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‘Enough of the chaos’: The Orlando Sentinel takes down Trump before his re-election rally

On the day President Donald Trump kicks off his re-election campaign in Orlando, one newspaper said it will not endorse him. That paper just happens to be just down the street from where Trump is speaking. In a scathing takedown, the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board wouldn’t say which candidate it was endorsing, but it already […]

The post ‘Enough of the chaos’: The Orlando Sentinel takes down Trump before his re-election rally appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: June 18, 2019, 9:47 pm

More news coverage, more money: How donors respond to sex scandals among Congress members

This post was originally published here by Journalist’s Resource at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. Federal legislators embroiled in a financial or sex scandal are rewarded with money from donors and generally win re-election — if the scandal draws national media attention, according to research published recently in Political Research Quarterly. The study […]

The post More news coverage, more money: How donors respond to sex scandals among Congress members appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: June 18, 2019, 7:55 pm

Sean McElwee’s media influence

Sean McElwee is, first and foremost, an expert yeller. He yells on Twitter, he yells at politicians, he yells in spirited debate with friends at a weekly happy hour he hosts in downtown Manhattan. And people listen—from pollsters to members of Congress to local politicians to presidential candidates. McElwee, 26, wears clear-framed glasses and, at […]
Posted: June 18, 2019, 6:21 pm

What will Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, mean for news?

Facebook is pitching its new cryptocurrency, Libra — which will be officially launched in 2020 — as a way for the world’s unbanked to save, send, and spend money. To some, it’s also a massive power grab by an already immensely powerful company (and a bunch of other powerful companies — Libra’s 27 initial partners include...
Posted: June 18, 2019, 3:53 pm

Meet TikTok: How The Washington Post, NBC News, and The Dallas Morning News are using the of-the-moment platform

Tired of the trolls and infinite screaming on Twitter? Try the infinite video memes on TikTok — perhaps the most successful new social platform among American young people since Snapchat more than a half-decade ago. And as with Snapchat before it, news organizations are trying to figure out a way in — wading into the...
Posted: June 18, 2019, 3:10 pm

Crawfish aren’t actually fish. Here’s how they got their name.

Summer starts this week, a great time for a fish boil. What would you call the creature above? No, it is not a baby lobster or an odd-looking shrimp. What you call it probably depends on where you grew up. You might know it as a “crawfish,” “crayfish,” or “crawdad.” That last one is probably […]
Posted: June 18, 2019, 2:58 pm

Audiobooks are no longer exempt from the broader shifts in the podcast world

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 214, published June 18, 2019. Mary Meeker presented the 2019 edition of her Internet Trends report at the Code Conference last week, and podcasting pops up for a slide, grouped together with smart speakers as part of the broader voice trend. You can find...
Posted: June 18, 2019, 1:24 pm

Dozens of Oregon media outlets collaborated on suicide prevention coverage — here’s what they learned.

Carol Cruzan Morton has been writing about science and medical issues for more than 30 years, but she’s never taken on the topic of suicide. She’d heard for years about the taboos journalists faced in writing about it, which boiled down to: Don’t do it. The way in which the news media wrote about suicides, […]

The post Dozens of Oregon media outlets collaborated on suicide prevention coverage — here’s what they learned. appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: June 18, 2019, 12:10 pm

US–Iran coverage is still not skeptical enough

With every day that passes, the drumbeat of war echoes a little more loudly through our media. Yesterday, officials in Iran said that the country will soon have produced and stockpiled more low-enriched uranium—of the type used in power plants—than it is permitted to possess under the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US ditched last year. In Washington, the Trump administration moved to dispatch 1,000 American troops to the Middle East, adding to the 1,500-strong deployment it sent last month. Tensions between the US and Iran, we are told, are rising.

Left-wing observers have long complained that American outlets’ coverage of hostile foreign governments—certainly in the Middle East, and particularly in Iran—tends to parrot the line of the US government, however bellicose, without applying due skepticism. How has the latest Iran coverage shaped up? It’s hard to generalize, of course. But the Trump era writ large has brought out the skeptical side in many reporters, and it seems that some of them have applied it to the Iran story. Late last week and over the weekend, reporters repeatedly raised doubts as to Trump’s credibility in connection with his administration’s claim that Iran attacked two oil tankers (neither of which are American) in the Gulf of Oman. (Iran denies this.) The purported evidence—a video appearing to show Iranian soldiers removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers—was called into question by the owner of one of the ships and the German foreign minister, among others, and so interviewers asked US officials to show more proof. “The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “The world will come to see much of it.”

ICYMI: A ‘disappointed’ BuzzFeed newsroom walks off the job

Yesterday, the Trump administration declassified images it says back up its case that Iran was behind the tanker attacks. Many outlets relayed administration claims about the images in headlines; in a tweet, Politico said that, per the Pentagon, “the images provide ironclad evidence Iran was responsible.” The third paragraph of Politico’s linked story, however, notes that “nothing in the photos or accompanying documents reveal evidence of the placement of the magnetic mines on the ship.” Hardly “ironclad,” then. Last night, in an article for Task & Purpose, a military news site, Jeff Schogol argued that “not a single US official has provided a shred of proof linking Iran to the explosive devices found on the merchant ships.” Without air-tight evidence, news outlets really should not air administration claims without a heavy dose of context. “Pompeo/Bolton/Shanahan said” is not enough.

Again, it’s hard to generalize, but US coverage of the latest Iran episode seems to be falling into some old, bad habits. In recent coverage, “the media has generally been better at treating unproven accusations by the Trump administration as just that—accusations, and not facts,” Trita Parsi, a researcher and founder of the National Iranian American Council, told me last night in an email. “Yet, on numerous occasions, there has either been a failure to push back against blatantly false assertions by Trump officials, or Trump accusations have been presented as proven facts.” The problem is especially acute in headlines and tweets, Parsi notes.

As Andrew Lee Butters wrote in a recent piece for CJR, “a dynamic has developed in Iran reporting, a kind of paranoid feeding frenzy, that helps anti-Iran Trump administration hardliners like John Bolton, the National Security Advisor, build momentum for confrontation.” Butters’s point that US outlets often characterize Iran as “threatening” to resume nuclear production—even though the country has thus far abided by a deal that the US decided to break—echoes in coverage this morning. “There are also cases in which Trump’s violation of the [deal] is solely presented as a ‘withdrawal,’ while Iran’s threat of reducing its adherence to the deal is (correctly) presented as a ‘violation,’” Parsi told me.

It’s welcome if Trump’s role has brought a dash more skepticism to coverage of US–Iran relations, but the traditional problems with this coverage run much deeper than Trump. In subtle and not-so-subtle ways, Iran is too often framed as a menacing, unilateral aggressor whose actions necessitate a strong American response. The truth is a whole lot more complicated.

Below, more on coverage of the US and Iran:

  • “Bomb Iran”: The name of John Bolton was buried in some articles about the latest US troop movements and entirely absent from others despite his hawkish views on Iran being well known. Last night, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes went a different route: the words “BOLTON’S WAR” were displayed as a backdrop as Hayes began a segment on Iran. Last month, Dexter Filkins had an insightful profile of Bolton for The New Yorker.
  • A dangerous feedback loop: Matt Gertz writes, for Media Matters for America, that Trump’s propensity to listen to Fox News talking points could have disastrous consequences when it comes to Iran. (Yesterday, Trump tweeted the exact wording of a chyron that had just appeared on Fox.) Several figures on the network have advocated a military escalation with Iran, arguing that the country “only responds to strength.”
  • Doing better: Writing for The Intercept last month, Mehdi Hasan outlined “four simple steps the US media could take to prevent a Trump war with Iran.” Reporters, Hasan argues, should stop passing on official claims without checking them, diversify their sourcing, and build historical context about US–Iran relations into their reporting.


Other notable stories:

  • Yesterday morning, a heavily armed gunman started shooting outside a federal courts building in Dallas. Tom Fox, a photojournalist at the Dallas Morning News, was at the courthouse for a routine assignment and captured an extraordinary image of the shooter before taking cover. “You use the camera almost as a shield,” Fox told the Morning News. “I also felt a journalistic duty to do all that.” The gunman—who was killed in an exchange of fire with police—was the only casualty. Echoing other recent shootings, his Facebook page contained vague warnings of an attack alongside far-right conspiracy theories and memes, NBC’s Elisha Fieldstadt, Brandy Zadrozny, and Ben Collins report.
  • Yesterday afternoon, BuzzFeed staffers in New York, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco walked off the job to protest management’s failure to recognize their unionization efforts. Executives say they already made an offer of recognition; workers say that that offer would limit union membership by exempting certain job titles. Employees in BuzzFeed’s New York office held a protest on the sidewalk. CJR’s Andrew McCormick went to check it out. “We want to focus on the work,” Davey Alba, a BuzzFeed technology reporter and union organizer, told him.
  • Last month, Authentic Brands Group, a marketing company, acquired Sports Illustrated in an “unusual partnership”: Authentic Brand Groups would license SI’s brand and content while Meredith, the magazine’s previous owner, would continue to handle editorial output. Now, the New York Post’s Keith J. Kelly reports, Meredith is all but out of the picture. Authentic Brands Group licensed SI’s print and digital publishing rights to The Maven—a startup linked to Ross Levinsohn, a former tronc/Tribune executive trailed by allegations of sexual harassment, who will now take charge of SI’s editorial output.
  • In yesterday’s newsletter, I wrote that Trump may have granted access to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in a bid to reach out beyond his base ahead of his formal 2020 campaign launch tonight. If that was Trump’s goal, he’ll be disappointed with the ratings: Politico’s Caitlin Oprysko reports that the full interview came in third in its timeslot on Sunday night, way down on Celebrity Family Feud, which held the same slot last week.
  • Matt Pearce, who is covering the 2020 campaign for the LA Times, published a story about Jay Inslee, the Washington governor whose push for the Democratic nomination is centered on climate change. Pearce chose the topic after his readers told him, in a survey, that they wanted climate change to feature prominently in his coverage. Pearce’s strategy echoes the “citizens agenda” approach—advocated by NYU Professor Jay Rosen—encouraging reporters to cover issues that matter to the community they serve.
  • The New Yorker’s Paige Williams, who profiled Sarah Huckabee Sanders last year, takes a fresh look at Sanders as she prepares to stand down as White House press secretary. “While critics assail Sanders for peddling lies and denigrating the press during televised briefings, many of the White House reporters who consistently interact with her have described her to me as decent and honest in private,” Williams writes. “I would say that they ‘liked’ her, if likability, as it relates to women, weren’t such a loaded term.”
  • For CJR, Adrian Glass-Moore reports on aggressive efforts by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority to push back on stories—including in a student-run newspaper—about plans to inject private money into public housing. In particular, city housing officials objected to use of the word “privatization”; one called it “a highly charged trigger word that is frequently weaponized in debates about affordable housing.” In response to the pressure, several news organizations made changes to published articles.
  • And the defamation case brought by families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims against Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who called the shooting a hoax, took a strange turn after lawyers for the families said they found child pornography in files handed over by Jones. Jones’s lawyer says the images were sent to Jones in emails that he never opened; Jones, on his web show, accused a lawyer for the families of trying to frame him and pound[ed] on a picture of the lawyer’s face. Today, a court will hear a motion that Jones publicly threatened the lawyer. Confused? The AP has much more.

