The Washington Post

News media derivatives: Oct. 21

In case you missed it---The Lisa Simeone story was pretty much a one-day affair. It sizzled for a few hours and there’s not much more to it. It fed off of a mistaken belief out there that NPR had fired someone, had overreacted to something. And in the aftermath of Juan Williams, that’s an enormous story. It just didn’t happen to be true.

Through all the hubbub, Simeone will keep her post as host of a killer opera show, though, despite popular belief, opera affords many opportunities for a left-wing activist to insert her views into the program.


●Burgess Everett over at Politico’s On Media addresses the sneaky little maneuver of Jason Mattera, a Human Events staffer who deceived his way into a question with Vice President Joe Biden. As the vice prez emerged from an event, Mattera said to him, “Picture?” That brought the veep in close, enabling Matter to ambush him about his references to the word “rape” in lobbying for passage of the administration’s jobs bill. Biden defended what he’d said, after warning Mattera, “Don’t screw around with me.”

Mattera revealed his own prejudices when he posed this idiotic question: “Do you think it’s appropriate for the vice president to use language in such a way?”

What’s the suggestion here? That the vice president of the United States may not address rape? What other word would you have preferred, Mattera?

●Want to know how various newspapers from around the world handled the images of slain former Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi? Here’s your rundown. It’ll surprise no one that New York’s tabloids went graphic while the country’s biggest papers chose less alarming photos. Both decisions are easily defensible. My own preference is not to look at bloodied dead people, even ones with bad human rights records.

●Craig Silverman takes to Storify and CJR to explain just how the news about Gaddafi took root yesterday. Key bit of analysis comes in the middle of the tale, when Silverman writes:

Here’s a look at how the Al Jazeera English Twitter feed evolved between 7:41 and 8:06. We go from injured to dead in just over 20 minutes.

One interesting note: Silverman fingers the New York Times Twitter account for staying silent on the Gaddafi stuff till 8:30 or so. Perhaps new Executive Editor Jill Abramson should shift her priorities from shortening stories to perhaps lengthening tweets!

●Dan Frommer of SplatF is mad at Google News for declining to index his solo news operation. Seems that Google refuses to play ball with news sites that don’t qualify as an “organization,” meaning you have to have more than just some guy or gal banging out copy on the laptop in the kitchen. Frommer finds the restriction bad, for at least three reasons:

I can point out several factual errors and inconsistencies in stories written by bigger newsrooms that are indexed in Google News. (Not to mention huge ethical scandals, plagiarism, and fabricated stories — stuff you won’t find at SplatF.)

I can find instances of big news “organizations” — Google’s preferred variety — adding little to no value, but getting the benefit of Google News inclusion anyway. Like this ABC News story yesterday (linked last night from the Yahoo homepage) rewriting a scandalous MacRumors forum post in the format of a news article, but adding little value and not doing any work to confirm that it is actually true. (“The whole thing may have been a joke,” it admits at the end. Yet it’s news! because it’s from ABC.)

And I can point out plenty of information on one-person sites, such as John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, Michael Arrington’s Uncrunched, Horace Dediu’s Asymco, and even SplatF, that is easily worthy to Google tech news searchers.

After reading Frommer’s thoughts, I concluded that I’d surely like to find his stuff indexed in my own Google News searches. My guess is that if Google loosens its standards and allows solo sites on Google News on a case-by-case basis, it’ll end up creating a whole bunch of work for Google News staffers — a scenario that Frommer contemplates as well. Perhaps even this megarich company has its limits.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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