Tag Archives: journalism

Oh. Oh no. Oh no no no no. Oh dear God no.

Last week I thought long and hard about writing a post on our former arch-nemesis Gregg Easterbrook — whom we have lambasted in this space for everything from self-righteous moralizing to being bad at science. I’ve continued to read Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column throughout all of these episodes, because despite his flaws, he does offer a unique approach to sports and is quite often correct about things like the mendacity of Brett Favre and the fraidy-cat play calling of NFL coaches.

That was what I was going to say. Now I’m going to say something different.

gregg_easterbrookNow I’m going to say that Gregg Easterbrook has hatched, from deep inside the inky recesses of his brain pan, the single most stupidest idea for saving the newspaper industry in the history of the entire universe. If there were a contest in which everybody in America were asked to come up with the dumbest, most intellectually baffling, immediately recognizably moronic idea they could, and then those ideas were cast into a great heap so that they could be weighed as one unit, it is indisputable scientific fact that it would represent only a small fraction of Gregg Easterbrook’s proposition.

If you opened the door to a room with this idea inside of it, the smell alone would erase your entire brain.

Consider yourselves warned:

Can technology save newsprint? Here is the advance TMQ is hoping for: a print-cost breakthrough that allows you to print the newspaper yourself at home, eliminating delivery. Xerox recently rolled out a new generation of printers that use something called “solid ink” to cut the cost of color. Xerox’s product is intended for the office market, where most printing occurs, but perhaps is an indicator there will be a cost breakthrough in home printing.

“Huhhhh-GUH. Huuuhhhhhhhhhh-guh. HUUUUUHHHHHHHHHH-GUHHH.”

That’s the sound of my disbelief falling off its suspension.

There’s more:

Already home printers are themselves cheap, though the ink is expensive. If “solid ink” or some other improvement cuts the price, here’s what a future newspaper economy might look like: You subscribe, and each morning at whatever time you select, the newspaper transmits itself to your advanced printer, including, of course, the very latest news to that moment. Even with you paying for the ink and paper, that might cost less than $63 a month, since the newspaper subscription price — now basically a licensing fee — would go way down. You could set your printer to produce only the parts of the paper you actually read, reducing resource waste. A category of entry-level employment, newspaper delivery — once done by teens on bicycles, now often done by adults using cars — would be eliminated. But that’s a lot better than all newspaper-related jobs being eliminated!

If there were only some platform that would deliver me the news I need without forcing me to subscribe to a printed, delivered newspaper. Perhaps some way to make use of these computers and their blazing fast rates of information transfer. Oooooh, I’ve got it. Someone should establish a digital network of some sort in which news stories can be hosted and transmitted. Then we can feed that information directly into the brains of cockatoos — either through USB or ethernet ports. The cockatoos can then read us the news as we prepare to walk to work the wrong way around the entire Earth.

For all our grousing about what appears in the paper, right now American newspapers as a group are the very best they have ever been. Subscribe, or patronize the local newsbox. You will be sorry if the newspaper industry fades away. And don’t say, “I’ll just use the Internet for news.” The vast majority of the news presented on the Internet originates as a newspaper story.

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I’m sorry. My brain just flipped inside out for a second there. What were we talking about? The Internet?

Yep, Favre proved he can still play [TMQ]

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RUN, YOU BIG BEAUTIFUL SON OF A BITCH, RUN!!1!!!111!!

Most law enforcement officers signed up for the job hoping to clothesline a would-be purse-snatcher or tackle a terrorist moments before he takes out a preschool classroom. Then you spend the next 20 years filling out paperwork and having teenagers throw donuts at your car.

Then one day you’re out on the beat — your hair still greasy and matted down from a Sunday spent watching the Jets and Giants move to 3-0 — and you find yourself a key player in the single greatest sentence in the history of American journalism:

Police say a 1,400-pound bull that escaped from a northern New Jersey slaughterhouse dragged officers with a lasso down a street and ran 10 blocks before being captured and sedated.

I don’t think I should have to break this down for you people, but I think I can prove quantitatively that this is the most awesomest sentence ever written:

1. A bull busted out of a slaughterhouse? +2 awesomeness points!

2. This happened in Paterson, N.J.? +9 awesomeness points!

3. Police in Paterson have lassos? +25 awesomeness points!

4. The bull dragged MULTIPLE officers down the street with said lasso before being detained? +ELeventy-billion awesomeness points!

