Daily Archives: April 25, 2012

The Newspaper Guild of New York sends this message:

About 65 to 70 Reporters and Editors from the Newsroom at The New York Times formed a silent gauntlet at this morning’s Times Company annual stockholders meeting. They lined up in the lobby of The Times building in Manhattan and handed out leaflets that contained a highly critical analysis of the company’s position during 13 months of bargaining with the Guild. That analysis was written by Times Labor Reporter Steven Greenhouse.

They also leafletted outside the meeting with a banner and large sign that said: “Without Us, it’s just White Space.”

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and other Sulzberger family members as well as other Times executives were also forced to walk past the lined up staffers, who are getting angrier by the day about the lack of progress on a fair contract…and the company’s continuing demands for a ten to fifteen percent cut in compensation.

More info and Photos of the protest can be found on the New York Guild’s Facebook page.

(Credit: Mark Allen Miller)

* Can an algorithm write a better news story than a human reporter? (
* Nashville Scene blames auto-correct for identifying Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson as a “communist.” (Nashville Scene)
* David Simon: “Anything that says content should be free makes it hard for all writers, everywhere.” (
* ESPNer was so devastated by “Chink in the armor” headline fallout that he vomited several times. (The Blaze)
* Daily Dot founding editor Owen Thomas resigns and “has some awesome opportunities in front of him.” (Daily Dot)
* How two photojournalists are taking on Philadelphia’s gun crisis. (Philadelphia Weekly)
* Dan Savage: Village Voice wouldn’t run my column 21 years ago because it was too dirty. (MediaBistro)
* Gawker shows the search warrant that was delivered to the Fox Mole’s apartment. (Gawker)

“The New York Times appears to have done away with its ‘Single Page View’ on its web site,” Gawker’s John Cook tweeted last Friday.

I was still getting the one-page option, so I figured it was a glitch.

Then today I got this email from a reader:

on some articles the NYT no longer gives single-page options. I think it’s crap to do this with a paywall in place and without announcing it. they’ll say it’s just a test no doubt.

It’s no test; Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy explains what happened:

We unintentionally removed the single-page button when we launched a new version of our share tools last Thursday. By late Friday afternoon, it had been replaced. Users may need to refresh cache for it to take.

(I put Murphy’s last line in bold.)

The Detroit Free Press fired City Hall reporter Steve Neavling last week. Detroit Metro Times has the back-story, and Neavling has some tweets about the dismissal.

Letter to Romenesko

From DAVID LARTER: Not sure how the Washington Post, New York Times, Oregonian and a bunch of other newspapers would feel about having their A1s doctored for a political video sponsored by some agenda group in DC called Free Market America.

From "If I Wanted America to Fail" video

Anyway, the funny thing about this video is it talks about bullying in DC and “regulations only lobbyists can understand” but a quick Google search reveals that “Free Market America” is really Americans for Limited Government, a think-tank of sorts out of Fairfax that spent nearly $100K to retain D.C. lobbying firm Aduston Consulting. Ironic.

This only comes up because the group’s video is posted on Drudge Report as if it were a link to a news story. It kind of makes me mad that they faked the A1s of so many newspapers. It’s misleading.

Credit: @mileskahn

Rex Huppke’s Chicago Tribune essay (“Facts, 360 B.C. – A.D. 2012”) was Tweeted over 3,500 times and recommended on Facebook more than 24,000 times. “Its overall shares, via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, Google+, Digg, Reddit and Tumblr, totaled more than 88,990,” reports Caitlin Johnston. She writes:

Sure, news sites can attract a large audience with pictures of two-headed cats and Kim Kardashian, but this was different. This resonated.

“It wasn’t one of those cheap kinds of clicks,” [deputy metro editor Mark] Jacob says. “Those are empty calories. With this, they’ll read all the way to the end, and they’ll talk about it and remember it.”

* The man behind the Obit for Facts
* The story behind the best op-ed ever

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) reports newspaper website traffic was up 4.4% in the first quarter, and that “newspapers achieved a more than 7% increase in unique visitors ages 21 to 34, with average daily visits by this age group up 17 percent and total visits rising by 15 percent.”

NAA president Caroline Little says in a release that “these numbers provide strong evidence that newspapers are making solid progress with their innovative efforts in the digital space.” The release is after the jump. Read More

John Lavine is stepping down as Medill dean at the end of the school year. I asked two Medill alums — both had issues with deans during their years at Northwestern — what qualities they thought the next dean of Northwestern’s journalism school should have. My thanks to David Spett and Sam Eifling for their contributions.

Four years ago, David Spett made national headlines after questioning Lavine’s quotes in the alumni magazine. “One quote, attributed to a student in a 29-person class, contained unnatural-sounding phrases like ‘I sure felt good’ and ‘truth-telling in journalism,'” wrote Spett. “I contacted all 29 students, read them the quote and asked whether they had said it.” They all said no.

Spett now works at the Center for American Progress.

The opportunities arising from the changing media landscape and the distress over print publications in financial turmoil have justifiably brought substantial change to Medill.

