By Brian Stelter and the CNNMoney Media team -

Al Jazeera slashing 500 jobs

On Monday morning Al Jazeera will begin laying off about 500 employees -- a drastic reduction in its workforce. The cutbacks are partly a result of budget cuts by Al Jazeera's owner, Qatar, tied to the falling price of oil. Here's my full story...

 -- Today's internal memo from acting director general Mostefa Souag was choked in corporatese. Through a "workforce optimization initiative," he wrote, "some of our employees will be made redundant." Why try to hide behind big words when journalists are the readers?

 -- The word from Doha: Most of the cuts will happen at the HQ. Several staffers told me they expected that Al Jazeera's flagship Arabic-language network would suffer steeper cutbacks than Al Jazeera English...

 -- Doing the math: Jazeera's various news channels employ 3,500 people. About 700 jobs will be eliminated once Al Jazeera America signs off on April 12. The additional 500 losses means that roughly a third of its employees are leaving...
The Trump "disconnect"

Highlights from this morning's special report

This morning on CNN we dedicated an hour to "The Disconnect" -- the idea that too many journalists dismissed Donald Trump and missed the meaning of his campaign for too long.

"Seldom have so many people been so wrong so consistently about so much," Time magazine editor Nancy Gibbs told me. (I highly recommend watching her comments -- they're an excellent entry point into this subject.)

So was it/is it media elitism? Snobbery? Liberal media bias? Something else? 

No doubt there's been a lot of incisive, impressive coverage of the Trump phenomenon. But more than a few reporters and commentators have regrets, as the NYT's Nick Kristof acknowledged this morning. 

"We were largely oblivious to the pain among working-class Americans and thus didn’t appreciate how much his message resonated," Kristof wrote. "Media elites rightly talk about our insufficient racial, ethnic and gender diversity, but we also lack economic diversity. We inhabit a middle-class world and don’t adequately cover the part of America that is struggling and seething. We spend too much time talking to senators, not enough to the jobless."


Talking about "Acela corridor bias"

Kristof's column was one of the conversation-starters on today's "Reliable Sources." Panelists Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Molly Ball, Scottie Nell Hughes, and Will Bunch seemed to agree with the point about media diversity. 

They attributed the "disconnect" to, among other factors...

 -- An "Acela corridor bias," an over-reliance on establishment Beltway sources. "When you're trying to understand to electorate, your sources have to be the voters," Ball said. There's been "massive job displacement among the white working class," Bunch said, but "too much elite mainstream media news coverage is driven by columnist and pundits who aren't out in the field."

 -- Overconfidence in predictive, data-driven journalism. Some number-crunchers were "fighting the last war," Bunch said. The last nine months should teach media types to be "very cautious about making predictions," Gibbs said.

 -- Cutbacks in local reporting: "Newsrooms have been gutted... You have people sitting in New York or Washington making decisions that don't reflect so much of what's happening in this great country," Vanden Heuvel said.

 -- A separate world of conservative media: It "has shaped more of this election than people are giving it credit for," Hughes said.

We then delved into the consequences of this "disconnect." Watch here...

'He strikes a nerve that most journalists do not understand'

Since I tried out this "disconnect" idea in the newsletter a few days before showtime, I was able to incorporate some of your opinions and insights on the show. But I was only able to read viewer email aloud before running out of time. We've published a whole collection of them here on CNNMoney, and they're really worth taking a few minutes to read. Two of my favorites:

 -- From newsletter subscriber Deborah Troop: "He scares me to death, but I get him because I am frightened over my future. He strikes a nerve that most journalists do not understand." 

 -- And from reader/media researcher Dylan McLemore: "What seemed to happen here is that journalists immediately laughed off the idea of a Trump candidacy (much less presidency) because that's what their environment confirmed. And I don't mean 'those elitist east-coast journalists.' I mean that the type of Republicans journalists regularly encounter weren't Trump supporters. The reference group was overly establishment."

'Batman v Superman' has biggest opening of 2016

Frank Pallotta is celebrating his alma mater Syracuse's huge March Madness win tonight, but before he headed out to the bar, he filed this report: 

"It's a bird... it's a plane... it's a record box office opening. 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' just nabbed the record for biggest March opening weekend in box office history with an estimated $170.1 million total in North America, overtaking the previous March record-holder, 'The Hunger Games,' which made $152.5 million in 2012." Read more from Frank here...

 -- More stats: This was the biggest opening of 2016, biggest opening in Warner Bros. history, and 6th highest domestic opening weekend in box office history...

 -- So Variety is asking: "Do Critics Matter at the Box Office?"

