Endings are important: they help us to tell a story that is memorable.
This week’s ending is especially important. For the families of those killed in the Hillsborough disaster it represents something truly incredible: a resolution many never expected to see.
For those of us who teach journalism it represents an important opportunity: to tell that story – and make it memorable – to the next generation of journalists, in the hope that they avoid making the same mistakes.
It is a story which begins with one of the most famous mistakes in UK journalism: The Sun’s front page story on ‘The Truth’ of the Hillsborough disaster.
Truth is at the heart of a journalist’s claim to legitimacy. The story of how The Sun got it wrong is part of that bigger story:
“The newspaper, edited at the time by Kelvin MacKenzie, who was personally responsible for the headline The Truth, ran claims from anonymous police officers that, as people were dying at Hillsborough, their fellow supporters stole from them, urinated on police officers and beat up “brave cops” trying to help.
“The stories were initially defended by the paper as vital reporting of the truth, but it emerged in 2012 that they were sent by a Sheffield news agency, White’s, and run by the Sun almost verbatim.”
Famously, the people of Liverpool boycotted The Sun and continued to do so for decades.
But it was not just The Sun that got the facts wrong.
In his detailed report on the disaster, David Conn reminds us that BBC commentators also reported police claims as fact:
“This fiction, that fans without tickets had forced the gate, had already found its way to the BBC, reported as a version by John Motson, the television match commentator, at 3.13pm. Alan Green, commentator for BBC Radio 2, broadcast an unconfirmed report of “a broken-down door” at 3.40pm, then at 4.30pm he reported that police had said “a gate was forced” – the police story of misbehaviour settling on the initial public consciousness.”
It is a very simple story: people lie.
But it’s all the more important for that: at 18 or 21 it is easy, even habitual, not to question what you have been told, especially if it comes from a ‘reputable’ source. Developing techniques (even habits) for doing so is vital.
Avoiding excuses is too. You might claim “I’m only reporting what he said”, and that’s where we hit the ethics.
Here’s another simple story: lies hurt people.
Lies also protect the incompetent and corrupt, who go on to hurt more people. Discuss.
Sometimes, this story tells us, a source has told you a lie without realising it: with Hillsborough the lie was propagated not only by the police but by a local MP (who had been fed the lie in a police bar).
And that very reputable quality is the key to exploring methods of challenging such claims: “if this is true, you must have evidence?”Eye witness footage
Would such a mistake be made these days, in an age when every football fan can capture and broadcast eye witness footage live? That’s another story to tell.
Not only do we live in an era of mass social media, we also live in an era of news management, crisis communication and publishing stories direct to a public without news organisations acting as intermediaries.
These techniques bring the story up to date too: what is the role of the journalist when anyone can publish to anyone? Is it merely to report what someone said? Or is it something deeper?
Why might people lie to you when they can lie without an intermediary? For the same reason that police lied to the MP in the police bar: they will lie because they want to exploit your position of authority and relationships of trust.
This, then, means recognising and exploring what that position means: what do we expect from journalists? And by extension what do we expect of ourselves?Epilogues
I said that endings were important – but the ending here is not the victory in court: it is a victory that took place in the newsroom the day after the verdicts.
The Times – part of the news group that owns The Sun – did not run the Hillsborough verdict on its first edition this week.
Then journalists staged a ‘mutiny’.
The result was a front page that led with a picture of the Hillsborough families.
It is a small victory, but one which highlights that it is not just sources that we fight with in journalism: the internal battles – sometimes, helpfully, backed by loud voices on social media – are just as important too.
The Sun was widely criticised for ignoring the judgement on its front page, an aspect of this story which highlights that not reporting a story, or giving it due prominence, is itself a political act:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
(For a special twist, note that women are not given due prominence that quote.)
Good journalists fight to report what is important, and fight to report it well. Back in 1989 some journalists were reporting alternate versions of events too, and over the 27 years since have fought to dig into the story again and again.
Dug out the Observer's splash the day after Hillsborough. Talk about journalism that stands the test of time… pic.twitter.com/cOCCd6nWtU
— Dan Sabbagh (@dansabbagh) April 26, 2016
Sometimes stories just take longer to get right.
