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Roldo Bartimole, often cited locally as Cleveland’s original alternative journalist, wrote and edited a newsletter entitled Point of View from 1968 to 2000. The full collection – his life’s work – was conveniently published online this week.
Roldo’s quite the reporter. He still maintains a post at coolcleveland.com. He’s also maintained a full-time enmity against nearly all local pols and press phonies. That spirit of iconoclasm is still being carried out in Cleveland, though mostly in quieter corners of the city. The local media have been consolidated to the point of absurdity since Roldo began his fight so many years ago. But his voice still very much matters.
The issue in which Roldo takes 25 years of mayoral bullshit to task is a gem. I’ve got a handful of notable editions at my desk, but this concise overview of the corporate-political establishment in Cleveland is both a resource and an entertaining read.
My appearance on Democracy Now! May 9 May 22, 2013Posted by Eric Sandy in Uncategorized.
Tags: ariel castro, democracy now
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I figured I would toss this segment on the website here. I appeared on Democracy Now! on May 9 to discuss the kidnapping and rescue of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in Cleveland. They were rescued May 6 and my story on kidnapper Ariel Castro’s history went live May 7.
Whatta line! All eyes on Lousiana as two newspapers trade punches in early rounds of press war May 13, 2013Posted by Eric Sandy in Media.
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“Our hope is that we will be treated to an invigorating old-time press war between The Advocate and The Times-Picayune, but of course, it could end up being two dinosaurs fighting over the last mud hole on an overheated planet.”
That’s Jed Horne, a former editor at The Times-Picayune who now works at The Lens, speaking with the New York Times’ David Carr
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Because New York Magazine’s post-Sandy cover photo is quite the statement (and it just won Best Magazine Cover from ASME):
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Via Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon:
Former New Orleans Times-Picayune managing editors Dan Shea and Peter Kovacs will serve as General Manager and Editor, respectively, of the Baton Rouge Advocate, which announced it had been purchased by New Orleans businessman John Georges Tuesday night. Current Advocate Executive Editor Carl Redman will remain as senior editor, The Advocate’s announcement says.
The news would seem to signal a newspaper war in Louisiana.
So, yes, I’m borrowing the phrase for my header here. But he’s right: There’s war fomenting in Louisiana, and the Baton Rouge Advocate is setting up some some pretty hefty bulwarks. The Times-Picayune, meanwhile, is doing weird things.
Shea sent a message to Beaujon, detailing the undercurrents of this move in Baton Rouge. He makes damn fine points: “This was too good a prospect to pass up: we’re preserving local ownership of great newspaper, showing how the trend to digital is not incompatible with seven-day print, and bringing our enthusiasm and experience to a great staff.”
It’ll be interesting to watch things play out down there. It will also be prudent to steer our gazes northward, where similarly antagonistic market forces may bring newspapers wars into the 21st century. Competition is good and healthy, and that notion’s been in flux since the advent of digital media.
Of course, competition ABOUNDS online in markets like New Orleans and Cleveland. There’s never been a more competitive time to practice journalism. But to have two behemoths engage each other? It’s a throwback to more prosperous, profitable years. It’s also a chance to apply a referendum on the “Print is dead” theory.
More to come…
Times-Picayune leadership announces a fresh twist April 30, 2013Posted by Eric Sandy in Commentary, News.
Tags: advance publications, newspapers, plain dealer, times-picayune
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In the latest round of How Much Can Advance Bungle THAT Newspaper?, Times-Picayune management has announced a new, three-day publication called TPStreet.
The whole thing is equal parts bizarre and par-for-the-course for the paper’s parent company, Advance Publications. Journalist John McQuaid pointed out that you’re gonna need a spreadsheet to figure out the delivery/publishing schedule. Maybe the T-P will print that and deliver it to subscribers every third Wednesday during Leap Years?
Before once again disclosing my own interest in this development, it’s worth pointing out that quote offered up by Vice President of Advertising Kelly Rose: “We are excited about this opportunity to extend our daily reach in print.”
But… But. But… The company HAD a seven-day print product! And it was profitable! Aside from the irony of the corporate maneuvering, Rose’s declaration also lends credence to the idea that advertisers aren’t entirely buying into the types of digital packages that companies like Advance and, you know, THE REST OF THE INDUSTRY are shilling. Print still matters in many ways, especially when it comes time to take a wayward glance across those balance sheets.
Anywho… This news rings with fascination for me over here in Cleveland, because it simultaneously dispels and upholds the cookie-cutter notion that we’ve all feared when analyzing Advance’s moves. The notion is dispelled as the company’s holdings in markets like New Orleans and Cleveland begin to employ somewhat different tactics en route to the digital revolution. (See The Plain Dealer’s three-day-a-week home delivery announcement.) The notion is upheld because all roads still clearly point to the same black hole of reader disgruntlement, market monopoly and page-view tabulation.
To borrow a turn of phrase from one T-P commenter: “Oh, come on…”
Tags: greg mitchell, washington post
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Greg Mitchell submitted an assigned piece to the Washington Post on the failures of major news media outlets’ coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. WaPo summarily rejected the piece and ran a milquetoast Paul Farhi story that kinda let the American media off the hook for its tacit and overt support of the military op.
