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Tuesday, September 02 2014 @ 06:58 PM CDT

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Introducing “Ideas Today, Politics Tomorrow”

On the Media

Ask someone of a certain age today how politically engaged they think young adults are, and they’re likely to respond “not very.”  And in fact, the current U.S. political system is dysfunctional enough that someone of any age could be forgiven for simply turning away in disgust. Of course, that does no one any good. Or, as we used to say back in the 1960’s, “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”

All of which makes me happy to bring your attention to a Web site called Ideas Today, Politics Tomorrow, for which my daughter Nora is a staff writer.  She writes primarily about foreign affairs, and like everyone else at the site (including the founders), she’s unpaid.

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Standards of Political Civility and Darwin's Finches

On the Media

Better run for cover . . . it's Election Day in the USA

HimselfHeaven help us all (all us Americans, anyway) — it's election time again. That means we've once again descended into a morass of partisan invective, not to mention lies, damn lies, and (of course) statistics. Except that this election year it seems that everyone is behaving even worse than last time, when everyone acted even worse than the time before, when, well, do you sense a trend here?

One hallmark of this year's political "discourse" (to abuse a term) has been the number of astonishingly angry and ill-informed accusations made by some candidates against their opponents (and others). Nothing unusual about that, sad to say. But what is different is the degree of acceptance, and even approval, exhibited by many voters that in earlier years might have rejected these candidates as well as their statements.

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Google's Ironic Ad Campaign and the Future of Traditional Media

On the Media

 Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Page through a major newspaper (remember newspapers?) today like the New York Times, and you’re likely to run into two enormous ads, one by Google (almost two full pages) and one by AOL (a full two pages). Leaving aside the irony of Google advertising in a form of media that it has almost competed out of existence, there’s something potentially transformative going on here that’s worth exploring.
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Googling to Newspaper Solvency

On the Media

I am an avid, lifelong, reader of newspapers in general, and of the New York Times in particular.  And I'm a staunch believer in the essential role of an independent press in a modern democracy.  I’m also the owner of a Web site that serves over a million page views a month, some of which display short extracts of news articles, with links back to the full text.  On occasion those links lead back to stories appearing at the Web site of the Times.

So why am I trying to kill my beloved Times and its worthy brethren?

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Putting the Sneer Before the Scoop: Joe Nocera and Steve Jobs

On the Media

Ever since Steve Jobs addressed the adoring crowds at this year's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, the press, Apple fans - and most especially, Apple investors - have been concerned over the state of his health.  The reasons are obvious: Five years ago, Jobs announced that he had been diagnosed, and cured, of a rare and happily less pernicious form of pancreatic cancer (the more common variety is almost never discovered before it has become incurable).  And, when Jobs took the stage this June, he was far thinner and more haggard than he had ever looked before.

Since then, although rumors have swirled, Apple has refused to state whether or not Jobs has had a recurrence of his cancer - or disclose any meaningful details at all.  Even on calls with securities analysts, Apple's response has only been that "Steve's health is a private matter."

Thus you might think that if you were a journalist, and you got a call from Steve Jobs yourself, giving you, and you only, the private scoop on the status of his health, you might feel like a pretty lucky guy, and take that news to the public within whatever constraints you had agreed to with the Apple CEO.  Or would you write a different story entirely, and bury that news in the penultimate paragraph of a long story, and write at length instead about how stockholders were entitled to know the news that you had just buried? 

With that lead in, you can guess which way New York Times business page columnist Joe Nocera called the coin toss.  So here's the good news about Steve Jobs (up front), and the bad news about a Journalistic decision.