Category Archives: Media

Globe appends clarification to Shaughnessy’s column

The Boston Globe on Tuesday appended a clarification to Dan Shaughnessy’s online column about fired Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo, explaining the extent to which his Monday piece was changed after it was first posted.

Shaughnessy, as you no doubt recall, had reported that two Red Sox employees whom he did not name told him Fenway Park workers were under orders to confiscate signs supporting Orsillo. The removal of that line set off a tweetstorm Monday evening given that Globe publisher John Henry is the principal owner of the Red Sox, which, in turn, controls most of New England Sports Network (NESN), Orsillo’s employer. The clarification addresses the sign issue as well as how NESN handled the timing of the Orsillo announcement.

The clarification reads:

Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story made reference to signs being confiscated at Fenway Park. The reference has been removed because the Globe could not independently verify that any signs were confiscated at the ballpark. This story has been edited to describe the degree to which NESN intended to keep the news of Don Orsillo’s departure confidential. The network did not intend to keep the information from Orsillo until January.

A shorter version appears in the print edition, leaving out the bit about the signs since that didn’t make it into print in the first place:

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No doubt the conspiracy theories will continue. But the Red Sox specifically denied that their employees had been given any order to confiscate signs, and Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported Tuesday that he couldn’t find any evidence of it. If any signs were confiscated, presumably we’ll hear about it. I’m sure the Herald or any number of other news outlets (including Media Nation) would love to report such a story.

I think what matters here is that the Globe explained how and why Shaughnessy’s column was changed as Monday evening wore on. Managing editor for digital David Skok (on Twitter) and Shaughnessy himself (in an email exchange with me) both described it as part of the editing process. The difficulty is that, today, there are strong incentives to post first and edit later. As I noted Tuesday, many newspapers, including the Globe, are not as good as they should be at explaining why stories are changed after they’re first posted.

In this case, the Globe deserves praise for transparency.

Also published at WGBHNews.org.

Shaughnessy defends Globe over deleted sentence

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote another in a series of tough commentaries Monday about the firing of Don Orsillo, the popular Red Sox announcer who’s been let go by New England Sports Network (NESN). But as the evening wore on, one sentence was dropped from the piece, published on the Globe’s website in advance of Tuesday’s print edition. The sentence read:

Two Sox employees told the Globe that workers at Fenway turnstiles were ordered to confiscate any signs supporting Orsillo as fans entered Fenway.

Jared Carrabis has the before and after:

Given that Globe publisher John Henry is also principal owner of the Red Sox, which in turn owns most of NESN, Carrabis’ tweet set off a storm. That led David Skok, the Globe’s managing editor for digital and general manager of BostonGlobe.com, to respond: “Story was published early, sourcing was weak so the line was removed. Our coverage on this speaks for itself.”

I emailed Shaughnessy. He got back to me immediately, saying, “It’s all part of the editing process that is always ongoing.” When I followed up by asking him how he would respond to Orsillo fans who suspect that Red Sox ownership intervened, he said only: “It is part of the Globe editing process.”

So what to make of this? It is a fact that the Globe has been pretty tough in covering the Orsillo story. Shaughnessy and sports media columnist Chad Finn have each weighed in several times, with Finn citing “NESN’s bewildering mishandling of the situation.” Boston Herald sports columnist Steve Buckley got an exclusive with Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, whose reasoning for replacing Orsillo boiled down to a belief that replacement-to-be Dave O’Brien would be better. But Shaughnessy picked up on Buckley’s column, even linking to his competitor.

In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I think we should take Skok and Shaughnessy at their word. Far from soft-pedaling the firing of Orsillo, the Globe has been fairly relentless in going after NESN for what can only be described as a foolish move. (Yes, I signed the petition to keep Orsillo.)

Monday night’s mini-drama was just another sign that John Henry’s ownership of the Red Sox is always going to be an issue — regardless of the reality.

More: After I posted this late last night, I received several comments on Twitter and Facebook wondering why the Globe didn’t make some note of the change in Shaughnessy’s column. For instance, here’s Nathan Lamb:

Based on my observations, I’d say that newspapers in general — the Globe among them — are haphazard about acknowledging changes made to online stories until after those stories have appeared in print. The mentality seems to be that everything is a work-in-progress until a tree has been sacrificed to immortalize it.

I don’t know that it makes sense to have a policy that would be 100 percent consistent. In this case, though, the deleted sentence drew enough attention that the Globe ought to have inserted something into Shaughnessy’s column, even if it was a brief note that it had been updated.

Still more: Sounds like the Globe may have gotten some serious pushback from the Red Sox on the accuracy of Shaughnessy’s reporting, according to Deadspin.

