December 7th, 2011
chasewhiteside
Read This, Not That: The Real Problem with Fox News
The liberal platitude that Fox News is a propaganda arm for the Republican Party has gone mainstream; even the Obama administration has taken aim. But Terry McDermott argues in the Columbia Journalism Review that Fox’s agenda isn’t political, but commercial, and that the network has simply mastered the format better than its competitors:

Over the course of an average day, all this talking on the three channels adds up to more than half a million words spilled on cable-news air. That’s a phenomenal amount of verbiage—by volume, a new War and Peace every single day. It does not, as you might guess, approach anything like the art and coherence of a novel. Rarely does a single sentence rise to that level.
What are they talking about all the time? Usually, they’re talking about what a particular little morsel of news means. What is that bit of news good for? Whom is it good for? Who’s up, who’s sideways, who’s selling the country down the river? There is a very large measure of performance involved in all of this. The studio hosts typically play some amped-up, over-the-top version of themselves. They bring to mind nothing so much as one of the vibrant monologues from the Howard Beale character in the movie Network: “Television is a Goddamned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business!’

Read the full article here.
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Read This, Not That: The Real Problem with Fox News

The liberal platitude that Fox News is a propaganda arm for the Republican Party has gone mainstream; even the Obama administration has taken aim. But Terry McDermott argues in the Columbia Journalism Review that Fox’s agenda isn’t political, but commercial, and that the network has simply mastered the format better than its competitors:

Over the course of an average day, all this talking on the three channels adds up to more than half a million words spilled on cable-news air. That’s a phenomenal amount of verbiage—by volume, a new War and Peace every single day. It does not, as you might guess, approach anything like the art and coherence of a novel. Rarely does a single sentence rise to that level.

What are they talking about all the time? Usually, they’re talking about what a particular little morsel of news means. What is that bit of news good for? Whom is it good for? Who’s up, who’s sideways, who’s selling the country down the river? There is a very large measure of performance involved in all of this. The studio hosts typically play some amped-up, over-the-top version of themselves. They bring to mind nothing so much as one of the vibrant monologues from the Howard Beale character in the movie Network: “Television is a Goddamned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business!’

Read the full article here.

// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

December 5th, 2011
erickstoll

Read This, Not That: The Walmart-ization of the Web

Let’s start Monday morning off with a bit of social media navel-gazing: In contrast to the decentralized and democratic internet of the 90s, most traffic today coalesces around several internet destinations, giving sites like Google and Facebook immense influence over content distribution. Most news outlets have blindly embraced these platforms, believing them to be integral to survival. In Columbia Journalism Review, Justin Peters considers the consequences of restrictive social media platforms for journalism and public discourse.

These digital gorgons now loom so large that content producers cannot avoid their shadow. The traffic they direct and attention they command is so great that, for publishers, to ignore them is to court obscurity and potential irrelevance. In a previous era, media properties were the primary points of access to information and opinion relevant to their respective communities, much to the dismay of certain interest groups and constituencies whose issues went unreported and voices went unheard. Now we have swapped one set of media gatekeepers for another—a handful of multi-billion dollar tech companies that aim to profit by hosting the digital commons.

The question is whether they’re up to the task. Some claim that Facebook and its cohort have crippled the open web—that unregulated bastion of independent thought and untrammeled communications—by encouraging people to become data sharecroppers on their vast digital plantations. The doomsayers are perhaps overstating their case. The open web continues to exist, after all, and is not hard to find, even if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But it is safe to say that the rise of the new digital behemoths portends the decline of the maker culture that once defined the Internet, as people are encouraged to become data consumers rather than creators. It means that a significant number of people will come to spend the bulk of their online time inside a circumscribed Internet characterized by limited functionality and bland ambition. And it likely spells an end to the idealistic notion that true disintermediation— the removal of the informational middleman—could play a relevant part in any given future for news.

Read the full article here. 

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