What to know about the Trump-era newsmakers that have dominated social media.
No matter what most any reporter or editor tells you, a coin in their realm is tweets. They can constitute a self-aggrandizing echo chamber, for sure, but one where personal brands are enhanced and bragging rights secured.
Audiences can be mistaken for esteem but they are an undeniable marker in a metrics-driven media universe. Just ask, well, President Donald Trump, for one. But don't tell him that Barack Obama is more popular than him when it comes to social media.
So one might inspect Twitter's disclosure of the top tweeted news outlets and the most tweeted journalist or commentator at each outlet. Trump likely will and, in the process, to see that his favorite journalist is right at the top:
It's Sean Hannity, followed by CNN's Jake Tapper, The New York Times's Maggie Haberman, MSNBC's Joy Ann Reid, The Washington Post's ****David Fahrenthold, The Hill's Joe Concha, NBC's ****Bradd Jaffy, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Politico's ****Dan Diamond, and the Associates Press's Zeke Miller.
Many of those are no great surprise, especially given the inherently high-profile of the outlet and commentator or host. With Tapper, one has a very adroit early adopter of social media twinning with the impressive reach and social media savvy of his employer, CNN. With Jaffy of NBC News, a writer-producer you have somebody you probably don't really know but who's a well practiced practitioner.
Of the print cadre, one might take special note of The New York Times's Maggie Haberman, who has built a huge following as a result of dogged labor covering Donald Trump. And, too, The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold parlays inventive reporting with the potency of an employer on the cutting edge of technology.
But don't forget The Hill's Joe Concha. Who? That's a name you may not be aware of but he symbolizes The Hill's substantial social media savvy and strategy in targeting of consumers. The brain behind their head-turning success is Neetzan Zimmerman, who came to The Hill from the now-defunct Gawker.
As ****Editor & Publisher put it, “Zimmerman’s uncanny ability to pluck out content he knew would be popular with readers allowed him to garner over 30 million page views a month, as much as five times more page views than his next highest colleague.” That led the Wall Street Journal to dub him “the most popular blogger working on the web today and New York Magazine to call him a “one-man viral treasure chest.”
And one piece of advice he's got for local newspapers, even if small, “is to get away from wire stories and have someone on staff aggregate national content. In resource-starved newsrooms, it’s easy to simply drop in a wire story when national news breaks, but it’s certainly not helping your brand stand out in the sea of content swimming around on the internet.” Whatever, here's a revealing piece on him with the latest Twitter numbers only underscoring his success at an unlikely locale, an insider paper on Capitol Hill.
Globally, the most retweeted tweets the past year were ones that involved Chicken Nuggets, Obama, Penn State, Ariana Grande, and , again, Obama.
And the top three most liked tweets were via Obama, Ariana Grande and, again, Obama.
Of the most retweeted and the most liked, one by Obama made both lists: his response to the Charlottesville, Virginia violence in August.
There, a photo taken by White House photographer Pete Souza in June, 2011—Obama with pre-school children in Bethesda, Maryland, who were peering out of a window at their child care facility—was twinned with a Nelson Mandela ****quote: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion...”
Within 72 hours it generated 3.3 million likes and 1.3 million retweets. It now has more than 4.5 million Likes. Obama has third place with his acknowledgment of Sen. John McCain's diagnosis of cancer.
Digital ad spending passes TV by
"We’ve been headed here for a while. But this was the year it actually happened: Advertisers spent more on digital than traditional TV," writes Recode.
"To be specific: Digital ad spending reached $209 billion worldwide — 41 percent of the market — in 2017, while TV brought in $178 billion — 35 percent of the market — in 2017. That’s according to Magna, the research arm of media buying firm IPG Mediabrands."
Oprah makes $70 million and retains OWN control
"Discovery Communications Inc. is taking majority control of OWN, the cable network it co-owns with Oprah Winfrey."
"Under the terms of the deal, Discovery said it has purchased 24.5% of OWN for $70 million from Ms. Winfrey’s company Harpo Inc. Ms. Winfrey’s Harpo will still hold a 25.5% stake in OWN, which had previously been a 50/50 joint venture, and Ms. Winfrey will continue as chief executive of the network."
