A brutal day to cap off the worst year ever
Good Times, Bad Times
In yesterday's MRD, we highlighted some great news for the journalism industry: According to Bloomberg's Gerry Smith, in the wake of Donald Trump's election win, newspaper stocks at Gannett, McClatchy, the New York Times, and even poor old tronc are up, and so are donations to the non-profit investigative site ProPublica. As the Washington Post's Dave Weigel put it, "Sending this link to every troll who informs me that the election will put me out of a job."
But not all is rainbows and yawning kittens in the media world. The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan has the sad scoop which she tweeted out by saying, "Post-
@Gawker, Univision is chasing profits and millennials. Layoffs & restructuring at Spanish-language media giant." CNN's Brian Stelter tweeted, "Univision is cutting 'almost 6% of its workforce,' 200-250 people. 'Many of the layoffs will be at Fusion.'" Former Fusion staffer and current Newsweek Executive Editor Margarita Noriega offered her condolences and support: "Shout out to my former Fusion and Univision colleagues, keep up your good work and reach out for coffee."
Fortunately, the staffers at Gawker which Univision recently acquired appear to be safe—at least "for now," tweets Andrew Beaujon of the Washingtonian. As the Daily Beast's Justin Miller points out, ".
@johnjcook (executive editor at [Gizmodo] to launch investigative unit starting Jan. 1."
We wish the talented, dogged, and creative journalists at Fusion the best of luck. With these looking like salad days for many institutions—based on Smith's Bloomberg report from yesterday at least—we know you'll land on your feet.
The Trump Whisperer
That's how one might characterize Breitbart's Steve Bannon, Trump's newly-appointed Chief Strategist and a man who, according to an interview conducted by Jezebel's Brendan O'Connor with civil rights journalist and Salon contributor Chip Bertlet, is among the people Trump's putting into power "who are incompetent, arguably suffering from mental illness, neofascist, antifeminist, misogynist, white nationalists.” according to an given to Jezebel's Brendan O'Connor.
Now, in one of today's most talked-about pieces (nearly 10,000 shares), the Washington Post's powerhouse reporter David Farenthold examines nine radio conservations between Bannon and Trump which reveal how the former "flattered and coaxed" the latter into adopting into his campaign platform and performances the ideals of the so-called alt-right movement. "Powerful reporting here," states the New York Times' Michael Barbaro.
And what are those "alt-right" ideals exactly? As we pointed out yesterday, we strongly recommend reading Abi Wilkinson's jawdroppingly bleak piece in the Guardian on the "manosphere" Bannon helped build.
But as far as specific examples Farenthold unearthed of alt-right rhetoric traveling via insidious osmosis from Bannon to Trump, the one raising the most eyebrows across Twitter today is Bannon's casual, perplexingly racist claim called out by Mother Jones' Adam Serwer that... "We have too many Asian CEOs." Seriously.
The only thing maybe even worse than Bannon's racist rhetoric, suggests Science Magazine's Michael Balter, is how susceptible Trump is to suggestion: "
#Bannon, the master manipulator, and #Trump, the gullible stooge. A match made in alt-right heaven." GOOD's Andrew Price agrees: "Amazing insight into the Trump/Bannon relationship. Takeaway: Bannon is malignant and can shape Trump in his image."
Is there, like, some kind of contest between Trump and Zuckerberg to see who can have the most controversies?
Because it sure seems that way, what with reports this week of cowardly execs, mutinous engineers, and now this: Mike Shields of the Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook has once again miscalculated crucial metrics that brands and media organizations use to measure the reach of their posts, "including the weekly and monthly reach of marketers’ posts, the number of full video views and time spent with publishers’ Instant Articles" (nearly 2,000 shares).
Stories like this, not to mention the revelations last September that Facebook had "greatly overestimated" how much time users spend watching videos, are making journalists like the Washington Post's Mark Berman very skeptical of the social giant's ability to report metrics accurately: "Facebook, next week: 'Okay it turns out like three people are actually checking Facebook in total, that was our bad.'"
Others, like Quartz's Mark Murphy, can't help but notice a discrepancy between how seriously Facebook appears to be taking these two major scandals this week: "Facebook messes up ad metrics, forms 'council.' Allows fake news, rogue workers have to fix."
At least Shields has a sense of humor about it: "Look, I don't know if Facebook influenced the election. I'm just glad they weren't tasked with counting the votes."
And in a surprising development...
Sorry, id we stay "surprising"? We meant the opposite of surprising. In a totally expected development, Bloomberg's Jess Shankleman reports that Donald Trump's Twitter account was wrong when it claimed climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese. A lot of you probably already knew that, but now we get the answer straight from China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin himself, who offers the president-elect a "friendly reminder" says Reuters' Valerie Volcovici.
Here's Zhenmin: “If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the IPCC with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s.”
Wait wait wait. Is he saying... actually, we'll let InsideClimate's Lisa Song explain the delicious irony here: "China to Trump: we *didn't* invent global warming as a hoax. Your own GOP started climate negotiations in the 1980s." Can we get an "oh, snap"?
Schadenfreude aside, it does make you wonder: Could Donald Trump's Twitter account be wrong about other things?
This is the last "open letter" we promise
Since Trump's surprising win, there's been no shortage of "open letters" written to express concern over the president-elect. But as journalists, this one hits close to home: "15 journalism advocacy groups just wrote this open letter to President-elect Trump," tweets CNN's Brian Stelter. The Inlander's Scott Leadingham summarizes the thrust of the letter: "Journalism groups to Donald Trump: 'We respectfully ask you to instill a spirit of openness and transparency.'"