Can soap operas teach newspapers how to survive?
Howard Kurtz described the drama at TechCrunch as ‘a clash of cultures‘ on Sunday’s ‘Reliable Sources.’
The truth is these two cultures — between what is now commonly labeled as ‘new media’ and ‘old media’ — have been clashing for a while now.
A media war has been quietly brewing for much of the past decade. The battle lines are largely being drawn by those who know a lot about technology and business, but virtually nothing about producing and gathering news. Those constitutionally charged with keeping the American public informed—journalists—are scrambling to figure out ways to change its revenue-generating model so that it can better compete in a changing media landscape.
That all came to a boiling point earlier this month when Michael Arrington, the founder of tech news site, TechCrunch, announced he would launch a venture capital fund with AOL, which purchased TechCrunch a year ago. It was initially reported that Arrington would remain editor-in-chief of TechCrunch at the same time he would be investing in tech companies that were either covered by his website or competed against his investments. Regardless, such a deal flew in the face of traditional journalistic ethics and legacy publications, like The New York Times, cried foul.
In the end, Arrington wound up reluctantly parting company with AOL — and leaving the company he founded — at his boss’ insistence.
My question: Who won this battle? Or did we all lose?
Was it Arrington, who represents the new face of those who traffic in information, as Jeff Jarvis, director of the interactive journalism program at the City University’s Graduate School of Journalism of New York, puts it. While Arrington was forced out by Arianna Huffington, who runs AOL/HuffingtonPost, he walks away with $10 million from AOL to help start his new venture, CrunchFund and can start another blog.
Was it so-called legacy publications that have journalistic standards it adheres to that apparently prevailed with Arrington’s departure?
Or did both sides lose? The public already has a perception that objective journalism is a myth. Arrington’s defense is that he has always been upfront about his potential conflicts of interest and that is what separates him from so-called journalists who pretend otherwise.
I call it a draw considering that the same weekend there seemed to finally be an end to the AOL TechCrunch drama, hackers took over NBC’s Twitter account, undermining traditional media’s efforts to distribute reliable news using new media tools. And the war wages on….
For those who missed it, here are parts 1 and 2 of the ‘Reliable Sources’ War at TechCrunch report:
Davis was convicted and sentenced to death in 1991 for the 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Davis’s conviction was based largely on eyewitness testimony and, in the intervening years, the case against him has fallen apart. Seven of the nine witnesses against Davis have recanted or contradicted their testimony and three of those witnesses now claim their testimony was coerced. In addition, two other witnesses have stated they never saw the murder and that their testimony was false. No physical evidence links Davis to the crime. Still, the Georgia Department of Corrections plans to execute him later this month.
Now 42, Davis has been in prison for more than 19 years.
In addition to organizing marches, a hallmark of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization is fighting Davis’ pending execution by using Twitter, blogs and even Youtube. The organization has also created a mobile petition. The NAACP is encouraging the community to text “TROY” to 62227 to add names to a petition to save his life.
“With the execution set for Sept. 21, there is very little that can be done but the NAACP is not letting this man go down without a fight. Thankfully, technology is at our disposal and could potentially be what helps saves a life,” states BlackWeb2.0, a website helping to get the word out about Davis.
On Monday, Sept. 19, two days before the scheduled execution, Davis will have a clemency hearing in front of the five-member Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole. At the end of the hearing, the Board will decide, via majority vote, whether to grant Davis clemency.
Though he was denied clemency in the past, the board’s membership has changed since Davis’ last hearing and, in the interim, new witnesses have come forward.
With the clemency hearing and the execution date fast approaching, the NAACP realizes the best, and fastest, way to get out its message and to mobilize is the internet.
This is Davis’ last chance, states a page dedicated to Davis on the NAACP’s website.
- Text “TROY” to 62227 to add your name to a petition to save Troy Davis’ life. Or
- Take action by signing this online Amnesty International petition opposing the death penalty for Troy Davis.
Eleven of the 50 richest members of the U.S. Congress have ties to the growing technology and new media sector, including the top two spots on the list, according to a report published today by Roll Call.
The majority of those who comprise the exclusive list derive their income from real estate holdings and trust funds or their spouse is the one with the money. Another commonality on the list is that there is little to no diversity in terms of race or ethnicity (gender either when looking at the shortened tech/media list). And while many average Americans feel they are financially worse off than they were a year ago, most of the members on Roll Call’s list — not just the tech media types — have actually seen their wealth grow (substantially) over the past year.
More to the point, the fact that 11 members on the list have technology and media ties is worth noting considering the reliance President Barack Obama is placing on this sector to produce new jobs. Technology media companies are also currently under several congressional and regulatory reviews as well, so it only makes sense to know which lawmakers may have some general — or more compelling — interest in the field.
One of the newspapers covering Washington D.C. politics and policy, Roll Call states it determines the richest lawmakers by adding up the minimum value of total assets reported by each Member on their annual financial disclosures and subtracts the minimum liabilities. The publication also calculates the percent change in wealth based on disclosure forms from the previous year. An asset valued at $5 million to $25 million is counted at the lesser amount, as is a liability valued at $1 million to $5 million.
