Monday, December 31, 2012

National Journal hosted dinner for 'renewable energy industry leaders' and Beltway insiders, National Journal owner says revenues from crony dinners necessary because 'economic foundation of journalism' has fallen away

On November 14, 2012 UK Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg wrote that Obama was going to "take personal charge of climate change" which she termed an "existential crisis." She then spoke of a recent dinner hosted by National Journal for "leaders in the renewable industry." Apparently media outlets like National Journal routinely get insiders together and charge corporations to have dinner and discuss mutual interests off the record. Conversation is moderated by a Beltway journalist. In this case the interested parties were after more US taxpayer billions for "existential" non-existent CO2 terror. Following an excerpt about the dinner from Ms. Goldenberg below is a 2009 Politico article about how National Journal owner sees revenues from these dinners replacing journalism's failed business model. It's fine if you think reinforcing Beltway cronyism is the way to go. National Journal is part of Atlantic Media owned by David Bradley:

11/14/12, UK Guardian: "At a dinner last week for leaders in the renewable energy industry, 

hosted by the National Journal,

the retired general Wesley Clark argued that a climate change agenda could not advance without Obama's personal intervention.

Obama, he told the dinner, needed a strategy. "There is no substitute for White House leadership. The president can't simply throw this to Congress," he said....

Clark went on: "He's got not only to have a megaphone at the top, but he's got to have local amplifiers out there."...

"Barack Obama claimed climate change as a personal mission of his second term on Wednesday, offering for the first time to take charge of the effort to find a bipartisan solution 

to the existential crisis."...


7/6/2009, "David Bradley defends Atlantic Media's exclusive 'salons'," Politico, Michael Calderone

"Atlantic Media publisher David Bradley on Monday issued a full-throated defense of the kind of off-the record, corporate-sponsored "salons" that last week ensnared The Washington Post in controversy, arguing that they are both a source of revenue "and advance a legitimate purpose for a media organization —  

promoting debate and discussion."

In a highly personal 1,500-word letter published on the Hotline, Bradley wrote that Atlantic Media has been hosting sponsored 
salon dinners for more than six years, and he doesn't "believe that any one of these events had any of the ill intention or effect that some have attributed to The Washington Post concept."

"But," Bradley continued, "we live on a street too close to the brush fire to pretend no interest."

That brush fire was ignited Thursday, following POLITICO’s reporting on a flier sent out by the Post's business side which sought underwriters for off-the-record dinners at the home of publisher Katharine Weymouth. 

A July 21 dinner, according to the flier aimed at lobbyists, would allow the sponsor to sit down alongside the Post's publisher, executive editor Marcus Brauchli, Post health care reporters, Obama administration officials and members of Congress.

That same day, reacting to what the paper's ombudsman described as a public relations "disaster," Weymouth cancelled the planned series. On Sunday, she apologized in a letter to Post readers, and earlier today announced that the paper's general counsel would "review recent events to make sure that our business processes are consistent with, and will not in any way compromise, our journalism." 

But Bradley said he had no intention of distancing himself from the dinners. "From some of our earliest events, I have been part of the thinking behind this work. I've approved many sponsored dinners personally, set out my own invitations, hosted some dinners at my house, welcomed the sponsors in my remarks, and written thank you notes to those involved. I am part of this work. Openly." 

By Bradley's account, the dinners have been attended by 2,000 guests, who have included "journalists from virtually all major networks, national magazines and newspapers." 

If anything, the Post was a late entrant to what a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, in addition to Atlantic Media, have found to be a lucrative source of income. Bradley described that 

revenue as a 

legitimate justification for the salons at a time when 

"the economic foundation beneath journalism is falling away."

"The imperative," he said, "is to rebuild journalism on different financial pillars. One of them, and not inconsequential to us, is events — of all types." 

Atlantic has been particularly aggressive in staging events, the most famous of which, the Aspen Ideas Festival, was under way last week when the controversy over the Post's proposed dinners first began. 

