Monday, May 30, 2011

Quincy native pens book on lying

Veteran author and journalist James B. Stewart's new book, "Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America," uses more familiar case studies to demonstrate the extent of dishonesty in high-profile circles.

Barry Bonds, Scooter Libby, Bernie Madoff and Martha Stewart are examined in extraordinary detail.

David Kamp in Business Week magazine describes the work as "tweezer journalism at its finest," storytelling that takes readers inside the moment these well-known liars "made the fateful choice to lie."

Stewart is uncharacteristically critical of President Bush's not firing Karl Rove or Richard Armitage in the episode wherein Scooter Libby illegally revealed CIA employee Valerie Plame's identity. Bush's failure to hold those two accountable was "rank hypocrisy," Stewart writes.

He won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for his Wall Street Journal articles about the dramatic 1987 upheaval in the stock market and insider trading. A contributor to The New Yorker and an editor at Smart Money, Stewart's other books include "Den of Thieves," "DisneyWar" and "Blood Sport: The President and His Adversaries."

News media using many platforms

Jennifer Greer and Yan Yan in a recent edition of "Grassroots Editor" report that the Internet ranked as the third most popular news platform -- behind local and national television outlets. Local print newspapers ranked as the fifth most popular news sources, with 50% of respondents to a national survey saying they get news this way (Pew Internet, 2010). The trend of news consumption shifting online is not new. Readers have been logging on to news websites, including those produced by traditional news organizations, since the 1990s. But the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey also showed that news consumption has increased.

Further, citing a classic 1993 magazine column by newspaper consultant John Morton, the scholars added that "the fundamental strength of newspapers [is] the ability to 'provide intense local coverage of events and subjects of intense concern to local consumers'.”

News finds mediated students

A new global study by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland shows that students no longer search for news.

The news finds them.

Students "inhale," almost unconsciously, news served up on the sidebar of their email account, on friends' Facebook walls, on Twitter and via chat.

"We are used to having information about everything on the planet and this information we have to have in an unbelievable time. Our generation doesn't need certified and acknowledged information. More important is quantity, not quality of news," said one student from Slovakia.

"Students now get their news in chunks of 140 characters or from Facebook posts," said Ph.D. student Jessica Roberts, a former reporter at the Cape Times in South Africa, and a member of ICMPA's research team.

"Students want and get their news as it is breaking, with few filters," she added.

Most students in the study didn't discriminate between news that the New York Times, the BBC or Al Jazeera might cover, and news that might only appear in a friend's Facebook status update.

"Students are interested in news," Roberts said. "It's just that students today are more inclusive about what they consider news than older adults are. 'News' to students means 'anything that just happened' - and students want to know it all immediately, whether it is a globally momentous story or only one of personal interest."

State celebs add voices, faces to press campaign

The Illinois Press Association (IPA) lined up several prominent Illinoisans for its "Leader are newspaper readers" campaign.

Besides actor Dennis Franz (see previous post), participating are retired astronaut Scott Altman of Pekin, Secretary of Ttransportation Ray LaHood of Peoria, and Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber of Champaign/Urbana, plus SIU presidenet Glenn Poshaard, Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough and Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth (pictured at left).

"There are two things that all of these Illinoisans have in common," said IPA executive director Dennis DeRossett. "They are all leaders, and they are all newspaper readers. That's not an accident. Leaders depend on the reliable, comprehensive and diverse information that newspapers provide."

Print ads are downloadable from IPA --