The wealthiest members with connections to the tech media industry are:
#1 Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, $294.21 million, +298.9% change: Currently serving his fourth term in Congress, Mr. McCaul has the distinction of being the richest lawmaker in Washington, at least on paper. Most of McCaul’s wealth is held by his wife, Linda McCaul, the daughter of Clear Channel Communications CEO and founder, Lowry Mays. The McCauls also benefit from the ever popular ‘generational wealth transfer,’ according to Roll Call. On his financial disclosure, McCaul listed a new asset — the Linda McCaul Descendant Trusts — owned by his wife that was valued at more than $50 million.
#2 Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., $220.40 million, +37.7% change: Before his election to Congress in 2001, Mr. Issa made his fortune founding Directed Electronics. Based in Vista, Calif., it manufactured car alarms. Now his wealth is concentrated in two companies that own and operate industrial properties in California: DEI LLC and Greene Properties, Inc.
#5 Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., $76.30 million, +8.7% change: Mr. Warner earned his millions as a telecom mogul. He co-founded Nextel Communications, a nationwide push to talk mobile communications system that is now part of Sprint. This year Mr. Warner saw his wealth grow by more than $6 million, thanks in part to his stake in Columbia Capital Equity Partners. The Alexandria, Va.-based venture capital firm invests in wireless, broadband, media and enterprise information technology. Formed in 1989, the franchise has invested and funded more than 130 global companies in core markets, according to its website.
#6 Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., $65.91 million, +16.7% change: A self-described Internet Executive, Mr. Polis co-founded his first company, American Information Systems, while still a student at Princeton. An internet access, web hosting and application service provider, the company predated his two other successful ventures: bluemountain.com, an online greeting card website that he sold to Excite@Home in a deal worth $780 million and an online florist company, ProFlowers, that has since expanded to become Provide Commerce, Inc., acquired in 2006 by Liberty Media Corporation. Polis also founded the Jared Polis Foundation, with a mission of creating opportunities for success through education and technology. The foundation refurbishes and donates computers to schools and nonprofits among other initiatives.
#7 Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., $55.07 million, 10.8% change: Mr. Lautenberg founded the data-processing company, ADP, but he also maintains two blind trusts that accounts for the lion’s share of his wealth: one valued at $5 million to $25 million and another at $1 million to $5 million. The other sizable portion of his riches comes from his wife, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, and her expansive stake in New York real estate.
#22 Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., $11.60 million, +182.9% change: Mr. Franks founded an oil and gas exploration firm where the bulk of his money comes from, but he also owns the U.S. patents for the LP1000 Life Pager, a decoy pager that contains pepper spray for self-defense. Franks reported no income from these assets, but valued them at #100,000 to $250,000.
#26 Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., $10.60 million, +16.4 change: Mr. Petri’s largest asset is his stake in Walgreen Co., valued at a minimum of $5 million. His other investments include at least $1 million each in U.S. Bank, Berkshire Hathaway and Lloyd’s of London. He is being included in this list because of what he sold off this year: Petri discarded his shares of the Washington Post Company in a transaction valued at $100,000 to $250,000.
#29 Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, $10.28 million, -1.6% change: Mr. Harkin is one of the few members of Congress who appears to be worse off than he was a year ago, albeit not bad enough to keep his name from appearing on the wealthiest members list. Despite the fact that nearly all of Mr. Harkin’s wealth is contributed by his wife, Ruth Harkin, nearly all of it also comes from holdings of more than $1 million in United Technologies Corp. stock., where Ruth Harkin previously served as senior vice president for international affairs and government relations, according to Roll Call. United Technologies specializes in providing high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building industries worldwide. Ruth Harkin recently accepted a seat on the advisory board of NTR PLC, a Dublin-based company that focuses on renewable energy.
#39 Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, $8.51 million, n/a change: Before he assumed office this year, Mr. Farenthold, an attorney, also worked as a conservative radio talk show host and founded a computer consulting and web design firm. His largest asset, however, is a trust valued at $5 million to $25 million. He also reported another family trust, the Morgan Trust in the Benefit of R. Blake Farenthold, valued at $1 million to $5 million. Farenthold’s grandmother is the late Annie Blake Morgan Head, the daughter of oilman/farmer Rand Morgan.
#40 Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., $8.44 million, -13.3% change: Mr. Campbell derives most of his income from real estate holdings but is being included on this list because he is a managing member of Fast Cars and Freedom Publications LLC with an investment of $15,000 to $50,000. Based in San Diego, Calif., this asset did not produce any income in 2010, according to Mr. Campbell’s disclosure report.
#46 Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., $7.41 million, +7.4% change: Mr. Bingaman’s largest asset declined by more than $1 million in 2010, but thanks to several new investments to his portfolio, he remains one of the wealthiest lawmakers in Washington, D.C. One of the additions is his wife’s $1 million purchase of Cerca Acquisition, a New York-based private equity fund that owns a New Mexico-based software company.