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To: stockman_scott who wrote (1322)2/11/2012 6:42:43 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 2371
A Newspaper, and a Legacy, Reordered

New York Times
February 11, 2012


ON a Sunday in early December, Marcus Brauchli, the executive editor of The Washington Post, summoned some of the newspaper’s most celebrated journalists to a lunch at his home, a red brick arts-and-crafts style in the suburb of Bethesda, Md.

He asked his guests, who included the Pulitzer Prize winners Bob Woodward, Dana Priest, David Maraniss and Rick Atkinson, along with Dan Balz, the paper’s chief correspondent, and Robert G. Kaiser, a senior writer and editor who has been with the paper since 1963, to help him — and The Post.

He wanted to know how they thought The Post was covering the 2012 election and what might be improved. The paper, they told him, needed to strike a better balance between the ferocious 24/7 news cycle and more ambitious longer-term projects. Newsroom morale was suffering and needed his attention.

The meeting was an unusual gesture from Mr. Brauchli. In the nearly three and a half years since he became the first outsider to run the paper in seven decades, he has often fought perceptions that he is inattentive to concerns of his staff members.

But Mr. Brauchli is acutely aware of the tension that lies at the heart of his mission — a tension being faced not just by newspapers but by media companies in music, film, books, magazines and television. He is charged with maintaining the standards and legacy of a great institution — in this case, the newspaper of Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee and Mr. Woodward and Carl Bernstein — while confronting the harsh reality that in the digital age, the grandeur is gone.

Mr. Brauchli refuses to be held hostage to the past. “There are a lot of nostalgia-drenched people in the journalism field who look back at what newspapers were and have a fairly static view of what they should be,” he said in an interview. “Just because The Washington Post used to be a certain way doesn’t mean The Washington Post has to be that way in the future.”

T0he Post faces the same problems as other daily newspapers, whose revenues have sunk as the Web and the tough economy have sapped advertising. But in some ways, its situation is even more daunting. Unlike most other papers with national aspirations, The Post serves a purely local print market, one that for decades had limited competition, and it has depended on local advertisers and subscribers who have since fled to the Web.

Though company managers say privately that The Post is modestly profitable, its newspaper division, which also includes a group of community papers and The Herald of Everett, Wash., reported an operating loss of nearly $26 million through the first three quarters of last year.

Compounding its troubles, The Post’s safety net ripped a giant hole. For decades, The Post could rely on Kaplan — the money-minting, for-profit college and test-preparation business that the company bought in 1984. But Kaplan has been squeezed under the weight of new federal rules that place greater limits on how for-profit colleges can recruit and enroll low-income students.

Once by far the largest and fastest-growing business in the Washington Post Company, Kaplan is now a laggard. Education accounts for less operating income than two divisions that were historically less crucial to its profits, cable and broadcast television, according to the latest financial reports.

That has left the newspaper and the company’s other businesses exposed. The newsroom, once with more than 1,000 employees, now stands at less than 640 people, depleted by buyouts and staff defections. The newspaper’s Style section, once one of the most coveted assignments in American journalism, has shrunk from nearly 100 people to a quarter of that size. Bureaus in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are gone. There were so many Friday afternoon cake-cutting send-offs for departing employees last summer that editors had to coordinate them so they didn’t overlap.

“The survival of the institution is not guaranteed,” Mr. Kaiser said in an interview before the December lunch. Over the course of his five-decade career with The Post, he has been a summer intern, a metro reporter, a foreign correspondent and the No. 2 to Len Downie, Mr. Brauchli’s predecessor.

“When I was managing editor of The Washington Post, everything we did was better than anyone in the business,” he said. “We had the best weather, the best comics, the best news report, the fullest news report. Today, there’s a competitor who does every element of what we do, and many of them do it better. We’ve lost our edge in some very profound and fundamental ways.”

Last week, the paper announced a fresh round of voluntary buyouts, an effort to cut 20 more positions as managers reckoned once again with the painful reality that The Post was not making enough money to support the staff it employed.

