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Fewer Americans Than Ever Before Trust The Mainstream Media – Forbes

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The death of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh this week spawned a predictable flurry of news coverage about him that touched on all the big chapters of his three-decade career. He was a fire-breathing right-wing provocateur, we were reminded; a bigot; a smash-mouth; a GOP standard-bearer; an avatar of traditional conservatism who morphed into a champion of Donald Trump’s burn-it-all-down brand of politics; a peddler of disinformation and half-truths; a horrible human being; a loving husband; he was all that, and more, the news coverage told us.

What much of the reportage failed to spend much time on, however, is the mistrust of traditional, mainstream media that helped grease the skids of Limbaugh’s career in the first place. Which is why it must be noted, even as the man who led a talk radio revolution is now gone — his death happens to coincide with a moment when fewer people than ever trust traditional media, according to the results of a new survey.

For the first time, Edelman’s annual trust barometer, which it shared with Axios, revealed that fewer than half of all Americans acknowledge any kind of trust in the mainstream media. Fifty-six percent of Americans, for example, said they agreed with the following statement: “Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

The results go on to show that 59% of Americans said they agree with this statement: That “most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.” And 61% of Americans think that “The media is not doing well at being objective and non-partisan.”

“El Rushbo” built his entire career out of an understanding of that reality. It’s hard not to read those new statistics and flash back to some of the highlights of his career, like the time in 2013 where he blasted journalists as “dangerous to the republic.” And in response to one particular news article that set him off during a radio broadcast, he railed against journalists thus: “We might want to start considering, at least talking about registering journalists, just like we have to register guns. Background checks and all of that. Because this is mental illness. This is bordering on delusion, this piece. It really is incredible… We ought to register these journalists.”

The deeper you look at this issue, though, you start to see the same pattern on both sides of the political divide. Too many news consumers start out with a world view, and either acquire or dismiss facts depending on whether or not they snap together like missing puzzle pieces in a jigsaw of the mind. Liberals railed at The New York Times

NYT
Washington correspondent Maggie Haberman for pretty much the entirety of the Trump presidency if she had a piece that dutifully reported some action he’d taken that didn’t find a way to also suggest that he was the devil incarnate.

Similarly, there’s a tendency among many right-leaning consumers of news to regard any updated story, containing new facts or a fuller picture emerging in the wake of an initial piece of breaking news, to be evidence of some kind of conspiratorial back-tracking. Example: The New York Times in recent days quietly updated the story it published more than a month ago now that included details about the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who it was originally reported was killed during the January 6 riots after being struck by a fire extinguisher.

His death quickly became one of many symbols that news outlets and prominent Democrats fixated on by why of (correctly) speaking out about how awful the insurrectionists’ actions were. Only … the original narrative surrounding his death may not actually told the correct story of how Sicknick died.

New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police,” reads an update posted at the top of the Times’ original story. In a separate story from earlier this month, the Times reported: “One Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, was killed, and investigators are increasingly focused on whether chemical irritants were a factor in his death, according to a senior law enforcement official.”

This is the kind of thing that sends conservatives into a rage, when original narratives get changed — because of the very prosaic, commonplace reason that new information emerges — which leaves them believing that reporters are somehow in cahoots with Democrats, grasping for whatever narrative will do harm to the other side.

Where does all this philosophical tribalism end, when it begins to impact sources of news that are supposed to be honest brokers of information? Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan has written that “our goal should go beyond merely putting truthful information in front of the public. We should also do our best to make sure it’s widely accepted.” New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, has talked about the need to, in the wake of the January 6 riots that were facilitated by some media outlets peddling misinformation, “figure out how we rein in our media environment, so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation. AOC made those comments during an Instagram Live, adding that media literacy and the lack thereof “is a part of what happened here.”

Edelman’s trust barometer, meanwhile, also revealed the following: 61% of Trump voters acknowledged trusting the CEO of their employer. Less than half of that number said the trust government leaders (28%).

Coming in even lower, with the trust of just 21% of these respondents? Journalists.

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Britney Spears calls recent documentaries about her ‘hypocritical’

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop singer Britney Spears spoke out on Tuesday about recent documentaries about her life and career, calling them “hypocritical” because they rehash her personal problems while criticizing the media for reporting them the first time.

Walt Disney Co’s FX network and The New York Times released “Framing Britney Spears” in February. The documentary examined the singer’s meteoric rise to fame as a teenager, the ensuing media scrutiny and her widely publicized breakdown.And this month, the BBC released “The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship” in Britain. It will debut in the United States and Canada starting May 11 via the BBC Select streaming service.

In an Instagram post, Spears did not name either documentary but said “so many documentaries about me this year with other people’s takes on my life.”

“These documentaries are so hypocritical … they criticize the media and then do the same thing,” she added.

In March, Spears said she cried for two weeks after watching part of “Framing Britney Spears”.

The BBC said in a statement on Tuesday that its documentary “explores the complexities surrounding conservatorship with care and sensitivity.”

“It does not take sides and features a wide range of contributors,” the statement added.

A New York Times spokesperson declined to comment.

Spears, who shot to fame in 1998 with the hit “Baby One More Time,” is in a court battle seeking to replace her father as her conservator. He was appointed to the role in 2008 after she was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

Her fans have shown their support on social media under the hashtags #We’reSorryBritney and #FreeBritney. Spears is scheduled to speak to a Los Angeles court in June.

