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cpj2016eThe Committee to Protect Journalists honored journalists from Egypt, India, Turkey, and El Salvador this evening with the International Press Freedom Awards.

This comes at a difficult time for journalism in America, with leading news organizations under fire for propagandizing and multiplying the dishonesty of America’s wars, BLM, and HRC’s candidacy, and for failing to predict the outcome of the election (perhaps intentionally in the hope of altering the outcome).

Having failed as propagandists and prognosticators, the question is what does the future hold for ‘journalism’ in America? — with journalism schools long ago giving up on balanced thinking in favor of activism. One graybeard we spoke with said “the situation is very f_cked-up.”

It might be some time before Americans normalize relations with major news organizations.

Press-NYDailyNewsThe inflamed and untruthful way many in the Press have covered/commented on recent police shootings in the US has likely added to ignorance, hatred and the body count — but maybe that’s the idea.

There is a long history in America of disinformation being used to mislead people into war.

Black Lives Matter is part of a Black Power movement bent more on domination and destruction, than true justice and peace. Presented as an attempt to reform policing, the movement is really an attack on order and “whiteness” itself.

The virulent agitators of America’s Black Power movement are not unlike the Bolsheviks that started the Russian Revolution, with American presidents supporting both movements.

Given the mindset of many black leaders, there is no reason to believe the Black Power Movement will be any less deadening than Bolshevism, and its aftermath.

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BillCunninghamBill Cunningham, the intrepid and big-hearted Style photographer for the New York Times, was remembered on 57th and Fifth yesterday — his favorite spot for documenting fashion trends, on the street.

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ChrisChristieLeaving Trump headquarters yesterday, Gov. Christie told NBC’s Katy Tur that meeting his wife Mary Pat for dinner was “more important” than her question. Several hours later, Ms. Tur called attention on Twitter to Mrs. Christie’s eye roll during Mr. Trump’s comments on Hillary Clinton’s playing the “woman card.”

PhilB&CBroadcast & Cable Hall of Fame inductees Dr. Phil McGraw and Kathie Lee Gifford were feted this evening in NYC.

LE asked Dr. Phil what he considered to be the biggest problem for Americans today. He said it would take too long to answer the question.

ElleUSA30Elle’s 668 page Anniversary issue says on its cover: It’s The New Starting Line — Power. Sex. Beauty. Love. Success.

People who follow such guides (on how to be) can wind up like the car—a wreck.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

BloghersGarner“After Eric Garner what am I supposed to tell my son?”

Maybe you can encourage him to live truthfully, which includes mastering himself.

There’s no future in narcissistic rage (black or white).

Eric Garner, a man with a criminal past and health issues, died in the commission of a crime while resisting arrest. He acted in a threatening manner towards cops who were acting on orders from Governor Cuomo to crack-down on the sale of lose cigarettes.

Sharpton-RatCalls to boycott advertisers of Al Sharpton’s show on MSNBC were heard outside of NBC headquarters today.

LE asked one protester: “Is Al Sharpton bad for black people?” The African-American protester replied: “Sharpton is bad for everyone!”

NBC020915The fact that Brian Williams lied about being fired-on in Iraq is more accidental, and less consequential, than the substantial deception, manipulation and misleading, of viewers and readers, that goes on regularly at NBC News — and other news outlets in the U.S. — with real consequences.

In his book The Greatest Generation (Random House, 1998) Tom Brokaw, formerly anchor NBC News, says that he “felt a kind of missionary zeal for the men and women of World War II, spreading the word of their remarkable lives.” He added that telling their stories “had the effect of a chain letter that no one wanted to disrupt.” Today, the same zealousness and mind control is being exercised by American news organization in areas ranging from vaccines to Ferguson and Aleppo.

One of the members of Mr. Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation,” George H.W. Bush–41st President of the United States, is said by Brokaw in the book to have “an unequaled record of public service within his generation.” This is the same man who initiated one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, the 1990-’91 Gulf War, a war that destroyed countless lives and added to the proliferation of Islamic extremism, which began to re-emerged in the area with the U.S. arming of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the ’80’s.

The widespread disorientation and disorder in American society has many parents, not the least of which are media/news organizations, and their zealous reporters, working for the government, advertisers and personal glory — rather than serving the truth.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

 

CPJ-AbdullahElShamyThe Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) held their 24th Annual International Press Freedom Awards Dinner last evening in NYC. Al Jazeera correspondent Abdullah Elshamy, recently released from jail in Egypt, was on hand.

