Tag Archives: Journalism

Some Links On Speech, Free And Costly

From an interesting piece by Russell Blackford on the wages of speech and an open marketplace (thus producing incentives for the kinds of ‘gutter’ journalism found at Gawker):

Reflection on such cases can sharpen our conceptions of what free speech is about: of what it is actually for. Speaking for myself, and not for other free speech advocates, I defend a conception rather different from those I often see from political libertarians. I am less fixated on the power of governments; I am less absolutist in opposing restrictions; but at the same time, I worry about a wider range of threats. I worry not only about state power but also threats from private power and popular opinion.’

A quote by Mill I often put up:

“The likings and dislikings of society, or of some powerful portion of it, are thus the main thing which has practically determined the rules laid down for general observance, under the penalties of law or opinion. And in general, those who have been in advance of society in thought and feeling, have left this condition of things unassailed in principle, however they may have come into conflict with it in some of its details. They have occupied themselves rather in inquiring what things society ought to like or dislike, than in questioning whether its likings or dislikings should be a law to individuals. They preferred endeavoring to alter the feelings of mankind on the particular points on which they were themselves heretical, rather than make common cause in defence of freedom, with heretics generally. The only case in which the higher ground has been taken on principle and maintained with consistency, by any but an individual here and there, is that of religious belief:…”

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2007), 8-9.

And another quote that makes me feel a fondness for the late Ken Minogue:

‘Roger Kimball recalls a lunch early in their friendship when Ken, puzzling over some implications of utilitarianism, asked: “Imagine someone invented a machine that could eliminate thousands of highway fatalities, only it needed to be fed six people at random to work. Most of us would recoil from such a solution, but why?”’

Who Wants To Blog Forever?

Ira Stoll, on blogging, after the Andrew Sullivan announcement:

‘I’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of the old media world, and of the blog world, too. Blogging runs the risk of solipsism. The reporting resources and reputations of institutions are useful in getting phone calls returned, landing interviews, gaining access, and attention. But the issue isn’t whether, given a choice, we might return to the pre-blog world, or inhabit or invent, as Ben Smith imagines, a “post-blog” world. There is no turning back. Like it or not, we live in a blog media world.

There’s a pretty low barrier to entry and much lower cost to communication since blogs like this one have become so easily available. Since then, personal-style, individual voice and personality can trump institutional authority, and have clearly affected how the media does business (Sullivan ran his blog pretty much like a business).

I’ve found there’s only so much room for depth on a blog, and I think it’s best used as a window on the world, a way to stay current, and to share one’s interests, talents, and knowledge with others, while experiencing the interests, talents and knowledge of others.

Worth keeping in mind: What you write about, how, and why, can often reveal as much about you as it does the subject you’re writing about. So, best to know something about the subject at hand, have some humility and curiosity, and expect some feedback and criticism.

Who you imagine your audience to be, and why you’re writing in the first place still matters a great deal, as it always has whether for knowledge, understanding, money, influence, praise, communication, friendship, attention, problem solving, creative expression…too many to name.

You know some of your reasons.

See you out there.

Repost-Sarah Chayes At The L.A. Times: ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Doesn’t Meet Free-Speech Test’

Full piece here. (Also published over two years ago, to recap the Islamist threat and gaps between the Western and Islamic worlds, and figure out how to analyze the problems involved, and the reactions to them).

How exactly did we get to the point where this kind of argument is prominently featured in a mainstream publication?:

‘The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today’s Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible — and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate.’

While Chayes does not currently represent the Obama administration (that’s a little far even for them), I suspect if you look a couple of ticks center-ward, you might find some on the current foreign policy team, and some sentiment from the President toward the Muslim world.

I don’t think the administration’s response after Ambassador Stevens’ death (addition: In Benghazi) was just designed to protect an increasingly ineffective foreign policy platform given events, or worse, just a cynical political calculation for his foreign policy to be seen as effective.  He may actually see his job as some sort of bridge-builder between two cultures, and peace-maker between civilizations under ideas he presumes to be universal.  How such an approach working out in practice is another matter.

