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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Maintained by the staff of the PeoplesNetWorks collective and The NewStandard.

July 6, 2005

Back to Blogging, Back to Iraq, July NewsLetter

It's been a full month since we've made use of our handy weblog software. We can partly blame the Upstate New York heat, since for the past month the average temperature has been in the high 80s F, with our typical wet-sponge humidity. Makes it difficult to do anything after working a full day on editing, secretarial tasks, emailing with readers and toiling away at the code that runs our site.

But we have been blessed with a reprieve from the heat, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to update everyone on what's happening, including an update on our impending coverage from Iraq.

» Continue reading "Back to Blogging, Back to Iraq, July NewsLetter"

June 6, 2005

TNS Teaching This Week

This week and next The NewStandard will be on a reduced publishing schedule starting tomorrow (Tuesday) because fellow TNS co-founder Brian Dominick and I are going to Woods Hole, Massachusetts to teach at the Z Media Institute (evidently we are listed as "and more"). We are excited to share our experiences starting an independent news publication as well as pass on some of the nuts and bolts of news writing and editing.

» Continue reading "TNS Teaching This Week"

May 25, 2005

TNS on the Daily Show?

The readers of our de facto partner site ZNet last week voted that their "Action of the Week" would be to try to get Brian Dominick, former ZNet staffer/volunteer and current NewStandard editor, onto Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The idea is to fill out this form on the Comedy Central site, and suggest that Brian Dominick be brought on as a guest. Obviously the more diverse and original the arguments in favor, the better. Since probably at least several dozen of ZNet's hundreds of thousands of readers have already participated, a few more dozen could only help, right?

If you haven't seen The Daily Show, it's a very funny, highly cynical, left-of-center, satirical "fake news" program that both pokes fun and earnestly criticizes mainstream media, politicians and corporations (as well as bizarre individuals nationwide). The host, Jon Stewart, has publicly criticized corporate media very much along the lines that we at TNS have, and we believe that TNS is a perfect example of the kind of journalism Stewart advocates. So write in and tell Stewart and his fellow producers it's time to show an example of news media that works.

You can read various comments and strategic tips discussed by ZNet users (though this is the main link for the ZNet action).

May 24, 2005

NPR: Pledging Allegiance

If there is anything more wretchedly unethical than "embedded" reporting, it would have to be covering up the possible crimes of those with whom one is embedded by reporting them as if they were committed by "the enemy."

The subject of a lead story on today's All Things Considered was the notorious 8-mile stretch of road leading from Iraq's capital to the main airport. This is the same road, as correspondent Peter Kenyon pointed out, on which US troops opened fire on Italians Giuliana Sgrena and Nicola Calipari in March. As you may recall, during that incident, both survivors indicated a flash of light, either presently or concurrently accompanied by a hail of gunfire.

» Continue reading "NPR: Pledging Allegiance"

May 15, 2005

Post-Conference Report

Jessica and I had a terrific time at the National Conference for Media Reform this weekend. We spent almost the entire time glued to The NewStandard table in the well-hidden back row of the well-hidden "Showcase" room. Traffic was sparse, but that gave us the opportunity to have longer conversations with the scores of people who came by to check out what we were showing off.

One thing that we realized after we packed up on Saturday evening is nearly every single person who recognized The NewStandard -- which we projected onto a movie screen behind our exhibit -- said they read it regularly and liked if not loved it. Now, no more than about one out of every eight people who stopped by said they had seen TNS. But that only means that even among progressives broadly interested in media issues, we have lots of room to grow our audience -- and among those who are exposed to our work, the rate of approval is extremely high.

» Continue reading "Post-Conference Report"

May 13, 2005

Nat'l Conference on Media Reform

We probably should have mentioned this by now, TNS is hosting a table at the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis this weekend. We would absolutely LOVE to meet any TNS readers and PeoplesNetWorks members in attendance. Please do make a point of stopping by and introducing yourself if when you get a free moment.

Speaking of which, I'm going to continue my little crusade against Google News' nefarious plans to squeeze independent news organizations out of its search results, as I ranted previously. A British site that covers issues concerning online journalists called dotJournalism did a story on it that plays a nice counterbalance to the E-Commerce News version that I thought underrepresented the arguments I've been making. It's funny to see how differently the same story can be covered by industry press -- one aimed at commercial types and the other at journalists. It occurs to me that the folks attending the NCMR conference might be very interested in Google's plans to highlight the biggest media producers at the expense of us little folks.

May 12, 2005

‘Foreign Fighters’ On a ‘Rampage’; U.S. Media On a Roll

An AP dispatch this morning bears the headline "Iraqi Insurgents Go on Rampage, Kill 60." The article describes a string of suicide bombings that were unleashed Wednesday as US forces were in the midst of a major offensive against insurgents in western Iraq, near the Syrian border.

