Aug 24, 2009

Four today

Coming off a weekend away from the computer, so excuse me if some of these are a bit stale.

1. The good news: The Pentagon has hired the same firm that helped put together the Iraqi National Congress, which fed false information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to vet reporters who want to embed with U.S. troops in Afghanistan. From Stars and Stripes:
Rendon examines individual reporters’ recent work and determines whether the coverage was “positive,” “negative” or “neutral” compared to mission objectives, according to Rendon officials. It conducts similar analysis of general reporting trends about the war for the military and has been contracted for such work since 2005, according to the company. ...

U.S. Army officials in Iraq engaged in a similar vetting practice two months ago, when they barred a Stars and Stripes reporter from embedding with a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division because the reporter “refused to highlight” good news that military commanders wanted to emphasize.
2. How long before the Sun-Times sets?: The Chicago Sun-Times better make a deal soon or it might perish in bankruptcy court. Chicago Tribune

3. California watched: The Center for Investigative Reporting has announced its California Watch team. Former LA Timesman Robert Salladay, who had California's Capitol wired, will be a contributing writer and special adviser. Most of the members have a deep background in newspapers, which makes one wonder where the next generation of California Watchers is going to come from. CIR

4. The unkindest cut: Sam Zell, who may not be long for the Tribune Co., gets the rough treatment from Advertising Age:
The big man walks away a small man -- diminished in the eyes of history. He could have shuffled off this mortal coil with his legend as a real-estate genius intact, but instead he'll mostly be remembered for helping to drive the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and his other papers more quickly into the ground. Surely he'll be the last big man to try to become even bigger through media moguldom.
Fine, fine, pile on Zell. But the more salient point in the article is buried at the bottom:
But to bring this full circle to Mark Zuckerberg [founder and CEO of Facebook]: You could think of a guy like him, if he has lasting power, as the prototypical media mogul of the future, I suppose. Except that Zuckerberg, really, is a post-media mogul: a manager, basically, of an incredibly vast digital spreadsheet that we're all kind enough to fill for him with our personal data and updates and pictures and whatnot. He's running a virtual Trapper Keeper, and it'd be totally empty if he hadn't somehow convinced 250 million people to B.Y.O.C. -- bring your own content.

The content king of the past had pretensions to controlling us -- or at least the body politic, the public conversation, the local and national agenda -- by controlling information. But the content king of the future has it much easier; he controls us more directly. Because, loyal subjects that we are, we surrender our information to the king willingly.

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