I hope you’ve had a terrific Tuesday!
I have a few thoughts (just a few) I figured I’d get out today.
This morning, Axios reported several news websites “launched new paywalls within the past year.”
Sorry! (But not this one.)
It named Bloomberg, Vanity Fair, Wired, Business Insider and The Atlantic, and added, “Legacy institutions like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe have all tightened their paywalls over the past few years.”
We all know somebody has to pay the people who gather and publish the news in any media format. That’s a given, and anyone who has been in the business knows most employees are not paid nearly what they’re worth. That’s a shame and forcing good people out of the business, especially at a time we need the Fourth Estate to be as tough as ever — especially when reporting on news happening in American government and the world.
The people researching, making contacts and conducting interviews on the front lines need to make a living.
So what’s the best solution?
I really don’t know.
If you read what I post, you see I often use multiple sites for information and different viewpoints, but I don’t pay those sites. Instead, I credit them link to them, and hope they benefit when I — and then you — click for more information.
But if these trusted sites use paywalls, there’s no way any of us would pay multiple sites. How many of us could afford to? Big newsrooms, even if they say they can’t, but you and I won’t have the information we need to be responsible citizens.
Newspapers (on paper) make money through both subscriptions and advertising. So do most cable networks and your cable/satellite company.
Unfortunately, today, it looks like news on the web is going the same way.
TV news websites aren’t the best. Maybe some major group could invest in the rights to some top publications and names, to drive our traffic to their own sites so we could be made more aware of important events. It’s too bad many of the companies that owned broadcast and newspaper/magazine assets split up.
The first company that can do so and really publicize specific detailed content on a daily basis (not just that “we’re free and the newspaper isn’t” or “here are the top stories on our site at this hour”) during newscasts could get new readers who’d share the site with non-readers.
Just a thought.
A similar story from Axios about newspapers is not necessarily new but making news because Warren Buffett said it:
“No one except the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and now probably the Washington Post has come up with a digital product that really in any significant way will replace the revenue that is being lost as print newspapers lose both circulation and advertising … It is very difficult to see — with a lack of success in terms of important dollars rising from digital — it’s difficult to see how the print product survives over time.”
According to Axios, “Local media executives have been saying for months that their biggest competition for subscriptions and eyeballs is large national newspapers.”
That’s bad for Buffett, who was speaking at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting, and his company owns more than 30 newspapers.
That’s especially bad for the rest of us because too much of what we see on local news deals with murders, crashes and fires. They’re often visual. But it’s the local papers that often investigate and dig, outside of ratings periods. If they go down, who will take their place?
There are also two updates on Facebook, which has been under fire since Cambridge Analytica “harvested personal data on millions of Facebook users, without their knowledge, for marketing and political purposes.”
Last week, the London-based political research firm announced it’s “closing all of its operations with plans to file for bankruptcy in the U.S.,” according to The Huffington Post.
Going further, Adweek says, “Its parent company, SCL Elections, will file for insolvency in the United Kingdom while ceasing all operations in both countries.”
The Post quoted from a statement on the firm’s website that it
has been the subject of “numerous unfounded accusations” and “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.”
I’m not so sure, and to hell with the letter of the law! How about ethics? I know many other people feel the same way.
That’s because The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the situation, reported “The decision to close up shop followed rising legal fees and a loss of clients over the investigation into their work and use of Facebook data.”
And The Huffington Post also reported,
“The firm also suspended its CEO, Alexander Nix, in March after he was recorded bragging about Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, Strategic Communication Laboratories, influencing more than 200 elections around the world with unethical practices.
“Those methods included bribery, entrapment and the use of sex workers and inaccurate information. Nix had said that he was lying when he said that.
“Cambridge Analytica did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”
Cambridge Analytica had been hired by both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s Republican primary campaigns during the 2016 presidential race.
As for Facebook, a spokesperson told Recode in a statement,
“This doesn’t change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We are continuing with our investigation in cooperation with the relevant authorities.”
The Cambridge revelations led to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appearing before Congress to discuss his company’s data practices, and chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer doing the same in the British Parliament.
Meanwhile, take a look at this list:
Abortion… Budget… Civil rights… Crime… Economy… Education… Energy… Environment… Foreign Policy… Government reform… Guns… Health… Immigration… Infrastructure… Military… Poverty… Social Security… Taxes… Terrorism… Values…
They’re what Axios reports Facebook has defined as “issue ads” that’ll require authorization and labeling on its platform in the U.S.
Advertising isn’t just to sell products to make money, but also selling ideas that can win activists money for lobbying and more advertising — and votes.
Eventually, an appeals process will be established and inevitable discrepancies about what’s considered an “issue ad” will be taken up there. That means the list may evolve over time.
The reason is issue ads are often more difficult to regulate than regular election ads, which simply advocate for one candidate over another.
Of course, political ads on TV and the radio are heavily regulated since they’re on the public airwaves. That’s especially true for federal offices. This one is not.
That brings me to an article I tweeted earlier today.
Politico reported since the beginning of the year, Fox News has invited central Florida congressman and gubernatorial primary candidate Ron DeSantis on the air “roughly 100 times” while his opponent in the race – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam – has not been invited even once. That airtime has been compared to $7.1 million in “national publicity value.”
So much for fair and balanced, and anything close to equal time!
Remember, this is a Republican primary and what Politico called, “a seemingly endless series of appearances on a news network favored by conservatives.”
Not just conservatives, but supporters of President Trump, who endorsed DeSantis.
And, “Since announcing his bid in January, DeSantis has been given frequent access to Fox’s best real estate — including Fox & Friends, Laura Ingraham, and the Hannity show.”
Here is one more comparison.