My issue here isn't whether or not the insurgents went on a rampage. It appears that they did. Rather, the bigger question is whether the AP, or any other US mainstream media outlet, applies the same standards when describing violent, offensive actions on the part of warring factions?

» Continue reading "‘Foreign Fighters’ On a ‘Rampage’; U.S. Media On a Roll"

May 10, 2005

NPR: Testing the Limits of Corporate Advocacy Journalism

If you listen to National Public Radio all day like I sometimes do, you hear a lot of terrible journalism. I always wonder why anyone would donate money to an organization that takes money from Wal-Mart (and limits coverage of the retailer's crimes to a few token stories), co-produces radio programming with Microsoft, and embeds reporters with the US military.

Today on All Things Considered I caught one of he worst reports I have ever heard or read in the mainstream media. Sure, by "one of" I mean one of thousands just as bad, but this one just screamed "case study" -- so I'll oblige.

ATC host Melissa Block introduced the piece:

It's been a tough year for the pharmaceutical industry.

» Continue reading "NPR: Testing the Limits of Corporate Advocacy Journalism"

May 1, 2005

Google News Looks to Favor Corporate Media

I just read a terribly demoralizing (and sickeningly slanted) article in the latest issue of New Scientist, reporting that the folks at Google intend to modify the ranking system used by their remarkable news search engine. This is absolutely horrendous news for alternative media sites like The NewStandard.

Google's plans involve establishing a supposedly "qualitative" gauge of a news outlet's "credibility" by measuring features such as the size of the organization's staff and how long the publication has been in existence.

» Continue reading "Google News Looks to Favor Corporate Media"

April 29, 2005

When is an ‘Attack’ an ‘Ambush’?

In editing Chris Shumway's compelling piece, I struggled with what term to use in the lead (and throughout the story) to describe the fateful incident around which so much controversy has revolved. Chris originally used the term "shooting incident." That's certainly accurate, but a bit passive. I am very inclined to refer to it as an "ambush."

We run into questions like this all the time, and I thought it would be interesting to ask our readers what they think from time to time, starting with this dilemma.

» Continue reading "When is an ‘Attack’ an ‘Ambush’?"

April 26, 2005

Christian Terrorists, Abortion and Manifestos

This entry has been eating at me for a couple of weeks now, ever since news of Eric Rudolph's guilty pleas in a string of terrorist attacks across the South in the mid 1990s was major news for about half a day here in the US. A bunch of things have always troubled me about the media coverage of Rudolph's story. I'll address them one at a time.

» Continue reading "Christian Terrorists, Abortion and Manifestos"

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Last January, I wrote a scathing blog entry attacking the mainstream media coverage of an issue that I believe perfectly illustrates the callousness with which corporate news outlets cover environment and health issues. We had published an in-depth piece by Jeff Shaw about the rocket fuel ingredient perchlorate, looking at the influence private industry and the Pentagon had on a National Academy of Sciences report about "safe" levels of the chemical in drinking water, and also addressing the massive misrepresentation of the NAS's findings by the government and, in turn, the corporate media.

» Continue reading "Returning to the Scene of the Crime"

April 22, 2005

By Way of Comparison

This lead from a recent Associated Press story jolted me out of my blogging hiatus. I just had to share it with you all (I’m tacking on the second sentence just because it’s also a gem):

Iraqi lawmakers adjourned in protest Tuesday and demanded an apology after a Shiite legislator linked to a radical anti-American cleric tearfully said he was handcuffed and humiliated at a U.S. checkpoint. Two American soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack.

So we hear that the legislator (Fattah al-Sheik) is “linked to a radical anti-American cleric� (Muqtada Al-Sadr) before we find out what the US military did to him. Then, just to make sure we don’t sympathize with him too much, they actually jam an incredibly awkward sentence into the same paragraph, enveloping this man’s humiliation in a sandwich of absurdity, reminding people that car bombs are a justification for aggressive searches of Iraqis.

» Continue reading "By Way of Comparison"

April 20, 2005

Semantic Games

Today, I received a private email from a mental health advocate whom I had met at the Kendra’s Law State Assembly hearing a few weeks ago. She pointed out to me that my article did not sufficiently highlight how Kendra’s Law is a “dumping ground program� and “a symptom of the hypocrisy� of a “broken� mental health system, and she criticized my quoting from the “same old players� in the mental health community.

I imagine I was equally likely to receive a letter from a Kendra’s Law proponent lambasting me for not sufficiently highlighting the statute as model legislation, which finally addresses widespread unmet needs, and for giving undue attention to clients who don’t understand their situation and to advocates who have yet to present a better solution.

