U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman has sent a letter to Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori saying interviews with experts “raised serious concerns about the future of the Los Angeles Times” should the company go ahead with its plan to spin off its newspaper division.
Poynter’s Rick Edmonds is among the experts Waxman consulted.
Waxman is concerned about Tribune Co.’s plans to saddle the newspapers with debt and keep their real estate, but he also says the company’s plan to consolidate some newsgathering functions “raises concerns about the ability of the papers to continue putting resources into local coverage.” The plans, he says, “will place the long-term viability of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune papers at risk.”
Ligouri's response is predictably bitchy and defensive:
As publisher of the Los Angeles Times for the last six years and soon-to-be Chairman of the Board of Tribune Publishing, I am extremely confident that the plan put forth by Tribune Company is sound, reasonable and will help protect and build a strong future for the Los Angeles Times and Tribune’s other newspapers for years to come.
Stelter featured two partisan commentators, Marc Lamont Hill and Ben Ferguson, to debate the divisiveness of the issue not as pundits but as “regular people” confronting the barrage of coverage.
The crux of the disagreement came over why the right had been so successful at getting the anti-Obamacare narrative to stick. Hill argued that it was because the so-called liberal media (of which MSNBC is a metonym) had been unsuccessful in forcefully countering Fox News’ drumbeat of criticism, while Ferguson said the narrative was a representation of a reality in which millions had their coverage cancelled.
Or it could be that supposedly non-partisan media has just given the fuck up, and now wishes for nothing more in a story than two equal opposites that can be listed together, thus absolving themselves of institutional responsibility for sorting out bullshit from not.
It could be that inviting partisan pundits on "opposing" sides to debate the issue of why the issue is so debatable is a fucking idiotic thing to do, the sort of thing you do when you don't want to come to any sort of factual conclusion.
It could be that asking pundits to pretend to be regular people is stupdendously dumber than, I DON'T FUCKIN' KNOW, interviewing some regular people about where they are getting their Obamacare information and why they are trusting the sources they have.
It could be that declaring MSNBC and Fox News the same "partisan media" thing and then having people on to lament that one half of that thing isn't viciously anti-fact enough to adequately oppose the other vicious, anti-fact thing isn't a contribution to the conversation at all.
All but one student wanted the SPJ Code of Ethics to be the law of the land.
Most were surprised that SPJ’s code is an unenforceable suggestion instead of a punishable regulation.
Jesus fucking Christ in a bundt cake. No wonder we end up with endless editorials about how awful it is that bloggers don't have to pass a Journalism Exam to type words on the Internet. This isn't about the kids; they're too easy to pick on. What the hell kind of instruction are they getting upstairs, that this is what they come to the lecture thinking? What the hell kind of chickenass nonsense is this? Law of the land? Should the journalism police take your Cracker Jack badge away if you're bad?
The answers were longer and less clear when another panelist, FIU professor Juliet Pinto, asked, “How would you enforce this certification?”
“Well, we could start, like, a group to do that,” one student said. “Like a guild of journalists to decide.”
And if the guild found a fellow journalist to be unethical and unworthy?
That was easy, replied a student named Dennis: ”The punishment for violating the Code in those cases? You lose your job and you have to find a job somewhere else.”
Look. I get you want your degree to mean something, and it's a bummer when you realize that anybody with a notebook who happens to not suck at journalism can do journalism, too. But I'm not sure designing a system basically modeled on the Catholic Church's method of dealing with pedophiles is really the way to up the value of your diploma.
You don't go to journalism school to become a journalist. You go to journalism school to get a journalism degree, which makes it easier to get a job with a media company. Journalism school CAN make you a better journalist, if you have good teachers and that's how you want to do it. Working as a journalist can make you a journalist, too. It is hard, when you've been categorizing and labeling everything your whole life, to wrap your brain around the idea that the work makes you what you are. Not the place you do it for, not the card in your wallet, not the piece of paper on your wall. The work.
Plenty of people call themselves journalists, who aren't, which is a problem to those they're scamming. But it's a problem we have to solve by being smart about what we read and watch and listen to, not by handing out membership cards. Before anybody throws doctors and lawyers in my face, journalists are not performing open heart surgery or sending anybody to death row, so let's nip the idea of a certified board of people giving out licenses right there.
It's reductive and lazy, and while it might lead to more stringent public shaming of bullshit artists like James O'Keefe, it would also lend official sanction to bullshit artists like David Gregory. We should not be willing to accept the horror of the latter in return for the dubious benefit of the former.
“Mobile journalism” is a ridiculous title, like “camera journalism.” It’s just journalism and the mobile part just refers to the tools. The techniques that make solid journalism don’t change when we carry our publishing equipment in our pocket.
Internal documents obtained by WW show that a quota system is being put in place that calls for steep increases in posting to Oregonlive.com, and promises compensation for those employees who post most often.
The new policy, shown to the editorial staff in a PowerPoint presentation in late February, provides that as much as 75 percent of reporters’ job performance will be based on measurable web-based metrics, including how often they post to Oregonlive.com.
Beat reporters will be expected to post at least three times a day, and all reporters are expected to increase their average number of posts by 40 percent over the next year.
In addition, reporters have been told to stir up online conversations among readers.
“On any post of substance, reporter will post the first comment,” the policy says. “Beat reporters [are to] solicit ideas and feedback through posts, polls and comments on a daily basis.”
This is what happens when you have management by panic, and that's how newspapers have been run for at least the last 40 years. Forget the Internet: The minute TV news came around, newspapers had to be more immediate, more visual, because that's what TV was good at. Then the 24-hour networks, so let's all cover whatever they're covering, in the same half-assed way they're covering it, because people like that now.
And now this jumping at every goddamn online trend that whistles past the door. I don't actually think this is an impossible goal or anything, and good reporters usually can throw out enough cheap stuff to keep editors happy while still working on longer term stories, but the rationale is what burns my ass:
The new policy will likely increase Oregonlive.com’s use of daily, short posts that follow an original news post by reporting on readers’ comments, creating polls to gauge reader reaction, and “aggregating” the site’s most popular stories—as a way to build page views.
The policy says Advance is aiming to increase Oregonlive.com page views by 27.7 percent by the end of the year. (The paper’s traffic is already sizable, with online metrics site Quantcast showing 23 million page views last month.)
“Advance, for better or for worse, has been the most aggressive American newspaper company in moving to the web,” says Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab. “This is their bet. It makes sense that they would want to align their staff with that bet.”
First of all, can you think of anything less compelling than reporting that is based on reader comments? (If they were my reader comments, this would make sense, but in the case of a newspaper web site it's more likely to lead to headlines like, AREA RESIDENTS SAY THEY HATE OUR BEET RECIPE, BLAME NEGRO PRESIDENT.)
Second, if the paper already has good web traffic, why screw with it? I mean is there any other business that says to its customers, "So this thing you like, we're gonna make it like this other thing instead, because people like that thing, too?" In what universe does that make any kind of sense?
You don't have to be everything to everybody. You don't have to sell floor wax and pizza. You do have to figure out whether you're better at producing pepperoni or shining the linoleum, pick one, and go with it. That can be hard to do, but flailing from one Internet trend to another is just going to make it harder.
Two University of Texas journalism students called me last week hoping to get some experience/clips in exchange for class credit. I had to reluctantly turn them down, and both even countered with the offer to write articles “for free” just to amass a few clips with a reputable publication. I told them that would get me in even more trouble with Uncle Sam. They were really bummed.
I don’t have the official word from my management about the “why.” I suspect, like a lot of employers, it’s too easy to get sued with the relatively new FLSA standards so we’re steering clear of the potential liability. But our relatively few $10 an hour internships are still in effect.
Your company made $6.5 BILLION last year. If corporate doesn't want to spring for some barely more than minimum wage jobs, that's hardly something that can be laid at the feet of "new federal regulations." Sorry you're losing your unpaid labor. Pay some people a very small amount, if you want them to work for you. You can pay freelancers whatever you want, basically. This isn't about the feds.
It's about corporate being cheap, and people who supposedly work for news organizations falling for a line of bullshit.
The second concern, as expressed in the Journal article, is that “Critics fear genetically vetting embryos can be used to create so-called designer babies.” Ah yes, designer babies, the Frankenstein fear the media has been mongering for years.
“If embryos can be selected to be free of harmful genes, they [the unnamed critics] argue, who is to say they will never be screened for particular genetic traits that parents might desire or want to avoid?” notes a 2009 article in the Telegraph. “Enter the ‘designer baby’ who is destined to be top of the class, excel in sport, and have hair, eyes and other physical characteristics that fit his or her parents’ wish list.”
But designer babies are “a whole lot of media hype without a lot of science,” writes former embryologist Carole Wegner on her blog Fertility Lab Insider. “Frankly, we don’t know which genes to pick, if we could pick them and how and when to turn them on etc etc. And even if we could ... there’s this little thing called environment and self-determination that would foil that game plan.”
The designer baby argument is actually a close cousin to every argument about abortion: Women are morons who approach childbearing as one would approach picking up some milk at the store. As if it's nothing, tee hee, let's pick out the baby's eye color like we're getting a puppy! Let's chuck out all the embryos that won't be good at soccer!
Trust me on this, as somebody who spent ten years trying to have a baby and fully six in infertility treatment: By the time you have been briefed on everything that can go wrong with you or a developing pregnancy, by the time you have spent untold amounts of money (either yours or your insurance company's) on doctors and tests, by the time you are staring down the tunnel of IVF protocols which involve multiple injections of multiple horrifying drugs several times a day, you do not give a flying fuck what kind of hair your baby will have or if it will display proficiency in math.
Your only concern at that point is that you've been unable to get or stay pregnant because there's some kind of hideously scary disease lurking in either your or your partner's genes, or because the combination of the two of you somehow creates something poisonous. Your only concern is that your child might not be able to be healthy, and that even if you can carry him or her to term, you're creating a future full of pain.
This isn't something anyone does on a whim. The one thing the article doesn't mention is the cost of genetic testing. It runs into the thousands and insurance doesn't cover it. If you're doing this, if you're down this rabbit hole, you have more serious concerns than wanting to determine what instrument your science fiction baby will play someday.
