The stories on this page will update every 30 minutes. Hit your browser’s refresh button to see the latest stories.
NewsFeed - Media
This feed was created by mixing existing feeds from various sources.
Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cristiano Ronaldo and Emmanuel Macron didn’t fact-check before posting images about the Amazon fires
On March 1, at the headquarters of a solar-panel company in Seattle, Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, jumped into the Democratic presidential primary as a climate-focused candidate. The following week, amid a flurry of interviews, Inslee went on Rachel Maddow’s show, on MSNBC, to make the case for prioritizing the climate crisis: “This is an economic issue, it’s a health issue… it’s a national security issue,” he said. On Wednesday, Inslee was back on Maddow to announce that he’s dropping out of the race. “I’m not going to be the president,” he said. Still, Inslee remains optimistic about the impact of his bid. “I think we have set the stage for a genuine debate about climate change,” he said in an interview with New York’s David Wallace-Wells. “It was a significant achievement to get this on the country’s radar screen.”
That cheerfulness may be misplaced. Multiple polls have shown climate to be a top concern for Democratic voters, yet so far in the campaigns the climate has been overshadowed by Trump, the economy, racism, and the horse race itself. Climate was notably downplayed during the first and second rounds of debates; during one, in July, CNN’s moderators only got to a climate question halfway through, right after a lengthy conversation about electability. During Inslee’s first debate performance, he got less speaking time than any other candidate, and failed to use the time he did have to drag the focus to the climate crisis. He performed better in the second debate, but it was too late for a breakthrough. Cable news channels barely mentioned his candidacy.
Still, many observers—including David Roberts, of Vox, and Brian Kahn, of Earther—credit Inslee’s campaign with making an outsize impact: he managed to attract climate-focused coverage in The New Yorker; The New York Times, and other prominent publications that have scarcely reported on other low-polling candidates. The fact of his campaign forced higher-profile rivals to finetune their climate policies and encouraged journalists to assess candidates on those terms. HuffPost’s Alexander C. Kaufman wrote on Wednesday: “His emphasis on the climate crisis made it impossible for his competitors to deploy lackluster talking points such as recommitting to the Paris agreement or putting a price on carbon emissions.”
Inslee’s most important contribution to media coverage was his advocacy, early this summer, for a presidential debate focused solely on climate change. The Democratic National Committee said no, but Inslee’s push continued to gain momentum. At least 10 other candidates signed on to the idea, as did outside groups; one, the Sunrise Movement, organized a protest outside DNC headquarters.
The DNC has stayed firm, and just yesterday, it voted down a motion that would have allowed candidates to appear at an independent climate debate. But major networks have heeded the call that Inslee amplified. Next month, CNN will host at least 10 candidates back to back at a climate-focused town hall. And MSNBC, in collaboration with Georgetown University and Our Daily Planet, an environmental news site, will host a climate forum across multiple days, with each candidate who takes part promised an hour of airtime.
These fora will help. But without Inslee in the race, it will be up to journalists to ask candidates their plans for confronting the climate crisis, press for specifics, and help persuade the DNC to approve a full climate debate in prime time. “I think we truly need a climate-centered debate,” Inslee told Maddow. “This is a complex issue. This involves mobilizing the entire United States economy. And you really can’t do that in just 60 seconds.”
Below, more on the climate crisis, and the 2020 race:
- Covering Climate Now: Writing for CJR in June, Jason Plautz spoke to environmental journalists about the benefits of a climate debate. In partnership with The Nation and The Guardian, CJR is leading Covering Climate Now, a major initiative to increase the visibility of the climate crisis in media. So far, more than 100 outlets from around the world have signed on. You can get involved here.
- #PrayForTheAmazon: The Amazon is burning. Its good health, Terrence McCoy writes for The Washington Post, is essential to curbing global warming—the Amazon “serves as the lungs of the planet, accounting for a quarter of the carbon dioxide absorbed by the world’s forests”—yet Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has dismissed the problem and weakened regulations. Emmanuel Macron, who is hosting the Group of 7 nations in France this weekend, has called for the Amazon crisis to be at the top of the agenda.
