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Network news anchor, journalist, voice talent

Jean Cochran has been one of America’s most familiar voices to millions of radio listeners for decades as a newscaster on NPR’s Morning Edition.  Her newscasts have aired live on 849 member stations nationwide, heard by nearly 27-million listeners every week. For most of her 33 years at NPR, Cochran wrote 5-minute round-ups of world […]

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Why I’m Leaving the Facebook Party

By on March 22, 2018 in Uncategorized with No Comments

     On Sunday (MR 25), I’m deactivating my Facebook account. Down the road, I may actually delete it. Neither action precludes me from hopping on again, should I decide to. I’ve downloaded all my data. So nothing’s lost.
It’s a big, rockin’ party I’m leaving: 2.2 Billion people, worldwide. And we’ve all willingly shared information about ourselves, trusting that, okay-we’ll be hit with ads, but what we post on FB, stays on FB.
    Well, Zuckerberg calls it a breach of trust and it certainly is that. But, the revelation that came to light recently is, IMHO, a major DATA breach.  Fifty-million of us had our data weaponized by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to help win the 2016 election for Donald Trump.
Briefly, here’s how that happened: (Check Here) In 2014, FB gave that data to a Russian-American psychology Professor in London who wanted it for research. He eventually turned it over to C-A. The startling take-away from that is that for years, FB has GIVEN AWAY our data…to researchers, App developers and others. FB promised it would not SELL our data. It said nothing about giving it away. (well maybe..somewhere in the fine print we agreed to it. But who reads that!) It has been handing that data out, apparently never thinking that perhaps bad actors might get ahold of it. Talk about head-in-the-sand naivete!
   But indeed, C-A, with Steve Bannon on its Board and funded by wealthy GOP donor, Robert Mercer, went on to use that data to target FB users with ads and God-knows-what other kind of election propaganda. (Actually, some voters in Wisconsin know)
It is my firm belief that C-A is the inflection point of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The trolls had the disruptive memes, ads, nasty stuff…Russia just needed to know where to direct it to be most effective. C-A knew exactly where it should go. Thus, the ‘data-driven election’ was taken to a whole new level. But that’s just my strong hunch. We’ll see what Mr Mueller has to say on the subject.
  SO: In the wake of this scandal, Zuck says he’s very sorry. But he’s not saying what he’ll do about it.
He has long clung to the notion that FB is simply a platform. Just a place for people to express themselves, like Speakers Corner in Hyde Park. And indeed, it may have been that in the beginning. (remember when all we did was write something? Then we got to add photos, then GIFs, next thing ya know we’re watching a Live Stream of a guy dying from a police gunshot. Yikes!)
   No…it’s way more than a platform now. A utility? A publisher? As of last August, Pew Research says,  45% of Americans get their news on Facebook. It’s some kind of media company.  And it’s used by so many that it’s Ma Bell reincarnated.
  Zuckerberg has to step up and decide what Facebook is.  And once he gets a handle on that, he has to make some moral and ethical choices about how his company wants to treat its product—US!
   He says he’s open to being regulated. But you can’t get lawmakers to agree on where to go for lunch let alone wade into the complex world of tech and figure out how to regulate it. No, no, no. It would be best if it came from him.
   Well, until he sorts that out, I’m going to express my disgust by leaving. I realize all too well that my info, my data is out there. The credit card companies have it, retailers, EVERYBODY!!  FB just happens to be the biggest collection of that data in one place. We’ve all made that grand bargain with the Interweb: giving away our info in exchange for convenience and overnight delivery.  We’re in an age where we have to be vigilant about our data. Go into Settings and reconfigure Privacy and Ads. It’s a lot of work!
   But actually leaving the FB party? We’ll see how it goes. There was life before FB…I think I can find it again. My relatives know how to email me. The cat (and dog and penguin and bear) videos are all on Youtube. I’ve become acquainted with a lot of people I’ve never met. And that’s been fun. But I’m letting it all go.
  I do expect to write more. On a variety of subjects. Watch this space. (Subscribe below)

/Jean

PS:  That’s Buddy.  I figured I’d get in more cat photos before dropping out.

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Good News

By on November 28, 2017 in Journalism, NPR, Radio News with No Comments

Read it and weep for joy:

 WaPo Stings Project Veritas

It’s a fascinating read…about a fraudster’s bid to prove the Main Stream Media is biased…Fake News.  Instead, tables were turned.  The story is a win for good journalism, highlighting what hard-working reporters do everyday. Follow leads  Dig. Check out stories.  This one will be taught in journalism classrooms for years to come.  

 The Post, for all its editorial cutbacks in recent years, was tested and passed with flying colors.  And I’m sure it’s not the first time.  The Post just decided to tell us about this one.  The pressure is on news outlets everywhere.  The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC) recently was handed what appeared to be a choice NSA document. Under scrutiny, it proved to be a fake and it never saw the light of the TV studio.   Smaller, local news outlets, print and broadcast,  no doubt are vulnerable, too.   Everyone has to be on the alert.  Adhering to top professional standards.  And that’s a good thing.

Licensing Journalists?

Among the comments on the WaPo story was one suggesting journalism needs regulation:  “There is a remedy, by making ‘ journalist’ a protected title, akin to doctor, lawyer, psychiatrist, etc. you can make it harder for people to abuse the title, without some legal sanction. Second regulate what and who can call themselves a news outlet, by having them abide by some criteria such has having journalist on the staff, etc. None of these things limit free speech, you can still say whatever you want if you either not call it news or call yourself a journalist, or your organization a news outlet, unless you are sanctioned to do so, by having the right credentials.”

I grant you, that’s a bit addle-brained.  Let’s see:  There are professional standards.  There are a few laws (re defamation, libel, etc). And journalists do have to get credentialed to cover certain things, such as the White House or a Weezer concert. But I, too, have wondered why journalists aren’t licensed and regulated like so many other professions.  

 Ya gotta love the 1st Amendment. Anyone can call themselves a journalist!  No license required.  Those professional standards? They evolved.  Somewhere around the ’30s or ’40s newspapers figured out they stood to gain readers if they adhered to facts and kept opinions on a separate page, labeled as such. (See David Halberstam’s  ‘The Powers That Be’)  Those that didn’t straighten out their reporting were eventually labeled tabloids or worse.  And they fall more into the category of entertainment.  No regulatory board needed.  The public figured it out.  As a bonus, the ‘citizen journalist’ is flourishing. 

The difference these days is that, not only do legitimate news outlets have to beware of getting punked but so do news consumers.  More than ever it is on the consumer to determine whether a news source is trustworthy. People often tell me: “I love NPR…it’s where I get all my news.”  And I am quick to respond: “No, please…check out a good newspaper, too.  Watch an Evening News broadcast.  Get your information from several reliable sources.”  Don’t get punked.

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Life After NPR

By on November 26, 2017 in Journalism, NPR, Radio News with No Comments

For years…as people left NPR for one reason or another…those of us who stayed behind were left to wonder: Is There Life After NPR? What would it be like, not toiling away for the best broadcast news outlet in the world? Why would one want to do anything else?
But after 33 years of going to work in the middle of the night and then going to bed in the early evening…I had the opportunity in 2013 to find the answers to those questions for myself. I took the buyout and made the leap.
And, after nearly 4 years of sleeping through the night and joining the ‘normal’, I’m happy to say YES! There is rewarding, exciting Life After NPR!
However, life being the curve-thrower that it is, I spent most of the first year (2014) disoriented and lost. As I left NPR I also lost my Very Significant Other to cancer. It was a dark time, trying to reinvent myself while grieving.
But by 2015 the fog began to lift. And ideas started to come.  I volunteered. I strength-trained twice a week. Developed a walking schedule with a neighbor: 4 times a week and still going strong. I traveled: to Ireland, Italy, Turkey and Eastern Europe. I reduced my Eco-Footprint by installing a solar system on my house. And I bought an electric vehicle (Chevy Bolt).
Slowly but surely, life has settled into a rhythm. I was patient with myself, gave it time and continued to build on and improved it.
Now I volunteer at the Metropolitan Washington EAR-a service for the blind-reading from the Washington Post. (not a stretch for my particular skill set) I still walk and work-out regularly. Exercise will always be a priority. And I found the Library of Congress. It offers handicapped services and I now read books and magazines for that. They pay me and as a part-time commitment, it suits my schedule.  I’ve built a home studio and am aiming to find audible book narration contracts (find me at ACX.com) and to do my work for the LofC from home. Progress!
And next: I’d like to commence blogging.
I still take in an incredible amount of news each day and have not shortage of thoughts on it. And, I’m a student of ‘the good life’ and how to live it. Rather than attempt to set a particular focus for my writing, I think that, for now, I’ll keep it wide open.

We’ll see what develops next.
Thanks for stopping by.
You can follow me on Twitter @NPRNewsGirl and find me on Facebook at Jean Cochran

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