James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

New York Times vs. BBC

Posted by James McPherson on August 17, 2011

“If I want to know the most important story of the day, the BBC will do me right. If I want to follow an event with bated breath I might be better served by the nytimes.”

That’s a quote from Phillip Mendonça-Vieira, based on a fascinating study of both newspapers, as shared today by Poynter’s Steve Myers. The video above is a side-by-side comparison of the two newspapers’ front pages, through time-lapse photography.

The Times approach reflects Americans’ demand for instant updates, of course. Long known as the “Grey Lady” for its conservative layouts and resistance to change, by comparison to the BBC the lady is quite saucy.

Mendonça-Vieira’s earlier, much longer video of just New York Times front pages is below:

Posted in History, Journalism | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

‘Just say no’ to aliens: Fear of foreigners alive and well under Obama

Posted by James McPherson on March 24, 2009

The Obama administration announced today that it will increase funding for border security. The plan was announced by Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, who until recently was the governor of Arizona, which has seen Mexican drug violence spill over its border.

“The administration is trying to help the Mexican government break up drug cartels believed to be responsible for the killing of roughly 6,500 people in Mexico last year,” CNN reported. BBC went back two years, using a figure of 8,000 deaths.

Fox News was probably the most accurate in its characterization of the plan (now there’s a phrase I never expected to write), highlighting the fact that the funding is “aimed at stopping Mexico violence from entering the U.S.” The lead of the Fox story reads, “The Department of Homeland Security is doubling the number of law enforcement working along the Southwest border and could request border state governors to send National Guardsmen to help curtail spillover violence from Mexico.”

The plan will send $700 million to aid Mexico law enforcement, to be used in part for five new helicopters and “news surveillance aircraft for the Mexican navy.” (Mexican helicopters are apparently cheaper than U.S. ones.)

Mexico is the third-leading provider of imported oil for the United States, but the leading provider of illegal drugs. Oil companies tend to be much more refined than drug cartels in their use of violence, and to have bigger U.S.-backed armies, so in Mexico it’s the drugs, not the oil, fueling the war.

In return, Americans provide the money and the guns to keep the war going–pretty much as we do in the rest of the world, though in this case it’s not through major corporations with the endorsement of the U.S. government. Of course at the government level we are still continuing a failed decades-long “war on drugs” policy instead of taking the simpler, cheaper route of drug legalization.

At least Obama is discontinuing the Bush adminstration policy of overriding state medical marijuana laws, so perhaps fewer cancer patients will die blaming Republicans for their pain. But they and Lou Dobbs can go on blaming Mexicans and other “foreigners” for pretty much everything else, from lost jobs to leprosy.

April 12 follow-up: In the comments section of this post, I referred to legal citizens who were deported during the Great Depression. Apparently it’s happening again (or perhaps still).

Posted in History, Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Snow bits

Posted by James McPherson on July 12, 2008

Whatever he is doing now–maybe trying to keep blacks and homosexuals out of heaven or hell–perhaps Jesse Helms needs a spokesman. Dead today is Tony Snow, the first press secretary ever to actively campaign for Republicans while presenting the “news.” Think of Snow, who hosted a conservative radio program and for a time served as Rush Limbaugh’s primary guest host, as the more attractive and wittier pre-turncoat Scott McClellan.

The following leads came from the BBC, CNN, Fox News, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Washington Times. See if you can guess which is which (click on the letter preceding the headline for a link to the story for each).

And if you can’t get more than a couple, chances are you’re spending too much time relying on one source for news. Incidentally, most news outlets used the Associated Press version of Snow’s obituaries, but these news organizations produced their own.

a) Tony Snow, the former Bush White House press secretary known for his wit and agility at the podium, who inspired others by facing cancer with hope and optimism, died Saturday morning from the disease at Georgetown University Hospital.

b) Former White House press secretary Tony Snow–who once told reporters “I’m a very lucky guy”–died at the age of 53 early Saturday after a second battle with cancer.

c) Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary and conservative pundit who bedeviled the press corps and charmed millions as a FOX News television and radio host, died Saturday after a long bout with cancer.

d) Tony Snow, the conservative columnist and television commentator who relished sparring with reporters during a 17-month stint as President Bush’s press secretary, died on Saturday, the White House said.

e) Tony Snow, 53, the former television and radio talk show host who became President Bush’s chief spokesman and redefined the role of White House press secretary with his lively banter with reporters, died early this morning after losing a high-profile battle with cancer.

f) Former White House press secretary Tony Snow, 53, has died of cancer.

Posted in Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »