Tuesday , February 27 2024
I have been watching, and making a list, of who in the news media has been naughty and who has been nice.

Media Christmas Presents

To: Mainstream Media
From: A recovering news junkie/former newspaper reporter
Re: Christmas presents

With Christmas coming up I thought it was time to give out some presents for journalists and other media figures. I have been watching, and making a list, of who has been naughty and who has been nice. The gifts are virtual, which is my way of saying I’d buy the gifts if I wasn’t a full-time student without income.

The recipient: Robert Novak, the hypocritical blowhard I and others have criticized.
The present: I give a copy of Outfoxed., the documentary about the Fox propaganda machine. Novak recently announced he was leaving CNN (hooray!) to go to Fox News. What a perfect marriage! One propagandist deserves another.

The recipient: Judith Miller, the infamous former reporter of The New York Times.
The present: A copy of Jayson Blair’s Burning Down My Master’s House since she, like him, has dishonored a generally respectable newspaper.

The recipient: Viveca Novak, the Time magazine reporter who knew that Karl Rove was a source for fellow reporter Matthew Cooper and mentioned it – oops! – over drinks with Rove’s lawyer.
The present: A subscription to Time magazine because I think her days as a Time employee are numbered and if they are not… well, they should be. She is currently on leave.

The recipient: Howard Kurtz, media reporter for The Washington Post, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources
The present: A copy of Media Monopoly by Ben Bagdikian to remind you that you might as well call yourself Howard “I’m a walking example of a conflict of interest and should be the least person to write about others media ethics problems” Kurtz.

The recipient: Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, who has a hell of a year with his slow response to the Judith Miller problem
The present: A copy of Darknet and We the Media – two good books about the Internet’s effect on society – to remind you of a point I tried to make in a prior column – that the TimesSelect wall requiring paid subscriptions for some content – is an inane idea.

The recipient: Kurt Eichenwald, The New York Times reporter who wrote a very thorough, impressive, well-sourced piece this week about teenagers who accept gifts in exchange for performing acts on the
Internet via the Web.
The present: Free airfare so he can travel to journalism conventions and ethics seminar to discuss difficult choices he had to make about whether to
become part of the story. He did get involved, getting the teenager who is the focus of the story to go to law enforcement.

The recipient: Jack Shafer, Slate’s excellent media
The present: He also gets free airfare. While I usually agree with Shafer’s take on the media I disagree with his take on Eichenwald’s story. I too have problems with reporters getting in the middle of a story but this time it seems appropriate.

The recipient: Michelle Boorstein, the Washington Post reporter who did this story on a lesbian couple.
The present: Ten copies of the documentary about the couple, which I reviewed here. Thanks for doing their story justice.

The recipients: Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News and Geraldo Rivera, or as I call them the Three Unwise Men
Present: Bill Moyers books, since each of you can learn a lot from him, especially about having compassion and a sense of fairness and selflessness.

Now, let’s move on to some of the good people fighting the good fight, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Boxes of chocolate and a copy of Fast Food Nation – my favorite book read this year (see #10 here) – to these impressive folks:

Sarah Vowell, author of Assassination Vacation and a regular on This American Life for her compelling writings. Hers is one of only two books I’ve read – well, listened to on cd – twice in recent years.

Jay Rosen, whose Pressthink blog is still inspiring and a must-read for media junkies.

Jeff Jarvis, for his Buzzmachine blog which manages to cover a wide range of topics in an interesting way on a regular basis.

Media Bistro, Jim Romensko and Columbia Journalism Review – three good sites consistently doing a good covering news and opinions about the media

Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air for continuing to do the most consistently interesting interviews I’ve come across in TV or radio.

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show staff, for making me laugh and helping put the world’s problems in perspective. Their book on America is the only other book I liked so much I listened to it twice.

The Captain Quarter’s blog for demonstrating that a conservative blogger can have some compassion, empathy and intelligence without resorting to the type of shrill sensationalism milked by bloggers like Michelle Malkin.

Blackfive – Provides a good look at what military bloggers are thinking and writing about

Atrios/Escharton – Whatever the issue or the link, he is on it. HE IS the man

Good nite, all
Merrily yours,
aka your constant reader

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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