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Opinion | Jeff Zucker’s Resignation Reveals How the Media Has Changed – The New York Times



Over drinks not long ago, a friend summed up the way journalism had changed over the course of his career. “Journalists used to act like cynics but at heart we were idealists,” he said. “Now we’re often cynics masquerading as idealists.”

I thought of that line twice last week. The first time was on Wednesday, while reading, against my better judgment, about the abrupt resignation of Jeff Zucker as president of CNN. The second was on Sunday, after learning that my friend John Vinocur, the former executive editor of The International Herald Tribune, had died in Amsterdam at 81.

In these two stories lies the difference between the kind of journalism Americans used to venerate and the kind we have today.

The news about Zucker is that he was purportedly pushed out for failing to disclose a romantic (consensual) relationship with a senior colleague. Except hardly anyone at CNN seems to think that was the real reason, since the romance was common knowledge. This, in turn, has fueled suspicions that the explanation for the resignation is its own piece of cynicism masquerading as idealism — a show of moralistic propriety that, as some at CNN believe, is part of a legal strategy connected to the former anchor Chris Cuomo’s potential suit over his severance package.

But it also leads to a deeper set of questions: Why should the private lives of media executives be a matter of public interest to anyone? Who turned the news business into an extended act of navel gazing? When did “me,” “we” and “us” become the news media’s preferred pronouns?

One journalist who was not much for navel gazing was Vinocur, whose column in The I.H.T. was the one thing I would never miss when I was a graduate student in England and later when I worked as a journalist in Brussels and as an editor in Jerusalem.

Courtesy Vinocur family

From reading him over the years, I gleaned that Vinocur had covered, so it seemed, everything. The Biafran war. The Munich massacre. The Rumble in the Jungle. The Stroessner regime in Paraguay. Spy games in Germany. The Mitterrand monarchy in France. He was almost absurdly well sourced, thanks to years spent as The Times’s bureau chief in Paris and Bonn. And his prose — confident and confiding, energetic and endearing, intimate in detail and Olympian in scope — was, by far, the best in the paper.

A vintage Vinocur lede from a column of 25 years ago:

There once was a special box on the journalistic checklist for southern regimes run by men of dark reputation. It was the did-you-know-that-the-wife-of-an-American-diplomat-was-just-raped-near-the-tennis-club test, and it held that This Awful Place (Kinshasa, Managua, Asunción, etc.) could not be ranked in the really bad big leagues, its regime a candidate for total vituperation, unless the story was heard and the box checked within 36 hours of a hack’s arrival.

Bottom line: The expectation of evil, or its presumption, has often obliterated all else in reporting from places with phosphorescent skies and mean governance.

Such lines might struggle to pass editorial muster today. Too old school and pejorative. Hints of a colonialist posture.

But they made the morning paper a joy to read. And they gave a young journalist a sense of what his vocation might be like when practiced at its best: adventurous, literary, significant. As I read John in my 20s, I figured out what I wanted for my own career: to see the world without illusions — but without losing the ballast of personal ideals.

About 10 years ago, I got an unexpected visit from John in my office at The Wall Street Journal. Would I, he asked, give him a job? He was retired from The Times. But he still knew everyone, he had plenty to say, his skills were intact. In this way I became his editor, he became my mentor, and we became friends.

For the next several years he delivered a string of columns that look only better with the passage of time. From a 2015 column on the Minsk agreement, which helped set the stage for the present crisis in Ukraine: Its holes, he wrote, were “so gaping as to allow Russia to drive tanks unhampered through an open Ukrainian border for next to forever.” From a 2017 column raising alarms about Berlin’s increasingly neutralist foreign policy: “Is there a kind of German complicity or reflexive softness involving Russia that permits Moscow’s blatant (and strategic) lying without anything resembling serious retaliation?”

For many readers, these topics may have seemed distant. They didn’t trend on Twitter. They didn’t have the gossipy salaciousness of a newsroom scandale.

But they mattered. They looked outward. They dwelt heavily on the inner mechanics of politics and diplomacy. But they did so not for the sake of the game itself, but for the large things at stake.

I last saw John in Florida, shortly before the pandemic began. We had a gloomy conversation about the state of journalism. But when we parted, he said, “It’s a noble profession.”

It is. We should do more to live up to his example.

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Company buying Trump's social media app faces subpoenas – ABC News



NEW YORK — Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. dropped 10% in morning trading Monday as the company reported that the subpoenas and a related investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission could delay or even prevent its acquisition of the maker of Trump’s Truth Social app.

The Justice Department subpoenas follow an ongoing probe by the SEC into whether Digital World broke rules by having substantial talks about buying Trump’s company starting early last year before Digital World sold stock to the public for the first time in September, just weeks before its announcement that it would be buying Trump’s company.

Trump’s social media venture launched in February as he seeks a new digital stage to rally his supporters and fight Big Tech limits on speech, a year after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The Trump Media & Technology Group — which operates the app and was in the process of being acquired by “blank-check” firm Digital World — said in a statement that it will cooperate with “oversight that supports the SEC’s important mission of protecting retail investors.”

The new probe could make it more difficult for Trump to finance his social media company. The company last year got promises from dozens of investors to pump $1 billion into the company, but it can’t get the cash until the Digital World acquisition is completed.

Stock in Digital World rocketed to more than $100 in October after its deal to buy Trump’s company was announced. The stock traded at just around $25 in morning trading Monday.

Digital World is a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, part of an investing phenomenon that exploded in popularity over the past two years.

Such blank check companies are empty corporate entities with no operations, only offering investors the promise they will buy a business in the future. As such they are allowed to sell stock to the public quickly without the usual regulatory disclosures and delays, but only if they haven’t already lined up possible acquisition targets.

Digital World said in a regulatory filing Monday that each member of its board of directors has been subpoenaed by a grand jury in the Southern District of New York. Both the grand jury and the SEC are also seeking a number of documents tied to the company and others including a sponsor, ARC Global Investments, and Miami-based venture capital firm Rocket One Capital.

Some of the sought documents involve “due diligence” regarding Trump Media and other potential acquisition targets, as well as communications with Digital World’s underwriter and financial adviser in its initial public offering, according to the SEC disclosure.

Digital World also Monday announced the resignation of one of its board members, Bruce Garelick, a chief strategy officer at Rocket One.

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AJ Contrast wins One World Media Award – Al Jazeera English



Al Jazeera Digital’s innovation studio site highlights challenges women with disabilities face in navigating megacities.

Al Jazeera’s immersive storytelling and media innovation studio, AJ Contrast, has won a top prize at the One World Media Awards in London.

One World jurors conferred the win in the Digital Media category for AJ Contrast’s interactive site, Inaccessible Cities.

The project brings audiences into the experiences of three women with disabilities as they struggle to navigate their cities – Mumbai, Lagos and New York.

Winners were announced across 15 categories during a ceremony in London on June 16.

The One World Media Awards recognise excellence in unreported stories from the Global South that “break stereotypes, change the narrative and connect people across cultures”.

Inaccessible Cities added the award to numerous other wins so far this year in the Drum Online, Gracie, New York Festivals and Telly Awards.

More than one billion people – 15 percent of the global population – experience some form of disability. Many live in urban areas.

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The Inaccessible Cities site begins with a simple question: “How would you get around a megacity if you couldn’t walk, see signs or hear cars passing by?”

“It’s a great honour to be recognised by the One World Media Awards,” said Zahra Rasool, head of AJ Contrast.

“Our aim has always been to highlight unreported stories about the people most impacted by inequality, often in the Global South.

“With Inaccessible Cities, we wanted to show how a lack of accessible public transport and infrastructure impacts people with disabilities – especially women – from fully and independently participating in society.

“Our aim is to continue inspiring a new standard for digital news content that’s fully inclusive of people with disabilities and to bring awareness to their challenges.”

In keeping with AJ Contrast’s emphasis on collaboration, the team worked closely with journalists with disabilities, local talent and the women who are the subject of the interactive experience.

“We are very proud of our AJ Contrast team,” said Carlos van Meek, Al Jazeera’s director of Digital Innovation and Programming. “Despite the production challenges brought on by COVID-19, this driven, talented team has continued to innovate and set the benchmark for immersive storytelling.”

Other Al Jazeera Digital teams made the One World long list, including the AJLabs series Visualising the Afghan War and two films by short documentary unit AJ Close Up – Russia’s Banned Youth and Norway’s Afghan Sons.

The Al Jazeera English broadcast channel also was long listed in the News category for the 101 East documentary India’s COVID Warriors. Jurors evaluated a record number of entries from 96 countries.

The complete list of One World winners can be found in the One World Media winners’ gallery.

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Toronto politician accused of homophobic social media posts resigns from city council – blogTO



Rosemarie Bryan, a newly appointed city councillor for Toronto’s Etobicoke North district, resigned from her position just hours after several homophobic tweets were surfaced from her social media account. 

Bryan was meant to fill the seat of departing City Councillor Michael Ford who resigned his position after his recent victory in the provincial election.

Rather than have an election to fill the open seat, the convention is for the departing city councillor to recommend his or her replacement and as we learned this week, the current city councillors basically agree to the recommendation without any proper vetting or due diligence.

All was fine and well until a number of anti-2SLGBTQ+, Islamophobic and anti-Asian social media posts were surfaced by local journalist Jonathan Goldsbie.

Councillors quickly realized they might have been a tad too hasty to back the appointment which was done through a simple vote. Only two councillors voted against confirming Bryan.

“I want to state unequivocally that had I seen these posts before the vote, I would have never supported Rosemary,” wrote councillor Buxton Potts in a tweet. 

Many of the councillors who voted for Bryan now admit the process needs to change and that the confirmation of replacement councillors has relied too heavily on the recommendation of the departing one.

In this case, no councillors appeared to do any due diligence that could have possibly surfaced the social media posts before Bryan’s appointment was confirmed. 

Some of Bryan’s old posts include shared content from Tucker Carlson and statements from preachers that claim “homosexuality is wrong” and that “divine order is needed in [] churches,” along with comments of approval from Bryan that had, at one point, clearly supported these messages. 

Bryan’s social media posts were first uncovered by Goldsbie on Friday night when he tweeted that City Council’s newest member is a person who has “repeatedly shared anti-LGBTQ content on Facebook” which, the discovery shocking enough on its own, was found at the start of Pride weekend

Councillors began to weigh-in just moments after Goldsbie’s revelation, regretting not digging enough earlier to uncover what would later make a huge difference. 

Bryan issued a statement late Friday stating she was “so devastated” that past social media posts she made “are now being thrown against” her decades of commitment to the community. 

Bryan claims she will “remain committed to helping [her] community in every way that [she] can.”

Many people are still upset at the fact that Bryan was ever appointed in the first place.

People are also critiquing her “apology” or lack thereof, saying that the only apology issued was an apology about the fact that she was discovered. 

Mayor John Tory tweeted that he has now “asked City officials to review the overall appointment process ahead of future Council appointments.”

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