Saturday, January 19, 2008

Does the News Matter To Anyone Anymore?

By David Simon
HBO, "The Wire"

Is there a separate elegy to be written for that generation of newspapermen and women who came of age after Vietnam, after the Pentagon Papers and Watergate? For us starry-eyed acolytes of a glorious new church, all of us secular and cynical and dedicated to the notion that though we would still be stained with ink, we were no longer quite wretches? Where is our special requiem?

Bright and shiny we were in the late 1970s, packed into our bursting journalism schools, dog-eared paperback copies of "All the President's Men" and "The Powers That Be" atop our Associated Press stylebooks. No business school called to us, no engineering lab, no information-age computer degree -- we had seen a future of substance in bylines and column inches. Immortality lay in a five-part series with sidebars in the Tribune, the Sun, the Register, the Post, the Express.

What the hell happened? [Click for More]

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Friday, January 18, 2008

AP Reporter Challenges a Candidate

Was Romney caught in a lie, or was it semantics?

[Click for MORE] [And even MORE]

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Golfweek Fires Editor Over Noose Cover

Golfweek magazine, which published a cover with a noose set against a purplish sky to illustrate its coverage of a controversial comment about Tiger Woods, announced Friday that it had fired Dave Seanor, the editor who approved the cover.

The Golfweek cover was in response to the remark by Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman on Jan. 4 that one way for young golfers to stop Tiger Woods is to “lynch him in a back alley.” The magazine cover line reads: “Caught in a Noose: Tilghman slips up, and Golf Channel can’t wriggle free,” and points readers to a special report by the weekly magazine. [Click for MORE]

> Golfweek cover more damaging than original "lynch" comment Sphere: Related Content

Cleaning the Racks

Publishers Pounded as More Than 1,000 Mag Titles Are Cut

Retail behemoth Wal-Mart is tossing more than 1,000 magazines from the racks in its stores, sending yet another shock wave through the battered publishing industry.

Most of the magazines are small, and more than a few of the victims are titles that have long since stopped publishing, including Child, Celebrity Living, Elle Girl, Teen People, Suede, Shop Etc., Weekend and FHM. However, virtually no major publisher was spared.

Wal-Mart, which released its official purge list on Jan. 15, is believed to be responsible for generating more than 20 percent of all retail magazine sales in the US. [Click for MORE]

> You Will Be Fired, And if you haven’t been yet, you will be

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Teenagers Say Reading Online News Is a Stressful Experience

While the 14- to 18-year-old participants in a Northwestern-sponsored study [PDF] describe time spent on YouTube or social networking and music downloading sites as a treat or time-out, they describe their online news experiences as stressful or a reminder of the world's dangers. "We found teens are unlikely to follow serious news online, but that they will click on news stories that appeal to them when they find them on other sites," says Michael P. Smith, executive director of Northwestern's Media Management Center. [Romensko]

> News organizations' websites are not a prime destination for teens Sphere: Related Content

Murdoch's Having Second Thoughts

[Rupert Murdoch is] apparently rethinking his plan to make an entirely free site, telling bureau chiefs at a dinner in NY that the changeover is not as simple as he first thought (his original notion was that increased ad revenue would offset the loss of subscription dollars). Also, Murdoch said that front-page feature stories are too long and might be better suited for the weekend. “There’s definitely concern that the longer special pieces at The Journal are going to be reined in,” Josh Prager, a Journal reporter, told the NY Observer. [LA Biz Observed] Sphere: Related Content

Post Toasted

OC Post to combine with Irvine World News

The OC Post, the local quick-read newspaper launched in August 2006, will merge with the Irvine World News in February.

February’s change ends an 18-month newspaper experiment targeting busy Orange County residents who want local news, but in a more compact, quicker-to-read format. The Post featured short stories, typically four or five inches long, and the pages were punctuated with color and graphics.

It is a format with a mixed track record. It proved successful in commuter-oriented areas like Chicago and Washington, D.C. and throughout Europe but the A.M. Journal Express in Dallas folded after six months. [Click for MORE]

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Rumor Alert! RumorAlert!