- Closer to home: Major wildfires are burning, too, in Alaska. Mike Dunleavy, the state’s governor, a Republican, instructed residents to “stay tuned to your radio” for updates. That’s tough, since, he also cut $2.7 million from the budgets of Alaska’s public media. KTUU has more.
- The state of the race: Inslee was the third candidate to drop out of the Democratic primary, following Eric Swalwell, a California Congressman, and John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado. (Inslee will now run for reelection as governor of Washington.) So far, only 10 candidates have qualified for the third round of debates, on ABC News; currently, that means we’ll only see one debate night, though a second will be added if more candidates qualify. On the Republican side, Joe Walsh, a radio-show host and former Congressman, could announce a primary challenge to Trump as soon as this weekend.
Other notable stories:
- Surprise! Yesterday, Fox News announced that it’s adding Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former White House press secretary, as a contributor. Sanders will make her debut on September 6, on Fox & Friends, and appear across Fox News and Fox Business Network shows thereafter. In other Fox News news, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists removed the network as a sponsor of its upcoming conference, citing a recent Fox News Radio segment in which host Todd Starnes compared the arrival of immigrants in America to the Nazi invasion of France, in addition to Fox’s culture, which “provides a megaphone for disinformation by those in power.”
- For years, Rupert Murdoch has complained that big tech companies use publishers’ content without paying for it and unfairly downgrade conservative outlets. Now News Corp is developing an aggregator of its own, called Knewz (yes, really). According to The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Lillian Rizzo, Knewz will link out to news outlets’ sites without taking a slice of the ad revenue, and plans to promote conservative outlets, such as The Daily Caller and the Daily Wire, that News Corp believes are deprioritized by rival apps.
- NPR’s David Folkenflik explores the tactics Jeffrey Epstein and his lawyers used to soften—or stop—unflattering media coverage. Epstein’s approach to the press veered between friendliness and threats. According to Folkenflik, a New York Times reporter once solicited a five-figure charitable donation from Epstein. On other occasions, Epstein may have been responsible for sending a bullet and a severed cat’s head to the homes of Graydon Carter, then the editor of Vanity Fair.
- Amid growing talk of an impending recession, CJR’s Zainab Sultan asked reporters whether the financial press actually knows what it’s talking about. “I think the biggest risk here is that we talk ourselves into a downturn and we talk about it so much that we end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy,” CNN’s Julia Chatterley told Sultan. “I do think there is a tendency, perhaps, for certain aspects of the financial media to be very alarmist.”
- Also on the economy beat, NBC’s Dylan Byers took issue with coverage of a pledge, taken by business leaders this week, to consider the interests of customers, communities, and employees, and not just those of shareholders, when making decisions. The pledge “is wrongly being portrayed as a sea-change moment in American capitalism. It isn’t,” Byers writes. “It’s a defensive measure for corporations in uncertain times.”
- The Times profiles the Western Journal, a right-wing website that soared to prominence on Facebook, but has struggled since big tech companies started cracking down on misinformation and clickbait. Elsewhere, Facebook banned The Epoch Times, another right-wing outlet with an outsized social-media following, from advertising on its platform, after NBC raised questions about the Epoch Times making massive ad buys in support of Trump.
- For CJR, Sonam Vashi profiles Mario Guevara, a leading journalistic authority on immigration raids in Atlanta, who has faced accusations that he collaborated with law enforcement. Also on the immigration beat, BuzzFeed’s Hamed Aleaziz reports that a recent Justice Department email to immigration court employees linked to a racist article on a white-supremacist website. And James Dyer, of Empire magazine, said a border agent stopped him at an airport and called him a member of the “fake news media.”
- And on Wednesday, the Houston Astros blocked Anthony Fenech, a reporter with the Detroit Free Press, from a post-game media session with Justin Verlander, violating an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Verlander suggested Fenech had behaved “unethically” in the past.