But for the crowd that wants to regulate women's health care, pass personhood amendments that would wind up suppressing or outright denying IVF treatment altogether, and generally treat ladies as if we have no idea how our own bodies work, it's so much cuter to think of us flipping through a catalog, buying a rug on one page and a baby on the next.
I'm not quite sure exactly when CNN went from being one of the best news organizations in the world to what it has become today. I know the downhill slide began with the Time-Warner-Turner merger. Whatever his faults, Ted Turner is a visionary and a natural born leader and when he lost the ultimate say so, things got shaky. The other big event in CNN's lifespan was the advent of Fox News, which has had a pernicious impact on teevee news in general and not just because of their horrible politics. Fox also fixates on trivia and makes shit up.
CNN is currently fixated on the missing plane story. It's all they're airing right now but that's no surprise. The only time their ratings spike is when there's a breaking general interest news story. It's probably a good thing that this is overshadowing the Ukraine/Crimea crisis since the media is bringing the big stupid to that story as well. They've over personalized it and keep banging on about Putin when it's about Russia's historic national interests dating from the days of the Tsars. Vlad is a mere arriviste.
That brings me to this week's "honoree," CNN baby anchorman Don Lemon. I've only seen Lemon a few times but he struck me as callow, unprepared and clearly in over his head and out of his depth. Since CNN has air time to fill and a story to inflate, he's been guilty of some bizarre and egregious speculation. Lemon started in a few days ago and brought up every half baked, hair brained and batshit crazy theory bouncing around the internets:
After CNN anchor Don Lemon "went there" and threw out the possibility of a "supernatural"event causing the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, he spent Monday's show inviting Twitter users to send in all their crazy questions and theories about the missing jet for debate.
Among the possibilities Lemon's panel of experts evaluated: that the plane was "stolen" to use in a later terror attack (deemed possible), that the plane was actually in North Korea (not possible) and that pilots could depressurize the plane to cause passengers to pass out (possible).
One Twitter user even asked why CNN anchor Richard Quest filmed a recent story with Malaysia Airlines. Quest said he did fly with the co-pilot of the missing jet -- but ruling out a CNN conspiracy, he said the encounter was "pure coincidence and luck."
Can you imagine Bernie Shaw, Bob Franken, Judy Woodrfuff or Frank Sesno asking folks on twitter for "ideas" about a story such as this? Me neither. Here's the deal: I like the tweeter tube but it's hardly the place to ask for ideas or theories about a tragedy like this. I only hope that relatives of the people on that flight haven't been watching this idiot's show as he speculates wildly about supernatural causes. I keep waiting for Lemon or one of his equally dim colleagues to suggest that Bigfoot hijacked the plane and flew it to the Pacific Northwest to rendezvous with DB Cooper.
We already know that CNN anchor Don Lemon leaves no "preposterous" conspiracy theory unexamined.
But when Lemon Twitter-sourced questions about the missing Malaysian Airlines plane again on Wednesday night he went another step beyond Sunday's "supernatural" event theory: he and his panel discussed the possibility of a "black hole" swallowing the jetliner.
He read out tweets that compared the mystery to "Lost" and "The Twilight Zone" before asking Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general, to weigh in on the black hole theory.
"That's what people are saying," Lemon said. "I know it's preposterous — but is it preposterous you think, Mary?"
"Well, it is. A small black hole would suck in our entire universe so we know it's not that," Schiavo said. "The Bermuda Triangle is often weather. And 'Lost' is a TV show. So I think -- I always like things for which there's data history, crunch the numbers. So for me those aren't there."
"But I think it's wonderful that the whole world is trying to help with their theories and I absolutely love their theories," she added.
Australian officials said early Thursday that two large objects which may be debris from the plane were spotted a four-hour flight away from that country's southwestern coast, so perhaps Lemon and his panelists will have some more concrete evidence to pore over on Thursday night's show.
I'd like to thank TPM's Catherine Thompson for watching this maroon so the rest of us don't have to. Her stories have video embeds if you want to watch Lemon make shit up on live teevee. I wonder if Lemon is angling to host some supernatural, cum Bigfoot show if this whole news thing doesn't work out for him. It seems to me that he should send his resume to SyFy or A&E just in case his anchoring career craters, and he needs a gig that will properly deploy his meager "talents."
Every time CNN tries to reinvent/reboot themselves it doesn't go very well. So, I'm not sure if they'll ever get back to where they once belonged. I know one thing for sure; anchors like Don Lemon are part of the problem, not the solution. CNN needs to institute a No Lemon rule and either rein him in or show him the door before he becomes an even bigger laughing stock.
Bernie Shaw and Ted Turner weep. And that is why Don Lemon is malaka of the week.
UPDATE: Being offline for 24 hours meant I missed Athenae's Lemonic post that quoted the RudePundit. Woe is me, bop.
But, oh, CNN was not done. A couple of minutes later, Lemon brought out more tweets in order to say, "Whether it was hijacking or terrorism or mechanical failure or pilot error, but what if it was something fully that we don't really understand? A lot of people have been asking about that, about black holes and on and on and on and all of these conspiracy theories. Let's look at this. Noha said, 'What else can you think? Black hole? Bermuda triangle?'" And then Deji says, 'Just like the movie 'Lost."'"
Okay, Lemmywinks, if you're relying on someone who doesn't realize that Lost was a TV show, you're scraping under the barrel for the goo that's dripping from it. Sorry, Noha and Deji, for spoiling your moment in the dying sun of cable news. But, wait, he continued, "And of course, it's also -- they're also referencing The Twilight Zone, which has a very similar plot. That's what people are saying."
People are also saying it's the Illuminati in cahoots with, fuck, let's say Mossad and, why not, the Masons. And what episode of Twilight Zone? The one where the plane was an illusion? Or the one where it went back to dinosaur times? Or are you saying it was gremlins? Was it gremlins? Do we need to get a psychic to talk to the gremlins with her mind? Goddamnit, where is Medium when you need her?
Lemon was quizzing Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the United States, about black holes, Bermuda Triangles, islands where everyone is dead (except they're not, but maybe they are; goddamnit, that was a waste of six years), and gremlins. "I know it's preposterous," Lemon scoffed, then added quickly, "but is it preposterous, do you think, Mary?"
Schiavo looked like Lemon had asked her if she spits or swallows as she said, "A small black hole would suck in our entire universe. So we know it's not that. The Bermuda triangle is often weather, and Lost is a TV show."
Thank God our traditional media employ gatekeepers to keep this kind of crazy theorizing confined to the Internet.
Why, exactly, do mall and school shootings attract such intense media scrutiny? Is it justified?
Kelly McBride, an ethicist at the Poynter Institute, believes several factors combine to put the national media spotlight on events like the Columbia shooting. One is that such public shootings tend to occur less frequently than the seemingly routine urban violence throughout the country. Another is that most mall and school shootings get reported in real time, while domestic and drug killings are often over by the time they are reported.
And with breaking news involving violence, McBride said, “there’s a business imperative to it, because you know the audience is going to follow that story.”
Seemingly routine. Emphasis mine.
Matt Zapotosky, a reporter who has been covering the aftermath of the Columbia shooting for The Post, said a double murder in nearby Prince George’s County would draw 12 inches in the newspaper when he was on the police beat there — perhaps because the county had as many as 100 homicides a year.
“There is a difference,” Zapotosky said. “In those cases, they don’t resonate with people enough, because they think, ‘It couldn’t happen to me. I’m not in the drug trade. I’m not in a gang. I’m not involved in the things these people are involved in.’”
White and Zapotosky said they felt it was important to write about the shattered sense of safety resulting from a shooting in a public place.
“There are domestic shootings that are really awful. There are shootings on city streets that are really awful. Frankly, all of them are awful,” Zapotosky said. “They just don’t resonate with our readers like something like this does.”
People who live in neighborhoods where violence is a daily fact of life clearly don't have a shattered sense of safety. They likely have no sense of safety at all.
Which is probably just routine.
They've got their justifications locked and loaded before the question's even asked. You'd think after years and years of suburban, school and mall shootings, not to mention the hot new trend of shooting up movie theaters, those shootings would become "routine" as well, but somehow they're "unusual" and "resonate" with "our readers." All by themselves, they're these things.
The coverage deems them outliers. The coverage says so. The coverage comes right out and declares that THIS is something to get upset about, and then blames readers' levels of upset for the coverage. The coverage declares something routine, then blames its routine-ness for the lackluster coverage. This isn't exactly a risky position. Read a few papers, watch a couple hours of local news, you get the idea. Everybody does it. Your industry peers will nod their heads, you say stuff like this. I mean, what can you do, right?
I'll tell you what you can do. Just come right out and say it: Scaredy-cat middle-class people, if they thought the shopping mall was no longer safe, would LOSE THEY DAMN MINDS. Therefore, every mall shooting is treated as an aberrant horror, with this "shattered sense of safety" bullshit, so that we can continue to perpetuate the absolutely wrong idea that in a nation of gun-crazy loonballs at least the Forever 21 is sacred ground.
Same goes for all the schools everybody moved to the suburbs to get their kids into. If that no longer works to keep your kids safe and make them successful, the earth will absolutely cave in. It's one of those assumptions so basic our entire economy rests on it, so it can't be undermined.
Shootings that happen in these places have to be exceptions. They can't be the rule, no matter how many times they happen, because if we start actually thinking that what happens every day in what Paul Ryan recently so charmingly termed "the inner city" could happen to the wealthy and white, the wealthy and white could not breathe. Certainly they could not continue living the lives they live, in which bad things happen elsewhere and the only thing standing between America and its destruction is a sale at the gun store.
While school officials are within the law to exercise prior restraint on student publications created as part of a student course, they should not.
If the descriptive words used in Kumar’s story are at the heart of this issue, then it’s better that the district address the use of those words, not employ a policy that allows censorship of topics some might find disagreeable.
Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr., in Texas v. Johnson (1989), wrote: “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
Sebert has not said the story resulted in a flood of calls or emails from parents angry that their students were exposed to these terms. According to the students, Principal Wiltzius told them Cardinal Columns should have more “positive” articles.
More "positive" articles. Because honestly addressing an issue isn't "positive." Shining a light on an injustice isn't "positive." Exposing crimes isn't "positive." And encouraging a more welcoming environment for those delicate creatures who want school to be a place where they don't have to HEAR JOKES ABOUT BEING RAPED AFTER THEIR RAPES isn't "positive." As if positivity is a lack of offense. As if it's the same as passivity. As if it's not movement toward justice.
