The Ten Month Beat

An account of the ten months at the graduate school of journalism for the class of 2006.


Working for Free Cheapens the Profession

A little late, as usual, but on point, the NYT finally catches onto the "trend" of unpaid internships:

May 30, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Take This Internship and Shove It

MY younger sister has just arrived in New Orleans for the summer after her freshman year at Yale. She will be consuming daily snowballs, the local icy treat, to ward off the heat, volunteering to help clean up neighborhoods damaged by Hurricane Katrina and working part time, for pay, at both a literary festival and a local restaurant. Meanwhile, most of her friends from college are headed for the new standard summer experience: the unpaid internship.

Instead of starting out in the mailroom for a pittance, this generation reports for business upstairs without pay. A national survey by Vault, a career information Web site, found that 84 percent of college students in April planned to complete at least one internship before graduating. Also according to Vault, about half of all internships are unpaid.

I was an unpaid intern at a newspaper from March 2002, my senior year, until a few months after graduation. I took it for granted, as most students do, that working without pay was the best possible preparation for success; parents usually agree to subsidize their offspring's internships on this basis. But what if we're wrong?

What if the growth of unpaid internships is bad for the labor market and for individual careers?

Let's look at the risks to the lowly intern. First there are opportunity costs. Lost wages and living expenses are significant considerations for the two-thirds of students who need loans to get through college. Since many internships are done for credit and some even cost money for the privilege of placement overseas or on Capitol Hill, those students who must borrow to pay tuition are going further into debt for internships.

Second, though their duties range from the menial to quasi-professional, unpaid internships are not jobs, only simulations. And fake jobs are not the best preparation for real jobs.

Long hours on your feet waiting tables may not be particularly edifying, but they teach you that work is a routine of obligation, relieved by external reward, where you contribute value to a larger enterprise. Newspapers and business magazines are full of articles expressing exasperation about how the Millennial-generation employee supposedly expects work to be exciting immediately, wears flip-flops to the office and has no taste for dues-paying. However true this stereotype may be, the spread of the artificially fun internship might very well be adding fuel to it.

By the same token, internships promote overidentification with employers: I make sacrifices to work free, therefore I must love my work. A sociologist at the University of Washington, Gina Neff, who has studied the coping strategies of interns in communications industries, calls the phenomenon "performative passion." Perhaps this emotion helps explain why educated workers in this country are less and less likely to organize, even as full-time jobs with benefits go the way of the Pinto.

Although it's not being offered this year, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s Union Summer internship program, which provides a small stipend, has shaped thousands of college-educated career organizers. And yet interestingly, the percentage of young workers who hold an actual union card is less than 5 percent, compared with an overall national private-sector union rate of 12.5 percent. How are twentysomethings ever going to win back health benefits and pension plans when they learn to be grateful to work for nothing?

So an internship doesn't teach you everything you need to know about coping in today's working world. What effect does it have on the economy as a whole?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not identify interns or track the economic impact of unpaid internships. But we can do a quick-and-dirty calculation: according to Princeton Review's "Internship Bible," there were 100,000 internship positions in 2005. Let's assume that out of those, 50,000 unpaid interns are employed full time for 12 weeks each summer at an average minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. That's a nearly $124 million yearly contribution to the welfare of corporate America.

In this way, unpaid interns are like illegal immigrants. They create an oversupply of people willing to work for low wages, or in the case of interns, literally nothing. Moreover, a recent survey by Britain's National Union of Journalists found that an influx of unpaid graduates kept wages down and patched up the gaps left by job cuts.

There may be more subtle effects as well. In an information economy, productivity is based on the best people finding the jobs best suited for their talents, and interns interfere with this cultural capitalism. They fly in the face of meritocracy — you must be rich enough to work without pay to get your foot in the door. And they enhance the power of social connections over ability to match people with desirable careers. A 2004 study of business graduates at a large mid-Atlantic university found that the completion of an internship helped people find jobs faster but didn't increase their confidence that those jobs were a good fit.

With all this said, the intern track is not coming to an end any time soon. More and more colleges are requiring some form of internship for graduation. Still, if you must do an internship, research shows you will get more out of it if you find a paid one.

A 1998 survey of nearly 700 employers by the Institute on Education and the Economy at Columbia University's Teachers College found: "Compared to unpaid internships, paid placements are strongest on all measures of internship quality. The quality measures are also higher for those firms who intend to hire their interns." This shouldn't be too surprising — getting hired and getting paid are what work, in the real world, is all about.

Anya Kamenetz, a columnist for The Village Voice, is the author of "Generation Debt."


So hungry I could have eaten a monkey....

Man, I was looking forward to eating six bucks worth of chicken and rice on that cruise! I had a fiver and a single all lined up in my wallet, at least $14 dollars worth of liquor in my empty belly, and every intention of chowing down.

But alas it was not to be! The much promised food (at least three mass emails' worth, not to mention a Gawker spot) failed to materialize.

I had to come home and eat my monkey, but only after he had dispatched the cat.

That's life in the Chong Alma!


Woe is me

NY Times
May 15, 2006

Times Are Tough for News Media, but Journalism Schools Are Still Booming

COLUMBIA, Mo. — These are tough times for journalism.

The newspaper industry cut more than 2,000 jobs last year as it continued to lose readers and advertisers to the Internet. Network newscasts are being propped up by older viewers and continue to lose market share to cable. Regular reports of ethical breaches are undermining public trust in all news organizations, bloggers accuse the mainstream media of being arrogant and clueless, and Wall Street expresses little confidence in its financial future.

But there is one corner of the profession still enjoying a boom: journalism schools.

Demand for seats in the nation's journalism schools and programs remains robust, and those schools and programs are expanding. This month, they will churn out more graduates than ever into a job market that is perhaps more welcoming to entry-level multimedia-taskers than it is to veterans who began their careers hunting and pecking on Olivetti typewriters.

"If you've got the skills, the jobs are there," Diego Sorbara, who is graduating shortly from the Missouri School of Journalism here, said with the confidence of a 22-year-old who has lined up two jobs, first as a copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel this summer, then as a copy editor and page designer at The Rocky Mountain News.

"Newspaper people are too pessimistic," he said. "Part of the nature of journalism is to adapt to your surroundings. We can't all stay in our ruts. If you get into this whole spiral of, 'Woe is us, the industry is going down,' then it will go down."

Michele Steele, 27, who is graduating from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York, has a similar outlook. She has been hired as a reporter and anchor for the video network at Forbes magazine's Web site,

"Certainly the industry is changing," Ms. Steele said as she monitored the Forbes Web site in the school's new Roone Arledge Broadcast Lab, named after the former head of ABC News. "But the changes are positive."

Some of those changes are being reflected on the nation's campuses, where new media is being taught alongside the old.

Missouri's journalism school — the oldest in the country — is building a new institute with a $31 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation for a "convergence center," where journalists and ordinary citizens can study emerging media technologies and new approaches to journalism and advertising.

In New York, Columbia just opened the multimillion-dollar Arledge digital television lab and last fall introduced a new one-year master of arts program in which student journalists can concentrate in a field like business or the arts. It plans to open a new center for investigative journalism this summer.

In addition to such established schools, other new options are arising. Steven Brill, the founder of The American Lawyer and Court TV, and his wife, Cynthia, gave $1 million earlier this year for a new journalism program at Yale. And the City University of New York is opening a whole new Graduate School of Journalism in September. It is even reclaiming an old-media landmark, the New York Herald Tribune building in Midtown Manhattan.

In 2004, the latest year for which there are comprehensive statistics, freshman enrollments in more than 450 journalism and mass communications programs across the country increased 5.2 percent over the previous year, marking the 11th consecutive year of growth. The figures are compiled by a team led by Lee B. Becker, a professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, who has surveyed journalism enrollments and the job market for two decades.

"There is no evidence as of yet that any of these discussions of gloom and doom in the industries, and particularly the newspaper industry, are having any adverse affect on enrollments," Mr. Becker said, although his survey did show a slowing of the growth rate from 2003 to 2004.

"Students are interested in writing," he said. "They're interested in the broader sense of what the media are and what role they play in society, and those are the things that drive them, not hearing about Knight Ridder dealing with a stockholders' revolt."

