Daily Archives: July 19, 2012

* Los Angeles Times accuses L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission of violating open meetings law. (
* “Marketplace” DC bureau chief John Dimsdale and other American Public Media employees get pink slips. (Current Blog)
* Chatting with Mad Magazine editor John Ficarra at Comic-Con. (
* Ex-LAT TV critic Howard Rosenberg: “If I ranted to my students they’d rebel and throw their iPhones at me.” (
* Washington Post’s Scott Patton – known for nurturing young writers and his sardonic wit — dies at 57. (Washington Post)
* Times-Picayune editor hesitates, then sighs when asked if he expected the reaction to his paper’s digital plans. (
* St. Louis media outlets have a problem spelling Zach Galifiankis. (Riverfront Times)
* Worcester Telegram & Gazette says farewell to a “dark, dirty and poorly lit newsroom.” (
* Tampa Tribune sale “probable” but no timeline given. (Tampa Tribune)
* Are celebrities deciding it’s too risky to be on Twitter? (New York Times)
* Follow Romenesko on Twitter.

Sam Grobart, who joined the New York Times as personal technology editor four years ago, will continue writing about tech and do multimedia projects at Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

The memo from his bosses at the Times:

From: Ingrassia, Lawrence
Date: 19 July, 2012 15:36:38 EDT
Subject: Sam Grobart is leaving to join Bloomberg BusinessWeek

We are sorry to tell you that Sam Grobart has accepted an offer from Bloomberg BusinessWeek to develop multimedia projects and write features on technology and other topics.

Sam Grobart

We will of course miss Sam. He joined The Times as the personal technology editor in August 2008. His innate sense of good service journalism helped us create the Gadgetwise blog, which focused on how to get the most out of personal technology. He was also instrumental in developing the look and tone of the Bits blog.

More recently he started his own column, Tool Kit, to offer advice on personal tech and he helmed the new Wednesday Tech video show with uncanny skill and presence. Sam may be best remembered for his clever tech videos, like the one where he broke up with his point-and-shoot camera in Bryant Park because with his cell phone’s camera, he no longer needed it.

A fountain of wonderful ideas, he also won a Sabew award and was a Loeb award finalist for the Pogue-o-matic interactive multimedia project for a holiday gift guide, and he was a behind-the-scene force in the Steve Jobs interactive packages The Times developed.

Sam’s last day at The Times will be Aug. 3. We wish him the best in his new endeavor.

Damon and Larry

[Note: I added links to this memo — Romenesko]

The Newspaper Guild of New York says that “by putting their dual-contract alternative on the table on Tuesday, management negotiators went out of their way to throw a wrench in the talks.”

The union adds:

Before this happened, we sincerely believed that we were on the road to getting a unified contract that would be good for digital and newspaper members alike, while giving management the relief it sought. Now, we don’t know what to think.

Read the guild’s letter to Times members after the jump. Read More

The latest from Ebyline’s Susan Johnston and Peter Beller:

It turns out that reporters’ salaries actually grew faster than the overall U.S. workforce right up until the financial crisis, when they plunged — it’s the journalistic equivalent of Wall Street investors’ “lost decade” of gains.

Journalists made almost exactly what the typical American made in 1999, according to Johnston and Beller, then climbed to 4% more than the average salary by 2007. “By last year reporters were making 8%, or almost $3,000, less than the typical American, not chump change.”

* Journalism’s lost decade (
* Earlier: Ebyline report on how journalists are faring in this economy (

Letter to Romenesko

From SIMON A. THALMANN: There’s a freelance journalist based in Kalamazoo who’s going solo on a trip to this election’s swing states to “get the pulse of the people” through telling their stories in the run up to the election.

Screenshot from Killian’s Kickstarter video

He’s funding the project on his own through Kickstarter and is asking for just $2,500: $2,000 for gas, $250 for food and $250 for a video camera. [I see he already has over $800, with weeks left in the campaign.]

(He’ll be living and working out of a 1984 VW bus.)

