October 19th, 2014
02:40 PM ET

Red News/Blue News: Politicizing Ebola

Brian Stelter examines how some partisan news outlets have advanced wild political theories about the government's response to Ebola.

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 19th, 2014
02:38 PM ET

Should Nielsen's TV ratings be trusted?

Jonathan Klein, a former president of CNN/U.S., speaks with Brian Stelter about the television industry's uncomfortable dependence on Nielsen.

"Ratings rule television. So, really, it's Nielsen that rules television," Stelter said.

Nielsen ratings are what's called the "currency" for the whole TV industry to buy and sell ads and determine what's popular and what's not.

"Nielsen recently admitted to a glitch, a software bug that affected broadcast ratings for months," Stelter said. While the bug was minor, "the incident just deepened the TV industry's mistrust of the company." FULL POST

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 19th, 2014
01:57 PM ET

James Risen on whistleblowers, war, and how we've let ourselves "become terrorized"

Brian Stelter interviews James Risen, the investigative reporter for The New York Times who is ensnared in the government prosecution of a former CIA officer. The government wants Risen to reveal that the officer was one of his sources for a damning 2006 report about a botched CIA operation to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Risen refuses to testify, so he faces the prospect of jail time if he is found to be in contempt of court.

Does he think it will come to that? "I don't know," he said. "I mean, I really don't know what the government is thinking now. And it's really kind of up to them at this point."

The prosecution has, in some cases, helped Risen in his reporting: "Some people have come to me and said, you know, I recognize the fact that you're willing to protect sources, so I'm willing to talk to you."

Risen's latest book is "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War." Here's part of Stelter's exchange with him:

STELTER: You write in your book that crazy is the new normal when it comes to the war on terror. And the politicians and the press both dramatically overstate the risks to America from terrorists. If that's the case, why do we not hear that more on television? Why do we not read that more in newspapers and online?

RISEN: Oh, I think fear sells. And I think, unfortunately, it's easy to do a lot of fear-mongering and get ahead politically in the United States. You know, terrorism is a real threat, but we shouldn't be overstating it.

People worry about these groups, but they're not 10 feet tall. They're not marching down Broadway. They are, you know, we could deal with them without transforming our society.

That's what bothers me the most is we've allowed ourselves to become terrorized. And we've done that to ourselves. We've transformed American society in ways that were not necessary to deal with this threat.

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 19th, 2014
01:27 PM ET

"Reshaping" at major media companies

This week CNN laid off about 150 employees. And HBO, which like CNN is owned by Time Warner, announced a plan to sell subscriptions via the Internet.

Brian Stelter explains how the two media stories are connected in this end-of-the-show essay.

Here's the text:

Finally this morning, I want to tell you about two seemingly unrelated stories and what they tell us about the future of media.

Here was my headline about the first one, "Turner to Reduces Head Count by Ten Percent."

Turner includes channels like TNT, TBS and this one, CNN. And this week was a very painful week here. There were about 150 layoffs, spread across CNN and our sister channel HLN and CNN.com. FULL POST

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 19th, 2014
12:29 PM ET

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 12th, 2014
01:43 PM ET

Bill Maher sparks media debate about Islam

What's the truth about Islam? Does the media concentrate too much on radicals and not enough on reformers? Sam Harris and Irshad Manji react to a fiery debate on "Real Time with Bill Maher."

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 12th, 2014
01:37 PM ET

What Jeremy Renner learned by playing a reporter in "Kill the Messenger"

Actor Jeremy Renner and director Michael Cuesta tell Brian Stelter about the lessons from their new film "Kill The Messenger."

In the film, Renner plays Gary Webb, who wrote a flawed but substantively true story back in 1996 about connections between the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s and the CIA's support for Nicaraguan rebels known as Contras. Webb and his story were attacked by other major media outlets.

Stelter said in his introduction: "Next time there's a big story that breaks - a big political or legal scandal - pay attention to what people say about the reporter or the source who broke the news. Are they trying to discredit the reporter? Turn people against the reporter? Distract from the actual allegations? Are they trying to... kill the messenger?"

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 12th, 2014
01:30 PM ET

ISIS has "rules" for reporters?

CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon describes the difficult media environment for reporters covering ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

"For us, as Westerners, right now, crossing into ISIS territory, it just simply is not a viable option," Damon said.

A recently-published list of ISIS "rules" for journalists in the region applies to local journalists.

"Six months ago, before these rules even came out, people weren't even allowed to take cell phone video of areas that ISIS controlled," Damon said. "You couldn't even stand in the streets and take a selfie. Your phone would be confiscated."

Allowing local journalists to film and report - albeit under ISIS control and censorship - is a change, and suggests a new level of sophistication.

The treatment of local journalists "is all governed by this overarching sense of fear," Damon said. "At the end of the day, we're not really talking about a free media, even if these local journalists are able to obtain these various permissions. No one is going to risk angering an entity like the so-called Islamic State."

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 5th, 2014
01:17 PM ET

First rule of covering Ebola: don't touch

The Washington Post's Lenny Bernstein talks with Brian Stelter about covering Ebola in Liberia, and the precautions he's taking now that he's back in the United States. Dr. Gavin MacGregor-Skinner also joins the panel for a discussion about how the press is covering the Ebola outbreak.

Bernstein wrote this column for The Washington Post titled "Reporting on Ebola: First rule is you don’t touch anyone."

"In an abundance of caution as you go around Monrovia, no one is shaking hands or hugging or high fiving. No one is putting their arms around each other," Bernstein told Stelter. "You know, every once in a while you will see somebody do the Liberian handshake, which is just an elbow bump usually with long sleeves over those elbows. You just don't touch anything you don't have to."

Bernstein is now "self-quarantined" in his suburban Maryland home, following the guidance of health officials. But "I would go back in a heartbeat," he said: journalists in countries where Ebola is a threat are "taking a manageable risk in return for reporting what I think is the most important health story in the world right now."

Filed under: Reliable Sources
October 5th, 2014
01:15 PM ET

Media treatment of Ebola: going too far?

PBS "NewsHour" science correspondent Miles O'Brien, a former reporter and anchor at CNN, takes a look at some of the best and worst TV coverage of the Ebola outbreak.

"I wish everybody could take a deep breath and take a break from trying to pull viewers in by scaring them," O'Brien said.

He also said this:

"My biggest wish for the audience is that the mainstream media, the big outlets - CNN included - realize that science coverage is important and they should have people on staff who have a certain amount of expertise who study this beat. You would never run CNN without a political reporter, would you? Why is it in this world, where climate change is a big issue, Ebola is a big issue, missing airliners, all kinds of science and technological implications, why is it that big entities don't maintain science specialized units anymore? They're gone.

And that's a shame because we live in a world with a lot of things that sound very scary and it requires a little bit of digging to get to the bottom of things and put things in perspective."

Filed under: Reliable Sources
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