So it wasn’t the copy

That new dynamic has roiled the ranks of the newsroom, creating a divide between top editors who see it as part of their job to review coverage of Mr. Adelson, and staff members who chafe at what they perceive as inappropriate interference. In the nearly six months since Mr. Adelson purchased the paper, at least a dozen journalists have quit, been fired or made plans to leave soon; many cite a strained work environment and untenable oversight, in particular regarding the coverage of a bitter legal dispute related to Sands’s operations in Macau.

There are advantages to having a billionaire as an owner, staff members agree. The newspaper has hired reporters and a graphic artist, and is upgrading its videography and photography equipment. Some employees, including Ms. Robison, have been given pay raises. A broken sewer pipe under the building has been fixed. Recently, the paper bought drones to use for news coverage.

(New York Times)


The less things change, etc.

TAMPA, Fla. — A pair of 18-wheel rigs waited outside the former printing plant of The Tampa Tribune on a recent afternoon. Workers were busy dismantling machinery and hauling it away, preparing for the building’s demolition. Nearby, in what had been the newsroom, file folders, reporters’ notebooks and other detritus lay scattered on the floor, evidence of a hasty retreat.

The Tribune, whose motto was “Life. Printed Daily,” was abruptly shut down on May 3 after having covered this city and its environs for 123 years. The reasons for its demise were familiar: precipitous drops in advertising, the rush of readers to the web, the fallout of the economic recession. But this particular case felt a little more personal — and left the journalists who found themselves suddenly out of work with the sense that they had been betrayed.

It was The Tribune’s main competitor, The Tampa Bay Times, based 25 miles away in St. Petersburg and owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute, that dealt the knockout punch by purchasing The Tribune and then immediately shutting it down.

The deal for the purchase of The Tribune from the Revolution Capital Group was struck almost five months ago, but was not revealed until this month. Tribune employees said they knew nothing about the paper’s planned sale to its rival, and believed that, their building having been sold to a Miami developer, they would move into new offices in Tampa as soon as suitable space could be found.

“People feel like fools, they feel like dupes and they feel deceived,” said Michelle Bearden, a 20-year veteran of The Tribune who was laid off in 2014 and keeps in close touch with former colleagues. “Revolution had already inked the deal with The Tampa Bay Times to sell the paper. There was never any intention to find a new home and continue The Tribune as a competitive entity. There was no commitment to this community, no intention to try to make this newspaper profitable again, no interest in preserving a historical tradition.”

(New York Times, May 20, 2016)

The Detroit Times, with a circulation of around 300,000, went under late in 1960. The blow fell, as usual, without warning — the theory being that employees, if they know a paper is to be scuttled, will slack off in their work. Members of the Times staff, coming to work in the morning, found locks on the office doors.

(A.J. Liebling, “The Press,” 1961)


Reminiscence best left to the past


Reminiscing about the future is frustrating.


More clickbait


“We want something easy for Post journalists to go into, find, and embed within their stories, and to get the whole organization thinking: what’s the best way to get a user to understand and engage with a story?”


Yes, let’s do something “easy.”

Bingo games, quizzes and the like belong to something other than the journalistic enterprise. If the Post wants to devote resources to such projects, more power to it — but it can’t pretend they’re something that they’re not.


The good old days

From AP’s Matt Lee. Since he works for a wire service we’ve tried to put his grafs in order.


Capture cap1 cap2 cap3 cap4


Today’s classroom assignment

Handout: Budweiser renames its beer “America.” Now write a “news” story lede.

In a fitting metaphor for the country’s national anxiety, a former cultural icon that peaked in the 1950s and was taken over by multinational interests in the 21st century is now called “America.”

(The Atlantic)

American currency has long held claim to being the only thing found in bars that boasts the phrase “E Pluribus Unum.”  This summer, Budweiser wants to change that by rebranding itself as “America” and peppering its packaging with that very phrase, alongside some others like “Liberty and Justice for All” and “Indivisible Since 1776.”

(Washington Post)

Most people have heard the “USA, USA, USA!” chant at some point in their lives, typically by college frat bros who may have had a little too much to drink.

Well now, those frat bros — and you — can literally get drunk on America.

(Miami Herald)

NEW YORK (AP) – There’s no trademark on America.

(AP via 12 News)

NEW YORK (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — There’s no trademark on America and one company is taking advantage of the fact.

(AP via CBS)

Nothing says ‘America’ like an ice-cold can of mass-produced beer.