Mr. Brauchli has reacted to the upheaval by overseeing one of the most sweeping and closely watched reorientations of any newsroom in the country. The editors now stress online metrics and freely borrow from the playbooks of more nimble online competitors like Politico and The Huffington Post.

The outcome of their efforts could offer a high-profile case study on how a company can foster an entrepreneurial, digital culture while remaining true to its heritage. But the transformation has been far from easy. There have been tensions in the newsroom and visible fissures between Mr. Brauchli and his own publisher.

The Post has expanded its Web presence by trying to meld what was great about the old Post with new traffic-baiting tricks of online start-ups — creating new, high-minded blogs like Ezra Klein’s “Wonkblog,” along with “Celebritology 2.0” where news about the Kardashian sisters and Justin Bieber can be found. That has many inside the paper starting to wonder if online growth has come at too high a cost.

UNTIL just two years ago, the Washington Post Company was considerably behind many of its competitors in innovating on the Web. Its digital and print operations were even separated by a state line. The Web site’s offices were across the Potomac River in Virginia and run by a different set of managers.

That changed after Mr. Brauchli and Katharine Weymouth, the Post’s publisher, integrated the two sides in the first half of 2009. Journalists whose primary responsibilities are to the Web site now work next to reporters in The Post’s headquarters on 15th Street in downtown Washington. Under the direction of Raju Narisetti, one of two managing editors brought in by Mr. Brauchli, the Post newsroom was reoriented to think about one primary goal: bringing the most visitors as possible to

Mr. Narisetti, who left the paper last month for a new job at The Wall Street Journal, where both he and Mr. Brauchli had worked before The Post, brought large flat-screen monitors into the newsroom that projected in real time what the most popular stories were online. He installed a new internal publishing system that required reporters to identify Google-friendly key words and flag them before their stories could be edited.

There are 35 different daily reports that track traffic to different parts of the Web site. Editors receive a midday performance alert, telling them whether the site is on track to meet its traffic goals for the day. If it appears that they might miss their goal, editors will order up fresher content.

“I’ve been at lunch, opened up that e-mail and called people and said: ‘Looks like we’re not delivering enough content. What can we put up?’ ” Mr. Narisetti said in an interview before his departure.

Top editors have embraced the view that studying traffic patterns can be a useful way to determine where to focus the paper’s resources.

“Let’s say you’re looking at your local staff, and because of pressures you need to move people. So you’re telling the local editor, here is the data, here are the business needs of our audience,” he said. “And in some cases people have moved an editor into a reporting role, or people have said we are reorganizing these beats so we don’t need four people covering this system. We can have three.”

Traffic isn’t the only factor that editors examine when determining whether to kill or expand a blog. They can look at where online visitors are when they read the site. And if their computers are registered with a government suffix — .gov, .mil, .senate or .house — editors know they are reaching the readers they want. “That’s our influential audience,” Mr. Narisetti said. “If a blog is over all not doing that great but has a higher percentage of those, we say don’t worry about it.”

Post employees are regularly schooled in the lingo of Web traffic. In memos to the staff, Mr. Brauchli is as likely to cite terms like page views, unique visitors and social media referrals as he is to laud a journalistic achievement. At the beginning of the month, he started an e-mail to the newsroom this way: “January was an excellent month for us digitally. We surpassed all our previous records. We beat our monthly records for page views by 9 percent, for visits by 14 percent and for unique visitors by 12 percent.”

He added: “Growing everywhere is a sign that we are adapting effectively to what our readers want.” By one important measure, The Post’s efforts are paying off. Recently, it has averaged 19.6 million unique visitors a month, according to comScore, making it the second-most-visited American newspaper Web site, behind that of The New York Times.

Mr. Narisetti and Mr. Brauchli were close partners in the digital reinvention of the newsroom, but their relationship became tense at times toward the end. In one spat witnessed by reporters in December, Mr. Brauchli confronted Mr. Narisetti in the newsroom over an erroneous blog post that said Mitt Romney was using language from the Ku Klux Klan in his speeches. The item forced the paper to issue an uncharacteristically self-flagellating correction citing “multiple, serious factual errors that undermine its premise.”

In an interview before his departure, Mr. Narisetti was asked if he believed that the newsroom would be the same size at the end of this year. “One thing no editor in any newsroom in this country can avoid saying is that it will be smaller,” he said, adding that if his bosses asked him how many people he needed to put out the paper, “the chances are we wouldn’t say 630 people.”

Despite the emphasis on digital delivery, The Post has continued to thrive by more conventional measures. Mr. Brauchli points to the journalistic distinctions under his watch, including five Pulitzer Prizes, and articles like an investigation into the insurance giant AIG and its role in the economic collapse of 2008.

“The Washington Post doesn’t need to cover everything,” he said. “But what it does cover it will cover well. I think the staff of any newsroom today surely understands that we are in a fast-changing industry, facing constant competitive pressure, significant economic challenges and great opportunities to rethink how we cover things.”

Some who were around when The Post’s mission was to cover everything said they understood how hard Mr. Brauchli’s job was, and they think he did not always get the credit he deserved.

“Whatever you’re going to say about the paper and where it is, it’s a time of convulsion for all newspapers,” Mr. Woodward said. “But you have an absolute first-class news person in charge who really does have the clarity, zeal and drive of Bradlee.”

NO one bears the weight of The Post’s legacy more than Katharine Weymouth, the paper’s 45-year-old publisher and the fifth member of her family to hold that title. Her grandmother was the beloved Post matriarch, Katharine Graham. Her uncle is Donald E. Graham, the former publisher and now chief executive of the Post Company. It is a testament to Mr. Graham’s standing among his employees that despite the difficult times, few hold him in anything but the highest esteem.

Mr. Graham, who graduated from Harvard and was drafted into the Vietnam War, joined the Washington police department before taking a job as a Post reporter. Ms. Weymouth, who grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, attended the Brearley School and then Harvard, had an indirect path to The Post of a different sort. After graduating from the Stanford Law School, she moved to Washington to work as a corporate lawyer.

In 1996, she joined The Post as an assistant counsel and was named publisher in February 2008, right as the Great Recession was getting under way. In one of her first major decisions, she surprised the newsroom by reaching outside the organization for Mr. Brauchli, who had accepted a large payout and resigned from his previous job, running The Wall Street Journal under its new owner, Rupert Murdoch.

In Mr. Brauchli, she saw the kind of leader who could be a strong partner in shaping the company’s business strategy for the next generation. “I think he came in with his eyes wide open,” she said in an interview.

Mr. Brauchli was also willing to take on the undesirable task of paring down the newsroom. “It’s a job that Ben Bradlee didn’t have to do, and that Len Downie only had to do a little bit of,” she said, referring to the paper’s previous two executive editors.

Ms. Weymouth is a careful student of her family’s history, even if she says legacy isn’t something she spends a lot of time thinking about. “I just can’t think like that,” she said.

Her tenure got off to a rocky start. In the summer of 2009, Ms. Weymouth had to apologize after it became public that The Post was planning to charge lobbyists and others for access to exclusive “salons” at her home. Seeking a new revenue stream, the company wanted to create a series of events featuring Post journalists that would attract sponsors. Though magazines host similar conferences all the time, it seemed particularly undignified for an institution as esteemed as The Post. And the blowback was fierce.

Though Mr. Brauchli always understood his job would entail how to put out a daily newspaper and run a 24/7 Web site with shrinking resources, some of his editors have noticed that his relationship with the publisher has cooled.

One veteran newsroom manager said Mr. Brauchli has described “a constant fight” with the publisher over making further cuts. In an act that went largely unmentioned at the paper, Mr. Brauchli refused to accept a bonus one year, this person added.

Though such a gesture, coming as it did when the paper was reducing staff significantly, may have helped lift morale and engender good will, Mr. Brauchli chose not to make his decision public. And when Ms. Weymouth wrote a year-end memo to the staff praising its accomplishments and thanking people by name, his name was curiously absent, leading many staff members to believe that she had snubbed him. In fact, said another person who had seen an original draft of the memo, Mr. Brauchli’s name was mentioned in the first version but he asked that it be taken out. He left the misperceptions uncorrected.

