Daily Archives: January 6, 2012

What I tweeted to @romenesko followers today:

Phil Bronstein

* Ex-San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein leaves Hearst Newspapers
* Yahoo’s new CEO gets a $27 million pay package for 2012
* Group that’s expressed interest in Boston Globe takes controlling stake in Portland Press Herald parent
* Interested in a summer internship on NPR’s Social Media Desk? The application deadline is Feb. 15
*Romney camp not surprised by Boston Globe’s Huntsman endorsement
* Claim: Celebrity weeklies should be nervous about new Kardashian magazine

New York Times Co. completed the sale of its Regional Media Group newspapers to Halifax Media today.

A tipster writes: “I did some rummaging around online and found NYT / Halifax’s SEC filing. Most interesting thing I found:”

c) The Purchaser further agrees that it will not engage in any action within 90 days following the Closing that will create any obligation or liability under WARN to any Business Employee or Transferred Employee, including terminating in excess of 49 Transferred Employees at any single or combined site of employment, less the number of Business Employees terminated by any Seller at any such single or combined site of employment, other than for cause, in the 90-day period prior to the Closing.

Here is the memo from Halifax Media’s CEO:

Halifax Employees,

This afternoon Halifax Media Group concluded the purchase of the New York Times Regional Media Group. More details will be available later, but I wanted to let you know our company is now five times larger than it was yesterday. This strategic acquisition not only increases the size of the company, but also increases the opportunities for networking and career advancement.

Thank you for all the hard work. Here’s to a great 2012!

Michael Redding
Chief Executive Officer

Halifax Media Group
901 Sixth St, Daytona Beach, FL 32117

An article on Monday about Jack Robison and Kirsten Lindsmith, two college students with Asperger syndrome who are navigating the perils of an intimate relationship, misidentified the character from the animated children’s TV show “My Little Pony” that Ms. Lindsmith said she visualized to cheer herself up. It is Twilight Sparkle, the nerdy intellectual, not Fluttershy, the kind animal lover.

Twilight Sparkle

New York Times corrections, December 30

I asked Amy Harmon, author of “Navigating Love and Autism,” about the correction that’s gone viral. Her story:

My little pony problem came to our attention through multiple channels. One was a call to the reader comment line, prompting the clerk who checks those messages to send this email to an editor who handles corrections:

–From the story “Navigating Love and Autism” by Amy Harmon, 12/26

On page 6 of the web version there is a “nerdy intellectual character” referenced from the My Little Pony TV series named Fluttershy. A reader seems quite convinced that the character Twilight Sparkle fits that description more so than Fluttershy.

That is all.

When I got the email, with a request to check it out, I had just spoken to the young woman in my story, Kirsten Lindsmith, about the mix-up. Kirsten did not formally request a correction — it came up as we debriefed on the broader response to the story. But the passage was clearly unsettling for someone with her penchant for both Ponies and accuracy. (In a way it looked like SHE had been confused, which I worried would cause other pony devotees in her online forums to give her grief.) I had also received email from a reader that was generally positive — he had autism too, and hoped to have a romantic life of his own, he said — but which pointed me to the Wiki pages for Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy. “I hope this will help you to understand,” he wrote.

Amy Harmon

Yes, I knew the correction was funny, on some level. We even tried, a little bit, to maximize its entertainment value in the way we worded it. The editor who helped me did predict that it would earn a place in the correction hall of fame. But I have to say I’ve been surprised at the extent of the reaction, especially the comments – well-meaning as they are — that imply we went above and beyond in making it. “Perhaps the reporter has undiagnosed Asperger’s,’’ someone wrote in a Facebook comment forwarded to me by an amused friend.

The Times’ rule is, we correct anything that is wrong, no matter how small or seemingly silly. And I don’t know any of my colleagues who would want to do differently. I hate to get any detail wrong, and when I do, I often have a moment of fantasizing about just letting it slip. But as I sat there that morning, kicking myself for a relatively small mistake that marred a story I had poured my heart into, it seemed so much worse to let it stand. Not correcting it would have undermined the credibility of the other 5,011 words of the story – at least for “My Little Pony” fans. And I think we have seen now that they are not an obsessive subculture to be taken lightly.

Another part of the Times’ corrections policy, which arose after the awfulness of Jayson Blair, is that each correction is entered in a tracking system that includes who was responsible, and an explanation of how the error came to be.

So in case you were wondering, it was my fault, and this is what happened:


I was accompanying Kirsten to school, taking notes on my laptop as she drove. She was listening to music on her iPod known to Pony fans as “dubtrot,” — a take-off on “dubstep,’’ get it? – in which fans remix songs and dialogue from the show with electronic dance music. Anyway. The song features Fluttershy exclaiming “yay,’’ which I wrote down. Then Kirsten told me that in the Pony universe, the seasons do not change on their own. She talked animatedly about one episode in which the ponies do “winter wrap-up,’’ bringing back the birds that had migrated, clearing away the clouds.

I remember thinking the manual season-changing was a metaphor for people with autism, for whom the social interactions that come naturally to many of us have to be consciously learned. (This seemed way too tortured when it came time to write.) Twilight Sparkle had a big role in that episode, and it was then that our conversation then shifted to her nerdy intellectual personality. But I never wrote down her name. I did run the sentence I ended up with by Kirsten, but it was one of a million things I was checking with her over the course of several drafts, largely by email. I failed to adequately flag it, and she was understandably focused on the other details, many of them deeply personal, that she was choosing to share.

I truly regret the error.


* The best New York Times correction ever

Author Stephen Elliott has launched Letters in the Mail, which sends readers who pay $5 monthly an “almost weekly” letter from people like Marc Maron, Margaret Cho, Emily Gould, Tao Lin, and Jonathan Ames. “These letters, it’s important to note, will never be posted online — at least not with Mr. Elliott’s blessing,” writes Matthew Creamer.

* Can the letter make money in an iPad world?

Sydney Spies

Today’s the deadline for Durango (Colo.) High School students to submit the photos they want used in the yearbook, and the shot on the right is the one that Sydney Spies and her mother have chosen.

Initial reports said school administrators wouldn’t allow the girl’s photo in the book because her attire violated the dress code, which requires that tops “fully cover the chest, back, abdomen and sides of the student.” But today’s Durango Herald says it was student editors who rejected the image.

“The administration really had nothing to do with it,” Tevan Trujillo, a student yearbook editor, told the paper. “It was us.”

Brian Jaramillio, another editor, adds: “We are an award-winning yearbook. We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional.”

The girl’s picture could still run in the section reserved for paid senior advertisements, the editors said. “Those ads usually feature ‘shout-outs’ from friends and family and are located at the back of the yearbook,” reports the Herald’s Paige Blankenbuehler.

Spies — here she is on Facebook — claims the student journalists caved in. “The editors all turned their backs on me and changed their minds. I really do feel like they were intimidated by the principal.”

* Student editors make call on yearbook photo
* Administrators say senior’s yearbook photo violates dress code | Read More

As The New York Times Co. prepares to close the sale of its Regional Media Group papers to Halifax Media, Dana Beyerle reflects on Alabamians’ relationship with the company’s flagship paper:

When the sale of the regional papers was announced, comments on our web pages were not kind. They went like this: New York Times, I hope you fail, you liberal, lying rag.

In conservative Alabama that’s not a surprising reaction to the great New York Times that certain people love to trash. Sometimes when people ask what I do, I tell them. Invariably the New York Times link comes up. They just stare and I know they want to trash the Times. Most are too polite.

Beyerle has good things to say about the company, though: “In going on 22 years in the capital bureau, I’ve never once had anyone from the New York Times tell me how to do a story, what to cover, how to cover it, what to include or not include, except for requests for local help as a stringer.”

* Thanks for the memories, New York Times Co.
* Staffers at 2 NYT regional papers will keep their jobs
* Earlier: Web post reveals NYT Co. is selling regional papers

In recent years the number of college-ranking lists has exploded. “Many are compiled by start-up Web sites, media outlets or marketing companies using creative mash-ups of statistics, pseudo-statistics and online reviews submitted by anyone with an e-mail address,” notes Jenna Johnson.

There are lists of friendliest students and hairiest students (Rutgers men are allegedly in dire need of razors). Biggest party schools and party dorms. Most significant architecture and schools most like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts (hands down, the University of Chicago). There’s even a ranking of the most unranked schools (ever heard of Madonna University in Michigan?).

The president of Denison College felt he had to write his trustees after the school was named one of the “druggiest” and point out that his campus had fewer than a dozen drug-related arrests in 2010. He noted that some college rankings are compiled by “the electronic equivalents of supermarket checkout line tabloids.”

* Number of lists ranking college proliferate – and some don’t make sense
* Medill students, faculty react to #2 ranking in best j-schools poll | The rankings