Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bogart and 'Deadline USA': Why Some of Us Got Into the Newspaper Biz

Jackpot: A movie with Bogie as a managing editor at a big, quality daily that was going to be auctioned into oblivion by clueless newspaper heirs who wanted to cash out. Sound familiar?

By Dennis Anderson

Editor of the Antelope Valley Press in Palmdale

So, my friend Greg Mitchell earlier this month retrieved from long ago movie time (in a column for E&P) a story that tells us something about how big media works today, with its pack journalism, sensation of the momentary hot story fueled by hysteria and personal tragedy that can be exploited by the scheming careerists of media land. Find an overdosed centerfold or an abducted innocent on a cable news outlet and you will be in the middle of Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" (aka "The Big Carnival").

But there's another, more optimistic, Hollywood cult classic that I would like to tout: "Deadline U.S.A." [Click for MORE]

> Joe Grimm's List of Top Newspaper Movies

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Robertson Considers Bid For Norfolk Newspaper

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson is considering making an offer for the Virginian-Pilot, a daily newspaper he has criticized for its coverage of him.

The Pilot is the flagship newspaper of Landmark Communications, which said last week that it was evaluating whether to sell its assets, including the Weather Channel.

"Although the price for the Weather Channel is a little rich for my blood, I am considering a potential bid for the Pilot and have asked my attorneys to look into it," Robertson said in an e-mailed statement. [Click for MORE]

> 'Mercury News' Editor's Surprise Departure Followed Controversial 'Three-Section Paper' Proposal Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 11, 2008

You've Got Tribune. Now Do Something

How new owner Sam Zell can breathe life into newspapers amid widespread malaise

Happy 2008 and big congratulations, Sam Zell! You got your deal done for Tribune. Just in the nick of time, judging from all the moaning I'm hearing about how hard it is to borrow money these days. Thanks for bringing idiosyncrasy back to a medium that once, long before an initial public offering ever dirtied the desk of a press lord, was peopled by publishers with mud on their boots and rifles in their offices, if I may paraphrase the late David Halberstam. Now for the hard part: coming up with solutions in an industry long run by executives who've been stewing in its old assumptions their entire working lives.

The bad news is everyone thinks you're nuts. [Click for MORE]

> Some Necessary Advice for Sam Zell Sphere: Related Content

Today in History

January 11, 1902
"Popular Mechanics" magazine was published for the first time. Initially, there were only five paying subscribers and a few hundred others who paid a nickel at newsstands. In September, 1903, the still popular magazine became a monthly. Sphere: Related Content

David Simon's Baltimore Sun Woes

When David Simon parted ways with journalism in 1995, it was a rough breakup.

“For the first 18 to 24 months I felt as if my arm had been cut off,” Simon he said in an October interview, in which we discussed Simon’s career as a reporter and how his devotion to journalism informed the final season of “The Wire,” which began Jan. 6 on HBO. “I loved being a reporter for a long time.” [Click for MORE]

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Viewers Flock to Cable News Channels

With caucus and primary results as dramatic as anything else on prime time, viewers have been flocking to cable news. Just a week into the New Year, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have all seen healthy bumps over their 2007 numbers.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain's triumphs in New Hampshire were not the only upsets on Tuesday night. CNN reeled in more than three million viewers that night, edging out Fox News, one of the most watched channels across all of cable. (It finished sixth for all of 2007.) Even with the halo of pre-election coverage, cable-news ratings pale when compared to those of the network news' broadcasts, which routinely draw seven to 10 million viewers an evening. Still, in the past week, CNN's nightly ratings have spiked 86% from its 2007 average; Fox has seen a 36% gain.

According to Nielsen Online, the interest extends to the Internet. For the week ending Jan. 6, 15% of CNN's traffic was directed toward; 24% of FoxNews's visitors sought out WSJ

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Photojournalist Nachtwey Stirs People to Action

For the past three decades, James Nachtwey has devoted himself to documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues, working in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil and the United States.

Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with Time since 1984. However, when certain stories he wanted to cover -- such as Romanian orphanages and famine in Somalia -- garnered no interest from magazines, he self-financed trips there. He is known for getting up close to his subjects, or as he says, "in the same intimate space that the subjects inhabit," and he passes that sense of closeness on to the viewer.

In putting himself in the middle of conflict, his intention is to record the truth, to document the struggles of humanity, and with this, to wake people up and stir them to action. [Click for VIDEO] Sphere: Related Content

Bay Area as Ground Zero

How MediaNews is causing a seismic shift in Bay Area newspapers

By Sam Chapman
Pacific Sun Staff

Many observers are sounding an alarm about the cost to our society of the diminishing number of diverse voices and declining quality of journalism. Some are offering radically different visions for the future of journalism:

* Professor John McManus of San Jose State University believes newspapers are the "nervous system of democracy," and that the decline of newspapers and news coverage is a civic version of the debilitating disease ALS, leading to a paralyzed democracy.