Many at The Post are still trying to adjust to life under a new regime, one in which “Donnie-grams,” congratulatory notes from the chief executive, arrive in your in-box along with spreadsheets on the latest Web traffic metrics, and where the walk-around management style of Mr. Bradlee and Mr. Downie is gone. Employees often fault Ms. Weymouth and Mr. Brauchli for not circulating enough in the newsroom. By her own acknowledgment, Ms. Weymouth lacks ease and rapport with the newsroom. Her uncle Don, she said, “has an amazing knack for names that unfortunately I don’t share.”

On election night in 2008, she brought her young daughter into the newsroom to witness Post journalists putting together the paper that would report on President Obama’s historic election. Reporters and editors, most of whom rarely saw their publisher in the newsroom, were taken aback but impressed with what that said about Ms. Weymouth’s attachment to the paper.

“I hope they see me as a champion of the news. I do my best,” she said. She added that she didn’t visit the newsroom “nearly as much as I’d like,” saying: “You get stuck in meetings, you’re traveling. I’d like to get down there a lot more.”

Mr. Brauchli’s own response to the criticism was similar: “The journalism is where I want to spend my time, and the journalism is where my passion is. But there are a lot of issues that require my attention.”

THIS summer, Reuters tried to poach Mr. Balz, one of the country’s most prominent political reporters. Mr. Brauchli and the national editor, Kevin Merida, were loath to see him go — not just because they were wary of more brain drain but also because of the potential damage to newsroom morale from the defection of such a revered and well-liked colleague.

They flew a young political reporter, Philip Rucker, to Michigan, where Mr. Balz was on vacation and considering the Reuters offer. Mr. Rucker appeared on Mr. Balz’s doorstep carrying a basket with cheese and wine and a book they had made called “Campaign Crescendos: The Election-Night Writings of Dan Balz.” Editors and reporters had signed it, urging him to stay.

He declined the Reuters job.

“To me, The Post was and is a great newspaper,” Mr. Balz said. “Is it a different place today than it was? Sure. But in the end it’s still a great place to do great journalism.”

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From: Ron2/12/2012 5:49:11 PM
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Brits arrest eight more as Murdoch newspaper scandal rolls on

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From: Ron2/14/2012 11:14:59 AM
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New competition for cable and satellite starts up in New York City

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From: Ron2/15/2012 8:09:58 PM
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Investigators suspect ‘serious criminality’ at News Corp Investigators looking into alleged corrupt practices at News Corp’s UK newspapers suspect that cash payments worth more than £100,000 were made to police officers and other public officials, one person familiar with the investigation said.

News Corp’s management and standards committee, set up after the News of the World phone hacking scandal convulsed the News International newspaper division last July, has been under fire from reporters for passing information to police that has led to the arrests of nine journalists at The Sun.

On Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the investigation dismissed claims that journalists were being penalised for innocuous lunches with sources. “This is not about sources or expenses,” he said: “This is an investigation into serious suspected criminality over a sustained period.”

He added: “It involves regular cash payments totalling tens of thousands of pounds a year for several years to public officials, some of whom were effectively on a retainer to provide information. In totality, it involves a six-figure sum.”

The comments came after the National Union of Journalists said it had taken advice from John Hendy QC about the legality of the committee handing over information, exposing confidential sources to the Metropolitan Police, and was considering whether to pursue legal action.

The NUJ said it had been approached not only by journalists at The Sun but also by civil servant whistleblowers who are frightened about their confidential conversations with journalists being disclosed and who want to understand their legal rights.

Writing in The Times, which is also owned by News International, Geoffrey Robertson QC, a leading human rights lawyer, said on Wednesday that members of the management and standards committee should be required to “learn by heart” a leading judgment of the European Court of Human Rights relating to the protection of journalistic sources.

“If journalists cannot promise anonymity to sources and keep that solemn promise there would be a lot less news and what there was would be less reliable,” he wrote. “How else did the Daily Telegraph avoid prosecution for paying a substantial sum for details of MPs expenses?”

The committee was not so much “draining the swamp”, as one representative had described its work, as “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”, Mr Robertson said, adding that tabloid journalists should “stop bashing the European Court of Human Rights” and start using it to protect their own rights and those of their readers.

Both News Corp and the management and standards committee declined to comment.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, called on Sun journalists to join the union, saying: “The NUJ can defend staff at the Sun, and elsewhere in News International, and represent them against a management that seems prepared to throw them to the wolves.”

“We have been approached by a group of journalists from The Sun. We are now exploring a number of ways to support them, including discussing legal redress,” she said. “If journalists are not allowed to offer protection to their sources – often brave people who are raising their heads above the parapet to disclose information – then the free press in the UK is dead.”

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (1322)2/16/2012 9:58:31 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 2371
Interference Seen in Philadelphia Papers

New York Times
February 15, 2012

Last week, Gregory J. Osberg, chief executive and publisher of the Philadelphia Media Network, which publishes The Inquirer, The Daily News and, summoned the news organization’s three most senior editors to his office.

Over three hours, he told them he would be overseeing all articles related to the newspapers’ impending sale. If any articles ran without his approval, the editors would be fired, according to several editors and reporters briefed on the meeting who did not want to be identified criticizing the company’s leadership.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Mr. Osberg said the meeting did not happen. But Larry Platt, editor of The Daily News and one of the editors in attendance, said that it did. Late Wednesday, Mr. Osberg acknowledged that the meeting had taken place but denied interfering in the editorial decisions, saying he only wished to be notified of further coverage. Mr. Platt declined to comment on specifics, but said, “We fought for what we believed in,” referring to editorial independence, “and we didn’t get all that we wanted.”

The meeting was the latest incident pitting the management of the papers against the newsroom over the proposed sale to an investor group primarily made up of the area’s most powerful Democrats.

Edward G. Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor leads the group, which includes George E. Norcross III, a Democratic powerbroker in South New Jersey; the parking lot and banking magnate Lewis Katz; and Edward M. Snider, chairman of the Comcast subsidiary that owns the Philadelphia Flyers. Mr. Rendell recently told reporters he has asked the union leader John J. Dougherty Jr. (or Johnny Doc as he is known locally) to join the group.

Reporters and editors believe that coverage has been steered to favor the prospective buyers and fear what might happen once they control the papers. On Feb. 6, The Inquirer killed an article about a real estate developer who had put together a competing bid to buy the company, which went on the market earlier this month. Then, on Feb. 7, a company spokesman removed a post on The Daily News’s PhillyClout blog that mentioned other potential buyers.

The spokesman, Mark Block, said those actions were mistakes that would not be repeated. Mr. Osberg denied any editorial interference. “There is no pattern here. It doesn’t exist,” he said, adding “I have not been managing coverage of the sale and I am not doing that going forward.”

The situation in Philadelphia speaks to the vulnerability of regional newspapers. Long operated as functional monopolies with attractive margins, local papers have undergone a nosedive in earnings and advertising revenue. Having ceased to be sure-fire financial investments, these newspapers, the reporters fear, could still be attractive as a tool to advance new owners’ political and business interests.

The proposed sale could still fall through, but a completed deal with Mr. Rendell’s group would give Democrats control of the most influential newspaper in one of the most important states on the electoral map just before the 2012 elections.

“You have a former mayor and governor, the owner of a local sports team and George Norcross, who is a power player in South Jersey politics,” said Buzz Bissinger, who writes for both Philadelphia papers and wrote the book “A Prayer for the City” about the mayoralty of Mr. Rendell. Of The Inquirer, he said, “I believe it will effectively cease to be a real newspaper and become a house organ for these guys and their friends.”

The Inquirer, a 183-year-old paper with a legacy that includes 18 Pulitzer Prizes, has been battered harder than most regional papers, and its parent company ended up being bought in 2010 for $139 million, by two hedge funds, Angelo Gordon and Alden Global Capital, along with banks that held the company’s debt.

The new owners installed Mr. Osberg, who had been the president and publisher of Newsweek magazine, but the financial picture has continued to decline. According to sales documents obtained by The New York Times — marked as “highly confidential” — the company had a 13.9 percent drop in advertising revenues last year and earnings were less than $5 million. On Wednesday, the company announced a round of buyouts and potential layoffs that will eliminate 37 positions.

“The last time we were up for sale, we had a bankruptcy judge whose role was to give the orphan the best possible parents he could find,” said Karen Heller, an Inquirer columnist. “But in this sale, no one cares how people will take care of the house.”

In an interview, Mr. Rendell said his only intention in putting the group together was to save the newspapers and keep them under local control. “Any ownership group may have some interest in controlling the content of the newspaper, but ours is no more or less than that,” he said. He added that Mr. Snider is a conservative Republican. Mr. Norcross said the idea that they would buy the newspapers to push an agenda was “just silly.”

But several incidents have reinforced fears in the newsroom. An investigation about conflicts of interest among board members of the Cooper University Hospital in nearby Camden, N.J., remains unpublished after months. Mr. Norcross serves as the hospital’s chairman.

In an e-mail Mr. Norcross, who has called The Inquirer and The Daily News in the last week to discuss other coverage, said the reporter’s research “contained significant factual errors and incomplete data about the hospital and health care industry.”

Stan Wischnowski, The Inquirer’s editor in chief, said Mr. Norcross’s potential ownership has no bearing on the story. Mr. Wischnowski said that the newsroom was unhappy with the initial oversight of articles about the sale but that the issue was now being covered aggressively and without interference.

“We have a very daunting, imposing possibility in front of us,” he said. “But nothing has happened or will happen in terms of ownership that will change our rich, 183-year legacy of accountability journalism.”

On Feb. 4, a paragraph in an article on that said the newspapers had a value of about $40 million based on historical valuations was removed from the Web site. Other media reports had said the owners were seeking $100 million.

In articles about the company’s move to an old department store building across town from its current offices, reporters were asked by management not to mention the $2.9 million tax credit the company had received for relocating within Philadelphia, according to several employees involved in the coverage.

Meanwhile, other legitimate bids for the newspapers have been blocked. Three weeks ago the billionaire investor Ronald O. Perelman approached Angelo Gordon and said his father, Raymond G. Perelman, a Philadelphia philanthropist, wanted to buy the company.

“They said, ‘Well, we’re not interested in selling it to your father,’ but they didn’t give a reason,” Raymond Perelman said. A spokesman for Angelo Gordon declined to comment.

Bart Blatstein, the local real estate developer who owns The Inquirer’s current building, said Mr. Osberg and Evercore Partners, the investment bank handling the sale, rebuffed his offers.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Mr. Blatstein said, explaining that an open auction would drive up the price. “If you’re selling a house, you’d put a sign on the lawn and let everyone know it’s for sale.”

On Tuesday, nearly 75 Teamsters marched in protest of a possible sale of The Inquirer to Mr. Rendell’s group. “They’ve stacked the deck in favor of the Rendell group and suppressed stories about other buyers, and they haven’t even bought it yet,” said John Laigaie, president of the Local 628 chapter of the Teamsters union, which represents the media group’s security guards, truck drivers and other employees.

Mr. Rendell has a complicated relationship with the media, which may have reached a low point in 1994 when he clamped his hand around the neck of Amy S. Rosenberg, an Inquirer reporter who was questioning him about potentially losing federal money for the homeless. The outbursts became so frequent the press called them “Edruptions.”

In an apology letter to Ms. Rosenberg’s editor, Mr. Rendell wrote, “Touching a reporter is inexcusable and inappropriate no matter what the circumstances.” Ms. Rosenberg, who kept the letter, said he added: “You know how Amy can get. I was just trying to slow her down.” (Mr. Rendell’s spokeswoman, Kirstin Snow, said the former governor is “an extremely engaging, friendly person and his intent has never been to harm anyone.”)

