Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘media’

Should we just shut up?

In journalism on January 27, 2017 at 10:59 am
Steve Bannon, via Wikipedia

Steve Bannon, via Wikipedia

You probably heard that one of the president’s top advisers said this week that the media should “keep its mouth shut.” Strategist Steve Bannon labeled the media “the opposition party” and said it doesn’t have a clue and should just listen and stop talking. Ouch.

Of course, like the president himself, Bannon, the unapologetic leader of Breitbart News, says a lot of things. Perhaps we ought take his salty language with another grain of salt and not spend an inordinate amount of time whining about what he said.

Bannon’s calculation is that the people who elected his boss largely feel the same way. The define “the media” as an amorphous blob of eggheads in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. I think that he is right about one thing: Many people don’t go for navel gazing like I’m doing here. They don’t care if our feelings are hurt and don’t have time for existential crisis on the value of a free press in a just society.

I don’t think he or his believers are thinking of the New Iberia Daily Iberian when they talk of the media. After all, he invited our own Matt Lindberg onto his plane not so long ago. … Read the rest of this entry »

What is the other 15 percent thinking?

In Accuracy on July 7, 2016 at 2:19 pm

building trust

The statistic you see above comes from research by the Media Insight Project, which was initiated by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research earlier this year. Editor and Publisher printed it this month along with other such tidbits.

So, I have a question: What do the other 15 percent of adults say builds trust, if not accuracy?

Accuracy is a solid-sounding word that is a bit more nebulous in practice. Is your newspaper accurate? All the time? OK, is that because you fail to tackle more difficult subjects that would court inaccuracy? Is the New York Times more accurate than your newspaper? Is it maybe 2 percent more accurate?

See? Accuracy is difficult to quantify and yet it is the very core of credibility. It is that thing without which you have nothing.

I fear that we put too little emphasis on accuracy today. I mean industry-wide. All those copy editors and middle-management types newspapers let go over the last decade or so? They were there, in large part, to assure the newspaper was accurate and credible, and that it didn’t shy away from Big Things. The bet was that we could shed that layer and no one would be the wiser.

When content becomes a commodity it’s easy to forget why we pull on our adult clothes every morning. If we are more concerned with shoveling the stuff into the blast furnace that is the world wide web than revealing an accurate portrayal of the world around us, our jobs become meaningless. And that is a road unworthy of our brief journey here on planet earth. … Read the rest of this entry »

When we cooperate

In journalism on June 30, 2016 at 2:31 pm

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To the city and people of San Francisco:

Like you, we are frustrated, confused and dismayed by the seemingly intractable problem of homelessness in our city. Like you, we want answers — and change.

So begins one of the most ambitious journalistic projects I’ve ever seen. It’s called the SF Homeless Project and it is being perpetrated by a coalition of 70 of print, blog, broadcast and other media partners in and around San Francisco, a city truly plagued by homelessness. The effort is a sincere attempt to tell the stories of real people, to record government response, to propose solutions for the 6,600 men, women and children who live on the streets of San Francisco every day. The project is a model of cooperation that may well prove important to all of us moving forward.

The San Francisco Chronicle calls homelessness “the defining characteristic” of a city that is as wealthy and as technologically adroit as any in the world. The newspaper has lent its credibility to the project by actually linking to dozens of other news sites that are each in one way or another a competitor. It is humbling to see that some issues are more important than business considerations. If you are looking for a reason why we are different from, say, Nike or Taco Bell, look no further.

I confess I don’t know the genesis of the project. It’s unclear who gets “credit” and perhaps that is by design. The stories themselves are the thing. Among the things I’ve learned since the series began is that one in five of the city’s homeless are under the age of 25. Four in 10 of the city’s homeless are members of the LGBTQ community. Two in 10 say they had traded sex for a place to stay. … Read the rest of this entry »

What we are missing

In Media on March 25, 2016 at 8:49 am

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This is not a post about Donald Trump. This is a discussion about us, and the things we’ve been getting wrong.

David Brooks is making me write this. Well, not exactly. But my ruminations were spawned by his column last week, headlined, “No, not Trump, not ever.” As you might surmise from a headline like that, Brooks – an unabashed conservative who often explains the virtue in Republican positions – is not enamored with Trump.

