Daily Archives: March 14, 2012

* Berkeley police chief blasted for getting reporter up at 1 a.m. and insisting story be changed. (Oakland Tribune)
* Los Angeles Times adds editor, more reporters to Orange County. (Los Angeles Times)
* There once were giants on the copy desk (Baltimore Sun)
* Newsman who died after sex with young woman “would have understood why The Oregonian needed to print the story,” says widow. (
* Staffers at Washington City Paper, Chicago Reader and Creative Loafing Atlanta have to take 5% pay cuts. (Washington City Paper)
* Carl Lavin joins as Lead Homepage Editor. (Carl Lavin)
* Gannett is creating a national digital-first news team based in McLean. “We’re calling it The Desk.” (Gannett Blog)
* NYT bonus structure rewards bosses with 175% of their target payouts for achieving a mere 2.5% return on invested capital. (Breakingviews)
* Former “Charlie Rose” intern sues over alleged wage violations. (New York Times)
* “I totally get the need for forming fair internal policies at media outlets that aggregate,” but… (paidContent)

Daily Caller reporter’s email:

From: Matthew Boyle
To: [Democratic National Committee Communications Director] Brad Woodhouse


I’m giving you until 10 a.m. tomorrow to answer this question, then I’m reporting Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not supporting Holder.

Does Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz still have confidence in Holder after Fast and Furious?

Matthew Boyle
Reporter, The Daily Caller

My tipster writes in an email: “I may not be familiar with all news-gathering traditions, but I don’t recall attempted blackmail being taught at most J-schools.”

I’ve invited Boyle and Woodhouse to comment.

Update —
Woodhouse writes: “This blackmail from the Daily Caller is beyond the pale. The Chair’s support for Eric Holder is complete and unwavering – we ignore dozens of media inquiries all the time for a host of reasons – time, importance, slant of the outlet (I.e. Daily Caller). It doesn’t mean an outlet can make up our position for their own ends or try to blackmail us into an answer.”

Boyle writes: “Already gave one to Ben Smith: [Buzzfeed link].”

I tried, Sarah, but New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal wouldn’t cooperate.

I called op-ed page editor Trish Hall early this morning and, in a message, told her I was hoping to learn more about Greg Smith’s “Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs” op-ed.

My phone rang about an hour later and it was Rosenthal, who said he wouldn’t be revealing much about the piece.

“He contacted us, we vetted him, and we edited him. Obviously, it was great material for an op-ed. We put it on the page and everybody seems to be reacting.”

Andrew Rosenthal

I asked a few more questions, and he declined to answer them.

“You’re no Amy Harmon,” I said, laughing.

I could tell he didn’t get the joke, so I explained that his Times colleague was willing to give details about her story — and correction — for my readers.

I see that the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone didn’t have much luck either. He writes: “Rosenthal did not respond to follow-up questions about the vetting process, and deputy editorial page editor Trish Hall, who oversees op-eds, did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.”

* Greg Smith’s Goldman Sachs resignation letter was vetted by NYT

* The story behind “the best New York Times correction ever”

Multiple tipsters report that Bloomberg News has fired Finance Team editor William Ahearn. “As an editor and newsroom manager, Bill is right up there with Abe Rosenthal, Paul Steiger, Harold Hayes and the other greats of our profession,” says one Bloomberg veteran, adding that the dismissal has “shocked and saddened Bloomberg bureaus around the world.” (I’m hoping to to hear back from Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet.)

UPDATE FROM TRIPPET: “Bill has left the company and we wish him the best.”

Ahearn was the editor of former Bloomberg News senior writer A. Craig Copetas, and the editor who was managing Copetas’s investigation into torture and fiscal corruption in the United Arab Emirates. Bloomberg recently fired Copetas, who was based in Paris. A source told me last month:

Copetas angered the local Bloomberg bosses in the emirate – anxious to keep the peace with the many millionaire Bloomberg customers there – by seeking to uncover tales of human rights abuses, including alleged police torture with the complicity of a member of the royal family, and persecution of foreign businessmen.

Ahearn was executive editor at the Associated Press before joining Bloomberg a dozen years ago. It’s tough getting details about his Bloomberg dismissal — I’m still trying — because “the fear inside [the newsroom] is toxic.” Send anonymous tips to jim@jimromenesko.

* Earlier: Bloomberg fires star feature writer A. Craig Copetas

Andrew Miller of Fast Horse Inc. in Minneapolis writes: “The attached clip ran on Star Tribune’s website yesterday. Pretty unfortunate (or brilliant?) headline break. Anyway, the story was only appeared as such for about 20 minutes. One would think Richard Nixon practiced a more archaic form of sexting.”

This email came in Tuesday afternoon from a former Indiana Daily Student staffer who asked not to be named:

“Many alumni were shocked yesterday that a fundraising plea went out on Facebook and other social media, supposedly from the paper, that funding was needed to send reporters to cover the NCAA tournament in Portland. Within hours of the posting, $2000 was raised from concerned alumni, like myself. Upon further investigation, alumni found out this wasn’t approved by the paper and instead was the result of other reporters wanting to attend as well. All money is supposed to be returned.”

In fact, the paper wasn’t behind the fund drive; it was the idea of alum Nathan Hart, who covered Indiana basketball for IDS last year.

Here’s what he wrote on the WePay fundraising page:

The Hoosiers are in the NCAA Tournament, and they are playing in Portland! The IDS is able to pay for half the trip to send the three reporters and a photographer to cover the game(s). The other half? That’ll be out-of-pocket for the basketball reporting crew.

That’s where we can step in! If you’re an IDS alum or just a fan of the student newspaper, we can help the reporters Avi Zaleon, Connor O’Gara, and Kevin Bowen and photographer Chet Strange, who have all covered the team all season, cover that out-of-pocket expense!

Wouldn’t it be great if a bunch of people — fans or IDS alums, excited about helping these IDS reporters and photographer, contributed $25 each to help them on their way to Portland?

“It took off,” Hart writes in an email. “Newspaper alums, friends of student media and others quickly contributed. The outpouring was incredible — people (especially IDS alums) were eager to give. Our goal was $1,800 and we had $1,200 within 12 hours, entirely on small gifts. People were excited about this, posting the link on Facebook and Twitter. In less than 24 hours, we reached the goal.”

In fact, they exceeded it by hundreds of dollars.

Then the plug was pulled.

An editor’s note in today’s paper says that the fundraiser “was not authorized by the IDS and the IDS management and editorial staff were unaware that it even existed until well after several hundred dollars had already been raised.” IDS editor-in-chief Zach Ammerman continues:

The IDS had already committed to pay to send one reporter and a photographer to cover the game, but others also wished to go. They were told they could go if they paid for the plane tickets themselves as our travel budget only allowed for the purchase of two tickets. The others agreed and paid for their own tickets to Portland.

Upon hearing this, an IDS alumnus decided he would try to help us out by starting a fundraiser, with the money going to help all of the reporters and photographers. This helpful alumnus didn’t think to ask the IDS’ management and editorial staff if this would be okay.

While I appreciated the outpouring of support for the IDS in this fundraiser, the IDS unfortunately cannot accept donations for our coverage.

Nathan Hart explains “how this thing got started, the goals and the issues that arose” in an email after the jump.

Read More

On Tuesday morning I pointed out that the Poughkeepsie Journal had all of this week’s “Doonesbury” strips on one page in PDF format. A reader let me know in the afternoon that they were gone. Journal executive editor Stuart Shinske tells Romenesko readers why:

After having posted the Doonesbury strips for the week on our website, we were asked by the folks at Doonesbury’s syndicate to publish the strips one day at a time.

We were happy to comply with that request.

* Star-Ledger: Facts behind “Doonesbury” abortion strips no laughing matter
* Des Moines Register: “We heard you [about “Doonesbury”] and we’re responding”
* Trudeau: “As far as I’m concerned, there is no subject that’s off the table”

After reading the news about Encyclopaedia Britannica ending its print edition after 244 years, I asked former editor Charlie Madigan if he wanted to share his thoughts with Romenesko readers. Madigan left the Chicago Tribune in 2000 to work for the online encyclopedia, but ended up returning to the newspaper. His email:

This was inevitable. As a senior editor at, where I went to work after decades as a newspaper editor, I had high hopes for the idea of giving away knowledge. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what it was about. It was all about monetizing information and selling the Britannica brand. Mostly selling.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to see advertising for “seers and advisers” on the website. On the other hand, the place really knew how to burn up money quite well. I had a fantastic staff of specialists in everything from philosophy to history and a very strong, if small, news team. I positively loved working with them. But it was clear after a few months that the company was headed for “issues”, among them ethical issues connected to the mission, that had always had a way of popping up at Britannica. Was the place about information or was the place about profits? That was the split at work as I walked out the door after returning a big wad of stock options that were never going anyplace.

Charlie Madigan

I learned an important lesson about the kind of people drawn to web operations. Many of them had no connection to the kinds of ethics and training that were so essential in journalism. Talking about the public’s right, and need, to know with some of those folks was like talking to frogs about poetry. I would see this again and again, even after I returned to the Tribune. My assumption at the end was that I was an ancient fart raised on a mixture of Roman Catholicism, H.L. Mencken and a daily reading of The New York Times, which dated me, of course, but kept me very well informed.

I am sad about this decision. I had the whole shebang Britannica encyclopedia and delighted in just sitting down and picking it up at random and reading. It didn’t have as many bared breasts as National Geographic, but there was a good deal of depth to anything that book presented. The lingering delight about the place was my connection with the boss, Janice Castro, who was old school and explosive and still great company, and all the young subject editors who were among the smartest people I have ever met and quite eager to create something different. Long story short: I didn’t know what I was getting into and it was very hard once I realized what I had done. But that was my problem, not the problem of the great people who worked there.

* Britannica editors: Change is okay. Really.
* One of the few print encyclopedias left standing is World Book
* Madigan’s Britannica post from 2008: Why almost everyone is wrong about newspapers and the Internet

Romenesko reader John Hubbell of Old Bridge Media writes: “This is one of the best political headlines I’ve seen in years. Anyone who can a get ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ reference into this campaign is 20 times the writer I’ll ever be. Had to point this out.”

UPDATE: Star night city editor Bill Edwards deserves credit for this, says editor Bob Davis. “Yellow-hammered” was considered — that’s what Alabama’s often called — but editors figured that many readers wouldn’t get it. “Rick-rolled” was also suggested, but then Edwards told colleagues watching election results in the newsroom: “I’ve got it! ‘Driving Mitt Crazy.'”