March 21, 2017


Inside the identity crisis at the Independent Journal Review, the outlet that has become a powerhouse in the Trump era (Oliver Darcy, 3/21/17, Business Insider)

The opportunity to shadow Tillerson did little to change that perception. IJR reporter Erin McPike, who was trailing Tillerson, was not filing stories from the road during the week. Nor was she sending out real-time updates to colleagues covering the secretary's movements. McPike blamed her superiors in a tweet, saying they had told her to solely focus on a profile piece -- a decision that was ultimately reversed later under mounting pressure and allowed her to break some news about his trip and views toward the media.

Back at home, another firestorm erupted when IJR's viral editor, Kyle Becker, published a conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama to the website. Without evidence, Becker suggested that perhaps there was a connection between Obama's Hawaii visit and a state judge's ruling which blocked Trump's second travel ban.

Reporters took notice and ridiculed the baseless report. IJR's congressional reporter, Joe Perticone, tendered his resignation. And IJR was forced to issue a full retraction.

In an email obtained by Business Insider, Becker apologized to his colleagues for "showing a lack of judgement." However, while Becker took the fall, he was not the only person to blame, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider.

IJR's chief content officer, Benny Johnson, had been warned earlier in Slack that the story about Obama was an unfounded conspiracy theory, but assigned it to Becker anyway, the source said. [...]

In conversations with more than a dozen current and former employees, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, several individuals said the incidents were emblematic of larger problems at IJR. Current and former staffers said the website, chasing clicks, has veered sharply to the right in recent months to feed its conservative base the red meat it desired. [...]

The pressure to package stories in a way more palatable to tastes of the website's conservative audience was even felt by some members of the news team who were beholden, in the early days, to click quotas of upwards of 500,000 a week, according to two sources. The attitude is a familiar one for many sites focused on the ever-increasing hyper-partisan nature of political news, as they hold their writers to traffic goals and struggle to find a balance between telling the news and satisfying their audiences.

"I felt ashamed of a lot of the stuff that I had to publish there," said one former staffer. "There's stuff that I had to write at IJR that I wouldn't want my professors to read. Not because it was authored in a bad way, but the way we were covering stories and issues was an embarrassment to political reporting."

The Right's attempt to consume only edgy media and avoid the mainstream just leaves them misinformed. 
Posted by at March 21, 2017 12:00 PM