Update, June 6
Elizabeth Angell asks why a "celebrated media criticism site" bit the dust?
More readers' letters...
Update, June 6
Letters and media stories continue to
come in. We are pursing a couple of possible avenues for restarting the site. In the mean
time, the archives are still going to be available.
"after many heartfelt notes from readers
lamenting the site's untimely demise, the nonprofit CMPA says it is trying to find a new
source of funding, perhaps from foundations or j-schools."
- Carl Sullivan in Editor
& Publisher Online
See also "A death is
noted in the meta-media family" - Felicity Barringer, New
York Times (second item)
Update, June 2
The tributes are coming in -
"The truth is there are few places to get real media criticism...
NewsWatch.org, the site published by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, has
been an exception: a daily, reliably objective look into the many missteps of the American
press. From West Nile encephalitis hysteria to bogus reports on the drug Ecstasy, NewsWatch called B.S. on the media.
- Ken Layne in USC's Online Journalism Review
"A glance at the Newswatch site reveals a sparse design and rich
writing on media topics ranging from ABC's hand-wringing over Leonardo DiCaprio's
presidential interview to criticism about the current rage for media criticism -- all
handled with style and a wry sense of humor."
- From Greg Lindsay's "Cult following isn't enough to save NewsWatch"
"Sad news: one of the media sites we've admired the most here at
Arts & Letters Daily has gone bust. NewsWatch is no more... "
- Arts & Letters
"I'm writing on behalf of everyone at MediaChannel to tell
you how sorry we are that NewsWatch is closing shop. We valued the independent perspective
you brought to the analysis of the news media. As our organization consists of over 420
media affiliates worldwide at the present time, NewsWatch's contribution to,
difference with, and complementarity to this diverse range of independent and alternative
media sites enriched the various debates about media issues immensely. NewsWatch will be
missed by many, w'ere sure."
- Andrew Levy - Mediachannel
Update, June 1.
Thanks to all the readers who have written in to express sadness and support. I will get
around to replying to you all in time. Rest assured, that if we can bring NewsWatch back,
we will, and to that end, the notice of your appreciation is of enormous help. Thank you
again. - Trevor Butterworth
On Tuesday, May 30, NewsWatch.org, a daily media criticism Web site run by The Center
for Media and Public Affairs, ceased operations. Described by Smart Computing as one of
the "best little-known Web sites," on the Web, NewsWatch.org was launched a year
and a half ago to serve as a "consumer's guide to the news." Rather than look at
the inside stories behind the day's news - who was up, who was down and who did what to
whom - NewsWatch focused on news content, examining inaccuracies, distortions, lack of
context and other controversies of interest to the consumers as well as the producers of
In support of this mission, its writers examined everything from media coverage of
Kosovo's air war to Elian Gonzales; from journalistic confusion over Heisenberg's
Uncertainty Principle to the myth of cybersex addiction. We tried to praise the good and
correct the bad in journalism, operating from a non-partisan perspective. As friendly
critics, we also sought to expand public understanding of how the press actually works and
where its future may lie, most prominently through an interview series that included
"Bobos in Paradise" author David Brooks, Columbia Journalism School Dean Tom
Goldstein, Atlantic Monthly/National Journal editor Michael Kelly, and Washington Post
Ombudsman E.R. Shipp.
And occasionally, NewsWatch just wrote offbeat and (we hope) amusing stories for the
sake of entertaining our readers. Despite our small operation, we enjoyed a steadily
increasing readership, buoyed by NewsWatch's contribution to the media debate in such
outlets as ABC.com, Arts & Letters Daily, The Associated Press, The Australian, BBC's
World News Tonight, Brill's Content, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN,
Editor & Publisher, Fox News, The London Observer, TomPaine.com, U.S. News & World
Report, and The Washington Post.com.
Unfortunately, despite our growing public role and increasing readership, our inability
to secure a sufficient funding stream has forced us to call a halt to daily publication.
We hope that NewsWatch can return in the near future with new sources of support. We want
to thank our readers for their loyalty and their, often amusing, commentary. We would also
like to thank contributors and staff, past and present, for taking the power of the
Internet and creating something new and valuable.
