538 was featured today in Doonesbury. Now I can die in peace. doonesbury.slate.com
— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) November 20, 2012
For about two years now, Mount Pleasant (Mich.) Morning Sun readers with delivery complaints have been sent to a call center in the Dominican Republic — and often not getting satisfactory results.
“Language barrier was a huge problem,” editor Rick Mills tells me in an email. “From walk-in customers to phone calls, to calls to our Sound Off line, including letters and personal contacts with staffers talking to community members outside of the office, we heard complaints. They did not speak good English and it was obvious they were not in this country. Readers hated that.”
In a Facebook post, Mills called the outsourcing a “horrible experiment.” I asked him to elaborate, and he responded:
What made it horrible was many-fold. First, we provided excellent customer service here with a crew that would go so far as baking cookies for a disgruntled customer – one of them really truly did that once – just to keep them and talk them into giving our carrier another chance. That personal drive to keep our customers happy was gone with outsourcing.
Additionally, as readers found out they couldn’t get a human being in circulation, they discovered that if they pushed enough buttons they’d get the newsroom. Being a full-service newsroom, or at least we try to be, we refused to send them back to the Dominican Republic. So my news staff was frequently listening to angry customers who’d been bounced around, let down and were now angry. We had to hear them out, take their information, and go find a person in the building who could help them. It was not only a drain on staff productivity, but it was a morale-killer.
Mills credits Journal Register CEO John Paton for trying the outsourcing, seeing that it didn’t work, and then going back to the old way.
The News Service of Florida says its “Gaetz: Elections Will be Fixed” headline posted earlier today “may go down in history as one of the worst-chosen ways to say what we meant, which was that [Florida Senate President Don] Gaetz is pledging to improve the election system.” (The revised headline: “Gaetz: Election System Will be Improved.”)
Michael Calleri wrote film reviews for the Niagara Falls Reporter for seven years — “a wonderful experience,” he says, until the weekly paper was sold earlier this year and then “veered so far off the cliff that it collided with itself.”
Under Reporter founding editor Mike Hudson, “I could say and write what I wanted,” writes Calleri. It was a different story after Frank Parlato bought the 12-year-old paper from Hudson.
The new editor-publisher wanted to approve the movies I reviewed, which had never happened before. Worse, there would be a litmus test. If the movie featured strong or empowered women, I would not be allowed to write about that film. I checked my calendar. No, I hadn’t traveled back in time. It wasn’t the tenth century, it was still 2012. Relieved about the date, I asked him if he was serious. He was.
Parlato told Calleri in an email that “I don’t want to publish reviews of films where women are alpha and men are beta. where women are heroes and villains and men are just lesser versions or shadows of females. i believe in manliness. …If you care to write reviews where men act like good strong men and have a heroic inspiring influence on young people to build up their character (if there are such movies being made) i will be glad to publish these.”
The film critic writes on Roger Ebert’s blog: “So, after seven good and enjoyable years of writing for the Niagara Falls Reporter, a chapter ended. And yes, founding editor Hudson paid his writers, including me. Guess who didn’t.”
That would be Parlato, who fires back today, saying that Calleri’s reviews were “drivel” and “largely unread” because the critic “lacks the fundamentals in sound thinking or logic.”
If I knew Calleri was going to publish my off-the-record and, in parts, tongue-in-cheek email, I would have added capital letters and a couple of commas, but I wouldn’t have changed what I wrote.
In fact I might have made the language even stronger.
The weekly’s owner says that “while I enjoyed the unintentionally funny and immature rudeness of Calleri and some of the writers who posted comments [on Ebert's site], some, I suspect, may have a deep-seated daddy issue. They simply hate the idea of a strong, powerful man in their cowardly and effete new world.
“In any event, this is, in many respects, much ado about nothing. The Niagara Falls Reporter is geared toward local news and not reviews of big-corporate Hollywood.”
* Film critic: “What you are about to read may shock you” (suntimes.com)
* Parlato: Movie reviewer is upset with me, publishes private email (niagarafallsreporter.com)
* “I never thought I’d utter these words, but I miss Mike Hudson” (niagarapost.com)
The Helena (MT) Independent Record has disciplined staffers for changing a line in an Associated Press story to read, “Obama was allegedly born in Hawaii.” A retired AP staffer who worked 28 years in the Helena bureau was one of the readers who complained about the addition of “allegedly.” He tells the paper: “That right-wing notion [that the president isn't a U.S. citizen] has been so thoroughly discredited that only Donald Trump and assorted other loonies still cling to it. Neither the AP nor – I hope – The Independent Record belongs in their company.”
An editor’s note in the Lee Enterprises-owned paper says:
Our copy desk made an error in judgment in editing the Sunday 2A Associated Press story about President Obama’s trip to Asia and his place of birth. One of the copy editors inserted the term “allegedly” born in Hawaii in the story thinking the other copy editor would catch it, he didn’t. It was a poor attempt at humor and a poor decision, but was not intended to be printed in the paper. Those responsible have been disciplined.
* Roger Ailes: I’d be on the cover of every magazine if I were a liberal. (mediabistro.com)
* Bill O’Reilly is “rip-roaring mad” at the Washington Post editorial board. (washingtonpost.com)
* Former Murdoch aides Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks to be charged with bribery. (nytimes.com)
* Twitter suspends @nytonit account after the New York Times complains. (politico.com) | “We’re not seeking to disable the account, however….” (allthingsd.com)
* David Zinczenko is stepping down as Men’s Health editor-in-chief. (adage.com) | He may have been too much of a self-promoter. (nypost.com)
* Guild wins challenge to PIP use by Thomson Reuters. (nyguild.org) | Earlier: PIP — a “rigged appraisal system” — gets a veteran copy editor fired. (jimromenesko.com)
* Hollywood Reporter addresses its role in the Blacklist and apologizes. (hollywoodreporter.com)
* FYI: ProPublica is looking for an intern and will pay the journalist $700 a week. (propublica.org)
* Conan O’Brien tweaks local TV anchors again — this time for their “Twinkies in trouble” line. (teamcoco.com)
* Lee Enterprises expects to have paywalls at most of its papers by the end of the year. (newsandtech.com)
* Nikki Finke calls the Los Angeles Press Club’s journalism contest “a big joke.” (deadline.com)