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June 10, 2012
DC’s new era of political corruption: A city that’s seen more than its fair share
Ethical lapses aplenty: Last week saw Kwame R. Brown, the second-ranking political official in the city, step down from his job in the wake of a campaign finance and bank fraud scandal. Before that, Harry Thomas Jr. dropped his city council seat in January and is about to head to jail on bank fraud charges. And two mayor Vincent Gray’s aides pleaded guilty on corruption charges of their own (though Gray denies wrongdoing). It’s another set of scandals in a city that has seen more than its fair share. “Politicians will say there’s a culture of corruption, and often people say it’s rhetoric,” notes Democratic activist Bryan Weaver “But when it comes to D.C., there’s a culture of corruption that really exists. What gets passed off as politics as usual are huge ethical lapses.” Read more here. (photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

DC’s new era of political corruption: A city that’s seen more than its fair share

Ethical lapses aplenty: Last week saw Kwame R. Brown, the second-ranking political official in the city, step down from his job in the wake of a campaign finance and bank fraud scandal. Before that, Harry Thomas Jr. dropped his city council seat in January and is about to head to jail on bank fraud charges. And two mayor Vincent Gray’s aides pleaded guilty on corruption charges of their own (though Gray denies wrongdoing). It’s another set of scandals in a city that has seen more than its fair share. “Politicians will say there’s a culture of corruption, and often people say it’s rhetoric,” notes Democratic activist Bryan Weaver “But when it comes to D.C., there’s a culture of corruption that really exists. What gets passed off as politics as usual are huge ethical lapses.” Read more here. (photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

11:51 // 1 year ago
May 28, 2012
Three things we learned about Tony Blair’s relationship with the media 
Hey hey, what’s shakin’ Tony? We heard you had to speak in front of the Levenson Inquiry today regarding your cozy relationship with the media, particularly between yourself and Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch’s already spilled the beans about a few things in his conversation with Lord Justice Leveson, but hearing from a former prime minister certainly makes for a fun time, right guys? Here are a few of our favorite highlights from the four-hour questioning session:
one According to the former British PM, he was only a business acquaintance with Rupert Murdoch — until he left office, that is. After that, the relationship became more personal, to the point where Blair became the godfather of Rupe’s daughter. Really.
two Even when it was strictly a business relationship, Blair saw “nothing odd” about calling up Murdoch in the hours before the Iraq War began and giving him personal briefings on the mission. Because, you know, whatever! Just business.
three Blair’s family has had its own struggles with the media. His wife, Cherie, reportedly has filed (or considered filing) over 30 lawsuits against media outlets in a five year period, in what Blair claims was a “personal vendetta.” source
» Blair also called Rebekah Brooks … with condolences: When Brooks, who is facing criminal charges in the phone-hacking scandal that led to the current inquiry, resigned from News Corp., Blair was one of the first to call. ”I’m somebody who doesn’t believe in being a fair-weather friend and certainly I said I was very sorry for what happened to her,” he explained. Because, hey, they were pals, too! (photo via the World Economic Forum)


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Hey hey, what’s shakin’ Tony? We heard you had to speak in front of the Levenson Inquiry today regarding your cozy relationship with the media, particularly between yourself and Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch’s already spilled the beans about a few things in his conversation with Lord Justice Leveson, but hearing from a former prime minister certainly makes for a fun time, right guys? Here are a few of our favorite highlights from the four-hour questioning session:

  • one According to the former British PM, he was only a business acquaintance with Rupert Murdoch — until he left office, that is. After that, the relationship became more personal, to the point where Blair became the godfather of Rupe’s daughter. Really.
  • two Even when it was strictly a business relationship, Blair saw “nothing odd” about calling up Murdoch in the hours before the Iraq War began and giving him personal briefings on the mission. Because, you know, whatever! Just business.
  • three Blair’s family has had its own struggles with the media. His wife, Cherie, reportedly has filed (or considered filing) over 30 lawsuits against media outlets in a five year period, in what Blair claims was a “personal vendetta.” source

» Blair also called Rebekah Brooks … with condolences: When Brooks, who is facing criminal charges in the phone-hacking scandal that led to the current inquiry, resigned from News Corp., Blair was one of the first to call. ”I’m somebody who doesn’t believe in being a fair-weather friend and certainly I said I was very sorry for what happened to her,” he explained. Because, hey, they were pals, too! (photo via the World Economic Forum)

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20:20 // 1 year ago
April 23, 2012

A column by Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton, which suggested the structure of the paper failed a blogger accused of plagiarism, was roundly criticized by a top executive Monday. 

