Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kate Martin of the Skagit Valley Herald tells Romenesko readers: “After a very long and hectic week of news coverage (still going) after an interstate bridge collapse in Skagit County, Wash., this was a very welcome treat. An unnamed reader had dropped these buns off. They were still warm and incredibly delicious.” The reporter adds: “We don’t know who sent them, but we have our suspicions.”

“You worked your buns off for us this week covering the Skagit bridge. Here are some buns for you to enjoy. Thank you, your readers.”

UPDATE: Skagit Valley Herald editor Colette Weeks answered a few questions I had about covering the collapse:

The news department (a combined 20 people right now) filed approximately 55 hours of OT in a four-day period. That, of course, does not count people on salary.

We added two blank pages in the Friday edition to accommodate the breaking coverage.

Circulation was up 170% Friday, 86% Saturday and 20% Sunday. It would have been more Sunday, but we couldn’t increase the press run by much because of limitations regarding insert ads. So we ran out.

Our website saw an amazing one-day growth — 844%! Naturally that fell off drastically after the breaking news cycle slowed, but we continue to see a higher number of daily visits than in weeks prior, so we’re hoping we’ve captured new audience./CONTINUES Read More

What New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren says about Noah Gallagher Shannon’s “The Plane Was About to Crash” piece, which has been questioned by some:



While some of the author’s language may have been imprecise, his recollection of his experience was consistent with recollections of passengers in similar air incidents. …The piece was fact-checked before publication, and after questions were raised, editors reviewed it again, with the full cooperation of the writer. All the key points appear to be corroborated, and we have not found any evidence to undercut any significant elements of the narrative.

In an email to Romenesko, Ask the Pilot columnist Patrick Smith comments on the piece:

My name is Patrick Smith. I am an airline pilot and host of the site. For ten years I was an air travel columnist for the magazine Salon, and my new book is Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel.



When I was writing for Salon, many of my columns took on the media’s routinely shoddy coverage of aviation mishaps. This particular essay, though, belongs in a category of its own. I’m not sure where to begin. Ultimately this isn’t a story about an emergency landing. It’s a story about somebody’s hysterical reaction to a manageable and ultimately harmless problem.

As I’ve written many times in my articles, and in my book, landing gear malfunctions are way, way down the list of potential nightmare scenarios, and seldom if ever result in injury or fatality. Mr. Shannon is either unaware of this reality, or chooses to ignore it for the sake of amping up his story. I love this line especially: “A plane without landing gear is like a struck match.” Total rubbish.

Then we have what sounds to me like an obvious muddling of certain details — if not outright fabrication of them. Why on earth would the crew shut off a plane’s electricity when touching down with a landing gear problem? And the bits about “powering down” the engines — I have no idea what that’s all about. Obviously the engines were going to power down if the plane was going to descend and land.

Things may indeed be as the author best remembered them through a fog of needless panic, but if you’re going to write about a supposed aviation incident, you owe it to readers to do a bit of research beforehand.

Why this piece got printed in a major paper like the NY Times is beyond me. It’s not just the airplane aspects, but the whole style and tone of the piece. What’s intended to sound “emotional” and reflective comes across like something a seventh grader would write in a junior high composition class.

* Hugo Lindgren: The author only reported what he heard and felt, which is consistent with the magazine’s Lives page (
* James Fallows: I don’t believe most of the detail and sequence-of-events in the story (

-- The big news in Roanoke

— The big news in Roanoke

* The reader who forwarded this Craigslist ad writes: “I guess the days of ‘will offer employment for food and board’ are now upon us. And notice that they require applicants be between 20-35 in age. Isn’t that illegal?” ( | Read the reactions from my Facebook friends and subscribers. | UPDATE: The ad has been deleted, but I saved and posted the text.
* NYT: In his meeting with journalists, Eric Holder acknowledged criticism that “the Justice Department had tipped too far toward aggressive law enforcement and away from ensuring the free flow of information to the public.” ( | More from the Wall Street Journal.
* The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus wages another lonely crusade — this time against the press. (
* Media agree not to show jurors’ faces during the George Zimmerman murder trial. (
* Questions about staffing level changes at the Warren Buffett-owned Roanoke Times “were largely deflected by BH Media officials.” (
* The new WSJ Profile looks a lot like LinkedIn. (
* Two Boston Globe journalists may testify in the “Whitey” Bulger trial. (
* Louisville magazine decides to drop restaurant reviews and try things like Q&As with chefs. (
* The late editor of Mpls. St. Paul magazine once called advertorial sections the dangerous equivalent of heroin. (

Los Angeles-based comedy writer Jason Sereno wrote this fake Sun-Times ad and posted it on Craigslist late Thursday afternoon:
craig2CL > chicago > city of chicago > all gigs > creative gigs

Chicago Sun-Times Needs iReporters (Chicago)

Quick question: What is an aperture?

Answer: Who gives a shit?

Due to changes in the media landscape and an unwillingness to pay professional photographers for full-time employment, The Chicago Sun-Times is searching for iReporters to cover a wide variety of subjects and events around the city.

ireportersiReporter applicants should have basic video/photography skills, an automobile or CTA pass and a smart phone with at least 3G service. No journalism experience is required. In fact, any journalism experience will disqualify you for these unpaid positions.

To submit your application please respond via email with the following:

1. Model of smart phone you currently use
2. Any other models of phones you own or have access to [Do not list rotary phones or other land line models. We tried taking pictures with those and it didn’t work.]
3. A list of ten things more important to you than job security
4. A brief review of the new ‘Arrested Development’ episodes on Netflix
5. The names of three friends who may also be interested in iReporting

Applications will be reviewed in the order they are submitted; with the exception of applicants who have “vertical video” skills, which will be given priority.

Please address your application to Jason Sereno, Sun-Times iReporter Coordinator.
350 N. Orleans St., 10th Floor
Location: Chicago
Compensation: no pay
Posting ID: 3839693515 Posted: 2013-05-30, 5:41PM CDT Updated: 2013-05-30, 6:38PM CDT

More on the Sun-Times laying off its photo staff:
* Chicago Tribune photographer: “The idea that freelancers and reporters could replace a photo staff with iPhones is idiotic at worst, and hopelessly uninformed at best” (
* Former Sun-Times TV/radio writer reports his ex-colleagues begin mandatory training today on “iPhone photography basics.” (@robertfeder)
* Tribune goes to the Billy Goat Tavern to get reactions from Sun-Times photographers (
* Former Sun-Times staffer: “The sun appears as if it soon will be setting on the Sun-Times. And that will be a sad day for journalism and for Chicago.” (

* Why reporters should insist their meeting with Eric Holder be on the record: (
* James Fallows on what seemed fishy to him about New York Times Magazine’s “My Plane Almost Crashed” piece. ( || Update: Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren responds.
post* William Grimes checks out the New York Post and TMZ bus tours. (
* Editor: “We don’t typically do stories about flaps between business owners and customers,” but… (
* Michael Gartner’s memories of the Register and Tribune Building in Des Moines. (
* Former Los Angeles Times reporter apologizes for his attacks on Gary Webb. (
* High school newspaper adviser who served for a decade quits over board’s prior review policy. (
* Oklahoman reporter is arrested for allegedly taking upskirt photos at a graduation ceremony. ( | (
* National Letter of Intent signing ceremony covered by El Paso media turns out to be “a major embarrassment.” (

Jeremy Barr, creator of the Local People With Their Arms Crossed Tumblr, tells Romenesko readers how he came up with this idea:

I’ve always enjoyed scrolling through the front pages section on the Newseum’s website — I think it’s fascinating. A few weeks ago, I was looking for articles that I could use for a different Tumblr when I started to notice a few of these poses. I checked back the next day, and noticed a few more. It’s an amazing, ridiculous pose, so I thought it would be fun to compile them.


* Local People With Their Arms Crossed (

Sun-Times lays off its entire photo staff


— image via (@ianwarsenault)

Actually, there were some photos taken after the announcement.

Sun-Times photographer Rob Hart tells News Photographer: “Being in the room with [Pulitzer-winning photographer] John White when we got laid off was a highlight of my career. About 30 of us got the axe. As soon as [editor] Jim Kirk said they were going to have the reporters produce multimedia for their rapidly changing platforms, I just had to walk out.”


Statement from The Newspaper Guild-CWA on
Chicago Sun-Times Laying Off All Photographers

The Newspaper Guild-CWA is stunned by the announcement this morning that the Chicago Sun-Times is laying off its entire photo department, 28 employees including 20 Guild members.

“This is offensive and wrong on so many levels,” Guild President Bernie Lunzer said. “As a union, we are deeply concerned about the workers who are losing good, family-wage jobs. As an organization of journalists, we are appalled that any newspaper would treat its photojournalists as expendable.

“I have learned time and again how the eye of a professional photographer can see and express things that I can’t,” he said. “Apparently some accountant/manager can see and express things that I can’t understand. Because this makes no sense.”

Lunzer said the Guild and its members, who immediately took to social media to denounce the decision, will “make the case and put as much public pressure on the Sun-Times as possible” to try to persuade the company to reverse course.

Chicago Tribune reports: “About 20 full-time [photo] staffers received the news Thursday morning.”

The Chicago Newspaper Guild’s executive director tells Crain’s: “We will be looking into all of our options, legal and non-legal. We think this is a terrible move for the paper and community.”

The Sun-Times’ statement:

The Sun-Times business is changing rapidly and our audiences are consistently seeking more video content with their news. We have made great progress in meeting this demand and are focused on bolstering our reporting capabilities with video and other multimedia elements. The Chicago Sun-Times continues to evolve with our digitally savvy customers, and as a result, we have had to restructure the way we manage multimedia, including photography, across the network.

UnknownWarren Buffett’s BH Media Group is buying the Roanoke (Va.) Times from Landmark Media Enterprises for an undisclosed price. The Times is the 29th daily paper owned by the Berkshire Hathaway division. BH Media CEO Terry Kroeger says the Times is “a great fit with our newspapers in Virginia.”

* Warren Buffett’s BH Media Group buys the Roanoke Times ( | (