Archive

Daily Archives: August 9, 2013

Fighter jet simulator to Maine Gov. Paul LePage:
Would you like to blow up anything?
Gov. LePage at the controls:
“I want to find the Press Herald building and blow it up.”

The Press Herald reports:

The governor’s spokeswoman said in an email that LePage was clearly joking and was responding to a question from the simulator who asked the governor if he’d like to blow up anything.

* LePage says he’d like to blow up the Press Herald (pressherald.com)
* LePage has long had a frosty relationship with Maine papers (bangordailynews.com)
* June 19: LePage says he’ll no longer talk to the Press Herald (kjonline.com)


Pocono Record reporter Chris Reber was covering his first Ross Township municipal meeting Monday night when a gunman opened fire in the room and killed three people. Reber, who heard at least ten shots fired, ran out of the town hall and got behind an SUV in the parking lot. He wrote about meeting-room shootings: “There is nothing in reality you can compare it to. It just was not in reality. All I could think was: It wasn’t happening to me.”

Chris Mele

Chris Mele

In a memo to his staff about this week’s events, Record executive editor Chris Mele says Reber has “sensibly taken a few days away from the office to recoup. He’s laying low but he knows of your good thoughts and prayers. BTW, we continue to decline the deluge of requests for media interviews with Chris, whose firsthand reporting was nothing less than amazing.”

Here’s the editor’s full memo:

When I flub a figure of speech or step on my tongue in trying to clearly convey something, I’ll often say: “Words are my life.”

And while it’s true that words are my life, it is hard to properly capture using the 26 symbols of our alphabet how I feel about this newsroom’s performance since Monday night.

The response and continuing coverage of the shootings at the Ross Township municipal meeting truly embody the definition of extraordinary./CONTINUES Read More

box

In 2001, Ellen Kampinsky, Shayne Bowman, and Chris Willis asked: “What if we told stories the way Amazon sells books?” From their paper:

The web has content, it has material that is repurposed, it has data — but where are the stories? Where are the stories that are being told in a new way appropriate to this medium?

In my opinion, the stories that are done in the best, the most web-specific way, are not on the New York Times site or Salon or Washingtonpost.com.The best job of story telling is being done by … Amazon.

* Amazoning the News: A whitepaper showing how traditional news stories might be treated in the design model of Amazon.com. (hypergene.net)
* Five myths about Amazon CEO and soon-to-be WaPo owner Jeff Bezos (washingtonpost.com)


Dave Nuttycombe heard from Tumblr at 6:19 last night:
warning

“Please note that Tumblr has a strict policy against repeat infringement,” the Tumblr email continued. “Should you be subject to repeat uncontested copyright infringement notifications, your Tumblr account may be terminated.”

Nuttycombe responded: “I protest completely and immediately! My post was satire, which is protected speech. I took famous images and applied transformative changes to them to make an editorial comment, which is the standard by which Fair-Use is judged. That my post was linked to from Jim Romenesko’s journalism site, as well as Gizmodo and Huffington Post is a sign that its message was understood clearly. Please tell me who or whom my accuser[s] are, and please reinstate my post.”

He tells Romenesko readers:

I’m fairly shocked that the Tumblr people (or more likely ‘bots) or whoever is claiming infringement don’t see my post as clear satire — comedy, parody, call it what you will. I didn’t consider my use of the images different than the graphics that Colbert and The Daily Show use every night to illustrate their stories.

I was using Tumblr to post my fleeting comic takes on pop-culture that I didn’t want to clutter up my “professional” site. Do I have to go to Blogger now?

Then again, as a friend in the copyright business said, “Fair Use is a defense in court, not a right.”

* Tumblr cops shutting me down (nuttycombe.tumblr.com)
* Cached version of “If iPhoneographers Replaced Photojournalists in History” (googleusercontent.com)


Patch employees listened in on this morning’s conference call expecting to hear that hundreds are losing their jobs today. But AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong told the listeners that the layoffs — he called them “impacts” — and site closings would happen over next 7 days. (“Putting off the inevitable layoffs one week isn’t going to motivate any of the reporters/editors to work any harder,” one Patcher writes Romenesko.)
update
A Patch higher-up was bizarrely fired by Armstrong this morning — just three minutes into the 9 a.m. ET call — after the employee pulled out a camera in the New York meeting room where the conference call originated. (There are multiple reports that it was creative director Abel Lenz who got the boot. “I have nothing to share,” he tells me.)

Here’s one tipster’s account:

“Abel, put that camera down. You’re fired. Out,” Armstrong said. After a pause of about five seconds, he then continued the call as though nothing had happened.