In her Instagram post, which included a video of herself dancing, Spears said that “although I’ve had some pretty tough times in my life … I’ve had waaaayyyy more amazing times in my life and unfortunately my friends … I think the world is more interested in the negative.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Grammy organizers change rules after allegations of corruption

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The organizers of music’s Grammy Awards on Friday announced an end to the so-called “secret” committees that have led to allegations that the highest honors in the industry are open to rigging.

The Recording Academy said that nominations for the next Grammy Awards in January 2022 will be selected by all of its more than 11,000 voting members, instead of by committees of 15-30 industry experts whose names were not revealed.

The Academy was slammed last year when Canadian artist The Weeknd got zero Grammy nominations, even though his critically acclaimed album “After Hours” was one of the biggest sellers of 2020.

The Weeknd, in a Twitter post last November, said “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The Recording Academy said in a statement on Friday that the changes were significant and were made “to ensure that the Grammy Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable.”

Allegations that the Grammy nominations process is tainted were made in a legal complaint filed in early 2019 by the former chief executive of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan.

At the time, the Academy dismissed as “categorically false, misleading and wrong” Dugan’s claims that its members pushed artists they have relationships with. Dugan was later fired.

American pop star Halsey, also shut out of the 2021 Grammys, last year called the nominations process “elusive” and said she was “hoping for more transparency or reform.”

Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik called in March for an end to “secret committees.”

“I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating ‘creative excellence’ of ALL,” Malik tweeted hours ahead of the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony.

The Recording Academy on Friday also said it was adding two new Grammy categories – for best global music performance, and best Latin urban music album – bringing to 86 the total number of Grammy Awards each year.

 

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Movie theaters face uncertain future

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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Maryo Mogannam snuck into the Empire theater in San Francisco with his older cousins to watch “Animal House” when he was 14. He watched most of the James Bond movies at the historic art house and took his wife there on some of their first dates.

The cinema, which had been showing movies since the silent film era, served notice in February that it was permanently closing because of the impact of COVID-19. The marquee is now blank, and cardboard and paper cover the box office window.

“It’s kind of like losing a friend,” said Mogannam, now 57, who owns a retail shipping outlet near the theater, which had been renamed the CineArts at the Empire.

As vaccinated Americans emerge from their homes, they also may find their neighborhood theater is not there to greet them.

An eight-cinema chain in New England said it will not reopen. The same fate hit a Houston art house beloved by director Richard Linklater and, in a shock to Hollywood, more than 300 screens run by Los Angeles-based Pacific Theatres. That includes the Cinerama Dome, a landmark that hosted several red-carpet movie premieres.

Following a year of closures, theaters face deferred rent bills plus media companies’ focus on drawing customers to streaming services. Up to one-fourth of the roughly 40,000 screens in the United States could disappear in the next few years, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

The National Association of Theatre Owners rejects that estimate, spokesman Patrick Corcoran said, noting that similar dire warnings accompanying the advent of television and the switch to digital screens never came to pass.

Hollywood filmmakers want cinemas to thrive.

“It’s the only place where the art dominates,” said “Avatar” director James Cameron. “When you watch something on streaming, the other people in the room with you are welcome to interject, to pause to go to the bathroom, to text.”

At theaters, “we literally make a pact with ourselves to go and spend two to three hours in a focused enjoyment of the art.”

“For 300 people to laugh and cry at the same time, strangers, not just your family in your house, that’s a very powerful thing,” said Chloe Zhao, Oscar-nominated director of best picture nominee “Nomadland.”

At the Academy Awards on Sunday, the movie industry will “make a case for why cinema matters,” producer Stacey Sher said. While acknowledging the hardship of the pandemic, “we also have to fight for cinema and our love of it and the way it has gotten us through things,” she said.

About 58% of theaters have reopened in the United States and Canada, most restricted to 50% capacity or less. The biggest operators – AMC, Cinemark and Cineworld – make up roughly half the overall market.

Industry leaders project optimism, forecasting a big rebound after restrictions ease and studios unleash new blockbusters.

Coming attractions include a new Bond adventure, the ninth “Fast & Furious” film, a “Top Gun” sequel and several Marvel superhero movies.

“Avatar 2,” Cameron’s follow-up to the highest-grossing film of all time, is set to debut in December 2022. Some box office analysts predict 2022 ticket sales will hit a record.

Supporters point to late March release “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which brought in roughly $48.5 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices over its first five days, even though audiences could stream it on HBO Max.

“That was a big win for the entire industry,” said Rich Daughtridge, president and chief executive of Warehouse Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland.

But near- and long-term challenges loom, particularly for smaller cinemas.

Theaters are negotiating with landlords over back rent. A federal aid program was delayed due to technical problems.

Plus, media companies are bringing movies to homes sooner. Executives say streaming is their priority, pouring billions into programming made to watch in living rooms as they compete with Netflix Inc.

Most at risk are theaters with one or two screens, Wedbush Securities’ Pachter said. He said his best guess is between 5,000 and 10,000 screens could go permanently dark in coming years.

“I think we’ll see a gradual decline in the number of screens,” Pachter said, “just like we’ve seen a gradual decline in the number of mom-and-pop grocery stores and bookstores.”

 

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Rollo Ross in Los Angeles, Alicia Powell in New York and Nathan Frandino in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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