Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Lost In America: BBC Correspondent Loses His Way Up Brokeback Mountain

It's easy to see how foreigners hold a dim view of the U.S. when the journalists who they rely on for information about all things American don't even know where they are when they file a report.
Case in point: A feature on the BBC World newscast seen here on BBC America about what real cowboys think about "Brokeback Mountain." Interesting approach, and not surprisingly, these rough-and-ready boys (and girls) don't think much about a film they think likens their often-solitary lifestyle into an outdoorsy version of a night at the baths.
The problem: The report by BBC California Correspondent (yes, that's his title) David Willis was filed from Wickenberg, Arizona, where the reporter said cowboys in the "Midwest" were likely to boycott the movie.
Notwithstanding the fact that Hollywood is not exactly courting the cowboy demographic in the first place, this was a boner from a correspondent definitely not home on the range. You can't help but wonder why it's so difficult to pick up a map every once in a while to figure out where the hell you are.
Of course, British journalism is so often about speak first, worry about the facts later. It's a shame such shoddiness is also on display at the BBC.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Santa Faster Than The Speed Of Light




Now this is what any lover of radio would call good news.

ABC Does The Math To Show Us Just How He Made It To All Those Houses By This Morning

Robert Krulwich is always a pleasure to watch on ABC News, just as he was appointment listening during his stretch on NPR, given his innate ability to break down complex subjects to their barest essentials without talking down to the audience.
Many are the journalists who can watch him dumbstruck and wonder "How was he able to do that" and simultaneously thank him for providing them with a nut paragraph they can steal when they have to write a similar story.
And he's well known for planting a tongue firmly in cheek when the occasion dictates. Which happened on the Xmas Edition of "World News Tonight," as he tried to show, with the help of a physics teacher, what Santa was up against in order to make his appointed rounds in time.

So let's say each child gets one toy, two pounds, multiply that by 330 million children and that's 660 million pounds of toys. And that doesn't include Santa, who — on close inspection — is not thin. So that means somebody has got to haul a sleigh that weighs the equivalent of four times the tonnage of the QEII.

And don't forget the 220,000 reindeer.

If you don't subscribe to ABC News On Demand, you can read this version of his report here:

....and to all a good World News Tonight.

P.S. Props to David Muir for being liberated from the dawn patrol at ABC so he could anchor tonight's broadcast.

Jann Wenner Watch: Will Janice Min Be Next To Jump Ship Before She's Pushed Overboard?

Or, Did Timothy O'Brien manage to piss off yet another high-profile mogul?

First, N.Y. Times business reporter Timothy O'Brien got on Donald Trump's shit list for a book that's unflattering at best.
Now, he put Jann Wenner under his formidable microscope in a massive takeout that fronted today's Business section.
The article was fair and thorough, which isn't a good thing for Wenner, who likes to dispose of editors-in-chief of Rolling Stone, Us and Men's Journal when they get too many ideas of their own.
Us major domo Janice Min, despite the runaway success of her title, might be next to get the heave-ho. At Wenner Media, nothing breeds contempt like success, which may have been the undoing of Min's predecessor, Bonnie Fuller.

"I've never heard the charge that I don't know how to handle talent or I'm too jealous of Bonnie Fuller to let her stay around because she won an award," Mr. Wenner said. "That's a new one on me."
Mr. Wenner ... also says he gets along swimmingly with Ms. Min, noting that she won her own editor-of-the-year award - and that it hasn't threatened their relationship.
"The magazine has been more successful than I ever imagined," said Ms. Min, when asked about her relationship with Mr. Wenner. "That has been incredibly gratifying."
Even so, Ms. Min is said by several people familiar with her thinking to bridle privately at what she sees as Mr. Wenner's meddling and bullying. They say, for example, that he forced her against her wishes to run a recent cover featuring the actress Julia Roberts and that the issue sold poorly. Mr. Wenner said he never forced Ms. Min to run the Roberts cover.


The article is a lot more than he said, she said, but the notion that Wenner would ride roughshod on Min, who he's paying a cool $1.2 million a year, when she's helped funnel gushers of cash into his coffers, is troubling to say the least. And O'Brien's not alone in reporting about the fuss at Us.
WWD offers this dispatch:

Sources familiar with the situation say Wenner, who previously allowed Min a high degree of autonomy in running Us, has in the past few months taken to second-guessing her decisions, criticizing her covers, and generally reasserting his authority over her. "He's completely driving her crazy," said one Wenner Media insider. "It's constant."

Yeah, the guy writes the checks, but you'd think he'd have other things to do than fix something that wasn't broken. Vapid, superficial and devoid of substance, yes, but not broken.

Microsoft-NBC Divorce Prime Fodder For The N.Y. Times To Pout Instead of Report

Bill Carter Throws Hissy Fit Over Flacks Who Refuse To Talk To Him

Bill Carter has made his mark at the N.Y. Times because his Rolodex is better than any other reporter covering the TV beat. Head honchos return his call, without him first having to run interference from doe-in-the-headlights publicists too scared of their own shadow. In short, he knows how to deliver the goods for the latest backdoor maneuverings, backstabbings and intrigue at the networks with nuance and extra tidbits his rivals generally can't match.
So, his Christmas Eve dispatch on Microsoft selling its stake in MSNBC to the Peacock Network was jarring to say the least. While Carter reported the basic story, most of his article was tinged with the bitterness of someone who's kept out by security even though he's flashed his backstage pass.

The less-than-celebratory nature of the breakup seemed to be underscored by the timing of the announcement. NBC and Microsoft released the news at 8 a.m. yesterday, the Friday before Christmas, when the offices of both companies were already closed for the holiday weekend.

OK, not a good thing, but that shouldn't be a problem for someone as well connected as Carter. But....

Of the two contacts listed on the release, one, from NBC, had a message on her office phone number saying she would be gone until Tuesday, and the other, from Microsoft, was at an airport with two toddlers ready to fly home for the holiday.
That spokeswoman, Kristen Batch, from a public relations firm, Waggener, Edstrom, said Microsoft executives would have no comment anyway, beyond what was said in the official news release.

Inside baseball, anyone? Carter should know better. The above two paragraphs were unnecessary given the one that preceded them. Yet, he felt the need to flog NBC and Microsoft for having the unmitigated gall not to talk to him. Sour grapes don't taste good. Nor do they read much better.
But all is not lost. Sort of.

Reached at home yesterday, Julie Summersgill, a corporate spokeswoman for NBC, said that despite the timing, the companies were not trying to bury the news on the slowest news weekend of the year. It simply worked out that way, she said.
"Ideally, we would have put this out on Tuesday," Ms. Summersgill said. The deal was completed late Wednesday night, but neither company could apparently manage to prepare an announcement in time to be released Thursday.

Boo freaking hoo, Bill. Grow up. Every once in a while you will encounter a source who doesn't lay prostrate at the Times' door waiting to give you information. It happens, even to you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

TV Tells Tales Of Transit Tribulations, Even If They're Not True

Rush To Get On The Air For Transit Strike Coverage Finds N.Y. Broadcasters Getting Off Track With The Facts
On most days, the morning news shows on New York TV stations are predictable affairs, repackaging yesterday's news, provding constant weather and traffic reports and dollops of peppy features (how to dress your dog for the holidays, anyone?) so you don't have to think too much.
Rare is the day when these programs have to cover breaking news, let alone a transit strike that forced 7.7 million commuters to scramble. Ditto the newscasts, which tried to play a game of one-upmanship.
Lots of reporters and anchors who are already overcaffeinated just so they can make it to 7 a.m. were up and at 'em at 3:04 a.m. when the Transport Workers Union made it official that its members would hoof it to the picket lines. Many pulled all-nighters, which put their Norelcos and mascara to the test, for sure.
While the stations generally did a good job of capturing the frustration, chaos and life alterations that a city without its subways or buses requires, there was at times a rush to keep pumping out info without bothering to check if it was right.
Case in point: at least twice, Darlene Rodriguez was heard on WNBC-Channel 4 telling people they could park at Shea Stadium or Yankee Stadium and then get a commuter train. Only problem: It wasn't true.
The railroads had said for days such plans wouldn't be in place for 24 hours after a strike was called.
WCBS Radio was among those that correctly urged commuters not to go to the stadia for anything else except, perhaps, trying to find a carpool to get into Manhattan, although they went a bit far trumpeting that fact as "breaking news" read by News Director Tim Schield, who normally doesn't go on the air.
Later on, WNYW-Channel 5 ran tape of Mayor Mike Bloomberg walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. To their chagrin, the questions asked by a reporter came from Today's Lester Holt, who could be seen in the foreground. Afterwards, Jodi Applegate -- a Today alumna -- chirped, "While this is a national story...." but reminded viewers that if they wanted local coverage, Fox5 was the be all and end all.
Applegate was apparently too busy working to see that her competition at the other networks had preempted the morning shows at 7 a.m. for their own wall-to-wall coverage. So, while Lester Holt may have conveyed the breadth of the strike to the rest of the nation, Channel 4 and the rest refused to cede the airwaves and stayed close to home, and nobody should have expected anything less, including Applegate.

Transit Strike Also Causes Chaos Among N.Y. Media

Newspapers Left Waiting At The Station
When transit union chief Roger Toussaint broke the news at 3:04 a.m. that his 34,000 members would hit the picket lines, TV stations and all-news radio were ready and waiting with blanket coverage for how 7 million commuters would have their lives altered this morning.
Most did a workmanlike job, with a few bumps along the road. More on that in a minute. The real losers: the city's newspapers, which had all gone to bed by the time the strike officially began.
That left the Web, and may have given editors a front seat on how they may be covering news in the future as they fight an increasingly difficult battle to remain relevant. How did they fare?
The Times has a piece on how people coped trying to get to work, featuring none other than Ed Koch, who had the dubious privilege of being mayor for the last transit strike 25 years ago.
Aside from a cute headline, "Our shoes are made for walkin', after union MTA stop talkin'," the Daily News stuck with just a single story making note of the strike but is not providing any real-time updates.
Pretty much the same thing at the Post, whose front page shrieks "Transit Chaos" above a single deck "STRIKE!"
Most of Newsday's city readership is in Queens, which had a head start on the strike Monday when union members for two private bus lines walked out. Besides some info from this morning in the main story, the Web site also has a blog to provide some slices of life as people attempted something, anything, to maintain some semblance of normal.
Over at the arch-conservative, otherwise inconsequential New York Sun, its home page featured a full-length photo of leather-jacketed, jean-wearing Mayor Mike Bloomberg showing his boots were made for walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
And, of course, the Sun weighed in with an editorial predictable for its anti-union hysteria and then for some godforsaken reason advancing the notion of privatizing the transit system. Folks in Britain, where the rail service was broken into pieces and subsequently fell apart, no doubt would have a few guffaws over that.

Monday, December 19, 2005

He's Celibate, Yet He's Screwed: The Recent Ramblings Of Rivers Cuomo

Weezer frontman pontificates on how he rarely got to do it on the road
Good ol' Rivers Cuomo. He said in 2003 he'd go celibate for two years to improve his creativity. That seemed to do the trick for the "Make Believe" album, which spawned two hit singles.
But two years have passed, and now it's time for Cuomo to jump back into the pool. But not so fast. As he says in the latest issue of Blender magazine, he's not missing much.

"Abstinence doesn't require as much self-discipline anymore. We never had any serious groupies, anyway. Our generation got screwed," which sounds odd coming from a guy determined not to get laid.


Friday, December 16, 2005

ABC To Pay Dearly For Dumping Foreign Reporter

ABC News has found out the hard way that the British are not like you and I.
A London court ruled it illegally fired freelancer Richard Gizbert because he didn't want to cover the war in Iraq.
ABC said Gizbert was merely not having his contract renewed, as part of cutbacks.
To be sure, Gizbert is not some peacenik who is morally opposed to war. He's done time in Bosnia and Somalia, among other places. But with a family now, he's decided that insurgents, kidnappings and beheadings of Westerners are bad for his health.
The nerve.

Randal Scandal On "The Apprentice" as King Of Nice Turns To Ice

Sore Winner Comes Out On Top As Latest Trump Butt-Kisser
No doubt, "The Apprentice" made a comeback this season, if not in the ratings -- which are down, but still respectable -- but in the creative ways Donald Trump got rid of competitors, not to mention new levels of bitchiness and hissy fits (thanks for that, Clay).
Through it all, Randal Pinkett rose above it all. Initially, he got the sympathy vote early on when his grandmother died suddenly. More importantly, he was the focus of a love fest among his teammates, managing to fly under the radar when the ca-ca hit the fan, while being firm but fair as project manager, when he had a 3-0 record.
So, perhaps the least-surprising aspect of this "Apprentice" was that Randal would make it to the final. Same goes for Rebecca Jarvis, the 24-year-old wonder on crutches, who Trump was constantly making goo-goo eyes at.
The gimp factor notwithstanding, Rebecca established genuine cred, and going into the final boardroom, there was no clear-cut winner, even if you leaned a shade toward Randal because he's a decade older, has five college degrees and is a Rhodes scholar.
And that may have been enough to convince Trump, who hired Randal to help oversee the renovation of his Atlantic City properties. But Trump wasn't done yet. As Randal celebrated, Trump called him back to the table and asked if he would also hire Rebecca. That's when the man who went all the way being nice, turned to ice.

“Mr. Trump, I firmly believe that this is ‘The Apprentice,’ that there is one and only one apprentice, and if you’re going to hire someone tonight, it should be one. It’s not ‘The Apprenti,’ it’s ‘The Apprentice.’”

Incredibly enough, Trump bought that argument and meekly conceded the point to Randal. Rebecca looked liked someone had just taken away her puppy. Even Trump appeared to be a bit stunned as the band was cued and the show came to a chaotic end.
He desperately wanted Apprenti this Thursday night, and Randal -- no doubt helped by time constraints that prevented Trump from cajoling/goading Randal into a change of heart -- revealed a heretofore unseen selfish streak. Machiavelli would've been proud.
Quite possibly, Trump admired Randal's set of cojones to deny Rebecca, even though it was of no consequence to him.
Randal heard his 15 minutes ticking away loudly, and the thought of sharing them was simply too much to bear. That he sacrificed the integrity that was his ticket to the finals in the process was irrelevant. It was a game, he had won. The spotlight only burns so bright.
In the end, blame Trump. The man who prides himself in being a control freak lost the reins of his own show. If he wanted to hire both -- and he desperately did, especially when they each preferred different projects -- Randal should never have entered the equation. Clearly, he was expecting some feel-good ending to put a warm, holiday glow on "The Apprentice."
But Randal turned Scrooge on The Donald, who can only hope he'll be as big a bastard with the contractors at his faltering casinos.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sid Rosenberg Flames Out Again--Almost

From today's Miami Herald:

790 The Ticket has decided to reunite hosts Sid Rosenberg and O.J. McDuffie beginning today, two days after Rosenberg walked out of their 10 a.m.-1 p.m. show because of a disagreement with McDuffie about the program's content.
McDuffie had wanted Rosenberg to spend more time discussing the Dolphins.

So, for a change it wasn't a relapse to Rosenberg's gambling, drug and alcohol addictions that was to blame. And management apparently thought Sid had a point.
For now, sounds like the Sidster and Juice have kissed, or at least air-kissed and made up, judging from this morning's broadcast.
Of course, that didn't stop Big Giants Fan Sid from getting in a few more N.Y. football plugs in, and even had one of his old phone buddies, Ira from Staten Island, chime in on the Jets.
Love him or hate him, Sid's the NASCAR of sports talk radio, as listeners wait for the next big wreck to happen.
Time will tell if Rosenberg will stop being homesick for New York. For now, don't expect his passion for all things Big Apple to keep burning.
Flame on, Sid, before you flame out.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Finding It Hard To Say Goodbye At The Times

Reporters On Their Way To The City Room In The Sky Duly Noted, But Not Much More
When a veteran reporter or editor dies, at many newspapers you will see a longer-than-usual obituary, filled with earnest quotes, a thorough recounting of the deceased's career and some measure of that person as a human being, not just a byline.
But The New York Times prefers a more dispassionate bent to its obits, preferring a chronicle over passion, even when it's for one of its own.
In this case, it was Constance Hays, who died of cancer when she was just 44. She spent most of her adult life in the Times's employ, first as a news clerk, then as a reporter in various capacities at the business and metro desks.
Despite toiling for nearly two decades and amassing untold number of bylines for the Times, her tenure only warranted 300 words in today's editions.
True, journalists labor to ensure they only cover stories and try not to become the story themselves.
But it's not hard to make a good argument for making an exception for an obituary. And when your working life has been defined by one employer, that employer should give a better sendoff than a few column inches otherwise affords.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Anchors Aweigh At ABC As Vargas-Woodruff Combo Take Shape

But History Not On The Side For This Pairing, Even If It Makes Sense. Isn't That Right, Dan and Connie?
The anointing by ABC of semi-star, dutiful fill-in Elizabeth Vargas and reliable, square-jawed weekend anchor Bob Woodruff to hopefully "World News Tonight" forward is an indication of just how far the evening news sweepstakes has lost its luster, and how worried executives are about losing even more audience share.
At first blush, it appears ABC couldn't/wouldn't trust one person with the anchor slot. The only ones who might have been on the same level as Peter Jennings in terms of audience familiarity and likeability were Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer.
So, while Gibson was talked about as the more apparent Jennings successor, he had three strikes going against him from the outset.
First, he and Sawyer are at the helm of a "Good Morning America" renaissance that has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the network coffers and prompted NBC to push the panic button at "Today" and fire executive producer Tom Touchet.
Second, if Gibson did get to sleep in, there was no obvious candidate to replace him at "GMA," where David Westin & Co. would have had to work overtime to placate Sawyer, who'd no doubt wonder why she didn't get the nod.
Third, Gibson is pushing toward 63. While that doesn't qualify anyone for geezer status nowadays, that also doesnt' connote long-term solution. Nor does it address ABC's desperate need to attract viewers to "WNT" who are more inclined to ingest a Power Bar than Geritol.
So, it's Vargas and Woodruff, both in their early 40s, who've both had their share of field reporting and don't need further seasoning, unlike Brian Williams, who was dispatched across the globe a few times to dry off the wet behind his ears before settling in at 30 Rock.
But it's one thing to be worthy, another to be trusted with the sole stewardship of the signature broadcast. And it's clear management couldn't rise to that occasion. What remains to be seen if two talking heads are better than one, especially since Williams has done nothing to damage NBC's position at number one.
ABC already tried this once and failed with Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner, then moved to a three-anchor monster that never roared with Jennings, Max Robinson and Frank Reynolds. And then there was the disaster that was the Connie Chung-Dan Rather pairing.
ABC needs to hope Vargas and Woodruff were good science students in school, as they'll have to ace Chemistry if they ever hope to succeed.
The new pairing also means some program changes, which we'll get to a bit later.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An Interlude From The "Arrested Development" Death Watch