» Continue reading "Semantic Games"

April 18, 2005

Among the Minutemen

In October of 2004, when I first heard about a citizen border patrol initiative called the Minuteman Project, it had received absolutely no media coverage. I only stumbled upon the group while doing research for a book I am working on about Mexican immigrants. I was immediately intrigued by the group, and decided I wanted to investigate them.

I knew right away that I wanted to spend an extended period of time with the group and the story. I didn’t want to fly in one night, gather a few quotes, spend a day on the border, and then call it a day. For one thing, I was curious about the people that had decided to volunteer, and I didn’t think that I’d gain their trust so quickly. In addition, I wanted to try and figure out how Mexicans living across the border viewed the project - and how prospective crossers were feeling and what had motivated them to try and cross illegally in the first place. At the time, of course, I didn’t know exactly how I would find such people, but that was my intention.

» Continue reading "Among the Minutemen"

April 7, 2005

Going Once, Going Twice...

It looks like the auction for our box o' goodies is winding down. The bidding is up to $275, which is not too shabby for a cube of cardboard stuffed with 1500 hard news articles, dozens of blog entries by journalists and editors, and a paper copy of every page on our entire website (clickable links sold separately). But you don't know what you're missing if you don't wave your $300 paddle frantically: all the secret answers to the bizarre questions the IRS asked us about our suspicious truth-telling intentions!

So if you want to push "drxyzzy" (that's a real member, even if it looks like someone just mashed the keyboard), here's your last chance. Unless the action picks up, we'll end the bidding this weekend, with many thanks to all those who placed bids so far.

March 30, 2005

Boy Do We Have A Strange Fundraiser Going On...

Pick up a piece of NewStandard history!

What started as a sort of off-handed joke by a TNS editor responding to a reader's comment on a previous blog post became a strangely appealing proposal to auction off the contents of our recent response to the IRS concerning our request for tax-exempt status. So we're now using the 1400-page product of our brutal (but successful) application process as a fundraiser.

You're bidding on a massive printout of every single TNS article and staff weblog entry through February 2004 -- well over 1500 items of content spanning 1000+ pages of relatively small print, plus miscellaneous goodies and the actual 8-page letter explaining why we are anything but a front for the Democratic Party. The whole package is pictured below. Postage is included in your bid. The winning bidder receives our everlasting gratitude and the only known complete paper edition of The NewStandard.

The bidding is up to $175. Nothing fancy -- just post your bid in the comments section. Bidding ends when people stop bidding.

» Continue reading "Boy Do We Have A Strange Fundraiser Going On..."

March 24, 2005

Why All the Talk About Social Security?

In case anyone is wondering why Social Security reform is the hot issue of the season instead of what might be a looming Medicare budget crisis, so are we. I’m going to start asking around to in order to put an article together. Look for something on that in the coming week.

March 23, 2005

Shout Out to a Smart Activist

Life is still really hectic around here, but we're hoping that very soon a lot of changes will be fully in place and our operation will be smoother than ever.

We've been working a lot on the "back end" software that runs the website, trying to streamline and simplify our "logistical overhead" so we can spend more time working on content (or maybe just a little less time working, which wouldn't be a crime, as we're constantly reminded by friends and neighbors).

The first issue of our periodic newsletters is just about complete and is scheduled for e-delivery to all our premium members over the weekend. We plan to send it out to Premium Members only. It will contain a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff about our day-to-day operations and try to give our supporters a better idea of what we do with their generous donations.

Along those same lines, we have an annual report in the works, and now that we've begun to streamline some of our accounting, we're going to begin making our budget completely transparent so people can compare us to what they suspect other mainstream and alternative media outlets are making and spending, and so they can know exactly how far we stretch a buck.

But pesonally, my main reason for writing is to publicly thank Craig Berlingo of Craig just did me a solid favor by writing some fairly complex code that I just could not do myself and making a part of the site that you (and he) will never see but which is nonetheless crucial to us work like a charm.

SmartActivist is our absolute favorite progressive link aggregator since the sad demise of News Insider, and it is totally underrated, presumably because Craig just serves links straight up and doesn't make childish comments or use the site as his personal soap-box. Integrity and quality are all too often the understated hallmarks of underappreciated media work.

March 14, 2005

Exciting News; Growing Pains

We have lots of really great organizational news to report:

First, we have hired a third full-time staff member, Madeleine Baran, who many of you are already familiar with as The NewStandard’s most prolific writer. Madeleine is going to continue writing articles, but she is also assuming responsibility for editing the "Work and Money" section, formerly known as the "Business and Economy" section. We are very excited to have her working so closely with us.

» Continue reading "Exciting News; Growing Pains"

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.