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism (addition: which is probably a few ticks centerward of further Leftward progressive, semi-radical peace and democracy advocates)

‘The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

What if you can’t even appease extreme and radical groups of violent Muslims as they murder your diplomats and citizens under the pretext of the video…let alone get them on-board some sort of ‘rules-based international order’?

What if there is such a chasm between Western and Muslim civilizations that even less violent Muslims on the street have no clue as to the concepts we’re defending, and why?

What if you go so far down this path that you are, or least appear to be, willing to bend on a key issue and core freedom for our country (admittedly maybe not as far as Chayes is willing to bend it)?

Addition:  From Walter Russell Mead:

‘Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief who usually stays hidden from public view because he fears being assassinated by Israel, made a rare appearance at a massive rally in Beirut yesterday, calling on hundreds of thousands of supporters to prolong protests against the U.S. because of the now notorious anti-Islam video.’

Another Addition:  Ronald Bailey has more here at Reason.  Don’t reward violence.  Don’t shovel off the responsibility of standing up for Americans’ right to express themselves to Google, or Americans themselves.  Obama is potentially on a fast track to the European solution, which is to say, a problematic cauldron.

Related On This Site:  Chayes is a former NPR reporter (Is NPR essentially the mainstreaming of the New Left of the 60’s into mass and popular culture?) that went off the map in Afghanistan and has started a cooperative there, also advising the military and the joint chiefs:  In understanding Afghanistan better, you could do worse, but I didn’t realize…..:  Sarah Chayes On Afghanistan In The Boston Review: Days Of Lies And Roses

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

 Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..the old French liberte? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes

Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘The Truth About Truthiness’

Full post here.

‘Longtime readers know that I tend to get my back up when I see journalists and academics opining that our national political divide exists because liberalism is smart and conservatism is dumb.’

Well-written and considered. There’s plenty of confirmation bias in political matters, and you could’ve easily envisioned how this research, whatever its merits, would end-up as clickbait for fellow-travelers and group-think for political/tribal/ideological advantage.

From Boston.Com Via The A & L Daily: ‘The Surprising Moral Force Of Disgust’..Roger Scruton At The New Atlantis: ‘Scientism In The Arts & Humanities’John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’

Rough Times For Print-From GigaOm: ‘Everything You Need To Know About The Future Of Newspapers In These Two Charts’

Extra, Extra, read all about it…on your mobile device. (Future readers, this is before the implants).

Carlos Slim is betting the brand and reputation of the NY Times will pull it through, however, enough to remain a creditor.

Some papers reach a level of prestige and influence enough to earn name recognition amongst the general public. As a result, they can muster access to those in and out of power and offer a platform for influence for those interested in influencing. These papers can shape and react to public opinion, and used to be able to fund news-gathering and investigative journalism (solely in the public interest, of course..).

Broadcasting information to the broadest audience possible and maintaining such authority ain’t happening much in print these days.

More videos?  Celebrity gossip?


As for ideological and political commitments, that’s a different matter.

Who reads the newspapers?

Related On This Site: Here in Seattle, Bill Virgin says newspapers built up their value, and slowly let it die: From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard


Newsrooms Behind The Times-Free Speech & Ideology

From Juan Antonio Giner, via Ira Stoll at The Future Of Capitalism, ‘Why The New York Times Newsroom Is In Trouble‘:

Just some suggestions, as people tend to fight more over the less there is:

‘When what the paper really needed was an editorial leader able to lead the digital revolution at full speed, not just to add new, isolated and un-integrated digital soldiers.

In other words, a modern and innovative newsroom where 80% of the journalists work for web and mobile first, and 20% for a new and slimmer print paper.’