Reporters hear this positivity line all the time, from readers who can't separate storytellers from subjects of the stories they tell. Why do you have to show us the ugliness of the world? Why can't you just ... you know, tell us about nice things? My kid's preschool pageant, or some hedgehogs, or something? Why can't you be a booster for the community, reinforce the readership's every prejudice and desire, and for God's sake make the weather forecast predict 68 and sunny every day?
BECAUSE THAT'S NOT THE JOB OF ANYBODY. It is not the job of anybody practicing journalism to make you see only rainbows and kittens. It is not the job of anybody writing for any newspaper down to and including the supermarket shoppers to show you what you want to see. It is the job of the journalist to tell you what he or she sees. To tell you the story that's there. It's the best and most frustrating thing about that job: Sending what is important to the writer out to the world, knowing nobody is required to care one bit.
And if you don't like the way the world looks, if you don't like the stories your storytellers tell you, there's a much more productive option than breaking the mirror into which you're gazing: MAKE A BETTER DAMN WORLD. Go make a story you want told. It is amazing how the misery of the everyday is tempered when you know you're doing just a little bit to alleviate it, so put your energy into telling the next person who cracks a rape joke to get bent. Hard as it may be to believe, you are actually creating the world you then get told about, so stop asking for more positivity in your news coverage and go get more positivity in your LIFE.
To illustrate the threat outsourcing agreements pose, Free Press released on Wednesday an updated version of its report Cease to Resist: How the FCC's Failure to Enforce Its Rules Created a New Wave of Media Consolidation. The study examines the current wave of consolidation sweeping across the broadcast industry.
The report documents the increased use of outsourcing agreements by Gannett Company, Nexstar Broadcast Group, Raycom Media, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Company and other broadcasters. Through these deals, station owners create so-called "sidecar" or shell companies to evade the FCC's rules and establish near-monopolies over local TV news production in markets across the country.
These arrangements do not simply concern two stations sharing some common functions. Rather, they involve one large broadcaster owning all of the physical assets of another in-market station. The broadcaster runs all of that station's day-to-day operations, produces 100 percent of the local news programming and keeps most of the station's profits.
These agreements are used to evade the FCC's ownership rules in nearly half of all U.S. media markets. They are used to form otherwise illegal duopolies between two top-four ranked stations in 78 markets. This rule is particularly important for ensuring communities have access to the greatest number of independent sources of news and information, which are often produced by the major network-affiliated stations.
I keep going back to this line, from Doc's excellent Friday post about a school district freaking out when a student newspaper has the temerity to point out that rape is not hilarious:
The student PUBLICATION is being punished for pointing out that RAPE IS REAL and it SUCKS WHEN IT HAPPENS TO HIGH SCHOOL KIDS.
After I read the article, I had a conversation with another parent in my kid's class about it and the reaction from the parent was, “Well, when your kid gets to high school, would you want her reading about this?”
My answer, looking at the tiny girl human in her play swing in front of me at the moment? Of course not.
Of course I wouldn't want her reading about rape in high schol.
Of course I wouldn't want her reading about rape jokes, ha ha so funny.
Of course I wouldn't want her reading about how she must prepare for a situation in which she might be attacked and then be belittled for it. Be told it's her fault. Be told it wasn't "really" assault.
Be told she shouldn't have walked alone at night. She shouldn't have been at that party. She shouldn't have had that drink. She shouldn't have smiled at that nice boy she liked, that she should have been able to expect liked her back. She shouldn't have let him kiss her. She shouldn't have let him anything. Let him.
Of course I don't want her reading about rape. But she has to read about rape, if only to understand that if (when, most likely, god, when) it happens to her friends, or God forbid to her, it will not be her fault, and she will not be to blame, and there will be nothing she could have done to prevent it.
As Hobbes put it in the comments on Friday:
High schoolers know rape exists. I would have found high school a lot easier to deal with if this had been the framing of the conversation - particularly that "punchline" note from the editors about how ridiculous it is that amongst the stories told by the three girls, one still has trouble believing that it wasn't her fault, one makes distinctions between different kinds of assault and won't call most of them "flat out rape", and the last won't even go so far as to call her assault "assault". Dear GOD that's a thing that EVERY high school girl should be reading.
You know what's worse than reading about rape? RAPE. Rape is worse than reading about rape. And rape will keep happening while the issues so excellently raised in this high school publication are buried so deep that young men and young women think this is something they can't talk about. Can't deal with. Can't eradicate.
I listened on Friday to an excellent radio interview with Tanvi Kumar, the editor of the paper, and what struck me immediately was the disconnect between the image administrators want to paint of these high school students (impressionable, fragile, at risk of destruction from the slightest unpleasant thought) and the composure and courage these students were actually showing. I mean, this young woman:
Kumar says she talked directly with superintendent Dr. Jim Sebert about his concerns about a picture that appeared in the article, some of the words used to describe sexual assaults and potential confidentiality breaches.
“Something Dr. Sebert mentioned several times during our meeting was that we had to keep in mind that our audience was between the ages of 14 and 19,” Kumar said. “Something I said in response was kids between the ages of 14 and 19 are getting raped, kids between 14 and 19 are acting as rapists.”
Interfering with the educational process, this person? I want her RUNNING IT. When I was her age I was scared of my own shadow. If she doesn't have college presidents fighting to recruit her like she's a quarterback, those people are not paying attention, because someday she will own them.
We think teenagers are so delicate. We don't want them reading about scary things. We act like every natural disaster, every politician's peccadillo, every human tragedy, is something we have to "explain" to our children, something that has to be carefully couched, lest the information wreck them, lead them down a treacherous path, harm them irreparably. When nine times out of ten, they not only know already about all the horrors of the world, but are actually properly horrified by them.
And I think that shames us, sometimes. Because they're horrified by what we've come to accept as normal, and they make us ask why we're not as outraged as they are. Why we've gotten so lazy and chickenshit. Why we sit back and take it. I think that shames us, and we're afraid of being ashamed.
We think teenagers are so delicate, which is probably why they think everybody over 30 is so stupid. They're not delicate. They're fierce and wild and angry and they should be. They should rage against the world they see around them. They should confront the things they find outrageous and try to change them. They should loathe any easy acceptance of the way things are, if the way things are is unfair or stupid or bullshit.
And instead of being afraid of them, instead of trying to tamp down all that righteousness and glory and energy so the contrast doesn't make us feel weak, we should be inspired by it. We should be inspired to try to change what we don't want them reading about.
We should, most of all, keep our eye on the ball here, as Kumar so beautifully points out. I don't want my daughter reading about rape in high school. And I don't want my daughter BEING RAPED IN HIGH SCHOOL, and thinking it's her fault, and watching the person who did it to her be excused while she's excoriated.
If the former prevents in any way the latter, the editorials these students in Fond du Lac have published should be broadcast from every billboard ten stories high, and if the so-called adults in the room can't hack that, they should take a lesson from their teenage betters, and take a good hard look at the world they live in. If it's not the one they want their children reading about, they've got some work to do.
What was controversial when you were in high school?
Besides the usual sex, drugs and rock n roll, my high school paper got into trouble for pointing out that the new TVs installed in every classroom showing "Channel One" were mostly airing commercials, and that students legally required to be in school were thus being forcibly advertised to, more than they were being informed. I was proud of that story.
8. Less editorial edge: On the editorial page, inch steadily toward a centrist position with the objective of avoiding the alienation of any individual or group to the point that angry readers start canceling subscriptions. Become convinced that if no one calls to complain about an editorial then that's a good sign.
7. Rely on focus groups: Form a focus group of readers and assign more weight to its members' ideas for coverage than to your gut instinct. Readers often have no concept of the public-service mandate newspapers strive to live by. Focus groups will ask for more coverage of the high school girls' volleyball team or the best rides at the state fair. Indulge them their preferences and inevitably the newspaper will move away from bold, grab-'em-by-the-collar coverage toward scrapbook material.
6. Create new community-related projects: Expand the definition of a newspaper and play a bigger role in cosponsoring community events. Better yet, dream up new projects the newspaper can sponsor entirely on its own: a bridal extravaganza or a women's expo. "Borrow" the city hall reporter for a couple of weeks to help coordinate the coverage. Hope that no one notices the sudden dearth of stories about city hall.
All ten are made of YEAH NO KIDDING, but these are my favorites because they've happened everywhere I've worked, especially #6. Let's do some shiny new thing, instead of making sure we continue to do what we're supposed to do! I have zero problem with sponsorships as a marketing tool, but you've got to consider whether what you're sponsoring has anything to do with your mission. If all you get is your name on a poster, that's not a good use of your money (or anybody's time).
The linked list above focuses on ways newsrooms can add to the dysfunction ruling American newspapers, so I'd add a few items that address other departments' all-too-common responses to middling declines in revenue, such as:
1. Deliberately undercut distribution: You have a product which is already appealing to fewer people. Let's make it harder to find! Drop a few delivery routes. Stop filling a few newspaper boxes (but leave the boxes in place so people know you've given up on them). If people complain that they can't find a paper, route them to circulation.
2. Speaking of circulation, staff it with untrained minimum-wagers, and hide them behind a confusing phone tree: That way, when someone does actually want the paper enough to call, they'll be so frustrated in every attempt to hand you their money that they'll give up and read your competitors, or just watch local news on TV.
3. Assume your website markets itself: More people are getting their news online! It's a basic fact of our existence, so if you put your news online, everybody who might have read it in print will read it on the Interwebs! Forget that the paper is the best and in many cases the ONLY way your news organization advertises itself, or that areas with high housing turnover such as commuter suburbs bring in new people who don't know you're their local source. The Internet magically beams information into the heads of the people who need it and will let them know to visit your site each day. Being online will save you millions!
4. For that matter, assume your newspaper markets itself: There's no need to spend any money telling people who you are, what you do, or where to find your product. Your area is going through a housing boom, but your circulation numbers are declining? Attribute it to chaos theory, not your lack of outreach to new homeowners.
