Daily Archives: February 9, 2012

* When should NPR producers warn listeners about graphic stories?
* CNBC hires VH1 producer to jump-start its development of reality shows
* Washington Times opinion editor Emily Miller finally gets her gun
* Wemple on media coverage of Roland Martin’s homophobic tweets
* Why the GigaOM and paidContent deal makes perfect sense
* College students to help Magazine Museum enter digital era


Harry McCracken, who has been a Time and contributor, joins the magazine full time as Editor at Large. The Technologizer founder and former PC World editor’s expertise “is matched only by his versatility,” says Time managing editor Rick Stengel’s memo. “He writes long, writes short, knows the inventors and the consumers, offers the expert product review and then the high altitude perspective on the forces that are changing the industry and the culture.” Read the memo after the jump.

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Central Michigan University is going to start offering an undergraduate certificate in social media. Students have to take 12 required hours of journalism classes and one three-credit hour elective to get the certificate. “The program will inform students on the ethical implications of social media and will teach students to maximize online traffic to meet business objectives,” writes Central Michigan Life reporter David Oltean.
*Journalism deparment to offer social media certificate

Dear Patch: I am not your enemy.

I read your Evanston site regularly, and appreciate finding out what’s happened to my favorite places when they suddenly go dark. I even like your “what’s happening with this vacant storefront” idea. I’ve been bugging your competitor, the Evanston Review, to find out if it’s true that the vacant Blockbuster building up the street from me is going to become a Trader Joe’s. (They haven’t published anything about it yet, so the story is all yours!)

I really am a big fan of hyperlocal.

In fact, I was hyperlocal nearly two decades before you launched.

In 1992, I started a biweekly paper in Milwaukee called The Public Record. The concept of the four-page publication was simple: One big feature (or photo-essay), and a list of every burglary and armed robbery on Milwaukee’s “trendy” east side and downtown.

The paper was a hit from the start.

I’d go to coffee houses and hear people talk about burglaries in their neighborhood that they’d read about in The Public Record. I’d get calls from retailers who wanted larger drops because they quickly ran out of the paper and customers were asking for it. (I also got calls from store owners who didn’t want “that crime sheet” anywhere near their establishment.)

Putting the paper together was fairly simple: I went to Milwaukee Police Headquarters a few times a week and picked up the daily crime sheets for police districts #1 and #5, which were my coverage areas. (I believe I paid a dime for each page.) I went home and typed brief summaries on my Mac SE. They’d go something like this:

1400 block of N. Prospect Ave.
Jan. 14, between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. intruder broke kitchen window and stole jewelry, VCR, stereo and purse containing $75. No suspect.

There were over 100 of these agate crime summaries that ran in the margins of every issue, next to “the big feature.” Those stories — some written by friends — ran about 1,500 to 2,000 words. There were pieces about art-school nude models, a huge tattoo convention, a quirky artist colony and a shady mayoral candidate. One of my Public Record writers interviewed four young people about what it’s like to suffer a nervous breakdown. My upstairs tenant heard about the project and told me for the first time about his history of mental illness; he was included in the package.

I thought the stories were interesting, but I knew that people picked the paper up for the crimes. (“Not to scare, but to make aware” was The Public Record slogan.)

The Public Record slogan

Every other Wednesday night I’d take my Mac floppy disk to the Milwaukee Magazine offices (I was a “semi-retired” senior editor at the time) and — with the publisher’s permission — designed the newspaper on a “Super Mac.” I’d usually wrap things up at about 3 or 4 in the morning, then drive the finished pages to the printer in Hartland, about 35 miles away. I’d put the four 11-by-17 pages into a drop-box, then head home and crawl into bed at about 5:30 or 6 a.m. Four hours later the printer’s courier would drop the 5,000 newspapers on my porch, and I’d call my distributor and put him to work.

The distributor — a medical student who dropped out of school after bit too much LSD experimentation — was paid $20 for leaving papers at about 35 outlets. (I met the guy while working on a feature about an apartment building occupied by grave-robbers, witches, prostitutes and, well …. other people like that.) My writers were friends who loved seeing their words in print for the first time and didn’t expect to get paid. What was missing was an ad salesperson; I had some $1 classifieds, but no display ads. I wasn’t in this for the money and the $185 per issue printing bill was manageable.

