How to cover breaking news

Conan O’Brien has a zany sense of humor and on a recent visit to Cuba he tried to figure out if he had what it takes to work at CNN during what news networks love to refer to as a ‘breaking news event’ where the host has to spend a lot of time on camera and maintain interest in the audience even though little has happened since the first event and hardly anything newsworthy is occurring.
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Some good news on the internet front

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines to approve chair Tom Wheeler’s proposal to reclassify broadband under Title II of the federal Communications Act., which means they can be treated as common carriers like landline phone service, which means that they are subject to FCC regulation and must treat all users equally and cannot give preferential faster service to companies that pay them more. This is what has come to be known as ‘net neutrality’.
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Trouble at First Look Media

The new media group First Look Media formed by former eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar that hired a group of first-rate independent-minded journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, Dan Froomkin, and Pater Mass has run into trouble, with charges of extremely poor behavior by upper management being made by departed staffers. The original plan was to create a set of digital magazines serving diverse needs and I had great hopes for this venture as providing a much needed alternative to the government-corporate friendly establishment media.
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Why memories are unreliable

We all know that our memories are unreliable. We forget things that happened and we ‘remember’ things that didn’t. Recent events have put back in the spotlight the issue of false memories. I have written about my own experience with false memories. The fact that people can spontaneously create false memories or have them implanted by others have in the past led to the kinds of miscarriages of justice that occurred during the epidemic of reported abuse in day care centers a few decades ago.
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Is this what people really want from news anchors?

David Carr, the media critic for the New York Times collapsed and died in the news room on Thursday at the age of 58. There have been many testimonials to the quality of his writing and about the man himself. Not being a regular reader of that newspaper, I did not know much about him but was struck by something he said recently in the wake of the story of NBC News anchor Brian Williams having made up false stories.
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Jon Stewart’s farewell announcement

On Tuesday, the long time host of The Daily Show announced that he would be leaving sometime later this year after doing this show for 16 years. Although like many others, I wanted him to continue doing it forever, just like with Stephen Colbert, I was not really surprised by his announcement. He had clearly found his niche and made an impact and anyone who is creative gets tired of the routine even, and especially, when it is a success and becomes a well-oiled machine. He had become a recognized leader in deconstructing the news and media coverage of it, exposing the shallowness and hypocrisy that is rampant in politics and journalism in the US.
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The real problem with Brian Williams

It turns out that NBC news anchor Brian Williams has been embellishing his stories about his experiences covering the invasion of Iraq, putting himself more in the center of the action and acting as if he was in more danger than was the case. Since I long ago gave up on expecting the major news networks to give us any, you know, actual news, the fate of highly paid news celebrities like Williams and their sponsors does not affect me in the least. But this issue does illustrate some interesting points.
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We’re #49!

The organization Reporters Without Borders issues an annual ranking of nations on press freedoms and this year the US ranks 49th in the world out of 180. Five Scandinavian countries Finland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, and Sweden take the top spots. El Salvador, the country once notorious for its death squads that abducted and murdered any critics, including journalists, of its dictatorship, now ranks above the US at #45.
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Blogging may have changed but I haven’t

The announcement by uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan in a long and rambling ‘note to my readers’ that he was giving it up soon has caused a lot of reflection by other bloggers as to the future of blogging. Alyssa Rosenberg says that blogging has changed since the early days when Sullivan started, and that the short form of it, an ongoing conversation mostly of links to other blogs with some connecting language, to is no longer viable.
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