Morning Ed: Media {2017.04.16.Su}

Well now, hehe.

Donald Trump may be the best thing that could have happened to CNN.

“The problem for TV producers aiming for demographic diversity on their discussion panels is that conservative commentators tend to be middle-aged men. If you are a right-wing pundit who happens to be young and female, you’re as popular as Scarlett encircled by vying suitors at the Twelve Oaks barbecue.”

Science sucks. Actually, it’s science news that sucks, which isn’t really news. But it’s making science worse.

This seems like a good idea. Only one major newspaper opposed war in Syria, and the Houston Chronicle opposed it mostly on procedural grounds.

The media landscape of conspiracies. {Related}

This is a pretty awesome story.

Poynter considers whether Dr Dao’s “troubled past” should have been considered newsworthy.

In any other administration, this would be pretty big news.

Hot damn! In her moment of personal turmoil and heartbreak, as she mourns the loss of something she thought would last forever, we’ve got a picture! Run with it! Run with it!


Managing Editor
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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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47 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Media {2017.04.16.Su}

  1. I’m confused: Is the doctor Dao who was pulled from the plane the same doctor Dao who was charged with trading drugs for sex, or are they just two doctors with similar names? I’ve heard the latter from multiple sources.

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      • I’m one of the people who was led astray by some of the reporting that said “they got the wrong Dr. Dao!”.

        Hearing that they got the wrong Dr. Dao was just too good to check.

        Anyway, my favorite response to the whole “Dr. Dao Was No Angel” reporting was a response to Lisa Fletcher’s tweet (since deleted) that showed a desk covered with all sorts of papers and she said “here’s my desk with all of the research we’ve done on Dr. Dao… look for my story soon!” and someone sent this in response:

        @lisa_fletch @ABC7News wow cool check out my desk pic.twitter.com/FBXA3gz3Hk— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) April 11, 2017

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          • Oh, jeez. And she’s getting slammed in all of her subsequent tweets.

            She posts a story about a San Bernardino school recovering from a school shooting, and people are asking her if she’s going to dig into the past of the victims.

            She posts a story about a UNC Asheville construction delaying for the sake of some owls, and people are asking if the owls have killed rodents.

            She posts a story about the Colorado River, people are asking if the river might have done something wrong.

            I’m trying to generate the appropriate amount of sympathy.

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            • Science news isn’t uniquely terrible. X news is terrible to anyone who is an expert on X. The problem is that when reporting an Y, experts in X forget the terribleness of the reporting in X and assume that it’s better in everything else because they cannot judge. This is because X journalism is done by journalists, not X SMEs.

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              • This, 100 times over. And journalists often compound the problem by refusing to run their articles past the experts they quote/interview. They like to think they have the facts and they’ll write a good, unbiased piece, and running it by the experts pre-publication somehow taints the article with the expert’s spin.

                I suppose that’s worth worrying about, but it seems to me that simply getting what the expert told them horribly wrong is a much more probable failure mode for whatever article they’re writing.

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  2. The only way those conviction stories would be relevant is if United ran a background check on passengers to find someone with a checked pass. And that would be worse for United.

    Right-wing media women: Right-wing media does seem to love some attractive young women saying things that cranky middle aged men say. Fox News does the same thing. I wonder how much of this is because their audience is also cranky middle aged men with retrograde views on sex and gender. Will Murdoch’s properties in Australia suffer sexual harassment scandals as well.

    Trump and CNN: His orangeness does seem good for ratings which says bad things about human nature.

    Also, conservativism is not and never will be the new counter-culture but I guess conservatives need to delude themselves that they are cool.

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    • I guess it depends on how you define conservatism and counter-culture but wouldn’t the black marke merchants in the former Communist countries be a kind of conservative counter-culture? All of the Communist countries defined themselves as being on the Far Left and tried to ban anything resembling market economics. They all had black markets because the command economy could not get people what they needed or wanted. If you accept the Marxist definition that market economics are inherently conservative and rightist than the black market operators in Communist countries were a conservative counter-culture.

      A more serious example would be the Evangelical Christian culture during the mid-20th century in the United States. You can define a counter-culture as anything that goes against the general culture. America might have been much more religious than other developed countries mass media like movies, radio, pop music, and more were part of every day life. The Evangelical Christian subculture rejected all forms of secular entertainment that Mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics had no problems with generally. They lived in their own world and went against the general culture for as long as possible. Other anti-modern religious groups like the Amish or Ultra-Orthodox Jews can be defined as a conservative counter-culture.

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    • It’s not just political channels. Look at NFL network sometime.

      The on-set female hosts – including their analytics guru (!) – tick all the Fox News boxes, “always wear clingy knee-length dresses” definitely not excluded. Exception not even made for primetime flagship show host Lindsay Rhodes through most of her recent pregnancy (!).

      While, the men… Weaselly younger guys like Rapoport and Fabiano, and at the other extreme curmudgeons like Clayton and Conerly. The ex-jocks are generally good-looking, as should be expected, but on the other hand there’s smarmy Prime Time Sanders, goofy Heath Evans, and Kurt Warner (who looks almost exactly like me, right down to uncontrollable eyebrows, awkward nose, and an almost subliminal facial asymmetry).