5. Communicate changes to your customers after the fact, and assume they are idiots: Give no warning before reducing home delivery, and whatever you do, don't give people who've paid for the paper their money back if they're suddenly getting less service for their subscription dollars. An editorial in the paper you're publishing less frequently and distributing in fewer places will suffice to let everyone know what's going on. You could also send them a letter telling them you're going to give them details really soon on how you're screwing them over. That's always a winner.
6. Above all, bitch loudly about your potential customers in the trades: Nobody reads anymore, the ungrateful bastards. All kids today care about is their iPhones, and they'd rather twerk than hear about local government. We used to have a country of responsible adults and now everybody under 30 is an idiot (and luckily will never get any older, so there's no point in not pissing them off).
7. Never miss an opportunity to declare your primary money-making medium a dead dog: This in no way undermines your sales staff's efforts to convince people to invest cash in print campaigns with your paper. Just keep telling them it's a matter of time before the whole thing goes tits-up. This has the added bonus of informing local officials that you're weak and if they want to screw over the journalists trying to keep them in check, now would be an excellent time. There's really no way to lose here.
Feel free to add your own in the comments.
I had a friend move here from overseas and he watched the local news one night, a MAJOR STORM WATCH ULTRA FAST WEATHER ALERT type of thing, and asked me, "Doesn't anyone get killed in this city? Why is there a story about the wind blowing down a sign?"
Remember yesterday at CPAC when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) told that devastating story about a young boy who said he no longer wanted free, government-provided school lunch because that meant he didn’t have “someone who cared for him?” And how that meant Democrats want poor Americans to have “full stomachs and an empty soul?” Well, it turns out none of that was true.
I AM THE SHOCKEDEST.
Also, can we dispense with this kind of thing?
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler delved into Ryan’s CPAC story last night, ultimately giving it his highest rating of four Pinocchios.
Oooh, four Pinocchios! How cute! What an adorable way of saying Ryan lied!
When we make up color-coded cartoon ways of measuring just how big a pile of bullshit one of our elected representatives shoveled onto our doorstep on any given day, we're infantilizing the audience and trivializing what shouldn't be a trivial matter. All to get around saying, flat-out, that a politician said something untrue, which takes fewer words and less space in the paper anyway.
The ongoing tasking of political bullshit-detecting to "fact-checkers" makes no sense anyway. Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of calling politicians on their obvious falsehoods (and whenever one tells a story like this, it usually takes about ten seconds for everybody's Spidey Sense to go off). But when we make that task the job of "fact-checkers" it begs the question of what everybody else at the Post is doing. If you're not fact-checking, what exactly are you showing up to work to do?
If you're not counting Pinocchios, what exactly is your job?
Among the layoffs targeted for end of this week are five positions covered by the Guild, including one columnist/critic and two editorial assistants at the Sun-Times, and one deputy editor and one editorial assistant at the Post-Tribune. Union leadership was notified of the planned layoffs last Friday, according to Guild executive director Craig Rosenbaum, although none of the affected employees was identified by name.
In addition, according to company sources, about a dozen other jobs among non-union personnel in editing and production positions at the Sun-Times, the Post-Tribune and the SouthtownStar are being cut. Those reductions will be achieved through a combination of layoffs and attrition.
The Sun-Times has lined up 30 Chicago celebrities -- including famous Chicago actors, comedians, singers, musicians, politicians, sports executives, and more -- who will each rotate at writing a column for the Daily Splash section.
Each of the columnists will be paid $1,000 for their columns.
Solipsistic piehole Jay Mariotti, who used to disgrace Chicago with his opinions about sports, says that the rape accusations against Darren Sharper are, in fact, all about Jay Mariotti:
Sharper, a five-time All-Pro who is accused of drugging women in most of the alleged rapes, is represented by Leonard Levine. He is best known as a criminal defense attorney, recalling his successful 2006 defense of Mark Sanchez when the current New York Jets quarterback was accused of sexual assault as a USC student-athlete. But curiously enough, in August 2010, Levine chose to reverse roles and represent a troubled plantiff who’d lost her full-time job, had little money to her name and chose to tell lies and press charges against an innocent man who’d simply tried to help her.
Okay. I mean, yawn, but I get it. When you have a media platform, you might as well use it to trash people you think are shitty.
Better than bragging about how awesome you are.
First, please realize I’m living a good life in southern California, by the beach, blessed with wonderful companions and friends. My multi-media sports site, featuring a three-hour national radio show streamed Monday through Friday, has been a glorious ride, allowing me to speak and write freely and interview guests in a professional forum without ESPN-like institutional filters. I harbor no bitterness about a grossly unfair episode involving a regrettable association, which was blown up into a debacle by sleazy media sites and even reputable newspapers that never sought my side and didn’t try hard to seek the truth. I was accused of crimes I did not commit — by a person who made several unsuccessful attempts to seek a large financial payoff, including a civil case that was quickly dropped — and my life today is as clean and upstanding as it always was. My two daughters are well. I am well.
I have no opinion on the accusations against Sharper, just an opinion on how awful this column is. Nothing says "I'm not bitter" like 90,000 words about how totally sick your new life is. And there's nothing more appropriate than using your children as a shield against criticism. BY THE WAY I HAVE KIDS: This is the grossest line in the entire gross column.
Lawyers lie — it’s a redundancy — but Levine recklessly disregarded the truth and severely damaged my reputation in a retaliatory Los Angeles Times story. Because I didn’t want my family exposed to further one-sided media coverage and rampant lies being told by the plaintiff, I chose not to pursue this winnable case in a very expensive trial.
How incredibly big of you. I'm sure that is why you pleaded no contest to stalking and assault. But then, everybody is out to get this guy. EVERYBODY. Thank goodness he's so high-minded and willing to let things go.
So, to retaliate, he invented a sick lie. He told the Times that I’d punched his client in the face. I haven’t punched anyone in my life, much less a woman in the face. He didn’t tell the Times that she was a heavy drinker, didn’t tell the Times that she was the one abusing me, didn’t tell the Times she had fallen twice on a drunken boat excursion off Marina del Rey — with several witnesses around — and sustained bruises that Levine conveniently blamed on me. No, Levine wanted to get back at my attorney. So he fabricated a horrible image of me for public consumption.
I thought about suing Levine. Instead, wanting to be rid of the sleaze element, I moved on.
Mariotti is so disgustingly full of crap, Roger Ebert once told him to get bent, just in case you were thinking any of this bore any resemblence to reality.
In the coming weeks and months, you’re going to read quotes from Levine defending Sharper. This is what he told a judge last week:
“All of these were consensual contact between Mr. Sharper and women who wanted to be in his company, who voluntarily ingested alcohol and drugs in many cases.”
All nine cases were consensual. That’s what Levine is saying.
And this is what he said when agreeing to a judge’s edict that Sharper not go to bars or clubs: “If he goes to a bar and meets women, he’s putting himself in a position of being accused of misconduct whether it’s true or not.”
Levine would know. He used that strategy against me.
He was representing a person who was accusing you of misconduct. Are you NEW?
May the better lying lawyer win. Such is the American legal system, 2014.
Am I a terrible person for being impressed he didn't haul out the out-of-context Shakespeare line like your dickhead Republican brother-in-law does every time tort reform comes up? I'm surprised the McDonald's coffee case didn't make an appearance, given that this entire column could have been authored by a first-year law student who got a speeding ticket and now is like, so disillusioned with the system, bro. It's like nobody can catch a break.
Certainly not Jay. But he's let it all go.
"For six consecutive years, The Plain Dealer had double-digit losses in advertising revenue; that's compounding on one another," Fladung said at a gathering sponsored by the Cleveland chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists at the Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood. "Whether you are a business reporter or not, it's not hard to see that that's a jetliner nose down. The business model was broken."
Fladung said the decision to cut back home delivery from seven days a week to four was precipitated by the revenue dive.
The strategy, Fladung said, "is a market-share play in the digital space." In other words, by focusing on the kind of news the online audience prefers — shorter stories, posted continuously during the day and updated if necessary — the newspaper hopes to attract as many local readers as possible away from television station websites and other sources of local information.
I fail to see how home delivery impacts when you post on your site. Are the delivery guys doing the posting? Do they need space in the vans for their laptops, and the papers get in the way? If you want shorter stories posted continuously (which I don't grant is an automatic path to riches, by the way) you need to maybe rearrange your newsroom, not your distribution operation OH WAIT:
The last six months have been tumultuous for the city's only daily newspaper. At the end of July, the paper laid off 50 journalists, reducing its news staff to 110.
Well, fewer journalists will definitely help you come up with more content faster! How progressive!
This is such total bullshit, really. The newspaper had readers who paid for the paper to be delivered to their homes. Instead of saying okay, let's pursue other readers in addition to the ones we have, the company said instead let's shaft the readers we do have, while blathering in consultant-speak about "digital-first," our understanding of which only seems to be that we need to update the website more.
(You want to talk about digital-first for local news? Explain to me how you're going to market your website when you're competing not just with whatever local TV stations exist but with all of the rest of the Internet, please. Explain how you're going to get people to click on you instead of Gawker. Explain how anybody will find your site without the paper's eminent name to point them there, and explain how destroying that name helps your cause. Explain that, and I will believe you have a strategy.)
I'm about done reading endless editorials about how this time, today, this go-round the newspaper is ALL ABOUT the Internet. It's not like last time, with the paywall. Or the time before that, with the hyperlocal. Or the time before that, with the glitter logo and the shaky iPhone video of that one house fire/car wreck/pet show. This time, the newspaper is taking the Internet seriously and is really, truly gonna do something new.
The blathering is exhausting. These CEOs and MEs who loudly declare that they are "digital first" are the industry equivalent of that one friend you have who will not shut up about how someday he's gonna go to Japan or join a gym or write that novel.
He never does dick, of course. Every time you're over at his house he's high and watching Honey Boo Boo, but damn if he doesn't want to tell you his very detailed intentions at every fucking dinner party.
I'm about done listening to people explain how they are digital-first. Spend a fraction of the time you spent writing those editorials actually using tools online to report the news, and you will not have to declare what you are, because people will know.
In the aftermath of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death from an alleged heroin overdose, Daly again indulged an unfortunate tendency to attribute motives, and pass judgments, in the absence of solid evidence—and the Daily Beast again gave him a broad platform on which to do it.
In this case, he wrote a piece on Tuesday alleging Hoffman wouldn’t be an addict if he just more took joy in fatherhood. “Why was he in such abject need of a shoddy, solitary and dangerous chemical high when he knew the pure joy that comes with just being with your kids?” reads the lede. Then the piece proceeds to quote Daly’s sondaughter—yes, his own daughter—on what a good father Hoffman “seemed like” at a public event. From there to the end conclusion that “[w]hatever kick Hoffman got from the envelopes of heroin was just a lie compared to the joy that he, as well as his kids, could’ve shared in the snow on Monday,” the piece shows an appalling lack of understanding of how addiction works, and a lack of empathy for a man who was, by all accounts, always kind and fair to reporters.
I don't care if he set reporters on FIRE, it would still not be okay to say that Hoffman should have gotten high on parenthood. Not only is that not how addiction works, that's not how anything works. Waving a rattle in front of a baby distracts the baby from crying; waving a baby in front of someone who's so far down that he's injecting poison into himself is not likely to be a similarly adequate diversion.
Kids not being diversions, or solutions, or fucking fashion accessories. Kids being people, with their own stuff to do. It is not their job to deal with your problems or make your life better or get you off heroin by the joy of their existing, Jesus Marie.
So spare us this "but he had KIDS" nonsense. Of course that's shitty. People shouldn't shoot up if they have kids. People shouldn't shoot up if they have PETS. People shouldn't shoot up if their only friend is the 700 Club. I don't think anybody's running around saying heroin is fine as long as the only life you're fucking up is your own. I think most people who are not this story's author just recognize that should and shouldn't don't have much to do with it at all.
Four term former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, hereinafter EWE, is back in the news. Le Guv (one of his many media nicknames) has been publicly flirting with running for the seat in Congress about to be vacated by Bill Cassidy the empty suit who is challenging Mary Landrieu for the Senate. I have not taken the whole thing very seriously because EWE is basking in public affection right now, but that would change in heartbeat if he were to run for office again.
I'm not quite sure what happened but Bloomberg News bit on Fast Eddie's bait, mostly because it gave them the chance to use this headline: Ex-Con Ex-Governor Running for Congress.
The story was later denied by EWE and his awful, reality teevee star wannabe third wife Trina to Gret Stet Media outlets including the Advocate:
Reached Wednesday afternoon, a slightly irritated-sounding Edwards said he would not launch a congressional campaign by calling up a wire service reporter. The 86-year-old lives large. His life is filled with splashy moments. Edwards said any announcement will come before a media-packed audience.
Fast Eddie is a pro. There is no way he would declare by leak. EWE is all about the show, y'all, and notoriously disinterested in the national media. He sounds offended that anyone would think he'd announce a candidacy in this fashion. He should be.
Will he run? I doubt it. I suspect the whole episode is a gynormous publicity stunt concocted by Trina Edwards to relaunch their dreadful reality show, The Governor's Wife. It was deservedly cancelled by A&E for low ratings and overall dullness. I never thought EWE could be dull but in that show he was. His daughters Anna and Victoria were actually very entertaining but Trina is from hunger. She's also a Republican and EWE is the epitome of an old school populist Democrat.
The whole thing was undignified but EWE never was very dignified. He was a helluva candidate in his day but even if he *is* eligible to run for federal office, he should skip it after messing with people's minds for the last 6 weeks. He's only lost 1 election in his life and I don't see him running, but I'd like to thank him for spicing things up in the last throes of the dull Jindal era of Gret Stet politics. The whole episode is all tease and no strip.
Here's the 1983 George Rodrigue work that my Krewe du Vieux krewe was parodying in the poster at the top of this post:
Other recent press releases published in the post include "Why baby talk is good for your baby" from the University of Washington; "Men have a harder time remembering things than women do" from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology; "Despite warnings, about 24,000 kids are hurt annually in shopping car accidents," from Nationwide Children's Hospital; and "Too many men take testosterone when they don't need it," from the Endocrine Society, which represents endocrinologists and reports, on its website, that it got coverage of its testosterone release in The Washington Post!
For serious, the local papers and TV stations that get sucked into covering this kind of thing are the worst. The tone of these stories:
Just this week, police say an underage teen was involved in the bracelet dares. Her black band was snapped and she had sex with two other teens. 19-year old, Joseph Valdez was arrested for the incident. He's accused of letting the teens into the home to have sex.
“One of the males reached over and ripped off this plastic bracelet off her hand,” says Jeffries, “and then told her ‘now you have to have sex with me’ and for some reason she said okay.”
(For some reason. The obvious follow-up: For WHAT reason? Also, this kid is a budding sexual predator, and I think the bracelet sitch is the worst of this community's problems.)
We heard this shit about jelly bracelets when *I* was in middle school, and that was about 12 million Internet years ago. NOBODY at the station, nobody at the papers that picked this stuff up, that always pick this stuff up, said, "This is likely to be bullshit?" I mean, I heard the "rainbow party" thing when Oprah made it a big deal and thought, "As sexually degenerate as teenagers are based on my own memories of high school, that's way too complicated and color-coordinated for an actual teenage boy to carry out."
Use the hat rack you have atop your neck for thinking with before you run something like this, God. I can give nervous parents a pass, somewhat, because after all they're subjected to a neverending barrage of fear and anger all day long from their TVs, but I can't look at the so-called genius media gatekeepers who are supposed to be protecting us from the kind of false information that is killing journalism and say yeah, you're doing a job right now.
The next one of these things pops up tomorrow, we should come up with some kind of journalism prize for everybody who refuses to run it without a credible source that is not, "my sister-in-law's kids' friends all say..."
The Famuan student newspaper at Florida A&M University has dropped its print edition “in favor of a continuously updated website.” The paper published twice weekly through fall semester, when it transitioned to a weekly.
The staff and faculty adviser proposed the online-only plan as a money-saving scheme. Ann Kimbrough, the dean of the university’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, views it as a “pretty wise decision following industry practices of late – no matter how sad that is.”
When an industry is aggressively pursuing self-immolation in violation of all common sense, you'd hope for more of an educated response from someone whose job it is to educate the next generation of professional bullshit detectors.
Why is it wise to do something if another media organization does it? Why is it wise to follow the conventional wisdom that cutting print will magically lead to the profits that print was not providing? On what is that judgment based? The stunning successes of the nation's great newspapers of late in attracting customers by insulting those customers, downgrading their product and upping their prices?
I mean, God forfreakingbid you propose another way to go, here, based on study of these issues from an objective standpoint. Then again:
In January 2013, near the start of spring semester, FAMU officials temporarily suspended publication of theFamuan. They also removed the paper’s faculty adviser without much explanation. And they forced the student staff to reapply for their positions and “undergo training in media law and ethics . . . [and] more general journalism principles.”
Shoot me now.
It's been all C Ray all the time since he was convicted on 20 of 21 counts yesterday. In the NOLA newspaper war, the Advocate routed the locally clueless team at the Sometimes-Picayune. The best wrap up of the trial and Nagin's oddball career was written by former Picayune city editor Gordon Russell. Now that I think of it, Picayune alums *won* the coverage, including Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace and WWL-TV investigator David Hammer. In contrast, the vestigial Picayune had an "entrepreneurship, tourism, and business" content provider as part of their courtroom team. I guess it's their version of keeping the brand out there as C Ray once put it.
For other C Rayisms, there's a pretty good Wikiquote page chock-full-o-them. I may have to add some when I get the chance. They missed the time he threatened to "cold cock" teevee reporter Lee Zurik aka Lee Eyebrows.
On an even lighter note, WWNO, one of our public radio stations, has informed us that the zany folks at Next Media Animation in Taiwan have turned their attention to C Ray's conviction:
My only criticism of the animation is that C Ray's head is insufficiently shiny.
That is all.
French President Francois Hollande is here on a state visit. To my dismay, non-Fox MSM outlets are trotting out Bush-Cheney era cliches about the French. Yup, they're on about "cheese eating surrender monkeys," "freedom fries" and the rest of that shit. Hardy, har, har. Guess what: THE FRENCH WERE RIGHT ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR.
I had many arguments with people at the time. A real friend tells you the truth instead of what you want to hear. If President Beavis had listened to Jacques Chirac instead of Tony Blair we'd be a helluva lot better off. Hell, Chirac was a center right pol but Bush majored in wishful thinking at Yale so he listened to Vice President Duce and the voices in his head.
Vive La France.
The fate of journalists kidnapped in Syria is a terrifying mystery. As of press time, at least 30 journalists, as well as a number of humanitarian actors, are languishing in captivity.2 In only a few cases do their colleagues or employers know where they are or who is determining their fate. In almost no cases have their captors made any effort to communicate. It is as if these unlucky men and women have simply disappeared.
The rest of the piece touches on how freelancers, without large media company backing or the money to hire private security (however ineffective it might be), are particularly vulnerable in places like Syria, and how a number of major news organizations have stopped taking stories from independent journalists working on the ground.
Which has stopped some men and women not a bit from trying, in their own ways, to make sense of the story.
This is the sort of work that's betrayed and overlooked by those who call what Politico and Good Morning America do "journalism." I don't just get angry at that shit because it's stupid and trivial. I get angry at it because with the money that we spend WINNING THE AFTERNOON and sandwiching suburban child kidnapping news between sitcom promos, we could support good work like this, and have funds left over.
Circulation revenues were up for the year (1.1 percent) but down for the fourth quarter (-1.6 percent) compared to the same period in 2012. CEO Gracia Martore explained in a conference call to analysts that the company has now “cycled through” the lucrative introduction of paywalls together with bundled print + digital subscriptions at its 80 community newspapers.
This raises the concern that capturing revenue from new digital subscribers and pairing “all access” print/digital bundles with a big price increase could be a one-time revenue event. Gannett not only failed to continue gaining circulation revenue at the end of the last year, it lost a little, as these subscriptions came up for renewal.
To the media consultant geniuses looking for a quick fix, this infusion of cash is a good thing, but if you're looking for a long-term, sustainable business model, you have the same issues as you do with print subscriptions: Getting new customers, and getting your current customers to re-up.
It's almost as if the basics of customer service and sales are the same, and you have to do just as much work pushing your digital editions as you do your dead trees.