* Sonoma State's Peter Phillips argues that "media consolidation is creating a new form of censorship in the United States and undermining democracy in the process."

* Stanford professor Ted Glasser says it's time to consider entirely new models; we should stop saying we have to accept the realities of the marketplace. He says we need to ask a different question: What kind of journalism do we need and what kind of conditions do we need to sustain it?

Rupert Murdoch's purchase of the Wall Street Journal garnered much national attention recently, but we in the Bay Area are truly at ground zero for the developments that have prompted fears about newspaper consolidation. [Click for MORE]

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    Days of Future Passed

    Journalists confront a rapidly changing world

    By Thomas Kunkel

    Thomas Kunkel (, president of AJR, is dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.

    When you slipped through that swinging door from the cramped newsroom to the expansive composing room, it was almost like you were walking into a factory. And in a sense, you were – a news factory.

    Thirty minutes before deadline and it was a noisy hurly-burly, with men – ladies need not apply, not that they'd wish to – moving about quickly yet gracefully. It was all part of a well-practiced choreography. Big, boxy tables carrying the next day's pages were wheeled around the floor. Copyboys and anxious page editors darted in and out. On the room's perimeter linotype operators banged out type for deadline stories. Cigarette smoke crowded out the oxygen.

    Like steamfitters and mechanics, these were men working with metal, and they took pride in that. Metal slivers of type were painstakingly locked into metal pages that would be made into the metal plates that in turn were strapped to that leviathan of metal that was the printing press.

    Night after night the compositors went about their jobs, grumbling about this and that. But it was the innocuous grumbling of people secure in their jobs. Not long after he stumbled into this fascinating netherworld, however, even a callow teenager could tell that the vibe in the place was starting to shift. There was a gnawing sense of worry, which in time would give way to dread. It was change coming, big change. [...]

    Of course, a few years later the printers would be gone altogether, casualties of the electronic age.

    Now many professional journalists find themselves nursing a comparable sense of dread. Will the rapidly evolving news industry one day make them as anachronistic as the compositors they grew up with? As I heard one reporter put it recently, referencing Billy Joel's song about the demise of steel industry jobs, are they on the verge of being "Allentowned"? [Click for MORE]

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    Wednesday, January 9, 2008

    Assignment for Jan. 14

    1) Read Chapter 2. Also scroll down the blog (and click the link for older posts) and read: "Read All About It" and "Print Is Dead: Long Live Print"

    2) Do Exercise 2 on page 20. You can't delay this assignment because it involves reading and viewing media over a three-day period. Your work must be typed. Here is the assignment:
    Keep a journal of your reading or viewing habits of news for three days. Write a paragraph each day about the kinds of stories you read and didn't read, how many you read all the way through, and how many you read just through the headline or the first few paragraphs. Do the same for the stories you read online. Analyze your preferences. Record the amount of time you spent reading the newspaper for pleasure, not for an assignment. Record how much you watched news on TV. Then interview three other people -- students, neighbors or strangers -- and ask them what kinds of stories they do and don't read in print and online. Ask where they get the majority of their news -- from print, broadcast or online media. Write a summary of your findings.
    3) Be prepared for a possible quiz on Chapters 1 and 2 sometime this week. Sphere: Related Content

    Dan Rather's Lawsuit Moves Forward

    It looks like former CBS News anchor Dan Rather will indeed get his day in court. On Wednesday evening Justice Ira Gammerman of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan made a preliminary ruling denying the TV network's motion to dismiss Rather's $70 million lawsuit. "I think discovery should go forward," said Gammerman. Rather's suit, you'll recall, claims CBS unfairly shuffled him off the air after that infamous 60 Minutes Wednesday story about Bush's performance (or lack thereof) in the Texas National Guard. NYM Sphere: Related Content

    CBS News Union Reaches New Contract

    The union, which includes about 500 news writers, editors, production assistants and researchers, will get a 3.5% wage increase and a one-time signing bonus.

    CBS Corp. said Wednesday that it reached a tentative new contract with union employees in its news division that includes a 3.5% wage increase and a one-time signing bonus.

    The union, which includes about 500 news writers, editors, production assistants and researchers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., had been working under an expired contract since April 1, 2005.