Students are also driven by the very changes that are upending the old media. For one thing, many do not read the print version of newspapers. As Dustin Hodges, 22, who is graduating from Missouri in August, put it, "I don't pick up a newspaper unless it's in front of me and it's free." For the latest news, he hops online, where he spends three or four hours a day anyway.

Today's students have grown up immersed in the Internet and with the ability to adapt rapidly to new technologies, giving them a comfort level with things that newspapers are just discovering, like blogs, podcasts and video clips.

Richard J. Roth, senior associate dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University — where the number of applicants has increased every year for the last six years — likes to note that one of his school's graduates is Kevin Sites, who has become a pioneering one-man multimedia foreign correspondent for Yahoo.

He said newspapers were replacing older journalists with those, like Mr. Sites, who were grounded in the basics of news but could also present it in an array of formats.

"They're just buying out the people who are earning at the top and replacing them with people at the bottom," he said, "but those people at the bottom know how to put up podcasts and video."

Unlike some older journalists who may feel threatened by the digital world, today's students are so at home in it that some know more than their professors.

"We're maybe one step ahead of them, and sometimes they're two or three steps ahead of us," said Mike McKean, chairman of Missouri's convergence journalism faculty. "Things are changing so quickly that it's not so much about learning a particular tool or software. It's more about an attitude of working in teams and producing content for different audiences."

At the same time, Brian S. Brooks, the associate dean of undergraduate studies, said Missouri was still emphasizing basic reporting and writing. "We're still making students drill down in the existing media," he said. "That's where the jobs are. You don't want to get too far out in front of the industry."

At Columbia in New York, one multimedia student, Julia Kumari Drapkin, said she was having just that experience.

Ms. Drapkin, 27, a photographer who had taken pictures in Sri Lanka after the tsunami and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, went to Columbia to broaden her skills. She said that some news organizations were not yet ready to allow photographers to write, for example, or shoot video, but she did find a summer internship at Time magazine and its Web site, where she said she would be encouraged to help "rethink the photo essay."

"In this changing media landscape, there's an opportunity for us to be able to do a new kind of reporting," she said. At Time, she said, "there will be conversations about how to handle the new media and I want to be part of that conversation."

Stephen B. Shepard, the founding dean of the City University's journalism school, said journalism education was more valuable to students these days than in years past, in part because news organizations were less able to provide on-the-job training. "There are more demands on people; staffs have been cut, everyone is watching the bottom line and you can't get the training and mentoring that you used to get," he said.

But like many young people just starting their careers, many new journalism graduates seem unfazed by these challenges.

Jake Jost, 24, who interned with Lisa Myers, a senior investigative reporter for NBC News in Washington last year, said that news organizations would always need people with basic skills. "By doing solid news, we can make ourselves relevant to viewers and they'll come back," he said.

At Columbia, Emily Brady, 29, was waiting to talk to a recruiter from Newsday, the Long Island newspaper beset with woes ever since a circulation scandal in 2004. "You don't go into this profession to get rich," Ms. Brady said. "There are financial sacrifices, it's a tough profession, you're under fire, and it's not necessarily the most popular thing to say you're a journalist," she said. "But it's a calling."


Booze Cruise 2006

From Gawker:
"Columbia J-School Teaches Its Kids to Drink"

There is no more important training for a young journalist than a lesson in how to hold your liquor. And there is no better way to learn to hold your liquor than at an open bar you can’t get from. Hence the annual Columbia J-School booze cruise, at which this year — this is our favorite part — it seems the cocktailing will begin at 4 p.m. Of course, while an open bar would be ideal, the j-school currently charges its students a mere $38,500 in tuition and fees, and so it can afford only a cash bar. And, even better, a “cash food bar” — unless students shell out six bucks for the buffet, they’re stuck with only “chips and salsa, and crudite with herbed dipping sauce.” Dress is “reporter semi-formal,” which seems easy enough until you remember how reporters dress.

Full link here:

Invisible bitch-slaps

As a foreigner, I have no family in town for graduation and therefore no need for those golden tickets. Out of the kindess (some would say softness) of my heart, I've already given away three out of four.

Now, I'm sure there's a few skeptics of the market at School, but I've decided to employ the invisible hand to pickpocket some of my tuition fees.

Therefore, my remaining ticket (gravy) is to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Place your bids in the comments section (in-kind bids - drinks, meals etc. - are accepted, even encouraged).

This auction will close at 6pm, May 15, sharp. I'll contact the winner directly.



Another suggestion for our j-school t-shirt?



From "The Infiltrator" in the April 2006 Atlantic Monthly:

In Belfast I met with Denis Donaldson, a Sinn Féin party leader and an IRA veteran alleged to have run the IRA’s intelligence wing...His face seemed thin and gray, the face of a man who senses an end looming.

A few weeks later, back in the United States, I received a phone call early one morning from a source in the United Kingdom. He said, “Yer man Denis Donaldson”—the legendary IRA hunger-striker who had met with me in his kitchen—“has just been expelled from Sinn Féin, about three minutes ago. For being a British spy.”

From today's Washington Post:

A former official in the Sinn Fein political party who was recently exposed as a British spy was found fatally shot Tuesday, after apparently being tortured, police said.

Denis Donaldson, 55, died in his isolated home in Glenties in northwest Ireland, said the Irish justice minister, Michael McDowell, adding that Donaldson's right forearm had been nearly severed.


talk about a tough source

The blog is pretty quiet, so it's as good as any time to post this. I was e-mailed this article with the following note: "Ah, the risks of being a journalist!"

From the AP:
Computer game teaches news skills to journalists
by Peter Svensson

To teach fact-finding skills, professors at the University of Minnesota have turned the fantasy computer game "Neverwinter Nights" into a tool for journalism students.

Instead of slaying monsters and gathering gold, the players tackle sources and gather information.

"When we initially did the game, it still had lava pits, the editor looked like an ogre — stuff like that. The librarian had breastplates," said Nora Paul, director of the university's Institute for New Media Studies.

The team, which includes game designer Matt Taylor and journalism professor Kathleen Hansen, have now modified the game graphics to look like a modern town, the fictional Harperville.

A train has derailed, spilling toxic ammonia, and the players are sent out to cover the story. They dig up information by going to the library, government offices or talking to a retired train engineer at the bar.

For each step of a conversation, the players have four choices of what to tell to the interview subjects, ranging in attitude from assertive to tentative. If players are too brash, the interview subjects will say "Excuse me, I don't like your attitude," and end the conversation.

The goals of the game are not only to reinforce the thinking process behind information gathering and distinguishing between different types of sources, but also to teach etiquette, Paul says.

The team had initially planned to have a crowd of game characters milling about the accident scene, but the game wasn't amenable to that. A bug in the program meant that any time a player approached a group of people, he was immediately attacked and killed.


it could have been worse, people...

McClatchy Looks Like the Favorite
To Buy Knight Ridder at Auction
March 10, 2006
McClatchy Co. appeared yesterday in the pole position to purchase the Knight Ridder Inc. newspaper chain, people familiar with the matter said, offering a combination of cash and stock valued at more than $65 a share, or more than $4.35 billion.

Bids for Knight Ridder were due yesterday at 5 p.m. EST, and, as in any auction, the situation was fluid and subject to change, even past the stated deadline. But a consensus was building that McClatchy was the favorite, as it appeared MediaNews Group Inc. was fading from the scene and a large private-equity group including Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners was showing an indication of interest -- albeit at a lower, all-cash price.

McClatchy publishes the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, the Sacramento Bee and other papers. Knight Ridder, the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher by circulation behind Gannett Co., publishes 32 papers, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald.

Knight Ridder's board will have to weigh a complex mix of price, certainty of closing a deal and journalistic continuity as it examines the bids. With the auction entering its final stages, there could well be a surprise development or a dark-horse bidder that emerges.

Knight Ridder spokesman Polk Laffoon declined to comment. McClatchy spokeswoman Elaine Lintecum also wouldn't comment.

The auction has so far drawn a tepid response from investors.

"I'm absolutely on the fence," said Thomas A. Russo, partner in Gardner Russo & Gardner, a Lancaster, Pa., investment firm that holds 6.3% of McClatchy's Class A stock.

He said McClatchy's own low price -- its stock closed yesterday at a 52-week low -- makes it tempting for the Sacramento, Calif., company to use its cash to buy back its own shares instead those of another company. In 4 p.m. New York Stock Exchange composite trading, shares of McClatchy fell 47 cents to $51.93. Shares of Knight Ridder, based in San Jose, Calif., rose 20 cents to $62.66 on the Big Board.

But McClatchy has almost no debt, putting it in a strong position to borrow heavily to make a big acquisition. This is exactly what it did in 1997, when the company surprised Wall Street by agreeing to buy Cowles Media Co., publisher of the Star Tribune, for about $1.4 billion in cash and stock.

McClatchy Chief Executive Gary Pruitt was criticized at the time for paying such a high price for the paper. But he was able to use the cash generated by the business to quickly pay down debt.

Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Lauren Rich Fine, in a note to investors, estimates that an all-cash deal for Knight Ridder would actually add to free cash flow per share -- a requirement Mr. Pruitt has identified as being necessary for an acquisition by McClatchy.

If the bids for Knight Ridder are insufficient, there remains the possibility that Knight Ridder's board could consider a recapitalization and engage in a large share-buyback program. At year's end, the company had 66.9 million shares outstanding. Its market capitalization is $4.21 billion.


Otis Chandler Dies

From the LA Times obit:

L.A. Icon Otis Chandler Dies at 78
By David Shaw and Mitchell Landsberg
Times Staff Writers

11:58 AM PST, February 27, 2006

Otis Chandler, whose vision and determination as publisher of the Los Angeles Times from 1960 to 1980 catapulted the paper from mediocrity into the front ranks of American journalism, died today of a degenerative illness called Lewy body disease. He was 78.

Chandler died at his home in Ojai about 4 a.m., according to Tom Johnson, a former publisher of The Times who was acting as a spokesman for the family. Chandler's wife, Bettina, was with him. Other family members had gathered at the Chandler home.

"Otis Chandler will go down as one of the most important figures in newspaper history," said Dean Baquet, editor of the Los Angeles Times. "He built a newspaper that was as great as the city it covers. He set his sights on a goal — making The Times one of the two or three great American papers — and he pulled it off."

Lewy body disease is a brain disorder combining some of the most debilitating characteristics of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Victims suffer from severe dementia, as well as the stiffness, tremors and impaired movements characteristic of Parkinson's. The disease is known for its fast progression. Chandler was diagnosed seven months ago, although doctors had determined about a year earlier that he was suffering from some form of dementia, his wife said. As recently as September, Chandler appeared fit, aside from a knee injury, and was lucid enough to sit for an interview and give a visitor a guided tour of his classic car and motorcycle museum in Oxnard.

Chandler was the great-grandson of Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, the blustery Civil War veteran who bought part-ownership of The Times in 1882, a year after it began publication, and was its publisher for 35 years. Chandler's grandfather and father followed Gen. Otis in the publisher's chair. The Chandlers had no rival as the most powerful family in Southern California. They owned vast landholdings and used their influence with elected officials and the business elite to shape the region's development.

But it was Otis Chandler — a world-class shotputter in college and a fierce competitor in every arena he entered — who took charge of a paper that for decades had generated almost as much ridicule as revenue and transformed it into one of the best newspapers in the country. He also made it more profitable than ever.

"No publisher in America improved a paper so quickly on so grand a scale, took a paper that was marginal in qualities and brought it to excellence as Otis Chandler did," David Halberstam wrote in "The Powers That Be," his 1979 book about the news media.

"You cannot overstate the importance of Otis Chandler's impact on the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper industry and all of Southern California," said current Times Publisher Jeff Johnson (no relation to Tom Johnson). "He was bold in making changes and investments in the paper that transformed The Times into a world-class news organization."

"Otis was a giant in every way," said Donald Graham, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the Washington Post Co. "The paper you are reading is his monument. By his strength and by his judgment of good journalists, he was of unique importance in the history of the Los Angeles Times."

During Chandler's 20 years as publisher — and five subsequent years as editor in chief and chairman of the board of The Times' then-parent company, Times Mirror — the paper won nine Pulitzer Prizes and expanded from two to 34 foreign and domestic bureaus. At the same time, it doubled its circulation to more than 1 million daily and for many years during and after his tenure published more news — and more advertising — than any other newspaper in the United States.




thy breath be rude


Snowflakes Across The Western World

Rumsfeld speaks, you decide:

First, from the Fox TV affiliate via AP in San Diego
NEW YORK (AP) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the U.S. is prey to an "unacceptable, dangerous deficiency" in the way it talks to the world.

In a speech in New York, Rumsfeld said Al-Qaida and Islamic extremist groups have become expert at using the Internet to poison Muslim viewpoints. Rumsfeld tells the Council on Foreign Relations, "our government has not adapted."

Rumsfeld says the military has to adapt to changes in global media and better train officials about the importance of "timing and rapid response."

Rumsfeld calls the government's public affairs system antiquated. He says officials who work an eight-hour, five-day schedule can't keep up with a 24/7 world.

Next, the BBC
The US is losing the propaganda war against al-Qaeda and other enemies, defence chief Donald Rumsfeld has said.

It must modernise its methods to win the minds of Muslims in the "war on terror", as "enemies had skilfully adapted" to the media age, he said.

Washington and the army must respond faster to events and learn to exploit the internet and satellite TV, he said.

Separately, President Bush said the US should not be discouraged by setbacks in Iraq and must realise it is at war.

"We shouldn't be discouraged... because we've seen democracy change the world in the past," George W Bush said.

However, he also used his speech in Florida to claim progress in the war on al-Qaeda.

Mr Bush said that slowly but surely the US was finding terrorists where they hid.

'Newsroom battles'

Correspondents say that in recent months victory in the battle for public opinion has become a new front for the Bush administration.

In a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations, Mr Rumsfeld said some of the US' most critical battles were now in the "newsrooms".

"Our enemies have skilfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but... our country has not," he said.

Mr Rumsfeld said al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremists were bombarding Muslims with negative images of the West, which had poisoned the public view of the US.

The US must fight back by operating a more effective, 24-hour propaganda machine, or risk a "dangerous deficiency," he said.

Government communications planning must be "a central component of every aspect of this struggle", he added.

"The longer it takes to put a strategic communications framework into place, the more we can be certain that the vacuum will be filled by the enemy."

Finally, The Australian

THE United States lags dangerously behind al Qaeda and other enemies in getting out information in the digital media age and must update its old-fashioned methods, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said overnight.

Modernisation is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Mr Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Pentagon chief said today's weapons of war included e-mail, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and Web logs, or blogs.

"Our enemies have skilfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but ... our country has not adapted," Mr Rumsfeld said.

"For the most part, the US government still functions as a 'five and dime' store in an eBay world," Mr Rumsfeld said, referring to old-fashioned US retail stores and the online auction house, respectively.

Mr Rumsfeld said US military public affairs officers must learn to anticipate news and respond faster, and good public affairs officers should be rewarded with promotions.

The military's information offices still operate mostly eight hours a day, five or six days a week while the challenges they faces occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mr Rumsfeld called that a "dangerous deficiency."

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy of the opposition Democratic Party immediately criticised Mr Rumsfeld as missing the point.

"Clearly, we need to improve our public diplomacy and information age communication in the Muslim world," Mr Kennedy said in a statement. "But nothing has done more to encourage increased Al Qaeda recruitment and made America less safe than the war in Iraq and the incompetent way it's been managed. Our greatest failure is our policy."

Mr Rumsfeld lamented that vast media attention about US abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq outweighed that given to the discovery of "Saddam Hussein's mass graves."

On the emergence of satellite television and other media not under Arab state control, he said, "While al Qaeda and extremist movements have utilised this forum for many years ... we in the government have barely even begun to compete in



In a New York article about the blog hierarchy, the same quote appears three times: in the middle of the article, as a pull quote, and as a kicker. I saw this online--maybe the print version is different. But have you ever seen the same quote used more than once in the same article?

Page 3:

For Rojas, the toil paid off handsomely. Last fall, AOL bought Jason Calacanis’s company Weblogs, Inc., which includes Engadget, for $25 million...“I didn’t intend to become a millionaire,” he says, “but I wound up there anyway.”

Page 6:

Last fall, AOL bought Weblogs, Inc., which includes his blog Engadget, for $25 million. “I didn’t intend to become a millionaire,” says Rojas, “but I wound up there anyway.”

Pull quote on page 4:

I can understand being excited over a good quote, especially when you try to explain the metholodogy behind a network theory-based analysis of the blogosphere in your lede. But thrice?