I ended up folding The Public Record after a few months for a few reasons. My volunteers’ enthusiasm started to wane, and I was getting tired of fetching police reports from MPD headquarters every other day or so. I also caught myself nodding off at the wheel a few times during my 4 or 5 a.m. drives back from the printer. My only regret is not saving some issues for my archives. Only the Wisconsin Historical Society, and my archivist-photographer friend Julie Lindemann still have copies. (She and John Shimon [NSFW photo] scanned the images you see here.)

So, Patch people, I believe in hyperlocal, too — as does my source for yesterday’s story that you’re all attacking. I know that editor-in-chief Brian Farnham sent out an email last night calling this person “a gutless asshole.” I disagree with that assessment; I think the source is merely a concerned employee. So how about knocking off the “witch hunt” that I hear is going on?

Gannett U.S. Community Publishing president Bob Dickey tells employees: “This offer was designed to be as attractive as or better than others in the industry. The Early Retirement Opportunity Program also is the first offered by Gannett since 2008. The offer provides for salary continuation of two weeks’ pay for each complete year of service, capped at 52 weeks, and ongoing health, dental and vision coverage during this period.” Read his “confidential” letter after the jump.

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Want to make sure the story about you that runs in the paper when you die is correct? Write it yourself.

That’s what retired Manitowoc (Wis.) Times-Herald managing editor Marge Miley did. The news story about her career — she last revised it a dozen years ago — was on file at the Reinbold Pfeffer Funeral Home, which made arrangements after Miley’s death on Tuesday morning. The lead: “Marge Miley has met her last deadline. It’s time to write ’30’ on the story of the life of Marge…”

She was a mediocre golfer but loved the game. She was an avid Green Bay Packer fan and had season tickets for 30 years.

Marge was in demand as a public speaker, especially after her retirement and entertained stories about her early days at the newspaper.

* Marge Miley reaches final “milestone”

The story that Marge Miley left at the funeral home is below:

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Demand Media’s stock soared 33% to $22.65 on its IPO day a year ago; on Thursday, shares fell to $5.92 after they were downgraded.

Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt, in his note on Demand Media, said the company’s approach to mass producing content is under pressure as Google and other online search engines penalize sites that are deemed to have lower quality offerings.

* Demand Media stock reels after Morgan Stanley downgraded
* Earlier: There’s a hidden “major asset” data gem in Demand’s business

Northwestern University School of Communication Professor Max Dawson used to joke that he’d someday teach a class on “Survivor.” He tells the Daily Northwestern’s Coco Keevan: “I tweeted incessantly about the show for probably the last five or six seasons, and it became something I was known for among other academics.”

Today his class — “RTVF 330: The Tribe Has Spoken: Surviving TV’s New Reality” — is a hit with students.

The response was overwhelming, with so many students requesting enrollment that the class doubled in size before the start of the quarter. Now, the castaways [in the class] are as diverse as any true season of “Survivor,” composed of the show’s fans, reality television nuts, pop culture apostles and people who didn’t quite know what to expect.

Dawson has been profiled twice in the last few weeks by Northwestern publications. Here is today’s Daily Northwestern piece, and here is the Jan. 25 profile of Dawson and his class in North by Northwestern.

James Fallows

James Fallows answered many questions from Reddit visitors this week, including: “What are your daily reads? Do you still flip through a print newspaper?” His response:

Get three real newspapers at home: NYT, WSJ, WaPo. The last is mainly for legacy/sentimental reasons, plus its still-good sports section.

Eric Schmidt, Google bigshot (and friend of mine, by chance, since long before his Google era) had an argument for the virtues of a printed newspaper. He said that he liked the finiteness of it — and the sense that when you got to the end, you could think you were “finished” in a way that you never can be with an online news source. To that I would add the ergonomic superiority of newspaper layout to web page layout. You can glance at a front or inside page an, in half a second, get a sense of the importance and range of stories, in a way you can’t (as easily) with a site.

* I am James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic

Bob Giles, who retired last year as Nieman Foundation curator, has been named commentary editor at the international news site GlobalPost. “This is a special opportunity to bring to GlobalPost insightful analysis, provocative ideas and personal experience from contributors around the world,” he says in a release. “Our goal is to publish pieces that invite conversations about global topics people care about and want to know more about.” The release is after the jump. Read More