L.A Times: Perhaps O’Reilly Is Wrong

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Media, Politics

Flap previously reported the assinine comments of Bill O’Reilly here.

Now, the Los Angeles Times (free registration required) opines here:

In a May 17 radio broadcast, telephilosopher Bill O’Reilly fantasized unpleasantly that terrorists might “grab” the Los Angeles Times editorial and opinion editor “out of his little house and … cut his head off.” O’Reilly went on, “And maybe when the blade sinks in, he’ll go, ‘Perhaps O’Reilly was right.’ ”

What popped O’Reilly’s cork was an editorial one week ago on the Newsweek controversy. The magazine reported, apparently without good evidence, that American guards at the Guantanamo prison for terrorism “detainees” had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet. This reportedly led to riots in Pakistan and Afghanistan in which 14 people were killed.

Contrary to the impression you might get by following the story in the U.S. media, the riots were not about the journalists’ use of anonymous sources. They were about perceived American contempt for the faith, the culture and ultimately the lives of Muslim Arabs and other dark-skinned people in distant lands.

It is legitimately maddening to Americans that people whom we have liberated from tyranny or the nearby threat of it, at a vast cost in American lives and dollars, should be so spectacularly ungrateful, and should misunderstand us so completely. Why don’t they love us? It doesn’t seem worthy of decapitation to suggest that ghastly stories (not all fabricated by Newsweek) about abuse of prisoners don’t help. Or that American preaching about liberal democratic values might be enhanced by practicing them. For instance, by letting the Gitmo detainees (some totally innocent) have lawyers.

But to O’Reilly, “That’s like saying, ‘Well, if we’re nicer to the people who want to KILL US, then the other people who want to KILL US will like us more.’ ”

Where did The Times’ editorial page get the idea that winning the war on terrorism depends on persuading societies that breed terrorists that they should like us and adopt our values? Actually, this is not some wooly left-wing notion concocted over a joint during a lesbian wedding reception in Santa Monica. It is the cornerstone of the George Bush presidency, according to Bush himself.

In his State of the Union address in January, for instance, Bush said, “In the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder. If whole regions of the world remain in despair and grow in hatred, they will be the recruiting grounds for terror, and that terror will stalk America….”

O’Reilly should be careful. Any further decapitation fantasies could get him in serious trouble with the Secret Service.

Touché, Michael!

Ventura County Star: Comments Sections Restored

Posted Posted in Blogosphere, Media

The Ventura County Star discontinued interactive comments last week after being bombarded by vicious online postings concerning race and immigration. Read the story in the Los Angeles Times (free registration required) here:

Thousands of Ventura County Star readers have posted messages since January, when the newspaper launched the feature as a way to connect with the community and let residents have a say, said John Moore, assistant managing editor for new media and technology.

Comments were posted live and largely un-moderated. But too often, Moore said, topic threads spun out of control, with readers peppering posts with profanity and engaging in personal attacks. Even the most routine story would degenerate into a string of invectives, often centering on ethnicity and immigration status.

The newspaper disabled the online comments section Wednesday, but Moore said he hoped to resurrect the feature, with tighter controls, perhaps as early as next week.

“All of us were sad we had to shut it down at all,” said Moore, noting an escalation in the online nastiness in recent weeks. “We didn’t have the staff to spend 24 hours a day watching this.

Now, the Star has restored the comments section albeit in a more moderated form. Read about this here:

Comments have been restored to the Ventura County Star website. But this time they’re coming with some stronger rules and guards to stem the tide of abuse that brought down the Comments last week.
And they’re coming with the hope that users will continue to step up and strike down the trolls and other offenders.

Here’s what we did:

All comments are routed through our online registration system. A script attaches the registered name to the comment. It also allows us to identify the email address that was used in registration. (And thanks to our friends at our sister newspaper Naples Daily News for doing this for us.)

That allows us to contact via email anyone who files objectionable comments. If they persist, we can block their registration in addition to blocking their IP address.

If we send them a warning and find their email is phony, then we ban them for violating the Terms of Service.

It also creates a self-regulating factor for many of us. By forcing people to use registered names (which should be their real names), we invoke the “Mama’s listening” rule: Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your mother to hear.

We’ve also attached a basic profanity filter which will allow comments to be posted, but replaces the growing list of profanity with asterisks.

