February 23: “My husband, Joey Kennedy, was fired by Alabama Media Group on Thursday. …He had been with the Birmingham News/AMG almost 34 years. He won a Pulitzer Prize and was in the top three for a Pulitzer two other times.” (facebook.com)

March 1: Alabama Media Group/Birmingham News starts running a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of columns from 1990 examining tax system. Kennedy co-authored them. (al.com)

One of the many comments criticizing Al.com:


Michelle Holmes, Al.com vice-president of content, writes in an email:

We began in November to plan an op-ed series that would pair archival Birmingham News editorials on Alabama’s tax structure with contemporary commentary from researchers and advocates in an attempt to define how little has changed, and to speculate on the reasons for Alabama’s lack of progress.

The series was timed to begin the Sunday before the legislature begins its 2015 session — one with substantive tax issues on the table. The reasons and timing around personnel decisions are confidential, as all employees would wish in a matter involving them.

* Al.com revisits a 1991 Pulitzer-winning series (al.com)
* “We may never know why AMG gave Joey Kennedy the boot, but…” (strangeal.com)

With the help of his mom, an 8-year-old boy named Mac got on the phone Sunday and complained in a voicemail to Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg about his favorite comics no longer appearing in the paper.

“OK, I want back these comics now,” the boy demanded. His list- some of his parents’ faves, too? – included “Peanuts,” “Dilbert,” “Doonesbury,” “Nancy,” “Garfield,” “For Better or For Worse,” “Ziggy,” and others.

Don't mess with my comics, you shitholes!

Don’t mess with my comics, you shitholes!

“I’ll give you all my money” if the comics are returned to the paper, the boy said before ending his call by blasting the “idiots, jerks, [and] shitholes” at the paper.

The editor tells me: “I thought it was a very funny thing, but still an eight-year-old calling me a shithole isn’t that pleasant.”

Zaltsberg says the paper negotiated with three syndicates after the publisher ordered the comics budget cut. The Herald-Times got “pretty good breaks” from Creators Syndicate and King Features, but Universal Uclick wouldn’t negotiate. Its 13 comics were dropped.

“We replaced them with 13 others from Creators and King,” says the editor. “We haven’t had an onslaught on callers [complaining]. I had explained in a column that this was a cost-reduction issue, and I think some readers took pity on us.”

* Editor hears from an 8-year-old about comics changes (heraldtimesonline.com)
* Listen to the boy’s call to the newspaper editor (soundcloud.com)

Brian Stelter via YouTube

Brian Stelter at the college journalism convention

CNN’s Brian Stelter told student journalists at the Associated Collegiate Press’ National College Journalism Convention over the weekend: “I think [Brian Williams] can actually revolutionize what we think of as television news if he did it with a little more humor – if he’s willing to call BS BS. …There’s a real opportunity for him to try something new. …I’d love to watch ‘The Daily Show with Brian Williams.'”

Stelter was a last-minute replacement for the late David Carr – “the most influential, most important media reporter of our time.” The “Reliable Sources” host told students that “I wish I wasn’t up here. You guys seem great, and I’m happy to meet you all. But I do wish David was here.”

* Stelter would love to see Williams host “The Daily Show” (timesofsandiego.com)
* Read tweets from the college journalism convention (#ACP2LA)

* Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian finally gets a lawyer after being held in Iran for seven months – but not the one he wants. (washingtonpost.com)
* Journalism students are helping with Columbia Journalism Review’s revamp. “They have a view of journalism that people that have been in it longer don’t have,” says editor Liz Spayd. (capitalnewyork.com)
* The editor of Gannett’s largest paper in Wisconsin – the Green Bay Press-Gazette – touts the newsroom’s “big bold moves,” then announces he’s not sticking around. (greenbaypressgazette.com)
* Cablevision boss James Dolan is interested in the New York Daily News. (pagesix.com)bride
* [RIGHT] Nice to see newlyweds with a sense of humor. (instagram.com) | Cooper-Palm announcement. (nytimes.com)
* Bill O’Reilly is a performance artist, not a journalist. (pressthink.org) | Phone recordings catch O’Reilly lying. (cnn.com)
* At Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times, “one point of contention within the newsroom is the sense that management has not been forthright about the scope of the paper’s problems.” (cjr.org)
* U-T San Diego’s photo editor didn’t want to run a front-page ISIS photo, but he was overruled by the editor. (utsandiego.com)
* Today’s Dori Maynard memorial service will be livestreamed. (mije.org)
* Bob Ryan: Why do reporters need to talk to athletes? (bostonglobe.com)
* Gannett says Carl Icahn has withdrawn his board nominees. (nytimes.com)
* “Pretty much everyone is a publisher in the modern day,” says Medium’s Ev Williams. (recode.net)
* Wesleyan’s student paper isn’t naming the students arrested in the Molly overdoses cases – at least for now. (collegemediamatters.com)
* Leonard Nimoy did not play Dr. Benjamin Spock! (facebook.com) | It’s been corrected.
* The holdings in T. Rowe Price’s Media and Telecommunications Fund indicate “Wall Street sees no future in print,” writes Jack Limpert. (jacklimpert.com)
* “We’ve reimagined every aspect of the Wired experience,” writes editor Scott Dadich. “And we have improved it” with a redesign. (wired.com)
* Jack Shafer tips us off to the California Digital Newspaper Collection. (@jackshafer)
* Jessica Bennett: “I went out with a guy based on his use of dashes once. ..This man used a proper em dash.” (nytimes.com)
* If you’re looking for people to “Like” your photos, the best time to post on Instagram is 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. (huffingtonpost.com)
* Send news tips, link suggestions, memos, reports of comment spam, and typo alerts to jim@jimromenesko.com (I’ll protect you, of course – unless you do want a h/t.)
* Romenesko on Facebook | Romenesko on Twitter | Romenesko on Instagram | Romenesko on Pinterest | Romenesko on Flipboard

- via @greenhousenyt

– via @greenhousenyt

A few of Steven Greenhouse’s recent stories on Wal-Mart:
* Wal-Mart illegally punished workers, judge rules. December 11, 2014
* On Black Friday, Wal-Mart is pressed for wage increases. November 29
* Wal-Mart memo orders stores to improve grocery performance. November 11
* Wal-Mart protesters demand a $15 per hour wage. October 17

* Greenhouse: Times friends surprised me with a witty tasty cake (@greenhousenyt)
* Earlier: Exit interview with NYT labor reporter Greenhouse (jimromenesko.com)

* Boston Globe’s Thomas Farragher recalls an editor who “generously gave me the chance to learn by my mistakes.” One of them: Letting the F-word get on the front page. (bostonglobe.com)
* What went down at BuzzFeed on The Night of the Dress: (buzzfeed.com) | “There was a crowd of people looking at this photo and yelling at each other,” says the BuzzFeed staffer who posted the photo. (digiday.com)
* Tabloids’ tributes to Leonard Nimoy: (nydailynews.com) | (nypost.com)tabs
* Frank Bruni wishes the media would stop hyping the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. (nytimes.com)
* Ratter, a recently launched website, was turned down when it tried to buy ads on diner placemats. The problem: “Content regarding Justin Beaver [sic] that was not considered family material.” (ratter.com)
* Veteran NPR producer Alex Blumberg now wants to creat “the HBO of podcasting.” (observer.com)
* The fifteen Guild members taking Chicago Sun-Times buyouts include five photographers, the TV critic and an ace feature writer. (chicagoreader.com)
* Is Bill O’Reilly making stuff up, or just bloviating? asks WaPo. (washingtonpost.com)
* A deal to sell Boston Globe’s headquarters collapses. (bostonglobe.com) | (bostonherald.com)
* The Observer drops New York from its name. (adweek.com)
* Former Dow Jones CEO Lex Fenwickrecently seen at a Fashion Week event – is named to the Phorm Corp. board. (marketwired.com)

These “suspects” were spotted on the Wall Street Journal’s front page

Here is a full view of Friday’s WSJ page one. Thanks to Rob Krier of U-T San Diego for sending the image.

Update: My readers have done some investigating, too. See their findings at the end of this post. Update 2: Frontline Desk has pulled the author profiles.

“At Frontline Desk, our team of writers work hard to make sure that you have access to all the latest news as soon as it happens,” logoreads the blurb in the About section of FrontlineDesk.com.

The website’s journalists have very impressive credentials. For example, “Shawn Smith is a senior news reporter for a top cable news channel in Washington.” (I know of Shep Smith, of course, but I’m not familiar with Shawn.)

Yes, we’ve seen this before; remember the fake reporters of CompareCamp.com?

