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Posts Tagged ‘Tom Rosenstiel’

As Journalists Become the Story, Will the Rules Change?

Will news organizations’ boycott of the Attorney General’s ‘off-the-record’ background sessions last week change the rules of the game between government sources and media?

On the record: Doubtful, at best.

“It won’t change anything,” says Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. “In Washington, media will continue to deal with administration sources, brokering access and information for pledges of confidentiality.

“It’s a pernicious practice, and very widespread, but it’s how business is done.”

Embattled AG Eric Holder held meetings with top Washington journalists Thursday and Friday to discuss concerns about Department of Justice guidelines for dealing with journalists in investigations of possible security leaks.

The New York Times, CNN, CBS News, NBC News and the Associated Press, among others, passed on Thursday’s meeting because of its off-the-record requirement. At that gathering, however, the DOJ blinked, and news outlets were told they could report on ‘general’ topics of discussion.

Thursday attendees included The Washington Post, Politico, New Yorker, Daily News and The Wall Street Journal. ABC News, the lone network representative last week, met with Holder Friday, along with USA Today and Reuters, which had initially said no to Thursday.

David Westin, ABC News president from 1997 through 2010, agrees with his alma mater’s decision to attend and says it was “smart” of the DOJ to modify its rule.

“News organizations are in the business of reporting news, not keeping it secret,” says Westin. “This happens from time to time. It’s part of a larger issue with the White House itself. It’s part of the normal give-and-take, back-and-forth of the press covering the administration.”

In Westin’s view, Holder’s sessions presented a particular challenge in that the news outlets were also principals in the story. “They were asked not as reporters, but as people being affected by the Justice Department.”

Going further, Harvard’s Jones, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the New York Times, says the meetings served as de facto press conferences, regardless of Holder’s intentions, and that Holder was “naïve” to think otherwise.

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CNN Shift: Jon Klein on his dismissal: ‘It came out of left field’

Getting shot as a way of being fired isn’t always a bad thing, says Jonathan Klein.

“It’s like a sudden ’Sopranos’ ending to your job,” says Klein, who earlier today had compared his sudden departure as CNN/U.S. president to getting shot.

“There’s something to be said for quick and painless. It was surprising, but certainly quick. There was no rancor associated it.”

During his six-year run, Klein was unable to stop the prime-time bleeding with non-partisan programming. Conversely, his replacement, HLN’s Ken Jautz, found great success by wrangling big-buzz opinion-makers Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Klein says it is still possible for a cable news network to succeed in prime time without having a political spin a la Fox (right) or MSNBC (left.) The key is in finding the right talent.

“Other networks might be amusing or entertaining, but how many are truly essential viewing,” Klein says. “The challenge is to be interesting when you follow that non-partisan path and you really nail it. Then you become essential, like ’60 Minutes.’

“You need the right people in the right format. When CNN was at its best, we were essential viewing.”

Like other industry experts, Klein says the timing of his forced exit was unexpected, given that his new shows are about to launch – “Parker Spitzer” at 8 p.m. early next month and Piers Morgan at 9 in early ’11.

“It came out of left field,” says Klein, who has more than two years remaining in his contract. “I thought my reckoning would come a few months after the launches. I thought the judgment would be made on the quality of the shows and the ratings and the profits of the operation.

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The “Five Minute” News Cycle

palin_9-4.JPGIs the 2008 election coverage “new”?

The New York Daily News’ Richard Huff talked to many in the media and who cover it regarding the evolution of politics/press.

“I’ve been covering campaigns for a lot of years,” said FNC EP of political coverage Marty Ryan. “There was the simple 24-hour news cycle. Now, with 24-hour cable — this is where the game is now — plus the blogs, there are news cycles that don’t even last five minutes.”

Huff cites the addition of multiple outlets, blogs and even Twitter with changing the coverage.

Tom Rosenstiel, head of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, makes the case to be wary of politicians giving press advice. “Their goal is getting elected, not improving the press,” he said.

Related: What the media was saying after the Palin speech.