Daily Archives: December 6, 2011

Here are the stories I tweeted to @romenesko followers today:
* Sun-Times Media online sites to begin metered pay plan
* New York Press recruits writers for website relaunch
* How would an alien invasion, pandemic or nuclear annihilation be covered?
* Fincher on embargoes: I wouldn’t show movies to anybody before they were released
* Utne Reader to move from Minneapolis to Topeka; seven editorial staffers won’t go
* Syracuse U. editor: “Right now, we’re competing with ESPN, CNN and the Post-Standard.”
* Union-Tribune’s new owners see opportunities in disruption of traditional media
* Columbus Dispatch cartoonist suspended over drawing “strikingly similar” to New Yorker’s
* Does NYT really want to be acting as an open mic for an alleged sexual predator?
* Artist who draws daily interpretations of LAT’s A1 says “I still enjoy the paper as a physical object”

Real Or Onion — a popular in Gelf Magazine feature — is now a 99-cent iPhone app. Players guess whether the headline is from The Onion or a real news source. (Gelf contributing editor Adam Rosen is credited with the idea.) Sample heds:

* End of the Earth Postponed
* With Pole Lost, So Are Vaulter’s Olympic Dreams
* Canada’s Election Proves Surprisingly Interesting
* Midwestern Tornado Destroys 4 World’s Largest Objects

Gelf editor Michael Gluckstadt says staffers at the Onion “get a kick out of it” — and get a cut of the app proceeds too, of course. Are there more Gelf apps coming? “We’ll see how this one goes and learn from it.”
* From 2008: Todd Hanson tells Gelf about the Onion’s creative process

The blogger whose post from last Thursday started the brouhaha over the Troy, Mich. mayor’s Facebook comment — posted above — tells me she averaged 100 to 250 pageviews a day since her site’s October 2010 launch. Sharon MacDonell’s Keep Troy Strong blog hit 300 views on Friday, the day after the controversy erupted.

“Late Sunday night my husband came running into the room. He said, ‘Now you’re on Gawker — this is going to be a big deal!”

MacDonell told me she’d never heard of Gawker.

“He just said, ‘That’s the big time.'”

The next day, her site had 2,699 views.

What’s next for MacDonell and her blog?

“I want the blog to be a place to get information. I wish people had been better informed [about Mayor Janice Daniels] before the election.”

* MacDonell praised Troy Patch’s extensive coverage of the controversy

From today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Reader’s comment:

This is akin to saying, “After the Titanic hit bottom, it quit sinking.”

Another reader:

Does David Nicklaus read the business pages of other papers? In virtually each instance, the bankrupt entity proclaims the Chapter 11 process to be the greatest thing to happen in the history of the business. What used to be a flag proclaiming the failure of a business and its leadership is now considered a virtue. Quick example: Heather Murren, co-founder and board member of the Nevada Cancer Institute after its bankruptcy filing last week: This is “a great day for us.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12-2-2011). And don’t forget the proud posturing of the auto companies.

Read Nicklaus’ Post-Dispatch column || Lee’s share price

Robert Carpenter is a 22-year-old Applied Mathematics major at Texas A&M, and editor-in-chief of The Battalion. What does he do after graduation? “I love journalism and the thrill of investigative reporting, but I also enjoy the intellectual challenge that mathematics provides and appreciate its structure. Fortunately, I don’t have to make this decision today.” A few questions for the college senior:

Robert Carpenter

At what age did you become interested in journalism and how did that happen?
I’m actually a bit of a newcomer to the journalism art — or at least the production side. I’ve always followed politics, and was glued to print and television media during the 2008 election cycle. I grew to appreciate the critical role that journalists play in a functioning society and applied shortly thereafter to the student newspaper at Texas A&M. I suppose that was when the ‘journalism bug’ set.

What publications do you read daily?
I make time for the Wall Street Journal and maintain a subscription to the Houston Chronicle. I also frequent the Texas Tribune website for state issues and have a copy of the latest edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education sitting on my desk.

Your journalism heroes/role models?
One who comes to mind is Norman Pearlstine. I admire his organizational accomplishments with The Wall Street Journal and Time Inc., and his diverse background covering domestic and international stories.

How many hours a week do you spend in the campus newsroom vs. hours spent in classrooms?
I had a conversation with one of my editors a few weeks ago about his grades. In the course of the conversation he said The Battalion is the most important class he will take at A&M. While I’m still concerned with his (and my) academics, I agree with the sentiment. The newsroom and classroom aren’t necessarily distinct units.

But answering your question, I probably average 50-60 hours per week in the newsroom and around 5-10 in the classroom.

