Why the Gawker case could set a dangerous precedent

gawker1-1Gawker’s prob­lems began in October 2012, when the gossip site ran a por­tion of a sex tape fea­turing wrestler Hulk Hogan, which Hogan claimed vio­lated his pri­vacy and infringed on his publicity rights.

It was later revealed that Sil­icon Valley bil­lion­aire Peter Thiel—an out­spoken critic of the website—provided finan­cial backing for Hogan’s suit, which came to a close ear­lier this year, when a Florida court ruled in Hogan’s favor and the jury handed down a $140 mil­lion ver­dict that ulti­mately doomed the media company.

Here, Dan Kennedy, asso­ciate pro­fessor in the School of Jour­nalism and a nation­ally known media com­men­tator, weighs in on the effect of shut­tering the gossip site on the broader media land­scape and the “trou­bling” mechanics behind the suit that served as its demise. Its ter­mi­na­tion, he says, could empower “wealthy inter­ests” to use the legal system to drive media orga­ni­za­tions out of business.

Read the rest at news@Northeastern.

The web is no longer a place we visit. It’s how we live.

Before the web, there was Prodigy. And no, it wasn't much good.

Before the web, there was Prodigy. And no, it wasn’t much good.

The web—or, as we used to call it, the World Wide Web—is 25 years old this month. On August 6, 1991, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who had outlined his idea for the web two years earlier, published the first website. It was, as the Telegraph put it, “a basic text page with hyperlinked words that connected to other pages.”

Those of us who were there at the beginning understood that this was a big deal. Even so, the revolution it launched could not have been imagined. As Virginia Heffernan put it in her recent book Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art, “The Internet is the great masterpiece of human civilization.” And the web provides the road map that makes the internet navigable.

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org.

A transcendent performance by Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin performing at President Obama's first inauguration in 2009. Photo via the US Air Force.

Aretha Franklin performing at President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. Photo via the US Air Force.

I had thought Friday night’s Aretha Franklin concert at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion would strictly be one for the bucket list. She may be one of history’s great singers (“Queen of Soul” hardly does her justice), but she’s also 74 and supposedly in shaky health. So Barbara and I were stunned to see her perform for nearly two hours, with her voice as strong as it was in her prime. She put on a thrilling show, backed by a 20-piece-plus orchestra. It was a performance for the ages.

I won’t attempt a review of the entire concert, but I do want to describe something that elevated her performance into something transcendent. Sitting at the piano, she played an extended solo during the opening of “Bridge over Troubled Water.” By extended, I mean she did two long verses. She’s really good. I thought she might be resting her voice. Then she sang it—wonderfully, of course. And, finally, she segued into a some testifying about her health crisis of a few years ago, and thanking God that when she returned to the hospital whatever the doctors had seen before was gone. (I can’t possibly do this justice—I’m just trying to give you some sense of it. You may remember that, for a time, Franklin was rumored to have pancreatic cancer, something she denied in a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone.)

At the end, overwhelmed, she started crying. She got up, walked over to a box of tissues, and for several minutes tried to compose herself while the orchestra continued to play. Then, incongruously, she turned to the crowd and said, “Are you all enjoying yourselves?” (That might not be word for word, as I wasn’t taking notes.) She launched into “Freeway of Love,” perhaps her most trivial hit—and crossed up the audience again, as the song eventually morphed into a chant of “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”

Yes, she closed with “Respect.” Who would have guessed that that wouldn’t be a high point? What had come earlier was unforgettable and transformative.

WGBH’s Callie Crossley wins commentary award from NABJ

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Callie Crossley. Photo via WGBH News.

There she goes again. My friend and WGBH colleague Callie Crossley won top honors for her radio commentaries at the recent National Association of Black Journalists conference in Washington. The press release follows.

BOSTON—WGBH News award-winning journalist Callie Crossley was recognized with top honors in the Commentary category at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Conference, held August 3-7 in Washington Crossley, host of WGBH News’ Under the Radar, won first place for Top 15 Markets for her three-part compilation of commentaries “Race Matters: Echoing History,” which explores current racial issues in the United States through the lens of the country’s civil rights history.

“We are proud of Callie and have long believed that her observations are the best offered by local radio,” said Phil Redo, WGBH General Manager for Radio. “Callie’s examination of race and media coverage has come at a critical moment in the current political climate, and her unwavering commitment to telling the stories that are often overlooked is what makes her so original and so compelling.”

A former producer for ABC News’ 20/20, Crossley is also a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow through the Council of Independent Colleges, guest-lecturing at colleges and universities about media, politics and the intersection of race, gender and media. She also holds two fellowships at Harvard University. Crossley was a producer for Blackside Inc.’s Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, which earned her an Oscar nomination, a National Emmy Award and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award. Crossley has earned the Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Clarion Awards for writing, producing and hosting.

In addition to hosting Under the Radar, which features stories not usually covered by traditional media outlets, Crossley appears weekly on WGBH’s Beat the Press, examining local and national media coverage, and Basic Black, focusing on current events concerning communities of color. She also contributes to national programs including CNN’s Reliable Sources, PBS’s NewsHour and PRI’sThe Takeaway.

Under the Radar airs Sundays from 6 to 7 p.m. EDT on 89.7 WGBH. Crossley’s weekly commentaries air Mondays during WGBH’s Morning Edition.

Race Matters: Echoing History

Cartoon in Globe about police shootings sparks controversy

Mike Luckovich's cartoon as it appeared in Monday's Boston Globe. Photo by WGBH News.

Mike Luckovich’s cartoon as it appeared in Monday’s Boston Globe. Photo by WGBH News.

Update: The Globe has published a collection of letters in opposition to the cartoon.

Officials with the Boston Police Department are upset over a tough cartoon about police shootings of black men that appeared on the opinion pages of Monday’s Boston Globe. But the Globe’s editorial-page editor is standing by it. And the president of the local NAACP defends the cartoon as a satirical comment on a tragic reality.

The cartoon, by Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose work is nationally syndicated, depicts a white police officer. In one frame, labeled “For White People,” he is seen holding a piece of paper that says “Miranda Rights.” In the other, “For Black People,” a piece of paper says “Last Rites.”

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org.

What John Oliver gets wrong in his newspaper rant

Yes, I would read a story about a cat that looks like a raccoon or, for that matter, a raccoon that looks like a cat. When I scroll through a digital newspaper, though, I’m looking for something else: journalism I need to be a well-informed citizen—and, OK, the occasional cat that looks like a raccoon.

By now you may have at least heard about a 19-minute rant by John Oliver on his HBO program Last Week Tonight in which he reminds us of newspapers’ central role in our democracy and laments their demise.

Read the rest at WGBHNews.org.

Trump crosses the last remaining line

Donald Trump suggested this afternoon that Hillary Clinton be assassinated if she appoints judges who would restrict gun rights. His campaign is trying to spin it. But surely everyone understands that the Orange Menace just crossed the last remaining line.

It’s no longer a matter of whether Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, et al. will unendorse him. It’s whether they have the integrity and patriotism to invoke whatever emergency measures exist to remove him from the ticket.

Update: Charlie Pierce shares similar thoughts.

And now this: