The Daily Beast and Howard Kurtz have parted company. Under the direction of our newly named political director John Avlon we have added new momentum and authority to our Washington bureau with columnists such as Jon Favreau, Joshua Dubois and Stuart Stevens joining our outstanding DC team of Eleanor Clift, Daniel Klaidman, Michael Tomasky, Eli Lake, David Frum and Michelle Cottle—giving us one of the best politics teams in the business which was instrumental in this week’s Webby win for Best News site.A statement from The Daily Beast, revealing they had dropped Howard Kurtz, days after Kurtz wrote a column for the site suggesting that openly-gay NBA star Jason Collins had lied about a prior engagement—despite the fact that Collins had been up front about the situation in interviews and had specifically mentioned the fact in his Sports Illustrated cover story. The publication retracted the column, though Politico notes that the firing may have had just as much to do with Kurtz’s extremely busy schedule. On top of the Beast, Kurtz also hosts CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and writes for “The Daily Download,” a media criticism site.
Designate one computer to use for Twitter. Don’t use this computer to read email or surf the web, to reduce the chances of malware infection.The advice Twitter is giving to media outlets to prevent hacks similar to the one that hit the AP last week. That’s right… Don’t use your $1200 computer for any other reason besides sending short messages to other people. Twitter did this to themselves by not working on the security issues two years ago.
I admire their commitment to cover all sides of the story just in case one of them happens to be accurate.
That’s what Obama said about CNN at last night’s White House Correspondents Association dinner.
Let me explain why that is such a great line. CNN sees itself as “in the middle” between left and right, MSNBC and Fox. Just recently, in fact, CNN president Jeff Zucker praised the middle as the place to be. But CNN also sees itself as a great newsgathering organization that is all about truthtelling rather than ideology. “Keeping them honest,” as Anderson Cooper, face of the brand, likes to say.
Put them together and what do you have? Keep ‘em honest, but stay in the middle. Which doesn’t work. For what happens when one side is BS-ing us more than the other? What happens when independent and honest reporting shows that these people on this side are mostly right in what they’re saying, and those people on that side are distorting the case?
CNN wants to believe, tries to believe and I think does believe that this problem does not exist. Therefore we have to remind them about it, because it does exist. And that’s what Obama did: “cover all sides of the story just in case one of them happens to be accurate” is saying to CNN: Accuracy and truthtelling will be sacrificed to your ideology— the middle, no matter what it takes.
The sad part is, they had all these problems before they hired Jeff Zucker. And then they hired Jeff Zucker, a man whose entire recent career has been built on tone-deaf failures to understand his network’s audience, whatever that network might have been.
There’s also a question of journalistic ethics. Luntz requested that the remarks remain off the record; while a journalist who was in the room verbally agreed to this request, Abbi (who isn’t a journalist) and Mother Jones (who wasn’t present) did not. So are they still bound by it? Does a request to remain off the record amount to a decree, or must it be agreed to? Regardless of where you stand, it’s a fuzzy area. Meanwhile, Luntz has withdrawn a scholarship in his father’s name since the remarks leaked.
» So what to make of all of this, anyway? If you ask me, there’s a lot of hand-wringing people can do after the fact. Monday morning is coming up pretty darn soon, and quarterbacks are ready to throw up questions. And considering the unprecedented ways people screwed the pooch on this story, it’s fair. But let’s be sure not to let the navel gazing get in the way of the next situation. We should learn lessons from this and improve our own patterns, not talk about it endlessly. We also need to figure out how to wean ourselves off the drug that is banner-ad-dependent web traffic, because it’s not helping things. This was a bad week for journalism, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make things better next time. (Also, the guy who basically owned this story top to bottom, NBC’s Pete Williams, didn’t tweet once this week.)
The hardest part of this was how far from any actual evidence there actually was, and how quickly and how painfully this traveled…We find it incredibly unfortunate that media outlets were so quick to jump without checking with authorities, but we hope they use the same energy and intensity they showed in the past 24 hours to really help us find Sunil.We spoke with Sangeeta Tripathi, whose innocent brother Sunil was made into a Boston Marathon bombing suspect by social media and news organizations. (via motherjones)
dapenguinninja asks: you think the tumblr editorial team should still be working? that it is an unprecedented layoff?
» SFB says: I wouldn’t call it “unprecedented,” per se—people get laid off all the time, sad as it is—but I do think that it’s a shame because they did a lot to “class up” the joint, so to say. Storyboard stretched out Tumblr’s voice in a way that it needed to be stretched and showed that deep, interesting things can be done with the format in truly engaging ways. But as my friend Josh Sternberg points out on Digiday, that may not be exactly what Tumblr needs right now from a business strategy point. “An editorial outfit is a nice idea, but it’s hardly what the company most needs, which is experienced sales people and a differentiated message to bring to agencies and brands,” he wrote today. “Ironically enough, firing its editorial staff can be seen as a needed step in becoming a real media business.” So from a pure business standpoint, perhaps the move makes sense. But from a cultural and journalistic standpoint, it’s a bummer. — Ernie @ SFB