* Because there are a very large number of journalists on this email list, I occasionally include a dispatch not specifically about the Middle East, but relating to developments in the news media in general. The following are all items I have posted on The National Review’s Media Blog in recent days. Another dispatch concerning Middle East politics will follow in a few days.
1. Happy Birthday, YouTube!
2. New Guinea tribe sues New Yorker magazine for $10 million
3. Murdoch’s Wall St. Journal set to regain No. 1 circulation spot
4. China launches new English-language daily paper
5. Ship’s Israeli security fends off pirates – BBC has the not-so-full story
6. With print edition gone, Seattle P-I web traffic sinks
7. Newsroom employment drops to lowest level since early 1980s – but online jobs up
8. Newscasts cover Obama more than Bush & Clinton combined
9. The Media and the President: A cartoon
10. Why we should get rid of the White House Press Corps
11. U.S. reporters detained in North Korea face up to 10 years forced labor
12. Another Russian journalist in coma after severe beating
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOUTUBE!
(By Tom Gross, April 23, 2009)
YouTube must be the fastest growing media in history. It celebrates its fourth birthday today.
This was YouTube’s very first video, uploaded at 8.27 pm on Saturday April 23rd, 2005. The video was shot by Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo in California:
Since then hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world have watched tens of millions of videos uploaded to YouTube, which was bought by Google from its founders for a large sum of money.
NEW GUINEA TRIBE SUES NEW YORKER MAGAZINE FOR $10 MILLION
(By Tom Gross, April 22, 2009)
In an April 21, 2008, New Yorker story, “Vengeance Is Ours,” Pulitzer Prize-winning geology scholar Jared Diamond described blood feuds that allegedly rage for decades among tribes in New Guinea.
Now one of the tribes is suing him and the magazine for libel. They are demanding compensation after the magazine depicted them as rapists, murderers, and pig thieves.
A two-page complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court on Monday seeks $10 million from The New Yorker’s publisher, Advance Publications.
MURDOCH’S WALL ST. JOURNAL SET TO REGAIN NO. 1 CIRCULATION SPOT
(By Tom Gross, April 29, 2009)
The Wall Street Journal is set to reclaim its weekday circulation crown from USA Today for the first time since September 1999, according to a new Audit Bureau of Circulations report.
USA Today still has America’s biggest Monday-through-Friday circulation, averaging 2,113,725 over the six months ended in March. But USA Today plunged 7.5% from the period a year earlier, whereas The Wall Street Journal posted the only increase among the top 25 weekday papers, a 0.6% bump that lifted it to 2,082,189.
If USA Today falls another two percentage points while The Journal holds steady, The Journal will once again claim the largest paid weekday circulation in the U.S.
The New York Times remains far behind in third spot.
CHINA LAUNCHES NEW ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DAILY PAPER
(By Tom Gross, April 26, 2009)
This may be an era of cuts and closures for the media elsewhere around the world, but this week China launched a new daily newspaper: an English-language version of the state tabloid Global Times. The costly enterprise is part of Beijing’s drive to promote its views to foreigners.
China already has an English language paper: the staid official broadsheet The China Daily. In comparison, the Chinese edition of the Global Times is seen as a lively and popular (though nationalist) tabloid despite being a subsidiary of The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist party. The initial print-run of the English-language edition of Global Times is 100,000 copies a day.
You can read the online edition here.
SHIP’S ISRAELI SECURITY FENDS OFF PIRATES – BBC HAS THE NOT-SO-FULL STORY
(By Tom Gross, April 27, 2009)
Israeli private security guards have fought off pirates north of the coast of Somalia, saving 1,500 Italian cruise-ship passengers from potential harm. The Italian crew provided stirring accounts of the efficiency and bravery of the Israeli security guards, who exchanged fire with the heavily armed pirates. This was noted in many media reports, for example here by the Associated Press.
PIRATES AND ISRAELIS
But one organization – and no surprise, it is the BBC – despite running a 23-paragraph story about the incident, went out of its way not to mention that the saviors of the ship and its 1,500 passengers were Israelis. Is the BBC ever willing to portray Israelis in a positive light?
UPDATE: Following criticism by myself and others, on Monday night the BBC subtly added the word “Israeli” into the eleventh paragraph of their article – but its time stamp remains unchanged, despite the update. This is not the first time the BBC has subtly updated pieces without telling readers. See, for example, here and here.
WITH PRINT EDITION GONE, SEATTLE P-I WEBTRAFFIC SINKS
(By Tom Gross, April 28, 2009)
It seems that print editions of newspapers really do drive online readership after all.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which published its last edition on March 17, was knocked off the list of top 30 newspaper websites in March, according to the latest Nielsen figures.
Seattlepi.com fell to No. 32 with 1.4 million unique users, down 23 percent compared to March 2008, when it had 1.8 million unique users. It had 1.5 million in February.
Online-only newspaper readership is still very low in the United States. According to Scarborough Research, the number of adults who read newspapers online-only during the week is a mere 4 percent.
Below is the list of top 20 newspaper websites ranked by unique audience for March, according to The Editor and Publisher.