I’m actually glad I wasn’t around to see this unfold. I’ve heard bulls are attracted to uncontrollable laughter and hyperventilation. And that the cops in Paterson have fucking lassos and aren’t afraid to use them. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW!!!!

Anyway, the cops finally did subdue the bull, but only after the animal’s failed attempt to fit in with its new environment:

jersey_bull

1,400-pound bull drags officers down NJ street [AP]

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The Wall Street Journal is concerned about your cankles

Pax Arcana

canklesWhile I have criticized the newspaper industry and its often boneheaded business sense at length in this space, it is true that these organizations still provide the overwhelming majority of in-depth and important newsgathering. For example, did you know that some people have thick ankles? And that thick ankles are often derisively referred to as “cankles”? And that people are embarrassed by them?

Of course you did. You probably heard your first “cankles” reference in the late 90s. But hey, look — the Wall Street Journal just found out about it, too!

To get swimsuit-ready, Jennie Succio adopted a grueling workout regimen that included running uphill and doing dozens of lunges and squats. But she wasn’t going for a sculpted derrière or a chiseled abdomen.

Ms. Succio, 32 years old and the owner of a housecleaning business in Minnesota, wanted to slim down her chubby ankles.

No one will notice your dishpan hands if you have slim lower gams, cleaning lady.

But surely there’s more to the story than one sad 32 year old struggling to reengineer key components of her natural body composition. Clearly this portmaneau deserves its own trend story — like the riches heaped upon puns like “staycation” and “metrosexual”. Oh hey look:

The circumference of a woman’s ankle is about 11 inches, on average. That’s not much to obsess about. But enough Americans are concerned about fat ankles — or “cankles” — that gyms are coming up with new ways to tone them; plastic surgeons are pushing $4,000 to $6,000 liposuction procedures to slim them; and shoe companies are offering special models designed to minimize them.

If I were a cynical person, I’d say it appears that there are entire industries out there that profit from women’s insecurities. And that they actively increase the volume and strength of women’s insecurities by promoting “cures” for problems women didn’t know they had.

But I’m not cynical. That’s why I just founded The Pax Arcana Eyelid Stapling Program. Because let’s face it, ladies — no one likes a blinky woman.

For the Body-Conscious, It’s Now the Ankle That Rankles [WSJ]

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I am officially starting to enjoy this

exec_computer

Pax Arcana

My soft spot for the newspaper industry is well-known, as is my despair for the wont of real ideas for saving the most important news-gathering apparatus in existence today. (Less well-known is that my pheromones attract badgers. It’s a sexy but painful curse.)

The latest idea comes from James Rainey of the LA Times. Rainey is a smart guy with a dumb idea — newspapers should host more food festivals and shit like that to raise money. Because the business world is just like high school, and there’s no way they’ll shut down the drama club if we have, like, the best bake sale ever.

Then there’s Mediaite, a new Web site that ranks media personalities on a completely contrived power scale. It’s like fantasy football for the criminally douchey. Or as Will Leitch puts it:

The site is called Mediaite, and according to publisher Dan Abrams’ mission statement, it hopes to become “the must-read for anyone interested in media, the business of it and the personalities behind it.” At this point, it is perfectly acceptable for the rest of you to throw a shoe at your computer.

But still, it’s not the Raineys or Abrams of the world who are to blame for the mess in which the industry finds itself. That honor falls to the poop gobbling fucks who run the media companies — the idiot upperclass twits who fling millions in bonuses at executives who ran their papers into the ground and insist that the only way to save newspapers is to force the public to pay for an inferior product.

Let’s see if you can guess how these sacks full of farts and dead mice are spending their week in the face of the most dire crisis in the industry’s history. If you guessed that they’re recruiting innovators from Silicon Valley to build the news delivery platform of the future, then you’ve got egg all over your face, egg face.

While reporters at the New York Times are being told to save money by not texting or calling 411 on their company cell phones, the luminaries of the media universe took the private jets to Sun Valley for a week of hob-knobbing with other knobs. You are not invited, egg face:

For one week a year, the affluent resort town in central Idaho is transformed by Allen & Co, a boutique investment bank, into a playground of billionaires. They stroll along manicured pathways in its tranquil grounds and meditate by the duck ponds over the future of the media business and perhaps the next transformative merger.

