Missing Comma: Columbia Journalism Review Confirmed for Koch Industries Shills*

*Not really.

I was surprised to open up the Columbia Journalism Review’s website last week and see this article by Steven Brill peering up at me: “Stories I’d Like To See: A fair view of the Koch brothers, and explaining bitcoin.

This section in particular cracked me up:

This article in the Washington Post last week tried to link the Koch brothers’ support for the Keystone energy pipeline to their company’s economic interests. But it was so lame — none of their products is due to go through the pipeline — that it made me want to read a complete article, full of unbiased reporting across the range of their business interests. I want to know just how self-interested the brothers’ political spending spree actually is.

Sure, any political activism by rich people to limit taxes and government regulation is bound to be in their interests generally. But do the Koch brothers have a more specific agenda, as the Post article tried to prove? Or could it be that Charles and David Koch just happen to believe a conservative government is good for their country?

The brothers and their foundation have also given hundreds of millions to multiple charities that have nothing to do with politics. As this article in the Indianapolis Star points out, the Charles Koch Foundation “underwrites research and teaching at Brown, Mount Holyoke, Sarah Lawrence, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Vassar and some 245 other colleges.” The New York State Theater at Lincoln Center has been renamed the David H. Koch Theater because he’s such a generous benefactor.

These are not beneficiaries associated with hard right causes.

Brill is right, of course; while it might be easy to paint the Kochs and their corporation with one evil, monolithic brush, you can’t do it with any real consistency. But this article, as interesting as it was, wasn’t the reason I was headed over to CJR.

Over on their #Realtalk blog, journalist Ann Friedman listed out some common worries she heard from new journalism school graduates about their job prospects. One I liked – about the awkwardness of networking – described a very stigmergic scenario:

I know, I know. I need a network, but networking is for douchebags.

Networking is for douchebags if you’re only doing it to get a job or a promotion. (Or “connecting” with random journalists on LinkedIn en masse.) Instead, think of your network as a community—a group of professional collaborators with whom you share skills and ideas, contacts and advice—that you invest in whether or not you’re looking for a new job. This is what Robert Krulwich calls horizontal loyalty.

For now, your network is going to be made up of a lot of other entry-level journalists—like your classmates and fellow interns—plus a few people who have been your internship supervisors. You need to get over the feeling that you’re competing for the same three jobs and see other entry-level journalists as allies. You personally may only know three higher-up editors, but if you share the wealth, together you know six or 10 or more. Ask your friends to make introductions, and do the same for them. This is how to slowly expand the number of people you know while also investing in the careers of those who are important to you. It takes time, but the payoff is real.

And just in terms of straight media news, there’s an interesting project coming out of the Online News Association, called “Build Your Own Ethics Code.” According to CJR reporter Edirin Oputu, Build Your Own Ethics Code is “a toolkit to help news outlets, bloggers, and journalists decide on ethical guidelines that match their own ideas about reporting and journalism”:

The project, which includes the collaboration of ONA’s news ethics committee with roughly two dozen journalists and academics, will give reporters a chance to look at the issues that arise in the course of reporting and to draw up an ethical code based on the kind of work they do and the ethical help they believe they need, said ONA’s executive director, Jane McDonnell.

‘I think that when you get journalists in a room together, you can see that there is a complete will to make sure that their reporting and distribution is as close to perfect as they can get it. But the speed at which they work often kind of negates that, or makes it more difficult,’ she said.

ONA will also open the project up for crowdsourcing at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, in early May.

That’s it for now! Check back in next week for more media news and anarchist tidbits.

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