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If you ask Kenyan journalists what is taking place at the editorial level, they will unanimously respond: “Media ownership.” An editor from Eldoret, Rift Valley highlights the difficult position that editorial staff are in: “I am an editor of an enterprise where the owner at times intercepts my reporters in a bid to alter our editorial perspectives. He actually changes content to suit his desires and those of his political friends. I have threatened to resign if he continues.”
[…]
The report finds that while media ownership is sometimes obvious, media owners often use their spouse, parents or trusted friends to register their media outlets, making it difficult to obtain clear data on media ownership. For instance, the researcher notes that the connection of presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta with MediaMax (owner of Kameme FM, Milele FM, The People and K24 among others) is factually true but legally untrue because the name of Uhuru Kenyatta does not appear in any legal document.

If you ask Kenyan journalists what is taking place at the editorial level, they will unanimously respond: “Media ownership.” An editor from Eldoret, Rift Valley highlights the difficult position that editorial staff are in: “I am an editor of an enterprise where the owner at times intercepts my reporters in a bid to alter our editorial perspectives. He actually changes content to suit his desires and those of his political friends. I have threatened to resign if he continues.”
[…]
The report finds that while media ownership is sometimes obvious, media owners often use their spouse, parents or trusted friends to register their media outlets, making it difficult to obtain clear data on media ownership. For instance, the researcher notes that the connection of presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta with MediaMax (owner of Kameme FM, Milele FM, The People and K24 among others) is factually true but legally untrue because the name of Uhuru Kenyatta does not appear in any legal document.

Iran’s pre-election atmosphere is tense due to declining economic conditions, acute inflation, in-fighting among various factions within the government, the effect of sanctions on goods and services, and continued international scrutiny due to Iran’s nuclear program. The memories of the 2009 elections are etched in the public’s consciousness, thereby, adding pressure during this election season and, making the media’s actions a significant site of contention. On the one hand, the resurgence of a few independent media outlets could signal the loosening of some restrictions, but at the same time, it is just as likely to be a regime gimmick to lure the public into participating in the election. The latter can be seen as a risky strategy because of the potential for these more vociferously critical outlets to stir up political unrest among those opposed to the regime, and the recent arrests are likely part of this anxiety. Consequently, some Parliament officials, such as MP Ahmadreza Dastgheyb, have seized upon this as an opportunity to introduce further provisions into the current Press Law in the run-up to the election, strengthening the regime’s ability to supervise media activities, such as publishing potentially provocative content that “might cause harm to the country.” Similarly, the De

Iran’s pre-election atmosphere is tense due to declining economic conditions, acute inflation, in-fighting among various factions within the government, the effect of sanctions on goods and services, and continued international scrutiny due to Iran’s nuclear program. The memories of the 2009 elections are etched in the public’s consciousness, thereby, adding pressure during this election season and, making the media’s actions a significant site of contention. On the one hand, the resurgence of a few independent media outlets could signal the loosening of some restrictions, but at the same time, it is just as likely to be a regime gimmick to lure the public into participating in the election. The latter can be seen as a risky strategy because of the potential for these more vociferously critical outlets to stir up political unrest among those opposed to the regime, and the recent arrests are likely part of this anxiety. Consequently, some Parliament officials, such as MP Ahmadreza Dastgheyb, have seized upon this as an opportunity to introduce further provisions into the current Press Law in the run-up to the election, strengthening the regime’s ability to supervise media activities, such as publishing potentially provocative content that “might cause harm to the country.” Similarly, the De

It’s time for political beat reporters to pick up a bat and see what it’s like to take a swing.

Sasha Issenberg, Slate. Stuff Some Envelopes, Then Ask Questions.

The Issue: Issenberg argues that political campaigns have become so complex and statistically driven that reporters often don’t understand the mechanics of what drives them.

His solution: Make reporters work inside a campaign to learn how they really work.

So a modest proposal: newsrooms develop a version of a study-abroad program, placing their reporters in campaign field offices for a month during the summer of an election season. It’s time that they see the place where campaigns interact with real people, by asking the questions on phone-bank scripts, entering the answers into databases, then seeing how that information shapes decisions about which voters to call or visit next… My guess is that journalists who spent even a few weeks in this world would pose wildly different questions the next time they sat down with Jim Messina or Stuart Stevens.

The goal would not be to gather intelligence about a particular candidate and his tactics but to build institutional knowledge that could help to re-center journalistic understandings of what a campaign actually does. To assuage concerns about bias and conflicts of interest, newsrooms could assign reporters to work in races away from the ones they cover: the Richmond Times-Dispatch correspondent gets detailed to an Oregon mayoral campaign, the Nevada radio reporter to a Maine ballot initiative. Assignment editors at the Washington Post and Politico and NBC News would randomly dispatch their reporters so they’re split evenly, half campaigning for Democratic candidates and half for Republicans. While it would be great if they could slot into presidential campaigns, it’s by no means necessary. Many of the essential tools used by campaigns for organizing and marshaling voter data have become so universal that a national political journalist would learn plenty from being exposed to a competent modern campaign for state legislature or county judge.

(via futurejournalismproject)

There are probably quite a few areas where having beat journalists do the same thing might yield very different questions, and different outcomes for public debate, and even for transparency and accountability.