Monday, April 22, 2013

Morning Brief: CNN taken to the woodshed for Boston coverage: NYT revives Koch Brothers newspaper bid story, but doesn't add to it; Apple issues updates

The NYT's media columnist David Carr this morning reviews the performance of CNN during the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing news cycle, and like viewers, finds the network wanting, saying that " when big news breaks, we instinctively look to CNN. We want CNN to be good, to be worthy of its moment. That impulse took a beating last week."

I'm not sure I would agree that "we instinctively look to CNN" so much as there are no real alternatives in many cases. None of the cable news channels are actually devoted to news 24/7 but instead offer news-talk entertainment shows during much of the day. Turning to CNN then is simply what viewers do when desperate for instant information.

Although Carr makes some good points I think he misses the central fact that the reason the cable news channels are not very good is that they lack the reporting power and adult supervision necessary to do good work. Far too often "reporting" is equated with a television host staring into their phones hoping someone will provide them with some information. Reporting is reduced down to hoping for information coming in rather than going out and getting it. To be honest, without better feet on the ground there is little an on-air personality can do.

But the network also seems to be lacking in adult supervision, that one person who will ask the right question – like "are we sure of our information?" – before going on-air. It led to the incident where CNN claimed an arrest had been made and then an hour of backing away from their own claim. Yes, it was embarrassing, but more importantly it was just bad reporting (or should I say, a lack of reporting.

The NYT's Amy Chozick follows up on the L.A. Weekly's claim that the Koch Brothers may bid on the Tribune Company papers that include the L.A. Times and Chicago Tribune. The problem with the story is that if offers nothing new: no new evidence that the Koch Brothers really are in the market to pick up the papers.

I found the piece pretty embarrassing for the paper of record since the same piece could have been written weeks ago.

Having said that, it would not come as a surprise that someone bids on the papers motivated by the political clout a paper offers rather than the financial return. I wrote this about the situation at The Boston Globe: "Ultimately the best price for the Globe will come from a buyer with political motives to own a newspaper rather than financial motives (as was the case in San Diego).

Apple released new versions of its Safari browser and iPhoto, as well as a bug fix update to Xcode.

The update to Safari (6.0.4) now allows users to enable the Java plug-in on a website by website basis. Most users find Java a world of hurt on the Mac but sometimes need to enable Java to use some sites as designed.

The update to iPhoto involves refinements to Photo Stream which was touted as an important new feature when introduced. Users, however, were appalled to find that if one used the service one couldn't delete individual photos. As a result, users were hesitant to use something that was not editable and might end up embarrassing them in the long run. Apple has been trying to improve the service ever since.