ICYMI: No male editor has ever accepted my pitches on abortion

Posted: June 18, 2019, 12:07 pm

The NY Times’ response to Trump via Twitter, plus a photographer’s brush with a gunman and bad news about bad news

This is the Poynter Institute’s daily newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here. June 18, 2019 Good Tuesday morning. The New York Times might have a policy for responding to President Donald Trump’s tweets about the paper, but they aren’t commenting on that strategy. Plus, a Dallas Morning News photographer got some […]

The post The NY Times’ response to Trump via Twitter, plus a photographer’s brush with a gunman and bad news about bad news appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: June 18, 2019, 11:55 am

An Atlanta radio host complained of gender discrimination. Then she was restructured out of a job.

One afternoon in June 2018, as Alison Tyler listened to the radio on her drive home from work, she realized a familiar voice had disappeared from Atlanta’s airwaves. Amy Kiley, host of All Things Considered on WABE-FM (90.1), wasn’t in her usual afternoon drive-time slot. Later, Tyler wrote to WABE, wondering what happened to Kiley. […]
Posted: June 18, 2019, 10:55 am

IFCN launches Youtube channel and Instagram account during Global Fact 6

False news tends to grow and spread widely on digital platforms, so the landscape of social media can often be a highly contested battlefield for fact-checkers. For this reason, the International Fact-Checking Network launched two new accounts on Instagram and Youtube. Both channels are already up and running, available for anyone interested in following discussions […]

The post IFCN launches Youtube channel and Instagram account during Global Fact 6 appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: June 18, 2019, 9:45 am

A ‘disappointed’ BuzzFeed newsroom walks off the job

Outside of BuzzFeed’s Manhattan offices on Monday, under a gray sky and occasional drops of rain, several dozen staffers of what was once the hottest news outlet on the Internet walked off their jobs. Lined up on the sidewalk along East 18th Street, they cheered and hoisted signs. “RECOGNIZE THE BUZZFEED UNION,” some read. Most, […]
Posted: June 17, 2019, 9:42 pm

Housing officials, newsrooms square off over ‘privatization’

On April 5, University of Minnesota senior Aleezeh Hasan sat in on a meeting for residents at the Elliot Twins public housing complex in Minneapolis. The meeting, organized by a local advocacy group, was called to address the city’s plans to transfer 99.99 percent of Elliot Twins’s ownership to a private investor, in a strategy […]
Posted: June 17, 2019, 3:22 pm

From Global Fact 6: ‘We must protect those who are telling the truth,’ says mayor

Picture yourself the mayor of a city where 250 fact-checker will meet for three days. Would you be a little scared of this huge squad used to telling the truth about public transportation, the health system and education rates? Dan Plato, who was elected Cape Town’s Mayor in November 2018 by the Democratic Alliance, said […]

The post From Global Fact 6: ‘We must protect those who are telling the truth,’ says mayor appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: June 17, 2019, 3:00 pm

The Atlantic introduces a “daily idea” for smart speakers

The Atlantic is launching a new skill for Amazon Echo and Google Home: A “single, illuminating idea” every weekday. From the release: Every weekday, when people ask their smart speakers to play The Atlantic’s Daily Idea, they’ll hear a condensed, one-to two-minute read of an Atlantic story, be it “An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own...
Posted: June 17, 2019, 2:26 pm

Why do some people avoid news? Because they don’t trust us — or because they don’t think we add value to their lives?

