CSotD: Journalism 101 (optional course)


Kevin Necessary (AMS) offers a sarcastic salute to ignorance.

I like it, though I wish we weren’t at a stage where ignorance matters quite so much and spreads quite so readily.

The trigger for this cartoon is apparently the pushback over LeBron James’ quick Tweet following the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, which he subsequently deleted and apologized for, not because police shouldn’t be accountable but because his phrasing was widely misinterpreted.

He is right to ask for accountability. Lack thereof is a major, major issue in how police are seen in minority communities, and we all have a right, even an obligation, to discuss how this particular incident fits into that particular problem.

Necessary is also right to poke fun at the “Shut up and dribble” crowd, and to extend their foolish logic to other people in other professions.

And he’s particularly right to bring the charge home and to note the absurdity of people who comment for a living but have a slapdash, amateurish attitude towards their responsibilities.

Then again, wotthehell. We live in a world where, in discussing an illness, people take the word of a real estate developer over that of an epidemiologist.

If LeBron James said a basketball is round and full of air, but Donald Trump said it was a cube stuffed with feathers, we’d report both opinions and take polls to see who was right.

It’s only fair, after all, to present both sides and let the people decide.

Which brings us to our first

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Chip Bok – Creators)


(Steve Kelley – Creators)

If LeBron talks about basketballs, we should accept his expertise. As someone who has collected unemployment twice, I feel I can speak to this issue.

To be fair, Bok says “xtra” benefits, which assumes the person — who had a job and lost it due to the pandemic — is also tapping into state resources.

I’ll also concede that when I was unemployed in Colorado some 45 years ago, I had to document my search for work on a weekly basis, while, when I was out of work here in NH ten years ago, they took my word for it.

I don’t know if that’s a difference between years or a difference between states.

I do know, however, that neither set of benefits covered my cost of living, and that, both times, they ran out before I found another job, and that the rationale behind Covid relief is that state unemployment runs out too soon.

Once your state benefits run out, you’re screwed anyway. Nobody can live on $300 a week, whether you get it from the gummint or by flipping burgers in some cheap-ass burger joint, where $11 an hour times 29 hours is diminished by withholding.

And where you stay under 30 hours because they don’t want to offer benefits. A topic for another day, but a factor in that pay comparison.

Kelley, meanwhile, is just being mean-spirited and sarcastic. To suggest that $300 a week is some lordly sum seems proof of never having lived at the bottom of society’s ladder, or, perhaps, of having removed the rearview mirror in your Cadillac.

As a journalist, I wrote about a lot of things I hadn’t experienced personally, but before I wrote anything about them, I did research, and I talked to people who knew — who lived — the topic.

Political cartoonists are also journalists. Or should be.


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Lisa Benson – WPWG)


(Matt Davies – AMS)

Everybody’s on Facebook, so everybody knows how Facebook works.

Just as everybody has driven a car and so everybody knows how to swap out a transmission.

This is a real juxtaposition, because Benson is suggesting a statement of fact, while Davies frames it as a partisan accusation.

And, as the untraceable phrase goes, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Benson is repeating a widely held but incorrect opinion from the right side of the aisle. It simply isn’t the case and it wouldn’t take a lot of poking around to figure that out.

Davies is correct in that Facebook is a private entity and therefore can play the “My house, my rules” game.

But, while he’s right, holy quacamole is it more complex and frightening than that.


And let’s add Signe Wilkinson (AMS) to the conversation, because she’s also right in suggesting that “Facebook Court” is more influential, if not actually more powerful, than our legal system.

As noted here yesterday, Facebook’s Oversight Board found that, while the suspension of Trump’s account seemed appropriate, the company’s utter lack of transparency, consistency and established standards made their actions unfair.

As also noted then, any number of other people, including many liberals, have complained of being thrown into “Facebook prison” for capricious, inexplicable reasons.

But O my friends and O my foes, it goes so much deeper than that!

Start with the fact that Facebook set up a review board but gave it little actual authority. It’s more a Board of Tut-Tut, and, in its review of the Trump suspension, reports that Facebook wasn’t entirely transparent or cooperative.

“Mind your own business” doesn’t seem like an appropriate response to an actual Review Board.


As for the accusation that Facebook discriminates against conservatives, here’s a look at what Facebook achieves in its neverending search for engagement.

It’s not just what people click on: It’s what is served to them in the first place.

As the accompanying article explains, Facebook’s algorithms push content likely to gain eyeballs, regardless of its factual basis.

That article, and this lengthier, more detailed piece, are readable for non-geeks who want to know WTF is going on, not just in terms of January 6 here but also in terms of the Facebook-assisted genocide in Myanmar.

But they also contain enough technical stuff to horrify those who understand AI and building algorithms.

The most frightening part for geeks and non-geeks alike comes in that second piece, an insider’s report on how Zuckerberg canceled attempts to tweak those algorithms in the name of fairness and social responsibility, because they would interfere with his goal of unbridled growth.

Read them both, especially if you intend to comment on the topic.


One thought on “CSotD: Journalism 101 (optional course)

  1. That WaPo and the NYT are behind paywalls must factor into the effect of Facebook algorithms, assuming that there are no paywalls at Daily Wire, Western Journal and Rumble. (Or Breitbart or theblaze.) People who don’t scale the paywall aren’t going to share or re-share that more reputable, researched reporting.

    I suppose that leads to the question of where TPM, dailykos, and the like would show up on popular.info’s chart.

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