Filed under: online journalism Tagged: astroturfing, crisis communication, David Conn, Hillsborough, news management, sockpuppetry, sun, Times
The May/June issue of Politico magazine has a fun set of pieces about Donald Trump. One, by Campbell Brown, examines the culpability of cable news channels in building up the Trump celebrity brand. Another, by Page Six and Newsday vet Susan Mulcahy, looks back at what it was like to cover Trump in the 1980s.
An interesting bit of hindsight from Mulcahy involves Trump’s dealings with a huge piece of Manhattan real estate. She writes that the events now feel like a telling prelude to The Donald’s political bickering:
Lincoln West was the largest piece of undeveloped land in Manhattan when Trump took it over in the mid-1980s. The property, which stretched from 59th to 72nd streets, for a time had been known as Television City, when it looked as though NBC would be the anchor tenant in an enormous new complex. To entice the TV network, which had been making rumblings about moving from Rockefeller Center to New Jersey, Trump needed to offer below-market rents, and for that he required tax abatements. He didn’t get them.
Trump and Mayor Ed Koch engaged in a public shouting match that offered a preview of the Trump now running for president. Calling Koch a “moron” and “a horrible manager,” Trump said the mayor should resign. Koch countered by labeling Trump “greedy, greedy, greedy” and saying that if Trump was “squealing like a stuck pig, I must have done something right.”
Mulcahy also recalls how Trump stonewalled her and Richard Johnson about the Lincoln West deal during a face-to-face encounter one day, promising to give the Post the scoop but spoon-feeding it instead to the New York Times. In the late 1980s, Trump was on the front page of the Post eight days in a row thanks to Marla Maples. Politico has a fun gallery of Post-Trump covers through the years, cheekily headlined “Shameless Mogul Found in Breathless Tabs!“
Where else but Michael’s could you expect to find the patron saint of the St. Tropez suntan George Hamilton, Patty Hearst-Shaw and Lady Gaga’s mother, Cynthia Germanotta dining and dishing among the media mob? It’s a good thing that my date, Pauline Brown, the former CEO of LVMH North America, who exchanged the board room for a classroom at Harvard Business School, was so interesting. Our far-ranging conversation ran the gamut from the lessons she learned in her first semester as an HBS professor to her take on why the Apple Watch was a marketing misfire. “Unlike prior Apple launches, it offered no element of surprise” she told me. “They spent a fortune building anticipation but [it] failed to live up to expectations. Instead of being delighted [about the watch], customers were embarrassed.”
When LAK PR CEO Lisa Linden suggested we get together, I knew we’d have plenty to talk about. Pauline’s CV reads like a ‘How to Succeed in Business’ primer. Prior to joining HBS this year, she had a very successful track record in the luxury market, most recently at LVMH, (comprised of Moët, Hennessy and Louis Vuitton), where she was responsible for 70 brands including fashion, fragrance, cosmetics, watches and jewelry, as well as wines and spirits and selective retailing. She also sat on the board of L Capital, a private equity fund backed by LVMH, was a managing director at the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, and held senior positions at Avon and The Estée Lauder Companies.
Pauline arrived at noon on the dot looking every inch the luxury maven. She was, of course, impeccably dressed, enveloped in a camel Rochas coat and carrying a similarly hued Marc Jacobs handbag. My mother always told me you can tell a lot about a woman by the way she accessorizes — and Pauline’s carefully curated accouterments from Hermès, Dior, Urban Zen and a dazzling Fred ring with a huge removable stone — spoke volumes. This is a woman who knows about the power of aesthetics.
Clearly Pauline could have scored another top spot within the fashion industry, which has been engaged in an accelerated game of C-Suite musical chairs in recent years. Why swap corporate life for academia? “At this stage of my life, it’s more desirable to be a thought leader than an operational leader. I don’t know too many corporate chieftains who are genuinely happy,” she told me. “People think the more powerful you are, the more empowered you are. I found the higher up you go, the more imprisoned you become. It’s hard to be on top in big companies.” And then there’s the gender bias. “The [corporate] structure is not kind to women. Women’s identities and possibilities have evolved dramatically in the last two generations, whereas corporate structures are still stuck in the 1950s model of operation.”
