The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

March 6, 2009

the days are long gone when the net was free, creative, and apparently

some from the video mapping and some from other mapping

at one point advertising was discouraged and there were campaigns against
early violators. ore pngs

now every scam in the book plays to the innocent; faced with sophisticated
criminals, there's no way out for the rest of us

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2009 22:54:23 +0200
From: Michael Gurstein <>
Subject: [stuff-it] FW: [TriumphOfContent] What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn
     From Stewart's CNBC Takedown (Will Bunch - The Huffington Post)

  Make sure to watch the video at the end...


  -----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Steven Brant
Sent: March-06-09 10:24 PM
Subject: [TriumphOfContent] What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn From Stewart's
CNBC Takedown (Will Bunch - The Huffington Post)


What Battered Newsrooms Can Learn From Stewart's CNBC Takedown

The most talked-about journalism of this week wasn't produced in the
New York Times, CNN, Newsweek or NPR. It was Jon Stewart's epic,
eight-minute takedown on Wednesday night's Daily Show of CNBC's
clueless, in-the-tank reporting of inflatable bubbles and blowhard
CEOs as the U.S. and world economies slowly slid into a meltdown. You
can quibble about Stewart's motives in undertaking the piece -- after
he was spurned for an interview by CNBC's faux populist ranter Rick
Santelli -- but you can't argue with the results.

The piece wasn't just the laugh-out-loud funniest thing on TV all
week (and this was a week in which NBC rebroadcast the SNL "more
cowbell" sketch, so that's saying a lot) but it was exquisitely
reported, insightful, and it tapped into America's real anger about
the financial crisis in a way that mainstream journalism has found so
elusive all these months, in a time when we all need to be tearing
down myths. As one commenter on the Romenesko blog noted, "it's
simply pathetic that one has to watch a comedy show to see things
like this."

But that's not all. The Stewart piece also got the kind of eyeballs
that most newsrooms would kill for in this digital age -- planted
atop many, many major political, media and business Web sites -- and
the kind of water-cooler chatter that journalists would crave in any
age. In a time when newspapers are flat-out dying if not dealing with
bankruptcy or massive job losses, while other types of news orgs
aren't faring much better, the journalistic success of a comedy show
rant shouldn't be viewed as a stick in the eye -- but a teachable
moment. Why be a curmudgeon about kids today getting all their news
from a comedy show, when it's not really that hard to join Stewart in
his own idol-smashing game?

Here's how:

1) Great research trumps good access to the powerful: The Stewart
piece makes this controversial but critical point in two different
ways. For one thing, the story shows how access to the nation's most
powerful CEOs -- supposedly the big advantage of a journalistic
enterprise like CNBC -- isn't worth a warm bucket of spit when it
results in slo-pitch softball questions, for fear of offending the
rich and powerful. And so we see Ford's CEO grilled about Kid Rock's
performance at the auto show, Ponzi scammer (later revealed) Alan
Stanford quizzed on whether it's fun to be a billionaire, and Maria
"Money Honey" Bartiromo gushing at how corporate chiefs were still
telling her that their companies were doing great, even as the
massive iceberg was casting its shadow over the hull of the American

Jon Stewart's act of journalism -- reported, of course, by his ace
team of writers -- worked because there were no interviews at all. It
all hung instead on meticulous research, dredging up lethal quips of
CNBC's stock pumping hosts to hang them with their own undeniable
words -- Jim Cramer's "buy buy buy" when the Dow was roughly double
what it is today, his touting of Bear Stearns' and Bank of America's
doomed stocks. The kind of research that's so hard for most
newspapers to do anymore, with downsized staffs and ever-looming
deadlines, but which can so often belies the spin from our
"accessible" sources.

2) The American public is mad as hell right now, so why isn't the
mainstream media? Balanced reporting is important, but a balanced,
modulated tone of voice? Not now, not when millions are hurting from
lost jobs and under-water mortgages, and many millions more are
living in fear of the same fate. People need information but what
they so desperately want an outlet that shares their passion -- and,
yes, that rage -- and so Jon Stewart gave people what they weren't
getting anywhere else.

3) Tear down this wall... of pretending that the media itself isn't a
major player in American society, and isn't a factor in most big
stories. Sure, there were greedy bankers and their pocketed
politicians working in unintended tandem to take the Dow from 14,000
down to 6,600, but these popular TV pundits were there every step of
the way, as The Daily Show revealed, and their contribution was
consequential. Mainstream media, after all these years, has a hard
time understanding that one of the major political forces in this
country is mainstream media, something the audience knows all too well.

4) The First Amendment doesn't say anything about not being funny, or
not being passionate. I don't know about you, if you actually watched
the piece, but I feel like I learned something important --
confirming the cheerleading nature of the nation's most-watched
source for business news, even in a moment of oncoming disaster --
but I also busted my gut laughing as I did. And there's nothing wrong
with that, informing and entertaining at the same time -- isn't that
what newspapers are charging people 75 cents for?.

You know, sometimes people do some crazy stuff when they realize
their days are numbered. I don't have the answers to problems facing
American journalism -- not my own newsroom, mired in Chapter 11, nor
the others that face a possible death sentence. But fighting for life
will mean living each day like it was your last, with passion, anger
and laughter, the way The Daily Show shined a light on a crevice of
the nation's battered economy on Wednesday night.

Here's the video:

http://www.thedaily <>

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