Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hedge Fund Seeks Seats on Media General Board

Media General said Friday that a hedge fund has accumulated 21% of the shares outstanding and is seeking three seats on the newspaper-publishing company's board, setting the stage for a possible proxy battle.

Harbinger could be trying to push Media General into a sale or into making it separate its broadcasting and publishing businesses, as some companies have done in this difficult climate.

Movements led by major shareholders spurred the sale of Knight Ridder in 2006 and the privatization of Tribune Co. last year. Also in 2007, Dow Jones & Co, parent of The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch, was sold to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in a $5.6 billion deal. Murdoch offered a significant premium to Dow Jones' depressed stock price, and after some resistance, the controlling Bancroft family ultimately found the bid too compelling to turn down. [Click for MORE]

> Hostile hedge fund plans to elect board members at NYT Co. annual meeting
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 25, 2008

Now That Is Print Promotion

Hugely talented Aaron Bycoffe of Tribune co.'s Daily Press in Newport News, Va., rolled out a great new local crime data mashup this week, and boy did he get a great ride from his print colleagues -- one of the biggest and most prominent 1A refers that we've ever seen. Yowzers. [ON2]
> How the internet is killing news Sphere: Related Content

Wall Street to Daily Papers: 'Drop Dead'

By Eric Alterman
The Nation

It's just a coincidence that the essay "Does the News Matter to Anyone Anymore?" by the impresario of The Wire, David Simon, appeared in the Washington Post the same day news broke of the top editor of the Los Angeles Times having been forced out over a refusal to make further budget cuts. Virtually every major magazine--as if by divine decree--has run a David Simon profile recently, and in each one the former Sun veteran has eloquently bemoaned the state of contemporary newspapering. And the departure of James O'Shea from the LA Times marks the fourth time in less than three years that either the top editor or the publisher has "quit" rather than make budget cuts demanded by the owner. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Veteran Newsman Rips Blogs, 'Citizen Journalism'

At age 91, he still cranks out his National Public Radio commentaries on an electric typewriter.

Daniel Schorr eschews the Internet, openly disdains some bloggers and dismisses the whole idea of "citizen journalism."

Yet the dean of NPR pundits isn't hopelessly out of touch: If anything, Schorr has proved himself prescient in his analyses.

As early as 1993, Schorr warned about terrorism as the greatest U.S. threat. His first reference to Osama bin Laden came in 1998, well before the al-Qaida leader moved onto the mainstream-media radar.

And, in 1991, Schorr had this to say about the coziness of the CIA and the executive branch: "When policy drives intelligence, the chances are both will suffer." [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

Bushee of 'Arizona Republic' Named 'SF Chron' Editor

Ward Bushee meets the staff of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ward H. Bushee, editor of The Arizona Republic, has been named executive vice president and editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and will take over the top editor position on February, Hearst reported Friday.

Bushee replaces Phil Bronstein who was named editor-at-large of Hearst Newspapers Division and The Chronicle on Jan. 23. [Click for MORE]

> Lovely becomes the only openly gay top editor of a major paper
> Florida Times-Union editor resigns, managing editor retires
> Is journalist burnout on the rise? Sphere: Related Content

Youth Journalism Conference at UCLA Saturday

Naomi Klein, Robert Scheer and Tom Hayden are among the speakers at the Saturday conference sponsored by Campus Progress and The Nation and held at UCLA. Info

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, and author of the international bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
  • Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher, The Nation
  • Robert Scheer, nationally syndicated columnist, founding editor of TruthDig
  • Patricia Williams, Nation columnist, author, professor of law at Columbia University
  • Tom Hayden, author, activist, former California state legislator
  • Marc Cooper, author, Nation contributing editor
  • Abigail Goldman, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the Los Angeles Times
  • Kristina Rizga, editor and publisher of WireTap magazine
  • Richard Kim, associate editor, The Nation
Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why We Got Into the News Business

His Girl Friday

Sphere: Related Content

Newspaper Web Sites Draw Record Viewers

A record number of readers visited U.S. online newspaper sites last year, according to figures released on Thursday, confirming the Web as one of the few bright spots for the struggling newspaper industry.

