“The AP’s helpful pronunciation key made me laugh today,” writes Romenesko reader Lori Henson. “Turns out Hoboken is pronounced ‘Ho-bo-ken.’ [Actually, the AP has it as HOH’-boh-kehn.] News in Schenectady must send the copy desk into a frenzy. P.S. If it matters, I’m in Terre Haute, Ind. (t-air-a HOTE)”
Remember MTV’s “The Paper”?
The reality show from 2008 showed enthusiastic high school kids putting out the student newspaper at Cypress Bay High School in Broward County, Florida. Each episode, said the New York Observer, was “a window into the prolonged collective and individual breakdown that is a newspaper close.”
But the reality series wasn’t all about making deadlines. There were fights, lots of insults and everything else you’d expect from teens who know they’re on camera. (“Tensions occasionally explode into emotional outbursts,” wrote the Sun-Sentinel’s Tom Jicha. “The producers “all but ignore actual work on the newspaper,” complained Andy Denhart of Reality Blurred blog.)
Adam Brock, who was the newspaper’s ad manager, tells me: “After an episode aired on TV, you could always expect the next day to be awkward in Mrs. Weiss’s [journalism] class” because of things that were said. “But we all pretty much knew how we felt about each other and specific situations that arose throughout the year.”
What happened to the journalism students from Cypress Bay High? They’re doing a variety of things now — from teaching to marketing — but not one main cast member from “The Paper” now works on a newspaper. (Only two responded to my emails and tweets asking for updates on their lives.)
Amanda Lorber, Editor-in-Chief
The feisty top editor “became a role model to some viewers, an inadvertent villain to others and a case study in the perils that a young person faces when she becomes a reality-television star before she is old enough to vote,” Dave Itzkoff wrote in a 2008 New York Times piece. (Gawker called her the show’s “go-get-’em star.”) She told the Times that “I’m really fond of print” and that “I want to keep it alive.” But Lorber, an NYU graduate, doesn’t have anything to do with print these days. Her LinkedIn profile says she now works as a Development Assistant at Prana animation studios in Los Angeles. She is, according to her Vimeo page a “writer, producer, director, idea chick.”
Alex Angert, Managing Editor
He went on to Penn State and worked on the Daily Collegian for four years. As sports editor, Angert coordinated the paper’s Jerry Sandusky scandal coverage and also contributed to the Patriot-News’s reporting. After graduating in 2012, he covered the Dodgers for MLB.com. He’s now a records manager at Guinness World Records.
“It was a year of my life with a camera crew following me around,” he says of the show. “They filmed me on my first date and followed us to parties. …It was a pretty cool experience. The downside was some of us weren’t portrayed in the light we hoped we would have been. …We all had our moments of triumph, and we all had our down moments.”
Cassia Laham, Entertainment Editor
The high school paper’s entertainment editor had some beefs with the media five years ago. “I feel like we’re becoming too tangled in things unimportant,” she told Matt Haber, who was then with the New York Observer. “Like spending four weeks on Anna Nicole Smith or any petty news when there are bigger things happening.” But still, she said, “I really think journalists are so important in informing. The biggest way to help people is by telling them what’s going on.”
After high school, she decided to ditch journalism for education and now teaches American History at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembrooke Pines, FL.
Adam Brock, Advertising Manager
The former high school sales guy with a “charmingly outsize personality” now works for NBCUniversal’s Oxygen Media. “I am responsible for the production of several on-air and print projects within our show launches as well as continuity efforts,” he writes in an email. Brock’s also involved with strategy and execution of Oxygen’s digital word of mouth campaigns.
“I will always be thankful and never regret anything about my experience on The Paper,” he says. “I think it’s interesting to see how far reality television has gone since The Paper premiered back in 2008. It has become a cultural phenomenon and I am thrilled to have been a part of it.”
Do people still mention that they saw him on the show? I asked.
“It happened a lot in college, but has slowed down a lot more since moving to New York. Since I’m in the television industry now, it’s funny to go to networking events and meet lifelong MTV employees and bring up the show and have them remember it and then see the light bulb flash in their head as they realize who I am.”
Dan Surgan, Staff Writer
Dan Surgan blogged about the show as it aired. “It was an exciting episode for me,” he wrote after week three, “as I did my first nude scene on national television. I’ve been getting a ton of Facebook friend requests and everyone who contacts me has been very nice.”
From another post: “One girl who walked into me in the hallway freaked out when she realized who I was and pretty much raped me with compliments. I later gave her an MTV backpack and she told me that I just made her life.”
Surgan now attends Florida Gulf Coast University and it appears he still has some interest in newspapers.
Giana Pacinelli, who was The Circuit’s news editor, is now a grad student at Nova Southeastern University, according to her LinkedIn profile. Layout editor Trevor Ballard, who was Pacinelli’s boyfriend when the show aired, got his industrial engineering degree from the University of Florida and apparently is in grad school.
