Harvard Experiment Finds Large Effects From Small News Outlets

tmc_impact_01

By Jason Alcorn for Media Shift – Even small publishers have a large effect on the national discourse, according to a new paper published in Science on the effects of news. “Exposure to the news media,” the study states, “causes Americans to take public stands on specific issues, join national policy conversations, and express themselves publicly.” The research aims to quantify the effect of news media. Put in terms that are increasingly common when talking about journalism: What is the impact of news organizations? The act of publishing news is influential in still-surprising and robust ways. The study by Harvard professor Gary King and collaborators found that a few, mostly small news outlets publishing simultaneously in a broad area of public policy concern increased the volume of conversation on social media by 19 percent the day after publication. Over a full week, the volume was increased 63 percent relative to the average day’s volume. The number of unique authors increased as well, and the composition of opinion changed in the direction of the published articles. News outlets it appears, even in the face of social media algorithms, the echo chambers of political polarization and a barrage of digital information, have a profound and measurable effect on national discourse.

Newsletter: Dissent Under Attack By Government & Corporations

Austin Texas protest Resist Disrupt Organize Photo from Steve Rainwater-flickr-cc

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. It is often hard to tell how close popular movements are to success or whether they are even a threat to the status quo power structure. Despite vigorous protests, it is common to worry whether or not movements are having an impact. One tell-tale sign is when government and big business interests take action to stop or silence a movement. These days, there is a lot of push back against resistance movements in the United States. While it may be riskier for us when they fight back, it is a positive sign and means that the movement needs to escalate, build power and increase its pressure.

The Press’s Pathological Refusal To Report ‘The President Lied’

Roll-Call-Sarah-Sanders-1024x640

By Reed Richardson for FAIR – It is a truism to say that everyone lies to someone. Since public officials entrusted with power in our democracy are no exception to this human trait—as historical research documents—it should be exceedingly acceptable to point out that all politicians, from your local city council right up to the White House, lie as well. The Framers afforded the press special constitutional protection in large part to ensure that such lies would not reach the public unchallenged. Tragically, one of the most honest rhetorical tools that journalists have in the fight for truth has been struck from the lingua franca of US journalists. Within the stilted framework of mainstream news “objectivity,” the simple act of calling out “lies” or “lying” by a politician—especially a president—is now taboo. It imputes impossible-to-determine motives to those accused, the thinking goes, so the use of these words to identify a documented falsehood is now considered controversial, partisan, inflammatory, unfair. Last fall, NPR editorial director Michael Oreskes constructed his own Orwellian logic to defend his news organization’s refusal to use “liar,” asserting that the word constitutes “an angry tone” of “editorializing” that “confirms opinions” (FAIR.org, 3/1/17). In January, Maggie Haberman, one of the New York Times’ preeminent political reporters, said much the same, claiming that her job was “showing when something untrue is said. Our job is not to say ‘lied.’”

With Massive Handouts To Sinclair, FCC Clears Path For New Wave Of Media Consolidation

15014192890_226d2bfa52_z

By Staff of Freepress – WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines to erase several longstanding media-ownership limits that prevented one broadcast company from controlling too much media in a single market. The agency rolled back a local television-ownership rule that barred a broadcaster from owning multiple stations in smaller local markets and weakened the standards against owning more than one top-rated station in the same market. The FCC also gave its blessing to so-called joint sales agreements, or JSAs, which allow a single company to run the news operations of multiple stations in a single market that would otherwise compete against each other. The vote also overturned the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules, which prevented a single company from owning a daily newspaper, TV and radio stations in the same market. Today’s moves clear the way for the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media, a deal government agencies including the FCC are now reviewing. Should regulators approve the merger, the resulting broadcast giant would control more than 233 local-TV stations reaching 72 percent of the country’s population, far in excess of national limits set by Congress on broadcast-TV ownership.

RT America Torched In Witch Hunt ’17

RT-America-12-Nov-2017

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – In one of the most horrendous blows to press freedom since the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Justice has forced the news broadcaster RT America to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The assault on RT America, on which I host the show “On Contact,” has nothing to do with the dissemination of Russian propaganda. It is driven by RT America’s decision to provide a platform to critics of American capitalism and imperialism, critics who lambast a system of government that can no longer be called democratic. And it is accompanied by the installation of algorithms by Google, Facebook and Twitter that divert readers away from left-wing, progressive and anti-war websites, including Truthdig. The World Socialist Web Site has seen its search traffic from Google fall by 74 percent since April. Google, in a further blow, this month removed RT from its list of “preferred” channels on YouTube. Twitter has blocked all advertising by the channel. Put the censorship campaigns together and the message is clear: Left-wing critics, already marginalized by the state, must be silenced. It would seem, given how we are locked out of the corporate media and public broadcasting, that the assault is overkill. But the ideology that sustains the corporate state, the “free market” and neoliberalism has lost all credibility. The corporate state has no counterargument to its critics.

Why Science Says You Should Be Reading Small Independent Media

1media

By Jo Ellen Green Kaiser for Yes! Magazine – Google, Facebook, and Twitter were hauled in front of Congress last week to explain how Russian bots were able to spread fake news on their platforms. The concern—and a very real one—is that these bots and fake news sites had a significant impact on the 2016 election. A better way to secure a media system that works for democracy is to strengthen independent news outlets. Fighting fake news, however, is not the only or best way to ensure that our content ecosystem prioritizes real news. This week, a groundbreaking article in Science proves that a better way to secure a media system that works for democracy is to strengthen independent news outlets. The five-year-long study published this week in Science, directed by Harvard professor Gary King and supported in part by Voqal, shows that even small independent news outlets can have a dramatic effect on the content of national conversation. King, along with his now former graduate students Ben Schneer and Ariel White, found that if just three outlets write about a particular major national policy topic—such as jobs, the environment, or immigration—discussion of that topic across social media rose by as much as 62.7 percent of a day’s volume, distributed over the week.

‘CNN Should Register As Agent Of Capitalism’: Green Party VP Hits Out At RT ‘Foreign Agent’ Tag

© Global Look Press

By Staff of RT – In a linked article, Baraka, a noted black rights activist, wrote that a “new McCarthyism in America is being led by centrist and liberal Democrats utilizing the almost comical notion that Russia possesses the power and influence to not only impact elections but also create racial tensions.” Baraka also noted that singling out RT – there are no other media organizations on the current FARA list – not only creates an artificial divide with other media that receive state funding, such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle, but also the domestic mainstream giants. “CNN, NYTs, Wash Post should register as agents of capitalism,” wrote Baraka. CNN, NYTs, Wash Post should register as agents of capitalism. The Washington Post is owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, the New York Times by the Ochs-Sulzberger family, and CNN by the multinational giant Time Warner. On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised retaliatory measures following the DOJ decision, likely involving the operations of US media outlets in Russia, but expressed alarm at the growing trend for filtering out unfavorable views. “The media’s perspective can be challenged, but not by shutting down the media or creating conditions to make it impossible to carry out its professional activities, but by presenting your own perspective, presenting your information to the audience,” the Russian leader said during the APEC summit in Vietnam.

Corporate Media Fails To Report Truth About Single Payer

Source: NY Times

By Michael Corcoran for FAIR. It is a sad reflection on the state of healthcare reporting in the United States that one can so easily predict how many media outlets will respond to a news event before it even happens. Yet for many familiar with years of media either ignoring or rejecting the merits of a universal public healthcare system—Canada’s in particular—it was hard not to expect dismissiveness and/or mockery from outlets such as the New York Times and Vox, who sent reporters on the tour. The results were unsurprising. Vox (10/31/17) used the occasion to explain why single-payer is likely a pipe dream that doesn’t fit with American values. Much of the Times article (11/2/17) read like satire aimed at mocking Canada and Sanders. A New York Times ad circulating on Facebook proudly declares: “Evidence-driven reporting. No matter what the subject.” It’s a hollow boast to those familiar with the paper’s uniformly negative coverage of single-payer.

Cowardly New World: Alternative Media Under Attack By Algorithms

5484452591_63e2c4fe9b_z

By Kollibri Terre Sonnenblume for Counter Punch – An insidious assault is underway against alternative media on the internet. Leftist and progressive websites have been suffering significant declines in traffic. Some have had online income sources cut. Many others have been publicly defamed. Who is behind this onslaught? Must be Trump and the Republicans, right? Nope. It was started by the Democratic leadership during the 2016 election campaign and is being executed by liberal-leaning tech giants, mainly Google and Facebook. Essential to the fight has been the mainstream media, which has been doing what it does best: fanning the flames of fear. Lest you think I am painting a picture of a tightly-organized, top-down conspiracy here, let me assure you that I am not. Some right-wing alternative media outlets have been doing so, because they too have been attacked by the same parties and that’s where they go with it, but they miss key aspects of the big picture. (I.e., anyone who believes Obama was a Marxist has a lot to learn!) By naming the Democratic leadership, tech companies and mainstream media, I am merely pointing at participants, not describing a cabal, though they are certainly united in the common concerns of their class. The trouble started about a year ago, just after the election, when the “fake news” meme suddenly surged through mainstream media channels.

