Archive for January 1, 2008

A Devastating Critique Of TV News

January 1, 2008


John Hockenberry gives an insider account of how American TV network news has earned its place as information source of last resort.

“You Don’t Understand Our Audience”
What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC.

A few points:

In the spring of 2005, after working in television news for 12 years, I was jettisoned from NBC News in one of the company’s downsizings. The work that I and others at Dateline NBC had done–to explore how the Internet might create new opportunities for storytelling, new audiences, and exciting new mechanisms for the creation of journalism–had come to naught. After years of timid experiments, NBC News tacitly declared that it wasn’t interested. The culmination of Dateline‘s Internet journalism strategy was the highly rated pile of programming debris called To Catch a Predator. The TCAP formula is to post offers of sex with minors on the Internet and see whether anybody responds. Dateline‘s notion of New Media was the technological equivalent of etching “For a good time call Sally” on a men’s room stall and waiting with cameras to see if anybody copied down the number.


In the years since my departure from network television, I have acquired a certain detachment about how an institution so central to American culture could shift so quickly to the margins. Going from being a correspondent at Dateline–a rich source of material for The Daily Show–to working at the MIT Media Lab, where most students have no interest in or even knowledge of traditional networks, was a shock. It has given me some hard-won wisdom about the future of journalism, but it is still a mystery to me why television news remains so dissatisfying, so superficial, and so irrelevant. Disappointed veterans like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather blame the moral failure of ratings-obsessed executives, but it’s not that simple. I can say with confidence that Murrow would be outraged not so much by the networks’ greed (Murrow was one of the first news personalities to hire a talent agent) as by the missed opportunity to use technology to help create a nation of engaged citizens bent on preserving their freedom and their connections to the broader world.

And an insightful bit about that non-genius and one of my favorite dinosaurs to whip, Jeff Zucker:

Something about Zucker’s physical presence and bluster made him seem like a toy action figure from The Simpsons or The Sopranos. I imagined that he could go back to his office and pull mysterious levers that opened the floodgates to pent-up advertisements and beam them to millions of households. Realistically, though, here was a man who had benefited from the timing of September 11 and also had the power to make it go away. In a cheap sort of way it was delirious to be in his presence.

American broadcast television was supposed to “serve the public interest.”


Quote: Blair Warren

January 1, 2008

Why Do You Hate Selling?

People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions and help them throw rocks at their enemies.

Blair Warren

And Now A Word About Our Future…

January 1, 2008


U.S. Dollar Versus Euro

January 1, 2008

Euro gains on dollar in official reserves

The euro has fast gained ground against the dollar in international official foreign exchange reserves in recent months, according to official statistics highlighting the nine-year-old currency’s growing global importance.

Reflecting its increasing strength on foreign exchange markets, the euro’s share of known foreign exchange holdings rose to 26.4 per cent in the third quarter of this year, the International Monetary Fund reported late on Friday. That was up from 25.5 per cent in the previous three months and from 24.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2006.

The dollar’s share of known official foreign reserves, calculated in dollar terms, fell to 63.8 per cent in the third quarter, down from 66.5 per cent in the same three months of 2006.

Hmmm… let’s see…

On one side is a currency from a country involved in a never-ending deficit-creating war…

On the other side is a currency backed by those with a reputation for austerity: Germany.

If everyone in America really had a choice in the money they could use, the contest would be over.

And World War II would have been fought for … what again?

1/1/08 Reading

January 1, 2008

Just Read:


Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins

Now Reading:


The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth About Global Corruption by John Perkins

This is deep shit. The CIA has a term for unintended consequences: blowback. We are going to be experiencing a lot of that. And soon.

How important are these books? See for yourself what our (allegedly) own government did in response to the first one:

Confessions — or Fantasies — of an Economic Hit Man?

That should make you wonder. And make you want to read these as soon as possible.

The ABCs Of This New Blog

January 1, 2008


There is no Blogroll this time.

Mainly because there are lots and lots of Categories.

But you aren’t seeing those yet. That’s because, since the original blog, WordPress has changed the way Categories appear. In the old blog, when I set it all up, all the Categories appeared in a neat row at the side, whether they had a post attached to them or not. Now, for a Category to appear, it must be attached to a post. Whip the eejit who thought that was a good idea. It’s not. Until I’ve used up the Categories with actual posts, things will look spartan here. Adventurous people won’t mind that. But people who just pop in here at the beginning will see nothing but “Blog Notes,” do a WTF?, and not come back. Bah!

Not all Categories have carried over from the old blog. And there are lots of new ones. But I’m not going to list them all here now. The hell with the eejits. They’ll just have to keep coming back.

Expect a slow buildup.

And, yes, I’m still a cranky cur.

Comments Are Open

January 1, 2008


Oh yes. Comments are open in the new blog. I haven’t tried it myself as a stranger, so I hope the procedure isn’t unusually onerous.

All Comments are held for moderation. And I’m not online 24/7/365 (despite the illusion!). I’m usually molesting the Internet from 11AM-8PM EST. Weekends are iffy. Expect approval delay. Until I get sick of the whole thing and either do away with them or do away with moderating them.

Place your bets on which early.