Tag Archives: political coverage

A little media blogging on the fly . . .

I do want to return to blogging a bit more substantively about many of the topics I’m linking to below. But I’m trying to launch a site and grapple with some serious server meltdown issues that are preventing this from happening. The life of a Web entrepreneur is a glamorous one, I tell you. What I offer here I do so without comment or elaboration — for now:

Newspapers Not Evolving Enough for Digital Demand:

“I have wanted to work for a forward-leaning digital company for a long time. Part of this is recognition that newspapers have limited resources, they are saddled with legitimate legacy businesses that they have to focus on first. I am a digital guy and the digital world is evolving rapidly. I don’t want to have to wait for the traditional news industry to catch up.”

We Need ‘Philosophy of Journalism:”

“Every journalism student should be required to take a course in ‘Philosophy of Journalism,’ to develop the intellectual instincts and reflexes that will make the approach to truth of both practices a permanent part of his or her intellectual makeup. Imagine a world in which every column about the Obama administration’s battle with Fox News came with profound context about the large issues involved. A sweet, rather than tweet, thought.”

Does Political Journalism Focus on the Trivial?

“In the 60s journalism was a craft, not a profession, and more identified with ordinary people. Now, we’ve lost some of our idealism. The media and politicians are going down together in terms of cynicism.”

‘The Daily Show’ crew serious about media criticism:

“Too often, King said, journalists’ political coverage — and that of media critics — ends up being sanitized and nothing but a perfunctory he said/she said exchange. ‘If you were going to talk about whether the earth is flat, and 99 percent of scientists are saying it’s round, and 1 percent are saying it’s flat, you wouldn’t bring on the 1 percent guy. That viewpoint is factually inaccurate and they shouldn’t bring him on just to give the illusion of balance.’ “

Fertile Ground for Startups:

“Startups are playing an increasingly important role in American business, and they may play a central role in any recovery. As of the end of 2008, companies infused with venture capital were responsible for generating 12 million jobs and 20% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to a recent survey published by the National Venture Capital Assn.”

The War for the Web:

“It could be that everyone will figure out how to play nicely with each other, and we’ll see a continuation of the interoperable web model we’ve enjoyed for the past two decades. But I’m betting that things are going to get ugly. We’re heading into a war for control of the web. And in the end, it’s more than that, it’s a war against the web as an interoperable platform. Instead, we’re facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill.”


Meanderings along journalism’s yellow line

More links on the blurring lines and familiar talking (arguing?) points between old media and new media, and why I feel like an armadillo on a lonesome Texas highway:

• Garrison Keillor is sort-of crochety about the impact of the Web on writers and creativity, revealing a mixed set of emotions despite a very gloomy headline in his latest column on Salon:

“The Internet is a powerful tide that is washing away some enormous castles and releasing a lovely sense of independence and playfulness in the American people. Millions of people have discovered the joys of seeing yourself in print — your own words! the unique essence of yourself, your stories, your jokes, your own peculiar take on the world — out there where anybody can see it! Wowser. . . .

“Unfortunately, nobody is earning a dime from this. So much work, so little pay. It’s tragic.”

• Gina Chen offers up some appetizing “artisanal” ideas about remaking the news, and they’re making me very, very hungry:

“The news organization no longer strives to make every story as relevant as possible to everybody. Instead, it aims to make individual stories highly relevant to small groups of readers who collectively add up to lots of people. (Think Camembert for me; classic goat cheese for you.) Beats are constructed to tap into existing communities that appreciate the particular ‘cheese’ or ‘bread’ you are offering.

The main luncheon item on my news “café” would be grilled Mahon and jamón sandwiches with an olive tapenade and homemade vine ripe tomato soup, but I haven’t sorted out the rest of my menu. I am famished right now!

If newspapers hadn’t been gutting their staffs, they might have enough kitchen hands available to customize the varying tastes of their readers.

• Is there a “right” way to do news on the Web? Some leading online journalism innovators believe so, but at Politics Daily, some old-school ideas still apply:

“The three-month-old venture has become a reemployment program for middle-aged journalists who lack the flash and dash of young bloggers — and that is by design. Melinda Henneberger, the former Newsweek and New York Times reporter who runs the site, says her goal is ‘to preserve the values of the mainstream media.’ And in doing so, she is flouting several conventions about what works on the Web.”

