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Daily Archives: October 5, 2012

* “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” author Jose Vargas is arrested in the Twin Cities for not having a valid driver’s license. (minnpost.com)
* Tom Tomorrow reports the Village Voice will no longer carry his cartoon. (@tomtomorrow)
* WaPo’s Dan Balz is “a refreshing island of calm in a frenzied era.” (ajr.org)
* Today’s tribute to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger started two minutes early — “in his honor.” (nytimes.com)
* Gawker gives one month paid leave to employees who’ve put in four years. (Business Insider via sfgate.com)
* Hulk Hogan threatens to sue Gawker for posting his leaked sex tape. (tmz.com)
* Eric Zorn: Shame on the three journalists who wrote supportive letters for Blago’s associate. (chicagotribune.com)

Jay Rosen calls Joe Eskenazi’s SF Weekly piece on Bleacher Report “a must read, but also a dark one, for future-of-newsies.” (The subhed on the story: “Unpaid writers churn out terrible articles and the owners get a $200 million payday.”)

Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum says it’s “one of the best media stories of the year,” while Bleacher Report Writer Program manager King Kaufman blasts it — of course! — as “a hatchet job.”

On Thursday afternoon, I talked to Eskenazi about the reporting of his story. (He says he interviewed between 85 and 125 people and has 150 pages of notes.)

“I started thinking about doing the story when they were sold on August 6.” (Turner Networks bought Bleacher Report for nearly $200 million.) “I shifted into heavy gear towards late August and turned it in on September 17th” after “I managed to get a hold of very high-level people — the ones who really drove the story.” They told him about the site’s habit of reverse-engineering content — coming up with an SEO-friendly headline and then writing a story that fits the premise.

Joe Eskenazi

“I had the good fortune to speak to someone who was able to tell the amazing stuff at the beginning,” he said. “I hadn’t known about the whole reverse engineering of content until I started interviewing …People are now saying online that that’s not how it works at all. That’s totally untrue. I’m saying that it’s right or wrong, just that it happens.”

He added in a Deadspin chat held this afternoon: “If people truly objected, they’d not visit the site. …Bleacher Report has done a spectacular job of deciding how to obtain success and obtaining it. Personally, I wish their considerable intelligence and skill could be used to spread good journalism.”

* Top 5 ways Bleacher Report rules the world (sfweekly.com)
* King Kaufmann: What Eskenazi got wrong about Bleacher Report
* “Come chat with the author of that terrific story about Bleacher Report”

Levi Matthew Tucker, 23, “had a little meltdown due to his so called girlfriend using him and throwing him away,” according to a Facebook friend. He allegedly threatened to kill someone and told people wanted to commit suicide by cop.

At 3:50 yesterday afternoon, he wrote his someone’s-going-to-die status update.

Police arrived minutes later and surrounded Tucker’s home. He let his Facebook friends know that. (One commented: “tucker. what the hell did you do? You should have called before getting stupid.”)

At 5 p.m. he walked out of the house unarmed and was sent to jail on a felony harassment charge.

The good news: Nobody has “Liked” the above two messages — so far.

* Man in standoff posts to Facebook as SWAT surrounds home (bellinghamherald.com)
* Levi Matthew Tucker’s Facebook page

The federal judge who sentenced longtime Illinois power broker William Cellini to a year and a day in prison disclosed Thursday that “three prominent journalists” wrote letters in support of the Republican lobbyist and fundraiser.

(credit: WTTW

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass says he and other reporters in the courtroom were “shocked” by the revelation.

Prominent journalists? Is that why he was able to fly under the radar for so long?

Those names are sealed in the court file per [the judge’s] orders, I’m told, but whoever they are, the three prominent journalists and the others and Mrs. Cellini got what they asked for. They wanted mercy from [the judge]. And that’s what he gave them.

In his column about the letter-writers, veteran Chicago journalist Dennis Bryne asks:

Are they newspaper publishers and owners or broadcast general managers? If so, their elevated rank should not exclude them from the practice of journalism ethics.

