December 13, 2016 Last Updated 5:04 pm

Aleppo and the limits of power; no, Virginia, digital media is not doomed – in trouble, yes

Morning Brief: DJT continues to load up his administration with the same corporate executives he railed against during the campaign, but if the media thinks his supporters will believe they are being hoodwinked, then the media is in for a shock

Sometimes the choices are terrible, and sometimes one projects onto others traits that they do not possess. That, I feel, is what has faced Barack Obama when he chooses what course of action to take in the Middle East – that he has not admitted that, and then told the nation, is where he went wrong.

There are no good guys fighting in Syria. Instead, we have Russia backing its long-time ally, against Isis and a group of rebels, fighting a war that is ugly, criminal, and leading to the destruction of the country. But where are the alternatives?

The media, obsessed with the US election most of the year, have rarely asked many smart questions. When Hillary Clinton said she favored a no-fly-zone, an unworkable solution that would be rejected by both the Russians and the Syrian government, the media simply reported that her opponent in the election had no policy at all. Clinton, seen as a hawk, was believed to want a tougher stance against the Assad regime, but what would this mean, and would it even be possible, knowing that Russia would continue to support their client. Trump had no clue, and now is widely believed to favor letting Russia and Assad continue their deadly offensive.

There are limits to American power, and those limits are only made more clear when America tries to project an image of power when it clearly has none. The truth, that there are no good options, would have helped the American people understand why there are so many refugees and so much death. It might have made the US population more sympathetic to their plight. Instead, many see the refugees as simply the result of bad people making bad decisions.

CNN, Euan McKirdy, Emanuella Grinberg and Angela Dewan:

Aleppo: Reports of executions as Syrian army closes in

orces loyal to the Syrian regime have been entering homes in the last pockets of Aleppo held by rebels and shooting people on the spot, the United Nations has said.

A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said it had been told that 82 civilians, including women and children, were shot in their homes or on the streets on Monday.

The grim reports came as government forces continued their advance on the last of the rebel-held neighborhoods in Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial and cultural heart. Government forces on Tuesday were in control of most of eastern Aleppo, as the four-year battle for the city neared a bloody end.

I still don’t think the media quite get the so-called alt-right media phenomenon. There appears to be many journalists who are expecting Donald Trump supporters to be aghast that the president-elect is filling his cabinet with Goldman Sachs executives and military men. That ‘drain the swamp’ was just a slogan.

But this election, despite the BS from both the political media and journalist websites by CJR and Nieman Lab, was not about the media ignoring the white working class. Most journalists, at least from an economic standpoint, are members of the white working class – unless reporter’s pay has increased since I left the newspaper business.

No, this election was about race and power – who has it, and who is losing it. That Clinton was considered too close to Wall Street (she was) and Trump was the outsider representing rural America was a theme that media never questioned, and still doesn’t – expect now when they point out his administration will be filled with more Wall Streeters than Clinton would ever have dared to appoint.

Will Trump supporters complain? If you think so, then you, too, have fallen for the misdirection. The lead story right now on Breitbart News is the appointment of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and readers are loving it. They are loving it by pointing out how liberals are against the move, how liberals think this is a betrayal of all Trump said during the election. In short, they love it because everyone else hates it.

This misreading of reality by the media will give the Trump administration great power because he will position every decision seen as wrong headed as simply the media not getting it. This will, and can continue until decisions that be makes begin to touch the lives of his supporters. This is why privatizing social security and medicare may a bridge too far, though I don’t doubt that Republicans in Congress are eager to go there.

As for whether journalists ‘live in a bubble’ – well, of course, they do. We all live in our own bubbles. Our lives are determined by who we work with, who we associate with, where we live, and how we live. Stop worrying about that, and begin reporting reality – not just your reality, or “their” reality, but the real world – a world filled with bad choices, good and evil players, and much confusion.

The Huffington Post, Paige Lavender:

Donald Trump Names Rex Tillerson Secretary Of State

The president-elect met with Tillerson in New York City on Saturday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday praised Tillerson, who has ties to Russia. Peskov said the CEO acted “highly professional” while working previously with Kremlin representatives on oil company business.

Peskov said Tillerson, who’s been Exxon’s CEO since 2006, has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin “several times.” Putin awarded Tillerson the country’s Order of Friendship in 2013.

The Washington Post, Richard Cohen:

‘Real America’ is its own bubble

After the election, I was repeatedly told that I live in something called a “bubble” and, because of that, I know nothing about my fellow Americans. Well, in the first place, my bubble is bigger than theirs — size ought to matter in this instance — and in the second place, I know plenty. Among the things I know is that Trump voters were played for suckers. After lambasting Clinton as a tool of Wall Street, Trump has so far named four Wall Street figures to his administration — three from Goldman Sachs alone — and an oilman is under consideration. And for the Labor Department, Trump has chosen Andrew Puzder, a fast-food magnate (Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.) who is opposed to a decent minimum wage. This is fast shaping up as a Cabinet of billionaires and, just for leveling, the occasional millionaire. So far, ain’t no one who works with his hands…

…What I cannot understand is fellow bubble dwellers who tell me, with an air of impeccable condescension, that a vote for Trump was such proof of their own superior wisdom that it eclipsed all doubts about his qualifications, his temperament, his honesty in business and his veracity in speech. These people live in a bubble of their own. It is one that excludes the lesson of history and the demands of common sense. It will burst.

The subhead of this article is “No one has figured out how to make internet journalism profitable. And in 2016, it showed.” The article makes some good points, and does not offer up silly recommendations. But I still have a little problem with it, or maybe I have a problem with the subhead the editors threw on it.

Let me be clear about this, Internet journalism will never be “profitable” – that like saying tuning your car can be profitable – journalism is what one does, publishing is the business. If you create a business it might be profitable or unprofitable – journalism is not a business. Except journalists continue to want it to be. Good luck with that.

Being a journalist is like being a repair man. You can do the work for someone and charge them for the service, and you’ll get a few people to do that, and maybe you’ll make enough money to survive, maybe. But build a business, build a lot of services around that business and you have Pep Boys, or a newspaper, or a cable TV network. Newspapers are failing because they are run by newspaper people who fail to understand this.

Name me the single greatest brand name in newspapers – The New York Times, right? Now, think for a minute how that brand name is being exploited, what new businesses have been created because of the brand cachet.

Like it or not, the best run newspaper company in the US is News Corp. Not because Rupert Murdoch is making money hand over fist publishing newspapers, or that his newspapers are even any good, but because News Corp is a diversified company that includes book publishing and digital real estate services. It also has in-store marketing services (News America Marketing). It was even more profitable before the film and broadcast units were spun-off to create 21st Century Fox.

Now, imagine if you could combine the two – the brand cachet of the NYT with the business know-how of Murdoch. That is the challenge, because we all know that if Murdoch bought the NYT he’d destroy it, and if the NYT bought News Corp it would whittle down the products until it returned to just one, one called The New York Times.

The article below lists off the failures of the media this year, and in the end comes up with no solutions. We’re all doomed. Yet it also, inadvertently lists off successes, those that are competing against the traditional media. The real question we should begin asking ourselves is this: where can good journalism exist where it can be supported, nurtured, and expanded? And can good journalism co-exist with profitable publishing and broadcasting? I say it can, I am still not fatalistic about our profession, or our business. But I understand that many of those who currently work as journalists have never worked for a growing, profitable enterprise, one where raises were handed out two times or more a year. I have, I remember, and I refuse to believe the world of publishing is “doomed” – in trouble, yes; doomed, no.

The New Republic, Theodore Ross:

The Year Everyone Realized Digital Media Is Doomed

So what to do? Pivot from what Ali called the “tyranny of scale”? Make way for the wondrous return of quality? The short answer is … no. Plenty of good journalism got made in 2016. The case could even be made that we live in a golden age of good journalism, with more of the good stuff being made by more good people dedicated to doing it good and getting paid to do it than ever before. Companies experimented with other revenue concepts, often successfully. Subscription models, like the ones offered by Business Insider and Politico, showed promise; we can expect to see more publishers trying this out. (Axios, the new subscription-based venture from Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei, will apparently be asking $10,000 per year of its members.) People kept branding content, or marketing it, or going native with it. But the click abides.

Indeed, while companies flirted with hip new revenue models, most merely redoubled their efforts to get more clicks, with help from the latest would-be click-savior: video… People like video. They like to click it and they like to share it. No one denies this. But the money from video, while better, is still made in the same failed and self-defeating way as it is with text. The click. Always the click

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