Monthly Archives: May 2012

(Credit: Cody Hamiton)

Austin Man Magazine calls Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith “the very incarnation of the mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan media outlet” — a guy with no secret life, no dark underbelly, and no tortured soul within.

Smith tells the magazine:

I’m not a lonely person, but I am anti-social. Those are two different things. Over the years, I’ve become very anti-social. I do not like being out among a lot of people . I feel uncomfortable in a crowd. I don’t like being with people particularly, and yet the job and life I’ve chosen are completely counter to that.

* The least interesting man in the world (Austin Man Magazine)

As someone who spent a lot of time with the orange tabloid spelling bee word lists in elementary school (fifth-grade champ!), I enjoyed this Quora thread asking, “Is being a spelling bee champ really anything to crow about?”

No it isn’t, says 2002 second-place national champ Deepti Arora. “Spelling bees are kind of a circus,” she writes. “There are many awkward kids, many with autism or Asperger’s, who are so galvanized by their parents’ enthusiasm that they can’t remember why they’re even there.”

Deepti Arora

If I could go back ten years and talk to my parents, I would tell them to encourage me to instead:

Pick a cause that I was passionate about and figure out how, as one person, I could raise money and increase awareness

Join a sports team of some kind and learn how to better interact socially with kids my age

Learn how to create something. I wish someone had told me to try to compose, write, program, or draw something new, rather than just memorize what’s there.

Any spelling bee stories to share? Please post them in comments.

* Is being a spelling bee champ anything to crow about? (Quora)
* It’s the day of the National Spelling Bee finals (Vermont Public Radio)

New Orleans Times-Picayune editor’s memo to staff, sent this morning:

From: Jim Amoss
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2012 7:18 AM
To: Newsroom Staff
Subject: some facts

Dear colleagues,

In our meetings at Howard Avenue and the East Jefferson bureau you said that you wanted to be told the facts as clearly as they can be told at present. I’d like to do that here:

* After the changes we announced take effect in the fall, we will have a smaller staff. However, our reporting arm will be at least comparable to what it is now. We will continue to be probing and ambitious in our coverage.

* Concerning pay in the new companies, I want to dispel some rumors: There could be some salary adjustments, depending on changes in job descriptions. But most people will make what they make today, if not more.

* I love printed newspapers and want to be proud of the ones we produce when we go to three editions a week. At the same time, we need to focus on the growth of New Orleans’ digital audience. It’s a vital part of our future. We can’t hesitate to embrace it.

* Both our digital and our print content will be distinguished by the high quality of journalism our readers have come to expect.

I know that the days since our announcement last week have been enormously stressful to all and wish I could ease the pain. Jim.


One staffer’s reaction: “Regarding Jim Amoss’ quote about the ‘reporting arm,’ …. what does he say about the editing? He said in the staff meeting that I attended that stories would be blogged unedited and that only three people on the digital side will be reading and making corrections throughout the day. That copy will then be published in the three print editions. But he gave no clue what size newsroom staff will be required for that. Can the rest of us just expect to be thrown under the bus? And speaking of expectations, these days of limbo have been unbearable, emotionally and physically. The words cruel and unusual punishment come to mind.”

* “A sentimentality rarely seen in daily newspapers has always surrounded The Times-Picayune” (
* More Times-Picayune news from The Gambit, New Orleans’ alt-weekly

* Fox News criticized for producing and airing Obama video that looked like a campaign attack ad. (New York Times)
* Etan Patz’s father pulls distribution rights for his photos from the Associated Press. (
* “We are no longer a newspaper company,” Chicago Sun-Times editor-in-chief tells his staff. (Crain’s Chicago Business)
* Jonathan Stray: What journalists do can’t be reduced to one thing. (Nieman Lab)
* “Save the Times-Picayune!” petition goes up on (
* Ex-reporter (now comic book writer) with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome sues Seattle Times over dismissal. (Seattle Weekly)
* St. Paul Pioneer Press offers buyouts. (A contract signed last week allows layoffs and expands freelancing.) (
* Ex-New York Daily News Michael O’Neill dies at 89. Paper ran “Ford to City: Drop Dead” hed during his tenure. (Associated Press)

The Atlantic’s Megan Garber explains Politwoops, which launched today:

When a pol has deleted a tweet, Politwoops records the deletion and archives the message. It also records, helpfully, the time of deletion and the amount of time elapsed between posting and deletion. Think Tweleted, only politics-focused and operational.

