual account which purports to get at the truth is typical of them, D’Virgilio argues.

Kudos to Ira Glass for rejecting lies presented as truth.