The Web site BrianPalmer.com has a nice interview with Michael Cera, who plays the confused, cockeyed optimist, eternally hopeful son George Michael on "Arrested Development."
It's both refreshing and sad to see how the cast took a fatalistic approach to this third season. If the last five episodes, which begin next week, truly are the end, then we can expect the show to finish out on a high and verrry dark note.'
Elsewhere on the site are interviews with A.D. cast members David Cross and Alia Shawkat, neither of them happy about the episodus interruptus pulled by Fox, which turned a full-season order into just 13 episodes.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Making Sure "Lost" Doesn't Lose Its Way

Despite Ratings Juggernaut, Now Is Actually A Good Time To Start Planning Show's Finale
With word over the weekend that "Alias" would be wrapping up after five seasons, series creator and producer J.J. Abrams should perhaps also contemplate the future of his current cash cow "Lost."
Now, you might think that to even talk about wrapping a show that's one of the lords of the Nielsens in its second season, and is creatively still firing on all cylinders is cause to think I've been spiking my latte with all manner of illicit substances.
But let's pause for just a moment. I'm not one of the Others, you know somebody who works for another network. Like you, I wait for John Locke to morph into Colonel Kurtz. I enjoy watching Evangeline Lilly all hot and sweaty as much as the next guy. And no, I don't assume it's Greg who's behind Dharma.
But the show's very nature means it's constantly flirting with the shark, let alone threatening to jump over it.
Eventually, there are only so many mysteries to uncover about the island. The real Others? Well, how long are we going to keep them in the brush? You know there'll be a rumble in the jungle before long, and it's sure to be a doozy. Even the most dedicated blogger will soon tire of figuring out what Walt's saying backwards.
As for the hatch, no problem in stringing us along -- at least for now -- but don't expect viewers to have endless reservoirs of patience.
So far, "Lost" has delivered. The larger question is how many variations on the same theme will keep us hooked?
Five years would be a great time frame to compact all of the tension, twists, action, premature deaths and cliffhangers that we could stand to presage a dynamite finale that, if done right, could deliver ratings that would be the latter-day equivalent of a M*A*S*H or "The Fugitive" finale.
Of course, that's too much to expect, assuming "Lost" maintains its ratings juggernaut. There are simply too many spots to sell, too many millions for Disney, J.J. Abrams and Darren Lindelof to pocket for the show's natural arc to play out. And don't forget the DVDs, iPod downloads and $24.95 T-shirts.
Rare is the program that goes out on its own terms. Usually, it's more of a case of overstaying one's welcome ("Seinfeld" and "NYPD Blue" quickly come to mind) before riding off into syndication sunset.
Instead, the legacy of "Lost" could be a package of 110-120 episodes that allow the writers and producers to hit us with the good stuff right away, and not string out storylines merely because they have to.
With "Alias," the decision to end was made easier by declining ratings. Better for "Lost" to go out on its own terms so it can one day be found in the annals of TV's best programs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Alessandra Stanley Sends Us Scrambling To The Dictionary

Cowardly N.Y. Times Editors Decline to Force Star TV Critic To Write In English

Alessandra Stanley is smarter than you and she wants you to know that.
The multi-lingual N.Y. Times TV critic is obviously slumming on the Arts pages. So, until Bill Keller can find a more suitable assignment to stimulate her out-sized brain, she's left to "The TV Watch" to spew out comments that are sometimes saucy and trenchant, but just as often puzzling and even incomprehensible to the English speaker.
To wit: Stanley's column on tonight's final "Nightline" with Ted Koppel in the anchor chair that revisits the program's wildly popular visits with Morrie Schwartz of "Tuesdays With Morrie" fame.
"He built his career on being different -- professorial, not telegenic; cerebral, not entertaining; coolly amusing, not genial or avuncular. "A Tuesday With Morrie" tonight is Koppel's last chance on ABC to epater les bourgeois."


OK, I realize there are a lot of educated people who read the Times. And a groupe of them even know some French. But epater les bourgeois? Sacre bleu! It actually means to "shake middle-class attitudes," the best I can reckon (do the French reckon?).
The point is Stanley writes like she's still pining to be the foreign correspondent she once was rather than stooping down to our level to write about something so crass as TV. And shame on her editors (copy readers, in this case) who let her get away with that.
It's interesting to note that at the same time she takes the high-and-mighty road, she jabs Koppel in her lead when she writes he "quit Nightline in the same wry, superior way he began it 25 years ago."
But then she contradicts herself by observings how tonight's farewell is not a clip show laden with testimonials or a "foreboding look at what network news will be like without him."Stanley appears to praise Koppel for "eschewing the self-referential pomposity" that infects other anchors by dwelling on somebody besides himself on his valedictory broadcast.
So how is that superior?
Stanley's use of superior is more in the "above it all" way than the "better than the rest" vein.
Yet, it is the latter approach that enabled Koppel to last as long as he did. He asked the questions we wanted answered, but didn't put himself front and center -- a lesson many a cable anchor badly needs to learn -- yet was always in control; a ringmaster who rarely had to crack the whip.
Alas, the same cannot be said for the Times arts editors, who are apparently so impressed by foreign words and pronunciation symbols, that they blithely let them run in the paper, even when they don't make any sense.

P.S. Gawker, which has made Alessandra bashing something of a cottage industry, also makes note of one of her many excursions into Error-land, including a doozy from the Koppel article.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

NPR Duped Into Playing Delta's Union Blame Game

Delta Airlines is the only legacy carrier where only the pilots are in a union, which has helped them win some of the highest wages in the industry. So, it's no surprise the bankrupt airline wants to slash their pay 20 percent.
But in a report on yesterday's bankruptcy-court hearing where Delta sought to have the pilots' contract voided, NPR this morning made mistake after mistake, which -- even if unintentionally -- stacked the report against the pilots' position.
First, Renee Montagne's story introduction called the Air Line Pilots Association "one of Delta's most important unions," when it's actually the only one.
Then, in Jim Zarroli's report, he said the airline "has already won wage concessions from some employees." The more accurate statement would have been that Delta imposed wage cuts on its employees.
Later, he said pilots made an average of "almost $170,000" a year, when Delta itself said its average pilot pay is $149,520, according to today's Wall Street Journal.
That's a lot of facts to get wrong in a short space, something that's especially problematic when the rhetoric and the gamesmanship among both sides in this case is already at a fever pitch.

Monday, November 14, 2005

If the French Get The Riots Story Wrong, Then What Hope Is There For The Rest Of Us?

Oh, you mean we have a race problem?
"On The Media" had an interesting discussion on how the riots are being covered in France, other European countries, the U.S. and the Muslim media. Only recently has the French press awoken to the fact that the riots burrow deep into societal ills and are not simply a pretext for a political skirmish between Chirac's would-be successors.

Fun With Stolen Species

Catching Up With Animal Lovers Who Are A Little Too Passionate

Polly Want A D Cup?


Are Those Eggs Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?


Friday, November 11, 2005

"Arrested Development" Shows That Being Funniest Show On TV Isn't Enough As Fox Pulls Plug

The End Is Near As A Full-Season Pickup Becomes 13 Episodes
It's the day the laughter died.
Fox has finally given up on "Arrested Development," pulling it for the rest of sweeps and will then start playing out the string in December, Golden Globes and Emmys be damned.
It's easy to blame Fox for giving up on the show and not figuring out where the show could thrive. After all, it's cheaper to put on repeats of "Prison Break," right?
Then again, when back-to-back episodes on Monday draw in a mere 4 million viewers, you reluctantly concede that the network is a business, not a labor of love/loss leader.
By the time all of the eight remaining shows air -- and it's not clear yet when that'll happen --we will have seen 53 A.D. episodes, nearly all gut-busting, pee-in-your-pants funny all the way through. And that's not nearly enough.
That A.D. was never a ratings winner says something about Fox realizing it had something good and not make it fodder for "Brilliant But Canceled" fodder too soon. Not canceling A.D. was also a way to stay on producer/narrator Ron Howard's good side.
A very vocal fan base also had a role in ensuring A.D. had a place on the schedule, but that translated into zero ratings momentum. Now, all the letter writing and emails in the world, will not carry the day.
When Gail Berman left her job as Fox TV head honcho to lead Paramount, A.D. lost its biggest ally, and that left the show vulnerable to the Nielsen gods and network beancounters.
Is A.D. good enough, and can it be cheap enough for a cable network to pick up? Somebody at HBO or Showtime, please say yes.
Meantime, you can join other like-minded individuals in venting on this forum that Fox has conveniently provided:

Free Annyong now, before it's too late.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sid Rosenberg Gets Yet Another Chance To Get A Clue

Foul-Mouthed Sports Guy Tries To Put His Addictions On Hold For Shot At Redemption In Miami
A litle late, but..... Sid Rosenberg has resurfaced in Miami, after basically leaving his career and what was left of his reputation, in the Dumpster in New York.
The Sidster's doing weekends and fill-ins on the number-two sports station in Miami, 790 The Ticket. Better than nothing, but nothing was all he had after he got dumped first from Imus In The Morning for thinking that Kylie Minogue's breast cancer was worthy of a comedy routine, then from co-hosting a midday talk show for not showing up for his stint on the New York Giants pregame show.
Rosenberg, a recovering alcoholic, drug abuser and gambling addict, hasn't said which, if any, of his demons came back to help show him the door at WFAN.
Not to worry, The Ticket knows what it's getting. As program director Alan Brown told the Miami Herald: "We're being very cautious in how we move forward."
That's evidenced by the fact that Rosenberg was originally skedded for a regular weeknight gig. Not so fast, Sid, who was apparently told by his new bosses that one strike and he's out. You can hear for yourself whether he goes down swinging.