The idea for the Aesthetics course was “spontaneous,” said Pauline. When she and HBS’ Frances Frei first began talking about the kind of course Pauline could teach, Ms. Frei encouraged Pauline to “go deep” in designing the type of class that would best leverage her experience.
“I wanted to find a way to redefine marketing practices for a new generation of consumers and an entirely new marketplace.”
As a professor at HBS, Pauline commutes between Boston and Manhasset, N.Y., where she and her husband, Marshall Brown live with their two children. Fresh off her last class of her first semester, she has already committed to teaching The Business of Aesthetics “into 2017 and possibly beyond.” Due to high demand, the school has added a second section of the course for next year’s MBA students.
Using materials from a wide variety of resources, including an article from Wired about Disney’s Imagineering labs, which served as basis of exploring “the happiness halo” (More on that later) as well chapters from two books, The Substance of Style and The Experience Economy, Pauline was thrilled by her students’ level of “engagement and openness to a new curriculum.” Students also studied “iconic leadership models” including Steve Jobs, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s and Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz (“He went away for eight years and the business was tanking. Now he’s back and the business is back on track.”) Pauline also required student to watch the online TED talk, Designing for Trust, which explored how the visual elements of a brand, most notably a logo, is essential in developing consumer confidence.
I thought it might be interesting to have Pauline give me a crash course in millennial marketing, so I asked her to weigh in on what she thought about a random array of high-profile brands. We already know her thoughts on the Apple Watch. But Pauline thinks Google Glass has also been a dismal failure, which even the geekiest techs have abandoned. “There was a lack of aesthetic empathy.” Why has such a utilitarian product like Fitbit garnered cache among such a crowded field? “They’ve never pretended to be more than a fitness device.” What about upstart Nespresso, whose commercials with Sofia Vergara grate on the nerves? “They can’t sustain [interest.] They’re owned by Nestle which is not an experiential company.”
The companies that earn top marks from Pauline for experiential excellence: Ritz Carlton (“They do it well”) and Disney, which is “gifted in creating happiness” which, noted Pauline is achieved by the consumer in equal parts by the actual experience and the anticipation and memory of it. Makes sense.
Inevitably, the conversation turned to millennials. Pauline had a front row seat thanks to her students, who shared their very high aspirations. “There’s a lot more individualism. Nobody wants to work for Goldman Sachs,” she told me between bites of roast chicken. “The idealization of starting their own thing is off the charts.” We all agreed that despite Gen Y’s tech savvy, the proliferation of startups, blogs and lower salaries have made it much more difficult to break through — let alone rise to the top — than it was 10 years ago. “They’re confident but they have a lot of anxiety.” Exactly what are they afraid of? “The future and being able to stay on top of everything,” said Pauline as we said our goodbyes. “The quest for perfection is killing them.”
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Felicia Taylor with a table full of gal pals we didn’t get to meet
2. Music man Lyor Cohen
3. Producer Terry Allen Kramer and actor-turned-reality star George Hamilton
4. Mitch Kanner
5. William Lauder
6. Fashionista Fern Mallis celebrating her belated birthday with her manager Heidi Kim, Paula Friedman and designer-turned-cake couturier Charlotte Neuville, who is now baking custom creations for her brand, The Fashion Chef. If her chocolate cake for Fern tasted as good as it looked.
7. The Wall Street Journal’s Anthony Cenname
8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia and Sandra Lee
9. Estee Lauder’s Alexandra Trower
10. HollywoodLife.com’s and former Chanel’s former chairman Arie Kopelman. Just asking but could Arie’s son, Will Kopelman, have come up in conversation with clever Bonnie, since he’s just spilt from Drew Barrymore? Probably not but ….
11. Deborah Norville and producer Meryl Poster
12. Oh to have a seat at this table: Sharon Bush (mother of Lauren Bush Lauren), Patty Hearst and her sister Anne Hearst (who, I must add, is the first person I’ve ever seen at Michael’s drinking a beer) and — wait for it — Cynthia Germanotta, mother of Lady Gaga. On the way out, Pauline introduced me to Cynthia who seemed to be channeling her daughter with her platinum hair extensions. She was absolutely lovely and dressed impeccably. Just thought you’d like to know.
