THURSDAY’S LINKS: Philly Owners Talk to Union, Liberal Case Against ‘NYT’ SWIFT Story, Novak Wiggles From Jam

By: E&P Staff

in today’s edition, a liberal case against the New York Times’ SWIFT story, lessons from Santa Barbara, and Philadelphia Media Holdings starts talks with its union.


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Not so SWIFT: Why the ‘NYT’ Shouldn’t Have Publisher the SWIFT Story
Slate: “The first thing to say about this fight is that conservative claims about the media’s supposed motivations in publishing both the NSA and SWIFT stories reflect only ideology and ignorance,” writes Jacob Weisberg. “Editors at the New York Times and other major American newspapers do not pursue stories of this kind because of animus against the Bush administration or a wish to help terrorists. … All that said, let me depart from the liberal consensus and argue that the New York Times, while acting in good faith, made the wrong call by printing the SWIFT story. Editors there and at the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal who also had pieces of the scoop should have waited to publish it, at least until they could be more certain that the snooping program was no longer useful.”


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‘NYT’ Is This Summer’s Pinata
CJR Daily: “The Gray Lady has always been a convenient bogeyman for the right,” writes Gal Beckerman. “The unfortunate bit about this episode is that there is actually an interesting and crucial conversation to be had over this issue – one that Keller himself, along with his Los Angeles Times counterpart, Dean Baquet, tried to initiate last week, and one that was then picked up by a number of prominent journalism school deans, writing by committee on the Washington Post’s op-ed page. But how is Keller, or anyone, supposed to have a reasoned debate when your opponent on the other side is producing little more than spittle and bile?”


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Too Much Choice in News Media
Fortune: Mass culture isn’t so mass anymore, writes Marc Gunther. Instead, culture is evolving into a “mass of niches.” So, at least, says Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, in “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More.” His new book, based on a 2004 article in Wired, is generating a lot of buzz, climbing up the best-seller lists and raising provocative questions about the future of our culture. “We’re leaving the watercooler era, when most of us listened, watched and read from the same relatively small pool of mostly hit content,” Anderson writes. “And we’re entering the microculture era, when we are all into different things.”


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Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?
Philadelphia Inquirer: “On the first day with Messrs. Toll and Tierney on the masthead, the new owners reiterated a pledge they made while in pursuit of the newspapers: “The editorial function of the Business shall at all times remain independent of the ownership and control of the Company, and no Member shall attempt to influence or interfere with the editorial policies or decisions of the publisher,” notes Michael Smerconish. “I’m confounded by the statement and don’t understand why they made it, or the logic of reiterating it in full-page ads on the first day of the new watch. I suspect they thought it necessary during the courtship phase of the deal. But repeating it when in control makes me wonder if they’re responding to some imaginary clamoring for assurance.”


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Novak Wiggles Free of a Legal Jam
The Nation: “Despite all this evidence, the Bush White House has not honored the vow made early on in the leak investigation: anyone involved in the leak would be dismissed,” writes David Corn. “Rove still is gainfully employed as George W. Bush’s top strategist at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There are no signs that he has even been disciplined or denied access to classified information. During the investigation, the president refused to say anything publicly about Rove and the probe. And after the investigation, the president has refused to say anything publicly about Rove’s participation in the leak. Novak’s column is an explanation of how the columnist wiggled out of a legal jam. More important, it is a reminder of how the stonewall strategy mounted by the White House and Rove succeeded.”


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LBJ and FOIA
On the Media: “The President was not known for wanting to fling wide open the doors of the closet and say, come in, guys, and look around and see what you can find,” says Bill Moyers. “He didn’t want his options to be disclosed. He didn’t want his friends or his adversaries to know what he was up to, and he carried that penchant for secrecy into the White House. But there had been a long struggle by a handful, a relative handful of newspaper editors and a few members of Congress to pass this act. And the pressure grew until the President found it impossible to resist any further, because he needed too many of these editors to try to help him tell his side of the story about his Great Society legislation, the war in Vietnam. But he had to be dragged screaming to that signing ceremony in 1966.”


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Philadelphia Media Holdings to Begin Contract Talks
Philly Weekly: The honeymoon could be over soon when Philadelphia Media Holdings (PMH) will sit down with union reps to discuss a new labor contract. Some might see the timing as unfortunate. The new corporation took control of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News just a couple of weeks ago, so both sides are still in the getting-to-know-you stage. But PMH’s CEO Brian Tierney sees things differently. ?I think the timing is actually terrific,? Tierney writes in an email response to written questions. (?Want to be polite, but can’t give you a half-hour a week,? he explains.) ?We have been talking with union leadership since day one … Our feeling is let’s get moving on the new game plan, as partners in this.”


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Santa Barbara Lesson: Private Local Ownership Has Flaws, Too
PR Week: With so much Wall Street pressure on newspapers to cut costs by all means necessary, many journalists and readers alike have pined for the good old days when prominent local citizens controlled their own local papers, establishing an insulated environment in which reporters could go after big stories and editors could muster all the resources they wished for, free of the controlling hand of distant outside investors. Santa Barbara, Calif., now says: Hold that thought.

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