Jaci Clement
Apr 12, 2018 · 4 min read
Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington

So, Is It Or Isn’t It?

Two days of testimony still leaves the biggest question in the room unanswered: Is Facebook a media company or not?

Mark Zuckerberg has steadily maintained Facebook is a tech company, since it creates no content — and he himself has repeatedly demonstrated no understanding of content and the responsibilities that go with being a news outlet. But during testimony, he did say Facebook is responsible for content on its site. That is quite a departure from his prior statements. And keep in mind when Facebook started noodling with its news feed and attempting to place restrictions on content it flagged (sometimes erroneously) ‘fake news,’ it began to exercise editorial control, which is another indication it’s become more than simply a tech platform.

I remember 15 years ago listening to television and radio execs complain how little Congress understood about broadcasting, which is disheartening since it oversees the FCC. Watching Zuckerberg testify before the House and Senate these last two days, it’s pretty clear they understand little about technology, too. If reforms and regulations are coming down the pike, the wrong players are in the room. What’s also crystal clear is Zuckerberg isn’t equipped to run a publishing company.

So This Just Happened

It was quite a surprise to see Newsday take issue with Long Island Business News’ coverage of an issue that Newsday itself has been taken to task for.

Still with me?

Here’s the low down on the kerfuffle in cyberspace.

Newsday Editorial Writer Randi Marshall took to Twitter — repeatedly, with an assist from Newsday reporters, too — to denounce a story written by Long Island Business News Reporter David Winzelberg on what’s happening in the arena of local arenas — which Long Island is suddenly sprouting seemingly willy-nilly with talks of grandiose arenas at Belmont, the Nassau Coliseum and now Ronkonkoma — and specifically, why should Nassau be a grand redevelopment (especially after it was just redone three minutes ago) if Belmont is going to be a grand redevelopment? The questions are topical and address how little general knowledge is known about Nassau’s need for a new re-do, so what’s the problemo?

Glad you asked.

Marshall herself was taken to task on Facebook’s Open Nassau page last year, with an inquiring mind bringing up the backing of the Belmont arena by MSG, run by James Dolan, and the conflict of interest it raises in Newsday coverage of what’s happening at Belmont. Marshall responds, in part, “We are not owned by Charles or James Dolan or MSG…”

Brother Patrick’s letter explaining he and his dad Charles purchased 75 percent of Newsday from Altice was offered as Exhibit A in cyberspace to counter Marshall’s rebuttal.

The fact editorial writers sometimes get things wrong isn’t even the fun part here.

Let’s talk about what you’re not reading in Newsday or LIBN about the Belmont arena and how large a stake it is for Jim Dolan and MSG and how Belmont may turn out to be a nightmare for Nassau Coliseum (with or without Ronkonkoma) if things get competitive in a monopoly-loving land. (More about OVG here, if you’re interested.)

As far as which Dolan is or isn’t at the helm, the facts say this: Charles has supervoting shares in MSG and Newsday, among other properties, which give him control of the companies. That doesn’t mean sons James and Patrick aren’t free to run the companies as they wish, but it does mean disclosures are needed, particularly in the news and editorial coverage of the arenas as they develop. The family interests make it hard to convince readers an editorial in favor of Belmont, or against either the Nassau Coliseum or the Ronkonkoma development, ring true.

And, for what it’s worth, industry insiders tell us there was nothing rotten in Denmark with the LIBN piece, to begin with. But what all of this may be is a harbinger for media wars over local coverage to become commonplace, as Long Island-based outlets are increasingly positioning themselves to become competitive.

Speaking of Altice

OK, not really, but it was just one hop away, so here we go.

A small law firm with big aspirations is asking you to contact them if you or a loved one bought stock in Altice. The Shuman Law Firm, based in Denver, is “investigating potential shareholder claims against certain officers and directors of Altice USA, Inc.” Read the details here.

-Jaci Clement, jaci@fairmediacouncil.org

Fair Media Council

The Latest: News, Events & Opinions from Fair Media Council

Jaci Clement

Written by

CEO & Executive Director, Fair Media Council, 501c3 nonprofit advocating for quality news & working to create a media savvy society. @jaciclement

Fair Media Council

The Latest: News, Events & Opinions from Fair Media Council

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade