Archive for the 'Journalism' Category

A brave exercise in truth-telling: The Heritage Foundation’s Obamacare recap promotes bad news about a bad law

March 27, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 27, 2015

With the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, taking place on Monday, the media have been packed with assessments of the law. But not all assessments are created equal.

Take the article (excuse me — I meant to say, the “brave exercise in truth-telling”) written by Melissa Quinn of the Daily Signal, an outlet of the conservative Heritage Foundation. She got things off to a terrible start:

Five years ago on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law.

Many of the health care law’s provision took effect in 2013, and Americans have since been experiencing the effects of the law—both good and bad. Millions learned they were not able to keep their original insurance plans and more than 7.7 million received subsidies from the federal exchange.

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Bias, bias everywhere, and not a drop of good old-fashioned patriotic American red-blooded conservative coverage of Obamacare

March 26, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
March 26, 2015

With the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, taking place on Monday, the media have been packed with assessments of the law. Two of them caught my eye, for no other reason than that they flitted across my Twitter feed.

Tony Pugh of McClatchy’s Washington, D.C., bureau wrote more than 1,400 words on the Affordable Care Act’s rocky five-year history. PolitiFact’s Steve Contorno and Angie Drobnic Holan assembled an assessment that spanned more than 2,000 words. (That count doesn’t include the article’s bibliography, which lists 31 different interviews, articles and studies that formed the basis for the story.)

Now, conservatives love to bellyache about how the mainstream — oh, excuse me; lamestream — media is biased toward liberals. Sadly, anywhere one turns, one finds evidence that these complaints are accurate. Check out these fawning paragraphs that Pugh wrote to conclude his story:

As the health care law hits age five, it’s way too early to pass judgment on its effectiveness, said health care blogger Robert Laszewski. The law’s main provisions have been in place for only about 18 months, Laszewski said. Marketplace insurers are still being subsidized by the federal government, and only about half of the estimated 22 million marketplace plan members the CBO envisions in coming years have purchased coverage.

“I would rate Obamacare, 18 months after implementation, as incomplete,” Laszewski said. “Anybody who wants to look at Obamacare and talk about whether it’s a success or a failure, call me in 2017.”

Obviously this reporter is totally in the tank for Obama, right?

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Belief and disbelief: Rolling Stone cuts journalistic corners, and vulnerable assault victims are likely to bear the brunt of the impact

December 11, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 11, 2014

I don’t know exactly what went wrong with the reporting and editing of “A Rape on Campus,” Rolling Stone’s attention-grabbing Nov. 19 feature story about an alleged sexual assault at a University of Virginia fraternity house.

We do know that there are serious questions about the anecdote at the heart of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s feature. The gang rape that she described in detail may not have happened at the Phi Kappa Psi house, or it may not have involved a member of Phi Kappa Psi. Or perhaps it never took place at all. We still don’t know for sure.

But for weeks, Rolling Stone asserted that it had rigorously fact-checked the account of Jackie, the student (her last name did not appear in the story) who claimed to have been brutally gang-raped in the fall of 2012, when she was a freshman.

That changed on Friday, when, after copious evidence emerged that the publication had seriously failed to verify some aspects of the feature, the magazine acknowledged that the story had serious issues. Now, Rolling Stone says that it will re-investigate the article in order to give readers a full understanding of what happened on the evening in question.

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Crimes and misdemeanors: Considering criticism of The New York Times’s Michael Brown profile

August 26, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 26, 2014

The New York Times published dual profiles Sunday of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. The former man, of course, is an unarmed 18-year-old who was killed this month  in Ferguson, Mo., while the latter man is the police officer who fired the deadly shots.

The profile of Brown, written by John Eligon, was poorly received. The sticking point was essentially this, the fifth paragraph:

Michael Brown, 18, due to be buried on Monday, was no angel, with public records and interviews with friends and family revealing both problems and promise in his young life. Shortly before his encounter with Officer Wilson, the police say he was caught on a security camera stealing a box of cigars, pushing the clerk of a convenience store into a display case. He lived in a community that had rough patches, and he dabbled in drugs and alcohol. He had taken to rapping in recent months, producing lyrics that were by turns contemplative and vulgar. He got into at least one scuffle with a neighbor.

The complaints seem to boil down to the following two points:

• Why does Eligon mention Brown’s very minor offenses — experimenting with alcohol and drugs, scuffling at least once, making rap music — when these are things that many, many teenagers have done?

• Why does Eligon characterize the shooting victim as “no angel,” which many read as an implicit condemnation of Brown’s character?

I’m not impressed by either of these objections. Let’s examine them in order.

The first complaint is by far the flimsier one, to my mind. Brown’s use of drink and drugs, his one known fight, and his rap music are relevant because those are among the things that Eligon found in his reporting.

And Eligon didn’t exactly focus on Brown’s possible failings to the exclusion of all else. Here is the very next paragraph in his story:

At the same time, [Brown] regularly flashed a broad smile that endeared those around him. He overcame early struggles in school to graduate on time. He was pointed toward a trade college and a career and, his parents hoped, toward a successful life.

Might it have been better to put more emphasis on these details? Perhaps. But if the profile’s fifth and sixth paragraphs had essentially been flipped, I have a hunch that critics still would have focused on references to some of Brown’s questionable behavior.

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The Pulitzer Prize winner, the faux journalist and the governor of the Garden State: Reflections on a short video investigation

April 14, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 14, 2014

The other day, I ruminated at length about the similarities between former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But there’s something that I left out of the story that’s been lingering in my mind for the past several weeks. That something is a 2011 video by would-be conservative journalist James O’Keefe criticizing a Newark Star-Ledger journalist (and adjunct Columbia University journalism professor) Amy Ellis Nutt.

Nutt won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for a series of feature stories called “The Wreck of the Lady Mary,” which chronicled the sinking of a fishing boat in which six men drowned. After describing how she wrote that story as part of a public panel discussion at Columbia’s Journalism School, which administers the Pulitzers, Nutt was recorded in what she thought was a private conversation.

It turns out that Nutt was speaking not with a cub reporter, as she apparently thought, but with a plant working for “Project Veritas,” O’Keefe’s quasi-journalistic enterprise. The decoy, as O’Keefe calls him, covertly took video of Nutt saying that it’s important to re-elect President Obama and disparaging Christie.

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25 listicles that I will never write

July 10, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 10, 2013

15 Grumpy-Looking Cats

Seven Lively Sins

Great Britain’s 10 Best-Loved Prepositions

13 Exemplary Uses of Onomatopoeia in 20th-Century American Children’s Literature

O-High-Ohhh!: The 11 Longest Punts in Ohio Pop Warner Football

17 Dog-Goned Good Dogs

Cappuccin-O: Nine Cutting-Edge Coffeehouses in Eugene, Oregon

14 for ’14: Knitting Blogs that Will Keep You in Stitches in 2014

Poe-Tay-Toe, Poe-Tah-Toe: Six Top Word Pronunciation Controversies

The Fulsome 15: Top Fullbacks of the National Football League Read the rest of this entry »

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