Friday, November 26, 2010

Da Biz: News Nonprofits Hurting

Remember a year ago when everyone was predicting the imminent death of print media? The gloomy forecasts were made not least by newspaper moguls themselves (often looking for government handouts). Turns out the dailies are doing just fine now that the economy's back, while the bell is already tolling for many of the online nonprofit news sites that were supposed to take over the dailies' market. Many are closing, while withering competition is coming from the likes of Yahoo, which is expanding localized news coverage. Meanwhile, many of the few remaining nonprofits survive only because they are propped up by single rich families, as this interesting overview explains.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tools: 2010 Online Hack Gift Guide

What kind of gift to get your online journalist friends? The Online Journalism Review has all the answers in its 2010 holiday gift guide. From smart phone to computer and still camera, the OJR has your buddy covered. Yeah, I know - do you really need all that sh@*? Frankly, I'm skeptical. It's basically tech porn, and I don't have any of that junk myself. But then again, I sit in my office all day in my slippers and rarely have to go anywhere, so what do I know! :)

Books: Whistleblower Details PR Campaign to Discredit Sicko

After Michael Moore came out with his film indicting the health industry, Sicko, the U.S. insurance biz was scared. Real scared. It developed a "very, very sophisticated" PR campaign to discredit Moore as a "Marxist" out to destroy the American Dream, says insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter, who played a key role in the efforts to attack the film. The campaign included sponsoring a front group supposedly representing consumers, which uncritical journalists quoted speaking out against Moore without reporting that the group was largely funded by health insurers.
Potter later became disillusioned and has written a book, Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks out on How Corporate PR is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans. Read Potter's interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Investigations: Dentists Using More High-Radiation Devices

While doctors have mounted campaigns to limit radiation use on children and adolescents, dentists are going in the opposite direction, reports this New York Times investigation. Not only do most dentists still use outmoded X-ray equipment; they are also increasingly using devices called cone-beam CT scanners that emit hundreds of times more radiation than an airport scanner. They provide 3-D images of teeth and the skull and are widely used when kids get braces.

The device's makers often market the product with the help of dentists paid or sponsored by the companies, who the Times says have peddled misleading information.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Investigations: Who Killed Lebanon's Rafik Hariri?

Interesting CBC-TV investigation here on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.