      In fact, I can only think of one of their female on-camera staff who would not be generally considered solidly above-average in appearance, even by TV standards. And she has a stronger resume from her time in print media than almost any of the dudes, so she’s used to having to carve out exceptions for herself…

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  3. I don’t get young pundits in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. It doesn’t matter what their political beliefs are. They generally come from very affluent backgrounds and have not done enough in their lives to have the necessary experience or expertise. Its like twenty-somethings working as life coaches. If you haven’t really lived a full life, what right or ability do you have to coach people on it?

    Saul is right about CNN. During the election season, the President of CBS noted that “Trump is bad for America but good for CBS” bottom line. Competent, well-run administrations make for some very boring news and news media thrives on conflict. Its related to why pundits egg on military action. Televised war is great for ratings. The press can have some very bad incentives in politics when they pursue their own profit and glory.

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  4. People should start referring to the United incident as the Seven Faces of Dr. Dao. ;).

    Dr. Dao’s troubled past is coming up because many people believe its alright when bad things happen to people who did bad things in the past even if what they did occurred many years ago and they reformed and the current bad thing happening to them is unrelated to the bad thing they did. People like poetic justice or eventual justice. In the United incident, it allows United to pretend they did no wrong.

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    • That may well be part of it, but another possible explanation is that when the facts aren’t all known, character provides hints regarding the missing facts. United claimed he became belligerent when instructed to vacate his seat. The fact that he has a history of impulsive behavior makes that claim more plausible.

      No one actually has a problem understanding this logic in all cases. People only act scandalized when it’s applied to the side with which their sympathies lie. Which is why, e.g., all right-thinking people agree that it was super racist to bring up Trayvon Martin’s behavioral issues, but George Zimmerman’s were fair game and totally relevant.

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    • In the United incident, it allows United to pretend they did no wrong.

      Something they are no longer doing. The CEO has apologized for Dr. Dao’s treatment. The other passengers will receive refunds on the cost of their tickets for having to witness the incident. United has changed their policy on when crew flying to another location have to check in. They have announced that they will no longer call on law enforcement to remove a “booked, paid, seated” passenger.

      The other “deep pockets” party involved, the City of Chicago, has suspended two more officers. I figure all of the officers involved are toast — aviation security has been trying for a long time to get permission for their officers to carry firearms, and this has probably undone most of their efforts towards that.

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  5. Re: Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories. There is a lot of writing out there and many people don’t do deep reads. So it seems that you can read something from a completely unverifiable source and have it stick in your brain.

    I do pharma lit which means I represent people who are injured by drugs. Somehow people think this makes me sympathetic to the anti-Vax movement which is not true and I get a lot of conspiracy rants.

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    • The Internet also allows conspiracy theorists to broadcast their conspiracies to a much wider audience than other forms of media. Many traditional forms of media have also abandoned their gate keeper function and Internet providers never picked it up. During the Golden Age of News, roughly between the late 19th century with the rise of the metropolitan daily to the rise of cable, most media owners believed it was their responsibility, not necessarily for the better in all cases, to make sure that certain opinions and beliefs considered out there did not get an airing in the public sphere. This kept many non-mainstream opinions across the political spectrum in their own small little media world. Conspiracy theorists could not thrive in this world like they do now.

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  6. Justin is moving to formally legalize full fledged national recreation weed in Canada:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/world/canada/trudeau-marijuana.html?_r=0

    If he pulls it off (and I doubt he’d be moving it to parliament if he didn’t think he could) I think this is a stake aimed at the heart of the anti-drug warrior prohibitionist order. If a G6 country legalizes pot and not only has a positive to neutral experience with it domestically but also suffers no serious diplomatic or trade ramifications then I have a feeling we’ll be looking an huge break in the logjam for legalization. Like how the full death of DADT signaled the beginning of the avalanche of progress for gay rights.

    Also… if it happens then what happens to the legalize weed parties in Canada? Do they just join the liberals?

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  7. Typically I have found reporting in the earth sciences (where I have a masters degree) to be often wrong, or overhyped. Partly this is because reporters today are asked to be generalists to cover a scientific press release, then a fashion show, and then a crime. It used to be there were dedicated reporters at the networks and big papers on science, who knew something about science with perhaps a degree in one of the areas. However today that kind of person can not be afforded by the media so they make do with generalists.
    One example was the scare over rare earth scarcity a few years ago, which was not due to a shortage of the ores but processing plants, and the economics of producing the elements. Or the confusion about fracking and earthquakes, yes they are related, but only in that deep disposal of wastes causes the earthquakes not from the actual fracking of the shales. (This problem was first found at the Rocky Flats Nuclear facility near Denver when radioactive waste was pumped deep and earthquakes happened). However journalists don’t make the connections clear.
    Thus seeing the accuracy of reporting on areas in which I have some knowledge I have decided that reports on science are in general at best misleading.

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