Opinion | Can the People Who Almost Brought Down the News Business Save It? – by Kara Swisher – The New York Times

“. . . Mr. Benioff said he had been looking to extend the active personal investing — sometimes he calls it philanthropy — his family was doing already, in areas like climate change, public schools and health care for children. He said he looked at all the assets, such as Fortune, but was soon attracted to Time’s broader audience and wider circulation, as well as its pedigree of excellence. He claims that it is profitable, too, which was also an attraction.

“Time is a name that was most trusted for a rapidly changing society,” he said, one that still has “the ability to reach readers on a multidimensional level.”

Ticking off stats on the magazine’s readership, video views, event successes and digital impressions, Mr. Benioff sounded like a man on a mission to make us all understand that this brand of the past is surely the brand of the future.

And the jovial billionaire, who was wearing one of his endless supply of Hawaiian shirts, said he would be putting his copious money — $6.6 billion — where his voluble mouth is. He plans to give Time “as much investment as it needs” to succeed.

Mr. Benioff is not, of course, the first tech mogul to buy a diminished media asset recently. He joins a group that includes Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post; Laurene Powell Jobs, who has invested in The Atlantic and several other publications; and the biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, who purchased The Los Angeles Times.”

DL: Yes and thank you. Here is a comment I endorsed with enthusiasm.

Robert
Seattle

“Can the People Who Almost Brought Down the News Business Save It?”

Benioff, Google, Facebook, Apple, et al. did not bring down the fact-based news business by themselves. Reagan undid the Fairness Doctrine and initiated the deregulatory train wreck that has never stopped. We have not had so little appropriate regulation since the 1930s. Most of these companies are natural monopolies that should be regulated like the utilities they are. Their unfair market power makes everything go sour, including the fact-based news business. No evidence supports the Trump Republican and libertarian deregulatory tulip mania. Progressives, however, have been far too complacent. They were sucked in by the silly and untrue industry-wide “do no evil” marketing PR, and the new age internet Kool-Aid. The free press was never only a business per se. It has always been a vital public service utility whose presence was explicitly required by the Constitution. Every American who can afford it must subscribe to at least one online or print news source, and must vote for the appropriate regulation of these businesses which are now the most valuable and the most powerful businesses in the world. The Russian Facebook and Google YouTube interference in the last election on behalf of Trump should be the last straw.

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Opinion | The Hacking of America – – NYT

“That radio fulfilled this promise for as long as it did is the result of decisions made by Mr. Hoover, a Republican who believed that the government had a role to play in overseeing the airwaves by issuing licenses for frequencies to broadcasting companies and regulating their use. “The ether is a public medium,” he insisted, “and its use must be for the public benefit.” He pressed for passage of the Radio Act of 1927, one of the most consequential and underappreciated acts of Progressive reform — insisting that programmers had to answer to the public interest. That commitment was extended to television in 1949 when the Federal Communications Commission, the successor to the Federal Radio Commission, established the Fairness Doctrine, a standard for television news that required a “reasonably balanced presentation” of different political views.”

“. . . .   All of this history was forgotten or ignored by the people who wrote the rules of the internet and who peer out upon the world from their offices in Silicon Valley and boast of their disdain for the past. But the building of a new machinery of communications began even before the opening of the internet. In the 1980s, conservatives campaigned to end the Fairness Doctrine in favor of a public-interest-based rule for broadcasters, a market-based rule: If people liked it, broadcasters could broadcast it.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan finally succeeded in repealing the Fairness Doctrine — and he also vetoed a congressional effort to block the repeal. The repeal, which relieved licensed broadcasters of a public-interest obligation to represent opposing points of view, made possible a new kind of partisan talk radio. In 1987, there were some 240 talk radio stations in the country; by 1992, there were 900. Partisan cable television followed, as the repeal led also to the rise of MSNBC and Fox News in 1996.”

A San Francisco Tech Mogul Buys Time – a Fabled Slice of New York Media – The New York Times

“Through Salesforce.org, his company’s nonprofit arm, Mr. Benioff has pledged $100 million over a decade to improve educational resources for Bay Area schools. Since 2012, Salesforce.org has provided $27 million to San Francisco public schools and $7.7 million to Oakland public schools.

Among other things, the San Francisco Unified School District has used the money to develop computer science curriculums. It has also hired additional math teachers, reducing the average class size across eighth-grade math to 24 students from 33. Oakland has used the Salesforce funds in part to bolster computer science education.

As a result of his support for a variety of local school projects, Mr. Benioff has largely escaped the withering criticism that other tech billionaires, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, have faced for their school initiatives.

“Other billionaires tend to hop around different places, leaving half-completed reforms in their wake,” said Sarah Reckhow, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University who studies philanthropy. “It will be interesting to see if his education investments have more staying power.”

Mr. Benioff is not as dramatic in his display of wealth as Mr. Ellison, who is a collector of costly cars, homes and yachts — and a winner of the America’s Cup sailing race. But the Benioffs have multiple homes in San Francisco and a residential compound on the Big Island of Hawaii, and he has hosted private concerts by his favorite musical artists. Stevie Wonder performed at the couple’s wedding, as well as at a fund-raiser that Mr. Benioff hosted for President Barack Obama.”

There is a change in the weather, and it is for the good of our democracy and environment.

Apple- Facebook and YouTube Remove Content From Alex Jones and Infowars – The New York Times

“Facebook, Spotify and Google’s YouTube site, which removed some Infowars content last week, followed with stronger measures on Monday. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones, including one with nearly 1.7 million followers as of last month, for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.” Facebook said the violations did not relate to “false news.”

YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers and billions of views on its videos, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories, an effort that was aided after Donald J. Trump appeared on Mr. Jones’s show during the 2016 presidential campaign and praised Mr. Jones’s reputation as “amazing.” Mr. Jones has repeatedly claimed that the government staged the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and numerous other mass shootings and tragedies.”

Facebook Tried to Rein In Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race. – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — Regina Bateson had just finished an Easter egg hunt with her children on April 1 when her phone started buzzing. Take a look at Facebook, messages from her friends and colleagues urged.

Ms. Bateson, a Democrat running for Congress in the California primaryon Tuesday, quickly opened up the social network. There, she saw what appeared to be a news article that painted her as underhandedly trying to torpedo the campaign of a rival Democratic candidate. When Ms. Bateson clicked through the article, she was directed to a Facebook page run by Sierra Nevada Revolution, a local progressive group she had clashed with in the past.

The article was not a news story, she found, but a political ad paid for by Sierra Nevada Revolution. And while Facebook rolled out new rules on April 6 mandating that campaign ads be clearly labeled and say who had purchased them, Sierra Nevada Revolution’s ad about Ms. Bateson continued to be targeted to local voters throughout that month without any of those disclosures.”

Is Facebook Just a Platform? A Lawyer to the Stars Says No – by David D. Kirkpatrick – NYT

By David D. KirkpatrickMay 21, 2018BELFAST, Northern Ireland —

“Paul Tweed made his name suing news organizations like CNN, Forbes and The National Enquirer on behalf of Hollywood movie stars, winning high-profile cases for celebrities like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake by hopscotching among Belfast, London and Dublin to take advantage of their favorable defamation or privacy laws.” . . .

“Social media companies have faced allegations about enabling Russia’s interference in elections in the United States and Europe, fueling outbursts of ethnic violence in countries like Sri Lanka and Myanmar, broadcasting a gang rape in Brazil and, most recently, allowing the transfer of user information to the voter-targeting company Cambridge Analytica.

Amid the public backlash, the British information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has told Facebook, “It’s not just a platform anymore; there are some legal and social responsibilities, too.”

President Trump recently signed the first American law to regulate social media companies as publishers, imposing new civil liability and criminal penalties for content that facilitates prostitution or sex trafficking.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Bravo to Germany and the EU. Excellent article.
“Germany is now requiring social media companies to remove any hate speech within 24 hours after their notification of its posting, forcing teams of Facebook employees to evaluate the content almost as editors do. A new European Union regulation to protect online privacy that goes into effect this Friday is providing new opportunities for lawyers to sue. Congress is weighing legislation to require internet companies to disclose the buyers of political advertising, just as traditional news media outlets have to do.”
We should do all of the above, asap. It is OK with me to call Facebook a platform, rather than a publisher, but it still needs strict , adult, government regulation, to require it not to be a rogue nuisance and force for evil. Germany has passed a 50 Million Euro fine for not removing fake news quickly. We should implement the German actions now, before the next election.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Opinion | Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort – 2/22/18 – by Bret Stephens – NYT

This is the text of a lecture delivered at the University of Michigan on Tuesday. The speech was sponsored by Wallace House.

“I’d like to express my appreciation for Lynette Clemetson and her team at Knight-Wallace for hosting me in Ann Arbor today. It’s a great honor. I think of Knight-Wallace as a citadel of American journalism. And, Lord knows, we need a few citadels, because journalism today is a profession under several sieges.