The modern digitally connected human (Homo smartphonicus, identifiable by its trademark slumped shoulders and bleary eyes) has access to more news and information than any other human in history, whenever they want it, most of it free, all of it in their pocket. But it’s not only news that they have more access to —...
Posted: June 17, 2019, 1:50 pm

Responding to a ‘virtual act of treason,’ plus the baby taken at the border and a gay journalist’s appeal

This is the Poynter Institute’s daily newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here. June 17, 2019 Good Monday morning. It’s Day 96 since we’ve had an official White House press briefing, and soon, press secretary Sarah Sanders will be leaving. Still, major (and disturbing) news comes out of the White House even […]

The post Responding to a ‘virtual act of treason,’ plus the baby taken at the border and a gay journalist’s appeal appeared first on Poynter.

Posted: June 17, 2019, 11:58 am

The promise—and peril—of Trump’s interview with Stephanopoulos

President Trump hadn’t granted a network news interview in more than four months. Per Mark Knoller, of CBS, Trump had done just two Sunday-show hits in his entire presidency; per Media Matters for America, nearly three-quarters of Trump’s national TV interviews as president have been with Fox channels. It was thus a surprise when the president gave 30 hours of access to George Stephanopoulos, chief anchor of ABC News, last week. Under another president, shots of Stephanopoulos leaning over the desk in the Oval Office and chatting in Air Force One and the presidential limo would not have been especially remarkable. Under Trump, they felt like lost footage from a forgotten era.

To read the headlines that came out of it, Trump’s unusual interview backfired spectacularly. In the middle of last week, ABC released footage of Trump saying that he would accept intel from a foreign government without telling the FBI about it; from that moment on, the remarks drove a furious, multi-day news cycle. Many reporters and commentators pointed out that such conduct would be illegal; several senior Republicans distanced themselves from the president’s words. As the week progressed, ABC threw further clips on the fire. Trump accused Don McGahn, the White House counsel turned key Robert Mueller witness, of lying under oath; when Stephanopoulos asked the president why he himself hadn’t testified to Mueller under oath, Trump replied, “Because they were looking to get us for lies or slight misstatements.” As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy put it, the ABC interview looked like “another fine mess” for Trump. By Friday morning, the president was on the phone to Fox & Friends for some damage control.

ICYMI: No male editor has ever accepted my pitches on abortion

The fallout from the Stephanopoulos interview, pundits surmised, is precisely why Trump doesn’t tend to do interviews with journalists who aren’t his friends. “When seated with anyone other than Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump seems to fall apart,” Nicolle Wallace said on MSNBC. “He seems to lack the mental acuity and the truth-telling capacity to field real questions from real journalists.” Real journalists, of course, have tripped Trump up before: most notably in 2017, when NBC’s Lester Holt pressed Trump on his decision to fire James Comey. As The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote of the Stephanopoulos sit-down, “Sometimes it takes a protracted session with one journalist to get to the heart of things.”

Given that it embarrassed the president and won plaudits for his mainstream-media interviewer (who, for good measure, used to work in the Clinton administration), you’d think that Trump would have reacted furiously to the release of the interview. But you’d (mostly) be wrong. On Saturday, the president tweeted that the “Fake News Media” had distorted his words, but also said he “enjoyed” the interview and pledged to do more like it to “get the word out” about his presidency: “It is called Earned Media,” he wrote. Trump’s tweets seemed to vindicate Politico’s Michael Calderone and Nancy Cook, who wrote last week that Trump—who will formally launch his 2020 campaign tomorrow—sees network interviews as an opportunity to reach out beyond his base, and to dominate a news cycle that’s increasingly driven by his Democratic opponents.

Granting more traditional media access is the president’s prerogative, of course. If tough questions are asked, it isn’t a bad thing. And yet the networks should be careful that they don’t allow Trump to play them. Since Trump last (formally) ran for office, many media-watchers have argued that his campaign rallies and set-piece speeches should not be broadcast live because they contain so many falsehoods. Network interviews are different: they aren’t normally live, and an interlocutor is present to provide scrutiny. But Trump often lies at such a fast pace that even the best interviewer can’t push back on every falsehood in real time. Stephanopoulos certainly did not.

Stephanopoulos did grill Trump on many important topics, and ABC, by and large, did a decent job contextualizing and dripping out the interview’s most newsworthy portions. And yet viewers watching the whole thing (which aired last night) still heard the president say things that aren’t true—and ABC’s transcript of the interview, for instance, is not annotated to point out all the falsehoods. In 2016, Trump exploited “earned media” prolifically: he drove home false talking points, often without challenge, on mainstream networks. This time, we should ensure that the challenge is as sharp as possible. With Trump, an interviewer alone isn’t always enough.