My response to the Bonnie Fuller fiasco

Bonnie Talks!
Tab queen exclusive shocks, dismays innocent journalism students.
By Sara Cardace
New York Magazine

Columbia J-schoolers got a lesson in too-good-to-check journalism when they had tabloid doyenne Bonnie Fuller (who runs the Enquirer and Star) in to speak in late January. Women’s Wear Daily reported that it was “an invitation she accepted, in part, because she hoped to attract recruits to her magazines”—which set off a blog firestorm and a mildly hysterical column in Ad Age. WWD also quoted Columbia Society of Professional Journalists speakers director Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, 26, seemingly commending Fuller as “sort of the mother hen of this new form that’s taken hold and is very profitable.” All of which left Millner-Fairbanks exasperated. First off, she says, Fuller’s publicist had pitched the idea—hard—to them, not the other way around. Plus, she felt the WWD quote was out of context. “It’s not like we were giving her an excellence-in-journalism award—it’s not as if we invited her and Judy Miller in for a luncheon,” she says. “The whole thing makes me feel a bit trepidatious about entering this world, where the codes of conduct are such a gray area.” Still, Fuller did say she was hiring.



Mad about Bonnie Fuller

And Bonnie Fuller Lectures the Society of Professional Journalists!

Insiders say that embattled faux-memorist James Frey and talk-show goddess Oprah Winfrey have not only reconciled following their notorious on-camera falling out, but have been secretly seeing each other. Now, says a friend of the new couple, Winfrey is pregnant with Frey’s lovechild.

The intense romance began Jan. 26, “backstage after James was on the show,” says a source close to Harpo, Oprah’s production company. “James broke down in tears and Oprah hugged him, holding him tight. I think they both realized right then and there how much they really cared for each other.” Frey’s very public dressing-down, says the source, culminated in “some hot-and-heavy undressing” behind closed doors. A friend of Winfrey and her stunned, now-ex-boyfriend Steadman Graham notes that Winfrey’s baby bump also comes as a surprise because the pregnancy came unusually fast, particularly for a 52-year-old woman. “But she’s Oprah, y’all. And if Oprah puts her mind to it, Oprah can do anything.”

There. Can I give a guest lecture to Columbia University students now?

Because in late January, Bonnie Fuller -- the editorial director of such journalistic pantheons as Star, Celebrity Living and Globe -- got to. She was invited to Columbia’s Graduate School of JOURNALISM by the Columbia chapter of the Society of Professional JOURNALISTS (SPJ). To speak about ... JOURNALISM.

What the $#*&$)*@???

Can’t we just admit, finally, once and for all, that Bonnie Fuller certainly does something compelling and entertaining, but it is not, for the most part, journalism? Her publications, after all, routinely rely on “sources” that again and again prove to be ... shall we say, wrong?

I mean, good for Oprah that she’s been able to direct laser-like focus on the issue of veracity, or lack thereof, in book publishing -- and I’m thrilled that everyone keeps calling for the obvious: that Frey’s books should get shifted from the nonfiction best-seller lists to the fiction lists. But while we’re at it, I want to formally call for the reclassification of the celebrity tabloids -- particularly those under Fuller’s purview -- from “journalism” to “non-journalism.”

If we don’t, apparently an entire generation of young journalists might think that the advice of people like Fuller is worth heeding. Young journalists like Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, the woman that Women’s Wear Daily says is responsible for lining up speakers for the Columbia SPJ chapter. Fuller, Millner-Fairbanks told WWD’s Jeff Bercovici, is “sort of the mother hen of this new form that’s taken hold and is very profitable,” thus justifying the speaking engagement.


I used to keep the most astonishingly preposterous issues of the celebrity tabs, like the Star with the now-legendary “IT’S BABY TIME!” cover (right as unpregnant Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt were announcing their split). And Celebrity Living’s “JESSICA’S BABY WEIGHT BATTLE!” issue (right as unpregnant Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were splitting). Not to mention Globe’s stellar Scott Peterson trial issue, with its “SCOTT WILL WALK FREE!” cover (which, in a classy bonus, also offered a “CHRIS REEVE -- WAS IT SUICIDE?” headline).

Unfortunately, running out of storage space, I tossed most of them. But now I’m regretting that I didn’t donate them to Columbia so that the kids there could learn all about the exciting new field of non-journalism.

Of course, I defend Columbia’s right to host controversial speakers. But did Fuller have to get humored by J-schoolers? Isn’t there some other wacky group -- some Columbia version of Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals -- that could have hosted her instead of student journalists?

For years I’ve said that “celebrity journalism” is as accurate as horoscopes. So, what the hell, why doesn’t Columbia’s SPJ chapter track down a “very profitable” astrologist who can offer students some reporting tips? And why don’t some of the photography students in Columbia’s MFA program invite a guest speaker from the ranks of the stalkarazzi that Fuller’s celebrity tabs have aided and abetted so forcefully?

But then again, maybe someone from Columbia will, Oprah-style, get on TV -- cable access or even YouTube would be fine with me -- and say, “We made a mistake and we left the impression that the truth does not matter, and we are deeply sorry about that because that is not what we believe.”

By the way, I’m happy to report that Oprah and James are expecting a baby girl. Friends say they intend to name it Bonnie.

It's not quite an internship at the New Yorker...

Internships ... that Playgirl needs editorial interns who want to learn the nuts and bolts (no pun intended) of magazine publishing, are comfortable with sexual material, and preferably have a good sense of humor. You will get to write for the magazine, proofread and fact-check, read lots of smut, check out naked dudes obviously, help out with promotions, etc. The atmosphere is laid-back and fun, and you will never want for sex toys. Please send resume & clips to


Tab Drinkers Anonymous: Steve Isaacs in Talk of Town

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town
by Ben McGrath

As if the mainstream media were not beleaguered enough, now comes word that the Coca-Cola Company is about to release a ne drink called Tab Energy. The plan is to capitalize on the popularity of the Red Bull genre while trading on the retro cachet of Tab, wit those iconic pink cans—a plan that could threaten the sanctity of one of journalism’s secret, and most self-conscious, power cliques: the cult of Tab lovers, who have persisted in drinking the pioneering diet soda, despite its virtual disappearance from the market.

“This is a lonely but inspired society,” David Bradley, the owner of The Atlantic Monthly and National Journal, said recently, before news of the brand’s reëngineering had spread. “You can’t imagine the purchasing and trucking and warehousing issues we address in getting Tab into Washington.”

The original Tab, which appeared in 1963, is still produced, though in dwindling quantities. You’d be unlikely to find it at Gristedes, however, because Coke stopped promoting the drink in the mid-eighties, after the cancer scare involving saccharin, an artificial sweetener used in Tab. Present-day Tab enthusiasts must seek out wholesalers (New York Beverage, in the Bronx, is a local favorite) or rely on a kind of sixth soda sense—“the ability to spot the pink,” David Edelstein, the film critic for New York, calls it—in obtaining their daily fixes.

Here in the city, drinkers include Steven Brill and Danny Goldberg, the C.E.O. of the radio network Air America, each of whom has an office fridge stocked with Tab. “I have unadulterated enthusiasm for it,” Goldberg said, adding that he has long since delegated the task of finding the stuff to an assistant.

The fact that Tab comes in a pink can and was conceived as a drink for women seems only to have bolstered the appeal—it’s a “boy named Sue thing,” according to a financier, who picked up the habit from Bradley. (Brill, just to be sure, tends to crush his Tab cans as he drains them.) Then, there is the peculiar flavor (“It tastes like metal”) and the reputation for unhealthiness, a combination that Edelstein, who has four cases delivered to his house every other week, believes gives Tab “the courage of its convictions.”

Steve Isaacs, a self-described “Tab nut” and former Washington Post editor who teaches at the Columbia Journalism School, has been told by several doctors not to drink it. “I tell them to go to hell,” he said recently. Isaacs used to work at CBS, where his boss, Van Gordon Sauter, often drank two Tabs at breakfast. Now Isaacs may be the most influential Tab advocate in the business: he begins each semester by holding up a Tab and asking students to come up with a hundred story ideas inspired by the can.

At the end of last term, Isaacs threw a party for his students, at which he served Tab. “I was surprised at how many of them drank it,” he said. “One was putting Scotch in it. I mean, that sounds fucking awful.” Isaacs no longer drinks alcohol, for health reasons, but he doesn’t much mind, because he thinks that the flinty taste of Tab is like a fine Sancerre.

