Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Washington Post confirms Left as 'Deep Throat'

The Washington Post late today (May 31) confirmed on its web site that Mark Left is 'Deep Throat.' The series of articles can be accessed from the following link.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/31/AR2005053100655.html?sub=AR

Please note that you will need to register on the Post's web site in order to view the full article. The registration is free.

2005 State of the News Media report

Recently the Project for Excellence in Journalism in conjunction with several partners released its second annual State of the News Media report. I have incorporated selected elements of the 2004 and 2005 reports into some of my class lectures. I hope that the link to the report

http://www.stateofthemedia.org/2005/index.asp

and its contents provides some ideas for lectures or discussions in your undergraduate and graduate journalism classes.

The "eyes" have it

The link below takes you to a well-written, on-the-money critique of the "all eyes" fascination that has infested broadcast journalism writing. It was written by Mervin Block and first appeared on the Poynter web site on May 12, 2005.

http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=82247&sid=8

Has the 'Who is Deep Throat' Question Been Answered?

Perhaps. Mark Felt, a retired FBI officer, is claiming to be the man. The full story appears in the July 2005 Vanity Fair magazine. The link is provided here:

http://www.vanityfair.com/pdf/pressroom/advance1.pdf

Sunday, May 29, 2005

ABC News and Brad Pitt -- more "chocolate cake"

During ABC's coverage of the Indianapolis 500 (and I'm guessing ABC will continue to promote the "story" for all it is worth -- which isn't much, but that is the cynic in me), ABC noted that there were only a few days to go before Diane Sawyer's interview with Brad Pitt. The interview will appear on the network's (supposed news program) PrimeTime Live.

I was disappointed by the almost breathless narrator hyping this event but was not surprised. The upcoming interview is the latest in a line of dramatic, you don't want to miss this events promoted by news organizations. The implication for viewers -- something important, even newsworthy, is going to take place and you need to see it.

No, nothing important is going to happen and you don't need to see it.

I call this "chocolate cake" news coverage and reporting. Sure, chocolate cake tastes good but it is never a replacement for substantive food (my 6-year-old would disagree, but again that is another story!). "Chocolate cake" news coverage promotes the celebrity, the entertainment, the dramatic, the flavor-of-the-month over "substantive news" - government policies, enterprise reporting, and other issues that have relevance to the lives of America's citizens.

My argument here is not that news programming always has to be serious and dull. But it does have to be news. And with all due respect to Brad Pitt, an actor who I think is very talented, an interview with him is not "substantive news." It's "chocolate cake" and ABC should be embarrassed by passing it off as news. However, ABC is not the only news organization doing this kind of thing.

Spare me.

The purpose of this blog...

...is to provide a forum for discussion for anyone who cares about the media and the coverage they are offering Americans. Your comments can be positive and in defense of today's media practices or they can be negative and offer criticisms of how the media do their job.

I am a broadcast journalism educator who spent about a dozen years in the broadcast world. I have tremendous respect for the men and women who call themselves journalists, and I consider the profession to be a noble one. And it is because I care about the profession that I want to see it strive to always get better. Unfortunately, too much of what I see today disturbes me. News too often passes for celebrity and entertainment puffery...and lost is the need for critical and objective coverage of the governmental, business, and other professional industries that affect the lives of every American citizen.

I look forward to hearing from you and discussing relevant issues.