IFCN chooses two fellows: one to study a fact check’s circle of life and the other to dive into an innovative membership model
People avoid consuming news that bums them out. Here are five elements that help them see a solution
Journalists who cover Facebook get used to a sense of deja vu. The social networking behemoth often tends to revisit things it has tried to do once—or even multiple times—in the past. The company says that’s because it is committed to “iterating” (as tech founders like to call it), which means trying the same thing over and over until it comes out right. The idea of employing journalists to curate the news definitely falls into that category. Facebook has said it is planning to roll out a new standalone tab for news, for which it is cutting lucrative deals with a number of leading publishers like The New York Times and Washington Post. And it is also hiring a handful of professional editors to curate the top headlines. But will the social network manage to make this unlikely marriage of humans and algorithms work any better than it did the last time?
Facebook’s previous attempt to curate the news turned into a fiasco. The company hired editors to help select some headlines for its mostly automated “trending topics” feature, which began in 2014 as an attempt to compete with Twitter as a breaking news platform. All seemed to be going well, until Gizmodo ran a story in 2016 that quoted some of the company’s hired editors admitting that they often deliberately excluded some conservative websites from the trending topics lineup. The truth of the matter turned out to be much more nuanced than the headline portrayed it (as even the editor of the piece later admitted), but the damage was done. Conservatives soon howled that Facebook was biased against them, and the company scrambled to apologize and make amends. The human editors were fired, and eventually the feature was shut down completely.
This was arguably the genesis of the long-standing conspiracy theory that Facebook is biased against conservatives, something that has been raised time and time again by pundits—not to mention the White House and Congress—despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence to support it (and in fact significant evidence to the contrary). The idea of a separate news tab has also been tried before, although in a slightly different way. In 2018, Facebook ran an experiment in six countries in which it removed news from the News Feed completely, and put it all in a separate tab called Explore. This also failed miserably, as several Facebook executives admitted, and eventually the experiment was scrapped. “People don’t want two separate feeds,” said Adam Mosseri, who at the time was in charge of the News Feed. One big problem with the tab: virtually no one ever went there, which left news publishers concerned about the impact on their traffic.
So what’s different this time? For one thing, the company says news will continue to appear in the regular News Feed, as well as in the new tab. The new location will also be prominently featured, and presumably will also be highlighted and recommended by the News Feed algorithm. The company claims it has learned from the Trending Topics affair, and is looking to hire professional journalists rather than freelancers with little industry experience (a description that some of the previous round of curators dispute). In any case, this is likely to do little to assuage critics who are eager to play the bias card, of course, and the fact that Facebook is paying a select group of outlets could actually make it worse instead of better. The list of who makes the cut and who doesn’t will no doubt be pored over for evidence of bias and favoritism.
The Trending Topics debacle may have been a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, but one of the main ripple effects was that Facebook showed itself to be highly vulnerable to those who try to “work the refs,” as some call the lobbying and pressure tactics by conservative groups, to the point where the company seemed to be bending over backwards to appease the right wing. Whether it will do any better this time around is an open question.
Here’s more on Facebook, the news, and conservative bias:
- Short on facts: After repeated complaints about Facebook’s alleged bias, the company agreed to let former Senator John Kyl conduct a “bias audit,” the details of which were released this week. Casey Newton of The Verge says the report is “long on feelings and short on facts.” Critics of the effort point out that it is based on interviews with 133 conservative individuals and groups, which makes it feel more like a list of grievances than a scientific audit.
- Forced integration: Emily Bell, the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, wrote for CJR about Facebook’s proposal to pay media outlets for their news. The offer highlights the fact that “the slow, forced integration of news into large tech companies continues,” she wrote. “Will news outlets be able to resist the allure of additional funding from Facebook?”
- Check please: Meanwhile, as part of its ongoing shift towards longer-form video, Facebook continues to pay media companies to produce shows for its Watch video feature. According to Axios, the company is funding two new shows from BuzzFeed, part of an estimated $90 million or so the social network has committed to spent on shows produced by a number of outlets.