(USA Today)

Just in case Budweiser’s galloping horse-filled commercials overlaid with text like “not soft,” “not small,” “not imported” wasn’t a tipoff, the beer company wants you to know that they’re American as apple pie. (Well, except for the fact that they’re owned by Belgian corporation Anheuser-Busch, but let’s not get bogged down in minutia.) The company will double down on its patriotism this summer when it renames itself “America.”


Budweiser has one-upped Donald Trump’s promise to make America great again by making America beer.


The “King of Beers” is taking patriotic branding to a new level.

(Boston Globe)


Cat news

Your go-to paper for solutions to the problem of feral cats.

Ask Real Estate is a weekly column that answers questions from across the New York region. Submit yours to

Feeding Feral Cats

A neighbor leaves bowls of food around the neighborhood for feral cats, even placing some on the grounds of the Russian diplomatic mission at the end of our block. I’ve asked her to stop, and I remove food when I can, but to no avail. The cats treat my garden like their litter box, track mud over my car and wail and moan when they fight or mate. Worse, the food attracts skunks. A neighbor’s dog was sprayed twice and my shuttered window was sprayed, filling my house with the stench. Another neighbor and I trapped seven skunks to be released in Pelham Bay Park, but there are more. What recourse do I have?

Riverdale, Bronx


Until the endless buffet subsides, skunks will continue to forage nearby. A state-licensed wildlife control expert could keep trapping them, but other wildlife will follow, and a professional will not trap and remove the cats. “They could be somebody’s pet,” said Diego Vasquez, the owner of Dr. Pest Control NY, an environmental services company in Queens.

Turn your attention to the cats. Reach out to the feral cat initiative, which advocates a method known as trap-neuter-return, or T.N.R., to control feral colonies. The animals are captured so they can be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and returned to their colony. Tame ones can be adopted. Once neutered, they will no longer spray, fight or mate, so over time, their numbers dwindle.

(New York Times, May 7)


What in the World offers you glimpses of what our journalists are observing around the globe. Let us know what you think:

The Internet may never tire of cats, but the people of Ypres, Belgium, sure did — to the point that they created a whole city celebration out of tossing cats to their death from a bell tower.

The practice apparently dates from the Middle Ages, when Ypres, a market town in Flanders, first prospered as a center of clothmaking. The city’s warehouses would fill with bales of imported wool waiting to be woven, and bolts of finished cloth waiting to be sold at an annual fair.

The warehouses drew mice and rats, which would nest and breed prolifically in an environment like that. To keep the vermin from chewing up the goods, the story goes, merchants would bring in a few hungry cats to hunt them. But the hunters would multiply, too, and by the time of the fair each spring, the place would be overrun with feral cats creating a nuisance of their own.

In those crueler times, hurling cats from a great height on what came to be known as “Cats Wednesday” was apparently seen in Ypres as both a practical solution and a source of gruesome entertainment — the more so because popular superstitions linked cats to witchcraft and the devil. According to a history posted online by the city, in the Middle Ages many European towns dealt with feral-cat problems in similarly inhumane ways, but it was Ypres that retained the bloody reputation.

(New York Times, May 10)


Headline Writing 101

A tough story to headline (economics professor says another airline passenger sees professor writing equations, thinks he’s a terrorist scribbling his to-do list, raises a hue and cry). So many news sites got it wrong, or at least not quite right.

Professor suspected of being a terrorist because of a math equation (USA Today)  (No.)
Professor: flight was delayed because my equations raised terror fears (Guardian) (Closer.)
Ivy League professor dubbed plane terrorist for math equation (CBS) (“Dubbed”?)
Ivy League economist ethnically profiled, interrogated for doing math on American Airlines flight (Washington Post) (Not quite.)
Flight delayed as professor suspected of bomb plot due to equation he was writing (RT) (“Due to”?)
Doing math on plane gets professor accused of being terrorist (AP via St. Louis Post-Dispatch) (Also not quite.)
Professor’s Airplane Math Didn’t Equal Airplane Threat (AP via New York Times) (Closer.)
 Italian Ivy League economist pulled off flight and interrogated for ‘mysterious’ scribblings flagged up by another passenger… which turned out to be MATH (Daily Mail) (As if you had to ask.)
An Ivy League professor is reportedly harassed on a plane for ‘doing math’ (Bizpac Review) (Huh?)
Ivy League prof from Italy racially profiled on American Airlines flight, interrogated for math equations: ‘It is hard not to recognize … the ethos of Trump’s voting base’ (New York Daily News) (No comment.)


And then I stopped reading

How do you stop a big, fast-moving wildfire like the one ravaging Fort McMurray, Alberta? The answer is, you can’t.