Anti-vaccine film will not be shown at Tribeca

A strange U-turn this weekend by Robert De Niro: On Saturday night the Tribeca Film Festival cancelled its plans to host the world premiere of an anti-vaccine film called "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe."

De Niro, a co-founder of the festival, had defended the inclusion of the film just one day earlier. But as pressure mounted, he came out with a new statement and said we "do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for." Here's my full story, including the filmmakers' vow to make sure "Vaxxed" is seen elsewhere...

For the record
 -- "So much for retirement," TVNewser says. One day after signing off "for the last time," CBS News vet Allen Pizzey was back on the air, covering the Brussels bombings... (TVNewser)

 -- There were lots of Twitter cheers about this: The all-star, all-female correspondent panel on NBC's "Meet The Press" today. Andrea Mitchell, Katy Tur, Kristen Welker and Hallie Jackson were on... (NBC)

 -- "Orphan Black" is getting a "Talking Dead" style post-show called "After The Black..." (Variety)

 -- Best Apple Music playlist ever? "Rappers Criticized by Bill O'Reilly" (@RyanJReilly tweet)
Road to 2016

Sanders renewing call for a NY #DemDebate 

Tonight's Nightcap newsletter, by CNNPolitics' Eric Bradner, notes that Bernie Sanders is "pressing for one more debate before New York's April 19 primary, on Hillary Clinton's own home turf." Jeff Weaver sent a letter to Robby Mook today requesting the forum...

Trump threatens/promises to tweet less in office

Trump, on ABC's "This Week," talking about his use of Twitter and Facebook:

"It's a new way of communicating, it's very effective... But I'm not going to be doing it very much as president."

 -- Plug: If you're watching CNN International overnight, you might see me pop up on screen with anchor Rosemary Church, discussing Trump's comments and the interplay between social and traditional media...

Avlon: Trump has exploited 'conflict bias'

Wisdom from The Daily Beast editor John Avlon on today's "Reliable Sources:"

"There's a lot of debate about whether media has a liberal or conservative bias, And partisan outlets aside, I think the truth is that we have a conflict bias. And Donald Trump has been able to use that enormously effectively in the course of this campaign. We need to own the fact that he to some extent has discovered the Achilles' heel of our coverage." Watch the rest...

"'The media' would love to be that relevant!"

Amid the cacophony of tweets about Trump and the role of the media this weekend, here are a few that stood out to me:

 -- Piers Morgan: "He resonates with vast swathes of U.S. public in a way media don't understand or want to accept."

 -- BuzzFeedBiz editor Tom Gara: "Trump's rise is based quite literally on collapse of media's ability to influence large swath of voters. "

 -- Nate Silver: "If you're acting in good faith, argue for or against the claim that 'the media was a necessary but not sufficient condition in Trump's rise,' as opposed to the claim 'the media created Trump!' which is a strawman argument that few people are making."

 -- New York mag senior editor Max Read: "'the media' 'blaming itself' for donald trump feels like wishful thinking tbh. 'the media' would love to be that relevant!"
Quote of the day
"I wouldn't be surprised if the leading newspapers in Tamil, my native language, had more circulation than the New York Times or other leading newspapers in the world. There are so many people who are very good at their native languages, but are completely cut off from everything. So in India, to go from 300 million users to a billion users, the path leads through vernacular languages."

--Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking with BuzzFeed's Matt Honan for this must-read story. Pichai's point is about the importance of supporting Indic languages. (And perhaps algorithmic translation? Honan confirms that the top Tamil-language papers do, in fact, have higher circulations than the NYT...)

Tomahawk and Long Rifle subscriptions are up

Fun WSJ A-hed by Erich Schwartzel today: Leonardo DiCaprio's depiction of fur trapper Hugh Glass in "The Revenant" has "given an unexpected jolt to antebellum-history buffs, mountain-man communities and other groups whose very purpose involves retreating from modern life. 'Revenant'-themed installations are appearing at frontier museums just as mountain-man association ranks are growing. At The American Mountain Men association, "as many as six or eight subscription requests have been rolling in daily for the association’s quarterly magazine, the Tomahawk and Long Rifle. (Circulation: 808.)" Every reader counts. Read more...

A "GMA" host in the making?

I can't believe I missed this Baby Izzy story the other day... her "full head of hair" made her an "Internet star..." and got her on GMA next to George:

Listen to today's show as a podcast...

You can listen to the TV version of "Reliable Sources" via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, and other services. CNN has a great page of podcasts here...

...Or watch the video clips here

The show is archived on each week for your viewing pleasure. There's also a complete transcript.

And let us know what you think 

Email your compliments and critiques and tips and ideas to We'll be back tomorrow with more media news...
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