Thursday, May 21, 2009

Comic Strip Artists Feeling the Squeeze

Click cartoon for larger image.

Picture the scene: a room full of cartoonists, sipping cocktails and making small talk. What might each of their text balloons say about the state of cartooning today?

Lalo Alcaraz's would be succinct. "We're going to hell in a handbasket," said the creator of the comic strip "La Cucaracha."

Alcaraz suspects that will be the consensus this weekend at the National Cartoonists Society's annual convention in Hollywood. It's usually a time for fun, culminating in a black tie dinner where the best comics are given Reuben Awards. But like so many others in this changing economy, cartoonists are suffering. With newspapers cutting space and in some cases folding, print comic strip illustrators are finding their livelihoods threatened. [Click for MORE]
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L.A. Police Union Wants San Diego Newspaper Writers Fired

The union representing Los Angeles police officers is pressuring the owner of San Diego’s main newspaper to change the paper’s editorial stance on labor issues or to fire its editorial writers.

The feud is rooted in the recent purchase of the San Diego Union-Tribune by Platinum Equity, a private Beverly Hills firm.

Platinum relies on a $30-million investment from the pension fund of Los Angeles police officers and fire fighters, along with large sums from other public-employee pension systems around the state, to help fund its acquisitions of companies. As League President Paul M. Weber views it, that makes the League part owner in the flagging Tribune and League officials are none to happy with the paper’s consistent position that San Diego lawmakers should cut back on salaries and benefits for public employees in order to help close gaping budget deficits.

"Since the very public employees they continually criticize are now their owners, we strongly believe that those who currently run the editorial pages should be replaced," Weber wrote in a March 26 letter to Platinum CEO Tom Gores. [Click for MORE]

Letter to Platinum 3-26-09-2 Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shaquille O’Neal Takes Course in Broadcasting
at Syracuse University

Kevin Rivoli for The New York Times
Shaquille O’Neal and Dave Ryan. “You have to know what you’re doing,” O’Neal said. “I needed to learn the secrets.”

Shaquille O’Neal has starred in everything from rap videos to video games. He has filmed, by his own count, about 250 television commercials over the past 10 years. He has completed enough postgame interviews on TNT to have critiqued nearly all of Craig Sager’s purple suits.

Still, O’Neal found himself at Syracuse University on Tuesday, celebrating the successful completion of a mock four-minute interview as if it were a playoff buzzer beater.

“Bam,” he screamed, pointing at a computer monitor. “Exactly four minutes.” [Click for MORE]

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Dean Singleton -- A True Believer

As the chairman of MediaNews Group, which owns more than 100 publications and media properties across the country, including the Denver Post, Dean Singleton is a divisive figure in many quarters. But like him or loathe him, he's a true believer in the daily newspaper, and his attempts to safeguard the form could have a profound impact on the medium as a whole. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why Journalists Deserve Low Pay

Journalists like to think of their work in moral or even sacred terms. With each new layoff or paper closing, they tell themselves that no business model could adequately compensate the holy work of enriching democratic society, speaking truth to power, and comforting the afflicted.

Actually, journalists deserve low pay.

Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren't creating much value these days.

Until they come to grips with that issue, no amount of blogging, twittering, or micropayments is going to solve their failing business models. [Click for MORE]

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

NYT's Dowd Admits Plagiarizing Blog

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has admitted to using a paragraph virtually word-for-word from a prominent liberal blogger without attribution.

Dowd acknowledged the error in an e-mail to the Huffington Post on Sunday, the Web site reported. The Times corrected her column online to give proper credit for the material to Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall.

The newspaper is expected to issue a formal correction Monday. A request for comment made by The Associated Press was not immediately returned by the Times late Sunday. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

Tribune Co.: Work in Progress

The Tribune Company’s famed media properties are losing circ and bleeding red ink. Can Lee Abrams fix a mess this big?

On April 1, 2009, anyone who typed into his favorite browser would have learned the big news surrounding The Accelerator. As the home page of the Chicago-based Tribune Company’s Web portal explained, The Accelerator was “a high-power, low-cost communications device” that would “make all media, including the Internet, obsolete by next year.” It used “nano-technology to aggregate the sum of all human knowledge” in order to deliver it “directly into your brain.” The project won the effusive praise of Tribune COO Randy Michaels, who credited staffers with putting in “long hours, many of them sober.”

The Accelerator was also, of course, an April Fool’s Day prank.

“Yes, I was involved in writing some of that silliness,” confesses Lee Abrams, the company’s chief innovations officer. In truth, however, The Accelerator was far, far more than an April Fool’s gag. It was emblematic of just how far the once supremely buttoned-up Tribune Company—which roosts within an 84-year-old Gothic-revival tower downtown—has come in the past year or so. Back in the day, for the Tribune to give anything as public as a home page over to a prank would have been about as likely as finding white-linen tablecloths at the Billy Goat Tavern. [Click for MORE]
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-30- for the Tucson Citizen

Arizona atty gen moves to halt closing of Tucson Daily
The Arizona attorney general's office filed a complaint Friday in federal court seeking to halt closure of the state's oldest continuously published daily newspaper, the 138-year-old Tucson Citizen.

Tucson Citizen becomes Internet-only
MarketWatch reported that the newspaper will become an Internet-only publication after Saturday.

Ann Arbor News to publish final edition July 23
The Ann Arbor News plans to publish its last newspaper July 23, with a twice-weekly online-focused operation taking its place. Sphere: Related Content