The Bell's Not Tolling, At Least Not Yet: Survey Finds Most People Still Prefer Traditional News Sources

Blogs Don't Get Much Love, Especially in Executive Suites and on Capitol Hill
It appears we won't stop cutting down trees to make newsprint anytime soon. And network radio and TV news divisions won't be shriveling into nothingness.
A new poll by Harris Interactive and the Public Relations Society of America Foundation finds that, despite circulation drops and lower viewership, most of us still prefer to get our news pretty much the way we always have.
Blogs, chat rooms and other alternative media still have a long way to go in being relied on heavily as sources of information.
For now, though, the good news is most people are still interested in the news.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Explaining The French Riots In A Way Even Lovers of Freedom Fries Can Understand

Wall Street Journal Goes Beyond The Burning Cars And Schools
Context and perspective. Those were buzzwords often uttered by a guy I used to write for named Dan Rather.
From a news standpoint, that meant going beyond the obvious headlines and trying to discern the "why" of a story, not just the "what."

A story in today's Wall Street Journal titled "French Labor Model Fuels Riots" is an excellent primer for coming to grips with the French riots.

On this side of the pond, most coverage, broadcast and print, has focused on the violence, as if the deaths of two Muslim youths trying to escape the cops was the French version of Rodney King.

But there had to be more to it, and the article was a model of simplicity and clarity in focusing on the 40 percent unemployment rate among younger Muslims, and the discrimination they face because of the specter of long-term work contracts that are hard to terminate.
Employers don't want to take a chance on being stuck with someone who might not be qualified, a conclusion they're apparently more bound to reach with someone of North African descent.

As Marcus Walker and John Carreyrou write:

A stagnant national labor market that needs few new workers leaves minority applicants prone to discrimination. A recent study by a scholar at the Sorbonne ... found that a job applicant with a French-sounding name was more than five times more likely to be invited to a job interview than an applicant with the same qualifications but with a North African-sounding name.

We're so used to media quick hits, especially with foreign news, that it's gotten to the point where we're conditioned to get just enough about a particular story, as if to see or read about riots in 200 French towns is to know what this story is all about.

Such events are significant to note, of course, but as the WSJ piece shows, there's so much more to tell. Yet, far too often, it's that kind of information we rarely get to hear or read anymore.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Avoiding Hari-Kari In The Circulation Department as Readers Say Sayonara To Newspapers

or Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Publishers
If you want to have a good cry, check out the latest FAS-FAX numbers that show 18 of the top 20 newspapers reported circulation drops.
The loudest alarm was sounded in San Francisco, where the Chronicle saw its daily run plunge by 16.5 percent and 13.5 percent on Sunday.
Things were only slightly less grim at the Boston Globe, which dropped about 8 percent. Last week, I wrote about how I got a call from a telemarketer beseeching me to take the Sunday Globe for just 88 cents, notwithstanding the fact I live just outside New York.
At the time, it seemed like a desperate gambit from a circulation department devoid of sound ideas about how to stop hemorrhaging readers.
Now, that desperation appears to be well-founded even if believing there's an underserved population eager to read the Globe in the New York suburbs remains a lunkheaded notion.
It's interesting to note that at the same time the Globe's far-flung circ grab is underway, execs spun Editor & Publisher by proclaiming they were "managing down its 'other-paid' circulation."
I'd like to say that we all know newspapers still matter. But that's obviously not the case.

The TV Equivalent of Castor Oil: "West Wing" Debate Slips On Its Own Flop Sweat

Wasted Opportunity May Be Final Nail for Extreme White House Makeover
On paper, the notion of a live debate between two presidential candidates, albeit fictional, was intriguing. Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits are veteran stage actors in addition to their fame on screens large and small, and they seemed poised to make the most of this opportunity.
They were game. Their material wasn't.
The conceit was Alda's Republican Arnold Vinick proposed dumping the usual debate format for a freewheeling discussion, one his hero Lincoln was more accustomed to. Democrat Matt Santos, played by Smits, went along.
The "proceedings" were moderated by Forrest ("Whatever Happened To") Sawyer, either playing himself or a journalist named Forrest Sawyer, it wasn't clear.
It was a chance to let the fur fly, but writer Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. could not break free of his political past to author what could have been a dialogue for the ages. Instead, he refused to trust his candidates, and fell back into the protective cocoon that was so familiar to him, back when he worked for Sen. Daniel Moynihan.
Santos and Vinick sounded like slightly livelier versions of Bush and Kerry, which isn't saying much.
At the first commercial break, my wife turned to me and asked "Are you fading?" I was, and so was she.
Throughout "West Wing's" run, we have been thrust inside a White House anchored by a president many of us would love to have in charge right about now. With Santos and Vinick, the show offered up a liberal, though not an annoyingly strident one, and a moderate Republican even Democrats could grudgingly acknowledge. The nation would be in good hands. But first we'd have to sit through a ponderous debate.
One benefit of last night's episode is that it did burnish Vinick's GOP credentials. If you thought he was a reluctant Republican, out came the tax cuts, ANWR drilling, support for the death penalty and doubling the Border Patrol.
It was nothing we haven't heard before from real candidates, which is part of the problem. No one needs those kinds of bromides and bombast on "The West Wing," especially when we could otherwise be watching someone sobbing uncontrollably on "Extreme Home Makeover" or catch the latest Treehouse of Horror classic on "The Simpsons."
In the past, "The West Wing" has gotten away with being a civics lesson when it was also entertaining and even funny. But when you have the former without the latter, it's merely a chore. And Sunday nights at eight, you don't want to do any more chores.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Free Advice To Sean McManus: How To Fix The CBS Evening News

Finding A Way Not To Kill The Newscast In Order To Save It
You want to root for Sean McManus even if you don't envy his position. Having assumed the mantel of chieftain of CBS News in addition to being the big cheese at CBS Sports, he has been charged with elevating The Early Show and the CBS Evening News, both firmly stooped in third place in the Nielsens.
Let's dwell on Evening News (where during my tenure at CBS I filled in now and then as a writer), once the grande dame of broadcast journalism that now more resembles the tomboy who desperately wants to play with the older kids.
And getting older. CBS, like NBC and ABC, face an increasingly grayer audience among the 25 million or so left still tuning into the nightly broadcasts. True, the shows still make money, but ads for Lipitor, Depends and Aleve will only take you so far.
At this point. CBS has nothing to lose by essentially nuking the traditional format and giving viewers a newscast that's largely filled with information they can't get anywhere else or presented in a way so radically different that they will learn something new.
At a time when cable and the Internet provide instant media gratification, that's not only desirable, but essential for survival, not to mention relevance. Toward that end, a few modest proposals:

1) Assume We Already Know Much Of What You Now Tell Us. But at least hit the highlights early on. Do a five-minute whiparound with three or four correspondents summing up the most crucial events people need to know about. Need more time? See below. Right now, Bob Schieffer does some Q&A with correspondents. This format could be adapted more readily and even replace taped pieces.

2) After The Headlines, Stretch Out: Offer up one or two long -- at least in TV terms -- pieces that can offer up more substance than a typical 90-second package can ever hope to achieve. It could be an extended takeout on the big story of the day, e.g. examining the Alito nomination with more than five-second soundbites. It could be the basis for investigative reporting (remember that?), an extended interview with a newsmaker or a combination of all of the above.

3) Redeploy The Troops: All of those correspondents cooling their heels because they can't get pieces on the air because of the headline segment can now dig into some meaty work that can truly inspire great journalism. Right now, too much TV news is merely serviceable work that has the pulp squeezed out of it because producers feel compelled to cram too much into a 22-minute space.

4) Finish Up With Some Commentary: Already, CBS has no shortage of commentators who could be shifted or borrowed from other shows and can provide nifty endpieces. Steve Hartman lost that job when "60 Minutes Wednesday" was axed. Nancy Giles and Ben Stein never fail to be provacative during their stints on "Sunday Morning." And Jon Stewart's just a few blocks away and he's off on Friday. It'd be great to see the likes of Carl Hiaasen lobbing grenades or Dave Barry providing some zing. David Sedaris, call your office.