    The workers are represented by the Writers Guild of America East and West – the same union that has crippled television and film production for months. [Click for MORE]

    > Seattle Times plans to cut its work force
    > Sun-Times Media Group's Job Cuts Move To 'Burbs
    > Job Cuts at McGraw-Hill Will Eliminate 3% of Staff
    > Miami 'Herald' To Outsource Copy And Layout To Indian Company Sphere: Related Content

    The Downside of Newspaper Reader Blogs

    In journalism’s efforts to embrace new media and transform the newspaper business, a lot of papers have adopted the idea of inviting readers to blog on the paper’s site. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was one of the first newspapers to go down this road, with readers writing about a variety of topics relevant to Seattle residents, like transit, trade, and music.

    It’s not a bad idea. God knows, newspapers need to do something to be relevant in this dramatically altered media environment. [Click for More] Sphere: Related Content

    Read All About It

    How newspapers got into such a fix, and where they go from here
    December 29, 2007; Page A1
    Wall Street Journal

    It was the fall of 1999, and the newspaper I edited, The Wall Street Journal, was awash in money. Thanks to the dot-com boom and the lush advertising it generated, we were running the presses at full tilt nearly every day, yet had to turn away ads for lack of space.

    Even as the good times rolled, two non-newspaper names kept coming up. I recall being stunned to learn that the main place where our own readers checked stock prices was the finance section of Yahoo. A couple of kids from Stanford had launched a search engine called Google. Already, many of my colleagues were using it.

    Less than six months later, the tech bubble began to deflate. Hundreds of dot-coms died, taking with them their ad budgets. But the Web industry pushed forward, and within a few years it shredded newspaper business models that had held sway for decades. [Click for more]

    Print Is Dead: Long Live Print

    We all know by now that the future of media is online, and I'd be the last person to deny the significance of the changes wrought by the Internet. But I think one of the most interesting things to emerge in the media business this year will be a comeback of sorts for print.

    Print, of course, hasn't exactly gone away – magazines and newspapers still account for more then a third of worldwide ad revenues – but the chatter in the industry suggests its death is just around the corner.

    In the U.S. especially, the newspaper business appears to be in a free-fall, with many big papers reporting year-over-year revenue and circulation declines of ten per cent or more - shocking numbers indeed for century-old businesses. The big magazine companies, and especially kingpin Time Inc., are under ever-growing financial pressure; nobody would be surprised if the new CEO of Time Warner sold the magazine unit.

    Yet the story in the field, especially outside of the big coastal media hubs, is quite different from what the media news websites would lead you to believe. [Click for MORE]

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    Tuesday, January 8, 2008

    Brokaw Cautions Media on Trying to Stampede the Process

    Talking with Tom Brokaw [on MSNBC], Chris Matthews lamented the fact that the pollsters and pundits got it all wrong. Brokaw suggested that the [New Hampshire Primary] results today should cause the media to reevaluate its desire to “stampede the process,” and he cautioned the media to “wait for the voters to make their judgment”:

    BROKAW: You know what I think we’re going to have to do?

    MATTHEWS: Yes sir?

    BROKAW: Wait for the voters to make their judgment.

    MATTHEWS: Well what do we do then in the days before the ballot? We must stay home, I guess.

    BROKAW: No, no we don’t stay home. There are reasons to analyze what they’re saying. We know from how the people voted today, what moved them to vote. You can take a look at that. There are a lot of issues that have not been fully explored during all this.

    But we don’t have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed. And trying to stampede in effect the process.

    Look, I’m not just picking on us, it’s part of the culture in which we live these days. I think that the people out there are going to begin to make judgments about us if we don’t begin to temper that temptation to constantly try to get ahead of what the voters are deciding, in many cases, as we learned in New Hampshire when they went into the polling booth today or in the last three days. They were making decisions very late.


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    Bad day at the Orange County Register

    Another round of layoffs hits in Orange County, on top of the canceled Christmas party and gutted 401-k contributions. Nick Schou at the OC Weekly and ex-Registerian Mayrav Saar at Fishbowl LA have posts. Meanwhile, rumors are swirling around the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. But really, every outpost in the Singleton empire seems to be on edge these days. And should be, the way Singleton's suits keep coming back every few weeks demanding more cuts. LAO

    > Sun-Times Media plans job cuts at other papers
    Sun-Times debuts smaller paper size
    > Sun-Times wrestles with a new reality Sphere: Related Content

    Where Do You Get Your News?

