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Daily Archives: November 12, 2012

* University of Washington caps live game coverage and threatens to revoke a reporter’s credentials. (geekwire.com)
* John Koblin examines ESPN’s love for Tim Tebow and asks: “How can the company produce honest journalism when it’s in business with, well, everybody?” (deadspin.com)
* Chris Berman apologizes for ESPN’s “Roethlisberger ‘Drink & Drunk'” graphic. (deadspin.com)
* Poynter’s deal with ESPN is just about up. (@richarddeitsch) | Maybe ESPN needs two ombuds. (@richarddeitsch)
* USA Today general manager Susie Ellwood is named Austin American-Statesman publisher. (statesman.com)
* Nate Silver: “I have to, frankly, avoid the tendency to spread myself too thin.” (chicagomag.com)
* NBC plans to change the “Today” show leadership. Alexandra Wallace will be in charge of all four hours. (nytimes.com)
* Will Mark Thompson be able to focus on NYT as the BBC meltdown gets gooier and gooier? asks Ken Doctor. (newsonomics.com)
* Non-GOP candidates are excluded from a weekly paper’s coverage. (missoulian.com)
* Do PR people and journalists really hate each other? (kernelmag.com)
* New York Daily News staffers get an update on their flooded headquarters. (capitalnewyork.com)
* Houston Chronicle says its “Top Workplaces Guide” is “one of our most prolific and profitable initiatives.” (houstonpress.com)

“This is the funniest police department press release/FAQ I’ve ever seen in my life,” Albany Times Union news research director Sarah Hinman Ryan writes in an email.

The former Seattle resident is referring to Seattle Police Department “Blotter” writer Jonah Spangenthal-Lee’s quirky post, “Marijwhatnow?: A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use in Seattle,” in which he give answers to questions like:

* “Can I smoke pot outside my home? Like at a park, magic show, or the Bite of Seattle?” and
* “What happens if I get pulled over and I’m sober, but an officer or his K9 buddy smells the ounce of Super Skunk I’ve got in my trunk?”

The Twitterverse loves it: “awesome”; “pretty amazing”; and “very coolly written” are among the comments.

Who is Spangenthal-Lee? He joined the police department in March after working as a crime reporter at The Stranger alt-weekly and PubliCola, and launching SeattleCrime.com. A Stranger editor says Spangenthal-Lee “has the chops of a hard-boiled 1940s reporter with one of those over-sized ‘Press’ cards leaning crookedly in his fedora [but] is actually an amiable, young hip-hop dude.”

I asked him about his “Marijwhatnow?” release.

The reaction’s been great thus far. I figured it would be a hit, but it’s still feels pretty good to see it shared all over Fark, the Seattle Reddit page, Facebook and Twitter. When I took this job, my goal was to help the department proactively put out timely, clear information in an accessible way, and I think this is a great example of that. Internally, the feedback’s also been very positive as well.

I was curious about the last line of his post: “This post has been updated since its initial publication to include more legalese and fewer references to narcotics dogs which, as it turns out, are still a confusing, complicated issue still under review.”

He explained:

As to the update, I was asked to add some boilerplate lawyerish changes and disclaimers — “According to state law,” “allowed” to “not prohibited” and “the Seattle Police cannot predict or control the enforcement activities of federal authorities,” etc). Nothing about the actual content or style, though.

Spangenthal-Lee

The line about drug dogs was “police can only use a narcotics dog if they have a warrant,” which as it turns out is a much more complicated legal issue (or so I’m told). It seemed easier to just remove that line rather than try to unpackage a whole series of ideas/issues that didn’t actually do much to help get at the answer to the question I was trying to answer.

While I’ve never liked having to make edits to a piece so quickly after posting, I see this as a bit of a living document, which will be amended over time as attorneys, state, local, and federal officials pick over the law to figure out exactly how this is all going to play out.

How is the transition from traditional reporting to SPD Blotter reporting going?

My experience at SPD has been great so far. I don’t doubt they knew what they’d be in for when they brought me on, but the department’s chiefs and my boss have been very supportive and flexible about letting me try some things that are, stylistically, a bit different from what you’d typically find on a .gov site. They’ve let me continue to do the things I’m good at in the way I like doing them.

* Marijwhatnow: A guide to legal marijuana use in Seattle (seattle.gov)
* March 1: Spangenthal-Lee joins Seattle Police Department (seattletalk.com)
* Earlier: Ex-TV reporter writes entertaining blotter items for Madison police (jimromenesko.com)

New York Times union members are voting tomorrow on a new contract, and “the membership is deeply divided,” writes Times reporter Donald McNeil. He shares staffers’ comments from his email list.

A PROBABLE YES VOTE:

Two things seem clear.

1. Our negotiators did a heroic job in getting a much better deal than management wanted to come up with and deserve our praise and thanks for their incredibly hard work.

2. Said deal is still disappointing and perhaps insulting, and we’d all like a better one.

What’s not clear to me is whether there is any realistic hope of getting a better one, how that would come about, and whether it makes any sense to face the real and onerous risks of a strike, if it comes to that. I’m willing to listen, but unless I’m convinced a “no” vote would be more than a brave but likely fruitless and damaging statement of principle, I’m inclined to vote yes. Either way, sincere thanks to all who’ve posted yay and nay for their smart and helpful thoughts.

Peter Applebome

A NO VOTE:

Subject: Sacrifice

People – forgive me for the melodrama but I’m sitting in a car driving through the desert in Chad and I have some time to ruminate about this.

Anthony Shadid died while covering a story.

Joao Silva got his legs blown off on assignment.

Several local employees of the Baghdad buro were assassinated for the work they were doing for us.

Enough is enough. We all make HUGE sacrifices for this company. If there is enough cash in the system for Janet to walk away with millions, there is enough to pay us fairly.

By voting no, we send that message loud and clear.

Jeffrey Gettleman (filed on his Blackberry from the desert in Chad)

Read more arguments for and against contract ratification after the jump. Read More


Three Chicago Tribune reporters were recorded without their consent by City Hall officials, but a city attorney insists there’s no widespread taping practice and he promises it won’t happen again, reports the Tribune’s Robert Channick.

Tribune editor Gerould Kern declined to comment to his reporter and instead referred him to a letter the Tribune’s lawyer sent to City Hall, which asks officials to save all recorded conversations and turn them over to the newspaper.

Channick writes: “Firing back against the Tribune’s complaint, City Hall said the newspaper had failed to get consent for a taped interview with a city official Friday.”

In Illinois, recording a conversation without approval of all parties is a felony.

* City Hall admits improper taping of Chicago Tribune reporters (chicagotribune.com)

* Mark Thompson begins his duties as New York Times Co. CEO. (capitalnewyork.com) | A mistake, says Ken Doctor. (newsonomics.com)
* David Carr on Thompson: “I don’t see anything that would prevent him from doing his job.” (washingtonpost.com)
* New scandal creates crisis at BBC. (wsj.com) | Two more execs step aside. (nytimes.com)
* Is the death of newspapers the end of good citizenship? (csmonitor.com)
* “We’re closer to Fox News than we’ve ever been,” says MSNBC boss. (nytimes.com)
* School district tells Texas newspaper: We’re suing if you don’t pull mismanagement articles about us. (themonitor.com)
* Departing “Marketplace Money” host Tess Vigeland confesses she’s never been good with money. (marketplace.org)
* Organizers of the “dowdy” National Book Awards dinner try to make the event glamorous. (nytimes.com)
* Larry Beaupre, editor who took the fall for the Chiquita phone-hacking scandal at the Cincy Enquirer, is dead at 68. (Times-Tribune.com)
* “It’s apparent that people still want their blogs turned into books.” (chicagoreader.com)
* Bold design break — red type! — for Los Angeles Times’ overdose series. (laobserved.com)
* Arianna Huffington wants you to watch your stress level. (adage.com)

Mark Schultz’s News & Observer colleague John Frank calls this “the BEST lede ever,” and others agree. “Totally restored my faith in the snarky wonder of journalism,” tweeted Khadijah Britton. “LMAO!” wrote Curt Golden. Gawker founding editor Elizabeth Spiers and BuzzFeeds’s Zeke Miller were among those who shared the “peeing in his compost” story with their followers.

Schultz tells Romenesko readers his piece appeared on the front page of Sunday’s Chapel Hill News. (“It goes to 38,000 households in Orange and Chatham counties in North Carolina, including about 8,000 as a local news section in their News & Observer. I posted it Sunday afternoon to the N&O website as well.”)

It didn’t take long for readers to react.

“I would like to personally thank you for enriching my life,” one wrote the reporter. “That was one of the most hilarious articles I have ever read in my life.” Another told him: “Gotta give you an upvote on that opening sentence. Never saw that in the N&O before!”

Any trouble getting the lead into the paper? I asked.

“I checked with my publisher beforehand. She seemed hesitant at first but let me go with it.”

The reporter adds: “I even emailed the guy [Roy Mars] back to make sure he was OK with using it. It’s the way he had started the story to me on the phone. He said ‘absolutely.'”

About urinating in the compost:

“I Googled it, and sure enough — apparently tons of people do it. It saves water (from not flushing) and improves the composting process. Who knew?”

* Man says he saw UFO fly over Carrboro (newsobserver.com)