5) Get Some Sports In The Show -- This should be a "duh" suggestion, given McManus's current position and being the offspring of sportscasting royalty (all hail Jim McKay!). But this is hardly an alien concept, just one that's fallen by the wayside. Heywood Hale Broun routinely contributed sports pieces to CBS broadcasts. Ray Gandolf and Armen Keteyian did the same on the weekend editions of ABC's "World News Tonight." So, why not during the week? There are so many stories of interest to a general audience that have nothing to do with a game, as HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" routinely points out.

Sure, it doesn't hurt to skew younger, just not too young. Don't expect MTV loyalists to drop what they're doing at 6:30 (earlier in other time zones) to see what you've got. It's no sin to cater to their parents. I'd worry, though, if it's only their grandparents who watch.

Anchors? The real toughie. The larger question is, how much does that choice really matter. The Big Three all changed who was in their seats, but the ratings didn't notice. In the end, it may be all about the lead-ins, and in major markets, CBS is often picking up the rear and then some.

One possibility: A rotating cast. Maybe Russ Mitchell one day, followed by a moonlighting "60 Minutes" correspondent the next. John Roberts could parachute in when things are slow at the White House, while Harry Smith or Hannah Storm can make an appearance and cross-promote "The Early Show."

Lots of possibilities. More than anything, what the CBS Evening News needs is patience. McManus has acknowledged that ratings shifts are "glacial" for programs like these. Still, there's always that temptation to panic. But so long as McManus doesn't waver from his belief that the status quo has got to go, CBS has the potential to redefine broadcast news and once again be the leader that it was for well over four decades.

Good night and good luck, Sean.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Boston Globe Casts Wide Net In Desperate Circulation Bid

UPDATE: The Boston Herald picked up on this entry. Not suprisingly, the Globe isn't talking, at least not to the Herald. Here's the link:


It Doesn't Matter If You Don't Live Anywhere Near Beantown, Buy Us Anyway!
Desperate times, desperate measures.
I'm not accustomed to hearing from telemarketers given that I've been on Do Not Call lists from the get-go, even with companies with whom I already do business and who would otherwise be exempt.
So, imagine our surprise during dinner when my wife picked up the phone and The New York Times was calling. Seems it wasn't just a hearty thank-you for being loyal subscribers despite our periodic bitching and moaning about late delivery.
Now, for just 88 cents, we had the chance to get its sister paper the Boston Globe every Sunday. Which might be enticing were it not for the fact that we live over a three-hour drive from Boston in New York's northern suburbs.
Now, of course, the Globe -- despite recent cutbacks -- still has much to recommend it, not least of which is one of the best sports sections, if not the best, to spread out with on Sunday. But home delivery?
We have a difficult-enough time getting through the Times, along with that newfangled Saturday Wall Street Journal without more recycling to deal with.
The guy on the phone tried to push it by telling us it even came with all the circulars, as if the I needed to know what dresses were on special at Filene's.
Of course, as newspapers continue to leak readers, getting creative to find new eyeballs is not only desirable but essential. But does the Globe need to travel this far south for circulation salvation? How much money can they be making on my 88 cents? Or, is that not the point?
Boosting numbers for the sake of boosting numbers doesn't impress advertisers, especially when some of those new numbers might come from the homes of Yankee fans.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Red Flag Over A White Tie on "The West Wing"

Show That Prides Itself On Getting The Details Right, Makes A Flub That's Sure To Send Political Junkies Fuming
OK, first things first, this is TV. But we're also talking about "The West Wing," which has gone to great lengths in keeping it real, or at least giving us a brilliant facsimile of the look and feel of real.
Often, the characters sound like they know what they're talking about, and maybe they actually do. That involves a lot of homework by the writers and producers, which has been evident in the show's resurgence this season.
But snappy writing with sly references that few in the audience will latch onto (e.g. the throwaway by Josh about "Monster Chiller Horror Theatre" that was an SCTV staple) isn't enough. It's the details that don't take a lot to get right.
So, the centerpiece of Sunday's episode had both presidential candidates attending the Al Smith Dinner in New York, a real event that's a must for any major-office hopeful that's a major fundraiser for Catholic charities.
As it was described on West Wing, it's the biggest "non-political political event" around. And it's also one where men where a white tie with their tux. Old-fashioned, quaint, even, but that's the way it is, and woe to the attendee who tries otherwise.
Yet, everyone descending upon the event on the show was wearing black tie. An off-day for the prop master? Was the wardrobe guy on a break? Did the production designer assume the average American would get confused by a white tie?
Whatever the answer, it's unavailing. Paying heed to this minor but necessary detail would have taken so little effort, and it's disappointing "The West Wing" chose to take the expedient way out.
It's sort of like the "Law and Order" franchise, where the cops visit suspects at addresses that any New Yorker would know would have to be in a river because the number is too high. It's not hard for a little reality and dramatic license to co-exist. You just have to work at it. "The West Wing" usually does.
But such are the hazards of the trade when you write about New York and you're based in California, which is where the "Law and Order" writers ply their craft. And it shows.

N.Y. Times Lets Sports Section Slip Into Abyss

Already-Limited Hockey Coverage Totally Falls Off The Radar; Are The Nets Next?
No doubt, the budget chieftains at The New York Times are serious in their mission. Just ask the sports department, where the bylines are fewer and farther between.
We've already written about the pathetic attempts at hockey coverage this year, with coverage of the Devils and Islanders relegated to the A.P., even for home games. Now, even the Rangers were hit with that treatment.
All three teams were on the road last night, and Rangers beat writer Jason Diamos didn't make the trip for the game at Montreal. Ordinarily, the Times would have a stringer or freelancer in place. But these are not ordinary times at the Times, which is buying out lots of bodies in the newsroom.
Still, this is the Times. They'll send a critic to review the Wagner cycle in Bayerurth, have 20 foreign bureaus and parachute in squadrons of reporters when the Big Story hits. And they can't even staff a lousy hockey game?
Yeah, yeah. Hockey's become the distant number-four sport and last year's season-long lockout didn't help. The miniscule cable ratings for the local teams are almost comical. But there they are. Since 1978, the local teams have won eight Stanley Cups. That should count for something.
Hockey hater Mike Lupica once cracked there were 25,000 hockey fans in New York, and most of them were the ones at the games. Still, his employer, the Daily News, has beat writers for all three teams.
Hell, even The Journal-News -- never known for its free spending ways -- in the northern suburbs of Westchester and Rockland, cover the Rangers and Devils.
This doesn't bode well for coverage of other teams. If you're a fan of the New Jersey Nets, be afraid, be very afraid. Not of the team, which looks like it'll be fun to watch again. Just of the team's coverage, which if the bean counters have their way, may not show up regularly in the pages in these troubled Times.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Andrew Heyward Gets The Boot At CBS News

Moonves names Sports prexy McManus as his guy to take News to the next level, whatever that is
The other shoe dropped.
CBS head honcho Les Moonves continued his inserting his pawprint on CBS News by removing Andrew Heyward as News Division President and replacing him with Sean McManus, who will continue in his current role as head of CBS Sports.
A statement from Moonves said Heyward would remain on until the end of the year as an advisor to assist in the transition, though one suspects McManus really doesn't need the help. It so happens Heyward's contract runs until the end of the year.
At least publicly, Moonves was effusive in his praise for Heyward:

Andrew has held the post of President of CBS News for almost 10 years, and served in a wide variety of roles before that during his 24-year career at CBS. Under his leadership, our News Division has been recognized with many of the industry’s highest honors: 57 Emmy, 13 Peabody, 13 Alfred I. duPont/Columbia University, six Overseas Press Club and 46 RTNDA/Edward R. Murrow awards, including most recently the Murrow for Overall Excellence for three years running. He is, quite simply, a man of great character, whose integrity and experience has guided our News division through a time of tremendous change, and I want to thank him for his unwavering commitment to the core values of journalism, and for his years of creativity, dedication and loyalty to this company.

Good, but not good enough.

A lot of people were left wondering how Heyward was still standing after the National Guard story scandal, which brought down Dan Rather, two senior executives and a top producer. The buck didn't stop at his office and that rankled many inside the news division.

Still, it was apparent that Heyward was on borrowed time. Moonves had given Heyward a qualified thumbs-up at the time of the Guard blood-letting, but in a New York Times Magazine piece last month, talked about "blowing up" CBS News, though exactly in what form that explosion would take he didn't say at the time.

