Sunday, June 25, 2006

Community note

We're noting a highlight and then attempting to answer a few questions and clarify. This is a talking entry (no tags).

We're noting Robert Parry's "Five Days Left" (Consortium News):

Some e-mailers and friends have asked why I didn’t attend some of the recent progressive conferences -- like "Take Back America" or the "Yearly Kos Convention" -- where media was on the agenda. The short answer is that I have been to progressive meetings in the past where media was discussed -- and almost nothing gets done.
As the Right has built up a vertically integrated media infrastructure that stretches from newspapers, magazines and books to talk radio, cable news and well-funded Internet sites, wealthy liberals mostly have sat on their hands. Even now, as the Right expands that infrastructure horizontally down to state, district and local levels -- with ominous portents for Election 2006 -- well-heeled liberals remain mostly passive.
And this pattern has been going on for years.
In the 1990s -- after I left Newsweek over internal battles about what I viewed as the magazine's mis-reporting of the Iran-Contra Affair -- I talked to executives of leading liberal foundations about the desperate need for building honest media in America. I often got bemused looks. One foundation bureaucrat laughed and announced, "Oh, we don't do media." Another liberal foundation actually banned media-related proposals.
It's as if American liberals and possibly some tribe in Borneo are the only groups on earth who don’t understand the transformational power of media. Even in the Middle East, generally considered backward on the development of modern media, people have gotten the media idea. Al-Jazeera satellite news network changed the frame of debate in the region by showing news from an intensely Arab perspective.
In the United States, conservatives, who are sometimes viewed as old-fashioned or behind the curve, essentially reshaped American politics by harnessing right-wing foundations to the yoke of financing media infrastructure. Pulling in tandem, too, was South Korean theocrat Sun Myung Moon, who altered the tone of Washington debate by creating a right-wing propaganda outlet called the Washington Times.
Next came conservative talk radio which reached out to millions of Americans across the country and made the word "liberal" synonymous with weakness, treason, immorality and anti-Americanism.
After Election 1994, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was made an honorary member of the Republican congressional class, which began an uninterrupted reign of GOP control of the House of Representatives, once considered a Democratic bastion.
As Republicans hailed Limbaugh as their "national precinct chairman," the chief response from Democrats was that Americans should turn off their radios.

We're noting that here for several reasons. First, Parry's fallen by the way side at this site. That's not an insult to him but in the morning, I don't have time to go through and change every *'* and *"* (this site has a different font than Consortium News). Zach usually notes Parry, he's not the only one, and he's tried to catch them when he's copied and pasted a highlight in an e-mail. Try to do it yourself, not to send to me just so you can see the time required and how closely you have to check. In the past, on busy mornings, I would catch a highlight someone noted in the DN! entry -- now we're doing the Iraq snapshot and that takes enough time (some mornings 90 minutes, some mornings 2 hours -- a lot more is read than ever gets noted and I try to read a number of things before writing the first sentence).

Three members and one visitor sent the above highlight in this weekend. Parry lists some names who he feels could help but don't and, yes, I do know some of the people listed. But I hadn't seen this report. I wasn't offended and banning Parry over it. (One member and the visitor's fear.) He's trying to raise money (the six days is over and if you have it to give and would like to show your support, you can still donate). If it had been highlighted last week, I would've attempted to work it in.

Do I agree with it? I agree he's not getting the money he needs. Neither is Danny Schechter.
Danny's probably more likely to receive funding of the two because Danny's known for focusing on international issues (not just South Africa, but he certainly added to his reputation -- deserved reputation -- with his interest in and committment to covering South Africa), human rights and social justice.

But what some may not be getting (besides money) when they're pursuing it from the entertainment sector is the 'market' they're attempting to appeal to. The problem, if there is one, may come from people in news and they're expecting individuals in entertainment to provide funds.

That's an uphill battle for a number of reasons. People in the entertainment industry (as a group) are usually quite aware of how the news gets it wrong. They see it when someone's calling something a "bomb" or "hit" and they don't know the first thing about rolling break even or anything else. On a petty note, they see it in the coverage of themselves. It may be something minor like a quote being wrong or it may be something major like a studio or network attempting to trash you and the press running along with it even though there's no truth in it and it's just someone in 'power' attempting to curb a person.

The 'news' is largely disposable. PR campaigns can combat it (with myth often, let's be real). So when you're speaking to someone and attempting to get funds, if you're speaking to someone in entertainment, you're going up against a number of barriers that you'd be smart to know about.
In terms of Parry and Danny, I'm comparing them for a reason (and I don't know Parry, I do know Danny), Parry is seen by some as a partisan. That's not a bad thing. But that's another perception he needs to be aware of.

Joe Lieberman is not the only Democrat to attack the entertainment industry but his attacks are widely known. So there's going to be a level of leerieness right off the bat. A sense of, "If I did give money, is this organization going to be used to build up a candidate that's out to destroy my way of life."

