Despite its little trick, CNN prepares for more job losses.

CNN is a network with no news, and it is going to be shedding even more jobs.

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Railing against Donald Trump isn’t news, or news that grows an audience.

The problem with CNN is that it has a single trick and relies on bashing a single person.

What you end up with is people who just tune in to have their vitriol validated, and they do not care if there are facts; they just want blood.

You could tell them Trump is Cthulhu, and that’s fine, good enough.

They are not audiences who cares about news other than targeting a single person or collective. When that’s over, they leave. They have no interest or loyalty.

They are the absolute worst audience to court.

The fly by nighters are fickle, and if some other site out rants CNN, that’s where the flock will go. You cannot make a news outlet on rage alone; sooner or later, it all comes crashing down.

CNN is learning this the hard way, and once a structure is eroded, good luck with improving it from there.

But outlets like CNN suffer from a bad case of hubris, and they can’t see it.

Why fooling journalists has always been child’s play

The Hijab hoax is yet another black eye for journalists.

CNN reported the story as fact.

So did the BBC.

And the Guardian.

Newsweek did.

The New York Times did.

The Toronto Star did.

The Globe and Mail did.

BuzzFeed did before their cleansing.

The CBC did, linking it to other hate crimes.

Oh dear, and a 11-year-old can fool the international press with ease.

No wonder people no longer believe the press.

How can such a hoax be believed by “seasoned” reporters?

In this case, the “hate crime” was part of a convenient narrative for the press in their never-ending feud with the American president.

It is the reason #MeToo took off so rapidly. It was part of connecting the dots.

Or removing liberties in a game of Go.

Except there were way too many red flags to ignore.

There are real cases of things happening, except the crimes are not palatable for the press. Here is a cute little kid who is eloquent, and the crime was PG-13 friendly.

Real-life attacks are not so clean and sanitary.

So the press rolled with it with a roar, without asking hard questions.

You ask about the surveillance footage. You walk the same path with a stopwatch, and take notes of possible witnesses and possible inconsistencies.

That was the problem from the get-go. The media didn’t look at all for corroborating evidence. You talk to neighbours and teachers. You talk to the local gossips. You talk to the crossing guards and schoolmates.

You find out who is the victim. You work toward finding the culprit. Even as a journalist, you have to do the legwork. Why would this girl be a target, rather than another girl. Was it convenience, for instance, or something else?

This was a classic case of journalism by stenography. Grab a press release and roll with it.

And then other media crib the notes, amplifying the story that was never, even if it were true, been overplayed as it did, considering the number of real hate crimes that never make it into the news that were far more violent, severe, and persistent. It did not warrant that kind of coverage it got. I can see the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun making a mention of it without naming the victim to protect her identity…and ensure what was reported was, you know, true, and a couple of local stations, but that’s it.

Hate crime hoaxes are a murky area: people feel uncomfortable with them, and they are on the outskirts of being a more hardcore version of a hoax: it is a form, inventional or otherwise, of propaganda, and even war propaganda.

Because it incites and takes advantage of the already established line in the sand.

This will set back a lot of real hate crimes. It will play into the hands of those who think these are not real cases. The press had the duty to pull back. They could have said there was a report of an attack, but instead of giving the girl’s identity and then speculate whether it was a hate crime or not, they should have given the details of what they had — and didn’t have. Was there surveillance? Witnesses? Evidence?

That’s what good journalism needed to be — but as usual, we didn’t get that at all.

And that is the reason a world of grown-ups got fooled by a child.

 

What killed journalism?

There is a longer answer coming later on this year.

Vice media is a microcosm for one of the reasons why journalism died a slow painful death, and no company purge will fix it.

The nerds at CNN have lost the last shred of dignity, but even if they all got sober, they would still be in a dead profession.

What killed journalism?

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A broken model, for starters.

But a broken model comes from a broken mindset.

Journalism’s mindset broke first, and then everything else fell apart.

If you ever want to destroy an entire profession, go for sabotaging the mindset.

And that is what happened to journalism.

No matter what those in the profession do, they cannot put back together that mindset because its weaknesses did them in.

There were countless times to rectify those vulnerabilities, but nothing was ever done about it.

And then it was too late.

It is a murder mystery where the victim refused to listen to people who told them not to go outside unprepared because danger was lurking outside, and they laughed it off and became cannon fodder.