David Spett

But in embracing and coping with these challenges, the school lost touch with the basics. There are some amazing faculty members, but also some poor ones, particularly in the core courses. Certain programs and offices are well-run; others lag. In my time there from 2004 to 2008, I found the administration frequently ineffective, at times even incompetent.

So the next dean must be an efficient, effective administrator, one with the vision to plot a future for Medill and the courage to make personnel decisions that will create a more competent faculty and ensure smoother functioning of the school.

Medill’s name change confuses me, since I consider journalism and marketing to be opposites of one another. But as long as Medill is a journalism school, it also needs a dean who understands and is familiar with the craft of journalism. He or she should be forward thinking, open to innovation, keenly adept with technology and new media, and uniquely thoughtful on the journalism industry’s evolution. Such a dean would realize that journalism’s tenets are the same as ever: New technology influences the way people get information, and yes, it demands certain changes in journalism education. But it does not fundamentally change the craft.

My advice to those involved in the search for a new dean? Look for someone who won’t forget the basics.


During the 2001 Medill graduation ceremonies, Dean Ken Bode read an email from one of his critics, student Sam Eifling. “The ceremony’s mood took an awkward, almost hostile tone,” the Daily Northwestern reported. Eifling was one of nine graduates who refused to shake Bode’s hand when they accepted their diplomas.

Eifling is finishing a master’s program in journalism at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver,

In any economic system, the profits shrink as the barriers to entry approach zero. Journalism knows this better than anyone. Websites are a nickel per half-dozen, photostreams radiate from every iPhone, and Twitter feeds are like opinions are like assholes — everybody has one. For a j-school to demonstrate its worth to students, it cannot throw them into the same pool with the hordes of mom’s-basement netizens. I like some of the measures Medill took in the 10 years after I graduated. More students study abroad now, and experience in Doha, for one, benefits greatly from institutional leverage. But the school still has to add value to a craft that has been steadily devalued since Craigslist hit the industry like a plague of locusts. Young journalists have been encouraged to fill this value void by building our own personal brands, presumably without sounding like self-absorbed twerps as we do so. But we can’t compensate for an industry that won’t fund its product, and more than self-promoting, we need to be shown where the resources are and how to use them.

Sam Eifling

Many alumni felt our guts lurch during the school’s renaming, some foofarah around dropping the words “integrated marketing” into the title. The whole point of going through journalism school and getting a reporting job and fighting the formerly good fight is to avoid a life of spreadsheets and market surveys and optimized workflows and all the other petty scrapping that most jobs involve. Journalism done right shouldn’t be mistaken in any form for clerical clock-killing. It should marry joie de vivre with rat cunning and an indefatigable sense of justice. The only reason journalism workplaces can survive as so legendarily inhumane is that the craft itself is still, for its warts, kind of a blast. A marketer’s worst fear is being poor or ignored; a journalist’s is simply being bored.

When I met Dean Lavine last year at my 10-year reunion, I pressed him on this question of how a journalism school can survive as such if it’s intertwined with marketing. He replied that all media are, in a sense, marketing themselves. Would you rather your story be read by few people, or by many? This realpolitik stance works only to a point. Journalists know the dance, nudging your work into the world without being seen to call too much attention to it, writing the cover letter that stops shy of saying you should get the job. Preferably, an advocate (an editor, a colleague) takes up that mantle for us. Preferably, at a school, the faculty does that on behalf of the students.

I like to say that the best editors shield their reporters from the pressure of putting out the paper, allowing the reporter to focus on writing. This is what an ideal journalism school dean does. The dean digs for resources to fund overseas programs and technology labs and the like (Helen Gurley Brown’s gargantuan gift toward media innovation at Stanford and Columbia proves that a few folks still pay for media these days). The dean looks ahead to the emerging areas in the field and makes interdisciplinary connections. The dean fosters a sense of media entrepreneurship over a sense of relentless marketing. The dean hires faculty who can teach, above all, the killer apps of journalism: reading, writing, reporting, editing. Then the dean allows those faculty to focus on the students. My contretemps with Ken Bode, the dean during my undergraduate days, stemmed foremost from his persistent disregard for faculty and students who I happened to think represented the best of Medill. He chose to make a private disagreement we had very public, and in so doing displayed a level of self-regard that reflected badly on the school and the craft. Egos are inevitable in a business that puts its practitioners’ names in print and on Chyrons. But squabbling is the last resort of the marginalized.

The school could do more to pull students — hell, the whole craft — out of a petty frame of thinking. Whether it would be possible within the university or not, I’d like to see Medill move its core classes to a pass/fail grading system. Allow students to take chances and screw up with aplomb. A young journalist who doesn’t make mistakes is one who’s not really trying. Charitably we might say the same for Medill’s recent deans.

You may recall that McClatchy execs were at the top of our newspaper compensation chart with 38.2% raises last year. So how are they steering the company? Here’s what McClatchy reported today:

* The newspaper chain lost $2.1 million in the first quarter vs. $2 million a year ago.
* Revenue fell 5.1% in the quarter from the same period of 2011, while ad sales fell 6.8%.
* The good news: Digital ad sales were up 2.7%. (The company says digital advertising now makes up 22.2 percent of its total ad picture.)

* McClatchy posts loss in first quarter | Press release
* How newspaper executives were compensated in 2011