Parry's not a Democratic cheerleader, but if he's pitching, he needs to make that clear because Warren Beatty's remarks prior to election 2000 are more typical than the news media would have anyone think. (Shocking! Isn't it?)

You've got a party that's moved away from the people. There's no interest in funding Democratic cheerleaders who'll get behind whatever White Male (or possibly Hillary) that's going to turn around and further destroy the lives of average Americans. (With more "reform" that strips people in need of resources.)

If you're talking about an individual, you'd also do well to grasp a few facts. What's printed in the paper (re: money) isn't usually true. When it is true, that's usually the pie before it gets sliced up. I'll turn to music because music coverage of newly emerging artists is always good for a laugh. A million selling (or multi-million) disc by an emerging artist isn't going to make them millionaires. A consumer may pay 16 dollars-plus for an album, the artist isn't getting that. The emergening artist isn't even getting a dollar off that. Rolling Stone (not to slam it) is always good for several laughs when it tosses a performer on the cover who has come out of nowhere and portrays him or her (but we're talking Rolling Stone, so it's usually a him) as 'rolling in it.'

If you can get publishing royalties or songwriting royalities (ideally both), you're going to do much better than some singer recording the work of others. (That's largely because the publishing business existed before the recording industry.)

Translation, don't believe the reports on finances.

There was a pitch I saw last month that was successful. (It wasn't for a news service.) People who are pitching need to explain what they have done, how they've had an impact, and where they are going. If your pitch is that the news is bad, you may get a head nod, but don't expect money. I don't know Parry's pitch but reading the different sections included in the e-mails, he's establishing his credentials and that's good but I'm not seeing what Consortium News has accomplished and what it intends to accomplish. (I'm not suggesting that it hasn't accomplished anything. I'm speaking of what members are highlighting.)

The news is bad. You're not going to shock anyone in the entertainment industry with that announcement. Don't make it your pitch. You've just said what's in the average morning phone call where everyone grumbles about the coverage. If that's your hook, you're singing an old song and you're not going to get any funds.

You need a strong pitch because you're dealing with people that are not blind to the realities of the news. The money that is available (and most giving are giving to several things so don't expect a Daddy Warbucks to come along -- I just got that "Daddy Warbucks" may be a joke/slam at how the character made his money) is usually earmarked already. If you're cutting in line and trying to claim that money, you need to have something to offer. That's not "You can read . . ."

That's not going to work. You want me to give you money and you're pitch is that if I go down your work for you (read whatever), I'll want to give you money? That's not going to drive up interest. Your pitch should say why you deserve the money, additional readings should be additional -- not a prerequisite to deciding whether or not a donation will be made.

For anyone seeking money, they need to get it right real quick. (I haven't heard Parry's pitch, he may have it right.) Come 2008, most people will be giving to elections. If you haven't established some donors before 2008, it's unlikely that you'll find them in 2008 due to the monies that will be poured into elections.

You need to be prepared. If someone's asking you about the murders in Juarez, saying, "Oh, well we don't cover that. Next question" doesn't cut it.

That's not to say that Parry should cover it. That is to say you're response has just insulted a number of people.

If Parry is pitching the attacks on Bill Clinton (real attacks, they happened), a point he could make is that with the current state of journalism in the mainstream, the left's going to have to continue to expand resources defending Dem-lites instead of putting forward an agenda. Don't mistake Bill Clinton for the left, don't think that people who defended him (and he deserved defending from the attacks) are in his corner. (The online, latter day Dylan appears to make that mistake and it's obvious whenever he's trashing Nora Eprhon or whomever.)

Welfare "reform" is not forgotten, the 1996 Telecommunications Act is not forgotten, the nonsense of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not forgotten.

You don't have to open with (or even tell) a joke about Bill Clinton, but don't mistake "We'll provide a defense the next time it happens" as something that's going to have people opening their wallets.

Parry's a journalist who does strong work. If you want to contribute to his work (and have the money to) you can click on this link. Some of you who are reading this will think, "I'm already giving to ___." And that's true. If someone has the money to give, they're usually already giving. That's if it's ten bucks or ten thousand. There are many worthy outlets and many worthy causes. If someone wants to jump to the front of the line, they need to offer a reason that grabs you. (I believe at least one, possibly two, of Parry's sons works for Consortium News. In pitches, he should stress that aspect. It gives it a family sense but it also demonstrates that there's more than one person in place -- e.g. if Robert Parry should retire or have an accident, the ideas behind the organization are presumably supported by others already in place and it gives it the impression of being a long range project as opposed to something that might sputter out at any minute -- I'm not saying Consortium News will sputter out. I'm talking about the perspectives.)