Tab Energy, for its part, is “really good-tasting,” according to a Coke spokesman, and “reminiscent of a liquid Jolly Rancher,” according to Fashion Week Daily, which recommends vodka as a mixer. The new can is slimmer, but it’s still pink, with the same Pop-art font. Whereas old Tab has thirty-one milligrams of caffeine and zero calories, Tab Energy has ninety-five milligrams and five calories. Nicole Richie is an early proponent, which seems right—more Los Angeles than New York. (To be fair, Tori Spelling and Bobcat Goldthwait are reported to be fans of original Tab.)

Coke officials promise that the old Tab isn’t going to be retired, which is good news for Edelstein. “For the last thirty years, through marriage, kids, fluctuations in my financial situation, Tab has been the one constant in my life,” he said. He was holding a glass of bourbon, but he swore that the taste of Tab lingered in his mouth. “Not to boast, but I’ve had eight cans today,” he said.

Article link:


Intern or maid?

I can't believe they consider this an internship. Sad what someone would do (really, though?) for a line on a resume.


Don't let James Fr(e)y!

Is anyone else concerned after watching Oprah today that James Frey might join his girlfriend "Lilly" and commit suicide soon? I'm just saying, the poor guy (well, the poor rich guy) looked so depressed and zoned out I swear he was counting pills in his head.

I'm not defending what he did (which by my accounts is called LYING not "embellishing") but I feel bad for him. I mean, Oprah basically yelled at him on national television! And unlike some people, Oprah never yells! If you've been called out by Oprah you KNOW you've done wrong.

If he does indeed end his own life, does this count as irony? And more importantly, will anyone believe that he's dead?

I'm thinking of making "Save James" t-shirts. Who's with me?


The Weekly Standard takes on the J-school

Conservative blogger and talk show host Hugh Hewitt spent a few days at the school last fall, interviewing Dean Lemann and others and sitting in on Michael Shapiro's RWI class. His article can be read by clicking here

It is not a happy read. He thinks (and hopes) journalism is dead or dying.

Here's a taste:

"I concluded by asking them if they 'think George Bush is something of a dolt.' There was unanimous agreement with this proposition, one of the widely shared views within elite media and elsewhere on the left. The president's Harvard MBA and four consecutive victories over Democrats judged 'smarter' than him haven't made even a dent in that prejudice."


Divine Comedy

Maybe I am dead, and Journalism School is purgatory.
A research group has compiled a list of the most popular brand references or "shout-outs" in mainstream music this past year. They're calling it "American Brandstand." Clever, no?

Not surprisingly, 50 Cent leads the pack after rhyming about everything from Bentleys to Bacardi. It gives a whole new meaning to hip-hop going commercial eh? Check out the list here.

Exciting New Publishing Technology

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade named: BOOK

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no
electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched
on. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an
armchair by the fire -- yet it is powerful enough to hold as much
information as a DVD. Here's how it works:

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper
(recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of
information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device
called a binder, which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides
of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs.
Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in
information density; for now, BOOKs with more information simply use
more pages.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly
into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.
BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

Unlike other display devices, BOOK never crashes or requires
rebooting and it can even be dropped on the floor or stepped on
without damage.

However, it can become unusable if immersed in water for a
significant period of time. The "browse" feature allows you to move
instantly to any sheet and move forward or backward as you wish.

Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location
of selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact
place you left it in a previous session -- even if the BOOK has been
closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single
BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely,
numerous BOOKmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to
store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number
of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an
optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic
Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a
precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK's appeal seems so
certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the
platform and investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of
new titles soon.


Follow-up on Critical Issues

Who remembers that lovely "Food Lion" exposé we watched in critical issues? Not to mention the ensueing debate...

Anyways, 15 (or was it 20) years later, MSNBC does something similar. The results, however, are not quite the same. Make sure you check out the results.

PS - Am I the only one who had never heard of Food Lion before that class???


The Many Moods of T. Jefferson

Pope Jefferson


Captain of the Skies

more snow...


And we've been fussing about Judith Miller all this time.

Woodward. Not that surprising, and disheartening -- for all the reasons below. From an online columnist I respect a lot:

All The Presidents Stooges

by digby

I can't tell you how impressed I continue to be with the elite journalists in this country. After finding out that top reporters from The NY Times, The Washington Post and NBC all withheld information from the public about their leaders, I can only wonder what else they may be keeping back because of their cozy relationships, book deals, or political sympathies. This is a crisis in journalism.

Matt Cooper was leaked to by Karl Rove in the summer of 2003 and he fought to keep from revealing his source. But he fulfilled his responsibility as a journalist by writing a story and it was the real story about what was going on. Here's the first paragraph of Cooper's first article on the subject back in 2003:

Has the Bush Administration declared war on a former ambassador who conducted a fact-finding mission to probe possible Iraqi interest in African uranium? Perhaps.

I don't know why all the other reporters who were being leaked this nasty bit of business didn't write articles with that lead, but they should have. As we all know, that was the story then and it's the story now. Instead it's only after the long arm of the law reaches into the newsrooms that we find out dozens of reporters, including some of the most famous and powerful, were involved in this little episode.

It turns out that Bob Woodward, who worked hand in glove with the administration to create the hagiography of the codpiece, has known for years that the White House was engaged in a coordinated smear campaign against Joe Wilson. Indeed, he was right in the middle of it. In the beginning he may have thought that it was idle gossip, but by the time he was on Larry King defending it as such he knew damned well that it had been leaked by Rove, Libby and his own source all within a short period of time. He's been around Washington long enough to know a coordinated leak when he sees one.

Novak took the bait and dutifully regurgitated the information. Matt Cooper smelled a rat and wrote about it. It's amazing how many other journalists heard the tale and dismissed the significance or went out of their way to "protect" sources by talking about the case on television every chance they got while pretending they were uninvolved. But none pooh-poohed the story and its significance in public with quite the same fervor as Bush's friend Woody.

I had thought that Tim Russert and Andrea Mitchell were the Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh of this story with their endless "speculation" about an investigation in which they had information that could clear up many of the questions they were fielding. Woody takes the cake. His has been an Oscar worthy performance to rival Meryl Streep. He chewed the scenery so many times on Larry King that he should be given a lifetime achievement award:

(Cue "Battle Hymn of the Republic")

WOODWARD: If the judge would permit it, I would go serve some of her jail time, because I think the principle is that important, and it should be underscored. It's not a casual idea that we have confidential sources. It is absolutely vital. And I'll bet there are all kinds of reporters out there, if we could divvy up this four-month jail sentence -- I suspect the judge would not permit that, but if he would, I'll be first in line. It's that important to our business.

I don't think they could have made a cross big enough for the both of them.

Woodward and Miller have been willing tools of this administration from the get. Bob Novak was an open partisan on television, so everybody knew that they funneled information to him and he printed it for political purposes. These two (and their supporting players in television news) were the most important journalists in Washington working for the two most important papers in the country and the national news outlets. Among all the journalistic players in this, the only one who wrote the real story, in real time, was Matt Cooper. He's the one who should be getting the journalism awards, not Judy Miller. He's the only one who fulfilled his duty as a journalist and told his readers what their leaders were doing.

Perhaps this is the natural outcome of the press corps joining the entertainment industrial complex. It's ironic that one of the men who kicked off this new celebrity journalism with Watergate should emerge as one of the major players in this era's biggest "gate" scandal. I suspect that this time he'll have it in his contract to play himself in the film. After all, he's now bigger than Redford. And he's proven over the last couple of years that he's one of the best actors of his generation.


Chemical weps in Falluja?

Our Italian friend's response to a previous post:

RaiNews24's doc was on-air a week ago. Here is the link to the english version. It is not balanced (no government voices) but it is accurate and impressive. The footage is scary and disgusting. Many newspapers and tv stations all over Europe are talking about it, and today Lt Col Barry Venablea, a Pentagon spokesman, told the BBC that white posphorus "was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants." The government earlier denied it had been used in Falluja at all. But remember that Washington is not a signatory of an international treaty restricting the use of white phosphorus devices in war. So, for the US it is not a chemical weapon. Enjoy.



Share Your J-School Photos!

Hey J-Schoolers!

