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The [Friday] Papers

I've been tweeting some media criticism of this morning's coverage from Boston. It's entirely predictable. It's an institutional problem. It's a mindset. It's not new - just read A.J. Liebling's The Press. I just wish it would stop.

(From the top review: "In this book Liebling talks about the newspaper industry, publishers, and the shenanigans publishers-newspapers pull to further their ends. Most of the stories were written in the 40s-50s and compiled in the 60s, but are as true today as they were then.

("Newspapers ignore the obvious and important, make-up much of what they do report, and lines of advertising sold & circulation is always the bottom-line. News is the last thing any publisher wants to pay for, so they economize by making it up or hire experts to make it up (that is, the expert is here NOT where the news is happening, and provides an opinion of events they know nothing about). Experts don't require expense accounts and costly travel. Liebling cites several events where the press was totally in the fog but had plenty to say; Stalin's death and his replacement are the best example of this phenomenon. And you get a sense of what sort of bums our government leaders are, or were. Liebling spills the beans on some of these people.")

And, of course, TV news is worse by a magnitude of thousands compared to print.

*

If I ever ran a news shop I would assign weekly reading to my reporters and editors, including Liebling, The Boys on the Bus, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, On Bended Knee and so on, as well as pertinent articles and media crit columns with Post-It notes saying things like "Learn, dammit!"

*

Maybe we would even have newsroom discussions of the topics discussed. I know it sounds like management-speak, but I'm a big fan of W. Edwards Deming's notions of quality and continuous improvement.

*

I think that would be a fun newsroom to work in - and productive as hell.

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Possible marketing slogan: Reporting That Doesn't Suck.

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Already used by someone else: No Guts, No Story.

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Also assigned reading: old SPY magazines.

*

And a select group of must-read websites, blogs, Twitter feeds etc. delivered to every reporter and editor daily. Mindsets of the old must be re-shaped. Mindsets of the young are still moldable.

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It's not so much telling staff what to think as how to think - like law school. That's one of the great purposes of undergraduate journalism programs, which I zealously support.

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ProPublica is the gold standard of digital journalism right now; no one is using new media tools with as much smarts.

*

The key for most organizations will be managing a portfolio of sites and products (forgive me that word) on multiple platforms. That might sound not sound insightful, but few are truly doing it. Geographically based operations - newspapers, for example - must also play in national arenas with niches, channels, verticals . . . and going macro must be paired going micro to mine obsessives in business sectors, hobbies, esoterica . . .

*

But business sides now need to be innovative and create as well working with editorial; can't just sit back and take ads or service clients or jump on fads (banners, retargeting, native).

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Funding still sketchy, though; for legacy media, it's the debts they incurred (on top of their blindness) that put them in such deep holes; must not be forgotten in assessing viability of business models and current profitability, nor continuing need for investment; for VCs, it's not just about tools and tech; for foundations, too much wasted millions on citizen journalism, hyperlocal, "engagement," and other dry veins that don't solve the biggest and most important problems/issues in media.

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My Tuesday column was briefly reposted on the Crain's website this morning until it was wisely yanked given current events.

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I don't much feel like writing about the local news today. It's really just more of the same, trust me.

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Schmidt's Artist Lofts in St. Paul.

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Press release:

"Hello,I hope you are doing well. I wanted to introduce you to Crabtree & Evelyn's beautiful new fragrance collection, Somerset Meadow. This new fragrance is launching in Crabtree & Evelyn stores and www.crabtree-evelyn.com on May 1, 2013, just in time for Mother's Day."

Response from our very own Rebecca Gleason:

"We have no need for these scents. The official Beachwood scent smells mostly like old newspapers, with hints of sarcasm, and a dash of despair."

*

What in the world is going on at Gitmo? Here's a primer via ProPublica.

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The Week in Chicago Rock.

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My Walgreens has been selling PBR talls for $1.99 each. That's like a dollar a beer.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tall.



Permalink

Posted on April 19, 2013


MUSIC - Roger Waters In Chicago.
TV - 24 Hours With Velocity.
POLITICS - Chicago's Unwelcoming Ordinance.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Lazy Hazy Crazy Dog Days.

BOOKS - The Origins Of Environmental Bullshit.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Daisies.


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