Now meet a few of the fake journalists at FrontlineDesk.com:

nikiKim Jordan is “a well-known journalist and on the upper hand talented with cutting edge information about technology of every era. Her resume reflects all her work she has done, and surely does not fail to impress. Moreover working with big names in the journalism industry, she has gained experience that is beneficial in many ways. Working for more than 10 years, she has made in the industry.”
“Kim Jordan” is actually a fashion blogger named Niki. She tells me: “I was informed [about the site] by another individual recently and I sent a note to frontlinedesk.com demanding that it be removed.” She didn’t get a response.

lawyer1Peter Alexander “is a perfect individual to enhance knowledge about technology as his best personal interest,” says his Frontline Desk bio. “With the reviews he provides, the pros and cons of latest and developing technology, you surely won’t be left back [sic]”
“Peter Alexander” is actually Scranton attorney Matthew G. Boyd. He in fact does have some writing experience, according to his law firm bio: “He has authored several articles and has given numerous presentations and training seminars on employment issues.”

holly1Mona John “is an American journalist who received her journalism degree from the University of Chicago,” according to her Frontline Desk profile. “She is an award winning author hailing from Detroit Michigan.” Her Frontline Desk posts include “Hand Washed Utensils Boost Up Immune System in Children” and “First Impression of Apple’s new Photo app For Mac.”
But a reverse image search reveals that “Mona John” is actually a teacher named Holly Clark.

codeMaria Marshall is “an individual with uprising talents of reporting and writing,” says her profile. “Maria, a college student, will surely be a dominating factor in the future. Her articles have recently gained positive response and readers prefer her articles due to her captivating abilities.”
“Maria Marshall” is actually Women Who Code founder Sasha Laundy. She tells me: “They appear to be a spam site and I’m not sure why they picked me. I have contacted them and asked them to remove me but unsurprisingly, they haven’t done anything.”

I’ve also asked Boyd and Clark if they’re aware that the site is using their photos. (I wasn’t able to identify the other “authors and editors” on Frontline with reverse image searches.)

I’ve contacted the site and asked some questions about their “journalists” and unauthorized photo use. Calling the number listed on Frontline’s privacy page gets you Pegasus Taverna in Detroit’s Greektown.

* Frontline Desk editors and authors (frontlinedesk.com)

NEW – Peg McNichol writes: “FrontlineDesk.com is, according to Internic’s ‘whois’ search, registered by Enom, a company held by Demand Media. I don’t feel like it’s a huge jump to conclude which company might be behind an alleged news site with fake bylines.”

An anonymous Romenesko reader writes: “I liked your post on Frontline Desk. I thought you might also be interested in noting that the “disclaimer” on Frontlinedesk.com is remarkably similar to the one on Scripps.com. In fact, David Giles, vice president and deputy general counsel of Scripps, is named as the designated agent for Frontline Desk on frontlinedesk.com’s site.” Update: Giles tells me he’s not familiar with the site and is not its designated agent. “First I’ve heard of it,” he says.

Paul Woolverton writes: “‘Robert Anderson’ is listed as the author of a lot of science type stories on the Frontline Desk site. See bottom of story at this link for an example. But the photo is of Alvin Boyd of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.”

Wes Richards writes: “It ain’t just the fake reporters… it’s the faked original stories. Put any of their items into [this plagiarism checker] and you’ll see what I mean.”


I’ve asked Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times if there was any discussion about this being a conflict of interest – a newspaper sponsoring an often controversial institution that it covers.

Update - Editor Neil Brown says in a statement:

This is no different than our longtime sponsorships with institutions like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Tampa Bay Lightning. The newsroom is not involved in any of the marketing or sales dynamics and all the parties understand that news coverage and editorial independence are preserved outside the parameters of the deal. We will continue to offer readers thorough, aggressive and independent coverage of USF and all other institutions. That is unchanged by this sponsorship arrangement.

* Tampa Bay Times named exclusive print media partner for USF (press release)

Karate-chopping a frozen towel; freezing an egg on the sidewalk.freezing

Last winter, TV reporters were tossing hot water into the air and watching it quickly freeze. That stopped over reports that people were getting scalded after mimicking what they saw on TV. News outlets are now doing things like karate-chopping frozen towels, and freezing eggs on sidewalks. What other look-how-cold-it-is! demonstrations have you seen?

* New York Post freezes an egg on the sidewalk (nypost.com)
* Fox CT reporter freezes a towel and karate-chops it (foxct.com)
* January 2014: Everyone’s throwing hot water into the air (jimromenesko.com)