The guy’s name is Chris Killian, and I’m not affiliated with him in any way, so I’m not necessarily plugging for a friend here. I don’t think I’ve ever met him in person. I’m forwarding you this info because I’m also a journalist in Kalamazoo who’s been following Killian’s work for years and I feel like it’s heads and tails above the work of the average journalist. His Kickstarter page is also a great indication of the way the industry is shifting: A journalist sees there are stories that need to be told, and instead of waiting for someone to assign the stories and pay him to write them between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., he takes initiative and does it on his own.

* Voices from the Swing States — Chris Killian’s Kickstarter campaign

“Some papers and websites are actually replenishing staff and other resources,” Associated Press Sports Editors president Gerry Ahern tells Ed Sherman. “Opportunities, at least in some markets, seem to be growing. Certainly, there are exceptions.” One of those is Sports Illustrated, which Sherman reports is cutting 16 staffers. Three are being laid off and the rest took buyouts.
* APSE president says mood improved for nation’s sports sections (Sherman Report)
* Sports Illustrated makes staff cuts (Sherman Report)
* Sport Illustrated completes layoffs, photo staff hard hit (Adweek)

The San Jose Mercury News has a new dateline policy — it’s posted below — that’s sparked some newsroom debate.

The first note was written by assistant business editor Michael Dorgan, who is a former Knight Ridder foreign correspondent, and sent to managing editor Bert Robinson.

I want to express my objections to the new dateline policy. I think it’s a move toward less transparency with readers because it will give them the impression we are physically present at news events where we are not.

Maybe it’s true, as you say, that many readers assume a dateline merely indicates the location of a story. But discerning readers know it means a reporter actually has his or her feet on the ground. I think this move is big step toward deceiving those readers into thinking we are covering stories at the scene rather than remotely.

As someone who has filed news stories from 20 or so countries, I know firsthand there’s a huge difference between slogging through the pigshit in rural China or slinking through the back alleys of Rawalpindi to actually see, smell and hear what’s going on, rather than relying on Tweets or Facebook posts from those who purport to know. Those digital tools can certainly be helpful in providing fuller coverage of an event, but I fear we are quickly approaching a time when they will used as money-saving alternatives to real-life coverage, and that will only further erode our credibility as journalists.


Editor Dave Butler then weighed in:

Folks: Let me just make sure we are all clear on this. Our intent is not to deceive people. We’re not going to put a dateline on something that suggests we’re in Moscow when we’re not. On the other hand, putting a Cupertino dateline on Apple stories makes sense. Do we physically have to be in Cupertino every time? No. The same is true for San Jose stories.

I think the policy leaves room for discretion. We need to understand that what readers or journalists thought 30 years ago about datelines and what they think — and how the Internet works today — are much different. Our job is to figure out an honest and clear way to handle datelines. We don’t have that now. Datelines are being put on our stories for the web and the wires. So let’s give this change a try and we’ll feel our way. If we find we need to make changes, we certainly will do that.




From: Robinson, James H.
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 7:30 PM
To: &BANG News All
Subject: A new dateline style

Folks, effective immediately (ok, tomorrow) we’re going to adopt a common style across BANG for the use of datelines on articles, and that style will be to use them wherever possible, even with local cities. Some words of background:

Datelines have been one of the last remaining disagreements between East Bay and San Jose Merc style. The East Bay papers have long had a policy of using datelines on almost every story, in part because there’s no truly dominant city in the East Bay. The Merc has traditionally forgone datelines on “local stories” – which has meant stories from Santa Clara County and San Mateo County. This has forced us to add datelines whenever Merc stories are used in the East Bay. In addition, we add datelines online, since so many of our readers come from elsewhere and datelines are good for SEO (in our Digital First newsrooms, we all know what that means!). The result of these conventions has been mass confusion – frankly, none of our papers or our digital products currently has a consistent dateline style, because sometimes we remember to follow the style and change stories that don’t conform, and sometimes we don’t.

So we’re opting for simplicity and consistency, and the only choice we can reasonably make is more datelines rather than fewer. This brings us to a key question: What does the dateline mean? We’re going to go with what we think the dateline means to readers: the city that is the primary focus of the activity described in the story, not the city where we were when we did the reporting. There will be some gray areas and close calls as we institute this policy, but we’ll work through them.

This new policy is going to lead to some things that will be hard to get used to – I imagine Mercury News staffers and some readers will find that SAN JOSE dateline odd at first. But it beats “which city council is this again?”

