NewsTrack: How Politico Handles ‘Fake News’

All anyone has to do is turn on the television to watch President Trump denounce the work of credible news organizations as ‘fake news,’ or take to Twitter to read the President of the United States’ declaration of the media as the ‘enemy of the American People.’ So how does an outlet like Politico.com, which is entirely focused on covering the current political ongoings of Washington, D.C., make sense of this idea of ‘fake news’ to their readership?

Politico.com’s coverage of ‘fake news’ consists mostly of neutral and timely news articles about the President’s actions to discredit the media. Journalists at Politico.com cover the President’s declarations of ‘fake news’ as if it is any other piece of information being communicated by the President. There are very few pieces on Politico.com containing any deeper analyses of ‘fake news’ and its impact on the media or warning its readers of clues  as to how to detect ‘fake news’ articles, as several of their competitors have done.

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Some of the content Politico.com has produced on the topic of ‘fake news’ include articles with headlines such as “Trump Criticizes ‘Fake News’ New York Times,”Trump Blames Dust-Up Over Australian PM Call on ‘Fake News Media,'” and “Trump Tweets: Press is the ‘Enemy of the American People.'” Politico has not wavered in its commitment to accurately cover the actions of the White House by producing content about ‘fake news’ only when it is relevant to the President.

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Perhaps the fact that the President has not publicly singled-out Politico for being a source of ‘fake news’ has contributed to their lack of extensive coverage on the topic. Several other organizations such as BBC, CNN, and the New York Times have produced content on ‘fake news’ in an effort to defend their credibility. When large media companies are on the receiving end of direct attacks from the President, they often often adopt a more data-driven approach to disprove the President’s claims and maintain the trust and loyalty of their readers.

Conversely, Politico Media, a branch of Politico.com that covers recent developments in the news industry, has presented a very different approach to the idea of ‘fake news’ by providing a variety of angles, opinions, and perspectives on the concept. Politico Media offers a more businesses-driven perspective on current events by discussing the financial performances of prominent news organizations, announcing notable new hires by news outlets, and raising legal concerns about the decisions of media companies.

Politico Media covers a wide spectrum of news outlets with detailed descriptions of the topics they are covering and the methods in which they are covering them. Politico Media also discusses the convergence of technology and media in regards to how major technology companies are becoming involved in the security aspect of document-driven journalism and data reporting. For example, one article on Politico Media contains the headline “State-Sponsored Hackers Targeting Prominent Journalists, Google Warns.” Other headlines from Politico Media include “Hugh Hewitt: ‘I Don’t Trust Breitbart,'” “Lawyer’s Comments Raise Prospect of Federal Investigation for Fox News’ Parent Company,” and “CNN Chief Says Trump’s Attacks are Boosting Morale.”

Politico Media’s coverage of ‘fake news’ does not deviate from the company’s focus on current, timely political news – evident by their reluctance to include less news-focused interpretations or explanations of fake news. While Politico Media offers more coverage on the current state of the media, it does not differ from Politico.com in the kind of coverage it provides.

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NewsTrack: Politico.com’s Use of Photos and Social Media

Politico.com uses photos very minimally. There is typically select one central image for each article and it do not contain any additional photos throughout the text. However, Politico produces several videos under the ‘multimedia’ section of their website, and the videos are frequently imbedded into the written content. The videos are all under one minute in duration. The ‘multimedia’ tab lacks a photo gallery, though it includes a video gallery, two podcasts called ‘Off Message’ and ‘Nerdcast,’ and an opinion and analysis video series called ‘Playback.’

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Politico.com’s homepage consists of several photos with the article’s title and a brief description written over each photo. The minimal text on Politico’s homepage varies greatly from the appearance of the article pages, which consist of all text and only one header photo.

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Politico has three Instagram accounts – one for their main website covering American politics, one for Politico New York, and one for Politico Europe. Their central account covering the United States is the most popular with about 150,000 followers. The Politico New York Instagram has about 1,000 followers and Politico Europe account has about 1,700. Several of the images posted on the company’s main Instagram account are credited to the Associated Press and Getty Images. The central Instagram account often uses the medium to post photos of Politico’s weekly comic. The main Politico account and Politico New York take advantage of Instagram’s visual approach by posting illustrations, graphs, and photos. Conversely, Politico Europe frequently posts the front cover of their newspaper, which fills the photo with mostly text.

Politico uses Twitter in a very visual way. All of their tweets include links to articles on the website, so they include a photo by nature of that post. Sometimes Politico’s Twitter account retweets Politico 45, the company’s Twitter account dedicated to the 45th President of the United States as well as Politico reporters. The use of photos in every tweet suggests Politico is utilizing Twitter to mimic Instagram.

NewsTrack: Politico.com’s Political Super Bowl Coverage

Politico identifies itself as a news organization that reports on American politics and government, so it was no surprise that all of their Super Bowl coverage centered around President Trump and the country’s current political landscape.

Politico.com produced a total of five pieces about the Super Bowl – two of which were video clips published in the days leading up to the event. One of the articles includes a video of President Trump at a White House meeting where he says, “politics has become a much bigger subject than the Super Bowl.” The article discusses how the President has frequently pointed to TV ratings as a measure of worth. The President recently called “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” the version of his old show which is now hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, a “disaster” that has received poor ratings.

Before Super Bowl Sunday, Politico published a compilation of three politically charged commercials that would air during the game. The commercials by Audi, Budweiser, and 84 Lumber raised controversial issues such as immigration and the gender wage gap in their advertisements. However, Politico did not provide any editorial content or political analysis about the implications of the commercials’ content, and instead chose to let the video stand on its own. Politico employed this same strategy with another video of Trump, this time praising Brady’s performance after their victory on Sunday. The 10-second clip shows President Trump saying, “Brady cemented his place” while talking with U.S. military personnel about the Patriots’ win.

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The President is the central figure of another article, which reported that he stopped watching the Super Bowl at about 9 p.m. on Sunday night, at which point his favored team, the Patriots, was trailing 28-3.  The article explains that President Trump discussed his friendship with the Patriots’ quarterback, owner, and head coach in an interview on Fox News before the game.

Lastly, Politico covered the Patriots’ tight end Martellus Bennett’s post-game statement, in which he said he would not celebrate the team’s victory at President Trump’s White House. In the article, Bennett said “the players don’t bring their politics to the locker room.”

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I was surprised to see that Politico did not discuss Lady Gaga’s performance, which alluded to themes of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance, nor mention that Lady Gaga was the halftime show performer. Many news organizations analyzed the degree to which politics influenced Lady Gaga’s performance, referencing the lyrics of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,”she chose to include, but Politico did not address her performance at all.

Politico’s Super Bowl coverage remained consistent with their message that they are a political news organization. They did this by focusing their articles mainly on President Trump, while weaving in the important details of Sunday’s game into their content. There was not one central article explaining the events of Sunday’s game; Instead, each article had a central political focus. If President Trump had not formed relationships with members of the Patriots’ organization, I don’t think Politico would have produced as much content as it did regarding the Super Bowl. Politico maintained the organization’s focus on American politics by providing their readership with a political perspective on the Super Bowl.

NewsTrack: Politico’s Mission Statement

The Mission Statement

On Jan. 23, 2007, the executive editor and editor in chief of Politico wrote in the organization’s mission statement: “We are launching this publication with a belief that January 2007 is an auspicious moment for a new publication — and for thinking anew about the intersection of politics and journalism.” Little did they know how the relationship between journalism and politics would evolve exactly a decade after Politico launched.

In their mission statement, John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei said they formed Politico to focus on three aspects of American politics: Congress and power struggles in the legislative branch, the 2008 presidential election, and the impact of lobbying and advocacy on the political climate in Washington, D.C. While the statement does explain some of Politico’s fundamental journalistic values, this mission statement differs from other news organizations in that it was written to reflect the political climate of that time. Several parts of the statement discuss the organization’s short term goals during the upcoming presidential election instead of establishing a more general explanation of the company’s intentions. The mission statement only discusses Politico’s focus on national politics, as they had not yet expanded into reporting on global political issues.

Harris and VandeHei described the media climate in 2007 as “a moment of anxiety and upheaval in our business” due to the mass amounts of layoffs at news organizations, buyouts and involuntary reassignments, and speculation about the future of the news business. Yet they also explain the shift in the industry as a moment of “creative possibility.”