Manafort's favorite (not) blogger at it again
Last month I profiled Katia Kelly, a German-born former aspiring fashion designed who started a neighborhood blog in Brooklyn and stumbled upon the curious ad incriminating purchase history of a brownstone that's now evidence in the money laundering case against Paul Manafort.
Well, she's at it again in her Pardon Me for Asking blog:
"Over the week-end, PMFA received an email from a local resident pointing out that Paul J. Manafort's brownstone building at 377 Union Street between Smith and Hoyt Streets had received a Stop Work order from the NYC Department Of Buildings."
"The order was prominently displayed to the front door of the property on Sunday afternoon, when we walked by with our camera to check ourselves."
"That however, does not seem to have stopped work. According to the resident, construction workers 'have been working at night. The Sheriff drove up and they shut lights off. Sheriff drove away, they resumed work. Lights on at night for weeks. Sadly, this charade goes on every weekend. And at night.'
"In effect several 311 calls about after-hour work have been logged on the D.o.B. website for this address since October." Here's the whole tale.
A union move in Los Angeles
Editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times filed for a union election Monday with the National Labor Relations Board. They've cast their bargaining lot with The NewsGuild, whose members include editorial staff at The New York Times, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the AP. They've formally requested what's known as voluntary recognition by what amounts to new management, as opposed to going through a formal election process overseen by the NLRB.
"This vote marks a historic moment in the life of the Los Angeles Times," says Jim O'Shea, former editor of the paper. "The Newspaper Guild has attempted to organize the newsroom on other occasions but has never succeeded until this successful vote to get recognition. The longtime owners the Chandler family were bitterly anti-union. Unions scared the bejesus out of the Tribune Company and Sam Zell, also former owners."
"So now we'll see how Tronc responds. I don't blame the staff. Journalists are notoriously independent and not philosophically warm to unions. But journalists face a daunting economic future that makes a compelling case for banding together to fight for the one thing that really unites them -- quality journalism. I hope the company see the value of working with their employees, whether in a union or not, to give the great city of Los Angeles the kind of news it and its citizens deserve."
A big First Amendment argument Tuesday
There's a big oral argument Tuesday at the Supreme Court as it hears the seemingly landmark case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which involves the constitutionality of the Colorado Antidiscrimination Act. That act makes it unlawful for any business in Colorado to deny to any person, because of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation or national origin, the full and equal enjoyment of the business’ goods, services or facilities.
As the University of Chicago Law School's Geoffrey Stone makes clear in The Huffington Post, Jack Phillips, who owns the shop in Lakewood, Colorado, declined to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, making the legal argument that he can't be forced to do so since don so would violate both his freedom of speech and freedom of religion rights under the First Amendment.
"On both of these claims, Phillips is wrong," Stone explains. Here's his critique of the freedom of speech claim.
In search of transparency
"At the Poynter Institute’s inaugural Journalism Ethics Summit, held at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., journalists, advocates and scholars emphasized the need for trust and transparency in reporting. The gathering was funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, which provides funding to Poynter."
“'I think there’s mystery about how we go about our work,' Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, told Poynter’s Indira Lakshmanan. “Lets just be more transparent about how we pursued the story.”
Ben Bradlee, The Newspaperman
Tom Hanks plays the late Washington Post editor in the soon to arrive movie, The Post, but you'd best also find HBO's new The Newspaperman. It's a terrific and inventive job that makes skillful use of his 1996 autobiography, A Good Life; in fact, heavily relying on his voicing the audiobook version.
It's a tale of a man who loved the newsroom and helped to inspire a mythological sense of The Post with nerve and panache. It was a place that even intimidated the likes of David Maraniss, the reporter-historian, when he arrived because Bradlee had lured so much talent, Maraniss concedes.
It's got his highs (Watergate) and lows (unsparing on the Janet Cooke fabrication debacle, as was Bradlee in printing an 18,000-word post-mortem on the institutional failure). And much more (including a post-retirement interview by Charlie Rose that, unavoidably, looks awkward due to recent events). And it's got its ethical ambiguities, notably revealing (apparently new) video of him and his second wife palling around with President Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy while the Post was obviously covering them.