From the evening’s program guide: “CPJ promotes press freedom worldwide and defends the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. CPJ ensures the free flow of news and commentary by taking action whereever journalists are attacked, imprisoned, killed, kidnapped, threatened, censored, or harassed.”

LE asked a CPJ Director if they had done anything to help James Risen, the New York Times journalist who has been targeted by the Obama Administration and faces the possibility of going to jail for not revealing sources. He said he didn’t know what if anything CPJ was doing for Mr. Risen. He added that CPJ had thought about giving him an award but decided not to.

With all the participatory journalism being done in the U.S. today, it hasn’t been a good week for truth and justice—in the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, MO (not to indict police officer Wilson). NBC’s Brian Williams read the story, with a frown, saying that the grand jury “failed to come up with an indictment”—as if indicting was the only choice, which was not supported by the facts.

CPJ2013bCPJ2013 (3)CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists), a non-profit that supports press freedom worldwide, held their annual awards dinner in New York this evening. According to the CPJ website, this years awards were given to journalists who faced “imprisonment or other persecution for exposing realities in Egypt, Turkey, Ecuador and Vietnam.”

In an interesting twist, Lara Logan, the evening’s host, was dropped from the program and replaced by Scott Pelley of CBS News—presumably because of her leave-of-absence from 60 Minutes, over its recent ‘Benghazi’ story. During the last year Ms. Logan has questioned the U.S. government’s version of reality in Afghanistan and Libya. Various people we spoke with, including CPJ officials, said they didn’t think it would be appropriate for CPJ to protect/defend Ms. Logan.

Additional drama came from Ecuadorian protesters, outside the Waldorf, upset that their countrywoman Janet Hinostroza was getting a CPJ award inside. Some Ecuadorians (including journalists) we spoke with said that she was a shill for the U.S. government and her activities were undermining their country. In 2012 Ms. Hinostroza was forced to take a leave-of-absence from a show she hosts in Ecuador.

LE Observation: With institutionalized government (and news organization) deception, and widespread personal disorientation—the truth is harder to come by, and the journalism needed for society to flourish is rare indeed.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Draw2013“Tina tried hard to save Newsweek which was probably impossible, but this captures the chaos, waste and dysfunction.” Howard Kurtz, Twitter, August 5, 2013

“Hey @Howard Kurtz am I forgetting something or didn’t I fire you for serial inaccuracy?” Tina Brown, Twitter, August 5, 2013

 

AnthonyLewisAnthony Lewis reporter and columnist for the New York Times, and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, died today at age 85. LE met Mr. Lewis in 2009, at the CPJ Awards Dinner, and asked him what he thought the U.S. should do in Afghanistan? He didn’t hesitate, saying — “We should get out.”

Commentary: In matters of American foreign policy, Anthony Lewis understood the U.S. had been unjust in not acting in situations that called for it (Rwanda & Bosnia) — “Clinton Fiddles While Bosnia Burns,” NYT March ’93; but also unjust in using force in situations that didn’t call for it (Iraq & Afghanistan).

Photograph: Stephen Wise

DarrenSylvester (2)On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, American news organizations are suggesting that Pope Francis could have done more to confront human rights abusers in Argentina (1976-83).

And yet what have those same news organizations done to confront the murderous bastards, policies and lies of their own government — which have destroyed millions of lives over the past 10 years? Very little, in fact they’ve been a party to it.

Artwork: Darren Sylvester

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At the recent International Press Freedom Awards Dinner in NYC, LE asked various media elites their thoughts on how the so-called Arab Spring is going? The response given by most was: “It’s too early to tell.”

It would have been nice to have heard just one journalist say that U.S. involvement in the Arab Uprising is wrongheaded, and more akin to the Russian Revolution than the American Revolution. We didn’t hear it. Back in May, Natalia Dmitriyevna, widow of Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, told LE that “there are analogies” between the Russian Revolution and the Arab Spring.

The forces of anarchy (including Neocons, Feminists & Saudis) driving the Arab Spring, betray their wretchedness by their indifference to the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria. As with Lenin’s formula, the peasants are the losers amid the destruction — where one elite replaces another and declares victory.

