February 17, 2014

If the #TexasTrib is the future of journalism ...

Then journalism, or "journalism," is on a boatload of trouble.

Jim Moore, former journalist, now political consultant, explains why the Texas Tribune's "pay to play" idea of "journalism," kind of like Politico but on a much broader front, is ethically wrong and more, in a four-part series starting here.

Arguably, rather than becoming more ethically responsible now that it's theoretically past its teething troubles, the Trib is worse, if anything. 

Moore notes this in Part Four:
In less than five years, the Texas Tribune has gone from being an exciting startup to a hypocritical, money-grubbing promotional operation wearing a coat of many colors that it wants desperately to convince everyone is actual journalism. But it is not. There is no reason to any longer take the Tribune seriously as a news organization. They simply cannot be trusted.

The big brains of the Texas Tribune were supposed to save journalism. Instead, they are busily speeding up its extinction.

And they ought to be ashamed.
Of course, they're not.

Much of its sellout is to largely right-wing big businesses, who make "donations" and in exchange get puff pieces about themselves and their industries.

But, that's not the all of it.

Per Part One, at the first link, what the Trib is about is "access" to insiders in general, regardless of party or affiliation. The recent solo time with Wendy Davis at the Travis County Democratic Party confab illustrates this:
Organizers of an annual fund raising dinner for Travis County Democrats barred reporters from the room for what turned out to be the most compelling and energetic speech thus far of the Davis Campaign. There was, however, one exception. Jay Root of the Texas Tribune was allowed in with camera gear to offer a “live stream” video of Davis talking to her supporters. Root, who had asked permission several weeks in advance, was not required, as would normally be the case with a pool reporter, to provide notes to his competitors on what transpired during the fund raiser.

The locked out reporters were a tad upset, and not without reason. Although the Tribune was making the live feed available, the outlet’s logo was onscreen and unavoidable. Any rebroadcast would have been a promotion of one media operation by another. When Davis Campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna was asked if she would inquire about making the Tribune offer a clean feed of the speech without the logo, she had no idea what was being requested. Consequently, Davis’ appearance and quotes were disseminated far less than if the event had been opened. Further, print reporters were disinclined to write longer or analytical pieces on Davis because they were not present to get reactions or interviews with attendees. The stories were about a public relations blow up instead of Davis.

The party insisted there was no space for more people and that the fire code was being violated, but reporters suggested it was, instead, just another event where the Tribune was getting favoritism. When Root was questioned about not making an effort to see that his colleagues were accommodated, he began asking if he were supposed to not cover it because other reporters had been banned. Quickly, he turned a long Facebook discussion into a cheering section for the live streaming of political events and frequently pointed out how exciting he found the new technology.
Moore goes on to, sarcastically, tell us that "live streaming" is nothing new:
Live streaming is little more than setting up a video camera and microphones that send a digital and electronically altered real time signal that can be plugged into the Internet to be dispersed over the web from a server. As exciting as it may be to Root and the Tribune, TV stations in Texas have been doing, essentially, the same thing for decades with the only difference being the way the signal was distributed.  
Meanwhile, yes, this is also, per the previous block quote, another ding against the Davis campaign.

It knew just whom it was getting in bed with when it pulled this shit.

Rather than a "public relations blow up," the Angles, Battleground Texas, Davis herself, et al, were surely hoping for a "public relations ass kissing." 

And, that's why I partially defend the Trib about accusations that it's "conservative."

No, it's "establishmentarian," just like its affiliate, the New York Times

Of course, what James doesn't think about is that the Trib might be superseded by folks with even less in the ethics tank. 

Update, Feb. 27:  And, speaking of Moore, he talks about some methodology problems with the Trib's recent polling. He may be overstating things somewhat, but, at the least, it's arguably that some of the numbers are probably more fluid than the Trib would have us believe. And, per Moore's previous work, I forgot that I had blogged two years ago about the Trib being a softie on environmental reporting AND founder Evan Smith being overpaid.

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