And we are encouraging, imploring and, yes, empowering readers to police themselves. We’re asking them to contact us immediately if they find objectionable posts. And we are still investigating the model of volunteer moderators (maybe not as extensive as Slashdot).

We recognize that the persistent ones can find a way around the wall. At least now they’ll have to work at it a little harder. We’ve committed to devoting some initial staff time in the coming weeks to monitor the comments. We’ll work hard at keeping them away. Our hope is that we’ll spend less time doing that and more time working to grow and enhance the site.

The goal remains the same: Create a home for civil discourse stemming from today’s news. We don’t want to control the discussion; we want to make it open and free flowing and comfortable for everyone to participate.

Will this work? We don’t know. But it’s worth us trying.

We do know that today one of the early returnees wrote:
“I am so pleased that the editors of the STAR have finally cracked down on the use of this web site for productive comments. …
Hallelujah! ”

That was followed a short while later by this response from a different poster:
“Your comment had nothing to do with the article. If you are happy with the new format then you should send an email direct to the Star. In doing so, you’ll avoid stirring up the pot, which it would seem was the intention of your post.”

Go forth and comment.

I am glad the comments section is back up although Flap has had some trouble today with the trackback section of some stories.

This is worthwhile endeavor even if some readers insist on being rude.

Bill O’Reilly to Michael Kinsley: Off with His Head

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Media, Politics

Bill O’Reilly, syndicated radio show host, columnist and Fox News commentator has a problem with Los Angeles Times (free registration required) editorial editor, Michael Kinsley’s editorial:

Selective Outrage
According to chaos theory, the flapping of a single butterfly’s wings can trigger a hurricane halfway across the globe, a phenomenon known as the “butterfly effect.” Now the Bush administration thinks it has detected something that might be called the “Newsweek effect.” It says the magazine’s publication of an item in its May 9 issue, alleging that U.S. guards flushed the Koran down a toilet in order to humiliate prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, was a cause of riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan last week that left at least 14 people dead.

We’ll leave it to the scientists and philosophers to debate the finer points of chaos theory. What we can say here is that the “Newsweek effect” is exaggerated.

This is not to say that Newsweek’s article was correct; after apologizing for it on Sunday, the magazine retracted it on Monday. And the use of anonymous sources, on which the Newsweek article relied, raises questions of motivation and credibility that news organizations (including this one) ignore at their peril. But the story hardly tarnishes all news coverage of the war, as the administration, and much of the conservative media, would have you believe.

The more interesting question may not be how Newsweek goofed, but why the Muslim world is so ready to believe the story. For all the administration’s huffing and puffing about Newsweek getting the story wrong, it has produced such a catalog of misdeeds at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo that almost any allegation is instantly credited abroad. The administration itself has said that 11 soldiers have been disciplined for abusing prisoners at Gitmo.

The United States has already been convicted in the court of world opinion for its treatment of its prisoners, and that’s the administration’s fault, not Newsweek’s. Shutting down Guantanamo and giving suspected terrorists legal protections would help restore our reputation abroad. Crowing over Newsweek’s mishap won’t.

Now, O’Reilly says off with Kinsley’s head! Really!

Read that here:

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said that Los Angeles Times editorial board wouldn’t understand his objection to legal representation for detainees at Guantànamo Bay, Cuba, until terrorists “grab [editorial page editor] Michael Kinsley out of his little house and they cut off his head.” He further opined: “And maybe when the blade sinks in, he’ll go, ‘Perhaps O’Reilly was right.'”

Flap never agrees with Michael Kinsley and rarely watches the Factor.

O’Reilly to me just has no credibility – especially after his Vibrator Affair with a staff member.

Can anyone really take this guy seriously and…… why is he still on the air?

New York Times: No Further Charges for Web Access

Posted Posted in Media

Flap reported on the New York Times charging subscribers for complete access to their on-line content yesterday. The post is here.

Now the NYT has clarified their subscription plans. Besides the TimeSelect subscription they have decided to charge no more. Read the piece here:

The New York Times Co.’s decision to charge for online access to Op-Ed and news columnists should not be seen as a first step toward placing even more articles behind a subscription wall, a Times executive said Tuesday.

Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president for the Times’ digital operations, said the newspaper settled on charging for columnists after a “very robust discussion inside the company.”

“There were people arguing to put the entire thing in,” Nisenholtz said. “There were people arguing to put none of it in. … I think we’ve made the decision we’ve made for the foreseeable future.”

