Sunday, November 10, 2019

Hey, good lookin'

Hmm. I wonder how we're supposed to be thinking about the central figure in this centerpiece. Maybe the online hed holds a clue!

Let's go a little farther into the mainbar:
What about the sidebar?
I'm not sure this is sinking in -- could you provide a physical description or something?

Maybe a reefer to tomorrow's story would help:

We've been over this before, but it's always worth remembering. Journalism doesn't do "objectivity" by grinding the lenses more finely, coding the data more thoroughly, devising ever-more-devious statistical tests or any of the other devil-trickery of positivism. We do objectivity by figuring out what "everybody thinks" and calibrating events -- man bites dog -- to that standard.

One of my favorite anecdotes in Gaye Tuchman's landmark "Objectivity as strategic ritual" is about the editor who complained that an obit wasn't objective because it described the subject as a "master musician." On finding out that "several paragraphs into the story, one learns the deceased had played with John Philip Sousa," he changed his mind. Sousa doesn't float everyone's boat, any more than everyone who hears "Take an umbrella to the soccer game tomorrow, moms and dads" on the Friday night news has kids or ferries them to soccer, but once enough people seem to be nodding along, the rest of us kind of fade into the background noise. It's Sousa, for heaven's sake.

One problem -- OK, one problem aside from the flexible definitions of "handsome" and the strange belief that Roman Catholics and football players are less susceptible to crime than we earthlings are -- is that when we mark off "everybody" by what we find surprising, we say more about ourselves than about our subjects. Knowing that somebody doesn't look like "your ordinary violent criminal" tells me that either (a) you don't keep up with violent crime very much or (b) this is your way of saying "white." I'm not assigning that motive to the writers here, but it is worth pointing out that the impression doesn't have to be given in the first place.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Party like it's 2016

A thoroughly routine top of the homepage for the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, you'll agree: a lead dose of Big Man journalism, a clickbaiting commentary masquerading as news, and a passive blast at the Enemy of the People. It is, however, the third day in a row in which two of the top three stories have been about Hillary Clinton.

Now, sure, Smokey the Bear is going to challenge the idea that the "feud" had ever entirely gone out, and if you had "What is three right-wing tweets?" for "Constitutes a 'blast' when aimed at the Failing Times," you can pick the next category at Jeopardy. But the previous two days -- that's Saturday around 11 p.m.  at upper right and Sunday around 8:30 a.m. at lower right -- suggest that Fox at least has a good idea of who constitutes the Main Enemy these days.

There is, believe it or not, still a world out there. The Canada story (Trudeau expected to hang on) is hanging in there at
No. 6, but does it seem a little odd that Fox -- given its devotion to the idea that Donald Trump is the Most Pro-Israel President EVAR  -- can't find a way to fit Netanyahu's inability to form a government into the upper agenda-setting ranks. Perhaps they don't like the specter of "Post-Cult Trauma Syndrome."

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Civilization saved: Film at 11

Well, that settles THAT!

You can understand why the Fair 'n' Balanced Network had the champagne ready for a "Trump style" success:

President Trump declared Thursday "a great day for civilization" as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced terms of a cease-fire agreement that would end violence between Turkey and Kurds in Syria, following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The deal is for a 120-hour cease-fire, during which time the Kurdish-led forces could pull back from the roughly 20-mile-wide safe zone on the Turkish-Syrian border. All Turkish military operations under the recent offensive known as Operation Peace Spring will pause during that time, and the operation itself will come to an end entirely upon the completion of the Kurdish withdrawal, under the terms of the deal.

"This is a great day for civilization," Trump declared in a tweet following a press conference where Pence and Pompeo discussed the deal. "I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this 'Deal' for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!"

Always good to know that civilization has been pulled back from the brink, even though Fox's enthusiasm doesn't seem to be universally shared:

Hmm. If these two natural enemies can't agree, maybe we should ask an impartial referee. Associated Press, are you there?

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The U.S. and Turkey agreed Thursday to a five-day cease-fire in the Turks’ attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria to allow the Kurds to withdraw to roughly 20 miles away from the Turkish border. The arrangement appeared to be a significant embrace of Turkey’s position in the weeklong conflict.

After more than four hours of negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the purpose of his high-level mission was to end the bloodshed caused by Turkey’s invasion of Syria. He remained silent on whether the agreement amounted to a second abandonment of America’s former Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State.

Must be some static on the line. How does it look elsewhere in the neighborhood, Ha'aretz?

Turkey agreed to suspend its military operations in northeast Syria on Thursday, after a meeting that lasted longer than five hours with top U.S. officials.

This came a day after President Donald Trump threatened Ankara with heavy sanctions over the operation, and, according to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, with no concessions to Turkey.

