Let’s not jump to conclusions



First, check the tail.




Cliché corner

From AP’s memo on election-year horribles. The last entry on the list is the most worstest and awfulest, to be avoided like the proverbial plague. (AP left out the alternatives: UPI or Reuters.)

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Air war

It’s a thankless job, but someone has to do it. Someone whose name reads like an Al-Anon alum.

On the morning of June 12th, the D.C. Council held a hearing on an urban farming bill that would, among other things, approve property tax abatement for anyone leasing small plots of Washington, D.C., land for the purpose of cultivating produce. For many D.C. residents, attending a mid-morning hearing would be tough, if not impossible. But as it progressed, voters weighed in.

Alex B. said the language defining “independent farm” discounted those who farm in their own yards for their own use. Si K. asked about the selection criteria for applicants looking to set up urban farms. And Michele L. stepped in as unofficial copy editor, pointing out a space was needed between two words at the top of the bill. Occasionally, staff members for David Grosso — one of the D.C. council members cosponsoring the legislation — responded directly to questioners.

Vote early and often

Burrows’ Democrat challenger is Clint Burson.

Burson is a newspaper copy editor, and communications teacher at Bitterroot College.

He said he is running because he thinks the commissioners pay too much attention to national issues they have no control over.

(NBC Montana)

He damned well better have said, “…too much attention to national issues over which they have no control,” or he can forget about the TCE vote.



Onward and downward

The next winner of E&P‘s Publisher of the Year award, I predict, will have figured out a way to print the same nameplate every day on all 1,380-or-so-and-dropping daily newspapers, like a Parade magazine. All the copy desks will be centralized into one desk, and not more than one reporter will be assigned to cover every school board meeting in America. It’s the same meeting everywhere anyway, and you won’t need more than one photographer to take more than one photo, because all school boards look alike. That hero or heroine of publishing will be praised everywhere for her or his synergy.

The North of Boston Media Group consists of four daily newspapers in Massachusetts: flagship paper and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, The Eagle-Tribune; Gloucester Daily News; Salem News; and the Daily News of Newburyport. The group also publishes the following weeklies: The Andover Townsman and The Haverhill Gazette, and New Hampshire’s The Derry News, Let’s Go!, and the Carriage Towne News.

Previously, each daily paper had its own publisher, but after an executive reorganization, the positions were eliminated and Andreas was named sole publisher of the entire media group. She knew each newsroom would have to adjust to these changes, and her first step was to create a sense of teamwork.  When she asked the newsrooms to work together as one, she found it was not difficult at all.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Andreas said when she became regional publisher. “But everyone understood that in order to succeed we had to restructure.”

North of Boston Media Group general manager Jim Falzone said, “Our group of newspapers did not do a great job of working together (but) when Karen was appointed regional publisher, we quickly started maximizing synergies between the properties and sharing resources.”

Now instead of sending four different reporters to cover a story, only one reporter is assigned. The photo department was also reorganized, making it possible for photographers to cover all locations. “I know it sounds crazy,” Andreas said. “Like why didn’t this happen sooner? But it didn’t happen naturally.”


In her new position, Andreas also oversaw two other large projects: the formation of a centralized copy desk and the creation of a national ad design hub based out of the North Andover office. In addition to Massachusetts, the hub now produces ads for newspapers in Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and New Hampshire with plans to bring in newspapers from at least three more states within the next year.


J-school latest

One of the problems of journalism education is that against a backdrop of constant change in the industry, schools must be willing to make a financial commitment to training or retraining faculty to teach what needs to be taught, whether it’s mobile journalism, audience metrics, audience engagement and outreach, coding, or video editing. Universities are being starved for cash, and endowments don’t necessarily come bearing gift tags for faculty training.

So faculty teach what they know, and that might not be cutting edge. Best-case scenario in most places is that faculty will push themselves to get trained any way they can, even by their own, brilliant students or by spending their own money to attend conferences or meetings. Some faculty don’t want to learn new things, and that’s a problem crying out for a creative solution. I don’t have one.

(Nieman Lab)

Merge with the philosophy department. Then you can teach what you don’t know.


Don’t ask the AP

The lunatic asylums will have to come up with better passwords than 1234 for their Internet-connected computers.



Today’s bowdlerizing



I thought it unlikely anyone would say, “He’s a chicken hyphen hyphen hyphen hyphen,” so to check on the accuracy of this New York Daily News quotation I turned from the kiddie pages to the editorials:



Remains of newsroom meet cult of leadership

In a first-floor space the new management at The Tennessean has dubbed an “ideation room,” editor Stefanie Murray called a meeting of the newly rehired for what she has dubbed the “newsroom of the future.”