Are your journalism instructors on top of the latest tools ands media trends, or are they stuck in the 20th century?
I feel that I need to qualify my response to this question. As an applied mathematics major, I haven’t taken as many journalism classes as the majority of my peers. I’ve been exposed to both kinds of instructors, though, and I don’t think that’s a bad background to have. With the instructors who may be a bit too nostalgic for the history of print media, I’ve learned the importance of responsible reporting and to respect the finality of sending stories to press. Others have been more ambitious about adapting to the future — teaching me to engage the reader in previously-unconventional ways and not to fear change.

Everybody’s looking to your generation to “save” the news business. Your ideas?
Great question. I wish there were an easy answer. With the interactive nature of social media, I believe news outlets have to find ways to make the news consumer feel involved and invested in the product. We’re trying to do that on a small scale with The Batt, but I don’t know what it looks like in the grand scheme of things.

Philadelphia City Paper cover by Art Baxter

Back in April, there was a mini-flap over the Village Voice not paying “Comics Issue” contributors. Editor Tony Ortega told me at the time that “in order to fill [the issue] out with so much art, we asked some artists to donate their work.” In Philadelphia, the City Paper told artists they had to donate their work and pay $5 to even be considered for the annual Comics Issue. (Cash prizes went to the winners.) It sounds like the alt-weekly won’t be doing that again. Here’s what the A&E editor Patrick Rapa wrote:

Also new this year was the $5 submission fee. Oh man, what a terrible idea. We wanted to “reward” the artists whose stuff we liked enough to print, but probably ended up discouraging some fence-sitters from taking a shot. Lesson learned.


How many entries did you get this year vs. average of previous years?

I haven’t figured that out – and I can’t right now; Tuesday’s our deadline day – but I’m certain we got fewer entries.

Do the published cartoonists then get a cash prize/compensation, or is getting published the reward?

All the money collected goes to the artists whose work got published in the issue. The top comic, as chosen by our expert judge Art Baxter, gets $100. Everybody else gets the divided-up remains of the entry pool. I still haven’t worked out how much that will be (we’re having a minor PayPal issue right now) but I’m hoping to bolster it with some money from the paper if we’re under our editorial budget. Even then it will be meager. I’ve already warned the winners not to quit their day jobs.

I saw the one comment from a cartoonist who wanted his $5 back [I’ve posted it below]; what other reactions are you getting?

Well the initial reaction, when the contest was first announced, was decidedly negative. Pretty much all the complaints were about the entry fee. Once we announced we’d enlisted Mr. Baxter, however, at least some of our detractors appeared to be satisfied. Since the
issue came out, the only negative responses I’m aware of were left as comments, both from people whose comics didn’t get chosen for print, for whatever that’s worth. I do agree with the one who wishes we’d printed more comics. The one who’d like his/her $5 sent back is out of luck.

One last thing: We use the $5-per-entry/winners-get-the-money model for our annual fiction/poetry contest and everybody seems to like it, so that’s why I thought it would work with comics. I was wrong. The comics world is a different animal.

From the City Paper’s comments:

I want my $5.00 back. As a professional cartoonist, I don’t agree with your choice for first place. First of all, it was too talky. Yes, the text was interesting but in a comic strip a picture should speak a thousand words, not a thousand words a picture. Second, the drawings appeared to be rushed. There was very little line variation, the scenes were too dark and in the last panel the art was way too busy . My wife and I barely made out the Invisible man, we thought he was part of Frankenstein’s jacket. And the tiny captions in that panel were unnecessary. The smiles on the monsters faces (except for the Invisible Man) showed that they were glade to see the Count. May I suggest that you run all of the submissions, including mine, on line and let the readers choose the top 10.

Check out that “too talky” winning entry, by Mike Sgier.

“Ken Finkleman should sue @AaronSorkin for stealing Newsroom name then make a new George Findlay series.”

Craig Saila, director of digital products at the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, tweeted that on Monday after reading that Aaron Sorkin plans to call his new HBO series “Newsroom.” I learned through a quick search that Ken Finkleman created “The Newsroom” in the mid-1990s, and starred in it as ratings-obsessed news director George Findlay. (Plot summary from IMDb.) Saila wrote me in a Twitter direct message: “1st season very much in the vein of Sports NIght, but much darker – similar inside jokes about Cdn. media as Sorkin’s will have.”

Variety’s Jon Weisman also thought of “The Newsroom” when he heard about Sorkin’s reported title choice.

[The title] makes me wonder if those folks have forgotten about Ken Finkleman’s great Canadian program “The Newsroom,” shown in the U.S. on PBS, or if they just don’t care about recycling the moniker. Perhaps it’s an homage. I’d hate to think Sorkin has never heard of it.

Finkleman starred in and exec produced the series, which ran in periodic installments beginning in the late 1990s and became a cult favorite in these parts for its sharp humor and storytelling.

Sample line, after word spreads that the show’s news anchor has received a death threat: “I’m not going to nickel and dime my anchor over his life. But the fact is (bulletproof) vests are expensive, and I don’t know if I can justify it.”

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