Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Sparky’s List

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I regularly include Tom Tomorrow cartoons in my posts. It’s all I can do not to put up his new cartoon every week. (His latest is above.) But he can’t continue to produce them without income.

It’s a tough time for political cartoonists. Newspapers, in their on-going quest to cut costs, have dropped them right and left. One bright spot is Daily Kos, which has stepped in to provide a home for a group of top-notch cartoonists, Tom Tomorrow among them. Yet, even Tom’s income continues to decline, and this has prompted him to create a new subscription service, Sparky’s List, which he rolled out last week. Here is a portion of his announcement.

Following the path recently trailblazed by my good friend Ruben Bolling, I am unveiling a new feature for the truly devoted This Modern World reader: SPARKY’S LIST.

As you may have heard, the newspaper industry has been undergoing some difficulties of late. As regular readers of this blog are aware, too many altweeklies have decided to save literally tens of dollars a week by cutting their most popular features — the comics.

Thanks to the internet, my cartoons are more widely read than I could have ever imagined possible, when I started out twenty or so years ago. But as my readership expands exponentially, my income remains in steady decline. I’m no economist, but that doesn’t seem sustainable to me.

I’m still fortunate enough to have a substantial number of clients both in print and online, for which I am profoundly grateful — but the reality is that the world is changing rapidly, and we all need to keep figuring out different ways to adapt.

So I’ve decided to add a new component to the overall Tomorrowco strategy for survival, and offer my own email subscription service which — as previously noted — I’m calling SPARKY’S LIST. Like Ruben, I didn’t want to ask for charity — I’ve always been somewhat uncomfortable even having that donations button on the blog. Instead, I wanted to offer something of value to TMW’s most devoted readers — the opportunity to see the cartoon several days before it appears online or in print, as well as the convenience of having it delivered directly to your inbox. …

But wait, there’s more.

I’ll also offer occasional extras, such as alternate unpublished drafts of cartoons, contest/giveaways, “classics” from years past, and other bonus content to be determined. But don’t worry, I won’t spam your inbox — these will simply be the sprinkles on the delicious, weekly ice cream sundae that is SPARKY’S LIST.

The cost is $9.99 for a six month subscription, which, for comparative purposes, is literally less than any common item or experience you can think of that would cost you more than $9.99!

And in all seriousness, you’ll be helping to support the cartoon, and keep it alive. Which is no small thing.

I subscribed immediately. You can too, by going here. I recommend that you do. If you already have an Amazon account, signing up takes just a moment. You’ll be supporting a good cause.

Categories: Cartoons, Media, Politics

Nutcase of the Week

April 28, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s hard to out-do Donald Trump. He seemed to have this category all sewn up for the week. How can one top his pronouncement yesterday, in the wake of the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, that “I’m very proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish”?

Pat Robertson found a way. (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan.) Watch the video above. It will take only a minute. You will learn that the far left favors abortion — “killing babies” — as a way to create a “level playing field” for lesbians. Really. You see, lesbians can’t have children. Married women can. But if married women don’t have babies, we get the level playing field. That’s what he says.

What’s that? Lesbians can have babies? And sometimes they do? No. You’re joking, right?

Well, at least they can’t get married.

Categories: Media, Politics

Just the Game, Please

December 31, 2010 1 comment

UW's Victor Aiyewa hits Nebraska's Rex Burkhead to force a fumble

[Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times]

I’m not that big a fan of University of Washington football. After all, I despise college football on principle, so how can I care how our team does? But, last night’s Holiday Bowl game was our first bowl appearance since losing in the 2002 Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve, so after finishing my Bainbridge outing post, I turned on the TV late in the game’s first quarter.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were up 7-0. However, I was soon annoyed that ESPN thought the game they were in the midst of broadcasting wasn’t as important as the game over at ESPN2. Time after time, the coverage would be interrupted so we could be updated on developments in Palo Alto, where Stanford’s women’s basketball team was leading the University of Connecticut with just minutes to play.

You probably know that UConn has won its last 90 games in a row. The big sporting news a couple of weeks ago was their 88th victory, tying the great UCLA men’s basketball teams of the early 1970s for consecutive victories, and then their 89th, breaking UCLA’s record. Stanford, meanwhile, had its own streak going, having won their last 51 home games. One of those streaks would be coming to an end.

As long as ESPN was going to keep telling me the basketball news, it seemed simpler just to change over to ESPN2 and watch the UConn-Stanford itself, which I did. Time and again, UConn would come down the court down 6 and miss in their effort to cut the lead to just 4. Or 3. Maya Moore, their star and the best player in women’s college basketball, kept missing shots, as apparently she had done all evening. Stanford would push the lead up to 8, UConn, would get it back to 6, but they couldn’t seem to do any better than that.