NYTimes.com – 20,118,000
USAToday.com – 9,961,000
washingtonpost.com – 9,367,000
Wall Street Journal Online – 9,192,000
LA Times – 8,643,000
Boston.com – 5,742,000
New York Daily News – 5,658,000
Chicago Tribune – 5,270,000
SFGate.com/San Francisco Chronicle – 4,227,000
New York Post – 3,827,000
DallasNews.com - The Dallas Morning News – 3,536,000
The Houston Chronicle – 3,095,000
Newsday – 3,065,000
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – 3,041,000
Politico – 3,033,000
Chicago Sun-Times – 2,737,000
MiamiHerald.com – 2,686,000
Star Tribune – 2,360,000
The Seattle Times – 2,262,000
International Herald Tribune – 1,984,000
NEWSROOM EMPLOYMENT DROPS TO LOWEST LEVEL SINCE EARLY 1980S – BUT ONLINE JOBS UP
(By Tom Gross, April 20, 2009)
Newsroom employment dropped by 11.3 percent in 2008, with the industry losing some 5,900 jobs, according to the American Society of News Editors.
It’s the biggest drop the organization has recorded since it first started conducting its employment surveys in 1978. The number of newsroom jobs is now at a level last seen in the early 1980s, it said.
However, other findings from the survey reveal that there was a significant 21 percent rise in the number of online-only journalists last year to 2,300.
NEWSCASTS COVER OBAMA MORE THAN BUSH & CLINTON COMBINED
(By Tom Gross, April 29, 2009)
The nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs has released a study that found that the nightly newscasts devoted 27 hours, 44 minutes to President Obama’s presidency during his first 50 days. Not only has Obama received more coverage than his predecessors, but that coverage has been much more positive, the study found.
At 7 hours, 42 minutes, George W. Bush received about only a quarter of Obama’s coverage, and at 15 hours, two minutes, Bill Clinton received about half Obama’s coverage in his first 50 days in office.
On the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, 58 percent of all evaluations of the president and his policies have been favorable, the study found. That compares with 33 percent of stories being positive in the comparable period of Bush’s tenure, and 44 percent positive for Clinton.
The study found that only one channel – Fox News – asked probing questions of Obama and his policies.
THE MEDIA AND THE PRESIDENT
(By Tom Gross, April 22, 2009)
WHY WE SHOULD GET RID OF THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS
(By Tom Gross, April 20, 2009)
Ana Marie Cox writes in The Washington Post:
“Too often, the White House briefing room is where news goes to die. It’s not that the reporters covering the president are bad at their jobs. Most are experienced journalists at the top of their game – and they’re wasted at the White House, where scoops are doled out, not uncovered.”
I’d second that.
U.S. REPORTERS DETAINED IN NORTH KOREA FACE UP TO 10 YEARS FORCED LABOR
(By Tom Gross, April 4, 2009)
An international media rights group has urged North Korea to drop plans to put two detained U.S. reporters on trial, saying they face up to 10 years of forced labor in a prison camp if convicted. Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF, Reporters Without Borders) also said, according to the Associated Press, that it was “by no means clear” that the two women from California were on North Korean territory when they were detained by the North’s border guards on March 17.
The Paris-based group said it was the first time foreign journalists have been held in the North for any length of time since the detention of Japanese reporter Takashi Sugishima from December 1999 to February 2002.
In Washington, the State Department said Tuesday it is still working with Sweden, which represents U.S. interests in Pyongyang, in a bid to win their release.
ANOTHER RUSSIAN JOURNALIST IN COMA AFTER SEVERE BEATING
(By Tom Gross, May 1, 2009)
The editor-in-chief of a weekly newspaper in the southwestern Russian city of Rostov-na-Donu is in a coma after he was severely beaten on Wednesday by unknown assailants.
Vyacheslav Yaroshenko suffered extensive head injuries and was operated on through the night. Doctors said his life hangs in the balance.
This is only the latest in a whole series of brutal attacks on Russian journalists in recent months – attacks which are not receiving the media attention they should in the West, but some of which I documented in the item below.
WEEKS AFTER ATTACK, RUSSIAN MEDIA OWNER COMES OUT OF COMA
(By Tom Gross, NRO, April 6, 2009)
Vadim Rogozhin, the owner of Russian media group Vzglyad Media, has woken from his coma nearly a month after he was brutally attack by unknown assailants in the southern Russian city of Saratov. He is still said to be in a serious condition. Staff said he was targeted because his media had been critical of the authorities.
Meanwhile, preliminary results of the investigation into the death last week of journalist Sergei Protazanov in the Moscow suburb of Khimki indicate that he was poisoned. Colleagues said that he was killed as part of an ongoing assault against the newspaper where he worked, Grazhdanskoye Soglasiye.
Grazhdanskoye Soglasiye is the only opposition newspaper in Khimki, a city of about 180,000 located just northwest of Moscow. Protazanov was one of several local journalists in the area to be attacked in recent months. Grazhdanskoye Soglasiye’s editor-in-chief was stabbed 10 times outside his home in February 2008.
Last November, Mikhail Beketov, editor-in-chief of Khimkinskaya Pravda, was severely beaten. He remained in a coma for weeks and had to have his leg amputated as a result of the attack.
On February 3, the editor-in-chief of Solnechnegorsky Forum, a newspaper in the nearby city of Solnechnogorsk, was assaulted.
On March 12, the managing editor of Molva Yuzhnoye Podmoskove was beaten in the city of Serpukhov.
Meanwhile, prominent Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov, 67, was attacked last week by three unidentified men outside his Moscow apartment.
It is regrettable that these crimes are not receiving more media attention in the West. Many European newspapers are too obsessed with attacking Israel to notice what is going on in the east of their own continent. Russia’s path towards authoritarianism has potentially grave implications for the continent.