Monday, January 9, 2017

What the Media Missed About Facebook’s Big New Hire | Vanity Fair

What the Media Missed About Facebook’s Big New Hire | Vanity Fair:

What the Media Missed About Facebook’s Big New Hire

 The New York Times reported, “Facebook is turning to a former television news journalist to help smooth over its strained ties to the news media, which views it as both a vital partner and a potentially devastating opponent.”
It mentioned, almost in passing, “In recent years, [Campbell] Brown has emerged as a major player in the pitched political battles over charter schools, prominently clashing with teachers’ unions while coming out against teachers’ tenure.” (The New York Times)
To put it mildly.
But, at least, it mentioned something, as opposed to Recode, a vibrant bastion of the digital world. “Facebook has hired Campbell Brown, a former anchor for both CNN and NBC, to a newly created Head of News Partnerships position in the hope that Brown can serve as a liaison between the social giant and the myriad of publishers that use it for distribution.” (Recode)
Well, The Times’ reference to the “pitched battles over charter schools” might have been rephrased “pitched battles over teacher job protections,” assuming somebody knew their stuff about the education field. There might have been mention of her working with aggressive philanthropists, like activist investor Dan Loeb, to spearhead a lawsuit aimed at rewriting New York’s teacher tenure laws (copycat to a similar one in California that was recently overturned).
The nonprofit she helped start was supported by the same cohort of activist philanthropists who supported Brown’s crusade against teacher job protections. Like ThinkProgress on the left or The Weekly Standard on the right, it promoted a specific advocacy agenda. But unlike those news organizations, her news startup promoted its agenda under the banner of nonpartisan and unbiased journalism.
For many in the education field, that was quite hard to square with what the new group was delivering; all the more so when she hosted a Republican presidential primary debate sponsored solely by the country’s foremost group promoting vouchers, the American Federation for Children, and hosted by her then-new website, the Seventy Four. (Slate) Theirs was a divisive policy position (on charters) with arguably no really strong evidence of success.
It was akin to ExxonMobil or the National Resources Defense Council acting as sole sponsor of a debate on the environment.
Then, of late, she said she’d recuse herself from coverage of Betsy DeVos, the moneybags Michigan pro-charter nominee for Education Secretary. (Politico) But she also produced a flattering endorsement of DeVos. (74)
Might she be a great choice by Facebook? Perhaps. We’ll see. There might just be a credibility challenge in her dealing with media organizations.
At minimum, a lack of context in reporting the announcement surely left most Times readers in the lurch What the Media Missed About Facebook’s Big New Hire | Vanity Fair:

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