Some of the dinners he has hosted are, Bradley said, "for my own interest and my own account," a reference to a series of off-the-record evenings with newsmakers he has held for a select group of prominent Washington reporters. Those are different, he said, from the dinners that have corporate sponsors, which usually have about 30 participants, including members of Congress and administration officials, and follow a prescribed format.

The sponsored dinners, he said, "usually run about two and a half hours. If I am there, I give welcoming remarks and thank the sponsor. Most of the time, the sponsor responds with his or her own welcoming remarks. Then, and for the remainder, our moderator — typically an Atlantic Media editor or writer, though sometimes a journalist from another enterprise — 
directs the whole table in conversation. There is no constraint placed on either the moderator or our guests as to the questions raised or the opinions expressed."

In their effort to distance themselves from the flier promoting the salon at Weymouth's home, Post executives said they would never have agreed to making the dinners off-the-record, meaning that nothing said could be used in a news story. But Bradley has no such qualms about his dinners.

They are always off-record, he said, because "there is a great deal of constructive conversation that can take place only with the 
promise that no headline is being written." He also emphasized that while corporate sponsors will have input into the dinner, Atlantic Media has the final say in the topics and guest list.
Still, corporate clients clearly help set the agenda.

Atlantic spokesperson Zachary Hooper told Talking Points Memo on Monday that "the corporate sponsor comes to us and says, 'We're interested in having a discussion on a certain topic.'" And some corporate sponsors, TPM reported, have included AstraZeneca ("Healthcare Access and Education”); Microsoft (“Global Trade”), G.E. ("Energy Sustainability and the Future of Nuclear Power"); Allstate ("The Future of the American City"); and Citi ("The Challenge of Global Markets"). 

When asked by TPM, Hooper declined to comment on how much a corporation pays to sponsor an event, so it is unclear if the Atlantic asks anywhere in the $25,000 to $250,000 range described in the Post's flier that advertised for underwriting opportunities. Both Weymouth and Brauchli have said the flier wasn't vetted by the newsroom.

The Post, like most newspaper companies, is struggling to create a revenue stream to help fill the gap left by print advertising drying up and circulation dropping. And Weymouth back in December told staffers that the paper was considering hosting "specialized conferences for business decision makers with a stake in Washington policymaking." 

Despite the Post's cancelling its series, Weymouth said she plans to go forward with private events, explaining in a staff memo:

"We do believe that there is a viable way to expand our expertise into live conferences and events that simply enhances what we do — cover Washington for Washingtonians and those interested in Washington. And we will begin to do live events in ways that enhance our reputation and in no way call into question our integrity.""


5/5/2010, "High Tide at 'The Atlantic,'" The Observer, Felix Gillette


11/14/12, "Obama vows to take personal charge of climate change in second term," UK Guardian, Suzanne Goldenberg


6/4/12, “Climate change stunner: USA leads world in CO2 cuts since 2006,” Vancouver Observer, Saxifrage


 “Not only that, but as my top chart shows, US CO2 emissions are falling even faster than what President Obama pledged in the global Copenhagen Accord.”…


"Virtually everyone believes the shift (CO2 drop) could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.”…
8/16/12, “AP IMPACT: CO2 emissions in US drop to 20-year low,” AP, Kevin Begos


Following from National Journal CO2 terror cheerleader and climate science denier Coral Davenport:

12/30/12, "Arnold Schwarzenegger: Terminator, Body-Builder, and Global Leader on Climate-Change," National Journal, Coral Davenport

"If the United States ever enacts a major climate-change law, it will owe a debt to Arnold Schwarzenegger.   

Strange as it sounds, the Austrian-born bodybuilder, former California governor, and movie star has flexed more legislative muscle on climate change than President Obama--who ran for office on the promise of curbing sea level rise and creating millions of green jobs--and Al Gore, the former vice president who won a Nobel Prize for his advocacy on climate change." 



No comments: