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After crowdfunding success, Swiss magazine Republik charts a course to “reclaim journalism as a profession”
Many major newsrooms, champions of transparency in other cases, remain tight-lipped about their newsroom diversity
“We have built the world that they told us existed”: Did the rise of young, white “Internet reporting” bolster the alt-right?
As a war hero, former presidential candidate, influential voice in the Senate, and ready quote, John McCain has been a constant presence in the public eye for decades. His final book, The Restless Wave, is out today. McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis provides the opportunity for a slow motion, living eulogy, and the press has responded with a steady drumbeat of coverage.
The details of McCain’s life—his heroism in Vietnam, scandal-marred early years in politics, cross-aisle friendships with Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden, presidential runs in 2000 and 2008, and years as an elder statesman—are well known. His long and complicated career presents challenges for journalists who need to encapsulate his life in a few sentences. How does one cover a towering figure in American politics without slipping into hagiography? As The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin writes in a recent profile of McCain at rest, he “has long been both a flawed politician and a larger figure of history.”
McCain’s image as a maverick willing to subvert his party to stick to political principles has always been as much branding exercise as reality. His “Straight Talk Express”—the slogan of his campaign bus in 2000—and willingness to appeal to the better angels of our political nature sit alongside his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 and his endorsement in 2016 of the man who questioned his war service on the campaign trail.
In the Trump era, McCain has been drawn into a series of controversies not of his making, beginning with Trump’s 2015 statement that he liked “people who weren’t captured.” More recently, a morbid comment about McCain’s prognosis by communications aide Kelly Sadler sparked a fresh wave of outrage. Last summer, just after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, he became an unlikely Democratic hero in the Senate for voting against the Obamacare repeal.
McCain’s health is preventing him from touring in support of his book, but the making of his legacy has already begun. He’ll be the subject of an HBO documentary, John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls, debuting on Memorial Day, and those writing on his career will have decades of freely given quote to choose from, and the difficult task of framing his contradictions.
Below, more on the coverage of a notable, complicated life.
- Telling his story: CNN’s Dana Bash speaks with McCain’s Restless wave co-author, his longtime aide Mark Salter. “He wanted it to be more personal, and to convey just how fortunate he believed he was for being able to serve this country for 60 years,” Salter says.
- In the moment: The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson Sorkin writes about McCain’s attempts to grapple, “publicly and poignantly, with what it means to come up against the limits of time in the Trump era.”
- Takeaways from the book: ABC News’s Mariam Khan highlights key passages in The Restless Wave, including McCain’s regret that he chose Palin to be his running mate over Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-Independent Connecticut Senator.
- McCain’s values: After the dramatic Obamacare vote last summer, The Atlantic’s David A. Graham analyzed what drives McCain. “His principles are unusual,” Graham wrote. “He values process, decorum, and Senate traditions to a degree that many observers find strange—and anyone who expects him to be a hero for their own ideological cause is likely to be disappointed.”
Other notable stories
- Interview magazine, founded by Andy Warhol in 1969, has folded, reports the New York Post’s Alexandra Steigrad. The glossy arts and culture publication owned by billionaire Peter Brant will file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- CJR’s Sam Thielman writes about the CIA’s unprecedented PR push to make Gina Haspel its director. From tweetstorms on the agency’s official account to a wave of cable news appearances by former agents and contractors, the aggressive selling of Haspel was out of character for a normally reticent organization.
- The Obamas are coming to Netflix. The streaming service announced Monday that it has signed the former president and first lady to a multi-year agreement to produce “a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.”
- The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports that White House aides who draft proposed tweets for the president “intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style.”
- Talkers magazine is out with its list of the “100 most important radio talk show hosts in America.” For the first time, Sean Hannity grabbed the top spot, beating Rush Limbaugh.
- Allure Editor in Chief Michelle Lee talks with CJR’s Karen K. Ho about the magazine’s June cover, which features three Asian women on its cover. Lee found that in its history, Allure has only had two Asian cover models, and she speaks about her efforts to increase representation in the fashion industry.
- At its annual Freedom of the the Press Awards tonight in New York, The Reporters’ Committee for the Freedom of the Press will honor New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, documentary filmmaker Lynn Novick, former All Things Considered host Robert Siegel, and BuzzFeed VP of legal and associate general counsel Nabiha Syed.
Flush with spectrum-sale dollars, a Pennsylvania PBS station is doubling down on a different kind of local news
Three days after another mass school shooting, the familiar pattern of coverage continues to play out. The 10 people killed at Santa Fe High School in Texas have been added to a growing list of students and teachers gunned down in places of education. Aerial images of teenagers streaming across playing fields and parking lots have rolled across news broadcasts. Calls for gun control or “hardening” of school buildings have come from politicians and activists on opposite sides of the aisle. We know the drill, and will be ready when it happens again.