Hopefully one of the ducks from the duck pond can point out the irony to these assholes of flying to Sun Valley for a weeklong golf and hooker escapade with their Princeton classmates while demanding massive layoffs and labor concessions at their various media properties.

Duck: Hi Mr. Media Honcho! You look depressed.

Media Honcho: I am. My companies are falling flat on their faces. If this continues, I might have to sell my private island! What will the boys at the club think?!

Duck: Maybe you shouldn’t have borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to build new printing presses when the future of journalism is clearly online.

Media Honcho: Who let this duck talk to me like this? You there! Yes, you! The Mexican-looking fellow. Shoot this duck.

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TV is even worse for kids than we thought

Pax Arcana

old_tv_adIf you thought television was bad for children because it crushes their creativity and motivation to interact with human beings, you don’t even know the half of it.

Turns out the real danger of TV is that it will actually, physically, crush your children.

According to MSNBC.com, the Web site arm of the network that brings you popular shows like OH MY GOD YOUR NEIGHBOR IS A PERVERT and IS YOUR KID MAKING RICIN IN THE KITCHEN?, the volume of furniture-on-child violence in this country rose 41% from 1990 to 2007.

And you can guess what is to blame, right? That’s right — the Japanese and their crazy TV-making abilities:

The increase correlated with the popularity of ever-bigger flat-panel televisions that Americans have brought into their homes in that time, along with the entertainment centers and narrow, less-stable stands to hold them. Injuries from televisions alone accounted for nearly half of all injuries related to falling furniture during the study period — 47 percent.

Now, you might think that’s not a convincing argument. After all, flat-panel TVs didn’t really become popular until a few years ago, and if they’re comparing 2007 to 1990, there seems to be at least a decade there where TVs were unlikely to be the cause of any increase in accidents. Also, the study cited doesn’t seem to blame flat-screens for the increase — it’s almost like MSNBC.com pulled it right out of its ass, then got a few attention whoring “child safety experts” to weigh in.

I say you’re over-thinking it. Just sit back and let the news cascade over you like a golden shower of sort-of information. There. You feel better? You shouldn’t. BECAUSE YOUR KID IS ABOUT TO FUCKING DIE!

To be fair, I should point out that MSNBC.com doesn’t explicitly say that falling flat-screen TVs are a growing threat to kids, except in the headline, which is “Falling flat-screen TVs a growing threat to kids.”

Falling flat-screen TVs a growing threat for kids [MSNBC.com]

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Epic newspaper fail in 5, 4, 3, 2 …

dinochicken_paper

Pax Arcana

We’ve chronicled the wholesale disintegration of the newspaper industry numerous times on this site. Most recently, we wondered why all the “ideas” for saving newspapers were being proffered by editorial employees rather than those who — you know — know shit about business and shit.

Thankfully, our prayers have been answered.

Romenesko today posted a memo by Dean Singleton and Jody Lodovic, top executives at MediaNews Group — one of the largest newspaper companies in the country. I won’t bore you with too many details, but it’s important that you understand the complex economic formula at the core of the new MediaNews Group online strategy:

WE’RE BROKE + YOU GIVE US MONEY = PROFITS!!!YAY!

Or, as Singleton puts it:

We will begin to move away from putting all of our newspaper content online for free. Instead, we will explore a variety of premium offerings that apply real value to our print content. We are not trying to invent new premium products, but instead tell our existing print readers that what they are buying has real value, and to our online audience (who don’t buy the print edition), that if you want access to all online content, you are going to have to register, and/or pay. If a non-subscriber wants the newspaper content in its entirety online, they will be directed to some sort of registration or pay vehicle (and if they are a print subscriber, they will have full access at no charge). To be clear, the brand value proposition to the consumer is that the newspaper is a product, whether in print or online, which must be paid for.

While Mike Masnick of Techdirt insists that price and value are not the same thing, I think Singleton is exactly right. We should be charged for everything that is valuable to help offset the fiduciary obligations of the creator of that value (especially if the creator’s fiduciary obligations include $500 million worth of printing presses and “airy newsrooms” he bought less than four years ago).

For example, I cannot make coffee without coffee filters. Therefore, they are valuable. That’s why I pay $5,000 for a pack of 20 of them from a very exclusive buyer’s club of which I am a member.

MediaNews execs: We’ll no longer give away all our print content to web users [Romenesko]

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Bitches, man

Pax Arcana

It’s become fashionable among red-faced TV shouters and slope-shouldered Internet trolls to blame the demise of newspapers on content quality, rather than the inevitable result of a shifting landscape for information consumption.