If you wish to send any comments, click
Surely cooler heads will
prevail to work out a dare I say restructuring deal that would preserve jobs, preserve
insight and preserve intelligent counterviews to the prevailing herd and checkbook
mentalities that parade as responsible journalism.
Lloyd's List Maritime Asia
I demand that you return, immediately.
I am sorry to see you go. In fact, in these times of increasing mistrust to media, more
of your sort would be welcomed to emerge, and challenge the profession for not falling
short. All over the world, we see signs of credibility crisis in varying degrees. You were
great help to me, in my lonely profession, highlighting the patterns and trends. I hope,
and somehow know, that you will come back.
Sorrily I just found you as you might be leaving...I am optimistic....I can't believe I
never heard of you till now as your site is right up my alley! Stay with it, don't hang it
Emily Miller Mundy
City of Fremantle
Regrettably, I only heard of your site when reading a piece about your shutdown. I have
looked it over, and it is outstanding! I hope you can work out a financial plan to get
back in operation.
Best of luck,
Eagle River, Alaska
I am very saddened to see your site close down. I enjoyed reading Maia
Szalavitz's column and often surfed by to read it. I hope you will be able to get
funding for your site soon
It's a shame that I just found your site and your gone!! I am writing an argumentative
research paper on the media "Useful information, not entertainment". Your site
was perfect for my argument. If you should stand up in the near or distant future, could
you add my E-mail to a distribution list (if you intend to make one). Thanks and I hope
you guys return soon.
Victor S. Angry
Come back please, I've just discovered you.
Auckland, New Zealand
I only learned about you and your site recently with your piece on the
Heisenberg principle. I weep at the thought that you have to pull down your cyber shingle.
I will miss your literate postings. Thanks for giving us something to
think about. I wish there was some other list that would fill the void since so much of
cyberspace has been taken over by commerce & the mass media. Wish we could built
another oasis somewhere. Could you try again to get more funding--or perhaps paid
subscriptions? Nice reading you. Best of luck
This is truly sad news! I am probably a late arrival on the NewsWatch
scene but I quickly learned its value and truly looked forward to each writing. I do hope
you are able to revive the concept, and if so will inform me. Thanks for what you were
able to provide. You guys and gals should have nothing but pride with what you have done.
The best to all of you.
Your web site will be missed. Please come back.
So sorry to hear about this latest development. I read you guys
regularly and really enjoyed everything you posted. Here's hoping you won't have long
before you can get things going again.
St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times
The market will - in the end - recognize good ideas. This was / is one
Oh no! How tragic! I hope you will be back online real soon. We
desperately need your services. I am so depressed. :(Maybe you could hookup with Jewish
World Review, Townhall.com or FreeRepublic until you get on your feet again. I so often
read your stuff on, hmm, Jewish World Review I think it was. Really, really important
work. Please don't give up.
Thank YOU for your outstanding work!! I hope that you will be able to
find the funding needed to resume operations.
I'm completely bummed. I am a devoted fan of your site. I'm executive editor of The
Register-Guard, a mid-sized daily newspaper in Eugene, Ore., and, among
other things, I write a weekly column that attempts to educate readers about
how and why newspapers do what they do. I found more thoughtful material and important
leads for columns from your site than any of the dozens of other "media
criticism/analysis" sites I monitor each week.
Your material was incisive, thought-provoking and expertly reported. I always
found myself hoping an examination of The Register-Guard's coverage of topics you explored
on NewsWatch would indicate we were striving mightily to meet the high standards you set
for responsible journalism. Striving being the key word. I genuinely hope you find the
support you need to continue your important work. Though I realize it is not a
particularly successful model on the Web, I would be willing to subscribe, join or
otherwise pay a reasonable fee to continue to have access to the valuable
information you provide.
Best of luck,
The Register Guard
This is very bad news. I echo Mr. Jim Godbold: "I'm completely bummed. I am
a devoted fan of your site." I'm just an average citizen and I've been reading your
site for a few months. In that time, I've come to rely on it to get to the truth
underlying media coverage. In my opinion, you have succeeded in becoming a
"consumer's guide to the news." Thank you for the good work. I can only hope
this turns out to be just an interruption.
As someone who used your site in my media lit class I am very disappointed to see you
go. Having my students read articles from your site was always a great educational lesson.