Ultimately, it's about a guy who adored a great story and explained his essence in a response to to a high school senior and editor of her high school paper. His response comprises the film's finale and is alternately read by a group including son Quinn, Norman Lear, Tina Brown, Tom Brokaw, Robert Kaiser, David Remnick and Jim Lehrer. It ends, "I believe in compassion.
The latest Brian Ross error
At the same Poynter gathering, the blunder by ABC's Ross was an unavoidable topic.
“The damage that Brian Ross did by getting that story wrong I think is significant,” said National Review’s Jonah Goldberg. "Getting it wrong, even for understandable reasons, is really, really damaging.”
“I think there’s something about television,” said CNN reporter Brian Stelter. "Ross’ authority came through on camera. All of that backfired on him.”
A very neat graphic
Axios had one on how white man have dominated the "Album of the Year category at the Grammy awards since the awards inception in 1959---until this year, with no male artists nominated. Check this out.
The moral and ethical ambiguity of sketch comedy
Chris Jones, theater critic for the Chicago Tribune, crafted a very provocative piece on the untidiness of improvisational comedy, in particular the arguable sex harassment that coursed through even its highest levels at Chicago's path-breaking Compass Players and Second City, the latter the training ground for a who's who for decades, including Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert.
A lot of his piece turns on the "the sacred creative notion of not denying your own impulse — something that comes up often in the history of American actor training, especially the method created by the great Sanford Meisner." But it's a notion that "has, we now know, provided the cover to allow a lot of men to engage in various levels of harassment."
For example, he notes how he was watching “Second to None,” a full-length, fly-on-the-wall documentary made by HMS Media that was about a a 1997 Second City show called “Paradigm Lost,” one of its best ever. It was directed by Mick Napier, and starred Fey, Rachel Dratch, Scott Adsit, Jenna Jolovitz, Kevin Dorff and Jim Zulevic.
"It was a show I never will forget. If the 1990s were the Florence of Chicago improv, 'Paradigm Lost' has long felt to me as Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel."
"But as I watched Dratch don improvised headgear and become a Middle Eastern woman in one now-famous sketch, I was struck by how little of the material in 'Paradigm Lost' would pass muster today. Much of it would be viewed as cultural appropriation and a manifestation of white privilege. And, indeed, there were no people of color in the cast. There’s another famous sketch in 'Paradigm Lost' featuring a woman in fear for her life. Since these performers are so brilliant, and since we now know so much we did not know then, it is difficult to watch now. I once thought it among the greatest sketches I had ever seen. Out of thousands. I am no longer so sure."
Lechery in fashion
Amid allegations of sexual harassment against famous fashion photographer, the Business of Fashion raises several questions, including one that "cuts to the quick of fashion’s main mission, namely, selling sex."
"Fashion photographers are grand architects and auteurs of our cultural gaze, famed, at least in part, for the erotic frisson of their pictures, frisson which has been counted on to turn into a desire on the part of the beholder, desire to be like their subjects in some way, to be with them, to be where they are, to be who we think they are, to dress like them, to interact with them in our own, personal fantasy lives. This alchemical reaction, from allure to point of sale, is fundamental to the very existence of the fashion industry. How to reckon with this? And how now to deal with the imagery — some of it beloved, iconic — created by alleged abusers?"
The morning Babel
Trump & Friends predictably heralded the Supreme Court upholding Trump's travel ban in an home to presidential authority. Meanwhile, both Morning Joe on MSNBC and CNN's New Day rolled its eyes over Trump personal attorney John Dowd's claim cum obvious legal strategy that the president cannot obstruct justice, a matter broached again during a Trump weekend tweet about Michael Flynn.
It will be a recurring topic for many days to come, so you didn't miss much this morning. Can a reporter be charged criminally with obstruction of justice? The question will surface day after day for a long time time, before and after breakfast. CNN Co-host Chris Cuomo even even interspersed the law with the olfactory, asking one guest whether Flynn's action "smells like obstruction of justice to you."