Sandra Stewart | July 23, 2021
It’s our job to know what’s up with the media—how journalists do their jobs, what they care about and the dilemmas roiling their waters; how PR strategies land (or don’t); and how social media platforms intersect with reporting. But media literacy is valuable for any human—especially those seeking coverage—so we cherry-picked resources that pull back the curtain and deliver a good read, listen or watch at the same time.
How’d they get that story?
HuffPost’s Must Reads newsletter lives up to its name by not only featuring the publication’s best reporting, but also interviewing the writers about what inspired their interest, how they found sources and got them to talk, and more. How reporters do their jobs is a mystery to most people, so these rare looks behind the screen make Must Reads doubly informative.
This is NOT how you do it
Are public critiques of your peers’ work by the most avid Twitter users part of your professional world? If not, the unstable amalgam of anxiety, self-satisfaction and compulsion we feel toward Muck Rack’s “This Month in Bad PR Pitches” column may be foreign. But if you like cringe comedy, you’ll like the April column for its premium combination of incompetence, chutzpah and reaction GIFs.
WNYC’s On the Media podcast explores what the media and its critics get right and wrong, and the histories and hysterias that feed the 24-hour beast. The hosts are sharp, persistent interviewers and guests bring deep perspectives to issues like bad-faith attacks on good-faith journalism, ethical dilemmas, and undercovered stories.
Tales from the anti-truth hellscape
For a quicker hit on what’s going wrong and sometimes right in the mediaverse, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan reliably delivers an incisive, highly readable take with real feeling. If she doesn’t write her own headlines (few do), she owes her copy editor big time for gems like “Only in our anti-truth hellscape could Anthony Fauci become a supervillain.”
Big tech’s media frenemy
Typically described as “the most feared journalist in Silicon Valley” (also sometimes “the most liked”), the omnipresent, deeply sourced Kara Swisher has been covering tech since the first dot-com boom and she definitely is not suffering fools. If you’re tired of hearing about Big Tech but feel like you should keep current, try her New York Times column and podcasts (Pivot and Sway). She’s especially strong on the social media titans and the mess they’ve wrought.
We’re believers in news media’s central role in democracy and capacity to spark positive action, but for cynics (and film buffs), nothing beats the classic 1957 satire Sweet Smell of Success, which devolves around a sweatily desperate publicist, a vindictive king-making columnist, and the moral sewage they create and drown in. Fun times—check it out if you’re still not ready to sit in a movie theater unmasked.
If you like what Thinkshift Communications offered here, be sure to read our other articles on PR and thought leadership.