Consider Heyward's ouster the first stick of dynamite.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Silent Potty Mouth On "The Apprentice"

Seems you can't curse on network TV, but if you can mouth a profanity without being heard it's OK.
On last night's "The Apprentice", as the task to create a parade float to promote the new movie "Zathura," was unveiled, Marcus, one of the members of the male team was plucked to hopefully bring order and civility to the women's team, which has distinguished itself only for its new variations on cat-fighting while losing to the men every week.
When the women chose Randall, at the invitation of The Donald, his now ex-colleague Josh was seen saying "Shit," but not heard.
Did it get past the censors, or did they just not care as long it wasn't verbalized. Maybe they assumed nobody out there knew how to read lips. Whatever. The Trumpster didn't seem hot and bothered about it. Instead, what's got his coif more orange than usual is "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," which Trump says is dragging down ratings at the mother ship.
No word yet, on how the doyenne of domesticity feels about the diss. But with only 6.6 million viewers a week, it's not just Trump who's saying she just doesn't fit in.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Can't Tell The N.Y. Times Sports Staff Without A Scorecard

Updated 10/12, 11 a.m. ET

Constantly Shifting Beats Result in Confusion and Possibility of Missed Stories
The New York Times is the paper with arguably the most schizophrenic sports section in the country.
It employs a phalanx of compelling columnists like Selena Roberts, George Vecsey and Bill Rhoden. It also has young turks like Lee Jenkins and Tyler Kepner who know how to report and write with equal flair, while graybeards like Murray Chass provide valued historical perspectives while writing about today's players.
And Times sports writers are hardly pigeon-holed. One year, Damon Hack's covering pro football. The next year it's golf. Lynn Zinser's on the Giants beat? Nope. Now she's covering the Olympics. But wasn't that Jere Longman's bailiwick. Oh, he's covering the Katrina aftermath.

Not that what he's writing about has much to do with sports, but that's never mattered much at the Times. Remember one Richard Lezin Jones, who covered the Jets last season? Now he's on the front page of Wednesday's paper with a piece on New Jersey's failed child protective services program. The Times is rife with sports multi-taskers who transitioned to hard news, and good for them (Jane Gross, Robin Finn, Joe Sexton and Michael Janofsky, for starters).

There's nothing wrong with rotating beats every now and then so reporters don't get too cozy with their players, or despise them beyond the point of no return.

But too much shuffling means there's also the danger of losing out on the good story, even the outright scoop when you play musical reporters. One day Lee Jenkins is covering the Mets. The next day, he's at the Little League tournament.

Fortunately, for the Times, the Mets folded after a few fleeting moments of playoff grandeur, and didn't lose out on crucial storylines. Also, new guy Ben Shipgel from the Dallas Morning News did a more than workmanlike job covering the late-season swoon. But the danger remains.
At least the Times covered the team. Often, it has an annoying tendency to all but ignore some teams on non-game days. Can you imagine not a single story about the Jets when they had a game on Sunday? It happened last week.

And woe to the fan of the Nets, Devils, or Islanders looking for regular coverage of their team on off days.
If the Post and News can cover those teams, so can the Times. Don't cry crocodile tears about budget problems. Every newspaper has them, and these comments are being made with full knowledge that the Time is trimming newsroom staff through buyouts.
Still, covering local teams is part of a newspaper's mission. Just do it.

Hockey's Back At The N.Y. Times, Sort Of

The Puck Doesn't Stop At West 43rd St.

Updated 10/12, 11 a.m.
No doubt, the bean counters in The New York Times' sports department were elated when the NHL season was canceled last year. Fewer road trips, expense reports and freelancers to be paid add up rather nicely during the course of an over-long season.
Now that the Zambonis are once again in action, the Times is slow to wake from its hockey slumber.
To be sure, it had long ago relegated the sport to a distant fourth in coverage, even though it's had perennial Stanley Cup contenders The New Jersey Devils in their backyard. The Rangers get regular if perfunctory coverage. Jason Diamos is the only staff writer covering one of the three local teams. But he's often well ensconsed on the back pages, if at all.
In Wednesday's paper, there was not a single story on any of the three local teams, only a few hockey items in a wire-service roundup. It's a long way from the Rangers' 1994 championship season, but has it come to this? The Devils have won three Cups, one as recently as 2003. But it might as well have been a field hockey championship, the way they're treated in the Times.
Then there are the New York Islanders. Remember them? It's been a long time since their streak of four straight Stanley Cups ended in 1983. Since then, the team has mostly been toiling in mediocre obscurity in the Nassau Coliseum.
But it's still a local team in a still-major sport. The Times begs to differ. The paper had long ago stopped sending reporters on the road or used stringers for most Islanders and Devils road games. However, there have been warm bodies in the press box at home games. Alas, that was not the case for Monday's loss to the Florida Panthers, which the Times recounted with AP copy.
The Daily News, the Post and Newsday, all of whom have Islanders beat writers, were all there. When it comes to sports, the Times is the paper of record only when it feels like it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Identity Crisis At The Los Angeles Times

Or How Everything Old Is New Again Even If It Didn't Work The First Time
The Los Angeles Times is accustomed to getting a lot of Pulitzers, but not love from its corporate overlords at Tribune. Of course, that may be understandable when your circulation has slipped 18 percent in the last five years, while ads have plunged by 26 percent in that period, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Still, it remains a great paper, especially if you're looking for penetrating enterprise pieces, thorough foreign coverage, and entertainment coverage worthy of its location. But it's not enough.
So, now look for more coverage of Tinseltown, celebrities and, gasp, shorter stories.
We'll work from the assumption that editor Dean Baquet is smart enough not to dumb down the paper with reams of gossip and Lindsay Lohan sightings.
But maybe he's also throwing in the towel to concede that not everyone is reading all the way through a 3,000-word Column One piece, which no matter how well-written or reported, could wind up being the journalistic equivalent of cod-liver oil.
The key is striking a balance, no easy feat when you have frantic executives in Chicago pleading for more black ink, while you try to avoid sacrificing the editorial product at a time when the staff continues to shrink.
And those newsroom reductions come when the Times also wants to concentrate more on its sprawling backyard.
"We won't out-local the local papers. [But] I think you will see us placing bigger bets on regional coverage," publisher Jeffrey Johnson told the Journal.
Good luck.
Not only are the 16 dailies the Times goes up against not giving up without a vicious fight the Times can ill afford to wage, the paper has already been chastened in years past from editions that failed, such as the one for San Diego County.
Just because you are the better paper -- and for all its pullbacks the Times is the superior product in Southern California -- doesn't mean people will automatically plunk down their quarters at will. That's why The Register in Orange County, the Daily News, serving the Valley and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, among others, are still in business.
They are perceived as the local papers, whereas the Times is the 400-pound gorilla from parts unknown, or at least parts where many prospective readers don't want to travel to.
Moreover, you can't siphon readers on the cheap. Sticking a few reporters in bureaus here and there just won't cut it. And don't think people will buy The Times and another paper. Most folks barely have the time or inclination for one, if that.
Given that the Times provides 20 percent of Tribune's revenue, there's a lot at stake here, not just for circulation and profits, but for a fiercely proud journalistic institution that has managed to maintain standards in the face of difficult odds.
There's nothing wrong with reinventing yourself so long as you remember what made you great and tenaciously hold on to that foundation. Dean Baquet is too good a journalist to forsake that mission.
Now, he just needs to convince his bosses to be a little patient while he figures out the right mix. The past has shown patience has been anything but a virtue with Times execs, however.
If Baquet doesn't get the time he needs, we should all fear what may happen next.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"SNL" On The Comeback Trail At the Expense of CNN

Surprise, surprise. The show was actually funny.
Taking potshots at "Saturday Night Live" isn't fun anymore. It's just too easy. The cast is too thin on talent, the writers fall back too often on characters who were never that funny to begin with, and "Weekend Update" is often a slog waiting for the few good jokes.
So, it was more than a pleasant surprise to see "SNL" open up season 31 with some laugh-out-loud funny sketches, including one focusing on celebrities lending a hand in New Orleans with Seth Myers showing more than a few flecks of talent with a dead-on impression of Anderson Cooper at his too-fast, staccato worst, while new featured player Bill Hader nailed Al Pacino big-time.
Later, a sketch on a passenger on that troubled Jet Blue flight where the passengers could watch their planes emergency maneuvers on their in-flight TVs was highlighted by Darrell Hammond adding Aaron Brown in all his laconic glory to his arsenal of impressions. Didn't appear that everyone in the audience realized who he was doing, but if you did, you knew it was brilliant.
And Kanye West killed with his numbers, but not before a hysterical reunion with Mike Myers, who just happened to be hanging out backstage. It's moments like that when "SNL" is at its best, taking broad swipes at our highest and lowest moments in pop culture.
The rest of the show, save for a fun "TV Funhouse," was on the humdrum side. And Horatio Sanz, as expected, laid a big-time goose egg subbing for Tina Fey on "Weekend Update."
"SNL" manages to resurrect itself every few years, and it's long overdue. This show offered some glimmers of hope. Still, with Fey -- and soon Maya Rudolph -- out on maternity leave, the show will have to do more with a lot less. And that's nothing to laugh about.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No Check, Please! N.Y. Post Bids Farewell To Restaurant Reviews