Canada has stripped former media baron, Conrad Black, of the Order of Canada, its highest honour.
Lord Black was also removed from the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
He served three years in prison in the US for fraud and obstruction of justice, and was released in 2012.
Lord Black of Crossharbour remains a member of the UK House of Lords. He was awarded the Order of Canada, which recognises a lifetime of achievement, in 1990.
In a statement on Friday, the Canadian government said it had accepted a recommendation by the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada to remove Lord Black as an officer of the order.
Fuck yeah, Canada. Understand, when I talk about media companies deliberately destroying newspapers by, in some cases, outright stealing from the company coffers and then claiming poverty in order to undermine business operations, this asshole is Exhibit Goddamn A.
I wish they could literally strip him of his "honors" and put him in the fucking stocks. He destroyed the lives of hundreds of people and robbed thousands more of their only community voices at a time when those voices were critical to the functioning of their government. He should be in chains.
“People don’t appreciate how difficult it is to do interesting journalism that is monetizable and sustainable over time,” says Politico/Capital New York CEO Jim VandeHei.
Seems to be a matter of whoring yourself out to any passing truck driver who throws on a Goodwill sport coat for the night, coupled with showing absolutely no remorse for being a solipsistic prick who can't make the connection between policy failures and LOTS OF DEAD PEOPLE.
Doesn't look that hard to me. Check into the hotel and leave your God-given conscience behind the counter. Bring plenty of quarters to keep the bed jumping.
Over the past year, the Cleveland paper has followed much the same plan that owner Advance Publications carved out in New Orleans and elsewhere: it reduced print delivery, shed staff through layoffs and buyouts, and saw the creation of a new, non-unionized digital company under the same corporate umbrella. The Plain Dealer Publishing Co. and the new company, Northeast Ohio Media Group, are separate entities, but both contribute material to the free website Cleveland.com and to the print newspaper, which saw its newsstand price rise to $1 this week.
I keep saying this, but it keeps being true: It's not that newspapers were slow to adapt to the digital age. It's that they were slow to adapt to the NEWSPAPER AGE. A basic understanding of any business is that if you make a thing more expensive and also shittier, people will not like it as much.
Unless you lie to them and maybe not even then. But hey, go ahead and give that a try!
“We are excited about the collaborative atmosphere that our new environment will provide for our Northeast Ohio Media Group employees,” Hogben said. “We remain committed to operating in downtown Cleveland and the newly renovated space is designed to showcase our digital capabilities and promote a culture of innovation and creativity.”
How does a new office ... okay, look, I admit this website isn't exactly the shiniest when it comes to ... ARGH. Let's take GrubHub. I have no idea what their offices look like. Maybe they're nice. Maybe they're somebody's spare bedroom. What I do know is, from my phone, I order Thai food and it shows up at my house. The digital interweb machine does what it promises to do, without 5,000 pathetic Google ads or code that crashes my entire operating system, which is more than I can say for half the newspaper sites I try to visit.
Your "digital capabilities" shouldn't require meatspace to show them off. As the commenters quickly point out, because as much as comment sections can expose all the world's stupidity, they just as swiftly expose yours:
The only reason for keeping the PD reporters and NEOMG's staff apart is that the newspaper reporters are unionized.
Maybe moving the editors responsible for layout etc. to the printing facility will improve the increasingly unappealing look of the print editions. I don't know what would help improve the decline in the depth and breadth of reporting content.
In other words: SUCK LESS. Stop blowing smoke about how if you just had a better desk you'd be king.
You know, I loathe the stereotype of the academic/journalistic ivory tower full of people who have never had a real job in their lives and sit around thinking that thinking about things is a real occupation that comes with a paycheck and should be considered on par, in terms of stress, with a tour in Afghanistan. I tend to think those people don't actually exist, that they're just there in the imagination to make conservative politicians feel good when they cut teacher salaries.
Then every once in a while somebody comes along who is so totally solipsistic and oblivious to anything that could possibly by termed, even in derogatory fashion, to be any kind of "real world" that I have to wonder exactly what kind of smoking goes on in the smoking rooms of whatever institution gave this person her goddamn degree:
I believe that three things are true:
- It is quite possible to vehemently disagree with a woman for reasons that have nothing to do with her gender.
- Subtle sexism is nonetheless quite widespread.1
- Therefore, it is generally helpful to discuss sexist patterns in human behavior. However, unless the offense is really quite blatant, it is generally unhelpful in the extreme to accuse specific people, or actions, of being sexist. I mean, if someone says something like “I just don’t think women should have opinions on politics because they’re too stupid and overemotional to think clearly about anything,” then go to town. Otherwise, discretion is the better part of valor.
When you talk about generalities, you’re having a conversation. When you talk about specific people, you’re making an accusation. And that makes it very hard to have a rational discussion.
And a rational discussion is the most important thing here. Not being treated fairly, or decently, or even legally. A rational discussion is the key. Nobody raises their voices. Nobody gets upset. Nobody feels accused of anything accusable. We're all civil and respectful and OH MY FUCKING GOD I CANNOT.
When you're talking about a specific person who stares down your blouse every day in meetings, who shakes his finger in your face when he's arguing with you, who tells your boss you're just a bitch he can't deal with, yes, you're making an accusation against a specific person. Because that specific person is damaging your goddamn calm, preventing you from getting work done, and generally behaving inappropriately.
So sorry if that harshes the hypothetical seminar on sexism we should ideally have over fucking tea, but most incidences of shitty workplace and/or publicly sexist behavior are about specific people, behaving in specific ways, that piss a second specific person off. Thus the discomfort of an accusation, in an effort to solve the problem at hand.
Women don't just call out sexism because sexism is bad in the abstract. They call out sexism because sexism does something to them.
In our society, accusing a specific person of sexism is now a very, very powerful weapon. And there is no such thing as a “conversation” at gunpoint. You can have a conversation or you can have a forced confession. You cannot have both.
Yes. Accusing someone of sexism is such a powerful weapon that all women who level such accusations are automatically made queen. They're never told they're lying or "remembering it wrong." They never suffer any kind of retaliation or pushback, they never get told to sit down and shut up, to suck it up, to get over it. They never get labeled problem employees. They never get fired. They never get attacked, verbally or physically.
Actual conversations mean that the person you’re conversing with may have some other reaction than “You’re right, I agree, this is wrong.” But the power of an accusation of sexism, particularly when a woman is accusing a man, is such that it’s very hard to have anything approaching an actual discussion. His side is already scripted, and his lines consist of craven apology.
Actually, in my experience, his lines usually consist of telling me why I'm full of shit, or too "emotional," or that my valid employment issue is a "personal problem" that I just need to deal with in order to not rock the boat. His lines usually consist of diminishing, jokingly OF COURSE, the idea that he may have interfered with my ability to do my job. His lines are scripted, all right, only the script is less "craven apology" and more "reasons you barely exist in the world."
Comments are full of praise for the dispassionate way things can be handled when you act like they don't matter to anybody at all:
Good article. This is where this conversation is headed. Mature, sober, fair. Contrasts with the craziness that has overtaken this conversation over the past few years. The center may not hold on this one, but at least someone is trying hard to set rational terms for dialogue.
Yes. Rational terms for dialogue. Between two robots who are sincerely interested in finding the most beautifully diagrammable way of asking a dude not to be such a goddamn choad to you all the time. Possibly once the robots are done with this, and the ensuing construction of said sentence, they could make up some signs and post them here and there, to remind people what the rules for civilized behavior is. Then again, that might be interpreted as an accusation.
Perhaps we'd better just think on this some more.
CC summary: Virtuoso perf; all-in on no knowledge & limited staff role; still hard to believe Kelly did this on her own; probes go on
My problem isn't with "virtuoso."
It's with "performance."
This wasn't a performance. Chris Christie wasn't singing an opera for which you paid $50 a ticket. He wasn't entertaining you and he wasn't demonstrating prowess in appearing on a stage. There was no stage makeup and no footlights. You weren't supposed to be amused.
This was a job Chris Christie was doing. His job was to save the job he had, of course, but ideally, his job was to explain what happened here. (What happened, as a friend described it at dinner, was that he became AN ACTUAL SUPERMAN VILLAIN.) His job, as the people defined it when they elected him, was to run the state, and part of that job was answering questions about this massive and almost incomprehensibly stupid clusterfuck.
He wasn't putting on a show.
But that's the problem, really, with Halperin and his ilk. Everything's a show to them. Everything's a movie and they're the audience, and the fact that somebody died and a whole bunch of other people got their lives fucked up because Chris Christie's people wanted to be mean (the most charitable interpretation of what happened) doesn't even touch the halfbright pundits sitting in the dark, waiting for the credits to roll.
Nothing's real to them. Nothing matters. Not was anything he said true, not does it remotely match up with the facts, not was this behavior befitting a state governor and presidential hopeful. Was it a good show?
Halperin apparently thought so. Then again, he wasn't stuck in traffic that day, so that probably affected his review.
When I checked the exchange – plugging in Johnson’s county and her age – I soon found a Blue Choice Gold PPO plan priced at $332 monthly (just $7 more than she had been paying for the plan that was cancelled). Co-pays to see a primary care doctor would run just $10 ($50 to visit a specialist) and she would not have to pay down the $1,500 deductible before the insurance kicked in.
Now I couldn’t help but wonder: Who are these folks in the Star-Telegram story? The paper profiled four people who supposedly had been hurt by Obamacare. When I Googled their names, I soon discovered that three (including Johnson) were Tea Party members.
The paper describes them as among Obamacare’s “losers,” but the truth is that they didn’t want to be winners. Two hadn’t even attempted to check prices in the exchanges.
Meanwhile, it appeared that no one at the Star-Telegram even attempted to run a background check on the sources, or fact check their stories. I couldn’t help but wonder: “Why?”
First of all, there are no "background checks" for sources other than Googling them, really. I hear this all the time from those criticizing reporters who get taken in: "WHY DIDN'T THEY RUN A BACKGROUND CHECK?" Newsrooms aren't CSI. You can run people through things like court databases and some other services, some of which are free and some of which are hella expensive, and you don't usually do that for stories that are getting tossed off in ten minutes. You do that for stories where the new police chief turns out to be a child molester, or the guy down the street might be a terrorist.