Here’s the stylebook entry.

datelines. Datelines should be used on most news stories, whether originating from inside or outside our circulation area. The dateline references the city that is the primary focus of the activity described in the story, not the city where we were when we did the reporting.
Don’t use state designation with California cities or Reno. But Calif. should be used after the community’s name in datelines from places that readers are not likely to recognize as being in the state. Use Calif. also when needed for clarity: Ontario, Calif.; Nevada City, Calif.
Unincorporated areas in the East Bay and South Bay should be identified in datelines according to mailing address. For example, Blackhawk is in Blackhawk, etc. One exception is Ashland — some residents have a San Leandro mailing address, some Hayward, some San Lorenzo. Ashland can be used in the dateline.
Datelines should not be used in Web summaries.

If you’re wondering, here’s what the papers’ styles used to be:

Old EB:
Datelines should be used on most news stories. The dateline references the city that is the primary focus of the activity described in the story, not the city where we were when we did the reporting.
Don’t use state designation with California cities. If an obscure California city is named, identify its general location. An exception: When the dateline is out of state, use “Calif.” for clarity.
Use Pittsburgh, Pa., to differentiate from the Pittsburg in our circulation area. See AP.
Stories that begin with drop caps have datelines flush right on the line above.
NOTE: Unincorporated areas of Alameda and Contra Costa counties should be identified in datelines according to mailing address. For example, Blackhawk is in Blackhawk, etc. One local exception is Ashland — some have San Leandro mailing address, some Hayward, some San Lorenzo. Ashland can be used in the dateline.

Old SJ:
datelines. A story originating within Santa Clara and San Mateo counties carries no dateline.
Datelines should be used on wire stories from outside our normal coverage area and stories:

By reporters on assignment outside our normal coverage area.
Without bylines that originate outside the normal coverage area and are worked by telephone from a home office.

Calif. should be used after the community’s name in datelines from places that readers are not likely to recognize as being in the state. Use Calif. also when needed for clarity: Ontario,Calif.; Nevada City, Calif.

If in doubt, lean toward giving the information. One guideline is whether the community sounds as if it could be in another state; another is whether the context makes its location clear.

When a story filed from outside the state refers to a California community, use Calif. after the community’s name unless the reader can be expected to recognize it as being in California.
Some examples in which Calif. is not necessary: San Luis Obispo, Sacramento, Fresno, Walnut Creek.
Some examples in which Calif. is necessary: Creston, Grover City, Arroyo Grande.

Bert Robinson
Managing Editor/Content
Bay Area News Group

Your thoughts on datelines?

Adweek digital design director Alfred Maskeroni went to work after a photo of a Burger King employee standing in lettuce hit the web and came up with the above window ad. He tells Romenesko readers that BK people have yet to comment on his ad idea, but notes that “the image isn’t more than a day old, so it’s possible they haven’t seen it.”

* Burger King scrambling after feet-in-lettuce photo hits the web (Adweek)
* Read comments about the photo on’s Mayfield Heights page

* Jack Shafer’s “terrific idea” for Michael Bloomberg: Buy the Washington Post. (Reuters)
* “Scoop” Jackson’s son, Peter, named editorial page editor at Washington Post-owned Everett Herald. (Everett Herald)
* Tribune may use Los Angeles Times to lure buyers for its other papers. (New York Post)
* Glenn Greenwald leaves Salon, where he’s blogged since 2007, for The Guardian. (
* Ex-NBC News producers’ just-launched newsletter is “sort of like Newser (‘Read Less. Know More’) meets Daily Candy.” (
* The radio airwaves are alive with not just the sounds of departed hosts, but dearly departed hosts too. (Wall Street Journal)
* Nekesa Mumbi Moody named AP global editor for entertainment and lifestyles. (
* Pocket — formerly known as Read It Later — raises $5 million in second round of funding. (Capital New York)
* Douglas Brinkley forgets he once reviewed a book by Conrad Black. (National Review) | Try Google, sir. (Los Angeles Times)
* USA Today’s new editor-in-chief says farewell to MarketWatch readers, predicts a “thrilling ride” in his new job. (MarketWatch)