Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi has been elected Speaker of the House. As speaker, she is second in line for the presidency.

Speaker-elect Pelosi used her new-found power to support Rep. John Murtha for House majority leader, however Pelosi's backing failed to help Murtha and Rep. Steny Hoyer was elected instead.

CNN is currently featuring this story prominently online, and is using the solid headline "Pelosi wins then loses." What I find interesting about the CNN article is that it provides a substantial amount of space discussing why Murtha was a bad choice for majority leader and offers little insight about Hoyer.

This prompted me to examine other sources.

The Reuters story linked above (primarily about Pelosi's victory) says only that Murtha "helped lead the charge against the Iraq war that helped Democrats win control Congress, drawing the appreciation of virtually all members. Yet some Democrats were concerned about his record on congressional ethics and opposition to proposed reforms."

The Reuters story about the majority leader race regurgitated the Pelosi story: "Pelosi, a California liberal, had endorsed Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, who helped lead the charge against the Iraq war that was a key factor in races for the House of Representatives and the Senate."

So, both Reuters and CNN are using the angle that Pelosi's support was ineffective and her own party went against her wishes. The AP feed has a similar view, saying "The balloting marked a personal triumph for [Hoyer], but also a snub to Pelosi, moments after the rank and file selected her unanimously to become speaker when the House convenes in January."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Closure: The Matsuzaka Sweepstakes

This is officially over.

"The highest bid amount was submitted by the Boston Red Sox...they should have negotiating rights for 30 continuous days." -- Opening line from the Major League Baseball Official Matsuzaka Press Conference.

"We are pleased and excited to acquire the rights to Mr. Matsuzaka." - Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein

So, let's review my recently one-dimensional blog. Who had the best sources and who had the worst?

Buster Olney, part journalist, part analyst, for ESPN is the clear "winner" as he scooped everyone and broke the story, as I wrote last Friday: "Buster Olney blogged (subscriber-only) on ESPN about a 'bit of speculation heard yesterday -- and it was nothing more than speculation -- was that maybe Boston had made an enormous bid, in the range of $45 million.'"

ESPN gets credit for trusting Olney enough to use his blog as source material for their news release later that day. Clearly Olney was hedging his bets and protecting his sources by qualifying his blog report with double doses of "speculation."

So, Olney gets extra credit for breaking the story with the correct information, and his employer gets credit for recognizing the strength of Olney's moles enough to turn it into an actual news story, which was later picked up by most other outlets.

Who lost? Earlier last week Source Diverse compared a video news segment alongside message board fodder alongside speculation from a blog (not Olney's). In the video Boston Globe sportswriter Jackie MacMullan nonchalantly offered that Matsuzaka "is going to go out west to the Angels...they've got the sealed bid that's going to put them over the top."

In the future, I'll read MacMullan's work with more of a skeptical eye.

The blog, Matsuzaka Watch, was careful not to opine as matter-of-factly as MacMullan, but did posit that the Yankees will win the bidding, saying "rumors abound...the Yankees at $27 million, the Rangers at $25 million, but nothing concrete or from a remotely reliable source."

It's hard to "score" the blog anything more than neutral (which I'd say is quite valuable).

Now to the much-maligned, oft-deemed-unreliable message board: One poster, while he did qualify his declaration with some insecurity, stated "I have a source telling me that the Yankees won with 27 million. He is reliable but I still have some doubts as that seems a little low."

In sum, Buster Olney gained my trust this week. Jackie MacMullen lost some credibility, but nothing major. If you followed along on the Matsuzaka Watch blog, you know the blog was at least decent, and updated frequently. Rumors and speculation were disclosed as such. And one poster on a message board had a chance to shine, but instead came up empty.

I'd also like to draw attention to how relatively leak-proof this whole process ended up. Kudos to Major League Baseball, the teams thereof, and the officials and entities of Nippon Professional Baseball.

I will now refrain from writing about sports for at least 7 days.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Matsuzaka redux: rumor turned speculation turned news

An insight into news-making:
Buster Olney blogged (subscriber-only) on ESPN about a "bit of speculation heard yesterday -- and it was nothing more than speculation -- was that maybe Boston had made an enormous bid, in the range of $45 million."

Note that Olney wrote this in his blog and twice used the word "speculation" and further qualified the information with "maybe."

Well this speculative maybe turned into a good ol' fashioned news article, also on ESPN:
"The Boston Red Sox may have posted the top bid for the right to negotiate with Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported, citing Major League Baseball sources...But Olney is reporting that the Red Sox may have posted the top bid with a figure between $38 million and $45 million, according to Major League Baseball officials who are monitoring the bidding. "
Note the repeated use of the word "may." We are now witnessing a rumor being parlayed into news. The ESPN article, to its credit, does point out that "[t]here has been no official announcement, and the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka's team in Japan, have until Tuesday to accept or reject the high bid."

