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Posts Tagged ‘Jack Shafer’

In Praise of New Media: Let Tabloid TV Off the Hook

Watching the back and forth of media critics turning on CNN is better than a tennis match. The cable network got in trouble last week for covering the Zimmerman trial and relegating the events in Egypt to a sidebar. Media critic Jay Rosen was taken to task by Jack Shafer in Reuters who praised CNN’s tabloid television, noting that we shouldn’t blame CNN for finally having a strategy, that tabloid television serves the networks ratings, and also stands in for civics lessons:

 To be fair, the best tabloid TV contains more nourishment than any burger and fries platter, even if it will always be déclassé… Most of what a layman needs to know about police investigations, police interrogations, witness rights, evidentiary standards, jury selection, and courtroom strategy can be found in Grace’s shriekings and those of her commentators. A week’s worth of her Zimmerman coverage probably contains as much civic education as any half-dozen Frontline documentaries on PBS.


I usually stand in Rosen’s corner when he takes journalists to task, but in the case of CNN, I’m leaning the other way. But not because I think tabloid television in any way serves the public. It’s more because I’m excited to watch cable news networks hang themselves. They don’t do breaking news very well anymore — watching the manhunt after the Boston Marathon bombings was painful — so let them play with ‘if it bleeds, it leads.” Yes, CNN used to be something better, maybe, but now it’s not. Read more

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Why is Media Criticism Dominated by White Men?

Yesterday, D.C.-based journalist Shani Hilton wondered in the Washington City Paper: “Where are the women and non-white media critics?” Her quick brainstorm of those who’ve achieved prominence included The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz, NYU’s Jay Rosen, Reuter’s Jack Shafer, and The New York TimesDavid Carr. They all seem to confirm that media criticism is a white-male dominated world.

In it, she quotes Andrew Beaujon, “the new Romensko,” whose theory is that media criticism “is fundamentally an alt-weekly pursuit, and alt-weeklies’ DNA is heavily white and male.” His working theory about the white and male alt-weekly is that “working at such places gives white males such as myself a chance to feel like an underdog for once in our lives.”

Certainly, alt-weeklies are predominately white and male, as is journalism itself—but that fails to take into consideration other venues of media criticism. One may think of The Atlantic’s Megan Garber or FAIR’s Janine Jackson. A commenter pointed out the work of Michele McLellan and Amy Gahran at the Knight Digital Media Center. Nonetheless, is the shortage of women and minorities in media criticism really a cause for wonder? Read more

Is There Life After Plagiarism And Fabrication? Not For Stephen Glass

Stephen Glass, a former The New Republic reporter who gained notoriety for fabricating dozens of stories in the mid-90s, is making headlines once again. This time, it’s because California’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether Glass is morally fit to be a lawyer in the state. 

Glass is not the first or last reporter to be fired for crimes of plagiarism and lying. His life, of course, must continue after the scandal. Others have done it. Jayson Blair, the New York Times wonderboy who was fired for plagiarizing work in 2003, has gone on to become a certified life coach and counselor. Another former employee of the Gray Lady, Zachery Kouweresigned from the paper in 2010 after complaints he plagiarized business stories and is now a public relations professional. (His website even says he’s written for the paper.)

After being tarnished with the plagiarism brush, you probably won’t be hired as a journalist again. But you can go down other avenues and be successful. So why has Glass chosen to go into law, a field where his past moral ambiguity is clearly going to be questioned?

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