Yearly Archives: 2021

The journalistic crusade to save democracy starts with the First Amendment

Assaults on freedom of the press aren't inside baseball.  These are the front lines. This is a huge story.

“Dear Trolls”: A fill-in-the-blanks form letter news organizations can use next time a right-wing mob comes for a reporter

Every news organizations should have a “straightforward protocol” for responding to “targeted campaigns that seek to undermine the legitimacy of news organizations and obscure the facts around conflicts.” Just fill in the blanks.

The flailing Washington Post gets a new leader, with no time to lose

Sally Buzbee enters a newsroom in crisis. Her most urgent task is to establish clear, honest, and principled ways of covering a major political party that is increasingly devoted to subverting democracy.

New York Times says goodbye to ‘op-eds’ and hello to ‘guest essays’ — but will it invite in the rest of America?

The key for the Times opinion section going forward should be quality control, not opinion control. There should be a near-zero tolerance for bad-faith arguments. And if Republicans refuse, they haven't been canceled, they've opted out.

News organizations shouldn’t be making secret deals with Facebook

It's one thing for our top news organizations to accept payoffs from Facebook while leaving smaller newsrooms to die. It's another for them to hide it from their readers and viewers.

Political reporters are hurting America, so how about getting rid of most of them?

Jay Rosen says political reporters will never change, so we should just have fewer of them, and have more subject-matter reporters instead. I like the idea, but I think it's the editors who really need to go.

Capitol Police officials who failed to mobilize on Jan. 6 say memo warning that ‘Congress itself is the target’ wasn’t specific enough

A still-secret inspector general report cites a "lack of consensus" among Capitol Police officials about whether there were "specific known threats" -- as if that was why they failed to protect the Capitol from a pro-Trump mob.

As voting issue gets white-hot, political reporters try to duck the moral implications

With Republicans making voter repression their top goal, political reporters are under pressure not to "take sides." But is the moral stench too much, even for them?

At Biden’s first news conference, it wasn’t the president who was out of touch

“Look, I don’t know where you guys come from,” Biden told CNN’s Kaitlin Collins as she became the second reporter at Thursday's press conference to ask about the 2024 election.

How to get Joe Biden to tell us something new (because there’s a lot we don’t know)

The press corps will soon have a chance to push Biden past the scripted talking points and get him to reveal more about what's really going on inside his head -- and his White House. (But they'll probably blow it.)

The biggest political story behind every big political story is our damaged democracy and how to fix it

For political journalists, democracy reform is far too earnest to be sexy. But they should be writing about H.R. 1 every day because the wounds it aims to heal are the underlying cause of the political dysfunction they report on every day.

Departing Washington Post editor’s comment on listening to staff is everything that’s wrong with the current generation of newsroom leaders

The Washington Post, like other elite news organizations, has long resisted constructive criticism from within as well as from without. And in his victory lap, Marty Baron unwittingly explained why: Because the leaders don’t listen.

Right-wing media is stoking anti-immigration hysteria again. The rest of the media needs to fight back this time.

In 2016 and 2018, our finest newsrooms let right-wing demagogues frame immigration as a story of nonwhite invasion. This time around, let's kick the political reporters off the story and have immigration-beat reporters tell the real story.

It wasn’t an ‘intelligence failure’ that left the Capitol Police unprepared – it was racism

Steven Sund, the former Capitol Police chief, was explicitly warned in a Jan. 3 memo that thousands of desperate, violence-prone Trump supporters were planning to target Congress on Jan. 6, encouraged by the president himself. But he waved it off. Ask yourself why.

Limbaugh obituaries show the mainstream media still fawning over the people who poisoned politics

Our newsroom leaders still cannot bring themselves to declare that the hysteria and conspiracy theories that once inhabited only the lunatic fringes of our political discourse – until Rush Limbaugh, and then Donald Trump, came along – don’t merit respect, but banishment, rejection, and denial.