I don’t expect to get any answers. There is no agency that investigates journalism ethics as practiced in Chicago or nationally. Nor should there be. There’s something called the First Amendment that protects freedom of the press.

But the revelation should require some news shops to do some serious self-examination. It’s one more arrow piercing the public’s already deflated opinion of the media’s trustworthiness.

FYI: Cellini’s spokesman is Richard Ciccone, who was the Chicago Tribune’s managing editor from 1982 to 1995.

* Judge reveals “prominent journalists” wrote pro-Cellini letters (chicagotribune.com/12th graf)
* What three Chicago journalists pimped for William Cellini? (chicagonow.com)
* A look at how the Chicago papers have covered Cellini (beachwoodreporter.com)
* Newsman: Cellini got the Al Capone treatment, but I’d never write a letter for him (capitolfax.com)


“What may save Piers Morgan, in the end, is the disastrous state of everything else at CNN, which makes his show slightly healthier than almost anything else (except maybe Anderson Cooper). ‘We are the leper with the most fingers,’ someone who works on Morgan’s program told me.” — Sarah Ellison, writing in her Vanity Fair “Blood, Sweat and Piers” piece.


New York Times religion columnist Mark Oppenheimer says five things got him to self-publish his Dan Savage biography:

1. I finished a glossy magazine article with a lot of good stuff left over.

2. Despite the fact that space on the web is free, despite the fact the web should liberate newspapers and magazines to do truly long-form stuff, there is still no reliable way to get a 12,000-word (or, increasingly, a 5,000-word) piece to the masses.

3. Creative control.

4. Money.

5. I had a good editor already.

Oppenheimer says his publishing project cost him about $500 up front, and he’ll get almost 90 cents on the dollar from sales — much more than if he had only used Amazon to peddle the book. (Oh, and that “good editor” he mentions? That’s his wife.)

How’s it selling after a couple of days? I asked. “My web guy is in Frankfort, so we’ll have metrics when he gets back. Fingers crossed…”

* Why a NYT journalist self-published his e-book (markoppenheimer.com)

HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED:

* The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg wrote Wednesday: “I’ll never understand why [Michael Wilbon] seems to go out of his way to antagonize the [Washington D.C.] fans and readers who helped turn him into a national star.”

Steinberg (left) and Wilbon

* Later that evening, Wilbon wrote on Facebook that Steinberg and ESPN’s Bran Weinstein “felt the need to whine like a little babies because I didn’t speak a company line [in ESPN The Magazine’s D.C. issue] that agrees with their hypersensitive feelings.”

* Steinberg fired back on Thursday, saying that Wilbon softened his criticism of D.C. as a sports town. “Wilbon chose to cover up his embarrassment at so quickly retreating from the “terrible” description by taking repeated shots at Bram Weinstein and me, which is cool. I get it. Changing the subject is a perfectly appropriate way to divert attention, and one I’ve frequently used.”

* Wilbon then wrote this message to Steinberg on Facebook last night: “Anytime, anyplace you want to post and compare resumes or career highlights I’m more than happy to engage. Until then, I’ll form my own opinions, popular or not, without seeking your permission.”

* He followed with: “I realize I got too angry in my response to what I feel is a personal attack on me…and absolutely went too far in criticizing Dan Steinberg.”

* Denver Post newsroom employees are now required to join the guild. (westword.com)
* Welcome to the fact-free, anger-choked world of newspaper comment threads. (lasvegascitylife.com)
* International Herald Tribune celebrates 125 years. (wwd.com)
* New York Times Co. shares hit 52-week high in pre-market trading (yahoo.com)
* Conde Nast editor: “2012 isn’t going to be as big a year as we hoped.” (nypost.com)
* W’s Nina Lawrence leaves Conde Nast for WSJ. (adweek.com)
* Lehrer says his job at the debate was “to stay out of the way.” (politico.com)
* Mediabistro TV tours the Newsweek and Daily Beast offices. (mediabistro.com)
* Journalist accused of fling with boy-band member awarded damages. (bbc.co.uk)*