So what do we do? Reanimate a corpse?

No, it’s done, but that doesn’t mean new life can’t take the place of the old to make a better way…

Media criticism also used to be a thing

It is not anymore.

American Journalism Review was the poor cousin of Columbia Journalism Review, but it is no longer an active thing.

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CNN still has its Reliable Sources, but it is to media criticism as expired junk food found in a dumpster is to nutrition.

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Considering the number of major snafus the network racked up this year alone, you would think they would be discussing their bad reportage in earnest, but no such luck.

They do like to pat themselves on the shoulders, however, and keep the propagandistic and romanticized notions of their profession. Deluded is not a good trait to have when trying to analyze one’s abilities to do your job competently.

Once upon a time as well, in Canada, most provinces had their own press council, but since 2015, they have lumped together as the National NewsMedia Council.

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As they never had any teeth to begin with, and are self-regulatory, their influence is nil, and most people do not even bother to complain to them, when they can Trump it on Twitter.

There are the partisan media “watchdog” organizations, but they, too, have not done anything to actually improve the profession.

Journalists may love to criticize others, but they do not believe they deserve to be criticized themselves.

And it is the reason why both the profession, and their so-called minders, have wasted away as no one really noticed.

The Collapse of Journalism is real.

I have described myself as a radical centrist. That means I am not beholden to any political party. I am not a follower. I do not memorize other people’s scripts as some sort of life hack. I have an aversion to people thinking one set of rules is perfect and anything that deviates from those ideas is heresy.

Journalism has been an enabler of lockstep thinking, particularly in North America. When the Internet took hold and took off, journalism was the profession behind the times — and they are the ones who are supposed to keep up to keep people informed. No such luck.

I have said repeatedly that modern journalism is dead, and what is being disseminated is rot. CNN’s gaffe this week is not minor. It is desperate propaganda because their motives for making such a colossal error are as tainted as it can be: they didn’t want a Trump presidency. They told the little people to run to the ballot to vote for Clinton. Not everyone did. Trump won. People didn’t listen to CNN.

And now panic and after the fact reasoning. They want to punish Trump at all costs, as if being president of a country in the throes of an identity crisis wasn’t punishment enough. I wouldn’t be there if you paid me. Forget it: I am not your mother; so clean up your own mess, and if we were a civilized society, we would not even need a government.

But now the reporting has gone off the rails to the point that a dead profession no longer can do a job.

The Intercept has a very good analysis of it all here. Glenn Greenwald is one of few who actually gets what journalism should have been. He makes an excellent observation:

U.S. media outlets are very good at demanding respect. They love to imply, if not outright state, that being patriotic and a good American means that one must reject efforts to discredit them and their reporting because that’s how one defends press freedom.

Which has been my point through my various books. You cannot just swagger in and then decree you are beyond reproach and off limits of receiving the criticism you so richly earned. 

To be a journalist, you must be humble, and agonize over your job because there can be consequences you have to live with for the rest of your life. As a journalist, I agonized. I stayed up all night, thinking about how every word could do harm and not good.

And then I would hear reporters gleefully demanding that people get bombed. 

There are journalists walking free right now who should be hauled up to The Hague and be charged with war crimes for the bloodlust.

Journalism always had a chip on its shoulder, but it got away with it until the gates broke away from them, and then people took control of some of that power, and the profession imploded.

It is trying to claw its way back, but you cannot unring a bell.

So what we are witnessing now is not journalism. It is war.

It is bloody propaganda campaign of trying to grab back the ability to control the flow of information and narratives because it’s no fun when you tell a president to invade a country and he can ignore you without worrying about his poll numbers because of your meddling.

We need a new model of news producing, and it has to be done from scratch. New schools, new mentors, and new ways of gathering, analyzing, and disseminating the news.

Because this is a profession that is willing to do anything to get its power back — anything but what is moral and constructive.

And that is a sign that the games are going way too far.

The only saving grace is that more and more people are ignoring their decrees and demands.

The media week that it has been…

Bad week

ABC.

CNN.

Bloomberg.

National, major outlets who have all called their target of disdain on the carpet for being loose with the facts.

On a major story.

Not Balloon Boy.

Not Christianity is Stupid.

But a real story.