Other notable stories:
- Lewis Raven Wallace writes for Nieman Reports about how trans journalists are challenging newsrooms. “We are asking journalism leaders to confront the structural barriers that make it hard for trans people, particularly trans people of color, to enter and remain in the industry,” Wallace writes. While the number of trans journalists has increased, there are still few in leadership positions.
- Last week, MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito apologized for taking money from Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in jail after being arrested on charges of sex trafficking. Shortly afterward Media Lab veteran Ethan Zuckerman said he was resigning over the issue. On Wednesday, researcher Nathan Matias, said he is also resigning as a result of the revelations.
- Jeremy Gordon writes for CJR about whether music journalism will be able to overcome its access problem. Access-driven writing is “increasingly repetitive and less revelatory than it ever has been,” Gordon writes. More and more media outlets that are pressed for time and resources are running interviews and profiles taken from the same homogenous pool of artists, and criticism is “incentivized by the same celebrity model,” says Gordon.
- Game Informer, one of the largest-circulation magazines in the US, has abruptly laid off almost half of its editorial staff. The magazine is published by GameStop, a chain of video-game stores that has been struggling financially. The company laid off more than a hundred employees on Tuesday, including seven of the magazine’s editors.
- Bloomberg writes about The Athletic, the fast-growing, sports-journalism startup that says it now has over 600,000 subscribers paying an average of $64 a year, and expects to end the year with more than a million. The company now has about 400 editorial staffers, and recently hired away several top sports journalists from a number of British outlets. It has yet to make a profit.
- In 2016, Breitbart News was cut off by digital advertising network AppNexus because the company’s CEO said he could no longer stomach serving ads on the right-wing site next to anti-immigration screeds and other hate speech. But now The Verge reports that AT&T, which acquired AppNexus last year, has reinstated Breitbart. The site “inquired how it could return to our platform, satisfied our requirements, and is reinstated,” said a representative.
- Han Zhang writes for The New Yorker about College Daily, a fast-growing online news site aimed at Chinese college students in the US. The site’s articles often get more than a million pageviews, Zhang says, thanks to being widely shared on WeChat, the popular Chinese social networking app. But the College Daily newsroom also has a host of rules for its writers, including a ban on terms like Dalai Lama and Falun Gong (a banned religious group), and its coverage of the protests in Hong Kong expresses support for the police.
- James Poniewozik of the Times writes about former White House press secretary Sean Spicer joining the cast of the TV show Dancing With the Stars, and how it’s a depressing example of the ease with which even professional liars like Spicer can rehabilitate their image thanks to the power of network television. “To treat Spicer, and his reason for notoriety, as a harmless joke is to whitewash the harm of what he did,” writes the Times critic.
- Kyle Chayka writes for The Nation about former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter’s latest media venture, a weekly subscription email newsletter known as Air Mail. Chayka calls it “a newsletter for the rich and boring,” and “an exercise in misplaced nostalgia for the heyday of glossy magazines.” The newsletter tries hard to recapture some of the glory days of mag publishing, Chayka says, but its tone is “labored and humorless” rather than ironic.
The biggest spender on pro-Trump Facebook ads (besides his campaign) “straddles the line between an ultraconservative news outlet and a conspiracy warehouse”
It’s been a difficult few weeks for The New York Times. A little over a month ago, the paper, along with many of its rivals, was called out for its euphemistic descriptions of Trump’s racist tweets. Three weeks later, after a gunman in El Paso killed 22 people in an anti-Latino massacre, the Times became a lightning rod for criticism; it had topped its story about the president’s post-shooting speech with a headline—“Trump urges unity vs. racism”—that was sorely lacking in context and skepticism. Last Monday, Dean Baquet, the Times executive editor, convened a town-hall meeting for staff and addressed the headline, which, he conceded, had been “a fucking mess.” A simultaneous scandal around Jonathan Weisman, a deputy Washington editor, and his tweets about Democratic politicians of color, exacerbated tensions within—and external scrutiny of—the newsroom. Last Tuesday, the Times demoted Weisman. On Thursday, Slate’s Ashley Feinberg published a transcript of the town hall, further prolonging a critical Times-centric news cycle.