This is rubbish. Newspapers are still the primary organ for gathering and reporting news, and without them we’d be far worse off. Case in point — if the New York Times makes good on its threat to close the Boston Globe, how the fuck are we ever going to know what the most popular dog names in Wellesley are?

From the top-front-middle of Boston.com comes this awesomeness:

Bailey is the top dog in Wellesley. Lucy is the queen in Newton.

In the battle of dog names, the most popular dog name in Wellesley is Bailey with 38. The most popular dog name in Newton is Lucy with 33. Molly, the second most popular dog name in Wellesley, with 34, doesn’t even crack the top ten most popular names in Newton.

ugly_dog

Critics of the Globe often say that the paper has hastened its own death by ignoring the city of Boston in favor of fluffy who-gives-a-shit stories from the wealthy suburbs. Those critics just don’t understand that a sophisticated exegesis of dog names in the rich suburbs adds a wealth of value to the every day lives of Globe readers.

Because it is in such stories that we discover that people in the Boston area like sports! CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE IT?

A lot can be learned about a town from its dog names, but to get a real feel for Newton and Wellesley you need to dig deeper than just the top-ten list of names.

This being Red Sox territory, dog owners like to name their pooches after just about anything from the Olde Towne Team. Wellesley has 10 dogs named Fenway to Newton’s three. Both towns have three dogs named Remy. There are also a combined four dogs in the two towns still named Manny.

Of course Manny was a good dog until we decided he was the worst dog ever. Then we got a Canadian Syrup Collie and pretended he was the most bestest dog in the world.

But lest the town’s are accused of forgetting “the other” sports dynasty, Wellesley has eight dogs named Brady, a dog named Tom Brady and a dog named Tedy Bruschi, and Newton has seven dogs named Brady and three named Bruschi. No one has gone so far, however, as naming his dog Gillette.

But lest the newspaper’s be accuse’d of slacking on the job, they may wan’t to revisit that firs’t sent’ence.

Both Newton and Wellesley are more than just sports towns, however. Lovers of literature will see dogs named after great men and women of letters. Wellesley’s literary heroes include Shakespeare, Yates, Hemingway and Shelley. Newton’s include Oscar Wilde and Nietzsche.

This gives me an entirely different appreciation of the erudition necessary to live in such towns. Come now, Bulwer-Lytton the Beagle, we must upgrade you at once! From this day forth, you shall be known as Oliver Wendell Holmes the Beagle!

There are fans of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic series in both towns, as Newton has four dogs named Snoop and Wellesley has three, plus a dog named Charlie Brown. There are also a combined six dogs in the two towns named Peanut, and one in Newton named Peanuts.

Okay, you’re fucking kidding about the “Snoop” thing, right? Seriously. Please tell me you’re kidding.

For Newton and Wellesley entertainment is more than just music and comics. It is something that should be recognized. So, to recognize the recognition of the arts, Newton and Wellesley have 10 and eight dogs named Oscar respectively, Wellesley has 3 dogs named Emmy to Newton’s one, and Wellesley has a dog named Tony.

I’m going to invent a new award based on this article, just to name my dog after it. Say hello to Poopknuckle the pug puppy everybody! Isn’t he adorable and sticky?

As lovers of fine things it’s no surprise that the most popular car brand that became a dog name is Bentley, with five in Newton and four in Wellesley. Similarly, no one will be shocked to know that the most popular beer brand/dog name is Stella with seven in Wellesley and five in Newton (although Guinness is a close second in Wellesley with five.)

OK, you realize that Bentley is also the name of a university nearby. And that the likelihood that people named their dogs Stella after the beer rather than the famous movie/play is virtually zero.

Sometimes a dog name is nothing more than an indication of potential size. If this is the case, watch out in Wellesley. With 10 dogs named Bear living in Wellesley, and only two in Newton, you might want to watch out when you are walking down the street in the former.

That’s why I take Bear Killer with me everywhere. I tell people it’s an ironic name because he’s a Scottish Terrier dressed in a pith helmet — but in reality he’s an actual bear dressed like a Scotty in a pith helmet. It’s still ironic, though, because he’s a bear named Bear Killer that kills dogs named Bear. And Bentley.

From Remy to Yates: most popular dog names in Wellesley [Boston.com]

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