Below, more on Trump:

  • A further escalation: On Saturday, Trump accused The New York Times of a “virtual act of treason” after the paper reported that his administration has been stepping up its digital attacks on Russia’s electric power grid. Trump’s claim was dangerous, and also nonsensical: the Times made clear that “Officials at the National Security Council declined to comment but said they had no national security concerns about the details of The New York Times’s reporting.”
  • Holding the cards: Friday was Trump’s 73rd birthday. According to The Daily Beast’s  Lachlan Markay, some of ABC’s biggest affiliate stations posted content on their websites linking to a “birthday card” for the president—but the “card” was actually “a petition website created by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee to harvest email addresses that can be used during the 2020 campaign.” The ABC affiliate sites took their story down.
  • The escalator ride: Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of Trump riding down the escalator in Trump Tower and declaring his run for the White House. Politico’s Michael Kruse has an oral history of “the escalator ride that changed America.” And on CNN, McKay Coppins, of The Atlantic, reflected on what he got wrong—and right—in his 2014 profile of Trump.


Other notable stories:

ICYMI: Right-wing publications launder an anti-journalist smear campaign

Update: This post has been updated to clarify that Kim Goldman is Ron Goldman’s sister.

Posted: June 17, 2019, 11:49 am

No male editor has ever accepted my pitches on abortion

In the wake of the near-total ban on abortion that passed last month in Alabama, and “heartbeat” bills recently passed in Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Georgia, I have seen a flurry of panicked abortion coverage. The Supreme Court and federal courts have been remade for a generation, and conservative judges will almost certainly incrementally whittle […]
Posted: June 17, 2019, 10:50 am

News outlets will need public support to battle governments set on chilling investigative journalism

Sometimes the best journalism tells us the worst news. The United States has a tradition of learning troubling news through extraordinary reporting efforts from combat zones. During the Vietnam War, award-winning journalism revealed the slaughter of Vietnamese civilians by American soldiers at My Lai. More recently, reports describing the torture and abuse of prisoners at...
Posted: June 17, 2019, 10:00 am

How many really marched in Hong Kong? And how should we best guess crowd size?

The crowd of protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday stretched more than a mile. As the city’s legislature considered a bill that would allow extraditions from Hong Kong, which is semi-autonomous, to China, Civil Human Rights Front, the group that organized the demonstration, estimated that more than a million people had come out to march. […]
Posted: June 14, 2019, 5:54 pm

As the Christchurch massacre trial begins, New Zealand news orgs vow to keep white supremacist ideology out of their coverage

As the trial of the man accused of the Christchurch mosque massacres began a few hours ago, New Zealand’s major media organizations had a plan. They will refuse to run coverage in which the accused and his supporters champion white supremacist or terrorist ideology. They won’t cover, broadcast, or print messages, “imagery, symbols, or signals...
Posted: June 14, 2019, 12:16 pm

After two inglorious years, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will leave the White House

Last June, CBS News reported that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, and Raj Shah, her deputy, were planning to quit the Trump administration. They stuck it out longer than expected. Shah left in January. Yesterday—exactly a year after the original CBS report—we learned that Sanders will depart at the end of this month. President Trump tweeted the news and Sanders did the same: a mode of communication that has characterized Sanders’s time as White House spokesperson.

Sanders took over as press secretary in July 2017, following the ouster of Sean Spicer. Sanders showed more endurance, but her performance has been no better than Spicer’s was. In her two inglorious years on the job, Sanders barred reporters who asked tough questions; promoted Trump’s bogus “fake news awards”; fell in line with the president’s anti-press, “enemy of the people” rhetoric; and routinely disparaged the intelligence and integrity of the journalists in the White House briefing room. She also lied a lot. Sanders said that Trump never encouraged violence (he did) and that he won an “overwhelming majority” of votes in 2016 (he did not). In April, the Mueller report confirmed that in May 2017, Sanders (who was then the deputy press secretary) knowingly misled reporters when she claimed—twice—that “countless” FBI staffers supported Trump’s firing of James Comey. Sanders told Mueller’s office that the claim was “not founded on anything”; it was a “slip of the tongue” that she then repeated “in the heat of the moment,” she said. How did Sanders respond to her confession becoming public? She reiterated the false claim.

ICYMI: Right-wing publications launder an anti-journalist smear campaign

Still, Sanders may not be remembered for her lies as much as her absence. “Last month, reporters noticed that there was literally a coating of dust on the press briefing room podium,” CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote last night. “That is Sanders’s legacy.” On her watch, the televised White House briefing, a fixture under previous administrations, has all but gone extinct. Earlier this year, Sanders set a record for the longest time without a formal briefing since the practice began. Then she beat her own record—twice. If she doesn’t brief soon, next Wednesday will mark 100 days since Sanders last faced reporters at the podium. (She did stand there in late April, but it was only for a “bring your kids to work day” stunt that she declared off the record.) In the absence of briefings, White House reporters have had to chase Sanders down on the White House driveway to ask questions, usually following her interviews with Fox News.

Fox could be a logical next step for Sanders: ex-administration figures often take contributor gigs on cable news, and Sanders has already said that she plans to remain “one of the most outspoken and loyal supporters of the president and his agenda” outside the White House. (CNN reportedly has no interest in Sanders; it’s hard to imagine MSNBC would want her, either.) Trump, in his tweet, encouraged Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas, a post previously occupied by her father, Mike Huckabee; according to CNN, Sanders is thinking seriously about a bid, though there won’t be a vacancy until 2022.

As far as the White House press secretary job is concerned, CNN’s Stelter writes that who replaces Sanders is anyone’s guess. Trump could promote her deputy, Hogan Gidley, or he could look to an outside booster such as Laura Ingraham. (Stranger things have happened: remember Anthony Scaramucci?) The president, who has gone without a communications chief since March, may decline to fill the post. Why would he need a press secretary, when he believes himself to be his own best messenger?

Below, more on Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the White House communications team:

  • What was the point?: Several commentators, including NYU’s Jay Rosen and Mike Allen, of Axios, have argued that briefings, when they happen, are a waste of journalists’ time anyway. Others have countered that, despite the lies from the podium, briefings give reporters an opportunity to confront the administration. Last year, CJR’s Pete Vernon wrote that a briefing “is a testament to the idea that no one is above having to explain themselves. That makes it worth saving.”
  • What Sanders said about Trump: The Atlantic’s Megan Garber writes that Sanders “broke the news” during her time as press secretary. “Her tenure serves as a reminder of what happens when partisanship, aided by the power of the presidency, is allowed to subsume everything else: traditions, norms, truth, people’s lives,” Garber writes.
  • A change of strategy: The White House Correspondents’ Association will soon elect a new president. The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi writes that the leading candidates—S.V. Date, of HuffPost, and Steven Portnoy, of CBS News—plan to take a bolder, more confrontational approach to misinformation. (A third candidate,  Toluse Olorunnipa, of the Post, has yet to outline his plans.)
  • Game, set, Hatch?: Kellyanne Conway’s name has been touted as a possible replacement for Sanders. Yesterday, the office of special counsel recommended that Conway should be removed as a White House aide for repeatedly violating the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from using their position to engage in partisan activities. Trump looks like he will ignore the recommendation: yesterday, Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, called it “as outrageous as it is unprecedented.”


Other notable stories:

  • Trump’s admission, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, that he would accept a foreign government’s offer of dirt on a presidential rival and not tell the FBI about it, drove the news cycle yesterday. Trump’s remarks added distressing detail to what has been established in the Mueller report on interference in the 2016 election, and bodes poorly for 2020.
  • The Democratic National Committee confirmed yesterday that Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton, Steve Bullock, and Mike Gravel have failed to qualify for the first presidential debate; today, the 20 candidates who did qualify will be divided into groups of 10 that will debate on June 26 and June 27, respectively. For CJR, Jason Plautz explores the DNC’s refusal to host a debate dedicated to climate change: “While sixty-second answers won’t allow candidates to get far beyond the top-line goals of their climate-change plans, filling 90 minutes of debate time would force each to reckon with the differences between their plans.” On Wednesday, activists delivered a petition for a climate debate, signed by 200,000 people, to the DNC.
  • When it comes to capturing public and press attention, Reid J. Epstein writes, for the Times, that Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have outmaneuvered the other Democratic candidates for president, “demonstrating an innate understanding of the value of viral moments and nonstop exposure that drive politics in the Trump era.” Buttigieg has done so by emphasizing his personal background; Warren has inundated reporters with policy ideas. Both have climbed in the polls.
  • Yesterday, Sajid Javid, Britain’s interior minister, confirmed that he signed off on the US government’s request to extradite Julian Assange, who is currently in jail in London. Today, the signed order will go before a British court. Assange faces an 18-count indictment in the US, most of which falls under the Espionage Act; last month, press-freedom experts called the indictment a “terrifying” threat to journalism. Sweden had also hoped to extradite Assange, to face a rape investigation, but a Swedish court ruled last week that Assange does not need to be detained in the country after all.
  • In Turkey, prosecutors have charged Kerim Karakaya and Fercan Yalinkilic, two Bloomberg journalists, with attempting to undermine the country’s economic stability; the pair had reported last year on the official response to a severe currency shock in Turkey. The same indictment targets 36 other people “for social media comments on the story, or comments deemed critical of Turkey’s economy and banks,” Bloomberg reports.
  • CJR’s Andrew McCormick looks at two Congressional bills intended to help out the news industry: one would allow publishers to team up to demand better financial terms from big tech platforms; the other would make it easier for news organizations to seek nonprofit status.
  • Last month, Corey Hutchins reported for CJR from La Plata County, Colorado—an“orphan county,” where residents get irrelevant political news from a TV market based outside their home state. This week, following pressure from Cory Gardner, Colorado’s Republican senator, the Federal Communications Commission signaled that it will grant La Plata County residents access to Denver’s TV market instead.
  • And the Mirror Awards, given by Syracuse University to celebrate reporting on the media industry, were announced yesterday. CJR was among the winners: Sarah Jones won for her piece about class and journalism. Ronan Farrow, of The New Yorker, won for his work exposing sexual misconduct by Les Moonves, who subsequently stepped down from CBS. Farrow addressed those gathered at the ceremony: “I see some people [here] who have lied to protect power,” he said.