Katharine Zaleski, the Post’s executive director of digital news, told me today that Pexton’s description of an online operation focused on churning out content is inaccurate.

“We have incredibly high standards to the point where this idea [of Pexton’s] that we’re pumping things out is ridiculous when you compare us to some of the other news organizations that have people publish immediately [without editing],” she said.

Zaleski said BlogPost has copy editors that read over posts prior to publication, and work with writers. (She would not speak about Flock, citing Post policy to not comment on personnel matters.)

The blogger in question, Elizabeth Flock, left the paper last week after an article of hers was singled out by in an editor’s note for a “significant ethical lapse.” While some saw Pexton’s column as shining light on the pressure aggregators face (we offered a brief take here), others felt that Pexton was being sympathetic to someone who plagiarized. Zaleski also took issue with Pexton’s presentation of the issue as one of neglected younger employees, whose grievances he cited anonymously: “I have no idea what he’s talking about. I don’t know who he’s talking about. I’m young, so what does that mean?”

(Disclosure: I work for the Washington Post Company, but not at the Post proper. — Ernie @ SFB)

16:25 // 2 years ago
April 22, 2012
They said that they felt as if they were out there alone in digital land, under high pressure to get Web hits, with no training, little guidance or mentoring and sparse editing. Guidelines for aggregating stories are almost nonexistent, they said. And they believe that, even if they do a good job, there is no path forward. Will they one day graduate to a beat, covering a crime scene, a city council or a school board? They didn’t know. So some left; others are thinking of quitting.
The Post fails a young blogger (via frontofbook)

With some disclosure (I work for the Washington Post Company, but not at the Post proper) I’ll say that this whole situation is a real heartbreaker. My hope is that the Post can figure out a way to balance the need for fast-paced aggregation with its high journalistic standards. Worth reading is Ombudsman Patrick Pexton’s previous article on the subject. (He wrote this piece, too.) I don’t agree with every point he makes here, but I think that he’s pointed out an important issue — how high pressure, as is common with blogging trending news stories, puts bloggers at a disadvantage. — Ernie @ SFB

(via markcoatney)

10:25 // 2 years ago

Three British prime ministers’ cozy relationships with Rupert Murdoch

  • Thatcher After a meeting with Murdoch at her country retreat, Thatcher gave an easy approval to the media mogul’s bid for The Times of London, setting the stage for his growing influence.
  • Blair Tony Blair’s relationship with Murdoch became so cozy that Blair is the godfather of one of Murdoch’s children. One of Rupert’s top execs, Rebekah Brooks, was a frequent guest of Blair’s.
  • Cameron David Cameron, the current prime minister, made Andy Coulson, a former Murdoch aide, a top aide of his. Cameron and his wife also used to ride Rupe’s horses before the scandal. source

» But what don’t we know? Rupe’s going to testify: Murdoch, who has seen his considerable British political influence fall since the hacking scandal broke, now plans to return to the UK to testify on his political influence over the years. Last time he did this, Wendy Deng kicked some guy’s pie-throwing butt.

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10:02 // 2 years ago
March 22, 2012

Study: Nepotism rampant in Congress (duh)

Quantifying Nepotism: Everyone knows (or at least assumes) that politicians use their power to benefit people close to them; that’s old news. However, scientific studies on the matter are hard to come by. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) wanted to change that, and carried out an exhaustive study of the extent to which nepotism manifests itself in US Congress. Their report is 347 pages long; in case you have better things to do with your time (impossible!), here are some takeaways. Note: This study only covered the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.

  • 248 lawmakers used their position to benefit friends or family
  • 3 members of Congress (Bill Cassidy, Jason Chaffetz, and Tim Waltz) used campaign funds to pay for babysitters
  • 38 members earmarked government funds for businesses owned by, or affiliated with, their families
  • 20 legislators took money from their campaign and gave it to a family member’s campaign source

» Miscellaneous: Out of the aforementioned 248 members who warranted inclusion in the report, 105 were Democrats, and 143 were Republicans. Speaker of the House John Boehner is nowhere to be found in the report—but Nancy Pelosi is. Oh, and which member of Congress paid fees or salaries to more of his family members than anyone else? Why, none other than anti-government crusader Ron Paul.