Sam Zell Wants to Buy the Daily News

Two days ago Joseph Mailander, from Mayor Sam’s Sister City, wrote: “A rumor we heard: Sam Zell wants to buy the Daily News. Every single person's response: "Oh, no!"

It is true Sam Zell and Dean Singleton have met, but from what I have been told, Dean Singleton is considering outsourcing his production from his Valencia Plant to the Los Angeles Times. The Valencia Plant produces the San Fernando Valley Daily News, and all the editions of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

With the extremely large debt the Tribune Company has to pay down, I cannot see Sam Zell buying any other properties at this time, but printing additional newspapers is an option that makes sense to increase cash flow in this competitive market. [Pressmen's Club]
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Time Warner Links Web Prices With Usage

Time Warner Cable will experiment with a new pricing structure for high-speed Internet access later this year, charging customers based on how much data they download, a company spokesman said Wednesday. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

'Epic Struggle for the Soul of Journalism'

The 18-month labor battle at the Santa Barbara News-Press, which has sparked creation of a newsroom union, caused dozens of staffers to depart, and resulted in a slew of unfair labor charges, is now reaching the big screen.

"Citizen McCaw," a documentary film created by several local residents and filmmakers, will debut March 7, organizers announced Thursday. It is described as “an epic struggle for the soul of journalism” that "chronicles the twists and turns of community protests, legal maneuverings, a union vote, child pornography charges, a 25% decline in circulation, a noticeable drop in the paper's coverage of local news and issues, and numerous other events." [Click for MORE]
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tribune's Rules: A Quirky Rush to Good Judgment

Media giant Tribune Co., which last month passed from public to private, employee ownership under the direction of real estate mogul Sam Zell, gave its nearly 20,000 employees a handbook yesterday outlining appropriate workplace policies and behavior and the new company's values.

The handbook is a mix of corporate earnestness, surprising folksiness and common-sense rules, free of the antiseptic training-module language that has become a part of corporate human resources culture. In an e-mail accompanying the handbook, the feisty Zell told his employees that he had heard from many of them that what they wanted most was to eliminate red tape and speed up decision-making.

As such, the handbook is a "reminder not to take ourselves too seriously and to have fun," Zell wrote. He wanted the handbook to "reflect our new culture, one that is more direct than its predecessor." [Click for MORE]

> The Handbook (pdf)

> No legalese in this handbook

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Covering the Cops

By Calvin Trillin
The New Yorker

In the newsroom of the Miami Herald, there is some disagreement about which of Edna Buchanan's first paragraphs stands as the classic Edna lead. I line up with the fried-chicken faction. The fried-chicken story was about a rowdy ex-con named Gary Robinson, who late one Sunday night lurched drunkenly into a Church's outlet, shoved his way to the front of the line, and ordered a three-piece box of fried chicken. Persuaded to wait his turn, he reached the counter again five or ten minutes later, only to be told that Church's had run out of fried chicken. The young woman at the counter suggested that he might like chicken nuggets instead. Robinson responded to the suggestion by slugging her in the head. That set off a chain of events that ended with Robinson's being shot dead by a security guard. Edna Buchanan covered the murder for the Herald—there are policemen in Miami who say that it wouldn't be a murder without her—and her story began with what the fried-chicken faction still regards as the classic Edna lead: "Gary Robinson died hungry." [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Assignment for Jan. 23

There is NO CLASS Jan. 21 because of the MLK Holiday.

Please continue to monitor for journalism news and assignment updates.

1) Read: Chapters 5 and 6 in the Rich textbook.

2) Review: A-F in the AP Stylebook and become familiar with G-K.

3) Read: Covering the Cops, a piece about Miami's best police reporter, Edna Buchanan, by Calvin Trillin. You will also find a link elsewhere on this blog.

4) Complete: Your interview with a fellow student which you began in class. Directions were sent to your email address. If you want to email me an advance copy to critique and for you to revise, sent it to JOUR.M02@GMAIL.COM .