ICYMI: NYT promotes questionable study on Google and the media

Posted: June 14, 2019, 12:05 pm

Populists prefer television to online news — but are sticking to Facebook as others leave

“Populists prefer to use television news,” and they’re also spending more time on Facebook. This week, Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism released its annual Digital News Report, a good chunk of which focuses on partisan news, fake news, and trust in the media. (We covered the highlights from the rest of the...
Posted: June 14, 2019, 10:26 am

Investigative Network aims to bring more documentary video to local TV (but it’ll need funding first)

The video was explosive. It showed Sandra Bland — the black woman who died by suicide in a Texas jail cell after being pulled over by a state trooper who was later fired — interacting with the trooper. But unlike previous video, this one was shot from her own perspective, recorded on the cell phone...
Posted: June 13, 2019, 4:06 pm

How could deepfakes impact the 2020 U.S. elections?

New technologies used to produce deepfakes are rapidly advancing and becoming more accessible, allowing users to make compelling video and audio clips of individuals doing and saying things they never did or said. Users can, for instance, synthesize an individual’s voice, swap one person’s face onto another person’s body in a video, or alter a...
Posted: June 13, 2019, 11:41 am

The New York Times has a course to teach its reporters data skills, and now they’ve open-sourced it

“Should journalists learn to code?” is an old question that has always had only unsatisfying answers. (That was true even back before it became a useful heuristic for identifying Twitter jackasses.) Some should! Some shouldn’t! Helpful, right? One way the question gets derailed involves what, exactly, the question-asker means by “code.” It’s unlikely a city...
Posted: June 12, 2019, 7:05 pm

Droidward and Botstein can’t do it all, but AI-enhanced journalism offers a glimpse of the next knowledge economy

Much as robots have transformed entire swaths of the manufacturing economy, artificial intelligence and automation are now changing information work, letting humans offload cognitive labor to computers. In journalism, for instance, data mining systems alert reporters to potential news stories, while newsbots offer new ways for audiences to explore information. Automated writing systems generate financial,...
Posted: June 12, 2019, 1:42 pm

Even people who like paying for news usually only pay for one subscription

Publishers worldwide are installing paywalls, but many — even most — won’t succeed. Private WhatsApp groups are becoming the default for sharing and discussing news in non-Western countries. Trust in the media is down worldwide. And more people say they avoid the news now than did in 2016, with a particularly large increase in news avoidance...
Posted: June 12, 2019, 1:03 am

The scariest chart in Mary Meeker’s slide deck for newspapers has gotten even a wee bit scarier

It’s an annual moment of print realism here at Nieman Lab: the posting of the attention/advertising slide from Mary Meeker’s state-of-the-Internet slide deck. It’s enough of a tradition that I can now copy-and-paste from multiple versions of this post. Here’s a sentence from the 2013 version: For those who don’t know it, Meeker — formerly...
Posted: June 11, 2019, 8:55 pm

Can Quake Media shake up the paid-podcast marketplace? (Or maybe SiriusXM?)

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 213, published June 11, 2019. Walls, walls, walls. It’s been a little over month since Luminary, the aspiring “Netflix for podcasts,” stumbled out into daylight, and it’ll be a little while longer before we can figure out if the deep-pocketed upstart will actually tell...
Posted: June 11, 2019, 3:03 pm

Mandy Jenkins will build McClatchy’s Google-funded new local sites. What’s her plan?

The seesaw between platforms and news outlets is culminating in a local news experiment between Google and McClatchy, in which Google has pledged to fund the development of three local news sites over the next three years. It’s the first time the Google News Initiative is actually putting money into building newsrooms that produce journalism,...
Posted: June 11, 2019, 11:30 am

That “$4.7 billion” number for how much money Google makes off the news industry? It’s imaginary

Journalists are typically happy to bemoan the role that Google has played in reducing their profession to revenue smithereens. (Get a couple beers in one and try it out!) But if there’s one thing they’re even more happy to do, it’s to complain about sloppy work. That’s what much of Media Twitter has been doing...
Posted: June 10, 2019, 8:32 pm