Is this responsible reporting? I'd say the blog post is responsible, although borderline comical, but taking the blog post and converting it into news (from "ESPN News Services") is questionable at best.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Daisuke Matsuzaka: News vs. Message Board vs. Blog

This is getting interesting. Here's the basic deal. Daisuke Matsuzaka is an outstanding, young pitcher currently controlled by the Seibu Lions. Teams from Major League Baseball have submitted bids to Seibu for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka. The highest bid amount will be revealed to Seibu, but not the team. Seibu will likely accept the bid.

This process is meant to be secret to avoid tampering. Leaks are bound to happen, but who has the best contact information?

Here, watch Jackie MacMullan casually state Matsuzaka "is going to go out west to the Angels... they've got the sealed bid that's going to put them over the top."

A poster on a Yankees message board declares "I have a source telling me that the Yankees won with 27 million. He is reliable but I still have some doubts as that seems a little low."

The Matsuzaka Watch blogs "[i]t's Thursday evening in Japan and we're all still waiting for word on the bidding process. Rumors abound...the Yankees at $27 million, the Rangers at $25 million, but nothing concrete or from a remotely reliable source."

Mainichi Daily News reported last night:
"[Matsuzaka's] Japanese club, the Pacific League's Seibu Lions, said Thursday they have been notified of the highest bid by a major league club for the 26-year-old right-hander, but will not make a decision on whether to accept until after a meeting of its board of directors -- not expected to be held before Friday at the earliest. 'We have confirmed the amount of the bid, but we cannot make any comment for now on whether the club will accept it,' said Seibu spokesman Ryuichi Chikamune, who refused to disclose which MLB team offered the highest amount, or how many teams bid."
The bidding opened on November 2nd.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Virginia, too close to call, or not?

Polls have been closed for roughly 24 hours. Forbes, using an article from the AP, declared Republican George Allen a loser in Virginia at 3:13pm. Meanwhile is taking the conservative approach, stating on its home page “Virginia Senate race still too close to call.”

Allen’s opponent, and potential victor, declared “the votes are in and we won.” Meanwhile, George Allen has not conceded and his campaign website has not been updated.

Fox News states that“[i]n Virginia, the State Board of Elections announced it would not certify the outcome of the race between incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb until Nov. 27, after which recounts could begin.”

Michelle Malkin blogs that Webb took Virginia, while MSNBC reminds us “[w]ith control of the Senate down to the contest in Virginia, we could be wallowing in reminders of the weeks-long wrangle in Florida that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential race.”

For those wanting a resolution, you can watch Webb’s victory speech on YouTube.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saddam Predictions

London Times online states:
"[t]he former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein will be hanged by the end of January, a senior member of Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa party predicted today as an around-the-clock curfew kept the lid on sectarian violence after the deposed dictator was sentenced to death. 'I don't think it will drag on beyond January of next year,' said MP Haider al-Abadi, who is a confidant to the Iraqi Prime Minister."
Reuters focuses on the complexity of the issue, and the ambiguity and uncertainty therein:
"Saddam Hussein's death sentence is not the end of the legal process and political obstacles may also keep him from the gallows for some time. U.S. officials working with the U.S.-sponsored Iraqi High Tribunal also describe it as 'premature' to disclose exactly how Saddam's appointment with the hangman might take place."

Many sources are questioning the timing of the verdict, wondering if the Saddam trial was brought to an end just in time for the US mid-term elections. Others agree the timing may be interesting, but do not believe it will affect the elections.

Phillip Carter, writing at Slate, predicts the "conviction may even impede our march to success and frustrate our exit from Iraq." But Tony Blair disagrees. An AP article, by Beth Gardiner, discusses Blair's belief that the death penalty is bad even for Saddam Hussein. Blair predicted the trial "also then helps point the way to the only future...a nonsectarian Iraq in which people from different communities live together and decide their future through democracy."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Biggest News Right Now

According to, Rev. Ted Haggard and his potential homosexual fling is the most prominent news story at this time.

The New York Times online is highlighting the story about the two women killed by Israel.

The most recent post on Daily Kos is about Lieberman the Republican.

The Reuters page is currently giving Iraq violence the highest page position.

Notice that there is no unified top story at the moment. This is not unusual, of course, but it does allow us to examine the different thinking of a few different sources.

Let's start with as has been noted by me, and even better by others, CNN is not so much about news as they are about sensationalism, life interest, and quirkyness. Carrying the Haggard story as the lead item seems to fit the sensationalism perspective; although it is news that may be worth knowing about, that Haggard may be gay and may have paid for sex with a man, is personal and maybe even boring.

The NYTimes, thought to exhibit the liberal bias, is currently featuring the Israel story, at least in part because news of it is just being released. This shows that the NYTimes, at least, updates their page with more frequency than CNN. The story, by its subject alone, portrays Israel in a bad light. Make of that want you want.

Reuters is highlighting the spike in violence in Iraq. Iraq and what happens there makes for an easy story at this point. People want to know what is going on with Iraq, and Reuters is not making news just for the people, but for other news outlets to pick up. So, here, we get what sells -- so to speak. Any prominent stories saying the Iraq war is not going well could be argued to be bad for the Republicans right now. Make of that what you please.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

With the election dominating news pages:

Don't let these stories get lost: