Newspaper Gaffe

27 08 2008

And this is the stuff that gets you in trouble. I have to say though, I have laughed bout it since I first saw it a few weeks ago.

The obvious line is “Damn, that must have hurt.”

LA Times Gets Its VP Story Wrong

23 08 2008

Wow. This is embarrassing.

Chicago – Barack Obama has chosen Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia as his vice presidential running mate, bringing to the ticket a politician who could reinforce Obama’s message of change but who also shares the drawback of inexperience.

Obama’s decision – kept secret amid intense speculation as next week’s Democratic convention draws near – was announced via text messages and e-mails to supporters.

Kaine, who took office in January 2006 and who previously was lieutenant governor and mayor of Richmond, grew up in the Kansas City area. Fluent in Spanish, he worked as a missionary in Honduras before graduating from Harvard Law School, where Obama also earned a degree.

Together with the 47-year-old Obama, Kaine, 50, would give the Democrats the youngest presidential ticket since 1992, when 46-year-old Bill Clinton selected 44-year-old Al Gore as his running mate.

Umm, this obviously didn’t happen.

Your Dewey Beats Truman moment of Zen.

Twitter And Local News Coverage

21 08 2008

An excellent commentary about how local news organization can cover those stories that won’t make the nightly news or the next edition of the deadwood edition.

Applications like Twinkle are also great journalistic tools, of course. In the old days, newspaper reporters had the TV on in the background, in case TV news had something that they should know about. Today, someone in the newsroom should be monitoring local tweets; it’s the new early warning system for news, with an army of witnesses feeding you information.

Read the whole thing.

I’ve noticed that Twitter is already doing this to a large extent. I’ve seen traffic updates from most of the major cities in the state and the amount of breaking news I’m seeing on the site is ridiculous.

I just keep watching. One problem here is that there aren’t a lot of people who know about Twitter.

I think it’s coming though.

UPDATED: When I wrote this earlier this morning, I didn’t know about the school shooting in Knoxville. Where did I hear about this horrible tragedy. On twitter.

The Knoxville blogosphere is mourning their loss, and we mourn with them.

Gannett To Cut 1,000 Jobs

14 08 2008


SAN FRANCISCO — Gannett Co. will cut 1,000 newspaper jobs, or about 3% of that division’s workforce, the company said Thursday. Employees affected by layoffs will be notified by the end of the month.

I’ve got to wrap my head around this one.

Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen

6 08 2008

I just finished Basket Case and I have to tell you, it knocked my socks off.

Yeah, it’s about an investigative reporter whose role is diminished at a newspaper to writing the obituaries after he calls the new corporate owners a few choice names. It’s your basic murder mystery but the reason why the book was so good is that Carl Hiaasen has written a sardonic and real critique of the dead tree news business.

And it doesn’t just bark, it bites.

In the novel, the lead character, Jack Tagger, talks about how his fictional paper has reduced staffs, added the always dreaded special advertising sections and basically, IMHO, how journalists/editors are asked to basically not do news.

Hiaasen has worked for decades at the Miami Herald. The tiers and hierarchy of the news staff in the novel are real. Anyone in the news business will recognize everything from the excitement of an intern to the cluelessness of non-journalists managing a newspaper. They will also recognize Jack Tagger, a 46-year-old journalist who is clouded by apathy and mourns the changes in his profession before he reinvents himself.

And there is a Warren Zevon connection for you rabid fans out there.

Yeah, I’m gushing.

Old Vs. New Media Practices

5 08 2008

Mark directs us to a new policy at CNN.

Basically, employees of the network cannot use Facebook, Twitter, Blog or even comment in forums and chat rooms without permission from the CNN higher ups according to Chez Pazienza, who was famously fired from CNN for blogging at Deus Ex Malcontent. His story is here.

You can head to their blogs to get the vibe of what’s going on.

I agree with Mark who says this:

Did I give up my right to protest or vote when I started working for a newspaper? I hope not.
Many newspapers are actively encouraging reporters to take up blogging.  Newspapers invite reporters to express opinion in the print editions. Newspapers have long held that as long as the opinion expressed is marked clearly as that of the reporter, it is acceptable.

I talk about evolving trends in the news business a lot. I don’t understand why more media folks don’t blog or use Twitter. I’ve seen more breaking news on Twitter that it still boggles my mind.

Ryan Sholin points us to a post written by an outgoing newsman of the LA Times, who is getting out of the dead tree business.

  1. Technology has run laps around the print media — giving readers instant news, open-source journalism, no barriers to become publishers, and an infinite news hole.
  2. The idea that your daily news is collected, written, edited, paginated, printed on dead trees, put in a series trucks and cars and delivered on your driveway — at least 12 hours stale — is anachronistic in 2008.

I think these things are connected. The writer talks about his 18 years with the Times. I’ve worked in news off and on for nearly 20 years. The way I started out has vastly changed in those two decades.

And the blogosphere has changed in the nearly three years I’ve been blogging. Some media outlets get it and have actively worked toward changing their model to accommodate changes that will happen in the future, which is smart. Even some rural outlets do although there are a great deal of folks who do not and angrily (yes, I said angrily) hold on to that the old ways are the only way to do news.

There is chasm that exists between old and new.

And CNN is treating online communication like a dinosaur. When you edit free thought, then what do you have?

Zombies in a newsroom.


1 08 2008

Steve Smith is the editor of the The Spokesman-Review. He writes a nostalgic and bittersweet account of what a newspaper used to be.

Something is coming, some turn in the media universe, a turn in the future of my newspaper. A turn that will mean the end of me, of us. There will be reporters. Editors. Something called on line producers and multi-media coordinators. Mojos. Slojos and Nojos. Bloggers, froggers and twitters.

But there won’t be newspapermen. At 58, I am among the last of a dying race.

And what a race it was.


A newspaperman knew the meaning of a deadline. He felt a chill when the presses rumbled at midnight and would look for a reason to be in the press room, slipping an early run paper from the conveyor to give the front page a quick look and maybe also to see his byline in print.

Newspapermen worked hard and played hard. The bartender at the dive across the street knew how many beers each reporter could consume between editions. And after the last edition went to press, the bar lights would be turned up just enough to let the newspapermen read those papers pulled fresh from the press.

There is a great deal more over there. As I said, I see the sentiment and nostalgia he is invoking, because sometimes I feel the same way.

Everything changes. He’s right on one account. Those days will soon be altered forever. To me at least, this post at his house, which is a must read, is about grief and loss.

They already have been.

And we move on.

Funny Classified Ads

12 07 2008

If I lived in Oakview, CA, I would have offered my services to back in time.

The Human Factor of Higher Gas Costs

7 07 2008

I realize that at this moment and for roughly 36 days, my car, Steve Austin, has been AWOL.

I was already carpooling before Austin’s disappearance but with news like this, I’m wondering if I should just set him free.

Oil’s historic ascent from $100 to nearly $150 a barrel in just six months is lending weight to a far grimmer prediction: Crude could reach $200 a barrel by the end of the year.

I have been telling you guys this for awhile.

There are no utilities and no public transportation in this unincorporated town of a couple hundred people along a narrow road that winds through the mountains 314 miles north of Sacramento. Many people here buy gas for their vehicles and gas or diesel for generators that power their homes.

“I’m scared to death” of rising fuel prices, Hanley says. At the store, the hub for visiting whitewater rafters and residents of other isolated towns, gas cost $5.30 a gallon on a recent day when the national average was $4.07.

This community may be an extreme example of how rising gas prices are hitting rural Americans particularly hard, but people in small towns from Maine to Alaska are in a similar bind as those here.

Aunt B. wrote awhile back about how the suburbs of urban cities were also going to be hit.

I can sit and talk about this all day. I have no idea what rural Americans are going to do. My income has only gone up slightly in the past three years. My cost of living has skyrocketed. Due to a very good network of friends and family, we are doing okay.

But what about the folks that make roughly $7 bucks an hour? It might not be common in larger cities but it’s very common in rural America. Salaries are just not as high. It used to not matter. It does now. Food expenses, which have to be trucked in, have gone through the roof in small towns across this country.

The options are limited. Do folks like Squirrel Queen and I move to a place with public transportation? I took the trains and trams in Amsterdam and Montreal when I lived there. It was no problem. I actually kind of liked it.

And this happened recently. We will no longer be able to go get a Commercial Appeal (which is having it’s own problems) or a Tennessean, which will cut services to northwest Tennessee on July 27. Fuel costs are just too high although they say it’s only a “factor.” Many folks who deliver papers are subcontracted out, including route delivery people, and the cost of that I’m sure was just too much.

It’s a cost-cutting measure, of course, but it’s still frustrating. I liked the Sunday papers.

No Sunday papers in a ten-county area, gas prices looking like they’re pushing towards five bucks a gallon, and I just noticed my dog’s usual (and previously relatively inexpensive) dog food has gone up nearly an entire four dollars a bag. My salary’s certainly taken a big hit this year catastrophically – and I’m obviously not a “normal” case – but even if I was still working the same job, I’m pretty sure my salary wouldn’t have gone up much (if at all), and I imagine many others are in the same boat. What’s next? I’m honestly beginning to dread to even wonder.

What’s next?

Reporter’s Notes

14 06 2008

Quite by accident.

Yeah, old school notes.

Some Of The Best Typos Ever

13 06 2008

Typos are the spotlight today over at List of the Day.

Well I could only hope the removal of my eye that I’d pay $4.89 for would be a pleasant experience.

Cary, you crack me up.

Hits And Misses

5 06 2008

I have been asked on occasion why I don’t branch out and move to the city as it suits me. As I have lived in several cities including Nashville, Montreal and Amsterdam and am always on the constant lookout for the perfect sushi roll, I always reply if I found a job where I could pay my expenses and still afford the perfect sushi roll, I’d take it in a minute. How’s that for an impossibly long, rambling sentence?

With that said, it’s stuff like this that scares the bejeebus out of me and makes me take pause.

The 2008 downturn in the local economy and continued weakness in many traditional advertising sectors have led The Commercial Appeal to announce a reduction in work force.

Readership of the print and online versions of the newspaper continues to be outstanding, but slippage in major account, recruitment and automotive advertising over the past 12 months will result in the loss of about 55 jobs at the newspaper, said publisher Joe Pepe

And that, campers, is one thing that anyone in the news biz is going to watch. I’m a bit behind the curve in learning certain aspects of digital media and by trying to educate myself with limited resources, I have to admit it’s not easy. It’s a lot of hit and miss. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that the misses sometimes outweigh the hits.

But I am trying. And I would recommend others do as well.

The world of communication is changing.

I Have My Own Newspaper Box

6 05 2008

Left hand side.

Thanks Christian, that’s awesome.

Where Can You Find An Eagle For Sell?

22 04 2008

Yesterday, I laughed harder than I have in a long time. I went over to Sadcox place and he had a post called Some Suggested Reading.

The post links to a story about an animal clinic and is up at Knox News. It’s not the story, which is more than fine, that caught my eye, it was what Sadcox had suggested to look for.

Billie Wacks, commenter, is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. And later on on Twitter I found that Sadcox and I had the same reaction as did Ivy. We laughed our heads off. We all agree that Wacks is whack. And we loved every bit of it.

Jack Lail ended up posting about the cult base of Billie as well.

He writes about comments on news stories and the organic nature of the community that develops:

But then again, there is something going on in user comments that has nothing to with discussing the issue at hand or solving world problems – or even local problems. There’s an organic community evolving that operates much like a small town. It’s not a everything-always-ends-sunny Mayberry, but then again Mayberry was a mythical TV place. No, I’m talking about a “real” small town.