(New York Times)


Entertainment news

Fun places on Earth to be staffed by Tribune include Lagos, Moscow, Seoul, Mexico City and Rio de something. If you don’t want Gannett to buy you out then just threaten to hire reporters and give them raises.

Tribune Publishing CEO Justin Dearborn on Wednesday traced the contours of a business plan that would see the company’s largest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, expand to become a digital chronicle of entertainment capitals around the globe.

Tribune Publishing’s brass is planning to bankroll seven new foreign news bureaus in “entertainment oriented” cities under the banner of the Los Angeles Times, Dearborn said in the company’s first quarter earnings call with analysts.

The announcement came minutes after Tribune Publishing rejected an $815 million offer from Gannett that would have seen the newspaper publisher buy the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and nine of the company’s major dailies.

The bureaus, to be established in 2017, will be in Hong Kong, Seoul, Rio de Janiero, Mumbai, Lagos, Moscow and Mexico City. Dearborn and Chairman Michael Ferro have previously discussed, in more general terms, that they think the L.A. Times can be leveraged into a global brand with a worldwide audience.




Why wait for the autopsy report?

Prince’s final days and unexpected death at age 57 raise questions among experts familiar with prescription painkiller overdoses. It’s possible the innovative musician’s demise represents one of the most public tragedies in an overdose crisis now gripping America. …

Whether Prince was addicted to painkillers is uncertain, but some are wondering whether the stigma surrounding addiction may have prevented Prince — who built a reputation as a sober superstar — from seeking help if he was becoming dependent.

(Associated Press)


Today’s graphic triumph

The inverted pyramid yields pride of place to the “inverted impact pyramid.”




Just asking

The company also dismissed auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in March after identifying material weaknesses in internal controls over its financial reporting.



The company is Tribune, and this sentence was buried in the story about Gannett’s bid for Tribune. Firing the auditor is a big deal. It can mean the auditor screwed up and didn’t find a problem in the client’s books. It also can mean the auditor didn’t screw up and did find a problem in the client’s books, much to the client’s dismay. Any followup?


They grow up so fast

Youngsters learn how journalism works. Then they learn how the business works.

The first day Lincoln Elementary School students clamored anxiously to enter their new class, no one knew what to expect. Writing was inevitable, but what else can there be to journalism?

The Lincoln Elementary Roadrunners may have been unaware of it at first, but since then, they have uncovered the hectic world of journalism and blossomed into their own successful newspaper in almost no time at all.


Starting with the Lincoln Times edition of Mar. 23, the journalists of the Southwest High School newspaper The Talon merged with the Lincoln Times journalists in a combined effort to grow the writers in both programs, while showing how journalism is so much more than a class and career path to pursue.

(Imperial Valley Press)


Headline news

A headline from the Journal’s Feb. 25 front page, “Scalding tirades rule at GOP debate,” was chosen as the “most eloquent” headline of the day, from a group of hundreds written around the country, by the Newseum, an educational and promotional organization with an interactive museum in Washington, D.C.

Admittedly, it wasn’t a classic like “Sun or rain predicted today, dark tonight,” or “Man accused of killing lawyer receives new attorney,” but cheers to my colleagues in the news department; the notice is certainly worthy of a tip of the hat and recognition of a masterful approach to a difficult task. I say that as someone who writes headlines as part of his job, but still finds them to be challenging.

(Mick Scott in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal)

This reader wondered: Does the Newseum hand out daily headline prizes? A Newseum FAQ page says:

How do you decide which newspaper to feature each day?

A portion of the front pages we receive each morning is included in our Front Pages exhibit at the Newseum. However, all of the 800 or more front pages received are included in that day’s online exhibit. If you don’t see a particular newspaper that was previously posted, the newspaper simply may not have submitted that day’s front page, or there may have been a technical problem with the electronic transmission.

What criteria do you use in choosing the Top 10 front pages?

Selections for the Top 10 are at each of the daily editor’s discretion and may focus on headlines, photos, innovative design or something else that elevates the front pages above the rest.

A query to the Newseum drew this response from Sonya Gavankar, manager/public relations:

Thank you for your interest in our Today’s Front Pages. Monday through Friday we write a special article called Today’s Top Ten that curates some of the front pages and selects a theme for the day. We focus on headlines and front page layout.

So … not so much interesting or even eloquent* headlines, but interesting pages (on which, to be sure, headlines play a part).


  • No view is expressed on whether “scalding tirades” is eloquent, or whether the reader takes it for a typo for “scolding.”



Those who work, eat

On Monday, certain reporters at The Denver Post were on the hunt for stories. More stories. Managers at the paper had just announced that editors would be officially measuring the number of items published by investigative journalists and reporters who work on the city desk.

