Journalism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Journalism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

journalists the heroes that we root for in movies like all the President's Men the great Muppet Caper and most recently spotlight we gotta nail these scumbags we gotta show people that nobody could get away with this not a priest or a cardinal a freakin Pope I remember spotlight actually won Best Picture at the Oscars this year meaning newspapers finally received the recognition that we normally reserved the subject of such importance as the incredible bravery of real-life Hollywood filmmakers the incredible bravery of fictional Hollywood filmmakers and the incredible bravery of wanting to your daughter's friends but but one of one of the things that made spotlights so powerful is the knowledge that the newspaper industry today is in big trouble papers have been closing and downsizing for years and that affects all of us even if you only get your news from Facebook Google Twitter or Arianna Huffington's blockwork Junction and book excerpt Clearinghouse those places are often just repackaging the work of newspapers and it is not just websites watch how often TV news ends up citing print sources according to the Chicago Tribune according to the Detroit Free Press according to the San Francisco Chronicle according to The Times Picayune the Boston Globe the Orlando Sentinel the Philadelphia Inquirer the Pittsburgh tribune-review the Detroit News and the Houston Chronicle reports the Los Angeles Times reports The Oklahoman reports The Hartford Courant reports the Salt Lake Tribune reports it's pretty obvious without newspapers around to cite TV news would just be Wolf Blitzer endlessly batting a ball of yarn around and it is not just news outlets stupid shows like ours lean heavily on local papers in fact whenever this show is mistakenly called journalism it is a slap in the face to the actual journalists whose work we rely on I'll give you just one example two years ago we ran a piece on state lotteries and a not insignificant portion of it was built on the work of Harry Astaire a reporter at The Oregonian here is a clip we used of him talking about this series on camera Here I am quoting one of his Oregonian stories directly and Here I am doing it again you probably didn't notice it at the time because you were too fixated on my balls choice of shiny gray tie we check a dress shirt the ty says mafia funeral the shirt says high school debate tournament and the face says I am not confident enough to carry this lock off but but the point is we used a lot of hairy steps work in that piece and and we try to add new information to our stories our researchers work incredibly hard but the media is a food chain which would fall apart without local newspapers and the problem is print ads are less popular than with advertisers than they used to be and online ads produce much less revenue I'll show you between 2004 and 2014 newspapers gained two billion dollars in online ad revenue unfortunately in that same period they lost thirty billion dollars in print revenue so that's like finding a Lucky Penny on the sidewalk on the same day your bank account is drained by a 16 year old Belgian hacker and this has led to cutbacks in newsrooms again look at the Oregonian it used to be a big moneymaker in fact in 1993 their editor talked about how proud he was of its record of success I've been at that paper more than 40 years and every year I've been there I've seen our staff increase I've seen our salaries increase not a years gone by that an employee at the Reunion full-time employee has not been a beneficiary of a raise now that level of confidence is almost tempting fate he's like a citizen of Pompeii saying what I love about this city is how volcano-proof it is not a year goes by without us not having to have our horrified reactions captured in Ash forever unfortunately the Oregonian circulation has since dropped and in 2013 just as hairiest EV was working on his lottery series their parent company advanced publications dropped a bombshell this picture tweeted out from inside the Oregonian shows staffers listening as editor Peter Bhatia broke the news some had feared the paper will split in two stop seven-day-a-week Home Delivery and lay off some employees this is an a strategic move to really focus everybody on what that digital future is and what our digital products and services can be it's true they became a digital first company and digital first sounds like a high school euphemism for seductively sucking on a finger I put my finger in his mouth we totally got to digital first it was like ooh but it was also like hot and that that meant big changes a local weekly the willamette week got their hands on a PowerPoint presentation for the Oregonian staff outlining the fact reporters would be expected to meet a quota of three blog posts a day and on any post of substance they would have to post the first comment and what better way to win the trust of your readers than posting first underneath your own article those rules were widely criticized and have since been relaxed but extra digital demands being placed on journalists is now common throughout the industry just listen to Washington Post editor Marty Baron who you might remember as the guy Liev Schreiber played in spotlight he describes his concerns about the average workload required of journalists they have to do their traditional reporting they have participate in social media they have to produce a wire service that's available 24 hours a day they have to be responsible for video you name it they're involved they're involved in it it's a lot to ask that's true and if journalists are constantly required to write edit shoot videos and tweet mistakes are going to get made perhaps that is how the Boston Globe wound up tweeting following a shooting in Tennessee that the FBI had invested farted about 70 leaks clearly if they had more time they would have written hashtag investor farted because that's how you drive the conversation hashtag investor party now now add the Oregonian and the Oregonian those digital demands came just as almost a quarter of the newsroom was laid off and over time even more staffers left the paper including State House reporters a two-time Pulitzer winner and Harry is Steph so his work bolstered our lottery piece and now the lack of his work has bolstered this journalism piece so you can't say that we don't use every part of the hairiest EV but here is where it gets frightening because while the Oregonian rebuilt its Statehouse team other papers have been forced to simply go without a study of over 200 papers found between 2003 and 2014 their number of full-time State House reporters declined by 35 percent and that's not good because while there are some great web outlets some of which do cover local government there aren't nearly enough to replace what has been lost just listen to David Simon who before creating the TV show the wire worked for years at the Baltimore Sun the day I run into a Huffington Post reporter at a Baltimore Zoning Board hearing is the day that I will be confident that we've actually reached some sort of equilibrium you know there there's no glory in that kind of journalism but that is the bedrock of what keeps you know got the next 10 or 15 years in this country are going to be a halcyon error for state and local political corruption is gonna be one of the great times to be a corrupt politician well you know I I really envy them I really do he's right because not having reporters at government meetings is like a teacher leaving her room of seventh graders to supervise themselves best-case scenario Brittany gets gum in her hair worst case scenario you no longer have a school I look it is clearly smart for newspapers to expand online but the danger in doing that is the temptation to gravitate toward whatever gets the most clicks which is why news organizations badly need to have leaders who appreciate that what's popular isn't always what's most important but that is not always the case look at Sam Zell a billionaire investor and living garden gnome nine nine years ago he took over the Tribune Company which owns newspapers like the LA Times the Orlando Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune after acquiring the company he spoke to the Sentinels nervous staff outlining his vision and listened to one particular exchange with a journalist his his last two words are perhaps the most illuminating 11 very simple I want to make enough money so I can afford you it's really that simple okay you need to in effect help me by being a journalist that focuses and what our readers want and therefore generates more revenue but what readers want a puppy dogs II mean we also need to inform the community sorry I'm sorry ah I can't hug him you're you're giving me the classic what I would call journalistic arrogance of deciding that puppies don't come hopefully they get to the point where our revenue is so significant that we can do puppies interact okay whoa Sam Zell just created an inspiring new motto for the Sentinels masthead all the puppy news that's fit to print and maybe some Iraq news too if we can afford it q now now the good news is Zell no longer owns the tribune company the bad news is their latest attempt to balance business pressures with journalistic responsibility has not been confidence-inspiring just this year its publishing arm tribute publishing was rebranded into something much much stupider this is the future of journalists this is the future of content it doesn't get much better than that if you care about media and technology this is the place to be Truong stands for attribute online content yes trunk they have chosen to call themselves trunk which sounds like the noise and ejaculating elephant mates or or more appropriately the sound of a stack of print newspapers being thrown into a dumpster and if you are wondering how trunks business model will be different get ready to have your minds trunked one of the key ways we're going to harness the power of our journalism is to have a optimization group this trunk team will work with all the local markets to harness the power of our local journalism feed it into a funnel and then optimize it so that we reach the biggest global audience possible what did she just say they're going to feed journalism into a funnel oh we're just going to take content and simply cram it down your throat like you're an abused goose and the corresponding visuals make even less sense what is happening here it looks like a bunch of digital sperm impregnating a trunk egg filming but what seems at first like a banal corporate rebranding speech quickly goes off the rails with their next big idea artificial intelligence is going to allow journalists to do their jobs more efficiently finding the right photos the videos the databases the things that you were packaged your stories with right now that's a manual effort with artificial intelligence you can create a system that automatically is doing that for you ok ok ok putting aside the news robots I would like to take a moment to break down what may be the most meaningless graphic ever created we take a look on the left there is the phrase reading habits but once those reading habits undergo X they become increased consumption it almost feels like a test and the first employee to raise their hand and say that doesn't mean anything becomes king of the news and look it is easy to make fun of tronc I could happily do it for another 20 minutes but the truth is publishers are desperate no one seems to have a perfect plan to keep newspapers afloat one option seems to be to pray you get bought by a billionaire benefactor who could afford to swallow losses Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 and since then they've done some spectacular journalism and the reporters seem pretty happy despite some of his stupider ideas like and this is true a game that would allow a reader who didn't enjoy an article to pay to remove its vowels which is just absurd taking out all the vowels makes every word sound like the name of an app I'll give you an example Turkey is a nation in crisis Turk is a dating service that helps you long-haul truckers but but there are potential downsides to having a rich owner especially if there is a concern that they could meddle with the papers coverage just look at what happened to the Las Vegas review-journal last year it was acquired by Sheldon Adelson at the billionaire casino magnate and Republican mega donor he's a big deal in Vegas and his businesses are at the center of a lot of stories the reviewed journal covers but while Adelson and the papers editors have strongly denied that he interferes with news coverage in any way the editors have admitted that they put any articles about him