Archive for the ‘journalism’ Category

Phone hacking and the HuffPost’s list of journalism scandals.

July 9, 2011

This British phone-hacking business is nothing new. If you didn’t read Vanity Fair’s timely article on the subject just weeks before the latest scandal, you must check it out. It provides context to understand the gravity behind Prime Minister Cameron’s comment that authorities should follow the scandal “wherever it goes.” If the authorities do their job, it appears some in Scotland Yard could be in serious trouble as well.

The fact that James Murdoch shuttered News of the World, a 168-year-old paper, immediately should be even more reason to look into all other media sources. One of the biggest newspapers in the world, and one with such a history, should be worth fighting for. It was just one arm of a media empire that is interconnected and heavily managed from the top down. That arm was amputated quickly in a public display of bravado, and I think it had more to do with getting out of the airy scrutiny of the hospital gown and hiding a terminal illness in the entire industry. We’ll see how well that works out for him.

In the spirit, The Huffington Post lists “10 Jaw-Dropping Journalism Scandals

Real good moments in journalism

October 14, 2010

The Savannah Morning Herald gives up on headline:

A defferent kind of book tour

Musicians, storytellers launch tour of Georgia to call attention to importance of independent bookstores

It’s about the creator of The Moth, but I don’t think the headline writer knows that.

Local headline writer does real good.

September 25, 2010

epic fail photos - Common Sense FAIL

Fixes the ‘conomy, in fact. You’re welcome, he says.

Also, he says they pay the copy editors enough to make headlines fit the story or fit the page. Not both.

James Franco writes a good piece on young Allen Ginsberg

September 13, 2010

I hadn’t read it till now, but it’s in the September Vanity Fair. It’s nothing ground-breaking, and perhaps not noteworthy, but I liked it because it is clean and direct.

News links

August 26, 2010

AP: USA Today “de-emphasizes” print edition, to can 9 percent of staff

August 26, 2010

The second biggest newspaper in the country is realigning to emphasize mobile publishing, and laying off about 130 employees in the process, according to the AP

USA Today shaking up staff in ‘radical’ overhaul

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE (AP) – SAN FRANCISCO — USA Today, the nation’s second largest newspaper, is making the most dramatic overhaul of its staff in its 28-year history as it de-emphasizes its print edition and ramps up its effort to reach more readers and advertisers on mobile devices.

 The makeover outlined Thursday will result in about 130 layoffs this fall, USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke told The Associated Press. That translates into a 9 percent reduction in USA Today’s work force of 1,500 employees. Hunke didn’t specify which departments would be hardest hit.

The layoffs are not a surprise, it is a Gannett paper after all. But these schemes… I see problems. First, the paper might attempt to surmount the small issue of its rather poor quality before thoughts of storming the World Wide Webs take hold. I’ve met a lot of editors, and none nearly so self-righteous as unnamed USA Today editor. The goal, as I understand it, is to plaster articles with “infographics,” and that USA Today does well.  How will they cover their shame with graphics when some mobile devices don’t support them? Second, we demand more stories like this:

(geekologie had the screenshot)

Journalism Warning Labels

August 24, 2010

I just checked Chris O’Dowd’s (The IT Crowd) Twitter for the first time and saw something great:

It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there’s no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content.

I figured it was time to fix that, so I made some stickers. I’ve been putting them on copies of the free papers that I find on the London Underground. You might want to as well.

A sheet of stickers.

The articles these stickers are attached to are used strictly as an illustration: I’m not passing judgment on the specific articles or journalists. Hopefully that’ll stop anyone claiming I’ve libelled them.

Statistics, survey results and/or equations in this article were sponsored by a PR company.

Let’s start with the obvious one. It seems like half the content of the tabloids are made up of this: bits of ‘research’ put out by a PR team with the questionable backing of a cash-strapped university somewhere. Ben Goldacre talks about this much more competently than I ever could.

I’m not sure how these newspapers would fill their pages without these.

This article is basically just a press release, copied and pasted.

Oh yeah, that’s what they use. I forgot.

There are a bunch more that I didn’t copy over, but they are all incredibly necessary, and printable if you download the template.

A well-put dispatch on Hitchens from Sydney

August 19, 2010

The Sydney Morning Herald had a good, short piece of commentary about Christopher Hitchens by one Richard Cooke. Read the entire thing, but I like this part:

Death is a country with no correspondents, and even from its borders strangely few of our best writers have sent anything back along the wires. Marcel Proust is supposed to have rushed to get a pen when he realised he was dying – he wanted to write down what it was like – but most others have been too short of time, or fixated on a task not finished, scared, deluded or enfeebled to give us a close-up instead of a wide shot. There’s no Vaseline on Hitchens’s lens, not even now.

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. — Charles Bukowski

Hunter Thompson fan compiles Hey Rube column online

August 19, 2010

Starting in 2000, Hunter Thompson classed up ESPN online with a column called Hey Rube. While it was ostensibly a sports column, we all knew better, and it offered the doctor an informal outlet both political and personal. This was where Thompson let loose on baseball (not a fan, offered rules including “get rid of the pitcher”) and George W. This is where Thompson was when the planes hit the WTC.

Actually, now that I think about it, Thompson rapped on baseball and GW at the same time at least once:

“Baseball sucks. The World Series is a Fraud and the New York Yankees are a gang of sleazy gold-plated toads. The only pleasure I get out of the Sports section these days is checking the American League standings and seeing the Texas Rangers in last place. … Ho ho. Good ol’ A-Rod, eh? Money means nothing to those jackass thieves in Texas. They are Friends of the goofy Child President, and they are selling enough oil and Energy to the State of California every day of the week to make poor A-Rod’s $250 million salary look like chicken feed.”

For your consideration, the guy behind Totally put in the effort to compile all of the columns in one place. ESPN had them up in various places and with broken links. Like ESPN, the columns are occasionally uneven, but that’s what you get from a stream-of-conscious writer — mess with the bull, get the horns, as they say.

Read these if you still care about the truth.

Anagram of the Day

July 13, 2010

Today’s anagram is Christopher Hitchens, one of the good journalists. Because he’s had a rough month, I’ll give him two, one for each side of the religion debate. (I militate toward neither side, myself).

Christopher Hitchens —

Shh, pro heretic snitch


Enrich the posh Christ

Like I said: for him, not me.

Passage of the Day

July 13, 2010

This one’s from Hunter S. Thompson’s Hey Rube, a collection of his early-2000s ESPN columns:

That is the wonderful perversity of gossip in the 21st Century. Nothing is impossible.

Some things are more impossible than others, however, and the collapse of the NBA is one of these. The only thing wrong with the NBA—or any other professional sport, for that matter—is a wild epidemic of Dumbness and overweening Greed. There is no Mystery about it, and no need to change any rules. The NBA’s problem is so clear that even children can see it—especially high school basketball stars, half-bright manchild phenomena who don’t need college Professors to teach them the difference between Money and Fun.

Real good moments in journalism

July 11, 2010

epic fail photos - Cultural Sensitivity Fail

Ouch… it’s not particularly descriptive in its intended meaning, and unintentionally horrible. It’s a real video, too.

Hastings gets a book deal

July 7, 2010

Michael Hastings has a book deal:

Barely two weeks after his explosive piece in Rolling Stone magazine on Gen. Stanley McChrystal led President Obama to fire the man in charge of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, freelance writer Michael Hastings has himself a book deal on the subject.

The book, untitled at this point, will be published by Little, Brown, and promises, according to, “an unprecedented behind-the-scenes account of America’s longest war,” with an unfiltered look at the war, and the soldiers, diplomats and politicians who are waging it.


Meanwhile, there has been continued complaining from the embedded reporting class about Hasting’s “sensational” reporting. If the article lacked content, why was the general ready to step down after it was published? Top officials usually have thicker skin than you are giving them credit for. Complainers, for all of your reporting, how many generals have you gotten canned? Not that that’s your job, but I think we all know you would loooove to be in Hasting’s position if it didn’t mean losing your military access. It’s telling that lengthy commentary is being written on both sides of the issue and all of it could be cut down to a yes/no on whether Hastings reported news or fluff.
I think it also boils down to the fact that everyone–in the newspaper biz and in the military–forgot Rolling Stone used to be a political giant slayer. It was just a pop music rag when was a short-term subscriber in the nineties, but maybe there’s still hope. Anita Thompson is of quite different opinion, and she knows more about such things, so I’m probably wrong.
“Rolling Stone’s Hastings article provided us with no news. REPEAT: This blown up piece that ended the career of a decorated general contained NO NEWS. It simply went viral and gave the President no way to retain McChrystal. If you read the article, there is no news about the war  — only drunken conflated slurs by dumb underlings. Rolling Stone is not what it used to be. But at least they have now hired Ozzy Osborne to be the health columnist.”
Again, all arguments amount to raising your hand whether you think the article conveyed substantial information. I’ll stick with yes, you stick with no. Either way, it was in no way inevitable that a general would be fired based on what was reported.

Taibbi weighs in

July 1, 2010

After CBS’s Lara Logan slammed Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings for not hiding from the public much of what he saw, Matt Taibbi fought back.

Lara Logan, come on down! You’re the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!

I thought I’d seen everything when I read David Brooks saying out loud in a New York Times column that reporters should sit on damaging comments to save their sources from their own idiocy. But now we get CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Lara Logan slamming our own Michael Hastings on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program, agreeing that the Rolling Stone reporter violated an “unspoken agreement” that journalists are not supposed to “embarrass [the troops] by reporting insults and banter.”

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn’t mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan.

Taibbi is pretty much right. The day we find a reporter working in his subject’s best interest is the day he becomes irrelevant. Let me rephrase that: … is the day he should become irrelevant. Anyone who believes journalism is a game of give-and-take between covering for your subject and reporting for the public should stick to the sidelines. If someone makes a substantial comment in front of a reporter–in this case much more than salty insults and banter–it is fair game for reporting. Just because there was swearing doesn’t mean it was mere banter. Besides, we trust reporters to tell us what they find out, not what will get the reporter more jobs covering the military. As Taibbi lays out, the Pentagon has one of the biggest PR budgets on earth. They don’t need reporters to lie for them.

If you haven’t actually read the Rolling Stone article on former Gen. McChrystal, please do. I was surprised McChrystal got canned over it.

Also, Taibbi gains points for not laying into Logan’s personal dilemma on this particular issue.

Must-Read: Author on the demise of the last wild food

June 27, 2010

Author Paul Greenberg thinks like I do. His Times Magazine article, “Tuna’s End,” is a must-read on the last days of the warm-blooded, seven-foot-plus “seafood.”

While I was in law school, I spent a year compiling salmon research and environmental protection jurisprudence. I quickly became a vegetarian and an opponent of farmed salmon. The evidence is unreal, if you take the time to read it. It also helped that most weekends were spent out in the Olympic Mountains or the Puget Sound. Just a little time in the “wild,” watching bears, orcas, eagles, sea lions, mountain goats and salmon keeping it real with each other made me want to keep it real myself. Or at least try.

As I wrote that, I just heard the Bon Appetit judge on Iron Chef say, through stuffed maw, “This is why wahoo was created.” Wahoo is a large fish. And if this is a world where wahoo are born in order to provide nourishment to that guy’s weird Scott Stapp coif, then count me out.


Anyway, back to the point: We are making a big mistake. You can eat fish–I don’t judge. But whether you care or not, salmon and tuna are incredible animals and major links in their ecosystems. For years, we killed whales with no more guilt than we now have killing tuna. Until it’s “cool” to want to save tuna and wild salmon, they and the animals that need them are screwed. If you disagree with me, read Greenberg’s article. Here’s an excerpt of the excerpt:

But the main damage that took place that day was indisputably to the bluefin. After the encounter, the fishermen aboard the Jean-Marie Christian VI transferred the fish alive into a holding cage and slowly towed them away. Soon those tuna would be brought to feeding pens where they will spend at least several months putting on weight. Afterward, they will be slaughtered and sent to Japan, where 80 percent of the world’s Atlantic bluefin tuna are eaten with oblivion.

THERE ARE TWOreasons that a mere fish should have inspired such a high-strung confrontation reminiscent of Greenpeace’s early days as a defender of whales. The first stems from fish enthusiasts who have for many years recognized the particular qualities of bluefin tuna — qualities that were they land-based creatures would establish them indisputably as “wildlife” and not just another “seafood” we eat without remorse. Not only is the bluefin’s dense, distinctly beefy musculature supremely appropriate for traversing the ocean’s breadth, but the animal also has attributes that make its evolutionary appearance seem almost deus ex machina, or rather machina ex deo — a machine from God. How else could a fish develop a sextantlike “pineal window” in the top of its head that scientists say enables it to navigate over thousands of miles? How else could a fish develop a propulsion system whereby a whip-thin crescent tail vibrates at fantastic speeds, shooting the bluefin forward at speeds that can reach 40 miles an hour? And how else would a fish appear within a mostly coldblooded phylum that can use its metabolic heat to raise its body temperature far above that of the surrounding water, allowing it to traverse the frigid seas of the subarctic?

Yes, bluefin tuna are warmblooded.

That bluefin can be huge — 10 feet and more than a thousand pounds — is a side note. For those of us who have seen their football silhouettes arise and vanish in less than a blink of an eye or held them alive, their hard-shell skins barely containing the surging muscle tissue within, they are something bigger than the space they occupy. All fish change color when they die. But with tuna the death shift feels more profound. Fresh from the water, their backs pulsing neon blue, their bellies gleaming silver-pink iridescence, they seem like the ocean itself.

And in a way they are, which explains the second reason bluefin have come to possess such totemic power. For bluefin tuna and all species of tuna are the living representation of the very limits of the ocean. Their global decline is a warning that we just might destroy our last wild food.

Real Good Moments in Journalism

May 5, 2010

Late Links:  If I had a nickel for every time I rented a gay escort to help me with post-surgery luggage-lifting I’d be homophobic Family Research Council co-founder George Rekers.    NSFW: Florida State Senator Mike Bennett caught on camera looking at porn on Senate floor.    Cleavage Tuesday: Christina Hendricks, Bar Refaeli, Rachel Bilson,   Pretty In Print: Bar Refaeli And Miranda Kerr in V; Madonna in Interview; Helena Mattsson in Maxim; Eva Wyrwal in Nuts.   Heather Morris is gleefully nude.   Helena Christensen is Reebokingly naked.    Get To Know A Hottie: Candice Cardinele.    International Beauty of the Day: Anna Sedokova.   BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin 32% Beer: The Epic Unboxing. (via.)    Celebuzz: The 2010 Met Costume Institute Gala Is Celeb Glamapalooza.    Frisky: 14 Celeb Studs’ Steamy Shower Scenes.    Late List: 40 Cougars Who Age Like Wine.  [image: failblog.]

Some graduating senior fun at the ol’ college newspaper. That degree will adequately prepare you for your new career in retail.

Also, it’s real… here are the links:

The N, The P, The E, The SThe I.


April 26, 2010

(via eduardos)

Betty White with flaming chainsaw, riding John Ritter… Portland asked/received

April 19, 2010

The Portland Mercury asked readers what they wanted for a cover, and THIS is what they decided on…

Betty White with Flaming Chainsaw on John Ritter

And you thought that “Keep Portland Weird” sign was a joke. Portland wished and Andrew Zubko granted… I love the Mercury.

Music journalism in Vancouver is by no means well

April 19, 2010

Vancouver’s weekly entertainment guide, the Straight, has a seriously malfunctioning music section. I’m just throwing it out there as I’ve spent many weekends up in Vancouver, and have never found a good issue of the Straight’s music section. I’ve tried, and in the beginning I thought it might be possible Vancouver didn’t have a music scene. It turned out the paper just inadequately covers it. Wouldn’t bring it up, but I wish better things for such an awesome city.

This weekend there was a pitiful anonymously written rant about an artist (La Roux) who stood up the interviewer, not once, but OMG twice!!1! Here’s how it started:

Hey, here’s a tip for all you musicians out there, up-and-coming and otherwise: if you don’t want to piss off the people whose job it is to convey information about you to the public—in other words, the lowly class known as music journalists—it’s best to refrain from repeatedly jerking said people around.

It ends with Anonymous Newswriter calling La Roux a “fucking skrag” and insinuating her music’s bad because she wouldn’t interview. That wouldn’t fly in a community college newspaper, let alone a city that just hosted the Olympics. At least some of the commenters gave Anonymous Newswriter a little hell for it. If this were posted in The Stranger (Seattle’s paper), it would come across as a fake rant to poke fun at music writers–no way it could be real.

But in Vancouver, it’s real. And if I hadn’t checked online before I left the states, I would have missed a concert, ’cause the Straight didn’t have space for it with posts about Lady Gaga concerts in freaking August. Someone help Vancouver… there’s a kick-ass music scene with no journalists to cover it.

Decade-Overdue AP Style Change: “Web site” Now “website”

April 16, 2010

The Associated Press tweeted a huge change today. Well, actually I think they tried to tweet yesterday but first someone was using their phone line then they forgot their AOL internet password. But finally, in a move that should have happened in 1995, the AP announced today that “Web site” is now “website.” The tweet from APStylebook:

“Responding to reader input, we are changing Web site to website. This appears on Stylebook Online today and in the 2010 book next month. about 3 hours ago via CoTweet

AP Style is THE set of rules journalists are required to follow, and Web site was one of the dumbest of the rules. That’s as in “World Wide Web,” and yes you are supposed to capitalize that when you talk about it, just as you capitalize Internet. You do that, don’t you? No?

The AP style police are throwing a few other ideas around, including whether to allow “Mac” when referring to what should be called an “Apple Macintosh computer,” and whether Bomar is yet such a household name  that one need not say “Bomar portable electronic calculator” when referring to the brand.

Welcome to a bigger world Associated Press, get online and defend yourself ’cause John McCain’s clowning your Myspace.