His remarks at the Syndicate conference on aggregation and syndication technologies came a day after the Times announced plans to charge $49.95 a year for non-print subscribers to read the columns. Access comes free for home delivery subscribers.

Available beginning Sept. 19, the TimesSelect subscription will also come with an early look at some articles, including those in the Real Estate and the Magazine sections, and access to the Times’ online archives, eventually going back to 1851. Non-subscribers to TimesSelect would pay up to $2.95 for each article older than a week.

Most of the news, features and multimedia items will remain free.

This is still a poor business decision and will only embolden competing news sources to remain free on the internet.

Look for a reversal of this policy come January 2006.

New York Times to Charge for On-line Content

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Media

The New York Times has announced it will start charging $49.95 a year to access all of its newspaper content and archives beginning in September.

Read the story here:

The New York Times Co. on Monday said that, starting in September, access to Op-Ed and certain of its top news columnists on the paper’s NYTimes.com Web site will only be available through a fee of $49.95 a year. The service, known as TimesSelect, will also allow access to The Times’s online archives, early access to select articles on the site, and other features. Home-delivery subscribers will automatically receive the service, the NYT said.

I suppose the large MSM press has to recoup some fees from their declining subscriber base.

But, it seems with so many sources of content in the on-line communities, including the blogosphere, that the NYT may be narrowing their base with a concomitant loss of revenue.

This is probably not a wise business decision.

H/T Huffington Post

Update #1

The details of the TimeSelect subscription service can be found here:

The new, premium level of membership will be called TimesSelect, and participants will have exclusive access to Op-Ed and news columnists on NYTimes.com, easy and in-depth access to the paper’s online archives, and early access to certain articles on the site, among other features.

Home-delivery subscribers will automatically receive TimesSelect membership. For non-subscribers, it will cost $49.95. Most news, features, and multimedia on the Times site will remain free.

“This is a great offering,” Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital operations, said in a statement. “TimesSelect combines the insights and ideas of distinctive voices from The Times and IHT with seamless access to our archives in an unprecedented way and at a terrific price point. At the same time, by keeping the majority of the site free, we will continue to scale the business through strong advertising growth.”

TimesSelect features will include:

• Exclusive access to columnists including David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman, Bob Herbert, Nicholas Kristof, Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, John Tierney, Dave Anderson, Peter Applebome, Harvey Araton, Dan Barry, Clyde Haberman, Gretchen Morgenson, Joe Nocera, Floyd Norris, Joyce Purnick, William Rhoden, Selena Roberts, George Vescey, Roger Cohen, and John Vinocur.

• TimesPast: Access to The Times’s extensive archives.

• Exclusive multimedia offerings for TimesSelect subscribers including audio and photo essays, video, and podcasts.

• TimesFile: A new tool that helps readers tag and organize articles from The Times.

• Ahead of The Times: Early access to articles that will appear in sections such as Real Estate, The New York Times Magazine, Travel, and Sunday Arts.

• TimesNewstracker: E-mail alerts to track important news topics. This service is currently sold separately but will be included as part of the TimesSelect benefits.

Michael Kinsley: The Press Is in Decline

Posted Posted in Media

Michael Kinsley, the editorial and opinion editor of the Los Angeles Times has this attempt at a humor piece in today’s Washington Post:

The Press Is in Decline
So Where Are Our Subsidies?

In this great country, there are newspaper editorial pages of every political stripe, from nearly insane far-left rantings to the Wall Street Journal. But when the United States faces a danger to its most important institutions and values, Americans can count on the newspaper industry to put aside petty differences and speak with one voice.

Now is such a moment. The enemy is invisible, indeed inexplicable, but could be fatal to all we hold dear. In short: Some evil force is causing people to stop reading newspapers! Newspaper circulation figures, which had been drifting decorously downward for years, have started to plummet. At the current rate of decline, the last newspaper subscriber will hang up on a renewal phone call that interrupts dinner on Oct. 17, 2016. And then it will be over.

I wonder if John Carrol, the Editor of the Los Angeles Times, and his Tribune Company bosses are quite so accepting of the massive circulation loses of their California flagship newspaper. The Wall Street Journal has the circulation figures here.

Kinsley continues here.

The Los Angeles Times link for the same piece is here.

Did it ever cross his mind that it is his ideological slant of the Los Angeles Times that is causing the circulation decine?

Nahhhh! He is clueless and lives in Seattle.