You should, however, attempt to find out if what your sources are telling you is total bullshit, which usually costs nothing.
It still seemed to me remarkable that she had simply stumbled on three Tea Party sources. Had they sought her out? Why had she believed that one couple in the story would face a staggering $20,000 deductible? (Under the ACA the deductible on a family plan is capped at $12,750.)
When you're looking for someone pissed off about something, you can stand on a street corner polling passers-by or you can call an advocacy group that might be able to put you in touch with, say, people pissed off about Obamacare. It's a reasonable thing to do to call up your local Tea Party and ask if they've heard of anybody who's had a rough time, because if I had a rough time with Obamacare and was mad about it, I might seek out those of a similar view.
Again, that these are tea people is not the issue (though disclosing it might have helped some). It's that they were tea people who lied to you.
But a lack of fact checkers does not explain why the newspaper ignored the news that one of its “victims” had found good coverage. No editor’s note. No comment. No clarification.
Which is really what the problem is. Lack of accountability. Whenever somebody bores on about how the Internet is the death of truth or whatever we're saying these days to compare pixels unfavorably to Noble Print, I think of stuff like this. Even if they do print a correction, in 9-point type on the inside page, who's going to see it? Who's going to post and repost it the way the original story got posted and reposted?
It's out there now, a zombie lie like all the others, that Obamacare hates these people and wants them to pay thousands of dollars a month or be put to the death panels.
The reason we put it on the front page is simple: No story in our newspaper would generate more interest than this one. For some people, the very idea of homosexual marriage is appalling. They sincerely believed that this is a violation of God's law and the more acceptable it becomes to society, the more clear it becomes that the moral fabric of our country is in tatters. For others, the marriage of Toven and Taylor is evidence that our society is on a path to increasing tolerance and they celebrate what they view as progress. What the people on either side of the debate share is a strong sense that this is an important issue, worthy of public disclosure and discussion. In North Carolina, the issue was important enough to have a vote on a constitutional amendment just to make it tougher to pass a law against gay marriage, even though the practice was already illegal in the state.
Finally, some people have questioned the particular photo we used with the story, which depicts the couple kissing under crossed sabers.
To those, I respond that no photo tells the story more clearly. The kiss under the sabers is a staple picture from military weddings. It would be hard to come up with an image that says more strongly that this is a military wedding of two men. It would have been impossible to take such a picture two years ago, first because any service member who valued his career could not openly admit his relationship, and second because no military chapel would have permitted the ceremony. This picture says more clearly than any others our photographer took that times have changed, probably more rapidly than anyone expected. Whether people celebrate the changes or condemn them, it is our responsibility as a newspaper to report them.
In other words, ooh, you don't like a picture of two dudes kissing. Those two dudes probably didn't like it much that until quite recently, they would have been fired for kissing. Jailed for kissing. Likely beaten or killed for kissing. So if we're making surviving things that fucking suck an Olympic sport, THEY WIN.
I am so sick of this crap, this "seeing a thing I don't like" being equated to actual harm. Nobody is hurting these bigots. Nobody is making their lives more difficult and it's grossly insulting to those facing real hardship to imply otherwise. Being offended at breakfast is not the worst thing that can happen to you.
I am offended at breakfast almost every day, because Charles Krauthammer still has a job, and Dick Cheney and his robot heart continue to exist while so many good decent non-warmongering people do not, and somebody pays Jenny McFUCKINGCarthy to be on TV, but I put the Internet away and go out the front door into a world where as a straight white middle-class girl married to a dude I have exactly jack shit to worry about in terms of oppression and intolerance.
As does just about everybody complaining about the picture.
Has David Brooks finally jumped the shark with his deeply silly anti-weed legalization column? Internet smart asses like Athenae, mother of Little Kick, have been all over Bobo's shit for years. Charlie Pierce has had a lot of fun at Bobo's expense, but he also has one foot in the MSM camp. Yesterday on Twitter, the ponderous and pompous Brooks was mocked relentlessly by his MSM colleagues. I'm too lazy to hunt down the quotes about the reformed stoner, man, but they're there, man.
I realized this morning that David Brooks has something in common with the Grateful Dead. It's an Adrastostian convergence, y'all. The Dead nicknamed the late great concert producer and promoter Bill Graham, Uncle Bobo. The NYT's Bobo isn't particularly avuncular but I like the coincidence. It's cosmic, man. Once again, I'm too lazy to hunt down the root of the Brooksian nickname, man, but there could be a connection, man.
I may have been too lazy to search for hack mockery of Bobo, but I did hunt down an Uncle Bobo moment from the closing of Winterland DVD. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist in short clip form but you can find it here at 32:30 if you're a completist, stoner, or Deadhead. Below is an avuncular tune from the Dead's 1980 Halloween show at Radio City Music Hall, which was MC'eed by Al Franken. I recall Al being asked as a candidate if he'd ever smoked pot and he said something like "I worked on SNL and hung out with the Grateful Dead. What do you think?" Once again, I'm too lazy to hunt down the quote, man. Hmm, maybe Tina Brown was right, man. Nah, she and Bobo can drink bong juice, man, and invite Peggy Noonan while they're at it, man:
Media malpractice like this didn’t trigger the collapse of traditional revenue models, but it’s hastening the job. Everyone wants everything for free now—news, music, movies, etc.—which means the companies don’t have any money to pay people to produce original work. None of this is anything you haven’t heard before, but it bears repeating. In order to make a living, those of us who had the bad sense to shackle ourselves to a career in media before that world ended have to churn out more content faster than ever to make up for the drastically reduced pay scale.
The majority of this epic whine-fest, which I found via Balloon Juice, is a lament over the lack of fact-checking that is apparently destroying all that is good in America. To which end, 2012 media company revenues:
Tribune Company: $3.145 billion
Condé Nast: £117.8m
NYT Company: $575.8 million
If they're not paying their writers, it's not because they're broke. Stop listening to them when they bitch that they can't afford you. They have no incentive to tell you the truth any more than any other entrenched power structure does. They have plenty of money. They're just not spending it on you and you, Mr. Noble Skeptic, are buying their argument without looking at the numbers.
Christ, journalism was using the horseshit noble-poverty-of-the-artist "if you want to make money, do something else" dodge for decades before the Internet came along and made the argument even dumber.
This conflation of newsiness with news, share-worthiness with importance, has wreaked havoc on the media’s skepticism immune systems. It didn’t happen out of nowhere, it’s a process that’s been midwifed by the willful blurring of the lines between fact and fiction on the part of a key group of influential sites, that have, unfortunately, established a viable financial model amid the wreckage of traditional media. It’s why companies are so eager to shuffle native ads—content produced to appear as if it were a site’s regular content—into the regular mix. They’re hoping we won’t know the difference. They’re right, we often don’t. That’s part of the reason native advertising revenues are up 77 percent this year, according to a new study by BIA/Kelsey. There are practically no consequences anymore.
What the fuck is a "skepticism immune system?" And how did it atrophy all by itself? Way to let people off the goddamn hook. It's not that a number of human beings took a look at their bullshit detectors and decided there were no profit centers there, and then made the choice to be irresponsible assholes, no.
It's that some kind of gullibility virus tore through America's newsrooms and there was no vaccine. It was a spontaneous event. Nobody could have stopped it, so nobody is to blame. Except the Interwebs.
Yes, newspapers have long printed lifestyle puff pieces next to hard news, but the analogy between that practice and the current model doesn’t hold. As someone who’s written hundreds of newspaper entertainment pieces in my day, I can tell you they still, thankfully, do not take inaccuracies lightly, even minor ones.
HAVE YOU NEVER GOTTEN SOMETHING WRONG ONLINE? God Almighty, a hundred people will e-mail you if you make a typo, just for the pleasure of pointing out how bad you are at this. Instead of one fact-checking copy editor who has a thousand stories to do that night and isn't getting paid a fraction of what she deserves, you have a thousand of them, they're pissed off all the time, and they LIVE to tell people how they fucked up.
Having been on the internet since the olden days of the early 2000s, one of the great values of political blogging was its ability to point out inaccuracy and lack of accountability in traditional media, when appeals to this apparently long-gone sense of noble truth went absolutely bugfucking nowhere. But I guess because 20 people shared something bogus on Twitter, that value's gone up in smoke.
Look. Nobody died because people -- like me, I admit -- really thought that guy's Twitter fight with Pace Salsa was real. Thousands did die, however, because the Old Media New York Times Kingdom of Miraculously Well Researched Stories that Stand For All We Have Lost gleefully republished every single bit of bullshit churned out by the Bush Administration. People's privacy rights have been gutted by reporters' willingness to swallow whole the justifications of the Obama Administration for every shady trick the NSA pulls, and people have been blown up at wedding parties because far too many of us think that's just the price you have to pay to keep terrorists from our shores.
Get back to me when a fake viral video does worse than point out to your entire family that your one cousin is a total moron.
Mr. Miller was more than happy to explain his N.S.A. segment, which he said he would not change if he had the chance. As a reporter, he has a blend of insider knowledge and careful inquiry that has been lauded by many, including me, especially during the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. He is nothing if not confident, dismissing his critics as ankle-biting, agenda-ridden bloggers who could not be compelled to get out of their pajamas and do actual reporting.
“I fully reject the criticism from you and others,” he told me. “The N.S.A. story has been a fairly one-way dialogue. There has been no conversation and when you do hear from the N.S.A., it is in a terse, highly vetted statement.”
“We went there, we asked every question we wanted to, listened to the answers, followed up as we wished, and our audience can decide what and who they believe. As we constructed it, the N.S.A. was a story about a debate, not a villain, and we added to that debate with important information. I fail to understand how a shrill argument for the sake of creating televised drama would have accomplished anything.”
Seriously, are we not done yet? I know in terms of measuring the lifespan of media we're larval, but is this asshole really unaware that the Interwebs contain reporting? And that even if they did not, media criticism is older than the Interweb blogging machines, and is or should be raising questions when a major news program is less critical of a presidential administration than that administration is of itself.
But no, we're still in this stupid YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE place, where your name tag and e-mail sig are more important than whether you're correct. I keep waiting for it to get old — and we're better, don't get me wrong, I used to have to explain "blog" every time I went to a party — but it seems this is still the go-to defense whenever somebody points out you're full of shit.