Or maybe I missed something, because as it turned out, I couldn’t watch the basketball game continuously. It was bad enough that ESPN kept interrupting football to tell us about the basketball game. But worse, ESPN2 took advantage of every break in the basketball action to turn the camera on one of our nation’s most glamorous war criminals. It wasn’t good enough to stick to the basketball, to focus on a game that was setting up to be the biggest one of the regular-season in years. No, we had to watch Stanford professor (and former provost) Condoleezza Rice cheering her school on.

Why, ESPN? Why did we have to have her shoved in our faces? Did her presence make the game more important? You already dominate sports coverage in this country. Are you aspiring to dominate in the category of fawning over former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of State who led us into or prolonged wars based on lies? What about Henry Kissinger? Couldn’t you get him on screen too? Maybe you could have paid him and flown him in last night so he could sit with his fellow war criminal.

It seems that Stanford held on to win. UConn got into the standard end-of-game cycle of fouling in order to get the ball back and Stanford was thereby able to increase its lead, winning by a final score that I never did catch. Ah, it was 71-59. I did switch back after the game ended, only to be forced to get one last look at Condaleezza, standing up, cheering, and swaying to the music being played in Maples Arena.

I returned to ESPN for good and was relieved that they allowed us to focus on the football game, with no further interruptions. A good thing. We won, 19-7. Over Nebraska. But that’s another story. I’ll stop here.

Categories: Media, Sports, Torture

Keeping it Classy

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Earlier this month, a report was released by at the University of Maryland titled Misinformation and the 2010 Election: A Study of the US Electorate. As Brian Stelter explained in reporting on the study for the NYT,

a study released Friday found that “substantial levels of misinformation” seeped out to the electorate of the United States at the time of the midterm elections this year.

According to the study, … in most cases, the more a person watched and read the news, the less likely they were to have been misled about the facts. But “there were however a number of cases where greater exposure to a news source increased misinformation on a specific issue,” the study’s authors wrote. In particular, they found that regular viewers of the Fox News Channel, which tilts to the right in prime time, were significantly more likely to believe untruths about the Democratic health care overhaul, climate change and other subjects.

Fox’s response?

Asked for comment on the study, Fox News seemingly dismissed the findings. In a statement, Michael Clemente, who is the senior vice president of news editorial for the network, said: “The latest Princeton Review ranked the University of Maryland among the top schools for having ‘Students Who Study The Least’ and being the ‘Best Party School’ – given these fine academic distinctions, we’ll regard the study with the same level of veracity it was ‘researched’ with.’”

Classy. Real classy.

Categories: Media, Politics

Cronkite: Not a Stenographer

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment


A couple of days ago I had a post on Walter Cronkite that was really about the goofy mishaps that arise when one dumbly does search-and-replace on a document. In a more serious vein, I’ll mention a Glenn Greenwald post from the same day. Since I find everything Greenwald writes valuable and interesting, I could link to his posts daily. I try to limit my references to him. But I’ll succumb to temptation this time.

As part of Greenwald’s continuing critique of the common practices of today’s mainstream media, he uses the occasion of Cronkite’s death to contrast Cronkite’s work with that of today’s media stars, who are little more than stenographers. Worse, as Greenwald details regularly, many leading people in the news business explicitly state that their job is to report both sides of an issue, applying this doctrine even when one side is blatantly false or defended by nuts only.

Below is one passage from Greenwald on Cronkite and these issues. But there’s much more, all worth reading.

[Cronkite’s] most celebrated and significant moment — Greg Mitchell says “this broadcast would help save many thousands of lives, U.S. and Vietnamese, perhaps even a million” — was when he stood up and announced that Americans shouldn’t trust the statements being made about the war by the U.S. Government and military, and that the specific claims they were making were almost certainly false. In other words, Cronkite’s best moment was when he did exactly that which the modern journalist today insists they must not ever do — directly contradict claims from government and military officials and suggest that such claims should not be believed. These days, our leading media outlets won’t even use words that are disapproved of by the Government.

Despite that, media stars will spend ample time flamboyantly commemorating Cronkite’s death as though he reflects well on what they do (though probably not nearly as much time as they spent dwelling on the death of Tim Russert, whose sycophantic servitude to Beltway power and “accommodating head waiter”-like, mindless stenography did indeed represent quite accurately what today’s media stars actually do). In fact, within Cronkite’s most important moments one finds the essence of journalism that today’s modern media stars not only fail to exhibit, but explicitly disclaim as their responsibility.