I can understand the need not to feel like chasing every news tidbit, breathlessly. In fact, I find that rather refreshing. But my own experience has me doubting that there’s much of an audience willing to read a steady diet of 5,000-word stories.

• Photojournalists around the world are finding their avocation in free fall, and not just because of the decline of newspapers. News photo agencies are undergoing the same convulsions as other media institutions:

“I find the present situation depressing, but I’m crazy enough to be hopeful. There have never been more images out there, and we need more help in sorting out all the information.”

• An unsigned editorial in The Digital Journalist, founded and staffed by photojournalists, comes out strongly in favor of pay walls for the news:

“This is now not an academic argument. The [New York] Times has already mortgaged its new building to help make its payroll each week. Those reporters and editors need to be paid. Otherwise, the news that we take for granted will simply stop.”

One could argue that the Times could have better spent its money than on a shiny, pricey new building with the newspaper business in trouble even before the recession. Yes, those journalists need to get paid, but a pay wall isn’t going to come close to making up for what’s being lost as the Times and other newspapers continue to bleed money and talented journalists.

(link via Kevin Sablan)

• In a snarky diatribe from one blowhard to another, Mark Cuban gets some blowback from Michael Wolff for being critical of Newser’s aggregating practices, among other crimes against new media:

“News has never been paid for. Practically speaking, it’s always been free. It may be that no one has ever in the history of time charged for anything other than the cost of production and delivery of news and usually not even that. The deal has been penny newspapers and free broadcast. News, Mark, has, is, and shall remain, an ad-sponsored form of media.”

Whom do you root for in this one? I’ve love to lock these guys in a padded room and see what transpires.

Mapping the election as you like it

In my next iteration as a journalist, I really wish to learn how to do multimedia work like this fantastic New York Times interactive presidential map that easily was my favorite political Web toy on election night. Upon first glance this map looks strikingly familiar to many others that popped up on television and computer screens last night . . .


. . . but as you roll over onto states and even down to the county level you get the updated election returns figures and the corresponding red (John McCain) and blue (Barack Obama) designations in virtual real time, not that much different than what the cable news map divas (John King of CNN and Chuck Todd of MSNBC) were showing us at virtually the same time. The Associated Press compiled a similar map, but it didn’t have quite the ease of use that I found on the NYT site.

picture-31 The key for Obama winning Florida was to carry or do better than John Kerry in 2004 in the so-called I-4 corridor of central Florida. As some TV commentators were marveling at Obama’s ability to take not only Orlando but counties in the Daytona Beach and Tampa-St. Pete regions, map users could see the numbers and colors for themselves in real time.

And after Conn. Rep. Chris Shays, the only House Republican in New England, went down to defeat, I was curious to see just how blue that bluest of regions looked after election night. picture-1 It was particularly revealing to see that only two counties in the entire region — two rural counties in Maine — voted for McCain. Maine now is the home to the only two New England Republicans remaining in Congress, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who was re-elected easily on Tuesday.

After Obama’s victory speech I tuned out the pundits and couldn’t stop scrolling over nearly every state on the map, which shows that while Obama made significant changes to the political geography, there is still plenty that remains untouched, such as all-red Oklahoma:

picture-4But while none of this is profound — maps like these have become staples of political Web and news sites for some time — it’s fun as a citizen and a voter to have the tools at your fingertips to dig deeper into what you’re hearing on TV or go discover parts of the electoral map that interest you.

Though the presidential race is no longer in doubt, a few states are still up for grabs and thus are shaded in neutral colors. As a Southerner I’m particularly interested in North Carolina, where Obama leads by 12,000 votes. That leads to just one pressing question that basketball fans argue about all the time: Is it going to be Tar Heel Blue or Blue Devil Blue?


