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Thursday June 21, 2007

Hey everybody, New Times is hiring. Know anybody that can “understand the difference between magazine-style reporting and the hurried fact-finding of daily papers”?


Tuesday March 6, 2007

It's all the readers' fault

Carl Hiaasen says and Bob Norman agrees. That the Anna Nicole Smith incident is revealing some sort of new low in our culture. “But this is the new New Journalism, which is steered by a core belief that people would rather be smothered by seedy gossip about dead ex-Playmate junkies than be bothered with the details of North Korea’s nuclear program.”

I call bullshit. That people are more interested in trivial gossip than weighty news is as old as humanity. I see no evidence that the internet is intensifying this whatsoever — 30 million people mentioned Anna Nicole Smith. Big deal — most of those hits were probably from blogs mentioning her in passing (like I just did). She’s an interesting celebrity, and she just died — what does Hiaasen expect?

This is just a newspaper guy frustrated by the fact that his industry is dying and blaming it on readers’ alleged preferences. The truth is that readers skim the Smith article and then they skim the North Korea article, and they know the difference. The real problem is the newspapers. I picked one up yesterday (the NYTimes, actually), and boy was it a disaster. The content is great, but the delivery system stinks. A big heavy clump of wood pulp gets dropped on your lawn every morning, and you’re expected to flip through hundreds of huge flimsy pages, skimming articles to try to find what’s of interest to you. Stories jump around from page to page, making you unfold, flip, refold, and generally wrestle with the stupid thing.

And newspapers’ web sites are no better — the Herald’s front page gives you a hint of what’s behind the link for exactly two stories. For anything else you have to navigate to sub-pages or guess from short cryptic headlines. Navigable archive pages are non-existent, searching is rudimentary, and all articles disappear behind a paywall after a few months. The Herald has a mess of blogs that don’t integrate with its regular site, and many are on Blogspot. I’ve repetedly implored the Herald to look for new ways to use the internet, and it’s just not happening. The NY Times has a new state-of-th-art website, but it’s chosen to put its columnists behind a paywall, so I’m not sure how much of a leader they’ll be.

Look, there’ll always be a demand for serious news, and there’ll always be news organizations to meet the demand. The only question is whether today’s newspapers are smart enough to make the changes to become those organizations. But their blaming their audience for their troubles suggests they are not.

Update: In the comments, Dan Sweeney just proved that Hiaasen isn’t just wrong about his conclusion, he’s wrong about his facts, too. Herewith, a series of graphs demonstrating that Anna Nicole Smith wasn’t the biggest news story the week she died by a long shot.


Tuesday December 26, 2006

[Tom Fiedler] was a great reporter, a good political editor, a decent editorial page editor and, ultimately, so-so as executive editor.” Rebecca Wakefield considers Fiedler’s legacy, and the state of the newspaper he’s leaving behind, concluding: “As imperfect as it is, as rudderless, bogged-down and lacking in stones as its management has often seemed, we need the Miami Herald.” (via Herald Watch) Update: a complete transcript of Rebecca’s interview with Tom.


Wednesday May 17, 2006

The blogacious hipster politics

new times spread out
I’m writing this drunk, and it’s about silly shit, and life is short, and you’re probably better off skipping this post. Count yourself warned.

Item #1 is this ignore post, wherein our heros (a) make fun of this event for being sponsored by Toyota (“where does it end?” I don’t know, but it ended a long-ass time ago if you’re going to eschew anything with corporate sponsorship, guys. Also, and I really really do love ignore, but you guys using “hipster cunt” as a put-down is kind of like a bulldozer calling a forklift yellow, isn’t it?) and (b) totally go off on Crispin Porter + Bogusky, because they found out that someone at the company left an ignore-insulting comment on Miamity (Kyle is pals with ignore, so he prob. gave them the IP). Also note this, and also that said comment was left under the name “newtimez,” which brings us to . . .

Item #2 So the New Times’ best of issue named a TV station’s web site Best Local Website, which is great, except that (#1: the Associated Press style guide demands that “Web site” is two words, and #2:) the logic that got you to that selection, taken to its obvious logical conclusion, leads you to name the “Best local Website” every year henceforth. Still no big problem, except that they then say something like “the loozers in Bloward can have a ‘best blog’ category, but we in daD3z know that blogz are, like, sooo 2001; we ain’t even w’dat, yo” (check the link above, in case I’m mis-remembering their quote a little (and also, btw, a belated congrats to Rick, who got the best blog nod in da BPB)), with which I just have the slightest of problems. Blogs, to me, are a format, not so much a cultural entity in and of themselves. In other words, a particular blog can be good or bad, cool or uncool, but to call blogs in general uncool is equivalent to someone in the 1920’s saying that the talkies are a silly fad, or (as I put it here) someone in 1460 saying that books are “so 1455.”