“But massacre by Bolshevik troops was not the worst of the evils which confronted the long suffering peasants…the peasants abandoned their farms and sought safety in the towns, which could neither feed them adequately nor give them shelter. They came like hordes of locusts which ate up everything in their path. They died in their millions. No accurate figures were ever made available; nor could they be made available, though Sverdlov computed that some 27,000,000 were affected.” The Life and Death of Lenin, Robert Payne (Simon and Schuster, 1964)

With the ‘civilized’ world disregarding the lessons of the past, and devolving into new forms of tyranny and anarchy, journalists face multiple challenges (and threats) — not the least from within, if their objective is to bear witness to the truth.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

The Committee to Protect Journalists held their 22nd International Press Freedom Awards dinner last evening in New York. The event was hosted by PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill. David Boies was the dinner chair. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, was honored as were four journalists from Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan and Liberia.

Lhamo Tso (lower photo), wife of Dhondup Wangchen, accepted his award. Mr. Wangchen remains in a Chinese prison for producing a film the Chinese government didn’t like.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

The indifference, even complicitness, of American leaders with Israel’s unjust policy towards the Palestinians can be traced to the billions of dollars in aid to Israel that has made its way back into the ‘war chests’ of elected U.S. officials, through organizations like AIPAC.

We asked David Boies, prominent First Amendment lawyer, about the ‘Citizens United’ Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited funding of campaigns. He agreed that is was a bad decision, adding that “corporations are not people,” and that the decision had the effect of putting “Congressional dysfunction on steroids.” The case had turned on the interpretation of the justices in the majority that the First Amendment applied to corporate donations.

The conundrum for any society seeking to be free is not to be undone by the wrongheaded exercise of freedom.

Stefan Kiefer, the Art Director in charge of cover designs for German magazine Der Spiegel, spoke last evening at the Society of Illustrators in NYC.

In an unrelated event this week, The New York Times reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested to Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, that British soldiers had helped to liberate her country from the Nazis during World War II.

Commentary: Wasn’t it Great Britain that helped to create the conditions, and harbor the individuals, that ultimately produced Hitler and the Nazis, and the World Wars? In the words of historian Harry Elmer Barnes*: “The Kaiser made much more strenuous efforts to preserve the peace in Europe in 1914 than did Sir Edward Grey.” Perhaps Ms. Merkel felt pressure to say anything to get Mr. Cameron to support her solution to the European Union’s budget woes.

As an important source of news and commentary, Der Spiegel needs to help the world see the bigger picture — including the role anarchists have played and continue to play in society. Hopefully Der Spiegel is not on the side of anarchy, as is The New York Times.

*Barnes–The Genesis of the World War, 1926

Commentary: Media elites like to sneer at what they call ‘low information voters’ (LIVs) — when in fact they helped to create LIVs by misleading, misinforming and manipulating the public. Now they’re saying: Vote DoDo.

It’s interesting that the 2012 U.S. presidential election may be decided by just a few votes — while many votes don’t matter. Sadly, a victory for either Obama or Romney is not a win for the country. The democratic ‘process’ is not enough to produce responsible leaders and citizens. But those who are fomenting revolutions in the Middle East would have us believe it is.

Lotus Editions has chosen David Brooks of the New York Times as this year’s recipient of the Hogwash Award. The award is given each year to an American journalist or commentator who is ‘mucking-it-up’.

Mr. Brooks likes to talk about the ‘real world’ and yet in a recent column said the U.S. federal debt was only 73% of GDP. Even the most corrupt bureaucrats say that it’s 115% of GDP. The actual number is quite a bit higher. Back in May LE asked Mr. Brooks about the reckoning still ahead for the United States. He said: “We’ll get through it, we’ll be fine.”

Commentary: As long as the elites see fit to deceive, manipulate, and mislead the public — we will not be fine. The country can’t begin to fix its problems if it doesn’t admit where it is and how it got there. David Stockman, Budget Director for President Reagan, said recently the “total debt on the U.S. economy” is $53 trillion (3.6x GDP).

Hogwash soap comes from SallyeAnder Soaps, a family business in upstate New York. It has been called The Best Soap in AmericaA Perfect Scrub for Mechanics, Gardners & Kids (and now Journalists).

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Photograph: Stephen Wise

JournalismDay051512bMembers of the Columbia Journalism School Class of 2012 prepare for a class photo on a rainy day 5/15 billed as ‘Journalism Day’.

David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times and commentator on PBS Newshour, spoke to the graduates. Afterwards LE had a chance to ask him some questions, the first being if he had any regrets about any of his columns? Mr. Brooks said, “All the time, some are awful — things that turned out to be wrong.”

