Jack Shafer

Poynter chat: Should journalists support Trayvon Martin, Gov. Walker recall?

March 28, 2012

Reuters columnist Jack Shafer will discuss Gannett’s response to journalists who supported the Gov. Scott Walker recall in Wisconsin, as well as how ESPN handled the Trayvon Martin situation, specifically by dropping the ban that prevented its staff from publishing photos of themselves wearing hoodies.

Free the Gannett 25!

By Jack Shafer
March 27, 2012

Last week, the hall monitors who run Gannett’s 11 newspapers in Wisconsin brought the mean end of the ruler down on the wrists of 25 journalists for signing petitions to recall Governor Scott Walker.

Malia malarkey

By Jack Shafer
March 21, 2012

Almost every professional American journalist accepts the convention that the private lives of the president’s pre-adult children — their participation in school and extracurricular events; their private trips; their personal lives — shall not be covered except, as was the case with the Bush twins, when they’re charged with breaking the law.

Mike Daisey’s brief guide to answering difficult questions

By Jack Shafer
March 20, 2012

Thanks to the “Retraction” episode of This American Life and his appearance at Georgetown University last night, we now know more than we ever wanted to about Mike Daisey’s damage control theories.

Busting Mr. Daisey

By Jack Shafer
March 16, 2012

This week, the highly regarded public radio show This American Life learned a lesson that many journalists, including me, have learned the hard way: It’s almost impossible for an editor to fact-check a contributor who lies.

Dismantling the Capote myth

By Jack Shafer
March 14, 2012

Long before literary provocateur John D’Agata was rankling the journalistic establishment with his unorthodox reporting “techniques” — changing dates, merging quotations, altering statistics, constructing composite characters — to “seek a truth … but not necessarily accuracy,” writer Truman Capote was doing the same in his most famous work, 1966′s In Cold Blood.

Chris Hughes friends the New Republic

By Jack Shafer
March 9, 2012

Chris Hughes joins the pantheon of vanity press moguls with the announcement today of his purchase of a majority interest in the New Republic. The 28-year-old Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, commands a net worth that Forbes put “in the $700 million range” last year. Based on this portfolio, Hughes should be able to sustain the magazine’s annual losses — which Anne Peretz, the ex-wife of former owner Martin Peretz put at $3 million a year — for a couple of hundred years after his death.

Kony baloney

By Jack Shafer
March 8, 2012

Call me a traditionalist, but when a non-fiction film’s soundtrack includes anything but incidental music, my eyes cease to view it as a documentary and begin to receive it as propaganda. Kony 2012, this week’s viral video sensation on YouTube and Vimeo, reaches for the heart-melting, minor-chord music about 16 seconds into its 30-minute run, efficiently alerting me to its emotional scheme.

What’s so great about moderates?

By Jack Shafer
March 6, 2012

Could David Brooks, Frank Bruni and Joe Nocera be any more disappointed with the Republican Party? Over the last week, the three New York Times columnists have written op-eds about how miserable the ultra-Republicanness of the Republican Party establishment has made life for moderate Republican officeholders.

Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)

By Jack Shafer
March 1, 2012

You’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, a rule I always ignore when somebody famous or newsworthy dies. If we shouldn’t be overly sentimental about death because we all die anyway, what better time to assess a life than when it ends, even if prematurely as in the case of media provocateur Andrew Breitbart, who died today at the age of 43? In the case of Breitbart, a man who gloried in savaging his political enemies whether they were dead or alive, there’s little reason to hold fire until the funeral baked meats have gone cold.