Standing in a circle, everyone took a chip from a metal box that was part of a poker set. Murray asked each person to tell the group why they were “all in” on this experiment.

“That was just an ice breaker game I had seen done at a conference a few years ago,” Murray told the Scene via email, “and thought it would be a fun way for everyone to be able to say something in front of the group about their new roles.”

(Nashville Scene)


Profiles in courage

You’ve heard of putting your money where your mouth is. The publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News decides not to put his mouth, so to speak, where his money’s going.

A change on election editorials


POSTED: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 1:09 AM

As owner and publisher of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com, I am honored to ensure that this region has the benefit of a free press. The public service that this company provides is a commitment I take very seriously. I also know that we need to keep pushing and reviewing every corner of our operation to make sure we are providing our readers and users with the news and information they need most.

To that end, Sunday’s editorial represents a shift in the way we will approach some elections. Instead of an endorsement for governor, I asked the editorial boards of both The Inquirer and the Daily News to provide a summary of where the candidates stand on the critical issues facing the state, as well as the positions each paper has taken on those issues, and then let the voters decide who they think is most qualified.

My aim is simple: to help people make informed decisions about their vote.


The strange one is the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, which are owned by the same company and are not endorsing in the race. Owner and publisher H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest wrote in yesterday’s Inquirer that he’s decided the papers shouldn’t endorse a candidate, and has instead asked the editorial boards to “provide a summary of where the candidates stand on the critical issues facing the state, as well as the positions each paper has taken on those issues, and then let the voters decide who they think is most qualified.”

Missing from Lenfest’s piece: The fact that he gave Corbett* a $250,000 campaign contribution. Bad show.


* Pennsylvania’s GOP governor, running for re-election.


Onward and downward

A month ago, we announced that the Register newsroom would be undergoing a major transformation —one aimed at getting more feet on the street, attracting new audiences and positioning us for continued success.

We’ve been hard at work since, designing new jobs and determining who best fits those roles. At the same time, we’ve kept our focus squarely where it belongs — on producing high-quality revelatory work, like our recent seven-day “Feeding China” series and coverage of the Midterm elections.

We have much work yet to get our new structure into place, but we’re glad to be able to provide some details today and talk about what you can expect in the weeks ahead. It’s important to acknowledge that the process to get here hasn’t been easy: we’re saying goodbye to some great colleagues and have recruiting ahead for some of our new roles.

At the end of the process, our newsroom will look different. We’ll be focused more on understanding our audiences and how to get content to them, instead of waiting for them to come to us. We’ll be putting more energy into creating content and less on the production process. We’ll continue to aggressively expand our digital reach, looking for ways to attract new readers and keep loyal ones satisfied.

We’re also aligning more closely with our sister publication, the Iowa City Press-Citizen, to cover such important topics as higher education and the Hawkeyes. And one way we’re pursuing efficiencies is by combining copy editing and digital desks in both newsrooms to have one larger team of producers that will work nearly around the clock to edit and publish stories across platforms.

(Des Moines Register)

1. When one Gannett paper “aligns” more closely with another, that means getting rid of people. 2. When one paper pursues “efficiencies” with another, that’s getting rid of people, too. 3. For an Iowa paper to brag about writing a series on exporting food is like a Florida paper bragging about a seven-part series on the importance of tourism, or a Texas paper reminding its readers that cattle ranches matter. 4. If you’re not covering the midterms, that’s news; but the way the Register has been shedding bureaus and reporters over the years it would not have been much of a surprise.


This and that

The Sunday Review section in the Times ran short of copy, again, so it gives us 1,200 words from a woman who keeps losing her jewelry. Maybe she’s careless; maybe it was “a baggage handler or a hotel maid or a kleptomaniac”; maybe the woman’s grandmother, who fled the Turks after World War I and eventually settled on the shores of Lake Michigan, had something to do with it, although the grandmother lost a brother and the writer lost the jewelry, including grandma’s.


Why I Lose All My Jewelry



More baby talk

Starting Monday, millions of people who have avoided colon cancer screening can get a new home test that’s noninvasive and doesn’t require the icky preparation most other methods do.

(Associated Press)



English, please

Because no one wants to be laughed out of the Sunday Times magazine writers’ collective by penning “…companies* have been trying to find new ways for restaurants to make money.”

