Jun 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

Four fiascos for mainstream media

Mike Allen

Four strikes for mainstream media in the week that changed America.

Why it matters: The protests are raising not just assaults on journalism from outside, but also long-standing problems about the lack of diversity from within the ranks of journalists and power structure dominated by white men. 

1. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is accused of barring two African American journalists from covering protests in the city because of "apparent bias":

  • Photojournalist Michael Santiago, part of a team that won a Pulitzer for the paper in 2019 for covering the Tree of Life synagogue massacre, tweeted that the P-G is silencing two of its most prominent black journalists "during one of the most important civil rights stories that is happening across our country!"
  • "The controversy publicly kicked off Friday," the WashPost reports, "when Alexis Johnson, another black Pittsburgh Post-Gazette journalist, reported that the newspaper’s management had barred her from covering local protests Monday after a tweet from her went viral."
  • Colleagues — including Santiago, who took the photos — have repeatedly reposted it with: "I stand with @alexisjreports."
  • P-G managing editor Karen Kane told AP that the paper can't comment on personnel matters.

2. The headline on the New York Times op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that ignited a newsroom revolt ("Send In the Troops") was written by ... The New York Times.

  • I know that because I read it in The New York Times. His op-ed wasn't published in the Sunday paper, as had been planned. But a 300-word editors' note has been added: "[T]he tone of the essay in places is needlessly harsh. ... Editors should have offered suggestions to address those problems. The headline — which was written by The Times, not Senator Cotton — was incendiary and should not have been used."
  • Cotton's Senate campaign yesterday blasted out a fundraising email boasting: "I’ve caused a total meltdown from the media."

3. Stan Wischnowski, 58, executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, resigned yesterday "after discontent among the newspaper’s staff erupted over a headline on a column about the impact of the civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd," The Inquirer reports.

  • Tuesday's print paper carried the idiotic headline "Buildings Matter, Too" on a column by Pulitzer-winning architecture critic Inga Saffron.
  • With the grace and deftness that only legacy media can muster, that headline was replaced with: "Damaging buildings disproportionately hurts the people protesters are trying to uplift."
  • Wischnowski apologized to readers and staff.

4. Fox News apologized for a graphic Friday that tried to correlate the performance of the S&P 500 with the deaths of George Floyd, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

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