“The heartbreaking thing about the images—one heartbreaking thing among many—is the precision. The cooperation. The orderliness,” writes New York Times television critic James Poniewozik. “What you are watching, this frightened, exhausted procession, is school now. It is what your children are taught. Lockdown drills, active shooter drills. It’s a procedure they have learned, and what you are seeing is a kind of horrible field trip, a deadly exam.”
The most indelible footage from Friday’s shooting was a widely shared interview of 17-year-old Santa Fe High student Paige Curry, conducted by local station ABC-13. Reporter Foti Kallergis asks Curry if there was a part of her that didn’t believe what she was experiencing was real, if she couldn’t believe it was happening at her school. With downcast eyes and a quavering voice, she responded, “No, there wasn’t.” When Kallergis followed up, Curry explained, “It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”
After Friday’s tragedy, the intense, celebratory coverage of Saturday morning’s royal wedding struck a jarring note, raising questions of whether this mass shooting would pass quickly from the national conscious. We shouldn’t expect a repetition of the impassioned anti-gun advocacy that emerged after February’s mass killing in Parkland, Florida, report The New York Times’s Manny Fernandez, Jack Healy, and Dave Montgomery. “There is little indication of anything similar [to the Parkland reaction] in Texas, a place where guns are hard-wired into the state’s psyche,” they write.
With their coordinated activism and media-savvy approach, the Parkland students seemed to usher in a new era of school shooting coverage. But that appears to have been the exception. Three months later, in the wake of another mass tragedy, we find that the coverage cycle is largely unchanged.
Below, more on the aftermath of another school shooting.
- A familiar scramble: Variety’s Cynthia Littleton writes that national news departments were stretched thin on Friday, with resources already tied up in preparation for the royal wedding, but that “the increase in the number of mass shootings has resulted in a kind of template for covering such a horrifying tragedy.”
- Satire as truth-telling: The Onion once again had cause to publish its headline, “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.” Pamela Colloff linked to the story, writing: “In all seriousness, I wish the Pulitzer board would recognize The Onion in some way for posting this story every single time a mass shooting occurs. This is writing with moral purpose.”
- Lives cut short: “One student was busy planning for his 17th birthday party. Another, an exchange student from Pakistan, was preparing for her return home, asking that her mother cook her favorite dinner. Others had ordinary teenage plans ahead—for Xbox and tennis games, for bickering with siblings, for a new bedroom.” The New York Times’s Julie Bosman and Jess Bidgood tell the stories of those killed.
Other notable stories
- For The New York Times, Sridhar Pappu and Jay Stowe have a great oral history of Time Inc., tracing the company’s descent from days of evening drink carts, profligate expense accounts, and rampant sexism through its failure to adapt to the digital age. “I’m cautiously optimistic to see how this story goes now,” former Time EIC Nancy Gibbs said. “If they find the right buyer, there is enormous power globally in Time as an institution. And I would hate to see that lost or squandered.”
- Meanwhile, New York Post’s Keith J. Kelly reports that bidding for Time Inc. titles Time, Fortune, and Money, has been “surprisingly strong.”
- Donald Trump’s Sunday tweetstorm included a “demand” that the Justice Department open an investigation to determine whether his 2016 campaign was “infiltrated or surveilled.” BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner writes that “the tweet could set up a constitutional crisis. Or it could set up a now-familiar process of lawyers, essentially, pushing off the request to avoid such a crisis. Or it could be forgotten by the week’s end.”
- CJR’s Mathew Ingram reports from our conference in San Francisco. Co-hosted by The Information, the event focused on the strained relationship between journalism and the social networks. The main attraction was Facebook’s Adam Mosseri, who admitted that Facebook is still trying to figure out its relationship with publishers. “We are trying to figure things out and we make mistakes but we are trying to do better,” Mosseri said. “There are areas where we have really strong partnerships and areas where the relationships are incredibly antagonistic and everything in between.”
- The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan examines Michael Avenatti’s relationship with journalists. “Stormy Daniels’s lawyer is a media star,” she writes. “So why is he threatening journalists?”
- CJR’s Jon Allsop considers whether The Idahoan is a newspaper, or another “baby Breitbart.” Run by two longtime Republican operatives, the publication debuted ahead of last week’s closely contested primaries, pushing conservative candidates in a manner that drew outrage from the state’s journalists and the local Democratic party.