Categories: Journalism, Media, Politics

FedEx Ads

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The NYT has an article today on a new series of web video ads from FedEx. They are changing their advertising strategy, having forgone, for example, advertising in last February’s Super Bowl. (My favorite in their long line of great Super Bowl ads is the 1999 one in which another shipping company switches and sends the Stanley Cup off to Bolivia.) The NYT explains:

The company is certain to be watched closely Monday, then, as it unveils its first Web-video advertising campaign, five three-minute films that feature the actor Fred Willard. While some notable viral online campaigns, like Burger King’s famous “subservient chicken,” have aimed to be entertaining enough to find huge audiences but which talked little if at all about products, the FedEx videos are tongue-in-cheek infomercials that extol FedEx’s services.

The skits parody infomercials while reaping that format’s benefits: using a long-form pitch to be more descriptive than a 30-second spot allows.

Fred Willard is perhaps best known for his roles in the Christopher Guest mockumentaries, none greater than that of the dog show announcer in Best in Show. He’s pretty good in these ads too. I’ve watched three of them so far and enjoyed them, though they’re not at the high satirical level of Guest’s movies. They are ads, after all, and have to sell the product.

Categories: Advertising, Media, Video

Trotta on Palin

July 6, 2009 Leave a comment

I am not a close enough follower of Fox News to recognize the interviewer in the clip above, but watch it for the comments from his colleague and Fox News contributor Liz Trotta. He keeps trying to get her to stick to the script. He expects her to answer his leading questions by bashing the liberal media for its own perceived bashing of Sarah Palin, but she won’t take the bait. Mind you, she’s as conservative as they come, but when it comes to Palin, she’s not impressed.

Some of Trotta’s comments, and the times to watch for them:

1:04: “the woman is inarticulate, under-educated.”

2:25: “she just begs for adjectives like flaky and wacky.”

3:20: “[she] really has no credentials for any job.”

Categories: Media, Politics

NYT/NPR on Torture

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment


I was intending to write a post in late April about the NYT’s avoidance of “torture” as a description of the “enhanced” or “harsh” or “brutal” interrogation techniques practiced by the CIA. This intent was in response to the weekly Public Editor column that appears each Sunday in the NYT’s Week in Review section. Clark Hoyt now writes the column, and on April 26 he examined the NYT’s practice. An excerpt:

And why not, then, go all the way to torture? Jehl said that when the paper is discussing what is generally regarded as the most extreme interrogation method the C.I.A. used, waterboarding, “we’ve become more explicit in saying in a first reference that it’s a near-drowning technique” that Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and many other experts “have called torture.” But he said: “I have resisted using torture without qualification or to describe all the techniques. Exactly what constitutes torture continues to be a matter of debate and hasn’t been resolved by a court. This president and this attorney general say waterboarding is torture, but the previous president and attorney general said it is not. On what basis should a newspaper render its own verdict, short of charges being filed or a legal judgment rendered?” Jehl argued for precision and caution. I agree.

Well, I sure don’t agree. Because one president says something is black and the other says it’s white, the correct journalistic practice is not to decide the truth to the extent that it’s in the paper’s power to discern, so they will be neutral?

I never did write that post. But that was eight weeks ago. Now it’s National Public Radio’s turn. On Sunday, NPR’s ombudsman Alicia Shepard weighed in. Below is one of the worst passages from her execrable piece:

It’s a no-win case for journalists. If journalists use the words “harsh interrogation techniques,” they can be seen as siding with the White House and the language that some U.S. officials, particularly in the Bush administration, prefer. If journalists use the word “torture,” then they can be accused of siding with those who are particularly and visibly still angry at the previous administration.

Huh? And if journalists say the earth is 4.5 billion years old — give or take a few million — are they siding with scientists over creationists? What about the truth. Or, as Glenn Greenwald put it in his post yesterday, “Here’s the nub of the matter – the crux of journalistic decay in America. Who cares if NPR is ‘seen’ as siding with the White House or its critics? How it is perceived — and who it angers — should have nothing to do with how it reports. Its reporting should be guided by the truth, by verifiable facts, and by the objective meaning of words.”

See Greenwald’s full post for a broader discussion.

Categories: Media, Torture

The Making of Mainstream Consensus

June 7, 2009 Leave a comment


This cartoon from Tom Tomorrow (click on the link for a larger image) says it all. Sigh.

Categories: Media, Politics