Tagged: Journalism

News-Reworder SlashGear Turns Expert Into Criminal Defendant

Dr. Nicholas Weaver is an expert on network security issues. The media frequently seeks him out for input on stories involving the intersection of criminal justice and computer security, like Silk Road and leak investigations. Fair disclosure: he's also an online friend and an expert on one of my cases. SlashGear is an also-ran tech site that rewrites stories badly. Case in point: SlashGear took this story from Krebs On Security about criminal charges against Bitcoin traders in Florida. Dr. Weaver was quoted as an expert in that story: Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI)...

British "News" Program Censors Mohammad Cartoon While Covering It

Last week I talked about the British controversy over Maajid Nawaz, a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who tweeted a link to the satirical cartoon Jesus and Mo, which depicts conversations between a cartoon Jesus and a cartoon Mohammad to explore religious beliefs and attitudes. The United Kingdom's Channel 4 News decided to run a story about the controversy. Naturally they showed a picture of the cartoon so that viewers could make an intelligent assessment of the claims of offense. Well, sort of. In Channel 4 News' story, at about :25, the reporter says: This is the cartoon that is causing...

From the "lol journalism" Files: No, The Defamation Case Against Courtney Love Will Not Change Twitter

An appallingly large percentage of journalism about the legal system sucks. There are exceptions — there are legal journalists I respect, who take pains to get it right — but for the most part the media gets coverage of both criminal and civil cases badly wrong. (I am aware of Gell-Mann Amnesia and therefore please do not infer that I believe other coverage is necessarily more reliable.) Case in point: coverage of a defamation suit against Courtney Love. Take ABC's coverage. ABC starts with this:

Let's Make One Thing Perfectly Clear: I Am Not A Racist Bigot. I Am A Cultural Bigot.

You're probably familiar with the "Kinsley Gaffe," defined by the man for whom the term is named as what happens when a politician tells some obvious truth that he really shouldn't utter.  An example would be Gordon Brown's description of a bigoted woman as "a sort of bigoted woman," a truth that immeasurably assisted Brown in his quest for promotion from Prime Minister to United Nations Special Envoy for Education. So far as I know, there is no shorthand term for a gaffe in which a public figure tells what he believes to be a truth, which in fact only...

Andrew Colton And "Boca News Now" Get In The Business of Smearing Their Own Credibility

Would you be surprised to learn that a journalist is acting like an eager censor? You shouldn't be. First, any disturbed freak can call himself a "journalist" and any lunatic can set up a website and call it a newspaper. You can't expect people who call themselves journalists will display the judgment or professionalism of professional "mainstream" journalists. Second, you can't expect competence, honesty, decency, or professionalism from "mainstream" journalists in the first place. Third, even even "mainstream journalists" can develop a taste for censorship when criticized; it's a moral and civic failing common amongst all professions. So we shouldn't...

Bad Writing, Bad Editing, Bad Grasp of Law: An Example of Awful Legal Coverage

As you know, I gripe about many things. It's the life of a blogger. One of my most constant gripes is that the media does a terrible job of covering legal issues. Far too many journalists do not understand the burden of proof, do not understand sentencing, and do not understand famous but complex laws like the PATRIOT ACT. What's worse, they don't care that they don't understand those things and don't take reasonable steps to educate themselves. Too many journalists think their readers are too stupid to grasp accurate stories about the legal system, choose sensationalistic pap that distorts...

Lori Kilchermann Is A Yellow Journalist

There are two ways to define "yellow journalist." You could define it traditionally, to to refer to a journalist who exploits, exaggerates, or distorts the news in service of sensationalism. Or you could interpret "yellow" to mean contemptibly craven. Based on her conduct, Lori Kilchermann — an editor at the Ionia, Michigan Sentinal-Standard — is at least one of those. Kilchermann is suing some citizens who said she met the first definition. The dispute arises from a story in the Ionia Sentinel-Standard entitled "Four Arrested In Farmhouse Meth Bust." Kilchermann was the editor at the time. The Sentinel-Standard had an...

A Random Bit Of Media Criticism

The wanton ignorance and depravity of NPR's coverage of the George Zimmerman trial knows no bounds. 4:34 pm eastern time. The drunken blockhead National Public Radio has assigned to cover the trial announces that because of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, George Zimmerman does not need to prove that he did not murder Trayvon Martin. This journalistic excrescence cannot go unaddressed. First, George Zimmerman is not invoking Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. He is invoking the ancient and time-honored doctrine of self-defense, that a man confronted by deadly force is entitled to use deadly force in return for the preservation...

Journalistic/Blogger Ethics Question

I'd like input from journalists and bloggers. Here's a hypothetical. You're a blogger and you write about a person who has been thrust into the spotlight — they are mildly internet-infamous. That person emails you and asks if they can talk to you off the record. You agree. They make a series of statements to you about the litigation that is the subject of your post. Some months later, that person's lawyer files a motion in court with a representation contradicting something that the person told you off the record. So: either the person lied to you during the off-the-record...

Karaoke And The Criminal Justice System We Deserve

This will be a familiar story to anyone who has ever represented a criminal defendant famous enough to make the news. You client is convicted at trial, or pleads guilty. You work to put together a convincing presentation for sentencing that will humanize your client — help the judge see him (or her) as a human being, as someone whose offense is only one part of a larger life, as someone who has done good things as well as this bad thing. You ask friends and colleagues to write letters in support of your client. If your client is like...

Today In The Ministry's Pneumatic Tube

multiple print/radio/visual/digital sources 4/13 malreported ricin postal attack rectify references perpetrator malidentified malreported rectify malreporting "Paul Kevin Curtis" remove all references nonperson replace correctreport "Everett Dutschke" alwaystrue rewrite goodreport emphasize "martial arts instructor" eliminate malreport nonemphasize "Elvis impersonator" federal law enforcement goodquote newreport emphasize words "discover" "investigation" "uncover" "reveal" "determine" "analysis" "dogged" "intensive" doubleplusungood malreport avoid words "blunder" "mistaken" "innocent" "frame" "incorrect" "incompetent" "polyestered over-armed fuckwits" "put the 'special' in 'special agent'" "indifferent thugs" media subsidiaries/partners emphasize goodquote "exclusive" "determined" "discovered" "revealed" "explain" "report to you" doubleplusungood malreport avoid words "gullible" "credulous" "vapid" "coke-snorting upjumped typists" "amoral bootlicking sternographers" "jaded...

Richard Jewell Cannot Accept Our Apology

After a crime like yesterday's Boston bombings, it can be worthwhile to reflect on how we've reacted to similar tragedies.  Consider the case of Richard Jewell. A terrorist detonated a bomb at Atlanta's Olympic Park, during the 1996 Olympic games. That terrorist was Eric Robert Rudolph, who pled guilty to the crime along with a number of abortion clinic bombings. Mr. Rudolph is presently a guest at the ADMAX hotel in Florence Colorado. For nine years, Richard Jewell labored under suspicion that he'd been the bomber. In fact, Richard Jewell was a jewel of a man, a private security guard...

Misconduct Is Only News When Journalists Say It Is

Here's a story I've told before: many years ago, a friend's client was being arrested in a case that had made local newspapers. The DA investigators showed up early one morning at the client's house to arrest him, cuffed him, and put him in their car. Then a reporter and photographer — tipped by someone on the prosecution side — showed up, late. They complained to the DA investigators that they had missed the perp walk — the iconic shot of the defendant being led away in handcuffs. The DA investigators obligingly got the client out of the car, walked...

College Is No Place For The Sex Talk

This week, the administrators of Central New Mexico Community College, a public institution in Albuquerque, shut down until further notice the school's student-run award-winning newspaper, the CNM Chronicle. Administrators also attempted to confiscate copies of a run of the paper. The reason? The administration felt that the paper's sex issue was "offensive and not appropriate for the educational mission of CNM." The paper's editor-in-chief reported being ordered into the Dean's office and told the paper was "raunchy." What went through the minds of the school's "Executive Team" and its Dean of Students, Rudy Garcia? One can only imagine . ....

Cloudy, With A Chance of Shitty Journalism

Seriously? Do I really have to write a sentencing post about meatballs? Yes. Apparently I do. Estelle Casimir works at the Cadet Mess Hall at West Point. Her supervisors accused her of stealing a bag of frozen meatballs. West Point is a federal facility and crimes on the premises are treated as occurring within federal jurisdiction. The U.S. Attorney's Office charged Casimir with two misdemeanor counts in federal court. More specifically she was charged with petty larcency and misdemeanor possession of stolen property in violation of New York law under a federal statute that allows incorporation of state law under...

800 Pound Disabled Men In Fuzzy Slippers Ask the Wrong Questions

Last week I posed this question: sure, bloggers are biased and sloppy and agenda-driven and more than a little nuts, but compared to what? What is the logical basis for reposing automatic trust in "professional" "mainstream" journalists, and given them the presumption of thoroughness, good faith, or neutrality? I'd like to thank Jan Caldwell, Public Affairs Director for the San Diego County Sheriff's Office, for helping me make my point. Recently Ms. Caldwell — who is responsible for the relationship between the Sheriff's office and the press — was on a panel called "Grade the Media." As LAist reported, she...