January 2017 Articles

For a free press as a check on power this is the darkest time in American history since World War I, when there was massive censorship and suppression of dissent. I say this because so many things are happening at once to disarm and disable serious journalism, or to push it out of the frame. Most of these are well known, but it helps to put them all together. Here is my list:…

…Low trust all around, an emboldened and nationalist right wing that treats the press as natural enemy, the bill coming due for decades of coasting on a model in political reporting that worked well for “junkies” but failed to engage the rest of us, the strange and disorientating fact that reality itself seems to have become a weaker force in politics, the appeal of the “strong man” and his propaganda within an atmosphere of radical doubt, the difficulty of applying standard methods of journalism to a figure in power who is not trying to represent reality but to substitute himself for it as a show of strength, the unsuitability of prior routine as professionals in journalism try to confront these confusing conditions, a damaged economic base, weak institutional structure and newsroom mono-culture that hinders any creative response, and a dawning recognition that freedom of the press is a fragile state, not a constitutional certainty.

This is a crisis with many overlapping and deep-seated causes, not just a problem but what scholars call a wicked problem– a mess. You don’t “solve” messes, you approach them with humility and respect for their beastliness. Trying things you know won’t “fix” it can teach you more about the problem’s wickedness. That’s progress. Realizing that no one is an expert in the problem helps, because it means that good ideas can come from anywhere.

Being willing to start over is good, too. If I were running a big national desk in DC, I would try to zero-base the beat structure. Meaning: if you had no existing beats for covering national affairs in Donald Trump’s America, if you had to create them all from scratch, what would that system look like?

Is that going to fix what’s broken in political journalism? Nope. But trying it might reveal possibilities that were harder to see before. So let me be clear about this: I don’t have solutions to what I described in part one. And I’m not saying my suggestions are equal to the task. They are not. Rather, this is what I can think of. I have a series of small ideas that might be worth trying and a larger one to spell out.

I wish had better answers for you.

A profile of Jackson Family Wines in Sonoma, California and their efforts to adapt to the regions drought while still producing high quality wines.

In his September 2016 cover story for The Atlantic, Stephen Brill suggested that infrastructure’s outsize political influence today has only been amplified and accelerated by the country’s ongoing reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Under the moniker of “critical infrastructure protection,” energy-production, transportation-logistics, waste-disposal, and other sites have been transformed from often-overlooked megaprojects on the edge of the metropolis into the heavily fortified, tactical crown jewels of the modern state. Bridges, tunnels, ports, dams, pipelines, and airfields have an emergent geopolitical clout that now rivals democratically elected civic institutions.

[Michelle] Sosa and [Anthony] McGinty’s unit is LAX’s attempt to reinvent itself as a player on the international intelligence stage. Their work promises to propel the city’s aging airport to the forefront of today’s conversations about what it means to protect critical infrastructure and, in the process, to redefine where true power lies in the 21st-century metropolis.

Geopolitics aside, the emergence of a dedicated intelligence unit at LAX, separate from national and international intelligence organizations such as the CIA and FBI, is undoubtedly on the rise.

My dad introduced me to these amazing segments on the Mark in the Morning show, part of 100.3 The Sound LA. In them, a guy named Christian Hand would take a classic rock song and dissect it. Track by track he’d walk you through how a hit song was assembled and point out the nuance and beauty behind each recording. They’re incredible to listen to.

On August 3, 2016, the Mark in the Morning show ended so it’s unlikely that there will be any new breakdown’s by Christian Hand. I’ve assembled all the segments I can find and posted them in iTunes podcast format. Listen to them while you can before they’re taken down.