The Newspaper Association of America reported the number of unique visitors to newspaper Web sites last year rose more than 6 percent to a monthly average of 60 million. Monthly visits climbed 9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago.

It said that during the fourth quarter, 39 percent of all active Web users visited newspaper Web sites, with visits averaging 44 minutes a month. [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

Murdoch Won't Make All of Online WSJ Free

News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said on Thursday he would not make all online Wall Street Journal content free.

Dow Jones & Co has begun opening access to some previously paid-for items just weeks after the $5.6 billion buyout by News Corp. But Murdoch told a panel at the World Economic Forum annual meeting that there would still be limits.

"We're sort of dividing it up. Those things that you can get more or less as a commodity on different sites about finance, that will certainly be free at the Wall Street Journal," he said. [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

If “Real Journalism” Fails As A Business, Should Government Step In?

The chart to the right, which shows the stock price of the New York Times Company over the last five years, is somewhat representative of the state of print journalism in general. They’re getting their lunch eaten on the revenue end by Craigslist and (to a lesser extent) on the page view end by blogs and other alternative news sources.

When the business model of “real journalism” fails, what should society do in response? When things are considered important, but can’t be supported with a business model, government sometimes steps in. National parks, highways, police and national defense are all examples. Should print journalism be next? [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

Reality Check for Unstable Times

By Rip Rense

The thing is, none of these [upheavals at the L.A. Times] really have much, if any, direct impact on the day-to-day business of covering the news. Got an assignment? You still do it, whether there is an editor-in-chief or not. Whether there is a new owner or not. An editor-in-chief at most daily papers is little more than a balding guy in a suit who makes a speech or sends out a bloviating memo once in a while, anyway. The Times could change editors every week without it necessarily having any impact on the hands-on work that reporters and editors do to produce the paper. Change editors? It’s mostly a corporate show. [Click for MORE]

> Boston Newspaper Guild gets worked up over layoffs rumor
> Sun-Times staffers wait by their phones to get layoff news
> Mutter: Listen to what Philly, Mpls. publishers have to say Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Assignment for Jan. 28

1) Keep monitoring for current journalism news and updates on assignments. It is important for you to keep abreast of the challenging, changing media world.

2) You must read the text. If you have fallen behind, catch up now. Coverage of topics will begin to move faster. Not everything in the text will be reviewed in class discussions.

3) Read Chapter 7. If you haven't read the Calvin Trillin piece on Edna Buchanan yet, read it now!

4) Do exercise 2 on page 104 in preparation for your Primary Election advancer story. Typed work required.

5) Do exercise 8 on page 105. Typed work required. Attach the graphic to your paper.

6) Familiarize yourself with L-Q in the AP Stylebook. There may be a quiz this week.

Remember to bring your iPass password to class daily. Sphere: Related Content

Study: Bush Led U.S. to War on 'False Pretenses'

Hundreds of false statements on WMDs,
al-Qaida used to justify Iraq war

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism. [Click for MORE]

> Truth was first U.S. casualty in Iraq war: study
> Editorial: Journalism's lazy lie protectors

Sphere: Related Content

I've Got News for You, David Simon

By Sara Libby

I was absolutely dumbfounded by David Simon's recent article in Outlook in which he suggests not only that the era of eager, dedicated journalists is over, but that nobody even cares about the news anymore. Ultimately, as Simon himself admits, his assessment should be taken for what it is: the musings of someone who ditched a career in newspapers for a more lucrative job in Hollywood. [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

Bronstein Out as SF Chronicle Editor, Gets New Hearst Post

Hearst Newspapers says San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein will be shifting his role from running day-to-day operations in the newsroom to taking on strategic responsibilities as editor-at-large, both for the paper and for Hearst's newspapers division. In addition, Bronstein will write for the Chronicle and its website "I got into this profession because of my great love for words and how they can be used to move people," he says. A new Chronicle editor will be announced shortly. [Romenesko] Sphere: Related Content

Zell The Manager

The back and forth between another newly dismissed Los Angeles Times editor who refused to carry out another round of budget cuts and the publisher who ordered the cuts has a familiar ring.

The details of the argument aren’t the issue. There are no easy solutions, but our sympathies must lie with outgoing editor James E. O’Shea, quoted here in The Wall Street Journal, who joins Dean Baquet and John Carroll as editors who pushed back against the Tribune Co.’s unimaginative culture of retreat and retrenchment, then departed

“We need to change course and try something different because we’ve been cutting and cutting little by little over the last five years, and it hasn’t done a damn bit of good,” Mr. O’Shea said. “This paper at one time had 1,190 full-time employees. Now it is in the 800s. It has cut 6,000 pages of newsprint on the paper over the last several years.” [Click for MORE]
> David Hiller posts the world's longest "Help Wanted" ad
> Why would anyone take the LAT editor's job at this point?
> O'Shea's memo "more for the history books than the future"
> Tierney to unions: Philly papers need to cut costs by 10%
> Teamsters say they'll fight Seattle Times' outsourcing plan
> Journalism faces budget cuts Sphere: Related Content

Let Me Tell You A Story

The 95-year-old writer and oral historian Studs Terkel has witnessed almost a century of American life. To him the past is still as fresh as the present - which is why he's a great raconteur. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Daily Breeze to Get New Publisher

The Los Angeles Newspaper Group on Tuesday announced a new publisher for the Daily Breeze, one of its newspapers, replacing Liz Gaier, who has held the position for about 13 months.

Effective Monday, Mark Ficarra will take on the role of publisher of the Breeze and its sister publications, the Beach Reporter, the Palos Verdes News and Impacto USA.

Ficarra brings more than 20 years of experience in the business of daily and weekly newspapers and direct mail. He has served as vice president of advertising for the East Valley Tribune in Phoenix, Ariz., general manager of Clipper Magazine and general manager of the Pennysaver, also in Phoenix. Ficarra also has held executive sales positions with Cox Communications, Thomson Newspapers and Freedom Communications. [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

Shake-up Planned at Metro Boston

Metro International S.A. is planning a shake-up of its Metro Boston newspaper, ousting publisher Stuart Layne and cutting staff at the free daily paper, according to several Metro employees briefed on the matter.

In Boston, Metro plans to eliminate its Gameday Sox section, a sports editor, the T-Time editor, and about eight sales positions, said the employees.

The New York Times Co., which owns the Boston Globe and has a 49 percent stake in Metro Boston, is likely to take a larger role in running the Metro Boston operation, the employees said. [Click for MORE]

> Metro newspapers send 2 publishers packing

Sphere: Related Content

More Spin About the Times and Tribune

> More News from L.A. Times: Will Endorse First Prez Candidates Since '72
> Zell: No censoring of the web
> Starkman: My sympathies lie with O'Shea in LAT brouhaha
> Reider: A classy farewell
> Staffers, reporters, editors react
> Los Angeles Times readers react to O'Shea's departure
> Hiller: O'Shea's farewell memo "classic Jim," but "sadly, unrealistic"
> Newspaper editor's departure is troubling
> At the L.A. Times, another messy exit
> No quiet on the Western Front: Latest on L.A. Times uproar
> L. A. Times: Fighting cuts for editorial quality
> As O'Shea attacks Tribune, there are lessons all U.S. journalists Sphere: Related Content

Monday, January 21, 2008

Frances Lewine; Pioneering Journalist With AP

Frances Lewine, 86, White House correspondent for the Associated Press during the administrations of six presidents who led the fight against discrimination in the journalism profession, died Jan. 19 after an apparent stroke at her home in Washington.

"She was a largely unsung pioneer for women in journalism and role model for myself and thousands of other women who tried to follow in her footsteps," said Edie Lederer, the AP's chief correspondent at the United Nations. [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

Assignment for Feb. 4 and Feb. 6

Assignment - California Primary Election (Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008)

This assignment is also being done by the Tuesday-Thursday class.

This is a two-part assignment:


  1. A set-up piece (700 words) due no later than the morning of Monday, Feb. 4.
  2. Coverage of the election (800 words), due on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
  3. All work must be typed, double-spaced and follow AP style. Accuracy, spelling and grammar count. If you wish, you may file by email at


Start researching the background to the primary in California.

You may wish to:

  1. Consult internet sites such as those of the Democrat and Republican parties, the various candidates who will be on the ballots and newspapers such as the Ventura County Star, Los Angeles Times and Daily News. (Remember: if you cut and paste from websites and store it on your computer as background string, always write down the source of the material right above or below it so you will be able to attribute it correctly if you later draw on that material. Do not plagiarize.)
  1. Begin reading a local news source daily, so you are up to speed when the big day comes.
  1. Write down questions you would like to ask in your advance interviews.
  1. Interview professors of political science, students on campus, local representatives of the various parties or important voter groups, acquaintances or whomever you think you wish to focus on in your story.
  1. Decide which polling station you wish to visit on voting day, make sure you know its hours and location and whether you need anyone's permission to interview people after they leave the premises. Knowing your own schedule, plan to do interviews for one hour at or near the polling station on Feb. 5th.
  1. Think about whether any photos, graphics or other visual material is appropriate to the story and if so, how you would go about getting it. Your photo or graphic assignments should accompany your stories.
  2. Decide who your reader is (for example: a Moorpark student, any resident of southern California, a resident of the area immediately around your chosen polling station). Once you know who your audience is, it will be easier to know which information to include and which to leave out.


A set-up piece (sometimes called an advance, an advancer or a situationer) is usually published the day of an event or even a day or two before. The reporter explains the event about to take place and its significance.


a) Interviews (face-to-face, telephone and/or Internet)

b) Monitoring television coverage

c) Reading news and organizational sources.


  1. Once you have finished your advance interviews and read up on the topic, decide what your angle is. Possible angles include: who the most important voter group may be in your polling area (women, youth, minorities), whether your area stands to differ from the nation as a whole, how the candidates have finished up campaigning in California, how the California primary fits into the total election process, whether the result looks like a foregone conclusion or an open question, what the most important voter issues in California are.
  2. Once you have decided what your angle is, choose what will be your lead, your nut graph, your background, and how your will structure the flow of your story
    [Do not write a lead that predicts the outcome of the vote even if you think there is a clear trend.]
  3. Include any practical information about voting rules in California that you think the reader may need, if it is appropriate. Also about propositions on the ballot that don't have to do with the primary candidates.
  4. Try to write a kicker that sums up your story and looks to the future.


Your news coverage article will report what the results of the voting are. Use the inverted pyramid and feel free to include analysis and context in the lead, nut graph and body. Your photo or graphic assignments should accompany your stories.


  1. Monitor the news as much as possible during the day. This includes listening to the car radio on the way to college, checking the web, and watching television coverage at home after the polls close. Note: if you hear a great quote on the nightly news that you wish to use, you must have the person's name and cite who interviewed that person, such as "TK, TK…, "s aid John Smith of Thousand Oaks, as reported on ABC television news OR "TK, TK…," John Smith of Thousand Oaks told ABC television.
  1. Write down the questions you would like to ask the voters (such as how they voted, whether they are members of a party, whether their vote was set for a long time or changed quickly, what their reasons were, what their most important issues are, details about their life, how they voted four years ago).
  1. Spend one hour interviewing people as they leave the polling station. (We will go over in class again how you make a 'cold' approach to people and get all the quotes and background you need. Review all the interview tips in Chapter 5 of the text.) Live interviews are always best. But if you feel you did not get satisfactory material in person, you may do follow up phone calls to acquaintances, after you get home (a local shop or restaurant owner, your barber, your parents' accountant. (Do not interview close friends or family.) Once the results are known, you may also wish to call up some people -- such as those you interviewed for the setup story – to get their reaction to the results.


1. Decide on your angle and your lead. The lead should definitely include who won and whether it was by a large or slim margin, even if you draft your wording as an interpretive lead.

2. With your angle in mind, transition from the lead to the nut graph, the body and background of your story (the import of those results or whether they demonstrated something interesting or different) Make sure the body of your story includes reporting what happened that day, voter interviews etc.

3. Please use the inverted pyramid structure as a guide, even if the body of your story contains analysis and context.

4. Finish your story with a kicker that sums up your angle and looks to the future.

5. Include information on the photos or graphics that you have chosen to include, if any.

Strive for accuracy, meet your deadlines and have fun!