Did you take a photo George Clooney at the Good Night and Good Luck screening? Maybe you got a few shots at the Halloween party, happy hour or some other J-School event. We'd love it if you shared all these great pics with us. Please send your photos to



Kurt Schork would be proud and sickened

Italian journalists are taking revenge for Nicola Calipari in the best way they can: they've kept working. And now, they bring us news we don't want but may need - about U.S. use of napalm at Fallujah.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster,
this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I
heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white
phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down
to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children.
Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150
metres is done for."

-- The Independent, US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah

Being twice the age of some of you, I found this a teeny bit of a flashback; I had just turned ten when photos of the napalmed Kim Phuc streamed across the AP wire. Growing up in a Republican household, I was probably still wearing a Nixon button I got from my father. You can likely count me as one of the millions driven by that image to ask more questions about the war in Vietnam. I wonder if this film will do the same.

I'm curious especially what broadcast folks think. And for new media folk - is the quality of the video enough for it to have an impact?

I'm curious to see how much, or little, these images will go from Italian TV and the London Independent to U.S. outlets. Should they, do you think? I also wonder - are people so saturated with fictional violent imagery that they won't have the same impact as 30 years ago?


Halloween Mad Libs

Some of you participated in the Mad Libs experiment at the Halloween party. The results for Part I and Part II are online.

Too many j-schoolers, not enough PR people

So today I called Herb Scher, the flak for the NY Public Library, for a story on branch libraries' movement toward a six-day week. Actually got him on the phone. But he won't talk to me, he said, because he's had eight Columbia journalism students call him in the past two weeks and he doesn't have time to dig up information and talk to us.
As usual, I was told to check the web site.
Then there was the woman at the Drum Major Institute, who said Tuesday she'd had five calls from j-schoolers in the past few days. Great. I didn't get an interview there either.

Jeopardy Champ has his own board game

Is it sad that I sorta wanna buy this?


elements of bad style

from my hometown paper, the LATimes:

In praise of a mangled masterpiece


November 4, 2005

SOMETIMES A SMALL issue lights a large landscape like a slash of lightning; for a moment we see society with dazzling clarity. A new edition of "The Elements of Style" has just appeared — "Elements" is the classic writers' handbook by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. The new version starkly illuminates our disrespect for national treasures.

In 1957, White was asked to revise Strunk's decades-old text. White (who had been Strunk's student at Cornell) agreed, and he published two further revisions in 1972 and '79. The result was not merely brilliant, it was beloved: It's never been out of print. White died in 1985. Then the trouble started. A post-mortem revision appeared in 1999; it has just been republished with pictures by Maira Kalman. To mark the new release, a PR volcano erupted. The New York Public Library even staged a musical "Elements." The new version violates what Strunk and White is all about.

The revision was done anonymously. The only new name on the title page is now the illustrator's. And the reviser has been unfaithful to Strunk and White. For starters, he changed White's signed introduction, a short memoir about Strunk — like reworking a Picasso but leaving the signature. He changed lots of other things too.

According to White, Strunk "felt that the reader was in serious trouble most of the time, a man floundering in a swamp, and that it was the duty of anyone attempting to write English to drain the swamp quickly and get his man up on dry ground, or at least throw him a rope." The revised version tells us that Strunk felt, on the contrary, "that the reader was in serious trouble most of the time, floundering in a swamp, and that it was the duty of anyone attempting to write English to drain this swamp quickly and get the reader up on dry ground, or at least to throw a rope."

"At least to throw a rope?" Throw it where? To whom? The phrase is vague bordering on meaningless. And White's "get his man up on dry ground" hints at the author's personal responsibility to his reader. Of course these are details. But White cared passionately about the details that make for good writing.

The reviser clearly disapproves of the indefinite masculine — "he," "man" and so on — to mean anyone. Fine. Except that White believed the exact opposite, and said so in a rule he added to "Elements": "He has lost all suggestion of maleness in these circumstances." This very issue caused a sad disagreement toward the end of White's long relationship with the New Yorker, a magazine he more than any other author raised to dizzying literary heights. In 1971, White submitted a piece attacking "gender neutral" writing — and the New Yorker rejected it. Dog rejects bone.

The latest "Elements" includes clunkers like this: "When repeating a statement to emphasize it, the writer may need to vary its form. Otherwise, the writer should follow the principle of parallel construction." Here's the way it was actually written: "When repeating a statement to emphasize it, the writer may need to vary its form. But apart from this he should follow the principle of parallel construction."

New words enter the language all the time, as Strunk and White tell us: "Youth invariably speaks to youth in a tongue of his own devising." A memorable phrase, taut as a piano string: "youth speaks to youth." Here is the new, "improved" version: "Youth invariably speaks to other youths in a tongue of their own devising." Who would have thought these small changes could do so much damage, like a monkey wrench through a plate-glass window?

Adding insult to injury, the illustrated edition includes a page of credits, dedications, copyright notices and so forth — each printed separately and placed on the page at strange angles or upside down. Clever. The word "hello" sprawls across the inside front cover in fancy italics; "thank you," "and," "goodbye" appear on three pages at the end.

"Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute," say Strunk and White.

When the 1999 version resurfaced in fancy dress, the New York literary world should have thrown a fit. Instead, it threw a party. But what gives anyone the right to tamper with a masterpiece? American authors had a good year in 1957. Would anyone have the nerve to publish a revised version of a story by Malamud, Shaw, Updike, Nabokov? Or an essay by Mailer, Podhoretz or White himself? True, the language changes. But why couldn't the reviser's bright ideas have appeared as notes surrounding the unchanged original?

What should we make of literati who claim to treasure "Elements" but don't mind seeing it brutally mangled? And here's the larger problem: A society that has no respect for its literary treasures probably — deep down — has no respect for itself.


Yearbook Portraits

Smile pretty!

The SPJ publications committee is holding three yearbook photo sessions (beginning tomorrow, Friday Nov. 4.) Students have three options for yearbook mug shots: (1) attend a scheduled photo session or email to schedule an alternate time, (2) submit a photo (preferably digital) to or (3) use the facebook photo. The photo deadline for current part-time, full-time, M.A. and Ph.D students is FRIDAY, DEC. 2. If students have not taken or submitted a new photo by this date, the publications committee will go with the facebook photo.

Scheduled Photo Sessions*
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 4, 11 and 18
TIME: 11 a.m. until noon
WHERE: front steps of the J-school building. (We'll relocate to the
student lounge on the 6th floor if the weather is nasty.)

*Photos of M.A. students will be taken Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. following class.

*The committee will schedule additional photo sessions for the incoming part-time students in January.


Is there any place in the J-school or thereabouts where we can receive faxes? Preferably for free, but I'm desperate, so...



Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween, y'all, and glad to see so many of you at the party.
Special shout out to Stacey+'becca inter alia (yup, all of you unidentified co-conspirators) costumes: Scott W. and Ted (Luke Skywalker) 'nuff said.

on a total different tip..

Tuition Reform, .. in brief.. costs up, financial aid down.
Columbia is sponsoring a Think Tank this week ( Nov 3-4) to collaborate with policy
makers, researchers, and student leaders on drafting legislative
language for the National Tuition Endowment Act.

I''ll be participating a bit (bearing the yoke of assignments), but holla at me if you have thoughts, comments, think maybe this is a good story or what'eva.

oh, and I am also on the housing committee, so i'm looking for housing complaints/improvements.. might be too late for this year, but for the future. just like the SPJ Academic Affairs folks, who are offering ideas for a better next August..

just think ... of the children.

if not.. you get the gas face
(and props, and a free ashtray, to the first of you who remembers THAT song..and there is actually a Columbia connection) .. i need to get rid of the ashtray. so you can still get it,if you have no idea wtf I am talking about.


Mind your Ps and Qs

An interesting quote, given Friday's Critical Issues class:

"You can say 'please' and 'thank you' and still ask, 'Did you steal the money?'"

(Quoted in The Investigative Reporter's Handbook, p.105)


war on whatever

(from WSJ)

Word Flu
October 22, 2005; Page A6
We've had the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism. It's time for the War on Whatever.