* Now you can track the tweets politicians tried to delete (The Atlantic)

From Geoff Nunberg’s “Fresh Air” essay on hopefully:

“You hear people saying that a misused ‘hopefully’ or ‘literally’ makes them want to put their shoe through the television screen, but nobody ever actually does that — what it really makes them want to do is tell you how they wanted to put a shoe through the television screen. It’s all for display, like rhesus monkeys baring their teeth and pounding the ground with their palms.”

* The word “hopefully” is here to stay, hopefully (NPR)
* AP: We now support the modern usage of “hopefully” (
* AP Stylebook adds fashion terms, expands social media section (

* Insiders detail Birmingham News’s digital strategy (Media of Birmingham)

All reporters and photographers will have company-issued laptops and cell phones, filing content to rather than for the next day’s print edition. Plus, they’re expected to shoot photos and videos and participate in social media. One staffer said the editors will “dip” into the “rivers” of posts for the Sunday, Wednesday and Friday newspapers.

-- slide from Birmingham News branding strategy presentation

Keith J. Kelly reports in the New York Post: Announcements in New Orleans and Alabama “sent shock waves through the Newhouse-owned papers back East, which include the Star-Ledger in Newark, the Times of Trenton, the Jersey Journal in Jersey City and the Staten Island Advance.”

The president of University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s student government claims his organization has the constitutional right to name the school’s newspaper’s top editor, and says it will do that at a June 4 meeting. (For many years, a panel of professors, journalists and students has chosen the editor-in-chief of the Rebel Yell.)

UNLV journalism professor and Rebel Yell Advisory Board member Mary Hausch points out:

It’s a peril for any news entity to derive its authority from a government entity. It’s an intolerable situation for student journalists to be placed in. …I cannot encourage my students to work on a newspaper where the editor is chosen by the student government.

This is from the Rebel Yell’s story on the controversy:

Jami Vallesteros, chair of the RYAB [Rebel Yell Advisory Board], said he’s spoken with journalists, both outside and within UNLV, who find the appointment of an editor-in-chief by the student government problematic.

“I think the consensus is that it’s unethical for a government entity to be controlling a supposedly independent paper,” Vallesteros said. “The key here is to not have CSUN appoint editors.”

Mark Ciavola

Mark Ciavola, the 37-year-old student government president who also serves as Nevada College Republicans chairman, says he wants to see that student fees are spent responsibly and doesn’t intend to influence editorial decisions.

“The idea that we’re supposed to fund half the budget and they don’t want us appointing the editor-in-chief because of independence is laughable.” (The paper gets about $111,000 a year from student fees.)

* UNLV student government wants to name Rebel Yell editor (Las Vegas Sun)
* Rebel Yell editor-in-chief process draws controversy (Rebel Yell)

The Associated Press is trying to get its Washington, DC bureau designated a “prostitution free zone.”


From: Tobias, Ed
Sent: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 08:58 AM
To: !All WDC Staff
Subject: Prostitutes on 13th Street


I’ve been in touch with the commander of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Third District about the resurgence of the prostitution problem in front of our bureau. My email included a request that the 1100 block of 13th Street be designated as a “prostitution free zone.” If designated as such, police officers would have an easier time making arrests for loitering. Here’s the response that I just received from Commander Kishter:

Thanks Ed we will address.

Also, the prostitution free zones are under legal review so currently so they are not being used, but we can definitely do some undercover work in the area.

Jacob Kishter
Metropolitan Police Dept.
Third District



Ed Tobias
Manager, Business Continuity and Disaster Planning
Global Security Department
Associated Press
Washington, DC

* WaPo in 1989: D.C. police order prostitutes to march to the state line