Asked what he thought about President Obama’s statement at Barnard College yesterday — that “the trajectory of this country should give you hope.” He said: “I agree.”

When asked about the reckoning still ahead for the U.S., Brooks said: “We’ll be fine, we’ll get through it.”

LE: How? DB: “They’ll figure it out.”

LE: We’ll have hyperinflation and massive defaults. DB:”There won’t be hyperinflation.”

LE: The two entrenched positions in Washington are both wrong. DB: “I agree with that.”

Commentary: Mr. Brooks is adept at supporting the status quo while appearing to dissent from it. Bottom line, he’s a propagandist for the systems and mindsets that are undermining American society and destabilizing the world.

The fact that David Brooks was the main event, on Journalism Day, at Columbia University speaks volumes about how deeply rooted the problems are in the United States today. The good news is that Mr. Brooks (a pundit who has advocated for America’s wars, abortion, same-sex marriage, and private equity firms) admits to having regrets about his columns — “all the time”.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

The Committee to Protect Journalists presented their new Journalist Security Guide, 5/2, at the Columbia J-School. The guide covers the full spectrum of risks faced by journalists, on-site and on-line, as well as psychological issues related to ‘stress reactions’ from their work. The first of two panels featured: Ahmed Rashid, Carolyn Cole, Stuart Karle, Frank Smyth, and Anne Garrels.

“The world is an increasingly dangerous place for journalists. On average, more than 30 journalists are murdered every year, and the murderers go unpunished in 9 out of 10 cases. Hundreds of journalists each year are attacked, threatened, or harassed. Many are followed or have their phone calls or internet communications intercepted. More than 150 are behind bars at any given time, some without even being charged with a crime.”

“Studies have further shown that conflicts within the workplace, whether among journalists or between journalists and their supervisors, may compound individuals reactions to trauma.”

Commentary: One area not covered head-on in this guide, is the struggle that sincere journalists face, operating in a world where multiple layers of deception, manipulation and disorder have become the norm — especially by American entities (government, law enforcement, corporate, religious and even press) that are supposedly the ‘good guys’.

Ann Curry, of NBC, received a 2012 Matrix Award today from New York Women in Communications. Meredith Vieira was the presenter.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Rebecca Mackinnon, Hearst New Media Professional in Residence at Columbia, gave a talk at the Columbia Journalism School last evening called Collateral Damage: News Organizations, Free Speech and the Internet. She exhorted journalists and concerned citizens not to be neutral on ‘net neutrality’, but to do everything in their power to support it. 

Ms. Mackinnon is out with a book called: Consent of the Networked.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Joseph Pulitzer’s birthday (April 10, 1847) was celebrated at the Columbia Journalism School today. His gift of $2 million helped to establish the Columbia J-school in 1912, the year after he died.

Mr. Pulitzer understood the need for honest journalism if democracy was to endure.

Commentary: With the passing of Mike Wallace on April 7, journos mourn one whose many assignments for 60 Minutes (over 40 years), helped to shine a light in dark places.

One such dark place is the Jewish lobby in the U.S., which Wallace talked about in his book: Between You And Me. A Memoir Mike Wallace (2005). “Of all the powerful pressure groups in America, none had more influence in those days than the so-called Jewish lobby. The people who ran it had the finances to marshal their forces and the savvy to use it to maximum effect. This was especially true when it came to the media.”

Mr. Wallace felt the wrath of the Jewish lobby after his 1975 60 Minutes story, “Israel’s Toughest Enemy”, in which he reported that Jews living in Syria had better living conditions than the conventional wisdom was saying. Wallace asked a Jewish teacher in Syria about the discrepancies between what he had heard and the reality on the ground. “She replied in a caustic tone, ‘I think that it’s Zionist propaganda’.”

Andy Carvin, Senior Strategist at NPR, spoke with students at the Columbia Journalism School, March 27, about his experiences tweeting the Arab Spring.

Mr. Carvin said that he doesn’t see himself as a journalist, although he just received the Shorty Award for Journalist of the Year. Later he tweeted that he became a journalist while tweeting the Arab Spring.

Since 2007 Carvin has used Twitter as a ‘fact checker’, and since Dec 2010 as a way to gain what he calls “situational awareness” of the Arab Spring. He said that he did between 70-80,000 tweets and retweets over 14-15 months. In a sense, Carvin became ‘mission control’ for the rebels of the Arab Spring.