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19:47 // 2 years ago
March 12, 2012
…where is the line between promoting the good work of others and simply lifting it? Naughty aggregation is analogous to pornography: You know it when you see it.
David Carr (via soupsoup)

Good article. Also recommend reading up on what Philip Bump had to say about this topic. "If you’re going to solve a problem that doesn’t need a solution — at least solve it." While the idea has some merit — proper sourcing is a problem all around the Web — it’s not without its flaws.
0:46 // 2 years ago
February 13, 2012
No one can imagine quite the pressure he was under in July. The pace of it was incredible, it was very emotional and traumatic. This is very different.
A source speaking about Rupert Murdoch, who shuttered News of the World under difficult ethics-related circumstances last summer, and rumors surrounding NotW’s former sister paper, The Sun. After the arrest of nine current and former staffers in the past two weeks, word is that the paper’s climate has turned toxic, and some are concerned that Murdoch might close this iconic U.K. tabloid, too. Murdoch is heading to the paper later this week to quell those rumors. Would pay anything to be a fly on that wall.

(Source: reuters.com)

21:34 // 2 years ago
February 4, 2012

Sacramento Bee photographer fired for photo manipulation

On the top is a photo of a snowy egret trying to nom on a great egret’s recent grab — a frog. To the right of it is a photo taken moments later that shows the frog in a much better angle. Unfortunate they both couldn’t be in the same shot, right? Apparently photographer Bryan Patrick thought the same thing, because he allegedly merged the two photos together into one. Problem, is, a reader caught the Photoshop job, and now Patrick is out of a job this morning. “After The Bee published a correction and apology online Wednesday and in print Thursday,” the paper wrote in an apology this morning, “editors reviewed a selection of Patrick’s work and found two additional digital alterations that violate The Bee’s standards.” Patrick did a very bad no-no for photojournalism. (top photos from The Sacramento Bee; newspaper photo from KXTV)

14:14 // 2 years ago
January 27, 2012
CBS Sports fires blogger who flubbed Joe Paterno death report
Bad sourcing plus poor timing: Adam Jacobi took to Twitter earlier this afternoon to reveal that CBS Sports — which ran with a erroneous story that Joe Paterno had died hours before he actually did, based on a single tweet from a student Web site, originally linked to and otherwise unsourced (then retracted it, naming the source and initially refusing to take full credit for the error) — fired him over the incident. “In the end, CBS had to let me go for the Paterno story going out the way it did,” Jacobi wrote. “and I understand completely. Thanks, everyone, for reading.” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple calls the move classy on Jacobi’s part, and an important line in the sand for CBS: “Not only does CBSSports.com put on notice its employees that multiple sourcing matters,” Wemple writes,”it puts on notice the entire industry.” While we don’t necessarily think Jacobi should’ve been fired, CBS made a good move, as it initially looked like they would let the sword fall onto Onward State. It would’ve been better if they took credit right away. (photo via Flickr user audreyjm529) source
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Bad sourcing plus poor timing: Adam Jacobi took to Twitter earlier this afternoon to reveal that CBS Sports — which ran with a erroneous story that Joe Paterno had died hours before he actually did, based on a single tweet from a student Web site, originally linked to and otherwise unsourced (then retracted it, naming the source and initially refusing to take full credit for the error) — fired him over the incident. “In the end, CBS had to let me go for the Paterno story going out the way it did,” Jacobi wrote. “and I understand completely. Thanks, everyone, for reading.” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple calls the move classy on Jacobi’s part, and an important line in the sand for CBS: “Not only does CBSSports.com put on notice its employees that multiple sourcing matters,” Wemple writes,”it puts on notice the entire industry.” While we don’t necessarily think Jacobi should’ve been fired, CBS made a good move, as it initially looked like they would let the sword fall onto Onward State. It would’ve been better if they took credit right away. (photo via Flickr user audreyjm529source

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19:44 // 2 years ago