    [Jon Stewart's] audience is younger than that of his network rivals; he is particularly popular with 20-somethings, many of whom rely on his show and its smart, wickedly irreverent insights and send-ups as their chief source of news. NYT Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, January 7, 2008

    Reality Check

    "The Simpsons" Take On The Washington Post (and Print Journalists Everywhere)

  • Shrinking Union-Tribune: 'Doing Less With Less'
  • Sun-Times to cut 40 positions
  • YH-R closes bureau, trims staff to cut costs
  • Star-Ledger has lost $11.5M in advertising in the past year
  • Gilroy Dispatch goes from five days a week to twice weekly
  • Newsman: CEOs earn fat bonuses by axing people like me
  • Landmark explores selling Weather Channel, other holdings
  • Last Day for Cincy Paper Arrives
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    Assignment for Jan.9

    1) Read Chapter 1. If you don't have the text yet, a copy is supposed to be on reserve in the campus library.

    2) Discussion: Qualities of News Stories
    Based on what you read in Ch. 1, pick a story from a local newspaper and cut and paste the first two or three paragraphs on a piece of paper. (Computer printouts are OK). Then, answer the following questions using the numbering format:

    What three qualities are most prominent in this story? Name them and say how or why. Cite specific examples. 1. 2. 3. In class, we will discuss whether you agree or disagree with other students' findings.

    3) Newspapers in the 1940s and Today
    Don't forget to scroll down and view the videos posted below. Sphere: Related Content

    Journalism Jobs

    Here's the link to my Journalism Jobs page which I mentioned in class... Sphere: Related Content

    Journalism in the 1940s and today

    Watch these two films and be prepared to discuss how you think newspapers and other media have changed since the 1940s. How has reporting changed?

    Writing and editing jobs for newspapers and magazines in 1940. - Holmes (Burton) Films, Inc. (1940)

    Newspapers retool for a new era. - Reuters (2006)

    Site Meter

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    Sunday, January 6, 2008


    Moorpark College

    Jour M02

    Writing and Reporting for the Media


    Journalism as a life skill: You will use what you learn in this class your whole life. You will use the logic and clear thinking skills in your other classes, in your career, relationships and life. You will use your clear writing skills on college papers, in graduate work, on job application letters, legal briefs, medical reports, interoffice memos, professional letter writing and love letter writing.

    Course Goals: At the end of the semester, students know how to conceive, report, write and produce basic news, features and opinion stories in appropriate formats for print, online and broadcast. Two of these will be submitted to the Student Voice campus newspaper or other community news outlet for publication in print or online.

    Course Overview: Through weekly assignments, together with in-class exercises, lecture, review and critique, student news gathering and writing skills will improve quickly. Students will write stories from exercises as well as from facts they have gathered about community news and events.

    Texts: “Writing and Reporting News” Fifth Edition, by Carole Rich

    Supplemental required text: "Associated Press Stylebook". The AP stylebook is the guide of daily news writing and must be brought to class each meeting.

    Class Policies: Save copies of original, as well as any marked work in case of disputed or missing grade. Clip all published copies of your stories and save with date to include in a portfolio due the final week of classes.

    Grading: Course grades will be assigned according to college structure, using the A-F scale. Assignments are graded according to a Writing and Reporting Rubric, which will be handed out during class or made available on the web. Late papers accepted up to one week lose a full letter grade. The course grading structure is as follows, but may vary slightly during the course of the semester:

    Writing assignments 150

    Published stories 75

    Clip portfolio 25

    Class exercises and quizzes 130

    (These are timely and must be done on

    time as the class progresses. No make-ups.)

    Final (writing) 50

    Final (quiz) 20

    Total (total may vary) 450

    NOTE: Students must demonstrate competency of the Inverted Pyramid writing format on the final with a ‘B’ or better in order to earn an ‘A’ in the course, regardless of cumulative semester points.

    Class procedures: Students should check this website daily for class communications and additional assignments. Assignments cannot be made up beyond the week grace period. Late exercises and quizzes are not accepted beyond the posted expiration time.

    Class Etiquette: Students who fail to turn off their cellphones, pagers or other communication devices, will be warned once before they are excused from the class. No non-class related IMing, web surfing or emailing during class will be allowed. You are expected to be on time and to attend class regularly. If you are late, please enter quietly and take a seat.

    Plagiarism: Plagiarism and other forms of cheating are not tolerated. Anyone caught cheating will be reported to the dean and receive a failing grade for the course.

    Diversity: Students in this course are encouraged to make every effort, with the instructor’s help, to include people in their assignments who have been traditionally overlooked by mainstream media.

    Students with Disabilities: Students who may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact ACCESS at 378-1461. The office is located in the building just to the right of the campus center.

    The Learning Center: Students enrolled in this course are encouraged to use the Writing Center in LLR 332 for tutorial services to support their efforts in this class. For further information call The Learning Center (805) 378-1556 or the Writing Center (805) 378-1400 ext 1696.

    Smoking Policy: Moorpark College is a non-smoking campus.

    All assignments, postings and directions are subject to change. Please check this website daily.

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