White Noise: News from Inside the Media Bubble
Big, bad blog
YES! Weekly was not the only entity to start a blog this fall (and we did, you know, start a blog at yesweeklyblog.blogspot.com). It seems the US Department is stealing our act with a blog of their very own. From the intro: “Blogs.state.gov offers the public an alternative source to mainstream media for US foreign policy information. This blog offers the opportunity for participants to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior department officials.” What’s that? Getting information about government policy directly from the government with no media at the creamy center? We can’t help but feel a bit snubbed here. But once the average citizen gets a taste of national-level flackery, she’ll be glad to have a hundred or so reporters sifting through the chaff. Or maybe not. Dipnote, as it’s called, is not as mockable as you’d think, with an informative (even apologetic) message about passport hassles, dispatches from State Department representatives from Darfur and Lebanon, and posts from an affable, thirty-something career politico stationed in Baghdad. They’re not journalists in a technical sense – I mean, they’re government employees, which presents something of a conflict of interest – but they’re definitely committing some journalism here, like this post from Masharika Prejean, special assistant to department spokesman Sean McCormack, who was on the ground in New York City during the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly: “Here I am in the city that never stops negotiating. From Wall Street to the General Assembly, there’s always a deal waiting to be struck. This is the time of year when the world’s governmental bodies come to the Big Apple, the United Nations Headquarters specifically, to talk about global issues like environmental concerns, international sanctions, poverty and war. Not only are they here to talk, they’re also here to be seen. I’ve never witnessed so many impeccably dressed people in one place.” Not bad….
Ron Rosenbaum writes in an Oct. 4 post on Slate.com that GQ killed a story by political reporter Joshua Green (no relation) about infighting within the Hillary Clinton campaign. The first blow came, Rosenbaum reports, when “one of Bill Clinton’s aides is in the GQ editor’s office telling him there’d be a ‘problem’ with granting access to Bill Clinton for GQ’s ‘Man of the Year’ issue if GQ ran the muckraking Hillary story.” Instead of showing the aide to the door, Rosenbaum writes, the editor “turned on his own reporter and in a spectacularly demeaning way suddenly claimed there were ‘problems’ with the story unrelated to Clintonian pressure. Green tells Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post: “GQ told me it was a great story and a hell of a reporting job, but they didn’t want to jeopardize their Clinton-in-Africa piece.” Rosenbaum admonishes editors to find a spine lest the magazine industry lose all vestiges of respect. Otherwise, he warns, “It will send a signal to politicians that magazine editors are whores for access who can be rolled at will. And then there’s the intangible cost: the cost of such behavior to whatever respect is left for the magazine industry from a public that increasingly thinks the mainstream media are in the pocket of the powerful.”
While Paris, Britney and Lindsey may not be the best singers, or actresses, or human beings for that matter, they do serve the valuable function of keeping our thriving gossip magazine industry busy and out of trouble. For an example of what happens when our intrepid suppliers of scuttlebutt have too much time and not enough story on their hands, witness the lengths In Touch magazine went to in keeping their cover story on Angelina Jolie’s possible pregnancy valid. Based entirely on the observance that her breasts had swelled ever so slightly, they nearly had to hold off when photos surfaced showing she still has the kind of taut stomach that whistles when the wind blows. Showing remarkable journalistic ingenuity, though not necessarily integrity, the magazine bought exclusive rights to the photos – meaning only they were allowed to publish them – and cropped them so as to show only the corroborating C-cups and not Angie’s hypothesis-puncturing peritoneum. Hopefully next week Nicole Richie will hold up a liquor store and they can get back to covering serious news.