Monthly Archives: May 2015

Call from Oklahoma: I don’t know what’s going on in this world right now. Obama’s a Muslim and that’s all I’ve got to say.
C-SPAN’s Steve Scully: Obama is not a Muslim, but thank you for making your comment.

Call from Michigan: We need to get rid of every Muslim out of the country [sic], because they are sent here to kill us.
Scully: OK, we’ll leave it at that.

HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” has a running segment titled “The Most Patient Man on Television Endures the American Public,” which features clip after clip of C-SPAN host Steve Scully taking unscreened calls from racists, foul-mouthed viewers and other nuts.

The first time C-SPAN vice president of programming Terry Murphy watched the collection of offensive calls – most of them abruptly ended by Scully – he rolled his eyes. “My second reaction was to laugh,” he tells me.

One “Most Patient Man” viewer asks in the YouTube comments: “Does he even have a call screener?”

Murphy says: “We do talk to the callers before they’re let on the air” to find out what they want to discuss, but “we don’t use a delay. We have talked about it but we’ve always wanted to keep [the call-in show] as open as possible.”

The number of profane and racist calls hasn’t increased over the years, the programming chief contends. “More people are highlighting them,” he notes, “but it’s a very small percentage.”

Murphy says he knows Oliver’s segment could encourage others to make prank calls to C-SPAN, “but so be it.”

I was hoping to get Scully’s reaction to “The Most Patient Man,” but C-SPAN wouldn’t make him available. Its spokesperson writes in an email:

Steve is one of several WJ [Washington Journal] hosts, and we actually don’t put our hosts forward to talk about it. Simple reason: as you probably know, C-SPAN has a long tradition of “no celebrities” baked into our DNA. From our perspective, it’s not about any individual host, but about the broader program… it’s about the content and information, and callers. So we just don’t offer up any individual host.

Like it or not, C-SPAN, Oliver has made Scully a celebrity of sorts. I wish I could have gotten the host’s reaction to this comment from a “Most Patient Man” viewer: “I know it’s strange…but I am starting to develop a crush on this man. At first I just felt sorry for him but I know now it’s more than that..wish I could get his number!”

“Last Week Tonight” executive producer Tim Carvell says of the Scully segment:

That was a lucky discovery by a producer named Matt Passet, [made] while working on our piece on infrastructure. He found that guy hosting a daylong call-in show, and we were all so enamored with him that Matt and one of our editors, Anthony Miale, started assembling montages of him.

Oliver & Co. have aired two “Most Patient Man” segments so far, but regular C-SPAN viewers know there’s material for many, many more.

* “The Most Patient Man on Television” for April 20, 2015 | May 10 segment
* “Tell me more about The Most Patient Man on Television” (


The Portsmouth Police Department has a strange habit of blacking out names of missing pets. In February, the cops redacted a dog’s name – I called and learned her name is Amber – and this week the department shielded the name of a missing cat. I’ve asked Sgt. Chris Roth to explain why.

* Another missing pet’s name redacted from Portsmouth police log (@DinanElizabeth)
* February 2015: Police department hides name of missing dog (