or his business through a special review process to make sure that they are fair although listen to an ex deputy deputy editor describe his experience of that process in this review process things are changed things are added things are removed there's no explanation for why and there's no appeal more than once reporters have asked if they could have their name taken off the story and have been told no that's not allowed anymore there are things that are done because it's known that this is the way Sheldon Adelson wants it to read and it can be something very minor or it can be something very very big now if that's true that is very compromising there could not be a worse owner of a paper in Vegas than Sheldon Adelson with the possible exception of cirque de soleil because they wouldn't even give you a newspaper you just have a fistful of glitter thrown in your face by a 90-pound man in a thong and and look look none of this is to say that there aren't people producing great work in local news rooms right now many are at the Oregonian at the review-journal even at trunk but they are doing it despite their current conditions and the truth is a big part of the blame for this industry's dire straits is on us and our unwillingness to pay for the work journalists produce we've just grown accustomed to getting unused for free and the longer that we get something for free the less willing we are to pay for it and I'm talking to you the person watching this segment on YouTube using the Wi-Fi from the coffee shop underneath your apartments killing us so later we are either going to have to pay for journalism or we are all going to pay for it because if we don't not only will malfeasance run amok but the journalism movies of the future are going to look a lot more like this in a city built on secrets I'm hearing there's corruption in City Hall only a newsroom willing to stop at nothing can uncover the truth and might go all the way to the top all the way to the top a new and I think we could prove that they knew yeah I'm just not sure what can I clicks we're gonna get on that you know anybody else I've got a thing about a cat that looks like a raccoon or it could be a raccoon it looks like a cat wait I'm not sure now we're talking yeah yeah yeah yeah that's great let's figure that out all right yeah maybe an online poll it's political corruption in Boston we'll come back to that if we have time but I like the rat cat rat cat that's great what blow the roof off that eats the movie critics are hailing as genuinely deflating and depressingly accurate The Oregonian raves but who needs a Drake for reporters uh actually I'm taking a buyout three reporters technically I'm not a reporter I'm the director of social media strategies but I consider myself an important part of the editor to reporters I'm also leaving I'm being replaced by Ripa though this is one reporter and some kind of burnt orange X choose the story of a lifetime what is the thing dog until RocketBallz we're talking all the way up to the mayor I got kids man I want to sit – yo yo honey is all hey nobody Holley and Arica mcdonnen Hey sorry to interrupt hi hi doing buddy I gotta talk to you about your Twitter it's like a ghost town in here what's going on man we talked about this eight tweets a day I'm in the middle of t-bone how many tweets eight that's right okay we're not counting retweets he wasn't just up against the most powerful voices in City Hall I need answers and you're the only one who could give him to me he was up against the most powerful voices at his newspapers fair in we gotta show people that no one can get away with this we got a nail League scumbags let me stop you right there hopefully we can get to the point where we can do racoon cats and City Hall but we're not there so few the journal-constitution raids actually we had to get rid of our full-time movie reviewer nine years ago so we haven't seen it yet and the Las Vegas review-journal says for fun and excitement look no further than Sheldon Adelson's casinos and resorts don't care about you people I still believe in newspapers I hear you but technically you don't work for a newspaper anymore you work at a multi-platform content generation distribution network now the REC cat is it adorable or skim you know what it's like it's cute could it be scary though we could make it scary as mics get some clicks cuz some retweets get some forward I'm talking about corruption in City Hall yeah we're gonna get back the archdiocese gotta keep it moving I gotta keep it moving we just need a story we can fun okay bud you know yeah there you go like a little piggies tail funnel vision exactly think of like a witch's head upside down went for the car monocle actually we rebranded yeah you work for short is charm hey there you go that's a good idea for a story stoplight he tried to break the story he was told to pump the brakes oh hey Tommy hey got great news for you I'm gonna take you off that whole City Hall thing have you worked the raccoon cat beat with Chloe air cat record Melissa reckon cow anyway I really want you to dig on this thing okay you know dig like a raccoon cat stop light coming soon to a midsize American city newspaper near you

20 thoughts on “Journalism: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

  1. Real Journalism doesnt exist anymore. Reports are usually just opinion pieces, unbalanced and incorrectly sourced. My old English teacher would be turning in her grave.

  2. Someone who's show's on HBO tells people to "be careful" or whatever? Fuck you. If you really gave a shit you'd be on a show like, well ya know. One that you're not.

  3. Someone who's show's on HBO tells people to "be careful" or whatever? Fuck you. If you really gave a shit you'd be on a show like, well ya know. One that you're not.

  4. "what's popular isn't always right?" so basically the electoral college is correct and we should be glad Hillary lost lol

  5. Why don't they create a system of paying back the news source? I think that would generate revenue for these sources

  6. hhmmmm maybe the reason liberal outlets are suffering is because theres a few too many of these 'journalists" good riddance maybe people dont want to pay for a propaganda machine they perfer real news outlets

  7. Sorry John, but even subscribing to HBO (at least in my country) would do jackshit due to censorship.


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