And the Post is defending its rejection:
Outlook editor Carlos Lozada told The Huffington Post that the Post didn’t run Mitchell’s piece because it didn’t draw the “broader analytical points or insights” the paper was looking for on the topic of Iraq War mea culpas. (Mitchell has posted his article here.)
The 10th anniversary of the invasion is the cause for all of this journalistic reflection, but a lot of disinterest, ignorance and sighing accompanied the occasion, as well. Mitchell’s piece deserves publication (see The Nation, thankfully). Illustratively, he does point out WaPo’s own failure to offer an apology, even well into the Iraq efforts. He points out that Howard Kurtz authored a lengthy critique of the paper’s work.
Regardless of the rationale behind the rejection, the action is notable. A decade has passed since some of the mass media’s most dire government complicity took place, sending the country down a path from which it could never return. The straightforward accounting in Mitchell’s piece paints the picture. And the picture is worth revisiting.
Unrelatedly (but equal in importance here), check out FAIR’s blow-by-blow roundup of press accounts as the invasion took place.
NSFWCorp’s impending print launch is a really good move March 20, 2013Posted by Eric Sandy in Commentary.
Tags: nsfwcorp, paul carr
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That’s my quick takeaway, at least, following the Las Vegas CityLife interview with NSFWCorp Editor-in-Chief Paul Carr.
This quote in particular called out to me (re: what some might see as this backward-oriented sense of innovation”):
“They all want to keep their jobs, and the way to do that is by slashing print, because that looks forward-thinking. They’re making ‘tough choices.’ Great, you can make tough choices, but — it’s the Tim Armstrong at AOL thing. He’s great at making tough choices. They’re all stupid, but they’re tough.
No one gets fired for making tough choices. No one gets fired for gambling on the Internet; these are not fireable offenses. Doubling down on print, someone’s getting fired, and then replaced by someone who makes tough choices.
So we’re making tough choices, to do print.
I feel sorry for big media companies, because there’s such an expectation of stability.”
Bold. Yes, very bold. But it’s a smart move in terms of both editorial freedom and, of course, revenue. In fact, NSFWCorp seems to be doing what the nation’s best alt-weeklies have been doing for decades: smart, niche journalism packaged with a smart, humorous angle. And Carr is spot-on when he says that this simple idea actually serves to broaden news writing – not shrink its scope.
So I’ll be watching what sort of content these cats publish in the coming weeks/months. I think it’s an exciting prospect.
And either way, the interview above is full of really killer insights into the current state of our industry.
The Advance Monster roosts in Cleveland March 11, 2013Posted by Eric Sandy in Cleveland, Commentary.
Tags: advance monster, cleveland, media news, the plain dealer
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Save The Plain Dealer, a local campaign that’s been trying to highlight the inevitable “big changes” coming to our local daily, share this really great CJR story about how The Times-Picayune’s “big changes” really threw a wrench in New Orleans’ cherished journalism traditions.
It’s a story that’s been *out there* for years. In Cleveland, the whispers grew to a dull roar sometime last summer, shortly after the Times-Pic newsroom began collapsing in on itself.
I worked for Sun Newspapers, the weekly chain of community papers also owned by Advance, from 2010 to late 2012. The company is intrinsically connected to the PD and to cleveland.com, the digital arm of the local op. Much of what Ryan Chittum discusses in his piece IS going to happen in Cleveland. But more still is already happening here. I titled this piece “The Advance Monster roosts in Cleveland” because its presence is always lurking just beneath the surface, just behind the walls in your home.
It’s a click-based strategy – the kind of thing the Old Guard considers Internet savvy. It’s a strategy that eats time and other abstract resources as if they were fat-laden prey in the woods. It’s a strategy that pushes mediocrity and fast-tracked news blurbs to the top, which inevitably reveals a cost-cutting method that will kick committed journalists to the curb. Many have left The Plain Dealer and Sun Newspapers already, as sort of preemptive nosedive from the tower. John Soeder’s one of the few ex-PDers whose gone on record as describing his exodus. I’m here doing the same. And there are others – former coworkers, former columnists, former illustrators, etc. etc.
I referenced Dean Starkman’s work earlier on this blog and pointed to his hamster wheel analogy. The free model of online journalism that Advance espouses with so much secretive absurdity is one that inevitably incentivizes a quantity-over-quality ideology. Other media scholars jumped on his article and completely missed his argument. The key word is “incentivize.” On the ground and in action, this process accomplishes that unfortunate end via quotas, a hunger for numbers and a strong emphasis on news polls and events promotion. Hardly “journalism” on any level.
Which is all to say that my use of the word “unfortunate” is apt. The Advance Monster encourages laziness – as long as the numbers and reports and data GROW month over month. A picture of a cute puppy by the lake is treated equally in the system alongside an in-depth analysis of the mayor’s budget proposal. And the picture of a cute puppy will likely lend itself to a fair bit of local “virality,” to turn a phrase, and, ultimately, satisfy the Advance Monster to a greater degree.
Fuck “going viral.”
That’s a minor mantra in my world. Because mediocrity has a tendency to rise to the top, it seems worthwhile to avoid “the top.”
So the Save the Plain Dealer campaign is sharing the news of the impending “big changes” and its members are right to do so. But don’t kid yourself. The Monster is already here.