New: Read the cracks from my Facebook commenters

* Boston Herald newsroom union members reject a no-raise contract by a 32-26 vote. (
* Ombudsman: NPR shouldn’t be promoting a host’s book on his or her own program – and no longer will be. (
* Ken Doctor: “News companies should buy Yelp and use it as the foundation of the next generation of local news and information sites and apps.” (
* WordRates – a sort of Yelp for journalists – has a successful Kickstarter campaign. (
* Fox news: The animals are stealing a couple’s papers. (
* MailOnline’s growth slows, despite its push into the U.S. (
* Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian‘s detention “is not just our loss, but Iran’s, too.” (
* The Ohio Supreme Court sides with a former college paper news editor in a public records dispute. (
* Jake Tapper‘s upcoming gig is erased from the Clinton Foundation website. CNN says he was improperly listed as a speaker. (
* San Francisco Public Press: Our work clearly influenced the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Is Desegregation Dead?” series. (
* IN JOBS: Apply for the Associated Press‐NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Journalism Fellowship Program. (Romenesko Jobs)
* Dan Froomkin: “Why do smart, elite journalists quote people who they know are lying, or being moronically stupid, but not call what they say lies and stupidities?” (
* Hillary Clinton joins the rest of us who get a LinkedIn account, then never (or rarely) return to the site. (
* Raju Narisetti on David Letterman‘s big last-show ratings: “Just like in newspapers, where the collectibles issues always do just great. Sigh.” (@raju) | Highest since 2005. (
* Charlie Gasparino (pictured): “Sometimes people at Fox think I have a little Trotskyite mustache. They think I’m a little too liberal.” (
* There’s apparently a “job-hopping crisis,” which one young woman dismisses: “People who stay put in one place for too long are spineless losers afraid of change.” (
* A.J. Daulerio lays off most of staff at Ratter, and plans a “pivot.” (No more feces photos?) (
* Send anonymous news tips, link suggestions, memos, and typo alerts to
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John Roderick of the indie rock band The Long Winters is running for Seattle city council and needs to have someone on his campaign staff explain that the headline writer isn’t his enemy. (Also, Roderick’s name is spelled correctly in the Seattle Times story.)

I asked the Seattle Times if it wanted to respond to Roderick’s Instagram gripe, and assistant managing editor/standard & interactivity Leon A. Espinoza sent this statement:

We are sorry John Roderick, the frontman for the indie rock band The Long Winters, saw any kind of political gamesmanship in our Local cover headline (“Burgess, rocker top fundraisers so far in bid for council position”). None was intended. Headlines aren’t designed to convey every detail, but are intended to draw readers into a story. Identifying a prominent council member by name and a lesser-known opponent by a most-interesting detail (he’s a rocker) is more likely to draw readers into the story, which serves readers, the story, and the players in the story well.

* “Seattle Times doesn’t know how to spell my name, I guess” (
* This Seattle Times headline he likes (

USA Today editor-in-chief David Callaway says of this Tuesday post:

I think the story yesterday misrepresented the depth of the talent in the newsroom… [including] a ton of great social [media] people, and data people and news people who are taking over some of the more prominent positions in the newsroom.

There’s been goodbyes, there’s been tears and hugs, but most of the people leaving are pretty excited about having a lot of time off, paid. And you know what? They’re all getting offers, because they’re all news pros.

* USA Today editor says he won’t disappear in spinoff (
* Editor: Daily USA Today print edition could vanish in a few years (

Ball State administrators, who pay tribute to David Letterman on their home page today, note that the retiring talk-show host has “consistently doted on his alma mater – routinely referring to [the school mascot] cardinals as ‘the fiercest robin-sized bird in the animal kingdom.'” Today’s Ball State Daily has stories about Letterman’s retirement, and students thank him in a three-minute YouTube video.

* David Letterman put Ball State on the map (
* Emily Yahr: Letterman shamed me on national television (
* “We have all kinds of stuff planned” for tonight’s show (
* Julia Roberts has never seen Letterman outside of the studio (
* Two Wisconsin icons recall their Letterman appearances (
* Letterman helped a woman grieve after her mother’s death (
* Read the late Peter Kaplan’s 1981 profile of Letterman (
* Your favorite Letterman guest? (Brother Theodore was mine) (

New: Comments about Letterman and his guests from my Facebook pals

Memo to the Denver Post staff from editor Greg Moore:


I am sorry to have to announce that Craig Walker, our stellar two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is leaving to take a fantastic job at The Boston Globe. He will be great there and do us all proud as a Post alum, but he will be missed.

Craig is one of the most devoted storytellers I have ever worked with and his patience and commitment for doing right by the story is a hallmark. He has done outstanding work at home and abroad and been a great colleague, role model and teacher here. He will be around for a couple of weeks so please wish him well on his new opportunity.