It might be a good idea, although it might just be a good way to trim the editorial budget
N.Y. Post restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo is out of a job, sort of. He says what he does makes no sense nowadays, given the blink-and-you'll-miss-it changes that occur in the kitchen. Chefs often have one foot out the door as soon as they arrive, while menus become the kind of ersatz experiments that you'd steer clear of in chemistry class.
So, Cuozzo says rather than try to keep track of it all, he'll keep track of none of it.
"Back when restaurants were smaller and more stable, a review might hold water for years, he writes in today's paper. "Today, once critics have moved on, the house mutates without any press attention."
Cuozzo is a tad vague about what he'll write instead, but maybe because that's still a work in progress, much like many of the restaurants he reviewed. But he promises that "we'll tell you what's happening at more than one place, in the kitchen or on the floor. We'll aim to give you more useful - and interesting - information than you'll glean from reviews that read like cooking courses and turn stale overnight."
Was that a shot across the bow at Frank Bruni? Not that the Post needs any encouragement to hurl brickbats at the Times, which you can rest assured will keep churning out reviews of places, many of which you won't be able to get a reservation or afford, or both.
Which is not to say that what Bruni and others like him do isn't useful. Often he's entertaining, well-informed and not afraid to slam star chefs for their excesses and shortcomings.
Still, Cuozzo may be onto something. Restaurants are often victim of their own hype, raising expectations that are part and parcel of the high prices many eateries vainly attempt to justify. As Cuozzo notes, in restaurants with large kitchen staffs, you don't know who's manning the flame the night you're there. It could be a transcendant experience, or it could leave you with the same kind of feeling after you watched your Enron stock tank.
However, I suspect restaurant reviews still serve a purpose, and not just as grand theatre when a critic is gleefully vicious. They capture a moment in time, one that may not be recaptured, but one we as diners aspire to latch onto nonetheless if it is particularly memorable.
Reviews can put restaurants on notice about where they're clicking on all cylinders and where they've stalled. You'd think that'd be painfully apparent to many restaurant owners, but many a disappointing dinner proves otherwise. They need to be called to account and if Steve Cuozzo won't do it, then we need others who will.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Being The New York Times Means Never Really Having To Say You're Sorry

Being A Noodge About Nudges
It's easy, often too easy, to take a slam at Geraldo Rivera. He practically begs you to roll your eyes when he straddles his high horse, be it drawing all-too-revealing maps in the desert sands of Iraq, or the toxic muck of New Orleans.
So there should be no reason to exaggerate when relating the latest episode of As Geraldo Turns, as Alessandra Stanley did in the Sept. 5 N.Y. Times when she wrote Rivera "nudged an Air Force rescue worker out of the way so his camera crew could tape him as he helped lift an older woman in a wheelchair to safety."
Rivera threatened to sue if he didn't get a correction, which finally arrived today in the form of an editors' note, which conceded "no nudge was visible in the broadcast."
But that admission, presumably from Executive Editor Bill Keller, came only after the note first proclaimed: "The editors understood the "nudge" comment as the television critic's figurative reference to Mr. Rivera's flamboyant intervention."
Exactly how is a nudge figurative? Either Rivera laid his hands on the rescue worker or he didn't. The once-Gray Lady seeks to create a gray area where none needed to exist. It was too tempting to pummel Rivera, so the nudge was a nudge, whether it was figurative or literal.
Keller's sort-of apology comes two days after Public Editor Barney Calame ripped him a new one for refusing to admit the paper was wrong in face of overwhelming evidence, namely the videotape in question.
Based on the videotape and outtakes I saw, Ms. Stanley certainly would have been entitled to opine that Mr. Rivera's actions were showboating or pushy. But a "nudge" is a fact, not an opinion. And even critics need to keep facts distinct from opinions.
Calame could barely contain his outrage over Keller's e-mail to him, which said as a critic, Stanley had "license" to label Rivera's showboating a "nudge."
I find it disturbing that any Times editor would come so close to implying - almost in a tit-for-tat sense - that Mr. Rivera's bad behavior essentially entitles the paper to rely on assumptions and refuse to correct an unsupported fact.

Exactly. Which demonstrates the level of conviction Keller wrote the editors' note. By dragging this out over three weeks, Keller, Stanley, et al., made this more than just a star reporter having a hissy fit. They even managed the impossible, having people who are not fans of Geraldo feeling sorry for him. And they didn't have to be nudged to feel that way.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Appropriately Named Ryan Church Shows Evidence Of Being Hit With Too Many Pitches

Nationals' Player Says He's Sorry For Unwittingly Being a Bigot

Today's baseball players are coddled beings, flown in luxurious charters to games, staying in fancy hotels and being paid an average salary north of $2.5 million a year while having anything and everything done for them during the season. That apparently includes thinking.

How else are we to view the ignorance and bigotry that came flowing out of the mouth of Washington Nationals outfielder Ryan Church, who's apparently infected by a bad case of evangelical zeal? In Sunday's Washington Post, he mentioned going to a volunteer team chaplain when asking for advice about his Jewish ex-girlfriend.

"I said, like, Jewish people, they don't believe in Jesus. Does that mean they're doomed? Jon nodded, like, that's what it meant. My ex-girlfriend! I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don't know any better. It's up to us to spread the word," Church said.

Cue the backpedaling.

"Those who know me on a personal level understand that I am not the type of person who would call into question the religious beliefs of others."

Even though that's what he did.

Church also apologized. The chaplain, whose day job is as an FBI agent, was suspended. Which calls into question the Nationals' judgment for not giving him the boot entirely.

To his credit, Church didn't take the weasel way out and whine like many athletes about being quoted out of context when they get diarrhea of the mouth and wind up in Chateau Bow-Wow. But you have to wonder if he's truly contrite, or lost in the reverie of imagining his ex burning in the fires of hell.

Maybe Church should get some religion and break bread with the Jew who, for now, is the ultimate overseer of the Nationals franchise -- baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cutting Your News Hole To Spite Your Profit Margins

Tuesday Bloody Tuesday In Philadelphia Newsrooms
The latest newsroom reductions at the Philly Inquirer and Daily News are not of the nip/tuck variety. Rather, they're more from the slash/burn school.
Yeah, public companies are entitled to a profit, but the larger question of how much is too much in a down advertising market looms large.
Knight Ridder says the Inky and DN garner a profit margin in the low double-digits. Good, but not good enough for Wall Street. And yet the only solution is to eviscerate 16 percent of the already-shrunken newsrooms.
Cue the smoke and mirrors.
Sure, the Inky is far removed from its Gene Roberts glory days when long, enterprise reporting from far and wide was the norm, as the paper garnered prestige and prizes while becoming the 400-pound gorilla that followed its readers to the suburbs.
But fewer of those readers have appreciated those efforts over the years, giving the Knight Ridder brain trust fodder to get rid of reporters and editors with abandon.
It'll be interesting to see if readers will notice or care that there's less local news, more wire copy and fewer reasons to make either paper a must read.
But at least the papers will be more profitable, right?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Unfulfilling Filler: The N.Y. Times Provides A Journalistic Pork Barrel

What's For Dinner? Answer better suited for "Lost" survivors than the rest of us
Nobody expects penetrating journalism to emerge from Men's Fashion supplements. But it wouldn't hurt if the copy that's strung between the ads would have at least some substance or relevance to some readers.
The N.Y. Times fails to understand this. Yesterday's male fashion book -- and it had enough ads to qualify as such -- was replete with pitches for clothing that even many Times readers either couldn't afford or wouldn't be caught dead in, assuming they weren't like the androgynous, underfed models who donned the duds in question.
But the supplement also featured ostensible lifestyle pieces, including a food piece that focused on eating wild boar, as if that was something available at the local Gristede's to whip up for the gang.
Even if you were going to schlep to a gourmet butcher for some boar, the recipe itself warns that it's not easy, will take hours to execute, and requires equipment most kitchens don't have.
So what's the point? Exactly.
How about putting in a recipe for something that even the above-average guy has a chance at pulling off? But that would be too easy. That's not in keeping with a fashion spread replete with $3,000 suits, $200 t-shirts and $500 ripped jeans.
Which can only mean the Times never had any intention for anyone to follow through actually making this gamey abomination, let alone expect anyone to read this unmasterful missive penned by someone named Oliver Schwaner-Albright except for his name-dropping a few celebs who enjoy a good hunt for their dinner.
And you can be sure they're not wearing any of the clothes featured in the supplement when they're blasting that boar to bits. Somehow, Ted Nugent and Versace in the same sentence just doesn't sound right.

Totally Unironic Headline Of The Day: I Saved My Dog With The Kiss Of Life

Another hurricane success story, but this one from Irene. Good to see they have a lot of slow news days in Bermuda:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Demons Take Over Sid Rosenberg Once Again

As expected, it appears Sid Rosenberg's departure from WFAN was of his own making, after not showing up Sunday for his stint on the New York Giants pregame show. While he "resigned," that was strictly a courtesy that station management extended, and likely did so grudgingly given Rosenberg's history.
While no one's commenting officially, indications are Rosenberg was in the wrong place at the wrong time, namely Atlantic City, given that he's a recovering drug and gambling addict, as well as an alcoholic.
Given his scatalogical shtick, the temptation would be to say good riddance. But it's hard to kick a man when he's down, especially when he's fallen so far that he's all but impossible to reach.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sid Rosenberg "Resigns"; Foul-Mouthed Sports Talker Gives Himself Silent Treatment

The "Sidiot" pushes himself off the air before he is pushed
It took longer than we thought, but Sid Rosenberg is gone from WFAN. First, he was finally pushed off Imus's show as the wacky sports guy in May because of a crack he made about Kylie Minogue's breast cancer.
It was one of several "jokes" that had either gotten him in hot water or booted off the air for a while. Imus always took him back because he had a soft spot for the big lug and besides, he was edgy and spontaneously outrageous, something Imus's show had stopped being about 20 years ago.
But Imus flagship WFAN didn't get rid of Sid. It allowed him to keep his regular midday sports-talk gig. And so it went until today, when Sid's co-host Joe Benigno announced his partner had resigned for "personal reasons."
No word on what those might be, or is that code for "quit or be canned."
As odious as his on-air persona is, let's hope he's not back to his addicted ways, for him and his family's sake. Rosenberg's been treated for various addictions since 1997, so he could have relapsed in any number of ways. Or maybe enough was enough.
Sick or not, a change in venue was long overdue. WFAN failed to realize that just because you can say something doesn't mean you should. That goes for breast-cancer jokes. And apologizing doesn't cut it either. Sid could have been a jackass off-mike, but once he made that his shtick, he lost his usefulness as a broadcaster.
Don't bet on Sid (he's also a recovering gambling addict). Just wish him good luck. He'll need it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

"He Felt I Had Become Too Emotional." But New Orleans Radio Reporter May Have Been First of Many

When Trying To Keep Calm Just Isn't An Option
Dan Barry's piece in the N.Y. Times today on how New Orleans radio powerhouse WWL has served as the lifeline for its beleaguered region showed how quickly events overtook its reporters and perhaps forever changed how they do their jobs. Others are bound to follow suit.