The fact that these mistakes all involve the same basic story is a sign of alarm. The press has already made up its mind how this story is going to play and they are not letting the facts get in the way of their narrative.

But journalists are ill-equipped to inform the public. Their fortunes are falling, and they never got over the fact that they had lost the war.

It is not as if they were doing it well before: it’s just before, people could not get on a true public broadcasting media, such as Twitter, WordPress, or Facebook, and tell other people what was really happening.

There will be bigger errors coming. There will be more meltdowns.

Sooner or later, a fact will have to be faced: that North American journalism has collapsed, and then exploded like a nuclear bomb.

And something serious will have to be done to stop it before a new model emerges.

The CNN problem: Why the #MeToo movement is meaningless and why nothing will change with mere slacktivism alone.

Dylan Farrow’s Op-Ed piece has made a very astute observation and a very good point: #MeToo has not done as much as people believe — or at least, what the press portrays its effects. Too many abusers are still left unscathed.

But the reason why #MeToo is not the revolution it purports to be is simple: the mindsets of those in power have not altered one jot, meaning nothing has actually changed. A few old and over-priced relics have been booted, but they will be replaced by cheaper and cagier boors with better PR and lawyers behind them, as they ensure stronger nondisclosure clauses and vetting female employees, ensuring the ones who will stand up for themselves will never get hired.

Hello! Welcome to reality.

Or did you think the fairytales of things all wrapping up nicely forever as the bad guys were chastened was reality?

How often do you admit you are wrong in a public forum, and then fundamentally question your own beliefs and then make changes in your thought patterns and actions if you do not absolutely have to change?

Case in point: CNN.

They made a serious journalistic blunder.

But it was not their only blunder on this story arc.

This is chronic habit with this network. They learned nothing from a couple of months ago.

They are not being held accountable. People complain, but no systemic changes.

Because deep down, they do not care and don’t see what is wrong with their broken down model of news production.

Like #MeToo, slacktivism is not going to improve anything.

At the national broadcasting level, employees sign nondisclosure agreements, meaning alleged news organizations, such as CNN can put out a couple of news releases promising to do better, then go right on being information corrupters with their shoddy reportage.

When the well-funded Project Veritas released embarrassing recordings of the level of unprofessionalism at the network, the brutes bided their time until Veritas inevitably made a tactical blunder with their unscientific approach to uncovering the real rot in newsrooms, and then Chris Cilliza shot back with a very shoddy swipe at the organization entitled, What James O’Keefe doesn’t get about the media.

He even tried to engage in some hypocritical mental gymnastics, proclaiming the group’s recordings of CNN producers shooting off their big mouths were not reliable because they were edited.

You know, the way CNN and every other news outlet highly edits their every news story, leaving out more stuff than they actually air. Nice try, Mr. Cilliza, not buying what you are selling.

But what O’Keefe does not “get” about the CNN, and I do is this: CNN uses a few old tricks to deflect attention from their very bad reportage. Offense is the best defence. Go attack a target and they will be so busy trying to prove you wrong, that they lose focus.

CNN is a Goliath, but it is one that is far frailer and weaker than they first appear: the Fox News Channel sized them up, and then destroyed their base with their own partisan carny games.

CNN does not actually produce a lot of new stories. They recycle a few bits, and then stretch it out with endless gossiping and speculating of what those facts supposedly mean. Like the FNC, it is not a news outfit, but a pundit and opinion outfit.

So little information comes out, but out of all those tidbits, most come from PR firms. Press releases. Press conference. Video news releases. Strategic leakers. Spokespeople.

Then there is merely rehashing and rewriting wire stories contracted out by third party news gatherers.

And then top if off with celebrity gossip and advertorials.

So their strength in the actual news gathering is not as crack as one is lead to believe.

Now take all of that and square it with their forays into fake news.

They are not capable of actual reporting. The Boys of Baghdad are but a distant memory.

It is now a propaganda mill, but this time, mistakes are actually being exposed, thanks to the Internet liberating voices that once would never have a chance to speak out.

But those voices are not enough. CNN is still churning out lies and not being made to own those errors or the consequences.

And that is the reason those who cling on to #MeToo should realize the mere fact of speaking out is not enough to stop tyrants. A few will be kicked out, but the mechanisms will not change.

And the same nightmare will be relived.