OK, so the New Times said something dumb. Appropriately, tNFH makes fun of them for it, as does Franklin (in tNFH’s comments), as does Kyle, and as I would like to . . .

The problem is that NT is supposed to be a “fun” publication, and you can’t possibly be a “fun” weekly without shooting from the hip, and without saying some stupid shit from time to time. The problem is compounded in the case of the “Best of” issue, wherein the staff is required to make up all this shit in all these specific categories, and make it make sense, and be fun to read, and not be the same thing year after year, and, well, who am I to get upset if all those requirements get in the way of not saying stupid shit from time to time. Not to mention the fact, and let’s face it, that that everyone knows what the best blog in MIA is (and let’s face it: the only reason you’ve read this far was to see if I was going to go there, and now you know).


Monday May 15, 2006

One of these days I’m going to write up a whole big thing about how Miami Art Guide sucks so so bad. Meanwhile, check this out – they’re apparently biting content from tNFH. Nice work, guys.


Tuesday May 9, 2006

What's up with the Daily Pulp?


Our story so far: Bob Norman launched the original Daily Pulp back in January, with a pretty decent splash. Word spread, and by March, the New Times brass took interest, and made him move it to their own domain. So far, so good. Then, on May 3, after months of posting every single weekday, the blog goes dark. Rick, along with most of the journalists in SoFla (who read the blog with some combination of delight and dread) are like, “wtf??” Then, on May 9th (yesterday, to those of you who are following along), a post appears on the Pulp from Tony Ortega, New Times editor, which cryptically begins “Bob’s busy with an investigation, so I thought I’d fill in . . .”

So, yeah, wtf? Well, rumour has it that it’s all about a beef between Bob and the New Times brass. A post (presumably the one intended for May 3) was vetoed by NT Lawyers, resulting in what must have been one of those legendary newsroom arguments. Lawyers and editors tend to win those fights, though, and the post never saw the light of day. So Bob goes off and writes another post, describing the whole incident (and probably using some choice words), and now they won’t let him put that post up, either. Now thoroughly pissed off, Bob stops writing the Pulp. He’s either sick of the whole damned thing, or it’s some sort of a stand-off.

If true, it’s disappointing but not unforeseeable. The New Times plays all punk-rock, but it’s a big national corporation, so it needs its ass covered. Maybe it’s impossible to do a blog like the Pulp under that kind of environment? In any case, if anyone has any other info on the situation, let’s hear it.


Wednesday April 26, 2006

A memo from Tom Fielder to all Herald Staff:

No more will some people be strictly newspaper staff and
others will be strictly on-line or multi-media staff. If
you produce news, you’ll be expected to produce it as
effectively for the electronic reader or listener as you
would for the newspaper reader. If you edit or design for
the newspaper, you’ll learn to edit and design for the web

There should be nothing too surprising about this, and it’s not really a sea change—it’s part of a necessary evolution that has been underway for years, which gives me hope, actually. My advice to the Herald: get into using hyperlinks in your articles, anywhere you possibly can. By linking to resources outside yourself, you allow yourself to be perceived as part of the net, not just a newspaper that exists within it. (via SotP)


Saturday April 22, 2006

Blue screen of death at MIA?

blue screen of death on CBS4

According to this report here (on UPN33 and/or CBS4), flights all over MIA were delayed because of a Win98-style blue-screen-of-death crash yesterday.

ORLY?! Uh, no, actually: the Sabre computer system has nothing to do with Windows – it runs on a mainframe computer, so the “blue screen” you see above is just some overzealous TV editor’s desperate attempt to show some sort of graphic representation of their idea of what a computer crash looks like.

I suppose next time they’re talking about a mugger they have no picture of, they can just use a sketch of the Unabomber or something, right? Or just do a search for “mugging” on YouTube. Good grief!

(btw, you do occasionally see windows errors on Airport displays, and it’s completely related to what happened here – one or two displays may be down, but with no effect on the actual flights. It’s a separate system.)