14. Maureen Reidy
15. Jonathan Wald and Michael Braun
16. 48 Hours Mystery’s Erin Moriarty
17. The Daily Beast Lloyd Grove and Rose Hartman
18. Randy Jones
20. Frederica Friedman
21. Patrick Murphy and Diane Soloway
23. Gerry Byrne (Happy Birthday!) and his daughter Megan Byrne
27. Pauline Brown, Lisa Linden and yours truly
Faces in the crowd: Jay McInerney chatting with proprietor Michael McCarty, producer Beverly Camhe in the lounge and the ‘Bar-ettes’ Kira Semler and Vi Huse toasting spring at the bar.
Diane Clehane is a FishbowlNY contributor. Follow her on Twitter @DianeClehane. Send comments and corrections on this column to LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.
Ken Li jumps to Newsweek as managing editor. Li was the founding editor of Re/code and previously worked at a number of familiar publications, including Reuters, The Financial Times and the New York Daily News. “Ken’s background includes a great mix of writing, editing and strong newsroom leadership that are critical for the managing editor role,” Newsweek editor Jim Impoco said in a statement. The managing editor position opened up because Kira Bindrim left the role to join Quartz to head up the site’s new talent lab. “Some of us have had the pleasure of working with Kira in the past, and have learned to appreciate her energy, humor, and astonishing ability to get things done,” Xana Antunes, editor of new initiatives at Quartz, wrote in a memo. Elsewhere at Newsweek, Kevin Dolak is the new national editor, Margarita Noriega moves up to executive editor of digital and Iva Dixit scores a promotion to social media editor…
Guy Vidra is the latest big name to leave The New Republic. The CEO steps down, moving into “advisory role” for the publication. He follows former editor in chief Gabriel Snyder out the door. Vidra’s tenure won’t be remembered fondly… Dana Schwartz joins the New York Observer as arts and entertainment writer. She had been a staff writer at Mental Floss and assistant cartoon editor at The New Yorker, which sounds like a fascinating gig and more…
Tristan Jean used a fake name and espoused a made-up profession. But before all that, he was very clear with the journalists he ran into after voting in the recent New York primary.
From Jean’s piece on Salon:
After voting for Bernie Sanders at the polling station inside the Brooklyn Museum, I noticed a man with a video camera and a woman with a microphone milling around outside. I approached them, asking them if they were journalists. The woman, who had a Russian accent, said that she worked for “international TV” and asked me if I had anything to say. I couldn’t really think of any grand statements to make, so they asked me who I voted for, and I said, “Bernie.”
“That’s too bad,” the woman with the microphone said, “because we are looking for supporters of Donald Trump.”
“I could pretend!” I offered. Much to my surprise, the woman said, “Great!” and her companion started filming me.
Jean, a graduate student, posted about the wacky April 19 incident on Facebook right after it happened, and to his amazement, the interview ran on St. Petersburg’s Channel 5. From there, a Russian blogger picked up on both the report and the Facebook post. The comment that blogger got from the TV station is crazier than the original incident.
Photo of reporter NinaVishneva and her cameraman via: Facebook
At 9:30 p.m. this Wednesday night in Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation made available on its iView service six specially commissioned TV pilots. One of them, Ronny Chieng: International Student, is by The Daily Show correspondent of the same name. It will be competing for the public’s votes along with five others, with the most popular entry to be turned into a full series.
From a report by The Guardian’s Elle Hunt:
International Student is Chieng’s first production as co-creator, co-writer and star and is informed by his years as a student from Malaysia at the University of Melbourne, where part of the show was filmed.
“We all came here for a few years, we studied, then all my friends left – they went back to Singapore, Malaysia. It almost feels like a dream. I wanted to capture that moment for the record…”
Chieng himself existed at the intersection of international students and nerds: “I crossed over a little bit to the Australians, but I could never blend in as well as, like, a local student. But no one fits in at university, right?”