I am not being glib. I have declared war on the word "whatever." More virulent than E coli, more contagious than bird flu, this verbal virus has infected not only the entire population of the United States, but has also reached pandemic proportions in the U.K. (In his last bestseller, the novelist Nick Hornby used four supposedly distinctive first-person voices; and all four narrators, from tough-cookie kid to middle-aged bag, said whatever.) It was bad enough when this pestilence spewed from my friends' mouths like toads. Yet when Donald Rumsfeld testified to Congress this summer that one of the armaments being sent to Iraq was "whatever," I knew we had a national emergency on our hands.

Mr. Rumsfeld's usage was the bug's most innocuous. These days, "whatever" ends a series to mean "and so forth"; alternatively, "some other example I can't think of"; most of the time, "uh." Indeed, if you declare, "I'm going to do a little shopping, meet some friends, whatever," what does the W-word contribute besides a hackneyed gloss of modernity? The adolescent's double-whammy of fillers -- "He's, like, whatever" -- is so impeccably inarticulate as to constitute a triumph.

A cook might commend baking a cobbler using "blueberries, peaches, whatever," and you could infer "or other seasonal fruit." Nevertheless, one would be hardpressed to make heads or tails of a recipe that listed its ingredients as "1/2 c. sugar; 1 T. cornstarch; 2 c. whatever."

An equally commonplace usage is far more exasperating. I will ask my husband, "Do you want pork chops or pasta for dinner?" "Whatever," comes the reply. Various translations present themselves: "I don't give a damn"; "Don't bother me with such trifling domestic considerations"; "I'm not really sure what I feel like eating tonight"; or perhaps most credibly, "I'm not paying any attention to you, and I don't plan to." In any event, I still have no idea whether to take the chops from the fridge or put water on to boil. What would you think of George Bush if you asked him what he plans to do with Social Security, and he said, "Whatever"?

Granted, both eras and locales have their verbal tics. The Irish, for example, are given to the locution, "He speaks grand English, so he does." The compulsively reflexive syntax is charming, at least at first. But "whatever" has grown blandly ubiquitous, and charming it is not. The cool, too, need the clueless. If everybody uses it, it cannot be hip.

I can testify to the fact that, once contracted, this particular virus is fiendishly difficult to purge. Not long ago I realized (too late!) that I had started saying "whatever" myself -- which was a little like looking down and discovering my body covered in suppurating pustules. Take courage! After months of mindfulness, I vanquished the disease. Yet a word of warning, for there is a downside to taking the cure: You will grow hyper-alert to whatever-speak, and everyone else will drive you nuts.

Ms. Shriver's last novel was "We Need to Talk About Kevin" (HarperPerennial, 2004).


for all the literary journos out there

a word of wisdom from a guy named Frederic Tuten.

Think of yourself as making art -- however bombastic or vague that may sound even to you--and not as a producer of products or units: You will thus relieve yourself of worrying about your work's social or political function, since all art is redemptive, salvational, ennobling and is a protest against ignorance, crime, lies and Death....One beautiful novel shames all broad enterprises and sends brightness through the prison walls of prisons, parliaments, and publishing houses.
I love this because it's an outrageous claim. When you're shouting to keep your courage up, why go halfway?
By novel you can think of any longer work where you take formal risks. (And if you think he's being a religious fanatic or something, check out the magazine where this essay appears.)


Big news!

Maddox Jolie has been named one of the "50 Most Powerful People Under 39" by Details Magazine. He came in at #2, just behind the fallen soldier and the google guys.

I know, I am just as shocked as you are. He totally should have been #1. =p

investigative fun!


Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think

Does anyone know why Jimmy Breslin gets attributed with the saying, "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted." As far as I know, Mencken said that.


The Sixth Photo


are co-conspirators journalists?

In case you check this before the law class, here's why Judith Miller is so very interesting to Patrick Fitzgerald. NY Daily News:

Besides Rove and Libby, the group included senior White House aides Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James Wilkinson, Nicholas Calio, Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley. WHIG [White House Iraq Group] also was doing more than just public relations, said a second former intel officer.

"They were funneling information to [New York Times reporter] Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member," the source said.


Is it The Onion? No, it's Reuters

Astrologer Predicts Own Death

BHOPAL, India (Reuters) - Hundreds of Indians flocked to a village in the central state of Madhya Pradesh on Thursday to see if an astrologer who forecast his own death would die as predicted.
Kunjilal Malviya, 75, who lives in Sehara village, about 125 miles south of state capital Bhopal, was meditating in his house after announcing he would die on Thursday.
His family fears his forecast will come true.
"We are afraid of his prediction coming true because all his predictions till date have been correct," his son Anirudh said by phone.
"My father had predicted the death of my grandfather 15 years ago and it came true exactly like he calculated."
Television footage showed relatives and friends seated around Malviya, singing religious songs and reading Hindu texts.
Policemen have been posted near his house to prevent the astrologer from killing himself, authorities said.

NYU student needs sources

I received this plea to post this "advert." If there are any takers, please contact her directly.

Are you a student who charges for access to your own web cam porn site?

I’m writing an article about students who share their sexual exploits for profit through web cams. I’d like to get a grasp of the ins and outs of the business.

Any prospective source would be greatly appreciated; student need not be from Columbia University.



Nicole Clarke


was she for real?

After seeing Cynthia McFadden on the post-"Good Night, and Good Luck" panel on Friday, I'm even more shocked and annoyed about this.

What, Me Worry?

"The Big Picture:
2 reminders that journalists once pursued greatness"
By Patrick Goldstein
Los Angeles Times

For a journalist, it's surely a guilty pleasure to see a movie about someone who commits himself wholeheartedly to the pursuit of a story with no thought for the consequences. As portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote," the New Yorker's Truman Capote was just as cunning and exploitative as any marauding paparazzi in the course of reporting "In Cold Blood," his mesmerizing account of the brutal murder of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kan.

The man whose book influenced a generation of young journalists was a master of the black art of doing anything to get a story — lying and flattering, deceiving and dissembling nearly every step of the way. When he couldn't get access to Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, the two imprisoned killers, Capote handed the prison warden a $10,000 bribe. He wooed Smith relentlessly, bringing him Thoreau to read in jail. He helped the suspects get a new lawyer so they'd stay alive long enough for him to complete his interviews. And why not, Capote reasoned. As he breathlessly tells his pal Harper Lee after an early meeting with Smith: "He's a gold mine!"

Of course, if you prefer a journalistic hero cast as a white knight instead of a wily charmer, look no further than "Good Night, and Good Luck." Directed and co-written by George Clooney, it chronicles a climactic battle between CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow and Red Scare-era demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy. At a time when most journalists are portrayed in TV and film as gushy lightweights — many deservedly so — it's quite a jolt to see someone act like a real hero. Played impeccably by David Strathairn, the laconic, chain-smoking Murrow is uncompromising and incorruptible, like Gary Cooper with a bespoke suit instead of a pair of six-guns.

This pair of artful portraits of two world-class journalists couldn't come at a better time. As you may have heard, morale at newspapers and TV news divisions is at a low ebb, thanks to circulation drops, low ratings and a string of layoffs. As cable news grows more influential each day, network news is scrambling to reinvent itself and hold on to its aging audience. The sense of turmoil is equally apparent in print journalism. With circulation down and costs up, newspapers are in the midst of a wave of soul-searching as they grapple with how to compete with the lightning speed and breezy informality of Internet news sources.

It's nice to have these Hollywood reminders that journalists once pursued greatness, not just ratings and ad linage. One of our biggest challenges these days is facing up to our low standing in public opinion. That's where movies come in — almost since their inception, they've been a reliable barometer of the nation's attitude toward journalists. In the years before the U.S. entered World War II, in such films as "It Happened One Night" and "His Girl Friday," newspapermen were wisecracking working-class heroes, in the racket for the scoop, not the money. By the 1950s, the portrait was less romantic, ranging from the bitingly cynical "Ace in the Hole" to "Sweet Smell of Success," a damning portrait of abuse of power, with Burt Lancaster as a Sith Lord-style Broadway columnist who demolishes everyone in his path.

After Watergate, our crusading image flickered back to life, thanks to films like "All the President's Men" and "The China Syndrome," but by the 1980s, as in "Broadcast News," critiques of hollow careerism were in vogue again. In recent years, the movies are largely focused on journalistic excess and ineptitude, from the portrayal of plagiarist Stephen Glass in "Shattered Glass" to a variety of TV news buffoons, like the one Jim Carrey plays in "Bruce Almighty."