Wealthy Institutions Quietly Financing White Nationalism

1tp

By Judd Legum and Danielle McLean for Think Progress. The connection between Breitbart, a far-right website, and the white nationalist movement was hardly a secret. Steve Bannon, who served as Executive Chairman of the publication before and after serving as Trump’s chief strategist, called Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right,” a euphemism for white nationalists and their sympathizers. These extreme, bigoted viewpoints are frequently reflected in the site’s writing, which has included anti-immigrant screeds, sensationalized reporting of “black crime,” and other fringe viewpoints and conspiracy theories.

Empower Communities Through Stories And Mobile Journalism

Screenshot 2017-10-20 at 11.50.07 AM

By Staff of Law at the Margins – Join Law at the Margins in collaboration with Evrybit, veteran journalists and social justice innovators as we discuss how mobile journalism can strengthen marginalized communities by amplifying voices, stories and images that are often underrepresented, misrepresented or ignored. Mobile journalism—where reporters use portable technologies to gather news—provides a unique opportunity to share stories from local communities in the United States and around the world. Can these tools be used to help strengthen historically marginalized communities? Law at the Margins in collaboration with the Evrybit mobile storytelling platform, veteran journalists, and social justice innovators will discuss existing tools that residents can use to document what’s happening in their neighborhoods and become their own trusted news source.

How ‘Fake News’ Scare Is Marginalizing The Left

1fake

By Julianne Tveten for In These Tmes. In the wake of the 2016 election, pundits pointed their fingers at Facebook, Google and Twitter, accusing them of spreading misinformation about political issues and figures to the U.S. voting citizenry. A circuitous, concern-trolling tactic, the Fake News scare soon gained momentum among corporate media outlets and politicians seeking to find palatable scapegoats for the stunning election of Donald Trump. When the pressure grew too high to ignore the calls for Fake News containment, the Internet giants took action. Google began to stymie ads it deemed dubious. Facebook floated features to flag Fake News and tweaked its ad policy. Months later, Twitter joined the chorus, essentially echoing Facebook’s approach. These adjustments, however, haven’t stifled propaganda. On the contrary, they may have stifled dissent.

Second Wave of Journalist Arrests in St. Louis

St Louis Arch

By Staff for Reporters WIthout Borders. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed to learn that at least six journalists have been arrested this week while covering protests in St. Louis, Missouri. RSF views the detention of reporters who are simply doing their job as a threat to press freedom and calls for all charges against them to be dropped. On the evening of October 3, 2017, while covering protests in St. Louis, Missouri, following the acquittal of a white former police officer who fatally shot a black man, at least six journalists were arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing. These detentions come just over two weeks after three journalists were arrested in St. Louis while covering similar demonstrations. One of them was citizen journalist and livestreamer Jon Ziegler, also known as “Rebelutionary Z”, who now faces two sets of charges from both this week’s and last month’s arrests.

Empire, Indigenous Rights And The Environment

IMG_2409 - danger sign at riley pass mine

By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Clearing the FOG Radio. With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, wildfires and droughts fresh in our minds and threats of greater global aggression, we take a look at the connections between Empire, war, Indigenous rights and the environment. This week is the tenth anniversary of the official adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We speak with Gar Smith, editor of The War and the Environment Reader, about his new book and a conference he is organizing later this month with World Beyond War on the topic. Then we speak with Charmaine White Face, author of Indigenous Nations’ Rights in the Balance, who participated in and protested the process used by the United Nation, about Indigenous sovereignty and her work to protect the Black Hills, a sacred site.

Fossil Fuel Lobbyist By Day, WaPo Columnist By Night

Ed-Rogers-BGR-Featured

By Adam Johnson for FAIR – What is the point of Ed Rogers, the Washington Post’s most conflict-ridden, mediocre columnist (FAIR.org, 4/23/15)? He doesn’t add a lot to the discourse, his boilerplate Republican talking points could be better written by any number of Heritage fellows, he shills for Trump in the most boring ways possible, and—most glaringly of all—is an actual paid lobbyist for an assortment of sleazy industry interests, via his lobbying firm BGR Group. So why does a major paper feel the need to continue to give him column inches? Rogers has major conflicts of interest, as AlterNet and Media Matters have noted: Among many other infractions, he neglected to mention his firm’s $500,000 fee from the Saudi regime while boosting Trump’s PR trip there, and promoted the shiny new weapon systems of his client Raytheon on the night Trump used them to bomb the Syrian Air Force. When he does disclose conflicts, it renders the rest of his writing limp and risible. Take his latest right-wing missive (9/5/17) lamenting the “lurch to the left” of the Democratic Party, which offers up one of the greatest self-owns in the history of the Post opinion section…