In late October, Mr. Osberg met with Mr. Norcross and Mr. Katz to discuss the Rendell group’s plans. Mr. Rendell has said Mr. Osberg is “doing a fine job” and signaled his group would keep Mr. Osberg on as chief if the deal went through.

“They can talk about civic duty all they want, but it would be naive to think they don’t want influence over a company they’re putting such significant money into,” said the Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney.

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (1322)2/16/2012 11:26:11 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 2371
Buchanan: Too Radioactive for MSNBC

He claims liberal pressure as the network drops him after a decade

By Howard Kurtz
The Daily Beast
February 16, 2012 10:48pm

To hear Pat Buchanan tell it, he was booted off MSNBC because of a vast left-wing conspiracy.

The reality is a bit more mundane: The network moved sharply left, Buchanan’s boss felt uncomfortable with him, and he was road kill.

In announcing his departure Thursday after being off the air for months, the former GOP presidential candidate said he is leaving “after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous.”

He adds: “I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats, and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.”

But Buchanan, who survived for 10 years at MSNBC—and decades at CNN before that—wasn’t “blacklisted” by wild-eyed liberal activists. He was forced out by MSNBC President Phil Griffin, who has presided over the hiring of Ed Schultz, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton and a slew of liberal commentators, including Howard Dean and Ed Rendell.(The new house conservative, other than morning man Joe Scarborough, is ex-GOP chairman Michael Steele.)

It was clear that Buchanan would no longer be leaning forward at the cable channel when Griffin expressed concern about his new book, Suicide of a Superpower, saying: “I don’t think the ideas that he put forth are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC.”

The book does contain some inflammatory passages about race and immigration. But Buchanan has been saying this sort of thing for three decades. He hasn’t changed, it’s MSNBC that now has Rachel Maddow anchoring on primary nights.

That’s not to say Buchanan doesn’t have enemies on the left. As he notes, the liberal group Color of Change said his book espouses a “white supremacist ideology.” (Could it be because of the chapter title “The End of White America”?) Media Matters also mounted a campaign against Buchanan.

Buchanan’s entitled to defend himself: “If my book is racist and anti-Semitic, how did Sean Hannity, Erin Burnett, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Megyn Kelly, Lou Dobbs, and Ralph Nader miss that?”

But as a cable news commentator, you serve at the pleasure of management. And MSNBC (which put out a we-wish-him-well statement) was no longer pleased by Buchanan.

Next stop, Fox News?

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (1322)2/17/2012 9:09:54 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 2371
Very unfortunate:

Chicago News Cooperative to suspend operations

By Robert Channick and Becky Yerak
Tribune reporters
5:51 PM CST, February 17, 2012

The Chicago News Cooperative, a non-profit news organization launched in 2009 to add another voice to the city's journalism community, is expected to suspend operations, a source close to the organization told the Tribune Friday.

The CNC, which operates a web site and publishes a section in the Chicago edition of The New York Times twice a week, operates as a non-profit organization. It has a partnership with WTTW-Channel 11, Chicago public television, and WBEZ, Chicago public radio.

The Chicago Reader reported late Friday afternoon that the CNC will cease operation Feb. 26.

A CNC staff member confirmed to the Tribune that the Co-Op would close. Staff members were told in a meeting on Friday by Jim O'Shea, the CNC's managing editor. O'Shea is a former managing editor of the Chicago Tribune.

While the CNC had been a nonprofit, the hope was that at some point it would generate sufficient revenues on its own. Those revenues haven't materialized, the source said.

Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

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From: Ron2/22/2012 11:15:05 AM
1 Recommendation   of 2371

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (1322)2/27/2012 6:20:56 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
3 Recommendations   of 2371
Blurred Line Between Espionage and Truth

New York Times
February 28, 2012

Last Wednesday in the White House briefing room, the administration’s press secretary, Jay Carney, opened on a somber note, citing the deaths of Marie Colvin and Anthony Shadid, two reporters who had died “in order to bring truth” while reporting in Syria.

Jake Tapper, the White House correspondent for ABC News, pointed out that the administration had lauded brave reporting in distant lands more than once and then asked, “How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle-blowers to court?”