If simple red and blue hues aren’t enough for you, then click on to the “county leaders” tab to get more nuanced shades. These are especially useful in analyzing swing states, such as Ohio, which went for Obama after being in the Bush column in 2004:

Ohio county-by-county, 2008 presidential race.
2008 Ohio
Ohio county-by-county, 2004 presidential.
2004 Ohio

You can compare and contrast results dating back to the 1992 elections, around the advent of the World Wide Web. While political junkies will be studying these races and maps like these for years, I thought it was a nice touch to include this very fun bubble map that you can also customize as you like it:


Political links I’m tabbing on election night

My browser’s heaving over with these news sites, interactives, polling data, maps, Twitter feeds, blogs galore:

FiveThirtyEight.com: As cited here previously, a political polling wet dream — done by a baseball stats geek. Latest post: How early voting “changed the game” for the 2008 elections.

C-SPAN: Links to live streaming, results, maps, and more. Even got a live feed from the CBC on tap.

Twitter Election stream: Non-stop updates from voters, campaign operatives, news sites and the general Twitterati. Live updates from voters are on the Twitter Voter Report.

CNN Your Races: Choose up to 35 races — presidential, Congress and ballot measures — and watch the results as they are tabulated.

The Politico: First presidential election for this aptly named site started by two ex-Wash Posties.

Talking Points Memo: Liberal journalist and blogger Josh Marshall’s award-winning political news site.

The Next Right: Republican operative Patrick Ruffini started this site to compete with the likes of TPM.

A few MSM sites: Mainly for the multimedia options on offer and their comprehensiveness I include NPR, The Guardian, New York Times and the Washington Post. Earlier today I posted a fuller list.

ajc.com: Not just my former employer, but also my hometown news site. Both the presidential and U.S. Senate races are close for a change around here, and there are some local races of interest as well. Here’s a live blog from the weekly Creative Loafing.

That’s a pretty complete and exhausting dozen or so. Do you have any to add?

Should journalists refrain from voting?

And if they don’t, should they make a big deal about why they don’t? The subject came up again today when Birmingham News columnist John Archibald penned a tortuous piece on why he’s not going to the polls. At least to vote. It has to do, of course, with wishing to stay above the fray as a journalist, the noble, detached chronicler to sort things out for the unwashed, emotional, hopelessly biased masses:

“A vote is a thing of value that I will not give. . . . A vote is an overt political act that I can not perform. . . . Voting, pure and simple, means taking a rooting interest.”

Hogwash, baloney and road apples. Pure and simple. Voting is an act of citizenship, above all else. Archibald doesn’t want to feel discomfort “when a politico inevitably asks me how I voted.”  Remind him or her, or anybody else who asks, that the ballot is a secret one.

My former news organization, like many, made it very clear during this election season that we should not affix political bumper stickers to our cars, or plant signs in our yards. That’s fine and very understandable, since those are overt displays of preference.

But not voting because to do so would be to take “a rooting interest?” This is one of toxic effects of what I call the Neutered Newsroom Syndrome — going to such extremes that elevates being a journalist over being a citizen. At all times, apparently. Even above being a human being subject to the same laws as our neighbors, families and friends.

If you choose not to vote, John, well that’s fine by me. There’s no compulsion to do so. But please spare me your self-righteousness. Better yet, just get over yourself.

More diplomatically, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson gently admonishes two colleagues who are in league with Archibald, though he says journalists are “nuts” not to vote:

“I think you can be objective in your work and still have personal opinions. Isn’t that what a professional is? . . . Being a journalist can’t mean giving up your fundamental rights as an American. At least, not for me.”

Top election sites for political news junkies

The polls are open, and ’round-the-clock coverage of the U.S. presidential and congressional elections is underway. Here are some links from news sites, blogs, aggreggators, social media and other sources to follow as they cover races big and small:

The Big Picture: ABCCBSCNNCQ PoliticsC-SPANDrudge ReportFiveThirtyEight.comFox NewsGoogle NewsHuffington Post •  MSNBC/NBCNPRNew York TimesPoliticoReal Clear PoliticsSalonSlateUSA TodayWall Street JournalWashington Post

Presidential Backyard: Chicago TribuneChicago Sun-TimesArizona Republic

Battleground Turf: Philly InquirerRichmond Times-DispatchCharlotte ObserverCleveland Plain DealerIndy StarOrlando SentinelSt. Louis Post-DispatchDenver PostAlbuquerque JournalLas Vegas Sun

Hottest Senate Races: Manchester Union-LeaderRaleigh News & ObserverAtlanta Journal-ConstitutionLouisville Courier-JournalMinnPost.comRocky Mountain NewsThe OregonianAnchorage Daily News

From the Blogosphere: Crooks and LiarsDaily KosEschatonHugh HewittHit & RunInstapunditmemeorandumNRO’s The Corner The NotePower LineAndrew SullivanTalking Points Memo

View from abroad: Al-JazeeraBBCClarínDawn (Pakistan)The EconomistDaily Nation (Nairobi)El PaísFinancial TimesFrankfurter Allgemeine ZeitungGlobal Voices OnlineGlobe & MailThe GuardianJerusalem PostLa JornadaLe MondeMail & GuardianO GloboPravdaSouth China Morning PostSydney Morning HeraldTimes of IndiaYomiuri ShimbunXinhua News Agency

Twitter the Vote: Election 2008 running streamMcCain streamObama streamVote Report

Right now these links lean heavily toward mainstream media sites (MSM) while the voting goes on during the day. Later I’ll post separately on what citizens, bloggers and others are saying as the results come in.

Anything here I missed? Got a suggestion to add? Subtract? Please feel free to contribute.

These political Web tools get my vote

This very long presidential campaign has been most exciting for me, as a journalist, in seeing how new Web tools and sites devoted to politics, fact-checking, instant communication and social media have dramatically transformed how Americans and others around the world get their election news.

There is plenty of muttering that this may be the final campaign in which the mainstream media has anything like a major role to play. And that the future of journalism, much less political journalism, is bound to be more opinionated with the further onslaught of blogs, cable news, constant polls and the punditry that feeds them. And even as one of the rising new stars of this future openly wonders whether having such an occupation in this field is “worthwhile.”

Those are topics for another time, after the election. Unless, of course, the bloviators, numbers-crunchers and talking heads are all colossally wrong about who will prevail.

I’ve been more interested in the varied and dynamic new tools that have been unveiled and employed to help tell the story of the campaign. What follows are some sites, tools and other features that have been especially useful and intriguing:

• 5) Interactive map of newspaper endorsements: Critics who complain of liberal media bias or believe endorsements don’t matter probably won’t be impressed, but this is a very good use of one of my favorite Web tools — the mashup map. Here’s a good electoral map from Yahoo!, using polling information from the Real Clear Politics polling averages. This site’s a holdover from 2004, and goes into depth on competitive House and Senate races.

• 4) PolitiFact.com: Want to check the veracity of claims in political ads, videos and literature put out by the campaigns? This joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly ferrets out facts from the fiction, and along with factcheck.org has been oft-cited in news coverage of the election. The most egregious violators get the Pants on Fire! designation.

• 3) Sunlight Foundation: This pro-government transparency outfit is a treasure trove for information on campaign contributions, earmarks, voting records and other details of what politicians do not just to get to Washington, but what happens once they get there. Tracks the presidential race and Congress, as well as the distribution of federal contract dollars. I really love the Congresspedia project, which is one the best one-stop shopping sources on Congress I’ve ever seen. Designed for both media and citizen use, you can sign up for an API key to create a customized tool for your blog or site.

• 2) FiveThirtyEight.com: What happens when a baseball stats freak takes his math to the electoral map? You get this magnificently obsessed collection of numbers that defy the imagination of non-geeks like me. But young Nate Silver has generated plenty of media attention about his methods and generates massive amounts of comments on his site.

• 1) Twitter: Forget the victor between Obama and McCain; this instant social-messaging site might be the biggest winner of this campaign season. All kinds of mainstream news organizations are getting the hang of the 140-character form, and the two-year-old startup has been rocking with a running stream of posts devoted to the campaign. You can also check out political sub-topics from there. A Twitter stream has been set up to report on what’s happening at your polling place, especially if there are problems with long lines, broken machines, etc. Current TV, established by former Vice President Al Gore, has set up an election night service joining the forces of Twitter and Digg. No matter how you use it, Twitter isn’t just for geeks anymore.

But these are just my favorites. Here are some more election day resources on the Web. Which ones are your favorites?