The other TV pilots are The Future Is Expensive (Eddie Perfect); Bleak (Kate McLennan, Kate McCartney); Moonman (Lawrence Mooney); The Letdown (Alison Bell); and The Legend of Gavin Tanner (Mad Kids). More info about the shows here.
Screen grab via: abc.net.au
About 60,000 TV ads — roughly one-fifth of all ads aired in the Republican presidential primary — have been critical of Donald Trump in some fashion, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of data from Kantar Media/CMAG.
Despite the outpouring of hostility from his opponents, the bombastic billionaire businessman continues to roll toward the GOP presidential nomination, having swept five more states on Tuesday.
"I've had negative ads all throughout, and I've won races in a landslide," Trump said in his victory speech Tuesday night. “Most of these people who have been fighting me are gone."
This massive figure includes about 800 TV ads so far aired in Indiana, a state that holds its primary Tuesday and has emerged as the next major battleground between Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump’s chief adversary.
The bulk of these ads aired after Trump already solidified his front-runner status. Now, Trump continues to surge. To date, he’s earned more than 950 delegates, according to the Associated Press. That’s less than 300 short of the 1,237 he needs to clinch the GOP nomination — and avoid a contested Republican National Convention in July.
Nevertheless, many anti-Trump forces won’t relent.
“We are convinced that Trump can be stopped short of 1,237,” Club for Growth spokesman Doug Sachtleben told the Center for Public Integrity.
Sachtleben said the conservative organization, which was the first group to start airing attack ads against Trump last fall, will be targeting Indiana, where polls show a close race. The group is also eyeing delegate-rich California, which holds its primary on June 7.
California, Sachtleben added, “is ultimately where we believe this race will come down to.”
To date, the Club for Growth has spent more than $9.7 million attacking Trump, according to federal campaign finance filings. Both its super PAC and 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit arm have participated in the barrage.
In addition to the Club for Growth, a host of other conservative groups have joined the anti-Trump chorus. Some of these organizations have spent millions of dollars opposing Trump while others have made relatively token expenditures.
Among them are super PACs devoted to other GOP candidates, as well as a solely anti-Trump super PAC. Known as Our Principles PAC, this anti-Trump group was founded by veteran Republican strategist Katie Packer, who helped run Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Our Principles PAC alone has spent more than $16 million opposing Trump — more than any other group. Its largest donors are Marlene and Joe Ricketts, co-owners of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, who have combined to give $5.5 million. Republican megadonor and hedge fund magnate Paul Singer has also so far given $1.5 million to Our Principles PAC.
For their parts, the three pro-Cruz super PACs — Keep the Promise I, Stand for Truth and Trusted Leadership PAC — have combined to spend about $2.6 million against Trump, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Meanwhile, two super PACs supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich — New Day for America and New Day Independent Media — have combined to spend about $287,000 so far attacking Trump.
Some of these ads, which featured a hippopotamus, alleged that Trump is a “hippo-crit” who “repeatedly says one thing [and] does another.” Others criticized Trump’s online education company as a “scam” and argued that Trump will “scam America too.” Still others called Trump “too reckless and dangerous” to be president.
“If Republicans want to win, we have to nominate someone who can actually defeat [Democratic Party presidential front-runner] Hillary [Clinton],” New Day for America spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp told the Center for Public Integrity. “If Trump is the GOP nominee, we will lose the White House, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate and countless down-ticket races, not to mention Trump is entirely unprepared to hold the highest office in the world.”
Sustained anti-Trump advertising didn’t begin until February, a month during which roughly one-quarter of the ads in the GOP presidential race were critical of Trump, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of Kantar Media/CMAG data, a firm that monitors advertising on broadcast television and national — but not local — cable.
Prior to February, blasting Trump wasn’t many conservatives’ top priority.
As of Jan. 31, the day before the Iowa caucuses, which Trump narrowly lost to Cruz, just 6.5 percent of TV ads in the GOP presidential race had criticized Trump. At that juncture, more than a dozen candidates were still competing in the Republican field, including well-funded former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who briefly led Trump in national polls late last year.