What are the possibilities that you will find funding before the fall semester kicks up (I
know it sounds really selfish of me to ask but I am hoping somehow you will get back on
line soon - for all the people who use your website).
VHS Media Lit Teacher
Graded American School
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Although I was not a very regular reader of your web site, I always found it
informative and even, enlightening. If you return soon I promise to be a more loyal
Well, I'm saddened to find out your organization is gone. I had just found your site
and sent you a May 25 e-mail regarding an April 26 NYT article on racial injustice in the
juvenile justice system. That story had at its core totally wrong statistics about blacks
and whites being sentenced to juvenile prisons. That's how urban legends or myths
start. After a month long e-mail battle with my local newspaper, I had hoped
NewsWatch would investigate this story. I know that will not happen. Is there any
place else for me to turn?
Best to you and your future.
I hope NewsWatch rises from the ashes, and I want to tell
you that I enjoyed your material, Trevor, particularly your Irish mastery of irony. I hope
to see you surface online again! Thank you and NewsWatch for the constant reality checks
and the humour too. I wish you well.
Mary Ellen Torobin
Sorry to see you go. As a daily reader,
I was both informed and entertained by your articles. I will miss your
organizations insight and over all balance in reporting. I hope to see you back again in
the near future. If need be, I would gladly pay a fee to subscribe and read your articles.
Hoping to see you back soon...
If you do resume some kind of publication, I would be most grateful if
you could manage to put my name on an email list to inform me of your revival.
Best regards and good luck
Please, Do Hurry Back.... I love your site and we all NEED YOU.
My sympathies are added to many you have surely received. Does it strike
anyone else - are former colleagues listening? - that this is a website that could well be
part of an academic institution like a J-School. Funding might then come from foundation
sources or, in a fit of complete idealism, funding might come from the very institutions
being watched by the website. This bit of fanciful hope would go a long way to fulfilling
the mission of a "news council", and the self-funded analysis would be a healthy
message to readers, listeners, and viewers that there are some institutions of journalism
who care about their standards!
I appreciate what you people tried to do. The reporters we get nowadays
are more interested in making their big splash, and not analyzing the data they are GIVEN,
instead of gathering their own data, and reporting it with no slant. Slant is what OPINION
pages are for, after all. Without you policing the news, I feel we are a poorer nation.
Please try again.
I'm very sad to hear that your fine website will be on a break until new funding is
found. I truly enjoyed reading your material. I always felt that you were performing a
valuable public service by pointing out to the news consuming public that we deserve
quality in the media. You did an excellent job of showing where that quality was present
and where it was lacking.
I'll keep checking back at your website, hoping that new funding has been found. In the
mean time, thanks for all your good efforts. If it means anything, I have over 300
"favorites" filed in my copy of Internet Explorer and yours was at the very top
of the list.
Wishing you a speedy recovery!
John F. Hughes
News from Hughes Information Services
San Francisco, CA
I'm really sorry to hear that the plug has been pulled on your site. Good luck getting
the funding to get it back up and running again.
Asia/Pacific Research Center
Your work has been consistently some of the most illuminating and motivating in the public
arena. Good luck in your search for support. I hope you maintain your mailing list for
when, not if, you get back in service.
Your site is (was?) one of the ten or fifteen I check
daily. I confess that I installed ad-blocking software, so that if your site is
supported by banner ads, I will never have seen them, much less click them... so perhaps I
am part of why your site went down. Have you considered aligning yourselves with a
college journalism department somewhere? That may be a stupid question -- if so, please
don't trouble yourself with by replying to tell me so!
Assistant Professor Dennis G. Jerz, Dept.
Univ. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
It's a real shame, my friend. I am terribly sorry
to hear that you've had to close down and I only hope you find a way to re-open some day
soon. You were doing the (Journalistic) Lord's work and it will be a tragedy if such a
valuable and much-needed critical voice is silenced.
I hope that Newswatch can be revived very soon. Your site, which I
stumbled on through Arts & Letters Daily, contained much provocative, intelligent and
well-written comment and analysis. It's a shame to see it go.
I'm greatly disappointed to see the hiatus in your analysis of the
media. We all need help in keeping coverage in perspective - news consumers and producers
alike. I hope to see you return to your valuable service in the near future.
Elementary Science Program
Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES
Even more tomorrow