Putnam is still the GOP frontrunner and has raised more than $20 million.
DeSantis has raised only $7.8 million between his campaign and political committee, but Fox News is probably why “roughly 40 percent of DeSantis’ contributions have come from non-Florida donors,” even though only Floridians will vote in their state’s gubernatorial primary.
“Of the nearly $4 million spent by Putnam and his political committee on TV ads, hundreds-of-thousands of dollars have been for time on Fox News programs” but “When those ads started to circulate, some of Fox News’ most prominent hosts gave DeSantis cover and tried to tie the ads to Putnam.”
That’s similar to how Sinclair Broadcast Group aired “a commercial from a liberal consumer watchdog that’s critical of the broadcaster’s actions” as it tries to merge with Tribune Media, but CNN reported, “the company is running its own message right before and after the ad. So viewers are seeing a 15-second defense of Sinclair, then 30 seconds of criticism, then another 15-second defense.”
BTW, Sinclair owns or operates Florida stations in West Palm Beach, Pensacola (with Mobile, AL), Tallahassee (with Thomasville, GA) and Gainesville. See map.
SIDEBAR: This isn’t what I planed to write about but Sinclair’s wanna-be merger victim, Tribune, only owns WSFL-39 in Florida. It has been known as “SFL-TV, South Florida’s CW” in recent years, covering the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. Friday, I reported the station will be spun off and not take part in the Sinclair-Tribune merger, even if it happens. Plus, I showed you the lists of Sinclair and Tribune stations submitted to the FCC document that said so. I stand by everything I wrote and showed.
Notice all the TBDs in the Buyer column. They include WSFL. I explained all the other TBD stations are Fox affiliates, and the ones in NFL football cities will probably be sold to the network itself, which is going to be a lot leaner and stressing live events — especially NFL football — which it will be adding on Thursday nights. That’s if Fox ever comes to an agreement with Sinclair.
WSFL is a CW affiliate without a news department and I dwelled on whether Fox would buy it and dump its Sunbeam-owned powerhouse affiliate WSVN. Again, it’s all here.
All of those stations have to be sold because otherwise, the proposed merged company would own more stations than the FCC allows. I also explained in detail what I consider sinister motives with Cunningham and other Sinclair buyers, on Friday.
The deal was supposed to happen in the second quarter of this year (by June). I just did an internet search and found nothing new from any reliable sources, but I did find something new on the FCC’s website. Yesterday, it published a letter from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s response to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) regarding Sinclair Broadcast’s proposal to acquire Tribune Media. Sen. Durbin and others have been especially concerned about Tribune’s WGN-TV9 in Chicago. The letter was written a few weeks ago but again, just published yesterday.
So I believe nothing has changed, despite seeing a website that appears to be WSFL’s. It’s called SFLTV.com. However, it looks like a generic Florida TV blog, does not look professional, does not have a detailed copyright, news I don’t believe from May 1 and today, and some strange graphics (below). I’m just warning you.
Click here for the real WSFL website. It looks like other Tribune sites, and these are current and former logos.
BACK TO THE STORY: Politico also reported, “A Fox News spokeswoman did not return a request seeking comment on why DeSantis is a regular guest or why Putnam has not been on the network this year.”
I’m reporting Politico put DeSantis’ name in the first line of its story, while Putnam’s didn’t appear until the tenth paragraph!
And no Democrats’ names appear at all!
Also not mentioned: Two-term Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) will be leaving Tallahassee behind to take on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
By the way, speaking of equal time, the Federal Communications Commission’s Equal-Time Rule specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it, in news or advertising. It was created in §18 of the Radio Act of 1927 because the FCC was concerned broadcasters could easily manipulate the outcome of elections by presenting just one point of view, and excluding other candidates. (Like Fox News is doing? What lets them do it, in a moment.) The rule was later superseded by the Communications Act of 1934.
Then, the FCC writes, “In 1972, new rules regarding cable television became effective. … Cable television operators who originated programming were subject to equal time, sponsorship identification and other provisions similar to rules applicable to broadcasters.”
“Once a cable system allows a legally qualified candidate for public office to use its facilities, it must afford ‘equal opportunities’ to all other candidates for that office to use its facilities. The cable system may not censor the content of a candidate’s material in any way, and may not discriminate between candidates in practices, regulations, facilities or services rendered while making time available to such candidates. Candidate appearances which are exempt from the ‘equal opportunities’ rules include appearances on a bona fide newscast, bona fide news interview, bona fide news documentary, or during on-the-spot coverage of a bona fide news event.”
Bona fide newscast? Bona fide news interview? I just report. You can decide.
If I remember correctly, back in the day, Oprah’s talk show was considered news under this policy; not any others.
That’s different from the Fairness Doctrine (1947-1987) “that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance (not candidates) and to do so in a manner that was—in the FCC’s view—honest, equitable, and balanced.”
One very last thing and it’s the last thing you see on posts: the comments. Did you know I’m constantly updating articles in that section?
It’s not easy to find on the regular generic CohenConnect.com homepage you turn to when you want to see the latest articles (if you don’t subscribe with your email address or WordPress account). WordPress makes you go below the sharing and liking, and below all the categories and tags for the post you just read, and you’ll find a place for comments at the very end, just before the previous article begins.
After an article, WordPress makes you go below the sharing and liking, below the related posts (which it chooses, along with the categories beneath them), below all the categories and tags for the post you just read, below a link to the article before (and after, unless it’s the latest), and that’s where you’ll find any comments.
So keep checking the bottom of an article out if you were really interested, even weeks after publishing, and you know what to do in some rare case you don’t think I’m right!
Besides, who do you trust more, WordPress or Facebook?
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