“The expectation is that every reporter will produce at least one story a day, and some of you will be expected to write at least two stories a day,” the paper’s news editor, Larry Ryckman, wrote to staff in a Monday e-mail. He added: “We will maintain our standards when it comes to story selection. We want only stories that are worthy of The Denver Post in print or online. These number targets will not change that.”

The Monday memo itself wasn’t exactly a bombshell. The previous Thursday, many Post reporters had heard about the policy from their immediate supervisors. Blog posts, news briefs, and contributor credits will count toward the target. Lee Ann Colacioppo, the paper’s interim editor, downplayed the move, describing the announcements in an email exchange as simply renewed attention to a “long-standing goal.”

(Columbia Journalism Review)


Wooden ships and not-so-iron men

Some years ago, I wrote a biography of journalist Erwin Knoll, who worked at The Washington Post from 1957 to 1963, under the reign of city editor Ben Gilbert, a legendary tyrant. Gilbert once chewed out a woman reporter so severely for misidentifying a bird in a photo caption that a male colleague who witnessed it threw up. When I interviewed him in 1995, Gilbert told me he would “not quarrel with anyone who said I was too tough.” When I sat with Ben Bradlee, then the paper’s vice-president, and asked him about these mistreated workers, this was his reply: “Poor babies.”

(Milwaukee magazine)


Today’s conundrum

Are you more likely or less likely to look anything up before publishing it, knowing your paper has a corrections column? Discuss.


An obituary on Monday and in some editions on Sunday about the experimental filmmaker and musician Tony Conrad misspelled the surname of the New York Times film critic who praised Mr. Conrad’s film “Coming Attractions.” He is Roger Greenspun, not Greenspan. The obituary in some editions on Sunday misstated the year of Mr. Conrad’s first film, “The Flicker.” It was 1966, not 1965. It also referred incorrectly to Mr. Conrad’s wife, Paige Sarlin. She is his third wife, not his second. And it misstated the year in which Branden W. Joseph’s book “Beyond the Dream Syndicate: Tony Conrad and the Arts After Cage” was published. It was 2008, not 2007.

(New York Times)


Man up!

One Thursday morning, the editor stormed into the newsroom with a freshly printed paper in hand: “Who wrote this &#%!@ headline?” Now this particular editor was one of the most talented journalists I’ve worked with, but he also was one of the most profane, demanding and, at times, downright cruel people I’ve known. Humiliation was one of the sharpest tools in his management toolbox, and as I raised my downcast eyes to the headline in question, my heart stopped.

I was about to be eviscerated.

There in big, bold type, was my work: “Council tables police chef’s funding request.” Police chef, not police chief. I knew I was cooked.

The stress made my voice quiver: “I wrote it,” I squeaked. He turned, narrowed his eyes, and paused. Slowly, a sarcastic smile crept across his face. His eyes locked with mine. “Don’t worry, honey,” he oozed. “Only 30,000 people saw it.” He then threw the paper at me and walked away.

I don’t know how I got through the rest of that workday. That night, I fell apart. The tears started and didn’t stop for three days. I couldn’t believe I’d made such a boneheaded mistake — and in my first month on the job! I even contemplated a career change.

(Crain’s Cleveland Business)

As a wise old editor once told a much younger, much-fretting younger editor: What can they do to you, kid? You’re already on the copy desk.




The good old days

When a copy editor made just under the median income and could afford to build a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Nestled amid 10½ wooded acres on the outskirts of Kirkwood sits a little-known architectural gem designed by a well-known architect. As guests pass through the property’s red gate and across the brick home’s threshold, they are immersed in the epitome of modern architecture. It’s The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP), and its roots run deep in St. Louis.

Built for artist Russell Kraus and his wife, Ruth, the architectural framework of the 1,900-square-foot house at 120 N. Ballas Road was finished in late 1955, but it would be another decade before its interior was complete. “Russell had long admired Wright’s designs, but did not think he [could] afford one of his houses,” says Jane King Hession, an architectural historian, writer and curator specializing in midcentury modernism. “After reading [a 1948] article in House Beautiful magazine, in which Loren Pope – a copy editor with a ‘salary on the shady side of $3,000’ – described his experience building a Wright-designed Usonian House, Russell was emboldened to write to Wright and request a house.” Five days later, Wright replied, “You shall have your nice little house.” The 10-year journey is detailed in Hession’s recently released book, The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park: The Kraus House, as well as more on Wright’s world-renowned, 70-plus-year career from 1867 to 1959 and how the Kraus house was saved.

(Ladue News)