Which is neither here nor there, and not why I’m writing this. It’s not the headline that stopped me, but rather something buried in the column:

… many in the media, especially me, did not understand how (Trump voters) would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.

There it is. The rare admission that beltway journalists from from polite society are not well connected with the folks about whom they are endlessly squawking. The esteemed prognosticator Nate Silver made a similar acknowledgment recently when he called the Bernie Sanders’ Michigan victory an epic defeat for pollsters. … Read the rest of this entry »

Is Twitter going long?

In Social media on October 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm

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The tech news site Re/code is reporting sort of breathlessly that Twitter is losing its 140-character limit in a move that will allow long-form content and change our relationship with the social media giant. (If you don’t already, you should know about Re/code. Great contributors and there is probably not a better way to keep up with Silicon Valley.)

I actually thought this was coming all along. It’s been talked about for years. Now the new interim CEO is charged with drumming up millions more users and some think that the pool of potential players is lessened by the limit. There is no official word on the change nor any indication of when it might occur.

Me, I like the limit. It causes me to think about how best to deliver the message. As it is, it’s differentiated from Facebook. If I can post at whatever length I like and attach photos and the like, I don’t understand the unique value proposition any longer.

Perhaps I’ll get it when I see it.

If you aren’t in the Twitterati, I strongly suggest you give the platform another look. It really is a great way to follow people on your beat, track real-time breaking news and just keep up with trends and things that interest you. I like it a lot more than Facebook, personally. (Follow me @wicknews!) … Read the rest of this entry »

The evolution of our industry

In journalism on August 27, 2015 at 4:49 pm
Palmer Ad Agency

Palmer Ad Agency

This column, headlined “Witnessing the evolution of the newspaper industry,” first appeared on the Newspaper Association of America’s website on Aug. 26. Caroline Little is president and CEO of the NAA. It is reprinted with permission.

Four years ago, most of us wouldn’t have predicted award-winning TV series would debut via online streaming on websites such as Netflix and Hulu and would never be aired on cable or network television. Just four years ago, it seemed unlikely that people would prefer online music streaming and radio apps over CDs and iPods, let alone be willing to pay for it. And four years ago, most of us wouldn’t have imagined we would get our news updates on our watches.

During my four years as the CEO of the Newspaper Association of America, I have watched nearly every media industry shift dramatically in response to the ever-changing technology and consumption habits of our audiences.

The same holds true for newspapers. This industry has been around far longer than radio, television or telecommunications, and some critics have questioned how we will continue to remain relevant in today’s digital world.

But today’s numbers speak for themselves: In the United States, the newspaper digital audience is skyrocketing, reaching 176 million unique visitors across all platforms in March (comScore, 2015). Circulation revenue is also rising, both in the United States and around the world. According to the 2015 World Press Trends Survey, global newspaper circulation revenue exceeded advertising revenue for the first time ever. … Read the rest of this entry »

Covering #blacktwitter

In Social media on July 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm

black twitter

Yet another example of Twitter’s relevance to the journalistic enterprise surfaced recently when the Los Angeles Times confirmed that it was hiring a reporter to cover “Black Twitter.”

Before we go any further, let me try my hand at a bit of impossible definition. Black Twitter is a shifting group of African-Americans on Twitter who together tend to comment on matters of race, discrimination, dissent – and everything else. There is a growing understanding that a fleet of thoughtful, smart black people are finding community on the social media platform and together they are trendsetters. The #blacklivesmatter hashtag is only one example of how folks have coalesced around a theme and created a newsworthy conversation.

A leaked memo from the Times suggests that new reporter Dexter Thomas also will be seeking other online communities, such as “Latino Tumblr” and “Black Medium.”

I wouldn’t focus terribly much on the two-word mash-ups. (“Grandma Facebook,” anyone?) The point is that big news organizations are increasingly understanding that social media is a place to find news in addition to a distribution mechanism.

One of the ways community newspapers differ from social media is in the way we generally define community. For us, it’s most often a geographical construct. If you live in Douglas, Ariz., you are part of that community. But if you are a Latino with a smartphone in Douglas, your community may be other Latinos from around the world. These aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. Look for points of intersection. … Read the rest of this entry »

Is 800 words too much?