Then after about five more minutes of talking about whatever, he threw in “and the reason I fired Abel before was I don’t want anyone taking pictures of this meeting.” He invoked some kind of comparison to a sports team’s locker room.

But he seriously fired someone live on a conference call with the entire company … a call that informed us that no one would be laid off today but that instead the layoffs (sorry, “impacts”) would happen at different junctures next week depending on the success of finding “partners” for moribund Patch sites.

Armstrong told employees that he’s now in charge of Patch.

“Something at Patch has been missing and missing for some time and that’s leadership – leadership with a capital L,” he said.

Armstrong said his plan was to focus on the 500 most important towns. (There are nearly 1,000 Patch sites now.) Four-hundred towns will be partnered with other media companies or closed.

Patch, he added, is going to become a fast-moving company and a fast-moving partnertship company.

“Twenty million people love Patch,” he said.

“To his credit,” writes another tipster who listened in on the call, “Armstrong took full responsibility for Patch sliding downhill.”

A Patch editor’s take on this morning’s call:

I now feel somewhat optimistic about Patch’s future for the first time in over a year. Tim Armstrong was spot-on with the observation that Patch needed “capital-L leadership,” and I have no doubt he can provide it. His no-BS, transparent approach is exactly what this company needs. Many of the sites that will be cut should probably have been sold or closed down over a year ago, rather than weakening the brand by filling them up with generic, sponsored and cookie-cutter content. I say this as the founding editor of a site I loved, that will probably close down—and I say it as a Patch employee that will probably lose her job in the next week.

Patch will probably emerge from this round of layoffs a whole lot thinner, but with a whole lot more focus. Whether or not it’s too late, or what the future of journalism is in the new Patch, I don’t know.

Another founding local editor’s view:

This downsizing will not work to save Patch. At its peak, Patch had more than 2,000 employees, while drawing about the same traffic as Examiner.com, which is produced with about 30 employees. Offloading the 300-400 lowest-performing sites may help with overhead in the short term, but traffic will take a significant hit. Lower traffic will result in lower revenue, and so the “impacts” will continue.

ALSO… A former Patch person who was “in the know” shares this information: “[Patches in] CA, WA, FL, GA, NC and SC were bleeding blood with profits in those areas at -165%. [Yes, that’s minus] Georgia and California were the worst with costs of over $5,000,000 a year and sales in each market at less than $750,000. The managers in these markets celebrated $150 sales each day while paying the rep $200 a day to sell these deals. Sales reps sell on an average of $2780 a week and earn $100k a year with benefits.”

* Don’t miss the comments from ex-Patchers on Thursday’s post (jimromenesko.com)


* “I would be shocked if [Jeff Bezos] spends a lot of time here,” Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron tells his staff. (newrepublic.com) | Silicon Valley is optimistic about Bezos buying the Post. (latimes.com)
* Free-speech proponents say even comments on innocuous stories and blogs could become problematic if Congress were to remove Communications Decency Act protections. (cleveland.com)
nash* The last issue of Nashville City Paper hits the streets today. (nashvillecitypaper.com) | Why Nashville needs newspapers. (nashvillecitypaper.com)
* Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has a new contract with Conde Nast, according to Keith J. Kelly. (nypost.com)
* Bauer Media comes under fire for its Der Landser Magazine, described as pro-Nazi. (thewrap.com)
* Elle’s editor-in-chief listens to NPR in the mornings because “I like to wake up to somebody talking peacefully in my ear.” (theatlanticwire.com)
* Boise Weekly asks readers to help pay for its longform journalism. (altweeklies.com)
* Over 500 comments on Waco Tribune’s story about explosion victims’ autopsy results. (“How inconsiderate of you to even run this article. What a discrace!” [sic]) (wacotrib.com)
* Meet the woman whose daughter helped Sanjay Gupta change his mind about marijuana. (westword.com)
* Facebook fears their video ads will annoy you. (They will.) (wsj.com)
* Cleveland Scene sells @plaindealer back to the Plain Dealer for case of beer and a PBR six-pack. (clevescene.com)

I’m waiting for a Kindle Single filled with open letters to Jeff Bezos and tributes to the Graham family, but in the meantime…
* A letter to Don Graham from the retired Post reporter who wrote the Washington Post chairman’s advance obit. (washingtonpost.com)
* Eugene Robinson: “Thank you, Don, for treating every one of us like family. (washingtonpost.com)
* Joel Achenbach: “At some point down the road there will probably not be a Washington Post as we’ve come to know it.” (washingtonpost.com)