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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 09:10 AM ET, 10/28/2011

Media news derivatives: Oct. 28

In case you missed it — Yesterday was James O’Keefe Day on the Erik Wemple Blog. The clandestine video manipulator came up with an installment in his “To Catch a Journalist” series, and this time the focus was on journalism professors Clay Shirky and Jay Rosen of New York University. The bottom line is that there was nothing even remotely scandalous about the video, which is essentially a collage of comments during an NYU class. O’Keefe got facts wrong, including the spelling of “Shirkey’s” name and the notion that the guy served as a “consultant” to the New York Times.

Here’s some required reading along those lines: Jay Rosen has fashioned a response to the whole incident. It appears that there’s something O’Keefe left out of the investigation — namely, a little incident in which an O’Keefe plant tries to get Rosen to, like, hook him up or something with the New York Times, because he has some scandalous Tea Party video to share. In Rosen’s words:

He said he had a tape of a Tea Party gathering in which some ugly and extreme (the implication was racist) things were said. He said it was gruesome stuff. He wanted to know how he could get it to the media. To the New York Times. I said the New York Times wouldn’t be interested in something like that, and that he might try to contact Max Blumenthal of the Nation. He asked if I had any other advice for him.

So that didn’t quite work out for O’Keefe. My question is what possible scandal could have come from this even if Rosen had responded differently. Let’s just say that Rosen had had a contact at the Times and passed along an e-mail address, which is presumably what O’Keefe was hoping for. Who cares?

Another point: Rosen notes that his students felt “shocked and angry that their learning environment has been invaded by a trickster like O’Keefe.” He says that the episode took a “pedagogical strength — the openness of my classroom — and changed it into a weakness.”

This I am not getting. There’s no weakness here. Openness still rules and has been fully vindicated in this episode. Anyone with critical thinking capacity watches the video and concludes that this is a thought-provoking class with professors who are way into their course material. Nothing scandalous at all going on. If I were paying for a child of mine to attend the class, I’d conclude that the money was well spent. Don’t let O’Keefe affect you this way.

Also: John King (rightly) raps Jason Mattera for misrepresenting himself in an ambush of Vice President Joe Biden.

Elsewhere:

●A small claims court for copyright disputes? Yay! That’s just what this media industry needs, and it may be coming, according to this report in the Hollywood Reporter (Thanks, Mediagazer).

One element from the story:

At the request of Congress, the U.S. Copyright Office is conducting a study regarding alternative means of resolving copyright infringement claims when such claims are likely to involve limited amounts of monetary relief. Today, the Office introduced a “Notice of Inquiry” about the subject, hinting about a proposal which could aid individuals in bringing claims without going through the federal circuit and without the necessary evil of expensive lawyers.

This way, if scofflaws out there wants to steal a story and post it on their site, there’ll actually be a way to deal with it. As opposed to hearing from your lawyer that this matter is way too picayune to pursue.

●Rachel Maddow takes apart the Rick Perry plan to pump some life back into his campaign.

●The Atlantic is going to host an innovation forum. That’s news?

●The New York Times’s much-written-about successes with paywalls and circulation and so on are great. But only for the New York Times and not so much for papers that are not the New York Times. That’s the conclusion of Ken Doctor, writing in Nieman Lab.

What’s been dismaying this week, as I talk with many publishers at the dozens of other dailies now charging for digital access, is that it’s hard to find the Times model moving similar Sunday-plus trends elsewhere. Publishers don’t want to disclose actual numbers, but the apparent consensus among those who have charged for six months or more (which covers the reporting period we’ll see when the Audit Bureau of Circulation FAS-FAX numbers releases its half-yearly numbers Tuesday) is that print/digital reader bundling hasn’t had much effect on the decline in circulation numbers.
Why? It may well be that it’s too early, with pay psychologies just kicking in. Or it may be that propping up the print business won’t be a route to the future. Or maybe too few papers have aligned all the things a publisher needs to do to make the Sunday + digital equation work; maybe they haven’t aligned the stars well enough yet, though we do have one just out-of-the-box experiment, in Memphis, that displays early alignment.

By  |  09:10 AM ET, 10/28/2011

 
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