5) Continue: To familiarize yourself with the upcoming California Primary. You will be interviewing voters at local polling places. Plan your day accordingly. More details to come. Sphere: Related Content

Tribune to Push Help-Wanted Ads onto the Net

The Chicago Tribune on Monday announced it will make a daring move – beginning Jan. 22 it will overhaul its print help-wanted ads, becoming one of the first large daily metros to try and push those classifieds to online, all while keeping its more lucrative Sunday job listings section intact on the print side.

Currently, the help-wanted ads are in the classified section of the paper, but beginning next week the paper will only list the position, company, location and Web identification in the print version, an attempt to drive readers online to find more information about listings at, which is owned by the Tribune Company. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Reflections of a Newsosaur

‘Who’s Mike Royko?’

In talking today with a pleasant fellow who is halfway through earning his master’s degree in journalism at the prestigious Columbia University, I happened to mention the name of Mike Royko, one of the top journalists of the 20th Century.

And this is how the conversation went:

“Sorry,” said the student, whose journalism education will cost more than $43,000 a year in tuition and fees (plus an estimated $24,000 in living expenses).

“What was the name of that reporter again?” [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Which Lede Did You Read?

Three versions of Santa Susana lab news LAO

You decide — or go to EnviroReporter.

Time to study Boeing lab is sought
State is considering whether to back bid for Superfund status

By Gregory W. Griggs, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The state's top environmental officer Tuesday asked federal officials for more time to decide if California should back an effort to make Boeing's Santa Susana Field Laboratory a Superfund cleanup site. L.A. Times

Agreement reached on cleanup of Field Lab
Strictest federal standards approved in state, Simi deal

By Teresa Rochester

A former rocket engine and nuclear test site south of Simi Valley will be cleaned to the strictest federal standards possible, following a deal reached between state officials and community members that was announced Tuesday and hailed as historic. Ventura County Star

Schwarzenegger vows state control of Santa Susana Field Laboratory
By Harrison Sheppard and Kerry Cavanaugh

Vowing to conduct a strict cleanup of the long-troubled Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday said the state wants to maintain authority over the site and won't seek federal Superfund status for the area. Daily News

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dancing With Tycoons?

[Billionaire Sam Zell and an Employee Stock Ownership Plan now own Tribune Co., including the Los Angeles Times.] There are flaws in the ESOP, naturally, from the employees’ point of view. Union representatives point to the lack of any consultation by employees in selecting the ESOP trustee that will play the lead role in governing the corporation. They may be employee-owners, but they don’t have much of a voice. Retirement accounts will remain partially diversified, but will be overly concentrated in Tribune stock. Still, at the end of the day the Zell transaction means that a company that is in need of significant change will succeed or fail through the workings of a partnership between a tycoon and his partners, the employees. [Click for MORE]

> Sam Zell visits Newsday
> Tribune boss visits The Morning Call
> Salty Sam hits Hartford Sphere: Related Content

How to Get Hired By the New York Times

Q. Where does The Times go to find talented staffers? It is limited to other metro papers and Ivy League schools? What are the chances of someone who sends a resume in who has worked for a smaller paper and gone to a state school? -- Mike, Oklahoma City [Click for MORE]

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Oprah Winfrey to Form Television Network

Oprah Winfrey will add a cable television network to her stable of media properties in 2009 with the formation of “OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.”

The network will be formed in a joint venture between Harpo Productions and Discovery Communications, the company announced today. The channel will displace the eight-year-old Discovery Health Channel in more than 68 million homes. The channel will be coordinated with Ms. Winfrey’s Web site, [Click for MORE]

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Metro Int'l Puts 3 U.S. Newspapers Up for Sale

Metro International S.A., the worldwide publisher of free daily newspapers, has put its three US properties, including Metro Boston, on the auction block, according to an executive briefed on the deal.