He then suggested that the administration seemed to believe that “the truth should come out abroad; it shouldn’t come out here.”

Fair point. The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance “whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,” has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers.

The Espionage Act, enacted back in 1917 to punish those who gave aid to our enemies, was used three times in all the prior administrations to bring cases against government officials accused of providing classified information to the media. It has been used six times since the current president took office.

Setting aside the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst who is accused of stealing thousands of secret documents, the majority of the recent prosecutions seem to have everything to do with administrative secrecy and very little to do with national security.

In case after case, the Espionage Act has been deployed as a kind of ad hoc Official Secrets Act, which is not a law that has ever found traction in America, a place where the people’s right to know is viewed as superseding the government’s right to hide its business.

In the most recent case, John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who became a Democratic staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was charged under the Espionage Act with leaking information to journalists about other C.I.A. officers, some of whom were involved in the agency’s interrogation program, which included waterboarding.

For those of you keeping score, none of the individuals who engaged in or authorized the waterboarding of terror suspects have been prosecuted, but Mr. Kiriakou is in federal cross hairs, accused of talking to journalists and news organizations, including The New York Times.

Mr. Tapper said that he had not planned on raising the issue, but hearing Mr. Carney echo the praise for reporters who dug deep to bring out the truth elsewhere got his attention.

“I have been following all of these case, and it’s not like they are instances of government employees leaking the location of secret nuclear sites,” Mr. Tapper said. “These are classic whistle-blower cases that dealt with questionable behavior by government officials or its agents acting in the name of protecting America.”

Mr. Carney said in the briefing that he felt it was appropriate “to honor and praise the bravery” of Ms. Colvin and Mr. Shadid, but he did not really engage Mr. Tapper’s broader question, saying he could not go into information about specific cases. He did not respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.

In one of the more remarkable examples of the administration’s aggressive approach, Thomas A. Drake, a former employee of the National Security Agency, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act last year and faced a possible 35 years in prison.

His crime? When his agency was about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a software program bought from the private sector intended to monitor digital data, he spoke with a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. He suggested an internally developed program that cost significantly less would be more effective and not violate privacy in the way the product from the vendor would. (He turned out to be right, by the way.)

He was charged with 10 felony counts that accused him of lying to investigators and obstructing justice. Last summer, the case against him collapsed, and he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, of misuse of a government computer.

Jesselyn Radack, the director for national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, was one of the lawyers who represented him.

“The Obama administration has been quite hypocritical about its promises of openness, transparency and accountability,” she said. “All presidents hate leaks, but pursuing whistle-blowers as spies is heavy-handed and beyond the scope of the law.”

Mark Corallo, who served under Attorney General John D. Ashcroft during the Bush administration, told Adam Liptak of The New York Times this month that he was “sort of shocked” by the number of leak prosecutions under President Obama. “We would have gotten hammered for it,” he said.

As Mr. Liptak pointed out, it has become easier to ferret out leakers in a digital age, but just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be.

These kinds of prosecutions can have ripples well beyond the immediate proceedings. Two reporters in Washington who work on national security issues said that the rulings had created a chilly environment between journalists and people who work at the various government agencies.

During a point in history when our government has been accused of sending prisoners to secret locations where they were said to have been tortured and the C.I.A. is conducting remote-controlled wars in far-flung places, it’s not a good time to treat the people who aid in the publication of critical information as spies.

And it’s worth pointing out that the administration’s emphasis on secrecy comes and goes depending on the news. Reporters were immediately and endlessly briefed on the “secret” operation that successfully found and killed Osama bin Laden. And the drone program in Pakistan and Afghanistan comes to light in a very organized and systematic way every time there is a successful mission.

There is plenty of authorized leaking going on, but this particular boat leaks from the top. Leaks from the decks below, especially ones that might embarrass the administration, have been dealt with very differently.


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From: Ron3/1/2012 4:12:53 PM
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The NewsCorp debacle.
Graphic shows NewsCorp executives arrested, resigned or fired: Murdoch's circle
24 arrests, four resignations...

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