People “know” each other by their user names and “know of” many more. Just like a small town, it can be painfully gossipy and catty and sometimes down right mean. But the characters and voices are rich.

He’s right and this is one of those things that happened beyond the story. Of course, Sadcox and I suggested that Knox News give Billie a blog, but the reality is, she is becoming somewhat of a myth with  just her comments. A blog probably wouldn’t work. Why?

Well, it’s complicated.

Because this is what Jack and the gang are dealing with:

Posted on April 21 at 7:07 a.m.

Wash your hands after you touch a dog or a anmial because they can lick you or bite you on the hand. The dogs in the picture look like they can bite. I never had a missing animal. Cats and dogs can be friends. I hope Jordan will write another story about more animals that dont bite at you instead of this one. The descriptons in the story made me see the colors of everything. … Billie


A dolphins the smartest animal in the world. They have slippers instead of fingers. They can swim and bite. i would like to adopt a eagle. If a eagle had a fight with a snake it would win and I would not get a snae bite. I would call my eagle a good name but I cant think of one to name it yet. It would be a girl eagle like me. maybe i can adopt it from somebody who sells them to you. … Billie

Priceless but it does bring up the question about commenters on newspaper blogs where there are no easy answers. As for Billie, she has given me a great deal of joy. I honestly don’t think “Billie” really exists but if she does, I can’t help but say that she made my night.

Seriously guys, I laughed so hard Mabel barked at me. I wish I were kidding.

The Curious Case Of Mike And Claudia Ragsdale

13 04 2008

Tabloid Boy talks about the recent story out of Knoxville about the marital issues of Knox County Mayor Mike and Claudia Ragsdale.

The news that Claudia Ragsdale filed for divorce earlier today citing “inappropriate marital conduct” did not come as a surprise. Every journalist in this town has been sitting on this “developing story” for months. In the case of our newspaper, we had what could only be termed unimpeachable testimony weeks ago from a source close to Mrs. Ragsdale who confirmed the growing chorus of rumors. Despite this, our publisher chose not to print what we knew.

I believe that was the right decision, but this story raises some interesting ethical questions for journalists.

I’m different I guess. I work at a very small newspaper. I don’t see any real reason to print these kind of stories but then again, newspapers are a business and a private business at that which follows the conversation of communities. What sells newspapers? Well, to be old school and state the obvious, “If it bleeds it leads.” Sad but true. Ask anyone in the news biz, the public record pages are highly read. And newspapers are about what a community is talking about, so you have to take that into consideration.

With that said, I wouldn’t have run it either UNLESS there was some sort of issue that concerns the public such as Larry Craig’s wide-stance story (he battered the GLBT community and then plead guilty to bathroom shenanigans) or Eliot Spitzer, who is being investigated for using tax-payers monies for his own sexual ego.

I’ve been reading about the Ragsdales. People get divorced all the time. I agree with Rich Hailey on this one.

With all of that said, I wouldn’t have run the story but once the official documentation comes in, then that does change things. A recent story we had on a lawyer, who plead guilty mind you, to embezzling millions of dollars had rumors flying for months but we didn’t run it until the official paperwork was filed. I took a hammering on it but it was news because this man was well-liked. Hell, I liked him. There is a line between these things but I also trust that more is going to be revealed. In a world of transparency, Ragsdale, and other politicians and community leaders, are being watched.

I feel like there is probably more out there although I don’t have proof of it.

From what I’ve read in the contents at Knoxviews, Ragsdale isn’t the most well-liked camper. I don’t know. I’m six hours away.

Watch and see, campers. Watch and see.

With that said, I wonder what CNN is reporting about Britney Spears today.

We live in a new world order.

Old News

15 03 2008

Cathy has a wonderful post today from the perspective of a reader of newspapers. The whole post is very thoughtful and direct.

The newspaper professionals know that things have changed. I started predicting who subscribes and who doesn’t to the advertising woman standing in the booth. She knew the data because of the “reader surveys.” Are newspapers doing “non-reader” surveys? People were very willing to share their opinions yesterday. “By the time I am able to sit and read it, it’s already old news.” I’m not a subscriber, but I do visit the newspaper’s website. I visit it to read about local news and read the comments that people make on each article. I read the editorials and the letters people have written to the newspaper. I don’t read the newspaper for news. I read it for reactions. I just don’t know how print newspapers are going to survive once the computer-phobic generation is gone.

There is so much more over there. Go now.

Dear Washington Post

3 03 2008

Why in the hell are you giving Charlotte Allen valuable newspaper real estate in your paper? I just read her column called “We Scream, We Swoon, How Dumb Can We Be?” and all I have to say is that has to be the biggest crock of poo I’ve read in a long time.

When are mainstream media outlets going to abandon the burning stupids?

My teeth are clenched over this one. Seriously clenched.

This is the same woman that wrote back in 2005 “Why are Airline Flight Attendants so Awful … and ugly?

And, for balance, both conservatives and progressives are calling foul on this one.

A good point, WP, is that if you are wanting to increase your female readership (something you’ve been whining about) then running crap like this isn’t helping your cause.

Echidne breaks it down:

The Washington Post is a step ahead of you. Women are either dim or fickle. Probably tomorrow they’ll have a thoughtful column which shows that we could be both dim and fickle!

It’s going to be a long election year, isn’t it.

Jack Lail, Boss Hogg and Blogs

16 02 2008

Go read this right now.

Seriously, RIGHT NOW!

Sorry, I get bossy sometimes and then I have Bossy-Regret Syndrome so I will now just ask politely.



If You Are Blogging, You Need to Be Reading This …

11 02 2008

And do the laws protect those who practice it.

Go read this.

Just do it. I’ve got to chew on it before I write about it.

Silence says:

This is an apparent first for the state, and if you are a blogger, you should be following this one. I’m no lawyer but it seems to me the blogger, a member of the so-called “nontraditional media,” is practicing journalism and is therefore covered by the state’s Shield Law. That law, generally speaking, allows journalists to protect the identity of their sources.

What say you?

Hyperlocal News

7 02 2008

Have you ever had so much going on that your mind becomes like the bits of tofu you find at the bottom of a bowl of miso soup?

Yeah, that’s me.

I keep rattling on about rural newspapers this week. I’ve been busy in the non-virtual world and I’m thinking that folks might not understand a few issues of what we do and how we do it.

We have two writers which doesn’t include sports. And we end up running around like chickens when a lot of immediate breaking news is going on so we have to multi-task. We also build our own pages although we finally, after much crying and wailing with the extra goodness of me holding a razor blade to my throat, finally got a pagination technician. I build Front, Editorial and Public Record and then anything else that might need to be done last minute. Then it goes to the other writer, Batesville, who copyedits and puts the final touches on it. Our tech builds the pages that focus on community news and special advertising supplements/sections. Our office manager is also the community editor who also builds society, obit and “people” pages. Our circulation director is also the classified manager. Yep, she does the classified pages. Those two women also handle billing and work the reception desk.

We do not have a typesetter.

We are a small newspaper so we take on different roles. Why am I telling you this?

I sometimes don’t think people understand that we don’t have a newswire. Everything we do is local. We have to generate all the copy in the paper. Now, mind you, the community submits columns and the like but usually it’s up to us.

Jerry Reese, the GM of the New York Giants, is from our area and coached for awhile at the college. When they won the SuperBowl, needless to say, we couldn’t send Squirrel Queen to take photos so we had to ask permission to use an AP picture. He has a lot of local ties and it was big news. “Local Sports Hero REPRESENTS” kind of thing.

Another person we follow is Chad Clifton, who is from the paper’s hometown, and now plays for Green Bay. We are more fortunate in finding pics of him because we know his mom and dad. He’s going to his first Pro-Bowl. Once again, SQ won’t be headed to Hawaii.

Get where I’m going here?

One buzz word on the web and in the news biz right now is hyperlocal.

We sorta get that concept.