Thanks, Craig, for your incredible eye and all your excellent work during an amazing 17 year run here. Heck of a job.


* From 2012: Craig Walker wins his second Pulitzer in three years (

Romenesko reader David Rutter writes:

The perils of promotion strike once again.

[Chicago NBC affiliate] WMAQ had one of those red-face moments Tuesday night. After the conclusion of “The Voice” in which the season winner for it big ratings winner was announced, the 10 p.m. newscast had a banner and promo ready to run.

Unfortunately the banner that was set up read “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH WINS THE VOICE.” It flashed on the air for a few seconds and then disappeared. The on-air folks were aghast in that moment when everyone looks at each other but no one says a word.… Swiftly, they moved on …

Of course, that’s happened with newspapers, too.

* “I had my money on Lorem Ipsum,” and other comments (
* Sixteen-year-old Sawyer Fredericks wins “The Voice” (

* Akron Beacon Journal is putting out a section that honors the city’s departing mayor – and the mayor doesn’t like it. ( | Mayor tells businesses: Give your money to charity, not the Beacon Journal. (
* An NPR reporter loses to a machine in a newswriting race. “WordSmith finished writing the story in two minutes. Scott [Horsley] took just over seven minutes.” (
* Wall Street Journal offers buyouts and plots a “serious realignment.” (
* Statement from the union representing WSJ’s newsroom: “We were surprised to learn buyouts may have been ‘offered’ to Wall Street Journal staff. When IAPE TNG/CWA Local 1096 approached management earlier this year and asked about buyouts, we were given the standard response: There is no organized effort to offer buyouts to staff members, but management is always willing to listen if an employee is interested in leaving and wonders if a separation package might be available.”
* Three newspapers in India refuse to run a mother’s spouse-wanted-for-my-gay-son ad. (
* Conde Nast’s Lucky magazine goes from monthly to quarterly. (
* Print is still big with Capital Hill staffers, “mainly because of how readily available the printed versions are around the Hill.” (
* New York Daily News proves that “no publication can refute an article about itself quite as amusingly as a tabloid.” (
* Editor in North Dakota: “I don’t throw it in people’s faces that I’m gay, I understand I’m in an area that’s not used to seeing two men together, albeit a very religious town as well, and I’m a respectful enough person to appreciate that.” (
* IN JOBS: Apply for the Associated Press‐NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Journalism Fellowship Program. (Romenesko Jobs)
* A contributor to Gannett’s Tennessean business section promotes her own project; a disclosure wasn’t added until the local alt-weekly pointed it out. (
* What’s more amusing – the correction or the byline? (
* Jack Limpert: The use of “we” in mainstream publications can turn off readers. (
* Newspapers in the 19th century did aggregating, too. (

New: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s new owner offers buyouts (

A Romenesko tipster and Gannett employee writes:

One of the remarkable aspects to [last week’s USA Today] buyouts is the number of top execs leaving. Along with Money editor Anne Willette and deputy editor of personal finance Rodney Brooks [mentioned in this post], they include:

* David Colton, Executive Editor
* Susan Weiss, Executive Editor
* Brian Gallagher, Editor, Editorial Page.
* Dennis Moore, Managing Editor, News
* Fred Anklam, Senior Night Editor
* Bonnie Tkach, Director of Edit Operations
and a bunch of other editors, reporters, photographers and graphic artists.

There are still big outstanding questions, including:
* Will the new Gannett bosses insist on further layoffs before July 1?
* Will [editor-in-chief David] Callaway and [publisher] Larry Kramer stay?
* Will there be any hiring after July 1, the target date for the spin-off of the publishing company?

Will the top bosses be pushed, or depart voluntarily?

I don’t think Kramer and Callaway are going to be replaced so much as they may want to leave on their own, especially Kramer. I don’t think either is clear on what their roles will be in the new company. That said, it would surprise me if they don’t stay through the year.

Laura Petrecca is USA Today’s new Money editor. The memo is after the jump. Read More