Micropayments-for-news pioneer Blendle is pivoting from micropayments

People keep wishing for micropayments. (“Just the one article, please! I’ll pay for it!”) But micropayments keep not panning out. And just as the world says a not-particularly-teary goodbye to iTunes, the most talked-about candidate for an “iTunes for news” is undergoing a major life change of its own. One of the more promising micropayment...
Posted: June 10, 2019, 3:55 pm

Be smart: How Axios drives engagement with its email newsletters through user-level data

Would you consider your relationship with a reader that opens 100 percent of your emails the same as someone who opens 0 percent? Obviously not. Then why do we still think in the aggregate when looking at email list metrics? Most publishers remain mired at the campaign level, ending their newsletter analytics exploration with list-level...
Posted: June 10, 2019, 2:00 pm

ProPublica’s Facebook-monitoring political ad tool (which Facebook fought) is alive again with a new home at the Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail is the new home to the Facebook Political Ad Collector, a browser extension that ProPublica built and released in 2017. As Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson — names that are familiar to you if you’ve been following The Markup … thing — wrote at the time: The tool is a small...
Posted: June 7, 2019, 2:56 pm

New unread message: El Tímpano listens to Oakland’s Spanish-speaking community

In 2018, a group of researchers at Duke set out to study the factors that contribute to news deserts — communities with little to no local news that addresses critical needs. One of their findings was that communities with large Hispanic/Latino populations have less robust journalism. 13.3 percent of U.S. residents speak Spanish at home,...
Posted: June 7, 2019, 1:43 pm

Promoting based on potential: How The Atlantic is putting a lot more women in charge

It’s not a shocker that a lot has changed at The Atlantic since it was founded all the way back in 1857. Perhaps more surprising, though, is how much has changed there in just the last two and a half years. In 2016, women made up just 17 percent of editorial leadership at The Atlantic....
Posted: June 6, 2019, 4:06 pm

Why this week’s raids on Australian media present a clear threat to democracy and press freedom there

The Australian Federal Police has this week conducted two high-profile raids on journalists who have exposed government secrets. On Tuesday, seven officers spent several hours searching News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s Canberra home, her mobile phone and computer. The police linked the raid to “the alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret.” This...
Posted: June 6, 2019, 2:26 pm

Sobering reality for news outlets: Your readers are somewhere else 99% of the time

Here’s a question for local news producers: What are your readers doing when they’re not visiting you? That’s the question asked by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center in an eye-opening study of three metro news websites, based on data from the media analytics company Comscore. And it’s a particularly relevant question, because the study showed...
Posted: June 6, 2019, 2:00 pm

YouTube says it’ll have no more videos from Nazis, Sandy Hook truthers, Holocaust deniers, and white supremacists

YouTube has a post up on its official blog today entitled “Our ongoing work to tackle hate,” and “ongoing” is pretty earned there; as the post notes, YouTube “made more than 30 policy updates” in 2018. The world’s most popular video site has gotten (mostly deserved) blowback from all angles as more have come to...
Posted: June 5, 2019, 4:36 pm

The Boston Globe’s move into Rhode Island is a bet that the last newspapers standing will have a bigger footprint

The Boston Globe, the first local newspaper to have more digital subscribers than print, is now investing in more local coverage. In Rhode Island. After past investments in covering marijuana, the Catholic Church, and health and life sciences (and spinning off the latter two), the Globe’s newest vertical can be found about
Posted: June 5, 2019, 2:33 pm

Americans think “made-up news” is a bigger problem than climate change

U.S. adults are more likely to say that “made-up news/info” is a big problem than they are to identify climate change, racism, terrorism, or sexism as such, according to a study out from the Pew Research Center Wednesday: Fifty percent of those surveyed said made-up news (the artist formerly known as “fake news”) is a...
Posted: June 5, 2019, 2:00 pm

Facebook is offering new subscription tools for publishers via Instant Articles

Facebook is introducing more tools for users to kick in subscriptions for publishers, but it’s unclear how many subscriptions it will meaningfully drive. The platform has hosted subscription and membership boot camps for publishers before, helping dozens of local news outlets refine their reader revenue strategies. But Facebook has still taken a hands-off approach to,...
Posted: June 4, 2019, 3:13 pm

Can Spotify and Apple put a dent in podcasting’s discovery problem?

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 212, published June 4, 2019. Spotify begins tests on podcast playlists feature. This came in overnight: Fresh off its run of podcast company acquisitions, Spotify is now taking a crack at the problem that’s perhaps most groaned about in the community: discoverability. Starting this...
Posted: June 4, 2019, 2:59 pm

R.I.P. iTunes and more power to the iPad: Here’s all the important news for publishers from Apple’s WWDC keynote

Apple just finished the annual keynote event at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the two hours each year when Apple tells us the most about what’s coming up on the platforms that power iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and Apple TVs. (Its hardware announcements get sprinkled across several dedicated events throughout the year; today is...
Posted: June 3, 2019, 8:09 pm