David Swartzlander

May the Swartz be with you

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There outta be a law against fake news?

In Germany, officials are working on it. A new social media bill being considered by Germany would force social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to remove quickly fake news that incites hate or criminal content. The penalty for failing to remove “fake news?” Fifty million Euros, about $53 million.

While that may sound as if it’s an ideal method to stop fake news, critics contend the bill goes too far and could limit free speech.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, though, favors the bill, giving it a good chance for passage in the German Parliament.

Angie’s List refuses to join O’Reilly boycott

The number of firms that has withdrawn its advertising from Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor has grown to 30 in the wake of allegations, first published in the NY Times, that Fox has paid $13 million to several women who claim the show’s star, Bill O’Reilly, sexually harassed them.

Angie’s List, which provides online reviews of local businesses, is not one of those 30. It said it would let its customers make their own decisions about media consumption. In June, Angie’s List reported a total revenue of $83 million.

18 advertisers pull out of The O’Reilly Factor

Despite President Trump’s defense of Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly, as many as 18 advertisers have pulled their ads from his popular show in the wake of a story written by the N.Y. Times that noted Fox had paid $13 million to settle several sexual harassment claims against the star of the Fox network.

The boycott grew quickly after the allegations, some as old as 15 years, were detailed in the Times story.

President Trump called O’Reilly a “good person” and said he didn’t think the TV commentator “did anything wrong.”

Two auto makers pull ads after sexual harassment claims vs. Bill O’Reilly

Mercedes Benz and Hyundai withdrew their ads on The O’Reilly Factor after the NY Times reported that Fox spent $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against it’s star, Bill O’Reilly. But since O’Reilly’s show made Fox nearly $450 million from 2014-16, how many more advertisers would have to bail on the show before Fox would abandon it?

Similarities exist between now, Watergate era

I don’t put much stock into what celebrities say about politics. But this is the 45th anniversary of the Democratic break-in at the Watergate hotel in Washington, D.C. And actor Robert Redford, playing Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward, did make an Academy Award-winning movie about the scandal called “All the President’s Men.” So he does have some relevance when he writes in the Washington Post that dangerous similarities exist between the Watergate era and now. The question is: Will we the truth again be told?

The $13 million settlement man at Fox

Fox has paid $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims against its star, Bill O’Reilly, according to the N.Y. Times. But since his show made Fox $446 million in advertising from 2014-16, Fox will probably put up with a few more harassment claims and payouts. O’Reilly denies the claims have merit, the Times report states.

We can differentiate between news and opinion, right?

Can you tell the difference between news and opinion?

Fox News’s Sean Hannity says Americans are intelligent enough to know the difference.

Longtime broadcast newsman Ted Koppel disagrees and told Hannity he was bad for America. 

Are you able to tell the difference between news and opinion? Are Americans intelligent enough to know the difference? Should the Fairness Doctrine return?



Will a brighter light on conservative media bring better accountability?

With the election of President Trump, conservative media have become powerful players in Washington, D.C. politics.

Those conservative media are now finding out that as their power grows, the need to better follow the tenets of journalism increases, as this column from Paul Farhi of the Washington Post illustrates. 

To be a legitimate, trusted source, news organizations must meet several important guidelines, but three stand out:

  1. Verification
  2. Independence
  3. Accountability

Those conservative media that were operating under the radar for the past few years (or that have formed recently) and may have played loosely with all three of those guidelines are now realizing that with new power comes the need for accountability and verification.

To get access, reporters must publish good Trump news

The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan has started a new feature, Access Watch, to keep track of what reporters receive access to the Trump administration – and whether it was because they reported “good” news about President Trump or his administration.

That’s fine, and something that should be done.

But the best reporters aren’t writing “good” stories of the president to get access. They are working behind the scenes, with governmental and non-governmental sources, to find out what is going on in that administration. That’s what great reporters do.

What is a legit news outlet?

As this Washington Post report shows, it can be difficult to determine what a legitimate news outlet is. More advocacy groups are forming news teams in an effort to spread their conservative or liberal biases and get access to the powerful.

But that creates a problem for readers and viewers of news. When the independence of the source of the news is questionable, the journalism also will be questionable. To succeed as journalism, as opposed to propaganda, three factors must be present:

Verification – that is, the news organization prints information it verifies as accurate.

Independence from the control or influence of interested parties.

Accountability, or taking responsibility.

In the case highlighted in the linked story, the news outlet in question appears to lack the independence needed to provide a reliable report.

This hasn’t been much of an issue with previous administrations, but the Trump administration has allowed new news outlets into the inner sanctum of the Washington press corps. On its surface, there is nothing wrong with that, but when news outlets come from organizations that are controlled by an advocacy group or are influenced by interested parties, citizens then receive news from a press pool reporter who may throw softball questions rather than ask the tough, critical questions to which Americans need answers.

In other words, give me the mainstream (even lame stream) media over the extremes of the false alt right or far left liberal media. Those advocacy media tell you what you should think rather than lay out the facts so that readers and viewers can think for themselves.

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