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Archive for April 2007

Storytellers R Us: separating signal from noise

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My few, fleeting seconds of fame occurred on March 12. Anyone flipping to that page of the 2007 Freedom Forum First Amendment calendar will see a quote from me:

Without journalists, others without a sense of the journalistic mission — such as unscrupulous advertisers and political charlatans — will be telling the stories.

That appeared in a commentary I wrote for Editor & Publisher almost two years ago.

Boy, has figuring out who’s a credible storyteller changed.

Nowadays, everyone’s got something to say — or show. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 28, 2007 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Surprise! Lawyers pushing big money into presidental politics

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If lawyers annoy you, stop here. That annoyance is going to get much, much worse. Same with bankers, too.

By now you know that the candidates for president in 2008 (the well-known ones; not those like our own favorite pol, Doc Slammy) have raised $150 million in the most recent three-month reporting cycle.

And a big chunk of that — nearly $15 million — came from the lawyers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Sidley Austin LLP, which bills itself as one of the world’s largest law firms, leads the pack (good word choice, eh?) with $190,000 in contributions — in just those three months. More than half of that went to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

Who else do the lawyers like?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 23, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Do not think; the press will do it for you

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I’m so thankful. I no longer have to think. I no longer have to consider facts all by myself and assess them for their meaning. And I owe it all to The Buffalo News.

Today’s front-page story in The News (“Area colleges reassessing security“) by Jay Rey and Gene Warner features interviews with western New York college officials and their comments on campus security plans following the murders at Virginia Tech.

Fine, I think. I’m a professor at one of the institutions mentioned. And, like so many thousands of teachers and professors nationwide, I wonder what my institution is doing — and whether it plans any changes. What news has The News gathered for me?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 20, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Why I beat up CNN so often (and Imus is an idiot)

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I had intended this post to be yet another beat-down on CNN for some inanity by folks who ought to know better. So here’s the beat-down first:

I bristle at the apparent requirement that CNN correspondents and anchors label events with their personal opinions. I resent the rampant opinion tossed around loosely (without “commentary” tags) when they ought to be just giving me the “facts.”

Over the past day, reporting on the Don Imus case of footus giganticus in his mouth, anchors and correspondents have provided characterizations of the facts, apparently assuming I have no mind of my own. Just gimme the news, for chrissakes. I’ll attach my own label and opinion to the news.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 11, 2007 at 5:01 pm

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Katie Couric’s ghost canned

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We now know that Katie Couric does not apparently write all the “commentaries” she reads on the CBS Evening News.

According to your favorite conflicted-of-interest media critic and mine, Howie Kurtz, a CBS producer who wrote a Couric commentary on getting her first library card (how sweet …) lifted part of it from Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow. CBS fired the producer.

Says Howie:

What made the ripoff especially striking was the personal flavor of a video — now removed from the CBS Web site — that began, “I still remember when I got my first library card, browsing through the stacks for my favorite books.”

That’s what pisses me off. Ms. Couric offers a “personal” commentary – ghosted by a staffer. That’s as offensive a deceit as the staffer’s plagiarism. CBS does not place a “written elsewhere” flag on her “personal” commentaries.

But we can be comforted in the knowledge that, as a CBS spokeswoman says, Ms. Couric “does participate in topic selection.”

How sweet.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 11, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Is my congressman bowling for dollars?

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Bloggers in my neck of the woods have been beating up my Republican congressman, the Hon. John R. “Randy” Kuhl, over federal assistance his Web site says he arranged for a local bowling alley.

I’m not sure the beat-down has been fair to my congressman. (Disclosure: I supported his Democratic opponent in the 2006 mid-term election.)

Rep. Kuhl says he arranged for a $2.5 million federal loan guarantee that would allow the owner of Roseland Bowl in Canandaigua, N.Y., to restructure current loans. According to Rep. Kuhl’s Web site, that would save 36 jobs — and he says he’s all about saving jobs.

Some local bloggers and commenters have pooh-poohed this, citing Republican money connections to Roseland’s owner, Jack Moran. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 6, 2007 at 2:48 pm

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Tribune Co. sale: Good news for journalism? Maybe …

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Billionaire Sam Zell is buying the Tribune Co. Well, sort of. And it may be good news for journalism. Well, sort of.

The Tribune Co, run by a management charitably characterized as selfishly befuddled, owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Cubs as well as a slew of other newspapers and broadcast outlets.

Mr. Zell is rich. He’s No. 52 on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans. He’s worth, says Forbes, $4.5 billion.

Mr. Zell has bid $8.2 billion for the Trib and its sibs. How can he do that if he’s only worth a measly four and a half large? Remember that Danny DeVito movie, “Other People’s Money”? He’s only putting up $315 million, not even 4 percent of the bid. How’s he doing that? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 5, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized