Category Archives: Media

Journalist jobs among the most vulnerable?

A brief column by Shelley Palmer has some troubling news (“The 5 Jobs Robots Will Take First“).

I expected the first to go would be things like warehouse worker, truck driver, etc.

Instead, at the top of Palmer’s list are middle management jobs, sales jobs, and–are you ready–“report writers, journalists, authors & announcers.”

Writing is tough. But not report writing. Machines can be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, or analyze almost any kind of research materials and create a very readable (or announceable) writing. Text-to-speech systems are evolving so quickly and sound so realistic, I expect both play-by-play and color commentators to be put out of work relatively soon – to say nothing about the numbered days of sports or financial writers. You know that great American novel you’ve been planning to write? Start now, before the machines take a creative writing class.

I know that a lot of financial reports are written by computers. Basic stories about upcoming public meetings or events can probably be done the same way.

And its certainly true that stories drawn from industry press releases can easily be automated. Or, as is already the case, simply reprinted without rewrites.

Complex news reporting will be more difficult to automate, at least I would hope so.

The state of the news industry is tenuous enough without worrying about the economics of news robots.

So what did Trump know and when did he know it?

The plot thickens.

New information reported by Foreign Policy (“Flynn Pressured U.N. on Israel Vote Before Taking Office“).

Nearly a month before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Michael Flynn, his national security advisor designate, and other members of the president’s transition team launched a vigorous diplomatic bid to head off a U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements.

The effort represented a fitful first foray into global diplomacy by Trump’s transition team, bearing hallmarks that have become familiar in the weeks since he took office. Their efforts were marked by a brusque disregard for diplomatic protocol and a hasty pressure campaign that changed few, if any, minds.

In the end, the president-elect’s team was unable to persuade a single country to change their vote, including Britain, Egypt, and Russia, three countries that have gone out of their way to cultivate better ties with the new American leader.

The episode also suggests that Flynn’s unconventional diplomatic activism in the weeks leading up to the inauguration was part of a highly coordinated effort at the highest ranks of the Trump team, including the president-elect, to shape the course of U.S. foreign relations.

That contrasts with the general portrayal so far of Flynn as a rogue envoy, whose secret talks in late December with Russia about sanctions were supposedly done without the knowledge of his superiors. Fox News reported Friday that Trump had been briefed on the full contents of Flynn’s discussions with the Russian ambassador. [Emphasis added]

It’s well worth reading the full story at

Civil Beat investigation draws some national attention

A Civil Beat investigation into the near-fatal beating of a 17-month old at an Ewa Beach daycare operated by the family of a Honolulu police officer has received some national attention.

The issue highlighted in in today’s “Pick of the news,” a daily summary of top reporting on criminal justice issues compiled by The Marshall Project, a national group that presses for criminal justice reform by highlighting top quality journalism on related issues from around the country and the world.

It was selected as one of just five featured stories, which included others from Oregon, Kansas, Missouri, and North Carolina.

The CB item is short and to the point, with a link back to the most recent Civil Beat story.

There are new allegations of dubious police work in Hawaii, where police officials have ordered a new review of an old investigation into a toddler abuse case. HONOLULU CIVIL BEAT

The original investigative story by John Hill, Civil Beat’s investigations editor, was published last week (“This Honolulu Toddler Nearly Died In An Assault But No Charges Filed“).

It has already triggered an HPD review of the case, which could lead to reopening of the matter.

Congratulations to Civil Beat and John Hill for the excellent work.

Another story caught my eye when I checked the Marshall Project website today: How to Leak Stories to The Marshall Project, Your guide to becoming a source.

It includes some very useful general advice for whistleblowers or insiders who want to share a tip:

What not to do

If you want to minimize — if not avoid entirely — any visible links between yourself and The Marshall Project, The Intercept offers some good, albeit technical, advice on becoming a whistleblower.

Don’t visit our website at work. Don’t subscribe to our daily newsletter with your work email account. Don’t tell anyone about your plans, and don’t use your work phone or email to contact us.

One bit of advice is decidedly low-tech.

If you really want to be anonymous when you contact us, the U.S. mail is a good way to go. Our colleagues at ProPublica offer this advice:

“U.S. postal mail without a return address is one of the most secure ways to communicate — authorities would need a warrant to intercept and open it in transit. Don’t use your company or agency mailroom to send something to us. Mail your package or envelope from an unfamiliar sidewalk box instead of going to a post office. You can mail us paper materials or digital files on, for example, a thumb drive.”

Interesting interview with Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz has a good interview with Brian Schatz today (“A progressive senator explains why his colleagues are “too fussy” about decorum“).

Jeff Stein writes:

One of the most progressive members of the Senate, Schatz says opposing Republicans when necessary should take precedence over worrying about any impact on Senate “decorum” and rules.

“What a luxury to be in this gilded place, this literally gilded place, and worry about decorum,” he says in an interview. He adds, “We get too fussy about the perceived natural order of things and institutional prerogatives. All of that stuff has to go over time.”

While walking to his office in the Hart Senate Office Building, Schatz discussed the decline of cross-aisle Senate friendships, the fight over the censure of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and whether Democrats should filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. The exchange has been edited for clarity.

We don’t often get to read this interviews like this with members of our Washington delegation.

Congratulations to Brian for drawing this kind of positive attention.