To name a few:

There is the economic siege, particularly the collapse of traditional revenue streams, which has undermined the ability of scores of news organizations to remain financially healthy and invest in the kind of in-depth investigative, enterprise, local and foreign reporting this country so desperately needs.

There is a cultural siege, as exemplified by the fact that a growing number of Americans seem to think that if something is reported in the so-called mainstream media, it is ipso facto untrue.”

David Lindsay:   “Excellent piece. I applaud it. I also recommended the two top comments, which reflect my concerns, as someone who wrote to the NYT complaining that Amy Chosick was on occassion unfair to Hillary Clinton, and appeared to hate her. Chosick has written a book, where she has admitted to her distaste for Hillary’s aloofness.

Lynn
New YorkFeb. 22
“Some readers, for example, still resent The Times for some of the unflattering coverage of Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign, as if the paper’s patriotic duty was to write fluff pieces about her in order to smooth her way to high office.”

No, we resent you for not doing what you so righteously claim to do. We resent you for not covering Hillary Clinton’s daily, substantive, issue-oriented responses to voters’ serious questions, and instead shallow email email email.

It even went so far that when your reporter, Amy Chozik, wrote about the book of policies Clinton and Kaine put together, all Chozik described were book sales.

The 2016 election was a perfect case study: a serious, policy-wonk candidate who devoted time to talk with a wide-range of stakeholders and to put together serious proposals to address a wide range of problems vs a candidate whose “policy” was to say “you’re really going to like it, believe me” or to claim “cheaper better” health care with no further details.

The serious policy proposals were ignored, the candidate who proposed them rejected as a poor politician, because details are boring and slogans are catchy.

And, after such shallow campaign reporting, you complain that readers aren’t interested in long-form journalism. We did not want “fluff”–which is what we got (and polls)–what we wanted was long-form journalism. The Times’ campaign coverage was sound-bites, personalities, and polls, and, of course, emails. Do better next time.

13 Replies481 Recommended

Paul-A commented February 22
P
Paul-A
St. Lawrence, NYFeb. 22
Times Pick
While I don’t always agree with Stephens, he’s the most thoughtful of the conservative columnists at the NYTimes; and this piece demonstrates his insightfulness.

However, there’s an important issue that he glosses over in this column. He does note that Rightwing media like Fox, Limbaugh, Beck, the Hill, Breitbart, etc. stopped being “news” outlets a long time ago. But he’s implying that most media on the Left have been following suit, and are drifting almost as far over the edge. This is a false equivalence.

Does he really believe that even the most Lefty media (like MSNBC and Huffington Post) are becoming nearly as bad as Fox and Breitbart?

And he also fails to acknowledge the impact that time adds to the equation: Rightwing media became partisan propaganda 20+ years ago, and their brainwashing/poisoning of our political and journalism discourse has accumulated to be ingrained in 35% of our citizens. The Left’s drift leftward has only been a recent response, in order to try to save our country.

And he also omits discussion of putatively moderate/reasonable Rightwing media, such as the Wall Street Journal (where hs used to work). The WSJ is much more biased than the NYTimes, or even the Washington Post. Yet why didn’t he speak out against that drift when he wrote for them? Why didn’t he decry what Fox et al were doing to “conservative news” over the past decades?

Reasonable conservatives need to come to terms with their silent complicity in what has brought us here.

14 Replies347 Recommended

Small Idea for the New York Times Paper Edition – by David Lindsay

To  the editors of the New York Times

I recently realized an idea that could help the survival  of the New York Times Paper Edition for several more centuries. Perhaps I exaggerate, but it is unlikely you will be around to know.

We read the New York Times paper edition religiously Friday through Sunday, and there is always an awkward and embarrassing conflict. We can not comfortably share the first section. While I am reading the front page and its leads into the depths of section one,  my fabulous lady cannot read the editorial page and op-ed page, since they are attached umbilicallly to the front page and page three, and vice a versa.

Alas, this conflict has disturbed the wa, or peace and harmony, of our household.

The solution is so simple. Just move the editorial page and op-ed page to the center of section one, as a two sheaf, with 4 printed paged Pullout, so one member of a household can read the front page, and the contents of section one, while another member of the household can read the editorials and op–ed.  

The only possible improvement to this simple idea, would be to cut the center sheaf  into two separate pages,  so that one could pull out both the editorial page and op-ed page separately, so that three people could enjoy starting with section one at the same time.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam, which came out this September, and blogs at The TaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com