In Media on May 7, 2015 at 3:34 pm


I’m always wary of anyone who pretends to know the future of journalism, so I approached this interview with Quartz Editor-in-Chief Kevin Delaney as if it were a rattler under a rock.

But the man makes some good points.

Haven’t seen Quartz? You know it’s cool because the URL is qz.com. See? That’s cool already. If you go there, you will see a news site that is decidedly different from most. It doesn’t place much truck in photos or images. It’s essentially a list of stories that editors think will be interesting to smart people. It also blends in native advertising in a way that I find purposely confusing to consumers. But I digress.

Delaney suggests that the era of the 800-word newspaper story is over. He may be right-ish about that. To the extent that he is, it should be said that he didn’t discover this fact. Al Neuharth and Gannett did about 30 years ago when the company started publishing USA Today. We had the “eight-inch rule” when I worked at a Gannett paper 25 years ago. Our stories were capped at about 400 words. If readers’ attention spans were challenged in the Reagan years, they are only more so now that we are all trying to consume news on smartphone screens the size of playing cards while riding the train. Incidentally, many of the Quartz stories I see today are themselves pushing 800 words and Delaney’s podcast interview on DigiDay was more than 36 minutes. … But I digress again.

He suggests that many journalism processes are antiquated. No question that is true. He takes particular aim at the beat system, which traditionally focuses around processes and places, like “cops” or “courts.” He suggests reporters focus on a rotating list of “obsessions,” probably driven by what the analytics say folks want. I completely agree that how we view our bests is very important. For example, I prefer to think of “cops” as “public safety.” That would include a lot more than what you see in the police log. … Read the rest of this entry »

Are we mainstream?

In journalism on May 7, 2015 at 3:21 pm

mainstream pic

What exactly is the “mainstream media?”

This week I attended a panel discussion at Stanford University with the clunky title, “Dare to struggle, dare to win: Grassroots activists on the decades long fight to end police brutality and mass incarceration.” It was a fascinating discussion of what many in the audience believe is a prison-industrial complex designed to punish people of color.

Many of the presenters were inspiring and it was led by dream hampton, who is an icon of the hip-hop world as well as a filmmaker and activist. These weren’t merely complainers; they were powerful activists who are doing good work in the community.

More than once, someone on the panel made a knowing reference to the complicity of “the mainstream media.” You could see the heads nod in agreement in the crowd. Perhaps it is only normal and somewhat fitting that the Fourth Estate take its lumps along with other institutions in the country when it comes to upsetting those who would upset the apple cart. Many media companies do have a vested interest in protecting the status quo.

I asked someone in the audience what she thought of when she thought of the mainstream media, and she said, “You know, Fox News.” I told her I worked for a small weekly newspaper that I considered mainstream. She assured me I wasn’t part of the problem and I thanked her for that. Then I told her that, for my money,big regional newspapers in places like St. Louis and Baltimore were doing important work covering all aspects of the current civil rights movement. Does she consider those newspapers part of the problem?

“Well, I haven’t seen that kind of reporting,” she said. … Read the rest of this entry »

Hiding the cost of government

In Media law on April 24, 2015 at 8:30 am

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Have you ever asked for the legal bills incurred by a local municipality? Did you get them?

This month, a California appellate court made a serious error in vacating a Superior Court ruling that compelled Los Angeles County to release legal bills related to claims of excessive force at county jails. As a result, local government agencies in the state are sure to deny access to legal bills by claiming those bills are privileged communication between client and attorney.

I followed the rather torturous legal rationale outlined in County of Los Angeles v. Superior Court No. B257230 but, with due respect, that is our money and claims of violent abuse at the hands of jail guards are more important than esoteric arguments over the nuance of attorney-client privilege.

It all started in 2013, when the ACLU requested legal bills related to the county’s defense of nine cases brought by jail inmates alleging excessive force in the county jail system. The ACLU contended that lawyers working on behalf of the county were engaged in “scorched earth” tactics designed to drag out cases that should be settled. Because it was the public’s money and because the allegations go to the heart of our trust in government agents, the ACLU argued the public had a compelling right to see those bills. … Read the rest of this entry »