“Early on, most campaigns were more focused on building up their own candidate in a crowded field than taking down Trump, whose popularity they likely did not fully understand,” said Jay Goodliffe, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University in Utah. “Before February, there were no elections, so the Republican campaigns and allied groups could hope that Trump’s support would be less strong once his supporters had to go to the polls.”
Elizabeth Wilner, the Kantar Media executive who oversees the firm’s political ad tracking project, added that the delay in anti-Trump advertising seemed to come from “a combination of denial and fear — denial that he could become the nominee and fear of messing with the bull.”
Trump often delights in prodding his political opponents, both in word and tweet. That includes big-money bankrollers who dare oppose him.
For example, he tweeted out an admonition to the Ricketts family that they “better be careful” once media outlets reported the Ricketts were funding an anti-Trump super PAC.
To date, Clinton has sponsored nearly 8,000 ads that criticize Trump, including dozens of Spanish-language ads that aired as recently as this week in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, which both conducted primaries on Tuesday.
Such activity closely aligns with Clinton’s rhetorical pivot Tuesday away from Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders — he almost certainly can’t catch Clinton, but isn’t quitting — and toward the general election.
“Let’s go forward. Let’s win the nomination, and in July, let’s return as a unified party,” Clinton said during her victory speech Tuesday night in Philadelphia, which will also host the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson told the Center for Public Integrity it was important to criticize Trump for his “divisive rhetoric and dangerous agenda.”
Ferguson added: “We will continue to make the case about the damage his agenda would do and how Hillary Clinton is the toughest candidate to take him on and stop him.”
Dave Levinthal contributed to this report.
One of the earliest newspaper uses of the phrase “How do you like them apples?” was in 1928. In the Princeton Alumni Weekly, future New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote:
Arrayed in “beer suits,” the Class of 1928 stepped forth after the holiday to tell the world that they are actually Seniors. The design on the back this year – which is the only part of the outfit which is materially altered from year to year – portrays an ebullient student chopping off the head of a terrified and bewhiskered professor. Twenty-seven guesses what this means! Give up? Well, this, people, is supposed to denote unlimited cuts. How do you like them apples?
Today, an abbreviated form of that apples sentence, made popular in the modern age of course by Matt Damon in 1997’s Good Will Hunting, is on the front page of the San Francisco Examiner. The editors went with this “wood” because of how Mayor Ed Lee has characterized some racist text messages sent by a former SFPD officer:
Lee on Tuesday reiterated that the texts were sent by a few “bad apples,” and that he still has “great confidence” in the chief.
“This chief is still a very good chief, and [in] my mind, he’s doing the best we can,” Lee told reporters at a news conference on housing for the homeless Tuesday. “We need to get rid of those bad apples real quickly and [make] sure we respect the other officers who are not engaging…[and] that want to be part of a really good police force.”
We imagine the Examiner headline did the trick and caught the attention of a lot of commuters today in the Bay Area. There’s no price on the front page because since 2003, the Examiner has been a free Sunday-to-Friday daily. Or, as print media industry watchers put it: “How do you like them apples?”
Image via: sfexaminer.com
Vice has named 10-time Emmy award winner Madeleine Haeringer as executive producer for its HBO nightly news program. Haeringer most recently worked for MSNBC as executive producer for news coverage.
Haeringer previously served as NBC News’ executive producer of international news.
“Madeleine is pretty much what you’d expect from her resume—smart, tough, funny, profane, intrigued by our free beer, and eager to cover important global stories in surprising ways,” wrote Josh Tyrangiel, in a memo.
Hearst Magazines has named Maury Postal executive creative director for The Blend Line, the branded content studio for Car and Driver and Road & Track.
Postal comes to Hearst from Social@Ogilvy, where he most served as group creative director. He had been with Ogilvy since 2011.
“Maury has a great creative mind and a passion for all things automotive,” said Felix DiFilippo, publisher and chief revenue officer of Car and Driver and Road & Track, in a statement. “His expertise in the auto space will be instrumental at The Blend Line as we continue to grow and deliver high-quality content for our partners and our readers.”