The newspapers - Metro Boston, Metro New York, and Metro Philadelphia - have been a drag on the company's earnings in recent years, losing more than $10.6 million in the past 12 months, according to company filings. In October, Metro International said it began a strategic review of its underperforming operations. [Click for MORE]

> Examiner owner Anschutz isn't interested in Metro papers
> Tribune's Newport News newspaper cuts 14 more positions
> Time Out Chicago cuts its staff
> San Diego Union-Trib announces layoffs, outsourcing plans
> Two dozen veteran Kansas City Star employees take buyouts Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 14, 2008

Assignment for Jan. 16

1) Become familiar with the AP Stylebook. Review A-F. Start learning the editing marks on page 418 (See also the editing marks on the inside back cover of the Carole Rich textbook).

2) Keep current on political news. You will have a live reporting assignment in connection with the California Primary. Details to come.

3) Anticipate a quiz Wednesday on Chapters 1 and 2. There will also be an in-class writing assignment. Sphere: Related Content

New York Times Is Off The Grid

With its move to the new Renzo Piano-designed offices on Eighth Avenue, The New York Times Company has become partially energy independent with an in-house, natural gas-powered co-generation plant that provides as much as 40 percent of its electricity. It also provides a substantial amount of heat for the building -- and air conditioning for the data center. [Click for MORE]

> Cracked Windows at NY Times Tower Under Investigation Sphere: Related Content

Chicago Blues: 'Trib' Launches Redesign -- Without Trademark Color in Nameplate

The Chicago Tribune debuts its new look on narrower pages Monday, and change starts at the top: the blue banner-like nameplate that defined its front page for decades is gone.

In place of the white-lettered "Chicago Tribune" on the blue strip across the page, the paper's name will be in blue against a white background. "Chicago Tribune" will still be spelled out in Old English type, and the flag will continue to feature a literal flag, although the Stars and Stripes will be centered underneath the name. [Click for MORE]

> Goodbye Blue at the Chicago Tribune
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"Newspapers are Going to Be With Us In One Form Or Another"

"They may just be completely on a screen," says New Yorker editor David Remnick. "I couldn't care less if it's no longer on paper. I mean, I have an atavistic affection for that, but even I at 49 see this as semiludicrous." As for his magazine: "The best technology so far for reading a 14,000-word piece might be that thing you roll up, shove into your bag and take with you on the train that you can't with the Web." [Romanesko] [Click for VIDEO]

> Can newspapers survive in a digital world? Sphere: Related Content

'Indy Star' Computer's 'Massive Failure' Keeps Some News From Paper

Because of what is being called a "massive computer problem" at The Indianapolis Star over the weekend, no Saturday breaking news or Saturday sports coverage was in the Sunday edition, according to the paper, which described the problem as a computer "storage issue."

The glitch resulted in numerous pages worth of news and advertising planned for the Sunday paper being left out and replaced by other content, said Managing Editor Pam Fine. She said the problem occurred after the paper's CCI Publishing System went down and content placed in it was not accessible. [Click for More]

Ebert suggests Tribune fold RedEye to help save Sun-Times
> Miami Herald decides against outsourcing editorial work Sphere: Related Content

The Rise of the "Daily Me" Threatens Democracy

By Cass Sunstein
Financial Times

More than a decade ago the technology specialist, Nicholas Negroponte, pro­phesied the emergence of the Daily Me – a fully personalised newspaper. It would allow you to include topics that interest you and screen out those that bore or annoy you. If you wanted to focus on Iraq and tennis, or exclude Iran and golf, you could do that.

Many people now use the internet to create something like a Daily Me. This behaviour is reinforced by the rise of social networking forums, collaborative filtering and viral marketing. For politics, the phenomenon is especially important in campaigns. Candidates in the US presidential race can construct information cocoons in which readers are deluged with material that is, in their eyes, politically correct. Supporters of Hillary Clinton construct a Daily Me that includes her campaign’s perspective but offers nothing from Barack Obama, let alone Mitt Romney.

What is wrong with the emerging situation? [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Today In History

January 13, 1986
For the first time in about 10 years, "The Wall Street Journal" broke with tradition and printed a real picture on its front page. The story was about artist, O. Winston Link and featured one of his works.
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