Jack Fuller on Free Expression Theory and the Tribune’s ‘Waterboarding’ Blunders

When Jack Fuller pens an op-ed in the Tribune criticizing the media, it’s worth taking note. Fuller was the president of Tribune Company’s publishing group until late 2004 after working his way up through the reporting ranks and editing ranks over 30+ years at the Tribune.

But I couldn’t help but note the irony today, that soon after listening to On the Media‘s lead piece examining newspapers’ definition of “waterboarding” — I stumbled upon Fuller’s “News sells more opinion, at cost of sincerity” in the Trib.

“The concern with large news media corporations has been that they would stifle diversity of political opinion,” wrote Fuller. He picks on MSNBC’s and FOX News’ commercialization of political opinion slanted “toward whatever attracts a crowd.”

Now, with the fragmentation of media and audience, there is no clear commercial argument against presenting the news with a point of view.

But there remains an atmosphere of politicization and “stifling” in print, take for example the Chicago Tribune’s definition of “waterboarding” as explained on the aforementioned On the Media very uncomfortably and definisively by deputy editor Randy Weissman:

Our official definition is — effective today — “an interrogation technique that simulates drowning a prisoner, comma, creating the sensation of imminent death.”

OK. Just as inefficient a definition as the New York Times (“simulated drowning”) or the LA Times (“an interrogation technique simulating drowning that dates to the Spanish Inquisition”) but its his awkward defense that seems to reveal political motivation behind using “simulate” and “sensation.”

Weissman:

Simply put, if you look in Webster’s, drowning is death, and waterboarding would only fit that definition if, if the prisoner died. Ask most people if a person drowns what happens, you — I would be willing to bet you that they would say he died.

Even after On the Media host Brooke Gladstone reiterated that drownING is the gerund and surely someone who is drowning can still be saved, Weissman blamed the politicization of the Trib’s semantics on Webster’s (where the gerund is not defined):

Well, I will go along with Webster’s New World Dictionary, which says “to die by suffocation in water or other liquid.”

Continue reading “Jack Fuller on Free Expression Theory and the Tribune’s ‘Waterboarding’ Blunders”

Colbert: Mo Betta Than Dowd

Just when you’re so tired of reading Maureen Dowd’s whiny, sassy scribblings, she saves the day by handing her column off to Stephen Colbert, who is busy getting as much ink and face-time as possible in the wake of the release of his book. (Last year, Dowd, penned a Rolling Stone cover story on the Colbert/Stewart phenomenon)

So leave it to Colbert, to sum up the entire NYT Sunday Op-Ed experience in under 100 words:

I’d like to thank Maureen Dowd for permitting/begging me to write her column today. As I type this, she’s watching from an overstuffed divan, petting her prize Abyssinian and sipping a Dirty Cosmotinijito. Which reminds me: Before I get started, I have to take care of one other bit of business:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn’t have to think about. It’s all George Bush’s fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I’ve written Frank Rich’s column too.

Hilarious. Lo, Rich’s Op-Ed today on the shadiness pervading Iraq — still — unbelievable — is a must read, as his columns generally are. As for Colbert’s “new bestseller,” I am America (And So Can You)!, I have absolutely no intention of reading it. I have, however, obtained the audio version — narrated by Colbert, of course — to listen to on an upcoming road trip (road trip tbd). I’ve listened to the introduction, though, and so far, so good. Time permitting, I’ll post a snippet for your aural pleasure.

Earlier in the week he admitted to Larry King that the book was a tool leading up to his seeking of a presidential nomination “from both parties.” (Video here and below). Continue reading “Colbert: Mo Betta Than Dowd”

NYT Retires TimesSelect Pay Wall

new york times select now free foreverAnd all the greatest content shall be free!

No doubt Murdoch will open up WSJ.com to all as well. Both the Times and Journal were the only daily newspapers to successfully implement a paid subscription model, the Times reportedly generating over $20 million in revenue over the course of the two year TimesSelect experiment.

But the advertising landscape has changed, especially as ad sales models shift away from the pageviews to total time spent. This on the same day that AOL, which stands to benefit greatly from Nielsen’s total time spent measurements, announced a realignment of its ad strategy and a physical move from Dulles to Madison Avenue.

PaidContent breaks down the TimesSelect numbers here.

While I’m glad that I’ll no longer have to read another Frank Rich column out of context, cut-and-pasted on some random blog, I’m even happier that the excellent multimedia content on TS, as well as Kristof’s spin-off blogs (like this one written by my friend Will) will be free for the world to read.

So, are my beloved TimesSelect podcasts going to return… or what?

MORE: NYT;s letter to readers — the Pay Wall comes down at midnight EDT on the 19th. Also, Gillmor, Jarvis, and Ingram react.