Ironically, while last week’s town-hall and Weisman drama played out, the Times was earning rave reviews on a related front. Last Tuesday, the Times Magazine launched its 1619 Project, a sprawling initiative that aims to reframe America’s origin story around the arrival, 400 years ago, of the first African slaves in Virginia. On Sunday, the package dropped in print; Twitter—which, 10 days earlier, had rung with subscriber threats to drop the paper over its inadequate coverage of race—suddenly filled with readers’ proud snaps of the 1619 pullout. Still, the day did not pass without complaint: critics assailed the paper for a headline, on A1 of the same edition, that they said romanticized Stephen Miller, Trump’s hardline anti-immigration adviser, by referring to him as a “young firebrand.” It all felt rather contradictory. One critic, the writer John Warner, tweeted, “The NYTimes truly contains multitudes.”
The Times does contain multitudes. Headlines are not stories; A1 is not the magazine is not the opinion section. Some critics on the right, however, see no such contradictions—the Times, they say, is pursuing a calculated, unified agenda to paint Trump as a racist. Several conservative commentators took remarks made by Baquet at the town hall—in particular, that the Times is pivoting from the Trump-Russia story to “a more head-on story about the president’s character”—as evidence of a shifting smear campaign. Amid a flurry of furious tweets, US Sen. Ted Cruz compared the paper to Pravda; on Monday, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, also invoked Pravda, in a Fox & Friends discussion about the 1619 Project. Also on Fox, host Greg Gutfeld said the Times is “creating a framework to shape the news, to lay out a blueprint so you can just slot in all the stories about race.” Referring to the “slave article,” Gutfeld said, “I didn’t read it, but now my assumptions are this is all part of a greater narrative to paint Donald Trump as racist.”
Contemporary racism, including from the president, and the legacies of slavery are part of a connected narrative—just not in the way such critics think. In fact, it’s the disconnect in the Times’s treatment of the two that is particularly instructive: the 1619 Project is powerful because of its unflinching truth-telling, whereas some coverage of Trump’s words, in particular, seems to pull punches. The Times, which always courts outsized attention from media critics, is not a lone offender here, and Baquet’s editorial philosophy, as articulated at length at the town hall, is nuanced and worth reading in full. The paper does seem, however, to be overly concerned with perception. Baquet told staff that words like “racist” and “lie” lose their power when they’re repeated too often. But what if the truth requires repeating them?
Similarly, Baquet has stressed repeatedly, both internally and in interviews (including with CJR), that it’s not the Times’s job to lead the “opposition,” or the “resistance.” But there’s a difference between adversarial reporting on those in power—which is the proper function of a paper like the Times—and political opposition for opposition’s sake.
The Times attracts so much scrutiny because—arguably more than any other outlet—it sets the national news agenda. Agenda-setting power is inextricable from allegations of political bias. The best thing for a newspaper to do is wield that power with the confidence that it’s telling unvarnished truths; second-guessing public perception obscures those truths. As Feinberg wrote of the town hall, “The problem for the Times is not whether it can navigate social-media controversies or satisfy an appetite for #resistance-based outrage, both of which it can tell itself are not a newspaper’s job to do. It’s whether it has the tools to make sense of the world.”
Making sense of the present and making sense of the past are two sides of the same endeavor; as Hannah-Jones put it, the 1619 Project “is, above all, an attempt to set the record straight. To finally, in this 400th year, tell the truth about who we are as a people and who we are as a nation.” When future historians judge this moment, and our coverage of it, will they think we told the whole, difficult truth about it?
Below, more on the Times:
- A high standard, I: At the height of The Headline furor, Gabriel Snyder, CJR’s public editor for the Times, spoke with Baquet; “People think we are an important and necessary institution and they hold us to a high standard,” Baquet said. Last week, CJR’s Alexandria Neason reported from the launch of the 1619 Project.