And even more: From Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald:

A nasty rumor spread that the owners let the stadium’s security forces know any pro-Orsillo signs were to be confiscated, but a survey of six security personnel at an entrance gate and throughout the stadium said no special Orsillo signage edict was in effect.

A team spokesman confirmed that like every night, signs would not be allowed in or confiscated once they were inside only if they blocked somebody’s view or contained profanities.

Also published at WGBHNews.org.

The WDBJ video: To air or not to air?

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On Wednesday, a disgruntled former employee of Roanoke, Virginia-based WDBJ-TV fatally shot two of the station’s journalists as they were conducting a live interview. The cameraman captured part of the scene before dying. I asked my Twitter followers: Should the video be shown or not? I’ve assembled their answers on Storify, so please have a look.

In asking my followers for their views, I was referring strictly to the video shot by cameraman Adam Ward. Even though he had been fatally wounded, he managed to keep rolling as the gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan II, shot him and reporter Alison Parker. CNN and many other news outlets showed all or part of Ward’s footage.

Later, footage shot by Flanagan himself popped up on his Twitter account under the name of his his on-air pseudonym, Bryce Williams. I managed to see it before Twitter suspended his account. It is far more harrowing than Ward’s video, and I don’t believe any news organization used it. (Update: The New York Daily News uses images from the Flanagan video on its front page today. I’m not going to link to it.)

Also published at WGBHNews.org.

Globe to address columnist Sununu’s outside interests

Last week the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America published its latest post on the many conflicts of Boston Globe columnist John E. Sununu, a former Republican senator and the son of former New Hampshire governor John Sununu.

Now the Globe’s editorial-page editor, Ellen Clegg, says she’s dealing with Sununu in several ways:

  • By posting in the near future biographies of Sununu and other freelance columnists that disclose their outside interests.
  • By reaching an understanding with Sununu that he will not write about cable and Internet access.
  • By requiring a specific disclosure within his column whenever he writes about the presidential campaign. (Sununu is a prominent supporter of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.)

“It’s safe to say that few freelance columnists make their living solely from writing for newspapers these days, so most have other jobs or consultancies,” Clegg told me by email. “We want to be more transparent with our readers about the nature of columnists’ work and affiliations.”

Sununu’s outside interests, which I have written about previously, was the subject of an Aug. 17 analysis by Eric Hananoki of Media Matters. Hananoki observed that Sununu’s column of that same date criticized President Obama’s environmental policies as well as his regulatory decisions regarding cable and the Internet without mentioning his ties to businesses that oppose administration policies.

In particular, Hanonoki wrote, Sununu was paid more than $750,000 by the industry-funded lobbying organization Broadband for America and by Time Warner Cable, on whose board he sits.

Sununu’s ties to the energy industry stem from his status as a policy adviser to the Washington lobbying firm Akin Gump.

The online disclosures Clegg envisions for freelance columnists seem like a reasonable solution in most cases, although, as she notes, there are times when the disclosure should be included in the column — or when the conflict of interest is so blatant that the columnist should simply choose another topic.

The online disclosures are also of no help to those who only read the print edition. Clegg told Joe Strupp of Media Matters that she’d “take a look at” what to do about print and added that “we do require that [disclosure] when we think it’s warranted.”

What follows is the full text of Clegg’s email to Media Nation.

In the interest of more transparency, we’re posting bios for our regular freelance op-ed columnists online and linking those bios to their bylines. John Sununu has told me he will avoid writing about issues pertaining to cable and internet access because of his seat on the Time Warner Cable board. He has also assured me that he will disclose his support of GOP presidential candidate John Kasich in the text of any columns he writes about presidential politics (he is chair of his campaign in New Hampshire.)

It’s safe to say that few freelance columnists make their living solely from writing for newspapers these days, so most have other jobs or consultancies. We want to be more transparent with our readers about the nature of columnists’ work and affiliations. When appropriate, we’ll include relevant details in the text of the print edition of the column, as well as the link for our digital readers.

Also published at WGBHNews.org.

Steel-cage death match of the #mapoli political emails

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 9.16.36 AMPolitico this morning debuts its Massachusetts Playbook, compiled by Lauren Dezenski, most recently of the Dorchester Reporter. It’s a newsy round-up of the state political scene that aggregates from a variety of sources, including The Boston Globe and, of course, Politico.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 9.16.50 AMMassachusetts Playbook competes directly with the Globe’s Political Happy Hour, Joshua Miller’s late-afternoon update. Miller is leaving the field to Dezenski this week, as he’s going on vacation. As David Bernstein notes, the timing is odd, though I suppose no one’s around this week except me (and you, of course).

If I may offer a flash judgment on the basis of exactly one Dezenskigram, I’d say she aims to be a little more comprehensive, as befits a morning briefing. Miller is more selective and takes a lighter tone. Massachusetts Playbook seems aimed at #mapoli types trying to catch up quickly before beginning their day, whereas Happy Hour feels more like something you read on your evening commute (which I often do).

Is there room for both? This may well be the most politically aware state in the country. So sure, why not?

More: Two lower profile but valuable #mapoli political emails I should not have omitted: The Download, from CommonWealth Magazine, and MASSterList.

Also published at WGBHNews.org.

Boston Globe’s Stat project publishes its first story

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 5.23.11 PMStat, The Boston Globe’s much-touted life-sciences vertical, is starting to come into focus. Although the site doesn’t officially debut until fall, its first story — about two young paralysis victims undergoing experimental treatment who fall in love — has been published at BostonGlobe.com. The project also has a website, a Twitter feed and a Facebook page.

We also finally know why the site is being called Stat. According to an introduction by reporter Bob Tedeschi, it’s an old term meaning “Take this medication immediately.” He writes:

Its first common usage as a medical term appeared in 1875, in William Handsel Griffiths’ seminal (or not) text: “Lessons on Prescriptions and the Art of Prescribing.” Griffiths, a surgeon and professor in Dublin, tucked “stat” between “stet” and “somnus” on a list of jargon used by doctors who, he wrote, suffered from “hurry, laziness or ignorance.”

Stat: abbreviation of the Latin word “statim,” meaning “immediately.”

Here’s some background on Stat from Benjamin Mullin of Poynter.

Trump did not say the 14th Amendment is unconstitutional

(Courtesy of the Byrom-Daufel family) Most 19th Century Chinese immigrants were single men, but a few families lived in the Portland area. The Byrom-Daufel family of Tualatin retained this portrait, but descendents no longer have the Chinese family name. Scan from print.

Chinese immigrants in Oregon. Birthright citizenship dates to 1898, when the Supreme Court cited the 14th Amendment in overturning a California law. Photo published by The Oregonian, courtesy of the Byrom-Daufel family.

My Facebook feed is filling up with posts from liberal friends informing me that Donald Trump is, among many other bad things, an ignoramus when it comes to the Constitution.

Trump allegedly stepped in it on Tuesday, telling Bill O’Reilly of Fox News that the 14th Amendment wouldn’t necessarily impede his rather horrifying proposal to deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States.

Cue the outraged headlines. “Donald Trump says 14th Amendment is unconstitutional” is the takeaway at Yahoo Politics. Or consider this, from Politico: “Trump to O’Reilly: 14th Amendment is unconstitutional.” Or Mother Jones: “Trump: The 14th Amendment Is Unconstitutional.”

Of course, it’s fun to think Trump is such a buffoon that he doesn’t realize something that’s part of the Constitution can’t be unconstitutional. All he’d need to do is spend a few minutes watching “Schoolhouse Rock!” videos on YouTube to disabuse himself of that notion.

But that’s not what Trump said. In fact, Trump made the perfectly reasonable assertion that the federal courts may be willing to revisit how they interpret the 14th Amendment. Trump told O’Reilly:

Bill, [lawyers are] saying, “It’s not going to hold up in court, it’s going to have to be tested.” I don’t think they have American citizenship, and if you speak to some very, very good lawyers, some would disagree…. But many of them agree with me — you’re going to find they do not have American citizenship. [Quotes transcribed by Inae Oh of Mother Jones, whose story is more accurate than the headline under which it appears.]

Birthright citizenship is not exactly a new issue. Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post noted earlier this week that, back in the early 1990s, none other than future Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid supported reinterpreting the 14th Amendment in order to end automatic citizenship — thus confirming a remark made on the campaign trail by Scott Walker, one of several Republican presidential candidates who have joined Trump in opposing it.

In searching the archives, I couldn’t find a specific reference to Reid. But The New York Times reported in December 1995 that House Republicans and some Democrats supported an end to birthright citizenship, with most arguing that a constitutional amendment would be needed and others claiming that legislation would suffice. Any attempt to enforce such legislation would have triggered exactly the sort of court challenge that Trump envisions.

And it’s not as though the 14th Amendment has stood immutable over time. After all, it wasn’t until 1954 that the Supreme Court ruled, in Brown v. Board of Education, that the amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” forbade segregation in the public schools.

Birthright citizenship was recognized by the Supreme Court in 1898, three decades after enactment of the 14th Amendment. In that case, according to the 1995 Times article, the court overturned a California law that had been used to deny citizenship to children born in the United States whose parents were Chinese immigrants.

Trump’s rhetoric represents the worst kind of nativism, and he should be held to account for his words. But what he’s actually saying is bad enough. When the media exaggerate and distort, they hand him an undeserved victory.

Also published at The Huffington Post.