LE asked Mr. Carvin if he distinguished between covering the Arab Spring versus being a participant and actor in it? He responded: “That’s a great question because sometimes it’s hard to separate…citizen journalism is inherently a revolutionary act.”

Commentary: In an age of on-line ‘collaborative journalism’, where journalists act as revolutionaries, the question is where are the journos learning how to think critically? ‘Logic’ was taken out of the Core curriculum at Columbia  University years ago.

The Arab Spring has been an irresponsible and criminal action. It toppled sovereign governments — that had been recognized by the international community for years, and turned governing over to individuals who had been on terrorist watch lists for years. The irrational support for the Arab Spring, by activist Western journalists, should be of concern to everyone (because society needs honest journalism). The irony is that American journalists are actually undermining democracy, by the way they are advocating for it — with ‘muck-it-up’ revolutions.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Acquisio gave these T-shirts to attendees of the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo.

Commentary: The messages sound like U.S. foreign policy — nine years after the invasion of Iraq. 

Among the consequences of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is the ongoing eclipse of ‘truthfulness’ in America, and along with it ‘justice and freedom’.

“The GOP sucks and the Tea Party has terrible PR!” Andrew Brietbart, addressing C.O.R.E. on Martin Luther King Day, 01/17/11

Commentary: Mr. Brietbart railed against injustice, but didn’t seem to have a coherent philosophy or world view to anchor his work — so his journalism tended to come across as erratic and self-centered activism.

In spite of his shortcomings, Brietbart did help to expose the dereliction of major news organizations in failing to investigate and report corruption and malfeasance in the U.S. government, unions and industry.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

“The revolution will be tweeted.”

Social Media editors from leading news organizations including: Associated Press, Reuters, New York Times, CBS Sports and NBC gathered recently to discuss the expanding role of social media in their organizations.

One of the panelists said that news of Whitney Houston’s death was broken by someone on Twitter, but because that person had only 200 ‘followers’ they weren’t taken seriously. Several mentioned tweets that can get people fired.

Commentary: Twitter is making tech-driven editors and journalists rigid — while drowning in the ‘stream’ — and less capable of thinking well for themselves. The number of educated young people who support the Arab Spring is testimony to that. Social Media mavens and Arab Spring advocates are targeting ‘tradition’ and affirming lawlessness under the guise of ‘freedom’ — which ultimately will result in new forms of tyranny and misery.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

New York Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid (center) died Feb 16 while on assignment in Syria. It has been reported that he died of an asthma attack. He was with NYT photographer Tyler Hicks (right) who carried his body to Turkey.

This photograph was taken March 31, 2011 at the Columbia Journalism School where Messrs. Shadid and Hicks, along with Lynsey Addario, recounted their imprisonment in Libya.

Commentary: The goodness and commitment of journalists like Mr. Shadid is being squandered by news organizations like the New York Times, that enable and at times even support the disorder and deception being unleashed by the U.S. Government — at home and abroad.

Is Mr. Shadid merely a victim of the NYT’s activism, or was he a conscious actor in validating American foreign policy and the rebel forces in the Arab Spring? Perhaps a little of both.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Lara Logan, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent CBS News, has spent ten years covering wars around the world. She spoke at the Columbia Journalism School Jan. 20.

In her remarks, Ms. Logan blithely said “we’re headed for war with Iran—it just feels that way.”

It should be noted that her 60 Minutes segment — A Relentless Enemy, is now being used by the U.S. Army as a recruiting video.

Ms. Logan spoke strongly about the high percentage of women in Afghanistan who are uneducated, but then seemed proud of the fact that she herself has never studied journalism. “I never studied journalism. I don’t talk in soundbites.”

When asked how she stays healthy? Ms. Logan replied: “I’m not sure I am healthy.”

Photographs: Stephen Wise

New York Encounter, a cultural event organized by the Catholic organization — Communion and Liberation, featured a discussion today called: Education and the ‘Online’ Generation.

The panel was moderated by Chris Bacich, U.S. Leader of Communion and Liberation, and included Ross Douthat, New York Times Columnist, and Matthew Kaminski, member of the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board.

In his remarks, Mr. Bacich suggested that education should “walk people to reality.” Quoting a Catholic theologian, he said that we “affirm reality when we affirm the existence of its meaning.” He went on to suggest that University education has given up on ‘life’s meaning’—having once been central, it now is “exiled from the humanities.”

The comments of Messrs. Douthat and Kaminski, on reality and education, seemed to be inconsequential after the ‘out of touch’ way they addressed the subject of America’s decline. Mr. Kaminiski said that “declinism” is a fantasy and a creation of America’s elites for the purpose of selling books. In Mr. Douthat’s view, “the anxiety over America’s decline should be taken with a grain of salt.” He described the U.S. fiscal situation and foreign policy as merely “challenges”.

The most absurd statement of the day came when Mr. Kaminski said that the “American establishment is capable of self-correction.” So far Americans have seen no evidence of that.

Mr. Bacich concluded by saying to Douthat and Kaminski that (in your positions) “you lead us in what we are going to talk about.”

Commentary: At a time when the U.S. and Europe are in serious trouble, and therefore the world, major U.S. news organizations are acting like the hapless crew of the cruise ship that hit a sandbar off Italy on Friday—the same day France and Austria’s credit ratings were downgraded.

Photograph: Stephen Wise

Historically the press has included people who cared about telling the truth. Today, that rarely happens.

When the U.S. government comes out with rosy economic data, crime stats or figures on war casualties, how often journalists just repeat what they are told, as though it’s true.

A line from Stieg Larsson’s Trilogy should be placed in every newsroom in the world: “Your job description as journalists is to question and scrutinize critically—never to repeat claims uncritically, no matter how highly placed the sources in the bureaucracy. Don’t forget that!”

Photograph: Stephen Wise

On January 15, 2009 Janis Krums was a passanger on a ferry crossing the Hudson River when the U.S. Air flight piloted by Sully came down just a few hundred yards from their location. The ferry was on the scene before the first responders and aided in helping the passengers get off the plane.

Mr. Krums (a non-journalist) sent a tweet w/photo to his 200 Twitter followers that broke one of the biggest stories of 2009, in the media capital of the world. His message was: “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up people. Crazy”

The photograph was shot through a window on the ferry with an IPhone. The rights to the photo were purchased by Oprah & Apple among others. It received the 2010 Shorty Award for Real-Time Photo of the Year.

Mr. Krums (top photo) was at the Columbia Journalism School today to talk about the famous photo-tweet but also a new venture he is involved with called Rawporter.com. He said that what he did “showed the power of Twitter as an emerging service and a legitimate way of sharing news.”

Lower Photograph: Janis Krums (shown here with permission)

The Hearst Foundation & Columbia Journalism Digital Media Program presented Changing Media Landscape 2011 this evening at the Columbia J-school.

In addition to a panel of leading journalists and media experts, a ‘bonus’ to the program featured five Columbia Journalism School alums, now work for start-ups,  giving their ‘elevator speeches.’

The practice of journalism, within a ‘tech continuum,’ that is harnessed to social media, is a mixed bag that offers reasons to be delighted but also terrified.

Perhaps without understanding the significance of what she was saying, Leila Cobo, director of Latin programming, Billboard commented that “we can’t cheat the charts — it’s not Leila it’s the computer” — refering to her response to music groups who thank her when they win awards. Ms. Cobo added that social media “turns us into shameless self-promoters.”

Someone from the audience asked the panel about “individual progress” in an environment that often celebrates “innovation for innovation sake?” In response, Vadim Lavrusik, journalist program manager, Facebook said that eight months ago his mother had become proficient enough with computing to be able to “friend” him.

The Society of Business Editors and Writers SABEW held a conference last week in New York that attracted financial journalists from around the U.S.

In one of the sessions Floyd Norris, chief economic correspondent, of The New York Times interviewed Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economist who previously worked for the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Board.

Regarding the financial crisis, Rogoff said that government officials “cushioned the fall but stretched out the pain.” He added that the “overhang of debt and projections of slower growth — really is a problem.”

Mr. Norris asked Mr. Rogoff about how the financial press could have covered the financial crisis better? Rogoff suggested that journalists are “slaves to sources” and are fed info as long as their sources are happy. As if to confirm Rogoff’s observation, Norris said earlier in the interview that “a lot of people thought, myself included, that the economy would be better than it is.”

Commentary: Credulous journalists parrot what the government and Wall Street establishment say about the economy, recession, new jobs, recovery, double dip recession etc. etc. The best one was: “No one could have seen this (financial collapse) coming.” It has become common practice for financial writers, working for major news organizations, to participate in manipulating and misleading the public — which is devastating for the country. No one (at any of the conference sessions we attended) talked about credit default swaps — which threaten many nation’s economies, and should have been regulated (or done away with) after the 2008 collapse. In the words of Joseph Pulitzer: “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together.”

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