The Pentagon's war reporting rules are the toughest ever for journalists, reports Neil Hickey, citing interviews with more than a score of foreign editors, Pentagon correspondents and other journalists. "Bush administration policy has kept reporters from combat units in a fashion unimagined in Vietnam, and one that's more restrictive even than the burdensome constraints on media in the Persian Gulf," he writes.
If you've ever wondered why local television news is so often so bad, the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) has the answer. PEJ surveyed local news directors and rated local television news in 14 cities. The first of a number of very troubling findings -- 53 percent of the news directors "reported advertisers try to tell them what to air and not to air and they say the problem is growing." The pressure to do puff pieces is constant and routine.
Fortune reporter Bethany McLean was virtually the only journalist in America who dared write about Enron's financial problems prior to November 2001. Now that its collapse has become the nation's hottest story, teams of business journalists are digging into the largest corporate meltdown in American history. But as in the savings and loan debacle a dozen years ago, it took news organizations too long to piece together the clues. "It's fair to say the press did not do a great job in covering Enron," admits Steve Shepard, editor-in-chief of Business Week magazine.
Theta Davis chronicles the rise of the Independent Media Center (IMC) movement, which sprang to life in Seattle, during protests there against the World Trade Organization in the fall of 1999. "After Seattle, IMCs began to pop up around the world, from South Africa to New York City. At current count there are more than 60 centers in 25 different countries. Some, like Seattle and New York, have permanent, physical offices.
The U.S. Department of Defense recently issued a report stating that the "war on terrorism" could last as long as six years on a global scale. "In a paradox worthy of careful study, however, the mass media have been far more exuberant about progress in the war," notes Strategic Forecasting, a private intelligence company that provides businesses with strategic analyses of international events. "The media have to a great extent disregarded the constant drumbeat of caution sounded by everyone from U.S. President George W. Bush to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Adm. John Stufflebeem.
Alessandra Stanley reports how "television news executives are exploring niche news programming" to brand their network deep into the psyche of the younger audience that advertisers crave. "In a nobler version of the tobacco industry tactics, they hope to lure younger people to their product and then hook them. 'The idea is that you are investing,' David F. Poltrack, the CBS executive vice president for research and planning, explained. 'You know as viewers age they watch more television news.
"America is four months into this crisis, and one comment about the course of events is now long overdue: the U.S. media have woefully mishandled their coverage of post-Sept. 11 developments," writes Andrew Stroehlein, who moderates a Poynter Institute online forum for journalists devoted to discussing media coverage of the war. "American journalists now consider themselves Americans first and journalists second, and the U.S.
Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, a human rights organization based in San Francisco, recently sent a fact-finding delegation to Afghanistan and Pakistan. "I didn't know that massive numbers of people were not getting food aid because the U.S. was blocking an international force from coming in to open up the roads so that aid could get in," Benjamin reports. "And I also had no idea of the extent of innocent victims, who were killed by U.S. bombs, until I realized that everywhere we went, we found people who had stories to tell of loved ones who were killed in the bombing. ...
A recent essay by Fouad Ajami in the New York Times Magazine described Al Jazeera, the 24-hour Arab satellite channel, as "irresponsible," "inflammatory," "anti-American" and "anti-Israel." Some people disagree with this assessment, including MSNBC correspondent Michael Moran
The Defense Department has apologized for obstacles to covering war, reports the New York Times. For the past two month, the Pentagon has come under criticism from news organizations for its restrictions on journalists covering the fighting in Afghanistan. "We owe you an apology," Victoria Clarke, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, wrote Thursday in a letter to the Washington bureau chiefs of major news organizations. "The last several days have revealed severe shortcomings in our preparedness to support news organizations in their efforts to cover U.S.