Rhonda Weiss, Newspaper Advisor
For 12 years now, she’s been teaching journalism and advising the student newspaper staff at Cypress Bay High. She tells me in a phone chat that she had eight journalism students her first year, about 70 the year that “The Paper” aired, and expects 113 in her j-classes this school year. Her kids are still gung ho about newspapers, and The Circuit now has separate staffs for the print edition and the online edition, she tells me.
Weiss says of “The Paper”: “I don’t think it changed my life one way or another. It was just an interesting experience” — one that took an unexpected turn for the teacher/adviser.
“They told me this was going to be about smart kids. I guess I was maybe a little bit of a sucker to believe that.” (Before the series aired, Weiss told the Sun-Sentinel: “These kids are really bright. I’m glad the rest of the world will get to see that.”)
In the end, though, “they kind of steered the series toward the pettiness that’s in all human beings. …But overall, I think everyone [at the school] was OK with it.”
Reviews from 2008:
* MTV’s Baby Woodwards love Sy Hersh and MoDo (observer.com)
* High school journalists make headlines on MTV’s series (popmatters.com)
* The show just trivializes the students’ experiences (realityblurred.com)
* Editor Lorber has “an outspoken love for a news medium most people her age regard as terminally uncool” (nytimes.com)
* These are real people whose lives will be altered by this show (columbiaspectator.com)
* The teen journalists are “a competitive, highly dramatic bunch” (nytimes.com)
The Orange County Register confirms a tipster’s report that the paper has tweaked its housing deal with trainees.
Here’s what my emailer from the Register writes: “The company gathered all trainees (at least 30 people at this point) into a conference room to tell them they will no longer be getting (reeeally expensive) company housing for free. Instead, the company, starting in November, will give trainees $750/month stipends for living. So it’s not like people are being hung out to dry, but it is an interesting change, I think. The current company housing is about $1100/person, with 4 people in each 2-bedroom apartment.”
Here’s what Register local editor Rob Curley tells Romenesko readers: “Trainees will continue to start at $10 an hour, and will now get a $750 monthly housing stipend instead of an apartment rented by the Register. The only difference is that the housing will no longer be rented directly by the Register; just paid for by the Register. When we were directly renting the apartments, we had four trainees per apartment. Our trainees are still eligible for full benefits after six months. We’re not changing our program, just fine tuning how we are implementing it.”
This photo and cutline are on the contents page of this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, which has a Clive Thompson piece about Google Glass. He writes after testing the high-tech eyewear: “Only rarely did I accomplish something with Glass that I couldn’t already do with, say, my mobile phone.” || @ThadStarner: “Professor at Georgia Tech; Wearable Computing pioneer; gesture recognition and pattern discovery expert.”
* Paul Lukas is threatened with a lawsuit after telling a sportswear company he has images of its yet-to-be-unveiled uniforms. “Even if I won, as I probably would, the whole thing could end up being a tremendous hassle. So I decided not to post the screen shots, at least for the time being.” (uni-watch.com)
* Bob Woodward will teach a journalism class at Yale in the spring semester. (yaledailynews.com) | Carl Bernstein begins teaching at Stony Brook next week. (stonybrook.edu)
* The Onion turns 25. (npr.org) | The Onion gets serious about Syria. (buzzfeed.com) | Earlier: Meet Onion Radio News anchor Doyle Redland. (jimromenesko.com)
* Claim: NAHJ let a politician dictate who sits on a conference panel and who doesn’t. (dailyrepublic.com) | NAHJ: Mistakes were made. (mije.org/richardprince)
* HuffPost Live lays off 20 employees as it closes the Los Angeles office. (theverge.com)
* Mark Russell, who was recently laid off as editor of Tribune’s Orlando Sentinel, has been named Commercial Appeal managing editor. (commercialappeal.com)
* The youngest daily newspaper executive editor in America? George Spohr, 32, will lead the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader’s newsroom. (timesleader.com)
* A 43-year-old journalist who has been on the boy-band beat for a decade tries hard not to look creepy at concerts. (sfgate.com)
* New Orleans newspaper fronts on the 8th anniversary of Katrina: (@kodacohen) | New Orleans Advocate owner has expansion plans. (theadvocate.com)
* Penn State’s Daily Collegian put its sex column on hold when the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke, but it’s back this fall with a new name: Dick and Jane. (collegian.psu.edu)
* Why several NFL beat writers left their newspapers to join ESPN. (shermanreport.com)
* “Hyperlocal news goes where traditional media can’t or won’t.” (voiceofsandiego.org)
* “Crossfire” returns to CNN. Why? asks Rem Rieder. (usatoday.com)
* New York Post’s long story about CNBC’s ratings decline has just one sentence about Fox Business’s slide. (nypost.com)
* More than 400 newspaper employees have recently been laid off by Gannett. (gannettblog.blogspot.com)
* “Definitive merger agreement”: Charlotte Observer business reporters put out a press release announcing their engagement. (talkingbiznews.com)
* New York Times story says $295 for a backpack is “a nicely reasonably price.” (Not in Chicago!) (smartertimes.com)