This blog continues to support civil libertarian feminists, often ex-feminists, or even continuing feminists who criticize feminist ideology in good or bad faith because they are free to do so.  They are free to bring-up the often shoddy use of statistics by many feminists, the cultural Marxism and troubling tendencies of victimhood/oppressor theories, the controlling impulses on display in the video below.

Via David Thompson, from Canada via the Agenda with Steve Paikin, notice how two panelists just can’t bring themselves around to the idea of other people speaking their minds, thinking differently and critically, and pursuing ideas freely in an open debate.

They really don’t seem to see a problem with where the logic of their own ideology leads:  To silence and shout-down opposing points of view, to constantly try and control the speech and thoughts of others.

Michael Totten’s Vietnam Kickstarter Campaign

Link to 3:26 video here.

Totten is visiting the five remaining countries around the globe still ruled by Communist parties:  North Korea, Cuba, China, Laos, and Vietnam.

He has a Kickstarter campaign to reach the modest goal of $10,000 for the Vietnam trip.

If you like travel writing/journalism with an observant eye, some war correspondence and political/economic analysis as it relates to conditions on the ground, I recommend his work.

Donors will receive updates from his visit.  It’s a solid pitch.

Related On This Site: Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

I just received a copy of Totten’s book, Where The West Ends, and it’s good reading.

Puppy Dog Tails And Everything Nice-Some Saturday Links

Christina Hoff Sommers, the civil-libertarian feminist, or contrarian-feminist, at Time: ‘What Schools Can Do to Help Boys Succeed:’

‘Being a boy can be a serious liability in today’s classroom. As a group, boys are noisy, rowdy and hard to manage. Many are messy, disorganized and won’t sit still. Young male rambunctiousness, according to a recent study, leads teachers to underestimate their intellectual and academic abilities.’

Clearly, many educators, especially of young children, are women (some of whom do an excellent job).  Much of our educational system is bureaucratic in nature, in an attempt to provide standards, structure and feedback to each student.  Over time, bureaucracies tend to create incentives which catch up with them (see Pournelle’s Iron Law Of Bureaucracy).  Bureaucracies often come to be controlled by the ‘company men’ within them, the people who’ve learned only how to become masters of the reef of rules, regulations, and internal procedures.  As a result, bureaucracies often come to a point where they’re no longer able to adapt to the needs of the people they serve, nor reality:  They become clunky, wasteful, and resistant to change.  Talented and well-meaning newcomers enter with high ideals, learning later… Bureaucracies can also become havens for ideological interests.

So, you’re a young boy:  You’re in an institution surrounded mostly by women teachers, run very often by women administrators (though men congregate in administrative positions), and which forms part of a large bureaucracy.  Some of the people seeking to control this bureaucracy are women who call themselves feminists, many of whom are ideologues who insist there are no differences between the sexes at all (or if there are differences, they are to be understood as women having suffered some deep injustice as both superior to men and as victims, men and boys must become victims too).

Not exactly a welcoming environment, no?

As to that feminist ideologue part.  It’s almost like they’re a religious cult:  Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘Trigger Warnings–A Ludicrous Step Towards Censorship:’

‘Twenty years ago, critics such as Christina Hoff Sommers, Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, and Karen Lehrman described the bizarre “therapeutic pedagogy” in many women’s studies classrooms, where female students were frequently encouraged to share traumatic or intimate experiences in supportive “safe spaces.”  Today, at many colleges, academic therapism has spread to other fields.  Welcome to the age of the trigger warning. ‘

Do you really want these people running our institutions?

Related LinksChristina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.

Are You Man Enough? Nussbaum v. MansfieldFrom The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science

Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

Harvey Mansfield At The City Journal: ‘Principles That Don’t Change’

Perceptions And Reality-The News Business And Obamacare Overruns

Via Ira Stoll-Marc Andreessen: The Future Of The News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All In One Place.

If you’re in the information gathering and sharing business, you’d probably better understand how information is now being gathered and shared in order to broadcast it to as many people as possible (if you’re looking to make money and retain authority).