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The editors explain how they will try to push against the limits of conventional newspapers by incorporating personality, humor, and accumulated insight into their stories. I think Politico’s mission was best expressed when the editors said their approach will be to produce specialized coverage for a specialized audience through fresh methods of communication, because they believe that is the future of journalism. This part of the statement characterizes the editors’ initial aim for developing Politico as well as their strategy to remain relevant in the future. Another main feature of the mission statement is the discussion of Politico’s focus on factual, unbiased reporting and the importance they place on the journalistic ideal of presenting the news fairly. The editors wrote that they intend to produce “journalism that insists on the primacy of facts over ideology.”

In addition to their website, Politico also produces a print newspaper called The POLITICO. In 2007, the newspaper had a circulation of 25,000 copies distributed through Capitol Hill and other areas of Washington, D.C. The statement explains that they expect lawmakers, lobbyists, and strategists on Capitol Hill to read Politico’s content through their print newspaper, whereas those who are concerned with American politics outside of Washington, D.C. comprise their online audience. The editors inform their readers that The POLITICO will not have a traditional editorial page in order to remain consistent with their mission of reporting factual information over opinions.

Politico’s mission statement consists of the journalistic principles the company strives to practice, a description of how and what they will report on, and an initial focus on the presidential campaign for the 2008 election cycle. The attention the editors placed on an upcoming political event leads me to believe they did not expect Politico to become as big as it has. However, within the last decade they have added Politico Magazine, a European branch, and media news section to their existing platform. They have adapted to the digital era by distributing content on their own application, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,  and others. Politico has fulfilled several components of its mission statement, and even exceeded their initial expectations, by becoming a reliable source of political journalism for thousands of people around the world since its formation in 2007.

Consul General of Poland Presents ‘Creative Poland: Fashion, Design, and Fine Art’

Consul General of Poland in New York Urszula Gacek held a presentation titled “Creative Poland: Fashion, Design, and Fine Art” at The Boston University Castle on Thursday evening. The Center for the Study of Europe at BU’s Pardee School of Global studies sponsored the event, in which the consul general presented information on the emergence of Polish innovation in design during the country’s period of post-war economic growth to about 35 attendees.

Consul General Ursula Gacek was elected to the Polish Senate in 2005 until she joined the European Parliament as a member of the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and as a member of the sub-committee on Security and Defense in 2007. She acted as the ambassador and permanent representative of the Republic of Poland to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France until she took up the post of Poland’s Consul General in New York.

In her presentation, Consul General Ursula explained the transformation of Poland-produced goods from the time of post-war Soviet Communism throughout the country’s adoption of democracy in the late 20th century. She cited several successful Polish companies and designers who contributed to Poland’s role as an industrialized nation through the production of furniture, clothing, jewelry, and technological devices.

Consul General Ursula Gacek explained that products made in Poland during the Communist era had to first be functional, and aesthetics were always secondary to the practicality of goods.

“There was now an ideology to design during the 1970s, when the Communist regime was perhaps at its peak,” Gacek said. “It was proposed that products should be ‘national in form, but socialist in content.’ I don’t know how a piece of furniture can be socialist in content, but that was the guiding ideology of that time, a rather absurd motto to design by.”

Poland began to modernize its perceptions of the production of goods, the Consul General said. She exemplified several Polish artists who gained international recognition for their conceptual designs, such as Stanislaw Wyspianski and Tomek Rygalik.

“Poland has strived to gain international respect as an industrial nation,” Gacek said. “Even Polish people don’t know that the clothes they wear and the video games they play are produced by Polish factories and created by Polish designers. Poland once produced consumer goods that prioritized functionality and usability until a more liberal political climate allowed for the creativity and ingenuity of Polish people to emerge and initiate change.”

Anka Czajkowski, 58, an Allston resident who came to the United States from Poland in 1981, said she came to the presentation to meet the Consul General and advocate for positive connotations of Poland in the U.S.

“I follow a calendar of Polish events in Boston so I can keep the connections even though I’m in the States,” Czajkowski said. “The presentation was really wonderful. It shows a side of Poland that Americans don’t really know about. I hope it makes people think about Poland’s future instead of the past.”

Poland native Henryk Cogiel, 43, is an architect working in the Boston area. Cogiel said he came to Gacek’s presentation to support the spread of Polish culture in the United States.

“I feel it’s important for people to know about Poland,” Cogiel said. “I have been in this country for 20 years, and still when I tell people I am from Poland they don’t really understand what that means. I know American culture, but I want people to know Poland, too.”

Cliches from the April 26 NYT

Page A5: “Saudi Prince Lays Out Plan to Cut Oil Dependency and Energize the Economy” by Ben Hubbard: “John Sfakianakis, the Riyadh-based director of economics research at the Gulf Research Center, said the government faced a delicate balancing act of finding non-oil income without inhibiting the growth that the economy needs.”

Page A7: “Lurching Toward Crisis, Spain Enters Fifth Month With No Government” by Raphael Minder: “Spain has started its fifth month without a government, but it is very likely to spend six months or more in political limbo, many analysts now predict, as the Spaniards give the Flemings and Walloons a run for their money in the political discord category.” and “This week, King Felipe VI will hold a final round of consultations to see whether the deadlock among party leaders can be broken.

Page A7: “Borders, Race and Religion Edge to the Center of British Political Discourse” by Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle: “Like most European countries, many of which are facing growing populist movements on the far right, Britain has always grappled with a strain of racial and religious bias. But the political calendar and global events have combined to push the topic to center stage.” and “But the dispute touched deeper chords here about whether Britain can better control its borders and defend itself from terrorism from within or outside the European Union.”

Page A1-A10: “Cruz-Kasich Alliance Appears Frayed From Start” by Alexander Burns, Matt Flegenheimer, and Jonathan Martin: “Now that each of them has been granted a cleaner shot against Mr. Trump – in different states, and at different moments over the next few weeks – Mr. Cruz and Mr. Kasich will have no easy excuse if Mr. Trump continues to prevail.” and “While Mr. Cruz faces the more immediate test in Indiana, Mr. Kasich will have to make swift use of his free hand in Oregon. Though the state’s primary date is May 17, the election there is conducted by mail, and voters will begin to receive their ballots this week.”and “On Monday, both candidates swatted away questions about whether the deal was something of an underhanded ploy.”

Page A10: “$25 Million Is Pledges to Get Young Voters to the Polls” by Coral Davenport: “In the 2014 election, Mr. Steyer’s group spent heavily on expensive television advertising. This time, taking a page from Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by Mr. Koch and his brother David, the effort will shift to person-to-person contact, voter registration and a get-out-the-vote ground game.”

Page A1-A12: “Hurt by Free Trade and Moving to Extremes” by Nelson Schwartz Quoctrung Bui: “Representative Brooks has said that he would consider ‘anything short of shooting’ illegal immigrants to get them out of the country and that he favored imposing heavy tariffs on China to level the playing field and punish Beijing for what he sees as currency manipulation.” and “Some very conservative members of Congress have been sympathetic to free trade arguments in the past, but Representative Brooks, who has welcomed support from the Tea Party, doesn’t mince words about where he stands.”

Page A9-A14: “Cleveland Will Pay $6 Million To Family of Boy Killed by Police” by Mitch Smith: “Tensions escalated last year when Cleveland filed a response to the lawsuit that seemed to blame Tamit for his death, prompting an apology from Mr. Jackson and a revised filing. Then, in February, Cleveland moved to sue the Rice family $500 to cover Tamir’s emergency medical treatment, but quickly reversed course after a public backlash.”

Page A1-A15: “Turmoil Over Bias Law Shakes Up Elections in North Carolina” by Richard Fausset: “Even before the law tapped into a national debate about transgender rights, privacy and political correctness, North Carolina, the rare Southern state that is evenly split between liberals and conservatives, was considered to be up for grabs in the November presidential race, particularly if Donald J. Trump tops the Republican ticket.” and “Mr. McCroy, 59, last week could barely contain his irritation that the law had taken center stage in the election, siphoning attention from his central message: that he has been a wise steward of the economy who had engineered what he and his team have branded the ‘Carolina Comeback.'” and “The hornet’s nest, he argued, was first kicked not by him, but by the Democratic City Council n Charlotte, which passed a nondiscrimination ordinance in February allowing transgender people to use men’s or women’s bathrooms.”

Page A15: “As Session Opens, Lawmakers Face Pressure Over Bias Law From Competing Sides” by Alan Blinder: “And so critics renewed their vows for a long campaign of resistance to the law, already the subject of a legal challenge, in a broadening of the Moral Monday movement that has shadowed the Republican-dominated Legislature in recent years.”

Page A17: “Mayor, Denying Misdeeds Again, Says Accusations May Be Driven by Politics” by William Neuman and J. David Goodman: “His answers on Monday seemed to follow a road map to his administration’s strategy that was laid out in a fiery letter written over the weekend by a lawyer for his re-election campaign.” and “While the letter offers a full-throated defense of Mr. de Blasio’s actions, it was notable that it did so without ever mentioning the mayor by name, except in reference to the deadline of a Daily News article in which the board’s allegations were reported.”

Page A17: “With Psychic in Jail, Her Mother-in-Law Kept the Family Business Open, the Police Say” by Michael Wilson: “The allegations against Ms. Evans do not come close to rivaling what her daughter-in-law had done; nonetheless, the arrest is a reminder that fortunetelling in New York and elsewhere is often a family affair, with generations of mothers passing the tricks of the trade down to their daughters and, in this case perhaps, their sons’ wives.” and “When Mr. Rice came to learn that the object of his affections had died of an overdose, Ms. Delmaro continued to promise a reunion with the woman, who said she has been reincarnated into a new body – with the help of special crystals, a time machine and an 80-mile bridge of gold.” and “But during the course of their time together, Mr. Rice slept with Ms. Delmaro once, which legally may have put the criminal case into a gray area, as she could have argued the money was a gift.”

“The Korean Diaspora Project” Lecture

Three Boston University graduate students presented their research on noteworthy individuals who initiated the immigration of Korean people to Boston in the 19th and 20th centuries on Thursday at BU’s School of Theology.

Rev. Gun Cho Kim, Soo Jin Chung, and Yung Wa Kim disclosed their findings on the first Koreans to find acceptance in the fields of education, literature, and politics upon arriving to the U.S. to about 30 attendees. The panelists conducted their research for “The Korean Diaspora Project,” a multi-year research project sponsored by BU’s Center for Global Christianity and Mission. The goal of their research is to uncover the first connections Korean immigrants made to Boston and Boston University.

Project Director Dana Robert addressed the audience at the start of the presentation to explain why the lecture series has been essential to achieving a deeper understanding of the first Korean immigrants to arrive in the U.S.

“There was clearly an information gap in the topic, and we identified a need for Korean intelligence in the mid-20th centuries and found several associations with BU,” Robert said. “The lecture series was established to bring to light the connections between the U.S. and Korea that were previously ignored. We found that BU acted as a catalyst for Koreans.”

Soo Jin Chung, a Ph.D. candidate and former missionary, presented her findings on Kang Younghill: the first Korean-American writer to be accepted in the U.S. Chung explained the difficult process of choosing subjects that fit the project’s specific criteria.

“The hardest part was finding a subject because of the lack of records,” Chung explained. “I had to access the BU list of alumni, then see if the individual was Korean, then I had to further research their impact on Korean assimilation to American culture. Our purpose is to find subjects who established Korean connections to the city of Boston and Boston University.”

Reverand Gun Cho Kim presented his findings on Yu Kil-Chun, the first Korean student in the U.S. and also found an absence of documentation throughout his research process.

“My research consistently suggests Yu Kil-Chun attended Boston University in 1884, but there are no records to confirm his attendance,” Rev. Kim said. “I could not find his name on the 1884-1885 class list after thoroughly checking the archives.”

In his discussion of Suk Ja Hong, the first female Korean diplomat, panelist Yung Wa Kim explained that the lack of documentation was possibly due to discrimination Koreans faced in America.

“In the early 20th century, Americans were not accepting of the new population of Koreans,” Kim said. “Korean people faced a lot of challenges as a result of American attitudes of superiority. They were not happy that Korean people were coming to their country, and filling spots in classrooms and jobs that they felt belonged to American people.”

Rev. Kim explained that although Americans were not welcoming of Korean immigrants, prominent Korean individuals, such as Kil-Chun, were able to draw inspiration from American culture to modernize outdated Korean traditions.

“The Korean political climate in the late 19th century was very patriarchal,” Rev. Kim said. “Korea abolished its class systems, adjusted its immunization policies, and banned several other controversial practices because of American influences. Korean immigrants were able to use Boston as a safe space for activities to promote democracy and bring revolutionary Western ideas to Korea.”