Sunday, August 31

How radical Islamists spread their messages; Red News/Blue News: is the ISIS "threat to the homeland" overblown? Hollywood reacts to Joan Rivers' hospitalization.

How radical Islamists spread their messages; Red News/Blue News: is the ISIS "threat to the homeland" overblown? Hollywood reacts to Joan Rivers' hospitalization.

What we’re reading this week
April 18th, 2013
06:27 PM ET

What we’re reading this week

By Laura Koran, CNN

On this week’s show, we will be taking a look at the media’s hits and misses covering the attack on the Boston Marathon. Tune in for that on Sunday, and see what other stories caught our attention this week right here.

The wisdom of Mr. Rogers: In the aftermath of terrible tragedies, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, people tend to seek out examples of human kindness to dispel the notion that the world is a dark and hateful place. It is not surprising then, that a meme featuring the beloved children’s show host Mr. Rogers has gone viral since Monday’s terrorist attack. The image, circulating on social media sites, displays one of Mr. Rogers’ classic, heartfelt musings: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” As Reverend J.C. Austin points out, these simple words hold a deeper truth, and serve as a powerful reminder that the “helpers” are more powerful than the “haters.”

Is brevity the soul of good reporting? A chart recently released by Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review shows that the number of long-form stories (in this case, stories with more than 2,500 words) published by The Wall Street Journal has declined significantly over the past decade. The paper responded to the chart saying in part, “The number of words in an article has never been the barometer by which the quality of a publication or its value to readers should be measured.” But many, including Alexis C. Madrigal of The Atlantic, are left wondering whether this new preference for shorter news stories can be attributed to the robust paywall on the paper’s website.

A fly on the wall: New York Times reporter Brian Stelter caught a truly lucky break when he was tipped off about a lunch between “Today” host Matt Lauer, and his former co-host Meredith Viera. That lunchtime chat, which Stelter surreptitiously eavesdropped on from the bar at New York restaurant Park Avenue Spring, provided the closing anecdote for Stelter’s new book, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV,” which releases next week. Stelter recounts how Viera reassured Lauer that the slew of negative media coverage of his involvement in Ann Curry’s removal from the show would soon pass, telling him, “It’ll be O.K.”

Learning from history: A new documentary short premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival takes a look at The New York Times’ dismal coverage of the Holocaust during World War II. The film, “Reporting on the Times,” is the work of 22-year old filmmaker Emily Harrold, who hopes her movie can serve as a warning to news organizations covering (or not covering) human rights crises today. The Times has long been criticized for under-reporting on the Holocaust; criticism that the paper itself has called, “valid.”

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Filed under: Matt Lauer • Media • Media Criticism • Mr. Rogers • NBC • New York Times • Today • Wall Street Journal • What we're reading