As if WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL HUH is an actual argument.
In the paper’s attempts to both track down Alter and gather comments from high-ranking university officials, Patrick O’Connor, the chairman of the board, cursed at, berated and insulted a student reporter.
“You call the Chairman of the Board asking for a f—ing phone number?” O’Connor said in a phone interview on Nov. 15, after a reporter asked if there was any way to be put in contact with Alter directly.
“Like I’m your secretary?” O’Connor said. “Would you like a sandwich, too?”
O’Connor, who received an honorary degree from the university in 2013, then told the reporter to “reexamine his goals as a newspaper man,” and asked him to think hard about whether reporting on Alter’s litigation “is helping the Temple community.”
I'll be less polite than the student editors, who were just trying to find somebody who was accused of financial negligence who happened to sit on the school's board of trustees: Eat an entire dick.
First of all, what exactly is so out of bounds about asking for a phone number? All you have to say is no and hang up, and there's no story. But no, you have to pull out your resumé and slap it on the table all "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" and now it's a three-week clusterfuck and you started it. Dumbass. No wonder the university doesn't want trustees' phone numbers to be public information, if this is how they act when someone has the temerity to give them a ring.
Second, though, look how easily and beautifully the paper calls this guy on his bullshit behavior. When I read day after day after day about the horrible danger Washington reporters are in of losing "access" if they point out that liars lie to them, or if they refuse to grant anonymity to somebody whose most controversial opinion is that President Obama is a handsome fellow, I think of stuff like this.
After this reporter gets his sandwich — hand-delivered, I hope, by whatever poor bastard is in charge of PR over there — maybe he can be promoted to the White House press corps and start showing them how it's done.
Tribune Co. is piling new burdens on its newspaper business as it jettisons the publishing operation into a media landscape that's increasingly hostile to ink on paper.
Then segue into here:
Along with 23 TV stations including WGN-TV in Chicago, Tribune Co. is keeping other key assets, such as real estate occupied by newspapers. That means Tribune Publishing will have to pay rent to the broadcast company for space in buildings that have housed their newsrooms for generations, such as Tribune Tower on North Michigan Avenue.
Um. I don't think it's the "media landscape" that is hostile to ink on paper, guys.
Tribune Co. also is keeping ownership stakes in two joint ventures that enabled the newspapers to tap into growing demand for online advertising—CareerBuilder and Classified Ventures. The entities generated a total of $85 million in revenues in the first nine months of the year, the filing shows.
The spinoff triggers provisions allowing jobs-advertising site CareerBuilder to renegotiate its revenue-sharing deal with Tribune newspapers. Tribune Publishing says it can't predict the financial impact of a revised “affiliation agreement” with CareerBuilder but acknowledges, “We expect that our advertising revenues from this modified affiliation agreement will be lower.”
I'm sure this is all Craig Newmark's fault somehow. And kids today text too much. If only people still read the way they used to.
“They're stripping out anything that has any appreciable value,” says Bob Bellack, a financial consultant in Los Angeles, who was CFO of Tribune Co.'s Los Angeles Times Media Group from 2004 to 2008. “There will be absolutely no ability to grow (the newspaper) business when it's all done.”
No ability, and no real incentive, when the people who design such stellar business strategies can just walk away with millions in exit packages negotiated by boards of directors that if we had any pride left at all as a country would be thrown in chains.
Our job this time was to take the hardest questions we could find and ask them, ‘What’s the answer to it,’ and then spend a couple of minutes listening. Because this is really the side of the story that has been mined only in the most superficial ways. We’ve heardplenty from the critics. We’ve heard a lot from Edward Snowden.
Never mind if the critics are correct. Never mind if the critics have a valid point. Never mind if the critics have THINGS TO BE CRITICAL OF. We've heard enough from them. We're done.
We have given them their time, and now we're giving the NSA its time, and we've done our job. So what if nobody learned anything, and the conversation advanced not one bit, and the powerless were treated as less than the great because OMG HOODIES:
The pieces are not terribly complimentary toward Edward Snowden, described by Miller as a “20-something-year-old high school dropout contractor.” Snowden cheated on an exam for NSA employment and worked at home with a hood covering his head and computer screen, an NSA official tells Miller. “That’s pretty strange,” Miller says.
Your job is not to cast aspersions upon his goddamn fashion sense. Plenty of people who are right about everything important are fuckin' weird. (So are plenty of people who are wrong about everything important, which is why journalism.)
Is there merit in making the NSA confront Snowden's allegations? Absolutely. Is that what this is?
Full disclosure, I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates.
Were there no other reporters available than one who used to work for the director of National Intelligence? With all the out-of-work journalists of great stature and talent in the country? Perhaps no others who'd be allowed into the NSA. Perhaps that's a story in itself. But no, let's make sure we jerk off on screen about our legendary access and insidery-ness and other stuff that doesn't actually mean anything:
CBS just *bragged* that John Miller is "the ultimate insider." Yes, he just demonstrated that! #60minutes— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) December 16, 2013
Last I checked, this wasn't a badge of honor. I keep saying the problem with American political reporting today isn't bias, it's laziness and stupidity, but for a while now I've been forgetting to add ego. Who gives a fuck if someone is the "ultimate insider" if that status doesn't convey any type of advantage to the viewer? If being the "ultimate insider" results in something more than just flat denials that the NSA is doing anything wrong, what's the win here if I watch 60 Minutes, for me?
I guess I get to see the ultimate insider. As he makes an analyst solve a Rubik's Cube:
Many of the cryptologists skipped grades in school, earned masters degrees and PhDs and look more like they belong on a college campus than at the NSA.
Actually, the Rubik’s cube took him one minute and 35 seconds.
John Miller: You know, I didn't like you before.
For this group, the Rubik’s cube was the easiest problem that day.
Fox host Megyn Kelly doesn't know a lot but what she knows she knows. You know what I'm saying?
“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”
Ms. Kelly was replying to a piece by Aisha Harris at Slate and just couldn't resist stating what to her was obvious. Along with Ms. Harris, I beg to differ:
Santa is loosely based on Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century Greek bishop known for secret gift-giving. But while the names “St. Nicholas” and “Santa Claus” are often used interchangeably, modern-day Santa hardly resembles his supposed inspiration, who was depicted as tall and thin and, you know, Greek.
As a Greek-American, I can testify that Greeks tend to be swarthy. The original Saint Nick was probably a brunette with cafe au lait skin and a very hairy back. My mother's Nordic genes are the only reason I escaped the hairy back thing but I do tan nicely. Trust me, I have many relatives who could pass for black if they wanted to. Of course, then they'd have to present their birth certificates to placate the birthers...
It got worse for Megyn with a Y. (Btw, does anyone know anyone who spells that name with a Y? I know only Megan's or Meghan's. Nary a Y or even YMCA in sight.) She elaborated on her, uh, historical knowledge:
Kelly, a Fox franchise player, dug herself in further by saying that Santa couldn’t be anything but Caucasian because he’s like Jesus. “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man, too.”
All this latest flap really illustrates is the abject stupidity of racial classifications. Only elderly white Republicans care if Jesus looked like a blond surfer dude from Orange County. Cowabunga. Of course, those are the people who watch Fox News. It's kind of a pity that Megyn Kelly is the one spouting this nonsense. I've had a soft spot for her ever since her epic smackdown of Karl Rove on election night. I guess it's time for her to enlist in Bill-O's war against the war on Christmas. That would be mighty white of her...
I'll let a certain Irish Catholic crooner have the last word with his legendary rendition of a Christmas classic that was written by a non-swarthy and possibly Republican Jew. Is that diverse enough for y'all?
Wemple frames Allen’s shilling as “native advertising,” an often-troublesome practice in which publications sell space for paid content that is designed to look like a staff-authored article. (One of the more infamous episodes involved a Scientology ad for the Atlantic that looked like a blog post.)
Playbook goes beyond the routine and wildly promiscuous use of native advertising. Indeed, the behavior Wemple documents would ordinarily amount to a scandal and a likely firing offense, except that it seems to be Allen’s essential job description. As Wemple points out, some of the advertisers are also Allen’s friends. And, of course, his sources also consist significantly of his friends.
The intermingling of media, business, and elected officials that is on gross display once a year during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and which Politico both covers and participates in with peerless enthusiasm, is Allen’s vision of how journalism is supposed to function normally.
I wonder how many journalism schools will invite him to speak this year.
TBogg is back and as funny as ever. In fact, the title of the quoted post would be a solid choice as headline of the week if I were picking one: How The Bashir Stole Christmas:
As you may have heard last week, Martin Bashir, who is a teevee guy on the ObaMSNBCa network, said that someone should poop and pee in shit-talkin’ word-manglin’ half-term governorin’ Sarah Palin’s mouth which is NOT A NICE THING TO SAY unless you are talking about David Vitter (R-Pampers) who will actually pay you to do that to him because he is a job creator and also he thinks it’s kind of hawt. Needless to say Bashir’s comment pissed off (but not in the mouth) Sarah Palin something fierce and you will not like a pissed-off Sarah Palin who, every night before bed, soaks herself in bathtub filled with bile and grievance and hate in order to keep her edge but also because it keeps her skin glowing and supple just like any other woman who has a decent shot at becoming a great-grandmother before the age of 54.
I foreswore posting about half-Governor Palin quite some time ago, but could not resist posting something that takes a shot at Diaper Dave. Well played, sir.
The trolls over at Politico are hard at it. A piece by Michelle Cottle about FLOTUS and feminism has lots of folks riled up. It claims that Michelle O (remember Jackie O?) is feminism's worst nightmare because of the issues she's chosen to emphasize. Lots of pundits have risen to the bait and denounced Ms. Cottle as a varmint, rustler, and all around pain in the ass. I'm not going to do that because Politico is a gossip sheet (that's why Charlie Pierce calls it Tiger Beat on the Potomac) that is written by and for trolls.
I do, however, have one substantive comment. I was under the impression that feminism was about women having the right to make their own choices and not to have other people tell them what to do. Michelle O has chosen to focus on education, nutrition, and other rug rat related areas, which is her right. If that's Michelle Cottle's nightmare, so be it. I won't be the one to use a verbal cottle prod on the Other Michelle because I know trolling when I see it, and I never feed trolls. Never.
That is all.