The U.S. State Department is looking to design and facilitate a media ethics course for journalists in India, and has even proposed appropriating the name of Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" as a title for the course. The U.S. consulate general in Hyderabad, India is looking for a non-profit to co-develop the course to help Indian journalists gain a "baseline understanding of the international industry standards," including "accuracy, honesty, transparency, impartiality, and accountability," and is willing to spend $20,000 - $25,000 on it.
The grant documents note that credibility is a key part of journalists' jobs to "keep their readership informed, hold us all accountable, filter fact from fiction, and unmask false narratives masquerading as truth." To that end, the State Department would like a full-time faculty member to propose curriculum content and develop a syllabus tailored to communicate journalistic standards to an Indian university audience. Additionally, the grant calls for a "U.S.-based, university-level journalism professor," suggested by the non-profit subject to approval by the State Department, to act as consultant in the development of the course.
Once the course preparation is complete, the journalism professor will visit India at least three times: to meet with the coordinating university in India and "observe existing on-the-job training in various media houses," to conduct a three day seminar for other stakeholders, and to participate in first offering of the newly-designed course. The grant specifies that both the accommodations for the professor and the venue for the seminar must be a four-star hotel.
The Indian universities of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha are singled as as participants in this project, but once developed, the State Department plans to make the material available for potential use by other diplomatic offices around India in coordination with other Indian universities around the country.
The grant announcement for "Blurred Lines" comes a month after Robin Thicke and co-songwriter Pharrell Williams were found by a court to have been guilty of their own ethical lapses in the writing of the song of the same name. The two have been ordered to pay over $7 million to Marvin Gaye's estate over plagiarism of Gaye's 1977 song "Got to Give It Up."
Today, Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau became the first cartoonist to ever receieve a George Polk Award. During the festivities*, he remarked that the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo -- the satirical Parisian magazine that was recently the site of a terror attack -- "wandered into the realm of hate speech.” He also added that “free speech... becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”
If anyone was unsure of the veracity of Rolling Stone's account of an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, the final nail is now in the story's coffin. Sunday night, the Columbia School of Journalism released its much anticipated blistering report on the magazine's November feature.
I don't think very much of Vox.com and its journalistic standards. I've made the case against them before in detail, but the evidence of their general lack of professionalism is still piling up. Vox has a daily email newsletter written by Matthew Yglesias, and today's missive contains the following gem:
Two weeks ago, Rolling Stone published a bombshell piece that rocked the academic world. In the story, author Sabrina Erdely detailed a horrific crime — a gang rape at one of the fraternities at the University of Virginia that allegedly took place two years ago.
Someone I'm related to by marriage has written a superb column on the problem of media ignorance. The fact I'm not a disinterested observer shouldn't stop me from noting that the column and the event that prompted it has attracted some attention. The piece is pegged to a much discussed interview talk radio star Hugh Hewitt conducted with Zach Carter, the Huffington Post’s “senior political economy reporter.” Hewitt asked Carter why he was spouting off various critical opinions related to Dick Cheney and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Certainly, Carter's not alone here -- the rise of ISIS has had liberal journalists queuing up to insist President Obama bears minimal responsibility for the disintegration of the situation in Iraq. Joe Biden bet his vice presidency Iraq would extend the Status of Forces Agreement, and had they not failed, it might well have prevented the current mess. But here we are.
Another reporter is joining the Obama administration. Emily Pierce, the deputy editor of Roll Call, will be joining the office of public affairs at the Department of Justice, the federal agency headed by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Pierce was welcomed to her new position by Brian Fallon, who works in that DOJ office and who used to be Chuck Schumer's spokesman in the Senate.
"Can't wait to welcome @emilyprollcall to @TheJusticeDept Office of Public Affairs later this month. She is a true pro," Fallon said on Twitter.
Like Diogenes in search of an honest man, The Scrapbook has been on an extended quest to find the Golden Age of American journalism. That was the era, not so long ago, when a literate public was downright serious about the news, and America’s newspapers, magazines, and television networks paid close, detailed attention to current events, foreign affairs, and national politics—which, of course, were civil in tone, bipartisan in nature, and concerned with finding solutions rather than exploiting problems.
The Scrapbook has previously commented on the “new breed of pundit/political scientist who seems to think that a pie chart is a substitute for argument.” Whether it’s the fault of an education system and corporate sector saturated with PowerPoint presentations, the increasing desperation of polemicists, reporters, and poli-sci types to cast their work as hard “science,” or just the rising tide of philistinism, it seems an ever-growing number of writers and thinkers have taken to substituting the siren song of the computer-generated chart for the hard work of written argument.
With the death of Jack Germond at 85, the great triumvirate of political reporting is now gone. Germond, Robert Novak, and David Broder were the Clay, Calhoun, and Webster of political journalism with their columns and TV commentary, but mostly with their dogged reporting.