By paulgillin | September 26, 2008 - 7:53 am - Posted in Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local

Not to harp on The Politico, but we continue to be impressed by the stunning success of this for-profit venture whose value is built on delivering – gasp! – quality journalism. To those who mourn the newspaper industry’s implosion as foreshadowing the end of public service reporting, we point to this news boutique as an example of What Might Be. MediaBistro’s Fishbowl NY has a brief but interesting interview with Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei, who comments on the appeal of his unique business model. The focused mission is to “provide the fastest, smartest, most essential coverage of Congress, the White House, politics and those who try to influence all three.” And not to rely on classified advertising, which is one reason things are going so well.

A vandal disrupted distribution of the Boston Herald Wednesday morning, just two weeks before the paper plans to shut down its printing plant and outsource the operations to the west. Someone who apparently knew what he or she was doing cut several belts and wires on collating machines. Workers scrambled to compensate, but not all subscribers got their Heralds that day. The unions denounced the vandal’s actions. Members stand to get severance benefits – but only if the transition to the new printer goes smoothly.

Steve Outing comments on NYU journalism professor and Pressthink blogger Jay Rosen’s initiative to get his Twitter followers to submit accounts of reporters who document untruths by the McCain presidential campaign. You can see some of the results here. Outing things social networks are a great way for people who share common interests to quickly self-organize around a common goal, such as the one defined by Rosen. Unfortunately, the tools can also be misused. In an update, Outing notes that some troublemakers are now trying to subvert the effort.

Somebody help this guy, if you know him. He needs a hug.

Appropriately named columnist Joe Grimm has useful advice for a newspaper veteran who fears he’s about to lose his job. 

Mildred Heath, 100

Does it surprise you that the oldest worker in America works in newspapers? We didn’t think so. That ink kinda gets in your blood. It got into 100-year-old Mildred Heath’s blood 85 years ago, and she’s been pounding a beat ever since. Well, maybe not pounding it as much as keeping an eye out for news. The eyes aren’t what they used to be. She brought a notebook to her 100th birthday party, though. Mildred still has scars from handling hot type, but she’s wise enough to have learned to use the Web. She started her first newspaper in 1933 – which was not a good year to start anything –  and her granddaughter and son-in-law still run the Beacon-Observer out of Elm Creek, Neb., where Mildred is listed on the masthead as “Overton Correspondent.” God bless Mildred Heath.

Layoff Log

News has been trickling out about planned cuts at the Raleigh News & Observer, but some numbers are finally available: 53 people, including 20 newsroom staffers. Among the notables leaving the N&O: TV columnist Danny Hooley, illustrator Grey Blackwell, consumer-affairs columnist Vicki Lee Parker and book editor Marcy Smith. Cartoonist Dwane Powell, who earlier said he would scale back to part-time but keep his job, has also decided to leave. Most of the cuts were achieved through buyouts, but some layoffs were necessary. The N&O already cut 40 positions earlier this year.

Pittsburgh’s largest newspaper, the Post-Gazette, told its staff to expect layoffs soon. Meetings between management and union leaders to discuss the specifics begin next week. The closure of a major department store (and advertiser) downtown hasn’t helped. Stay tuned.

The Kenosha (Wisc.) News plans to lay off three full-time and three part-time employees, all from editorial.

The Tacoma News Tribune will lay off one employee and buy out 17 others in continuing reductions that have reduced its workforce by 100 people this year.

And Finally… 


How appropriate. Now you can generate your own tombstone messages for free. Tombstone Generator creator J. J. Chandler has left plenty of space for you to wax eloquent about the dearly departed – or those whom you wish would depart. 







This entry was posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008 at 7:53 am and is filed under Facebook, Fake News, Hyper-local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments Off on TGIF 9/26/08


  1. September 26, 2008 @ 9:39 am

    Am I the only one who noticed NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has asked Twitter followers to submit examples of “untruths by the McCain campaign,” but not the Obama campaign?

    Posted by Kevin Gregory
  2. September 27, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

    No, Kevin, you aren’t alone.

    The overwhelming liberal bias that permeates the media is quite obvious to most people outside the echo chamber. It’s one of the things that’s driving the downfall of the press.

    Journalists seem to be determined tlienate half their potential audience and destroy their credibility.

    Posted by Evil Pundit
  3. September 28, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

    No, Kevin, you’re far from the only one that noticed. I was shocked when I originally read this post on Friday, but I was using an iPhone (which these days crashes every 2 minutes or so whenever Safari is running) so I wasn’t much inclined to try to bang out my thoughts at the time. Now that Looking Glass mentioned it again over on, I was reminded to return and say something about it.

    First, I’m a bit saddened that Mr. Gillin posted it without even noting in passing the mindboggling level of bias it entails (and let’s face it, Rosen’s bias deserves at least an entire post of its own, particularly on a blog where the very subject is what’s killing newspapers). I hope Gillin at least noticed it himself, even though he didn’t reference it, because there’s just no getting around the fact that as long as you’re intentionally alienating anywhere between 25 – 75% of your audience (depending on the location of the newspaper), you’re risking failure no matter how else you fight for survival.

    Second (and on this, those of us appalled by Rosen’s actions can thankfully smile), his attempt to generate slanted coverage appears to have been a massive bomb. I am a hardcore Twitter fanatic, with a lot of links to lots of other Twitterers in journalism, and I’d never even HEARD of “#spinewatch” until Gillin made this post on Friday. Then I looked at Outing’s blog post and immediately noticed that it had been made two weeks ago. So I did some poking around on all the various posts tagged #spinewatch, and pretty much saw nothing I hadn’t already seen a million times on various liberal blogs. No new data, or even new rumors. Much of it isn’t even news (Letterman’s attacks on McCain, etc.). And there’s not even much of that … after an initial flurry of activity, #spinewatch posts are now coming along at the rate of only a few per day. Assuming anyone truly relevant in the MSM is even following the #spinewatch tag, they aren’t even being told anything they’re not already aware of. As such, the only possible influence Rosen’s “initiative” could have is to make ten or twelve journalists already in the tank for Obama a little more rabid than they already are … at least for a few minutes after reading their Twitter page. And they’d forget even that much after a few minutes anyway.

    In short, so what? Perhaps a copy editor at the Indianapolis Star read some #spinewatch tweets and decided to leave TWO entire paragraphs about the McCain camp’s so-called “facts don’t matter attitude” in that AP story they were cutting down to make fit in the tiny space alloted for it in the next day’s print edition, instead of just one. Truly a game-changer, that.

    (Apologies for the run-on sentences and all, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs in bailout coverage for the last three days and I’m getting a bit tired.)

    Posted by Rajiv Vindaloo
  4. September 29, 2008 @ 10:12 am

    Guys: Thanks for all your comments and observations about the obvious liberal bias of Rosen’s experiment. I should point out that I posted the item in the interests of highlighting an interesting application of Twitter, not to make a political point. It frankly matters little to me whether the subject of the experiment is John McCain or Donald Duck. The point is that Rosen is attempting to enlist a crowd to aggregate information that might not otherwise be noted. Professors are given wide latitude to do these kinds of things under the blanket of “academic freedom,” and their political biases often show through. Someone could do the same thing for the Obama campaign and it would be equally noteworthy.

    Posted by paulgillin