Many outlets still haven’t figured that out in the new landscape:

‘My take is that the rise of objectivity journalism post-World War II was an artifact of the new monopoly/oligopoly structures news organizations had constructed for themselves. Introducing so-called objective news coverage was necessary to ward off antitrust allegations, and ultimately, reporters embraced it. So it stuck.

But the objective approach is only one way to tell stories and get at truth. Many stories don’t have “two sides.” Indeed, presenting an event or an issue with a point of view can have even more impact, and reach an audience otherwise left out of the conversation.’

Are we back in an age of yellow-journalism, pamphleteering, and voices shouting from the rooftops? A period of unique opportunity before new and different monopolies form?

Check out an oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present, from the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Good for a laugh:-Who reads the newspapers?


Don’t worry, the current ideological and political interests running our government are on the cutting-edge: Peter Suderman at Reason: Healthcare.gov Cloud Computer System Cost Five Times As Much As Expected:’

‘Asked about the increased cost, a federal health official tells NextGov that “if the additional services were not added urgently, the exchanges would not function as designed and citizens would continue to have issues using the marketplace.” In other words, the original plan had been for a system that wouldn’t work.’

Remember, the winners are many of Obama’s political and ideological allies and some previously uninsured people, not necessarily everyone else.

Suderman’s wife: Megan McArdle At Bloomberg. ‘Latest Obamacare Delay Is Probably Illegal

Still Looking For Alternatives-Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Obamacare vs. Arithmetic’

Avik Roy At Forbes: ‘Democrats’ New Argument: It’s A Good Thing That Obamacare Doubles Individual Health Insurance Premiums’Megan McArdle At Bloomberg: ‘Health-Care Costs Are Driven By Technology, Not Presidents’

Nicholas Lemann At The Times Literary Supplement: ‘Does Journalism Have A Future?’

Full piece here (link may not last).

The sky is falling!

Our author reviews a new book by George Brock entitled ‘Out Of Print.

Lemann finishes with:

‘The internet might end up returning journalism to a faster, more technologically sophisticated version of what it was before the advent of the commercial newspaper business’

Perhaps it ‘s useful to think of journalists as citizens who volunteer at local elections: Private citizens serving a public function.

Someone’s got to open up the church or rec center, set up the machines, tally-up the votes and make it official. Someone may even have to keep an eye on the supporters outside angling for any last vote they can, and make sure election laws are followed. Such volunteers would be doing something both civic and necessary, a little thankless, even. Unlike journalists, they would only be doing it a few days out of the year.

Now, if they were to become professionals, like journalists, they would not be on the public dime, but perhaps words like ‘democracy,’ ‘common purpose’ and ‘public good’ would be heard often as they hit the streets, hounded, rolodexed, and muckraked their way about town. Newspaper ad revenue might be enough to pay their salaries and have say, one covering the courts and police reports, another local politics and press conferences, another obits and subscriptions etc.  A columnist might be born.

This actual coverage, often local and community-based, is what is being lamented as lost in the age of internet aggregators and new technology.  No one’s hitting the beat.

Amidst such change, many journalists are wondering how noble and necessary their profession is since very few people are willing to pay them for it.

Lemann waxes nostalgic:

‘To work in a traditional city newsroom is to witness every day what is still quite an impressive industrial process. Information flows in from an enormous variety of sources, gets sorted, sifted, processed and translated into a clear, accessible form, moves onto gigantic machines for an instantaneous mass production process, and then gets physically distributed to hundreds of thousands of locations’

Technology won’t replace human experience and judgment, but if an app can do much of the above more easily and cheaply, why not let it?

At the very least, shouldn’t a professional journalistic class be expected to adjust to this new technology and provide value to readers day-in and day-out?

Privately or publicly funded, who among us can possibly hope to speak for all of the public?

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteFrom io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.


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