Steven BrillPosted 4 years ago under Bias, Fake News, Mainstream Media
NewsGuard co-CEO Steven Brill is an American journalist and author, best known for being the Founder of Court TV and the Yale Journalism Initiative. The self-proclaimed expert of “good media business and journalism practices” is lauded by mainstream media to be a good example of honesty and unbiased news reporting. The Yale graduate, who once worked alongside former New York City Mayor John Lindsay, has stated that the launch of NewsGuard with former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Gordon Crovitz, will help various internet platforms sift through news stories and weed out fake news.
“I like to write about stuff I know nothing about”
Brill was working on creating anti-crime programs with Lindsay during his first year at Yale Law School when he first found himself interested in journalism.
In an article on CNN, Brill said that he had written two to three pieces for The New York Times while he was still in school. These pieces were published in the magazine’s op-ed pages. He later went on to write for New York Magazine with the help of Tom Morgan, Lindsay’s former press secretary. His article on the black market for handguns was the first of many feature pieces he wrote for the magazine.
Brill has said that he likes to “write about stuff [he] doesn’t know anything about,” because he insists that it is curiosity that drives good journalism.
A stellar example of this journalistic proclivity can be found in his political article published on TIME in 2015 on Trump University. According to Brill, the school, which operated from 2005 through 2015 was a “total metaphor for Trump,” after alleging that the University was basically “selling snake oil.”
Becoming a “journalism icon”
Brill rose to prominence as the founder of the magazine American Lawyer (1979) and later of Court TV (1991), which Brill himself admitted was successful due to the “natural drama” involved in “true crime.”
Despite Court TV being criticized by defense attorneys and some prosecutors back in 1991, the television show continued to score ratings.
The continuous live coverage of trials in their entirety, with a running commentary by legal experts, was a novel idea at the time. Previously, trials were closed-doors affairs, with the public only knowing of the outcome. This was to preserve the anonymity of the subjects and to lessen any potential for bias from the jury.
The new network found a way around these areas of concern by blotting out the faces of its subjects. The results were admirable, if somewhat ironic, considering that its “gavel-to-gavel” coverage brought incredible amounts of public interest and scrutiny to the cases it chose to feature. This was the reason why the network became a hit in the first place.
An example would be the woman who accused William Kennedy Smith of rape in 1991, who was referred to only as “blue dot.” However, the Kennedy Smith trial became the fledgling network’s first big focus.
An article in The Pittsburgh Press writes,
Ninety percent of the country is available for reportage by Court TV, because 45 states permit cameras in their courtrooms … Cameras have been barred from federal courts since the Lindbergh kidnapping trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann in 1935 was turned by photographers into a media circus. Conveniently for Court TV, this week marked the beginning of a three-year experiment in which cameras will be permitted to cover civil cases — but not criminal cases — in six federal court jurisdictions.
Actually, Court TV already has become the first media organization to use a TV camera in a federal court. A New York judge, William Conner, jumped the gun when he allowed a Court TV crew into his court June 10 to tape proceedings in a copyright dispute involving fees for marketing images of the late actor James Dean.
Connecting people with “trustworthy news”
Brill first announced the launch of NewsGuard to Axios in 2018 supposedly to help connect the public with “trustworthy news” and to “fight the persistent scourge of fake news.”
This new venture aims to combine technology with 40 to 60 “qualified, accountable human beings” to help sort out which articles are “fake” and which ones are “real.” Because he is using a team of unbiased humans, the system is naturally fool-proof.
Incidentally, shortly after NewsGuard was announced, an analyst for the company was interviewed about the accuracy of the arbitration process of this entirely human team. John Gregory, an underling of self-appointed news arbiter, Brill, spoke to Robert Spencer of FrontPage Magazine. Gregory’s responses were vague at best, with the analyst repeatedly stating that the team will just “endeavor to be fair.” There was no mention as to how NewsGuard would accurately – and without bias – sift through news articles and determine what score to give a website.
Brill is now lobbying the European Union to “force the hand” of major U.S.-based tech companies to integrate NewsGuard into their social media platforms and search engines. This, to “counter online disinformation” currently being delivered by fake news sites. However, after a recent MintPress expose revealed NewsGuard’s ties with prominent neoconservatives and intelligence officials, Mintpress was given a critical reporting by the group. Brill stated during his brief speech at the EU on January 29, 2019 in Brussels that the news sites that have criticized NewsGuard’s motives — including MintPress — were “secretly supported” by the Russian government — a claim for which he has not provided any evidence.
Brill is also seeking to partner with officials from the EU to pressure social media and tech companies to pay NewsGuard a license fee for use of its “nonpartisan” ranking system.
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