Today, anyone can get a prime-time table at Minetta, at least for a certain price. In recent months, as retail rents have risen in cities like New York and San Francisco, and as food prices have simultaneously hit three-year highs, various companies have been trying to find new ways to monetize the restaurant experience.

* No “various” needed. You also can dispense with “cities like” and “simultaneously.” And “certain.” And “retail.”


Dear Answer Page

Dear Answer Page: I thought it was against the Law of Journalism to run a story on a gunman who wasn’t described as a disaffected loner. Yet here I’m seeing all this coverage of a “popular,” “freshman homecoming prince.” What gives? Signed, Perplexed.

Dear Perplexed: News writing is done under ever-tighter deadlines, so we must make allowance for omissions. Furthermore, the Law of Journalism doesn’t say (despite many misperceptions) that a gunman must be described as a disaffected loner, or as a quiet person whom neighbors said always kept to himself. Sometimes the neighbors won’t answer the phone, or the reporter didn’t have enough time to ask enough people who may or may not have known the gunman. What the law does say is: “Just because someone’s dead is no reason not to psychoanalyze him.”

“I have no idea what his motive was because yesterday at football practice, he was all fine, talking …. having a good time,” he said. “And then today, just horrible. I don’t know what went through his head or what caused him to do it.”

By all accounts, Fryberg was a popular student. Just a week ago, he had been named as the high school’s freshman homecoming prince, according to a YouTube video of the ceremony and accounts provided by students to CNN.

Fryberg’s multiple social media accounts depict him frequently hunting and using rifles. Those accounts say he was a Native American and a member of the Tulalip tribe.

Luton could not confirm reports that Fryberg had been bullied. But two weeks ago, according to Luton, Fryberg got into a fight after somebody said “something racist” to him.




Oh, shut up (or just chill)

When the editor in chief of High Times hands you a joint, you are probably going to get very stoned.

“Are you trying to … talk?” asked Dan Skye, the editor of the ganja green magazine, who was clad in a pot-leaf patterned dinner jacket. We were standing on the smoking balcony of Lower East Side lounge The DL last night at the marijuana mag’s 40th anniversary celebration. We giggled. A lot. Were we trying to talk? We suppose. When you really think about it, aren’t we all just trying to talk, man? The line between thoughts and words was already getting blurry.

Out on the crowded smoking balcony, past someone painting edible gold on the celebratory cake and a woman hula hooping and twirling a baton with trippy lights, the smoke rose, fragrantly, into some really far-out shapes. Whoa … have you ever thought about, like, shapes? Dude …

Bouncers came out at regular intervals to remind the crowd that the smoking section was just for cigarettes—total buzzkill. But people laughed, then lit up some more. It was, after all, a party for a magazine has been subverting authority for four decades, fighting The Man by just getting groovy, brother.

High Times, which started in 1974 as a Playboy parody, has shown surprising stamina, transforming from something the kids read with stoner high school pals while blazing some chief dank, to this righteous revolutionary thing, brah, tackling issues of legalization and decriminalization. Like the industry it covers, High Times has gained cultural acceptance over the years.

But it can still throw just the chillest party.


We asked Rick Szykowny, who is the copy director at The Nation and freelance copy edits High Times, about the house style. Although the magazine uses New York Times style, there are a host of words that the paper of record’s style manual doesn’t use too often, despite the Times’ new pro-pot editorial stance. Marijuana strains are a particular sticking point, especially a variety known as “Purple Urkel.” But that’s what copy editors are for. Wait … are we being copy edited right now?

What if all our lives are getting edited for house style? We’ve got to master the house style of planet earth, man!

(New York Observer)


Read more at http://observer.com/2014/10/everyone-must-get-stoned-high-times-celebrates-the-big-4-0/#ixzz3H5wslZRS
Follow us: @newyorkobserver on Twitter | newyorkobserver on Facebook


Today’s news quiz

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From a profile of:


1. The neighborhood undertaker?

2. The nurse at the local Ebola ward?

3. A Buffalo News police reporter?


Today’s humbuggery

Okay, America. You’ve wanted a Grinch headline before Halloween. Here’s a Grinch headline before Halloween.* If the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild is kicking itself in the fruitcake for not thinking of it first, boo-hoo.



(CNN Money)


* Not the first one, of course.


News you can use



Including this not-safe-for-lunch factoid:




(ABC News)




Photo funnies

This image, no kidding, won China’s National News Award, its top photojournalism prize. Two questions: 1. Who finished second? 2. If Xinhua can finagle a Columbia University Pulitzer judgeship, will it win that prize, too?


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