Sphere: Related Content

Why Los Angeles Times Can't Keep an Editor

James O'Shea found out two weeks ago at lunch in Union Station that he'd be the second editor in 14 months to part with Los Angeles Times Publisher David Hiller in a fight over budget cuts.

Mr. Hiller had asked for what would amount to $7 million in reductions: $3 million in newsprint costs and about $4 million from other parts of the budget, so that the paper would be able to devote news coverage to this year's political elections and the Olympics. In a memo sent to Mr. Hiller the previous week, Mr. O'Shea protested, not just against the cuts but the underlying strategy.

At the lunch at Traxx restaurant not far from the paper's squat moderne headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, Mr. Hiller said, "This paper just has to get smaller and smaller," Mr. O'Shea recalled in an interview. "I said, 'If that is the kind of paper you want, if that is the future that you see for the paper, then maybe you need an editor who believes in that, because I don't.'" [Click for MORE]

> L.A. Times especially battered [With Audio]

> Honeymoon Is Over at Tribune

> To Zell and Back: Handbook Hypocrisy at Tribune

> To Lose One Editor Decrying Budget Cuts Is Understandable; To Lose Two Is Sloppy, But To Lose Three Such Editors In Three Years Is Just Plain Tragic – Welcome To The Los Angeles Times

> Tribune chairman backs Times' publisher

> The Vision Thing in L.A.

Sphere: Related Content

Yahoo Expects Cuts In Staff to Curb Budget

Yahoo Inc. expects to cut staff in some areas under a drive to rein in its budget and focus its activities, people familiar with the matter said.

The exact extent of any future layoffs at the Sunnyvale, Calif., Internet company isn't known, though one person familiar with the matter estimated they potentially may affect hundreds of workers. Yahoo expects to finish 2008 with about the same number of workers as it had at the end of 2007 while planning to add staff in some areas deemed priorities, these people said. The company, which has experienced executive turnover and increased competition for selling online advertisements in recent years, now has about 14,000 employees. [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

Wilson Wins Moola, Holiday, on 'Crosswords'

Pam Wilson, a news design editor and French scholar at the Los Angeles Times, today won a pocketful of cash and a trip to Puerto Rico on "Merv Griffin's Crosswords." This is not her first TV game show victory. Previously, she was a big winner on "Jeopardy," another Griffin quiz. What wonderful things you can learn in a newsroom.

Way to go, Pam! Sphere: Related Content

Getty Images Up for Sale, Could Fetch $1.5 Billion

Getty Images, the world’s biggest supplier of pictures and video to media and advertising companies, has put itself on the auction block and could fetch more than $1.5 billion, people briefed on the situation said Sunday.

Getty, founded in 1995 in Seattle, has grown through a series of acquisitions into a go-to source for visual media, claiming an average service of 3.2 billion images and 4 million unique visitors at its Web site each month. The company’s main selling point is the licensing of high-quality images from professional photographers around the world. Among its main clients are advertising agencies and media companies, including The New York Times. It also offers video footage for use in movies, television and the Internet. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

OC Register to Drop Business Section

The Orange County Register is moving most of its business news into the main section of the newspaper at the end of January as part of a series of initiatives announced by the company this month.

The changes, which will begin Jan. 30, are being made in response to the challenges facing newspapers in this digital age – declining circulation, a loss of advertising, high newsprint costs and an increasing demand for instantaneous access to news. [Click for MORE]

Sphere: Related Content

The Village Voice's Ethics Problem

Village Voice art critic Christian Viveros-Faune is asked how it was that he worked as an organizer and co-director of two commercial art fairs (Volta in NYC, Next in Chicago) at the same time he was the Village Voice's art critic. One of the fairs, Next, is owned by Merchandise Mart, the a major player in American art fairs and the owner of NYC's The Armory Show. The arrangement puts a Village Voice art critic in bed with a major art market player.

"Why isn't that the most basic kind of conflict-of-interest?" [Click for MORE]

> Viveros-Faune is fired Sphere: Related Content

Turmoil at the Times

Jim O'Shea speaks to Publisher David Hiller as he packs up his office.

Farewell From Times Editor O'Shea

One thing I want put on the record, though, is that I disagree completely with the way that this company allocates resources to its newsrooms, not just here but at Tribune newspapers all around the country. That system is at the core of my disagreements with David. I think the current system relies too heavily on voodoo economics and not enough on the creativity and resourcefulness of journalists....

This company, indeed, this industry, must invest more in solid, relevant journalism. We must integrate the speed and agility of the Internet with the news judgment and editorial values of the newsroom, values that are more important than ever as the hunger for news continues to surge and gossip pollutes the information atmosphere. ...

We need to tell readers more about Barack Obama and less about Britney Spears. [Click for text of SPEECH]

> Ousted Los Angeles editor assails Tribune Co.
> Times M.E. says disputed cuts not that bad
> Sam Zell OK with change at LAT
> John Carroll: 'L.A. Times' move has to hurt morale
> Not too auspicious a start for the Sam Zell Era at Tribune Co.
> LAT publisher disputes the notion that O'Shea was fired
> 'I want to make it clear that I didn't quit,' says O'Shea
> 'L.A. Times' meets 'The Wire'
> Source: Stanton to replace O'Shea at L.A. Times?
> How is the L.A. Times like 'The Wire'?
Sphere: Related Content

Dr. Martin Luther King: 'I Have a Dream'

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Los Angeles Times Editor Is Fired After 14 Months

Los Angeles Times editor James O'Shea was fired just 14 months after he assumed the post, over a budgetary disagreement with publisher David Hiller, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Mr. O'Shea's exit comes little more than a month after the Times' parent company Tribune Co. was taken private in a $8.2 billion buyout. Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell won effective control in the buyout and became chairman and CEO of Tribune. The Chicago-based company owns several newspapers, including the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and Newsday, as well as a chain of TV stations. A Tribune spokesman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. O'Shea, who had been editor of the LA Times since November 2006, is the third successive editor of the paper to leave over budgetary issues. His predecessor, Dean Baquet, was ousted rather than make cuts requested by Tribune's then management. In July 2005, John Carroll had quit under similar circumstances.

Before joining the LA Times, Mr. O'Shea was a managing editor of the Chicago Tribune. [WSJ]

> Los Angeles editor ousted after resisting job cuts

> L.A. Times editor O'Shea dismissed for declining to carry out budget cuts

> L.A. Times fires editor in dispute over budget cuts, month after newspaper parent company sold

> Sorting out O'Shea firing

> Some backstory on O'Shea dismissal

> Second L.A. Times Editor Is Ousted for Balking at Budget Cuts

> L.A. Times editor fired, "significant changes" ahead

> Former Tribune editor fired from L.A. Times

> 2007: Those wacky Times

Sphere: Related Content

Dances with Wolfe

He was the first pop journalist and the perfect chronicler of Sixties America. He invented 'new journalism' to report the radical energy of the times, hung out with Ken Kesey and wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. But amid the psychedelia, he remained the Southern dandy and now, still in his trademark suit at 76, Tom Wolfe finds new exotic creatures to marvel at. [Click for MORE]
Sphere: Related Content

Jimmy Breslin’s Perpetual Deadline

By Alan Feuer
New York Times

Jimmy Breslin, in his bare feet and a bricklayers’ union sweatshirt, sat at home some months ago glumly taking phone calls on the death of Norman Mailer. There were a lot of calls, perhaps there were too many calls; his morning writing had been interrupted. The Times of London had called, as had NPR, The New York Observer and New York magazine, many of them wishing to be told about a distant night, some 40 years ago, at a jazz club in the Village, where Mailer, drunk and stoned on marijuana, had climbed on top of a senator’s wife. Mr. Breslin, who had been there too that night but wasn’t drunk — at least not yet — hung his head and sighed a bit each time the night came up. Surely there were better things to talk about than Mailer’s ancient antics. He growled, quoted Auden, then sent the poor reporters on their way.

“I was doing fine till Norman died,” he growled again, hanging up. Mr. Breslin’s growl is actually more of a squawk and not unlike how a pintail duck might sound if it smoked a pack a day through a kazoo. He couldn’t really blame the press for calling, even if these interruptions had him on the edge of a troubling realization. “Who’s around for them to go to anymore? That’s the thing: I’m the last guy left.” [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content