There's a good reason Clooney had a hard time finding anyone to finance "Good Night, and Good Luck." Murrow's rectitude is out of sync with today's cynical attitude about newsgathering. If you asked young moviegoers to cite a typical 21st century journalist, they'd probably point to the doe-eyed young Vanity Fair-style scribe played by Alison Lohman in "Where the Truth Lies," which opened this weekend. Lohman is uncovering a murder mystery about a '50s showbiz team — think Martin and Lewis — whose career is derailed when a beautiful blond turns up dead in their hotel suite. Her investigatory methods include doing drugs, posing as a schoolteacher, wearing outfits that would make Jessica Simpson blush and sleeping with both members of the duo (though not at the same time, as the dead blond did).

It's probably fortunate that Murrow and Capote died young, Murrow of lung cancer, Capote of booze and pills. They would've had precious little good to say about their heirs, especially the ones so enamored of glitz and celebrity. Esquire, once the hallowed home of Norman Mailer, Michael Herr and Gay Talese, is now crammed with fashion advisories — the October issue actually has a style section in which male models, wearing Prada and Armani, pose as paparazzi. In Murrow's day, journalists comforted the afflicted. Today they celebrate the comfortable. Last Thursday, in its House & Home section, the New York Times ran a huge story largely devoted to helping Rupert Murdoch sell his SoHo triplex — he's asking only $28 million.

Even worse, all too many of today's most recognizable journalists — meaning the ones you see on TV or Dominick Dunne — aren't interested so much in uncovering a story as in making themselves part of it. After Hurricane Rita, "The Daily Show" featured a variety of cable newsmen "covering" the story, including a CNN reporter rescuing a puppy and Geraldo helping a wheelchair-bound lady down the stairs of a flooded rest home. As a kicker, Jon Stewart cut to Ed Helms, his correspondent on the scene, who did his report with a man he'd "rescued" slung across his back.

While Capote is guilty of all sorts of unscrupulous behavior in getting his story, once he put pen to paper, he left the stage, allowing his characters to have the spotlight to themselves. What makes "In Cold Blood" so sobering, now that the movie has allowed us to see its author at work, is that it undermines many of our bromides about good journalism. Though a pivotal work of reporting, it is also a fascinating test of our eternal "do the ends justify the means" debate: Do you judge a writer by his brilliant work or by the deception that went into creating it?

Capote isn't the only journalist to cut corners getting his story. As Marc Weingarten writes in his new history of New Journalism, "The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight," when Hunter S. Thompson didn't have an ending for his book "Hell's Angels," he deliberately provoked the Angels into giving him a sound thrashing to give the book a more dramatic conclusion. Even now, decades later, the Angels are ticked off that Thompson made them look like the heavies.

As Joan Didion warned three decades ago, "Writers are always selling somebody out." They are usually selling a point of view too. "Capote" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" demonstrate how little the hallowed journalistic notion of objectivity applies to their central characters' work. Battling McCarthy, Murrow is clearly a partisan voice, willing to risk his reputation — and his job — by taking up the cause of a man who was kicked out of the Air Force for supposed communist ties.

Defending his adversarial stance, Murrow said, having searched his conscience, "I simply cannot accept that there are, on every story, two equal and logical sides to an argument." This is a far cry from how today's TV mavens would handle McCarthy. They'd simply referee a squabble between the witch hunter and one of his antagonists, letting the audience decide who offered the more persuasive retorts.

If Murrow comes off more as admirable than Capote, his righteousness trumping Truman's narcissism, it's because we see that while Capote's work took a huge emotional toll — he never finished another book after "In Cold Blood" — Murrow's courage was in support of a greater cause, our freedom of speech. Standing up to a bully always earns bigger applause than empathizing with a killer.

Still, it is Capote who turned out to have the larger influence on modern-day journalism. Murrow's quiet authority is completely out of fashion in a TV news world that has become a carnival of noisy attention-seekers. And too many of today's writers seem to have learned the wrong lessons from Capote, soaking up the reporter-as-celebrity persona of his later years rather than studying his exacting, imperturbable prose. The seduction of his subjects was only one of Capote's many gifts, but today it is often the raison d'être of celebrity journalism.

When I asked "Capote" director Bennett Miller if he was worried that the film made Capote appear too unsympathetic, he answered, "The truth is that good people do horrible things and terrible people can be surprisingly kind. The tragic thing is that Capote didn't just betray Perry Smith, he betrayed himself."

The same thing goes for journalists today. It's not our subjects I'm worried about, it's our souls.


The Fifth Photo


Jimmy Breslin on Blogs

From a guest appearance in Room 602, at last night's local reporting class:

"Guy in the back of a candy store says something, I don't care. I rejected it two weeks ago. Arrogance. If you don't have it, don't come around."
I am leaving my house to travel an hour to my beat to walk around talking to people about ice-cream.

Is this not the worst day to do that or what?

Someone needs to tell Mama Nature to stop it with this weather.

Anyone else with "I got stuck doing reporting in the wind and rain" stories to share?

two bits of interest

as I procrastinate writing my too-fuzzy education story....

First off, the Wash Post finds a fascinating, almost sunny future at the end of that newsprint-too-expensive highway, I know this was on Romenesko, but here's some bits:

Frank Ahrens: Q: Russ, the newspaper format offers definite advantages in readability over a computer screen or definitely a handheld device. What is E Ink and other companies doing to marry the speed and motion of the Internet and television with the format of the paper?

A: We think essence of newspaper is the large size. You are a reader you're an eagle flying over the desert, you're scanning. You see the rabbit and you zoom down and you grab it. That just happens naturally in a size that fits very well with how the human body works. Got to have a large display and it has to be portable.

E Ink can enable a very large display using very little battery power so you could have something the size of two laptops but our technology uses 100 times less energy than a normal laptop screen. And you can use that for a month on battery power, untethered.

Or you can roll in and out, you have something you roll out of the side of your cell phone, say, so you have a nice big display in a portable package. Both things have been demonstrated by us in small quantities. It's almost like back in Rome with a scroll.


Frank Ahrens: Q: But what about cost? If we can have such a video-paper, let's call it, by 2015, would it be prohibitively expensive?

A: It's going to be free and the reason is that newspapers are spending $150 per year per reader on making the paper. (Figuring in cost of newsprint.) Within 2 or 3 years you've built up $300 to $500 of budget per reader so you can give it away for free because the device itself will cost less than $300. I'm assuming the paper (such as The Post) will buy 700,000 of these and plunk them down. And they need a lot less capital from Wall Street so their return on equity will go up.


Frank Ahrens: Q: Regarding advertising, a big thick paper like The Post has lots of space for ads. If you have essentially a one-sheet paper, how do you sell as many ads?

A: An electronic paper has infinite space because you can bring forth as much content as a reader wants. And the resolution of our ads is very high. And when you touch the ad you can interact with the advertiser and the paper will take you to the advertiser's Web site and you can get more information. So ideally there should be a better connection between the ads you're shown and what you're actually interested in.


Frank Ahrens: Q: How might your device and those like it change the job of a journalist?

A: I predict plenty of ulcers for journalists because they'll have new deadlines every 60 seconds. It'll be a race to file. On the other hand, because space is infinite there will hopefully be more room for thoughtful pieces, longer pieces, the kind that a journalist wishes he or she could do but doesn't have the space. Why not? If a reader wants to read eight pages about bridges in Italy, why not? There will be no space constraints. But there will also be more accountability for the journalist because they will be tracked. (Frank: In other words, you know how many people are reading the stories. A chilling thought for us!)

Now if only they can make these devices not out of fossil fuels (sigh). Of course, this is all speculation for long after we've had to face the market.

Meanwhile, Boldface Names (I am an ashamed reader of same ) expresses solidarity with this week's reporting conundrum:

You may know her as the bodacious babe in a bodysuit in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," but ANGELINA JOLIE the humanitarian wears a scarf and kneels among the needy like Mother Teresa.

It was that Ms. Jolie who was honored on Tuesday night for increasing awareness for refugees, by the United Nations Association of the United States of America, at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Despite her tabloid tag as the pillow-lipped screen siren, Ms. Jolie is officially designated as a good-will ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Oh, you think we rattled off that title just to pad the column because we're so light on real news this week? What's that? Oh yeah? Well let's see YOU schlep all over town looking for quotes during the Jewish holy days, pal!!!