- A high standard, II: Jay Rosen, a professor at NYU, responded to The Headline and the subsequent town hall. “It has always struck me that while the people at The New York Times consider it the apex of journalism, the highest the ladder of excellence goes, they have not extended that reputation for quality to the acts of listening, receiving criticism, sorting signal from noise, and changing their work,” he writes. “‘We are not the resistance’ is a crappy read on what people are trying to tell you. But this is one area where mediocrity and worse—incompetence—is tolerated at the Times.”
- Faultlines: Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo hears that, within the Times newsroom, views on The Headline mostly differed along generational lines. Sources told Pompeo that there’s also “a growing sense of disillusionment among prominent female Times journalists who have been huddling to hash out their concerns, including a string of high-ranking women leaving the institution for other publications where they ‘could have more power.’”
Other notable stories:
- Facebook will hire human journalists to help curate a “News Tab” that will soon appear in its app, the Times’s Mike Isaac reports. The company is asking for candidates with five years of relevant work experience, but their role will likely be limited: NBC’s Dylan Byers writes that while “the top stories and breaking news items of the day will be selected by humans… the rest of the content will be determined algorithmically based on user data and preferences. These editors will only select stories and link back to the original sources. They will not edit headlines or stories or write their own content.” Also yesterday, Facebook released a summary of an “audit,” led by Jon Kyl, a former Republican senator, of allegations that the platform is biased against conservatives.
- NBC’s Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins profile The Epoch Times, a burgeoning website that boasts one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet, and has spent more money on pro-Trump Facebook ads than any group outside of the Trump campaign. “The Epoch Times looks like many of the conservative outlets that have gained followings in recent years. But it isn’t,” Zadrozny and Collins write. “Behind the scenes, the media outlet’s ownership and operation is closely tied to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community with the stated goal of taking down China’s government.”
- For CJR, Simon Parkin writes that news outlets are using interactive games to tell the climate-crisis story. “In the case of climate change, it’s hard to tell a story about infrastructural changes, or cascading ecological effects, or nonlinear phenomena,” Paolo Perdicini, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art, says. “Games, by virtue of being dynamic and complex systems, have the potential to make us think about complexity.”
- Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show still draws a large audience; nonetheless, following a string of controversies, advertisers are fleeing, the Times’s Tiffany Hsu reports. Big companies pulled ads from Carlson’s show in December, after he said that immigrants make America “poorer and dirtier and more divided,” and in March, after Media Matters for America dug up incriminating past remarks by Carlson. More recently, after Carlson called white supremacy a “hoax,” smaller firms, such as Calm and SoFi, jumped ship, too. Axios’s Sara Fischer writes that the Trump era has seen a rise in “advertising activism.”
- Recently, C-VILLE Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia, axed the column of Molly Conger, an independent journalist in the city; Conger had received what she calls an “empty” legal threat after mentioning a photograph of a police officer whose arm was around a white supremacist. Now Conger writes for The Guardian that she’s “surprised the paper’s owners reacted with such incredible cowardice.” (In 2018, CJR’s Brendan Fitzgerald looked at Charlottesville’s media a year after the deadly Unite the Right rally.)
- For this week’s New Yorker, Susan Glasser profiled Mike Pompeo, the secretary of State. The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan says the article ignored Pompeo’s “well-documented bigotry toward Islam and Muslims—in fact, neither word even makes an appearance in the piece.” Hasan asks of the liberal media: “Why doesn’t rising anti-Muslim bigotry bother them in the same way as, say, anti-Semitism, homophobia, or anti-black racism?”
- Last week, Joi Ito, the director of MIT’s Media Lab, apologized for courting donations from Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who killed himself in jail last week. Now The Boston Globe reports that Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media, plans to resign over the organization’s Epstein ties. “I no longer feel I can continue working on issues of social justice under the banner of the Media Lab,” he said.
- And in Canada, the government of Quebec will make a $5-million loan to help a heavily indebted French-language newspaper chain stay afloat. Per the Montreal Gazette, the money will keep the papers in business until the end of the year, in the hope that they can find buyers before then.