I'm not doing appeals here for anyone. That's partly because someone always e-mails (usually several) to complain that their organization is just as worthy (which I'm sure it is) and that it's not being plugged. Another reason is that some people don't have anything to give and others don't have anymore to give because they're already supporting other orgs or causes. I assume everyone gets the generic snail mails requesting money. That's over thirty letters a day when the mail runs. I throw them in the trash, so anyone who wants to ignore this entry can.

I'm not pushing Parry. I'm not pushing Danny. It's your money and you should decide what matters to you (if you have anything to give) but there was a feeling in the four e-mails that Parry was being ignored (and some suspecting it was due to the names he listed in the June 16th article we quoted above). The only reason he's not being noted is due to the fact that it's a pain in the ass to go through and change *'* and *"* so they don't show up here as squares and there's not time most morning's to do that.

The other issue, a similar one, is was there a punishment of Matthew Rothschild (whom we noted this morning)? No. But the week before last, no highlights from The Progressive were bieng included. Rothschild interviewed someone I find disgusting. As long as I'm putting my time into this community, it's not time that will ever be spent to promote that person. If there's an attack on Gloria Steinem, I tend to get offended. I do realize that in any movement there will be differences of opinion. There will be strong words. There will even be attacks. So if someone's attacking Gloria, I will try to see where they're coming from. This person (that he interviewed) attacks every feminist. She attacks Gloria, she attacks Naomi Wolf, she attacks Katha Pollitt, go down the list. She attacks the entire movement. She's anti-woman and thinks she can hide that by promoting herself as a feminist. I have no use for her. I avoided Salon for years because they published her. If Democracy Now! featured her in a debate, we'd note it the way we note everything at DN!, but if they did a one-on-one interview with her, you'd never see that link and summary of the segment here. That's how much I dislike that woman.

The interview was on the main page of The Progressive. As is the latest broadcast of their radio program every week. That's their right and it's their right to interview whomever they want. They've interviewed George Packer, for instance. I have no use for George Packer but no problem highlighting items at the website during the week the interview was prominently displayed. The woman made her name attacking women and feminism. She was marketed as some sort of 'thinking feminist' (which shows you both how little the mainstream media grasps feminism and thought).

She was a joke that the mainstream tried to make respectable when she first emerged on the national scene. She's still a joke. We will not promote her. We will not promote her appearances. We will not even mention her name.

The Progressive wasn't "banned." We did avoid it for the week when that interview was the latest interview on their radio show (and, therefore -- and rightly -- they displayed it prominently on their web page). Elaine noted, last week and again this past Friday, my comments and I think that at least one of the four e-mailing on Parry are confusing The Progressive with Consortium News. There was a week where, under no circumstances, would we have linked to anything at The Progressive. (It's why we didn't note Howard Zinn in '"We Were All Wrong!" Not so fast Pt. II' at The Third Estate Sunday Review -- someone we'd planned to note in our next set of ten but we were all agreed we weren't giving traffic to that site while the interview with her was featured prominently.)

They have the right to interview whomever they want and should do so but we don't link to everything. And we'll never note that woman who self-promoted (shamelessly) by attacking the very movement that allowed her the brief fame (such as it was) that she experienced.

Consider this a community note. I'm not tagging it. It has been addressed. In doing so, I missed most of Laura Flanders tonight. Stealing from The Third Estate Sunday Review:

Laura Flanders will be filling in this week (from Monday, June 26th to Friday, June 30th) for Mike Malloy on his The Mike Malloy Show. which airs live on Air America Radio from ten p.m. to one a.m. EST.

Flanders announced some guests that will be on this week (subject to change -- true of anything we note ahead of time, but I know if there's a change and someone's made a point to stay up, I will hear about it in an e-mail, so this is announced and it could change):

Monday --Bob Fitrakis on Monday, Mimi Kennedy (PDA, and of course wonderful actress)
Tues -- Fred Clarkson
Wednesday -- Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch)
Thursday -- Dave Zirin
New Orleans will be the topic for Friday (a male guest whose name I'm not familiar with, sorry)

Saturday and Sunday will be best of's for RadioNation with Laura Flanders. The following weekend will be new episodes. We won't be noting the best of nest week at Third. I'll note that now. That doesn't mean it's not worth listening to (among the guests are Truthdig's Robert Scheer). We'll be listening to music. We love Flanders' show. But when it's a best of (or a guest host), it gives us a break and we're all huge fans of music so we'll be using the break for that.
The best of's are worthy of listening to. Speaking only for me, my life has enough structure and I'll grab any break I can. "And the war drags on . . ." entry's about to be started, don't expect much. (Lynda had questions that I attempted to answer in the comments on pitch and fundraising. If I missed one, let me know.) (Also Danny's joke was that Dan Rather reported one thing originally and it's what the film of the assassination of JFK confirms. The 25th anniversary of Oliver Stone's JFK contains a bonus disc and Danny's Beyond JFK documentary is on that. Rent it or buy it if you're still scratching your head over what the joke was.)

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