Turkey said the U.S. had agreed to put it in charge of an elusive 'safe zone' in the war-torn region, and to the complete withdrawal and effective disarmament of its Kurdish opponent

What's that gurgling sound? Could it be -- the failing* New York Times?
 ANKARA, Turkey — Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday said Turkey had agreed to suspend its military operations in northeast Syria for five days while Syrian Kurdish fighters left the area, immediately raising questions about whether the agreement was a diplomatic breakthrough or a capitulation to the Turkish government.

Emerging from close to five hours of deliberations with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Pence said that the American delegation had achieved the cease-fire it had hoped to broker in the hastily organized trip to Ankara, the Turkish capital. Hailing the agreement as a diplomatic victory for President Trump, he called it a ‘‘solution we believe will save lives.”

The agreement “ends the violence — which is what President Trump sent us here to do,” Mr. Pence said at a news conference at the ambassador’s residence.

But Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, immediately countered that the agreement was not a cease-fire at all, but merely a “pause for our operation.” He added that “as a result of our president’s skillful leadership, we got what we wanted.”

Enough carping. I mean, look at the other stuff topping the Fox homepage:

Hillarygate, Bidengate, Stupidgate and CNNgate III -- maybe we should just let them have their fun.

* Up 32.5% in the past year at this writing, compared with 5.25% for the Dow industrials.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

No, but thanks for asking

Why is a Monday night game the centerpiece on Wednesday's 1A? Probably because journalism will never give up its insistence on breaking the Fourth Wall and speaking directly on behalf of the whole beleaguered city/state/nation/whatever:

It felt like the whole state was sighing Tuesday, didn’t it? When we weren’t pounding on tables or screaming at replays?

It’s not like we’ve never experienced a loss before. Are you kidding? Lions fans experience loss? Are a wine maker’s fingers purple?

Can't say I saw a lot of the Whole State on Tuesday, but the parts I did see appeared to be holding up pretty well amid the burden.  

And while we're at it: No "cracked." If it ain't funny enough to stand without the prompt, it ain't funny enough, period.

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Don't cry for me, 1A headline

It's hard to pick a favorite about this hard-hitting exclusive on the WashTimes's Thursday front. Is it the "while" in the headline? The alliteration? (""Self-described socialist who regularly rails against the rich.") The arithmetic -- the "$300 on hair" that becomes "nearly $300" but seems to add up (according to "sources familiar with the salon") to $260, not counting tip? Or the Evita reference?

Given the proximate threats of Nancy Pelosi and Schiffty Schiff in the House, the impertinence of the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, the level of intracult dissent, and everything else that's bedeviling journalism these days, it's nice to see the press remembering to make some room for the menace that is AOC.


Saturday, October 05, 2019

Radar love

If you were peacefully leafing through your Thursday Freep ad following the jumps of those hard-hitting 1A stories, you might have been a bit taken aback by the radar:

In a case of trickery and thievery pending in Detroit federal court, Gills is among a growing number of targets who have come under the government's radar in recent years for what prosecutors describe as a pervasive and costly crime: the theft of dead people's benefits.  

Now, you might have thought that "under the radar" meant more or less what the OED says: "In phrases in which the detection of something, or the relative amount of attention given to it, is indicated by whether it registers on a figurative radar," not some strange variant of "under the scrutiny of." Indeed, the figurative radar is pretty common on the sports pages:

The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder has been flying under the radar of many recruiting services, despite holding scholarship offers from Illinois, Bowling Green, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo. (6/19/2015)

A guy who was living under the radar of Detroit Lions media and most fans. (9/8/2016)

A sleeper quarterback to keep an eye out for is Frankie Potenza of Rochester Stoney Creek. Potenza is flying under the radar of most recruiting services, but that could change after this weekend. (6/16/2017)

But despite a few traditional hits, the news pages seem to be a different story:

According to Lane's affidavit, Bates came under the radar of the Office of Inspector General in 2013, after an audit revealed more than $478,000 in potential losses from the VA Canteen. (5/6/2015)

According to officials, the infamous duo's crime spree took them through Missouri, Georgia, Alabama and Florida before they first came under the radar of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office after an armed robbery at Famous Footwear on Davis Highway. (12/29/2016; apparently a year-end pickup from a Gannett cousin)

Smith’s activities have also come under the radar of the federal government, specifically the FBI, which is also investigating the suburban prosecutor, according to a source familiar with the case. (4/17/2019)

Sure, language changes and nothing is permanent and all that, but given that the OED's definition implies a straightforward distinction -- something "under the radar" is something that isn't "on the radar," and writers might take that as a hint -- you'd like to think some old editor would push to preserve the Old Ways.

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Thursday, October 03, 2019

The perils of hubbing

Hard-hitting lead editorial from Ohio's Greatest Home Newspaper there, huh? (Especially for those of you who imagine a Wolfe at the door.) Shame nobody read the text before placing it on the page:
 Yes, mistakes happened in the days before editing was offshored. Yes, they happened in the days when editors all looked like Cary Grant and reporters like Roz Russell. But the Tuesday Dispatch seems to have been a bit long on entertaining "editor's errors." Makes one wonder how many errors went by that haven't been caught yet.

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