Daily Archives: August 28, 2012

Forty-eight years ago today, the Beatles appeared on the cover of Life Magazine — an issue you can still buy for $67.95. There’s also a story about 15-year-old Tom Joyner and his 19-hour battle to land a fish. (Thanks to former police reporting rival Duane Dudek for the tip.)

* Sally Singer is out as New York Times T Magazine editor. ( | (
* Praise for Neil Steinberg’s Neil Armstrong obit in the Sun-Times (
* LAT readers question placement of Armstrong and Romney stories. (
* Rex Sorgatz: The New York Times needs to build a membership program. (
* The Red and Black still faces a crisis, according to a former editor and board member. (
* No love for Huffington Post White House correspondent Sam Stein on Reddit. (
* The best college humor publications. (

— From my Facebook wall

* “The optics aren’t what they look like,” says NYT’s Dean Baquet (
* Florida GOP chair says there’s a concern over “optics” (
* “Optics”-hater Dylan Smith on Facebook

More optics examples? Please share them in the comments section.

UPDATE: “I wrote a little blog post about how annoying the word “optics” is in US politics,” tweets Oliver Burkeman. The subhed on his piece:

‘Optics’ is not just ghastly jargon coined by DC insiders. It also unwittingly describes politics’ disconnect from people’s reality

AJR also sends its “‘Optics’ Epidemic” piece, while a Facebook friend emailed this New York Times essay.

The twenty students in Kyle Moody’s “Specialized Writing and Reporting: Video Games and Communication” class will meet this evening for the third time in a University of Iowa classroom.

The school launched the class this semester because “computer gaming is as much a part of our lives as movies or journalism,” says Iowa j-school director David D. Perlmutter. “It deserves the same rigorous standards of reporting and analysis.”

Moody believes this is the first time “a major research university has offered a class like this.”

It’s not surprising that “Video Games and Communication” is popular — “I did have to turn many students away,” says the teacher — and has a mostly male enrollment. “I do wish more female journalism students would join the course since there is a demand for female video game journalists.” (Moody recommends Leigh Alexander’s recently published essay on games journalism, “as her views reflect my concerns about gender issues and the maturity of games journalists.”)

I was curious about the video games class structure and assignments, and asked Moody if he’d forward his syllabus, which he did.

His detailed syllabus says that “it is the aim of the class to teach students to write about video games and electronic media as part of their professional development as journalists” and “explore how journalism affects the video game industry and the persons involved in it.”

It will then delve into critical thought towards how video games function as communication of narratives, social ideas, cultural norms, and gendered, racial, and sexual dimensions. Students are expected to be able to write meaningfully and effectively about digital games from a critical-cultural evaluative framework. By doing this, you will also be able to develop writing skills of effective critics, skills that are required for today’s technological and cultural journalists and bloggers.

Moody adds: “I expect that you will treat this class as an opportunity for professional development and engaged learning, not as your personal recess period.”

Required books:

* “All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Video Games Conquered Pop Culture” by Harold Goldberg.

* “Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter” by Tom Bissell

Moody also has students reading several magazine and newspaper articles, including:

* “Video games can never be art,” by Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)
* “Detectives: Murder motive may have been video game fantasy,” a news story by Joel Moreno (Seattle PI)
* “From bullies to heroes: Homophobia in video games,” by (
* “One Night in Skyrim Makes a Strong Man Crumble,” by Tom Biseell (Grantland)

Students are required to keep a play log, or a “plog” — notes taken while playing or watching video games. Moody advises:

You do not have to buy the latest videogame console or title for these “play logs” and feature writing responses to count. I encourage you to note any game that you play for these logs because the skill here isn’t designed around the game you play, but rather how well you discuss this playing method. The game can be as simple as Tetris, Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, or as complex as Starcraft, World of Warcraft, or Portal.

For their final project, students have to write a 1,000 to 1,500-word game review or feature. (A video presentation is also acceptable.) “I want this project to be an entry into a portfolio of work that you will take with you to any prospective employers in the video game industry,” Moody tells his aspiring journalists.

Kyle Moody

I asked him about his interest in video games and his favorites.

I’ve played video games since I was young, with a keen interest in adventure games, action titles and puzzle games. My favorite games are those that combine elements of all three genres, from Portal to Shadow of the Colossus to Tetris Attack and Half-Life. I don’t play as often as I wish I could due to academic and professional obligations, but I do try to carve out some time for gaming on the weekends.

“I would certainly love to teach this class again in the future,” he says, “and there has been a tremendous positive response from persons in and out of the university.”

* IGN partners with University of Iowa to kick off video game journalism program (
* Video game journalism goes to college (

Dylan Byers asked New York Times managing editor Dean Baquet about today’s revelation that reporter Mark Mazzetti forwarded an advance copy of a Maureen Dowd column to a CIA spokesperson in August of 2011. Baquet’s response:

I know the circumstances, and if you knew everything that’s going on, you’d know it’s much ado about nothing. I can’t go into in detail. But I’m confident after talking to Mark that it’s much ado about nothing. The optics aren’t what they look like. I’ve talked to Mark, I know the circumstance, and given what I know, it’s much ado about nothing.

* NYT reporter leaked advance copy of Dowd column to CIA (

Advance’s Harrisburg Patriot-News and Syracuse Post-Standard announced this morning that they’re changing their print schedule to three days a week beginning in January.

The Patriot-News will publish a Sunday edition and the two other days of publication “will be determined after gathering input from readers and advertisers. The Syracuse paper will have Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday print editions. (Pulitzer-winner Sara Ganim is tweeting the news.)

Stephen Rogers, editor and publisher of the Syracuse paper, told his staff that “if we simply maintain the status quo, if we continue to do just what we have been doing — no matter how well we do it — The Post-Standard would face extinction in a matter of years. The economic model that has supported The Post-Standard and newspapers around the country is no longer sustainable.”

The question now: When will the Advance-owned Oregonian announce that it’s cutting its print schedule?

* Patriot-News changes print schedule to three days a week (
* Post-Standard print edition to come out Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays (

“Aaron Sorkin and I went to high school together, so I don’t think of him as Aaron Sorkin like you do,” CBS MoneyWatch editor-at-large Jill Schlesinger said on CNET’s 404 podcast. “I think of him as Pippin because he played Pippin in the high school play.” She says of “The Newsroom”: “It’s so high-minded and snobby. …It sucks, but I’m watching it.” (
* Few reporters leave Tampa to cover the New Orleans storm. (New York Times)
* “On the convention floor today, there were more reporters than delegates.” (
* Study: Three-quarters of newspapers’ election coverage is written by men. (
* Bloomberg launches Bloomberg Insider, a glossy magazine for the political conventions attendees. (
* Jason Whitlock rips former colleague Joe Posnanski and his Joe Paterno book. (
* Megyn Kelly’s Fox News ratings are going up even in a rough year for cable news. (AP via
* founding editor-in-chief Merrill Brown is named director of Montclair State University School of Communication and Media. (
* J-school director on writing colleague’s obit: “At moments like these, journalism sucks. But we have a duty.” (
* NYT standards editor resurrects his popular After Deadline Quiz. (
* Emergency motion to stay Tribune Co.’s emergence from bankruptcy for six months is denied by judge. (Chicago Tribune)