Back at the downtown studio, many employees managed to flee by car or, eventually, by helicopter. Others, including the morning news anchor, David Blake, and his family, got stuck for several days, so he reported what he saw from the broken-window studio - namely, the infamous chaos at the Superdome, where crushes of people waited and withered.

His early reports had to be redone before they could be broadcast, he recalled.
"My news director said I sounded angry and frustrated," he said. "He felt I had become too emotional."

Of course, Blake's approach became the rule rather than the exception, but his experience highlights just how hard it was for journos to grab onto the extent of Katrina's devastation.

The news director Blake refers to is Dave Cohen, an extremely capable newsman, whose passion for his city has long been reflected in the freelance reports he files for CBS News. Cohen's voice betrayed a mix of exhaustion and resignation, as if he felt betrayed by Mother Nature for laying waste to his town. But outright emotion was not evident. There would be time for that later.

Cohen had no choice but to focus on the story at hand albeit one that would have been impossible to comprehend just days before and was all but impossible to fully grasp even days after the levees breached. This wasn't supposed to happen, right?

Peering out at the Superdome from what was left of WWL's downtown studios, Blake was in much the same position. If he slipped a bit from the detached observer mode that was his usual M.O., that made him no different from the rest of New Orleans.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Syndicate Gets Anal Over Dilbert Strip

So Exactly Who Was Going To Be Offended By a Porpoise Going Medieval On a Lawyer?
Scott Adams didn't get Dilbert into 2,000-plus newspapers by being offensive. Funny has long been more than good enough.
But there's an alternate version of today's panel http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/dilbert-20050906.html because his depiction of a vengeful porpoise venturing up a lawyer's behind might be too graphic for some newspapers, in the view of Dilbert syndicator United Media.
Adams worked up another version without a fuss.
It was totally benign, of course, although it continues a tradition of newspapers and syndicates being Nervous Nellies about certain strips they feel might veer too far over the line, whatever the hell that is (Doonesbury, Boondocks and the late, lamented Bloom County come quickly to mind).
But give Adams props for working up an alternative version so as not to offend those who want to see porpoises used for more erstwhile endeavors, although it would've been fun to watch PETA attempt to mount a protest over a comic strip, and then have Adams respond in kind.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Memo To Kanye West

Dude: Your passion is admirable, and you may even be right. But you're a musician, big guy. In your business it's all about the timing. And dog, your timing sucks.
But telling the world "George Bush doesn't care about black people" during a telethon for hurricane victims only narrowly eclipses Mike Myers' deer-in-the-headlights look as you departed from the cue cards and Chris Tucker's bug-eyed as they cut to him almost as quickly as they dumped out of you.
If your publicists just slit their wrists, it won't be too hard to figure out why. They decided to commit hari-kari before your career did.

Charitably yours,


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina's Not Necessarily A Big Deal Once You Leave The U.S.

Asian Media, In Particular, Don't Feel Inclined to Share Gulf Coast Pain
Rare is the U.S. media outlet that gives more than a few paragraphs to typhoons in places like Bangladesh and India, even when hundreds perish. It happens often enough, and to people who don't look like us or speak our language, that the media rarely pays them much mind.
The tsunami was a different story, of course, but even then it happened a world away and it was hard to truly get a grip on the devastation. We no longer have that luxury, of course. But do the media in other countries care? It depends on where you're reading.
Not a problem in the U.K., where The Guardian has been going heavy with coverage from the start. This morning's online edition has nine links to the main story and sidebars, including angles American media still covering the breaking story have not turned to, including how erosion caused by human activity left the Mississippi Delta vulnerable.
The Daily Telegraph included a selection of increasingly desperate and angry blog entries from all over. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/09/01/ukatblogs.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/09/01/ixportaltop.html
The Times of London has a couple of correspondents in the hurricane zone, including Chris Ayres in Biloxi, who got this saucy quote from a survivor:
“Well baby, here in the South we’ve been through this kind of thing before,” she said. “We just clean up and get on with it. I know that God will take care of me.”
But the media is much more blase in Asia three days after Katrina. The home page of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post instead had a snap of Typhoon Talim battering Taiwan, and only mentioned Katrina in reference to out-of-control oil prices. Katrina's also disappeared from the World Headlines of Asahi Shimbun.
Bangkok's The Nation is focused on its nation, not ours. The New Straits Times in Kuala Lampur used copy from AFP, but it was the last item in its World Section roundup. Instead, the lead story on the home page was about a film festival in Deauville, France. It's as if the Asian media had done its due diligence reporting on when the hurricane hit and is now moving on to other pursuits.
Turnabout is apparentlyfair play.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

People vs. Customers: Getting The Numbers Right When Disaster Strikes

A common media mistake is confusing the number of utility customers who lose power during a storm or disaster with the number of people affected. Sometimes, it's local officials who facilitate those mistakes, but more often than not it's a case of sloppy writing or reporting.
Often times, "customer" and "people" will be used interchangeably, when one customer is actually a single bill-payer, but could be the head of a family of five. So, that means six people in that one house are affected, even though it's only one customer, as far as the utility is concerned.
One utility in the New Orleans area, Entergy, says all of its customers, about 750,000 people, are without power, according to the Times-Picayune. Presumably, not all of them pay a bill, but its customer base accounts for 750,000.
It's important to provide the proper context for these numbers. Suffice to say millions of people in three states are without power. And judging by what officials are saying, it could be a month or more when they can say otherwise.

By the way, the latest dispatch from the Times-Picayune might be the last one for a while. An item posted on www.nola.com at 9:40 a.m. revealed the staff was evacuating its building while they still could. Meantime, the .pdf version of today's paper, with photos that are nothing short of stunning, is available at http://www.nola.com/hurricane/katrina/.
The staff has our thanks and our best wishes.


This Reuters story makes it clear the customers are who the utilities are trying to get to, and has the full scope of the story in its sights.
Meanwhile, the Times-Picayune remains on the run, but James Varney managed to file this compelling slice of life as Southeastern Louisiana now knows it.

Walk All Over Jeff Probst

"Survivor" Host Floored By Latest CBS Promotion
Throughout the north corridors of New York's Grand Central Terminal are large ads for the CBS fall lineup, with various airbrushed cast members for new shows smiling away (pre-Nielsens you'd smile too) as well as posters for some of the sitcom warhorses who would have been put out to pasture had not reality shows sapped network programmers of any creative thinking ("Yes, Dear" I'm talking about "King of Queens").
Anywhoo, all of the ads were along the walls, except for the one for "Survivor," which is on the floor at a busy spot in the terminal. That means thousands of people daily are stepping on Jeff Probst's face without giving it much notice.
You'd think Probst would get more props given "Survivor" is a major reason CBS is at the top of the ratings roost. But no.
In the end, though, expect Probst, Mark Burnett and the next fat naked guy who wins an immunity challenge will still be smiling at the end of sweeps, just like they have ever since the gang on the first show in Borneo was caught grilling rats.
You could say they'll walk all over their competition.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Now This Is More Like It! Post and the News Have Big-Time Hissy Fit Over Gotti Cancer, Or Whatever It Is Today

Tabloid Tsarinas Get Extra Bitchy
Yesterday, the Post took a swipe at a front-page exclusive in Sunday's Daily News that Victoria Gotti had breast cancer. But while the News got the story right, that didn't prevent the Grown-Up Gotti from backtracking, clarifying and stupefying to the point where the only thing now clear is that she's nowhere near death's door.
That was cannon fodder for the Post yesterday, who took square aim at Gotti, a Post columnist from 2001 to 2003, who now toils for the Star when she's not yelling at her sons on TV. Gotti felt sufficiently chastened to give a bizarro-world interview to Post columnist Andrea Peyser, where Gotti literally bares all to prove she's no model of health even if she's not due for a round of chemo.

Victoria Gotti unbuttons her charcoal jacket and in structs me sternly, "I want you to feel this."
Now, I realize that for many men on this planet, and at least some of the women, I'm in an enviable spot.
But standing there wearing a pair of gray hotpants, nude from the waist up, in her sumptuous Old Westbury, L.I., house, Victoria is determined to make me feel her pain.

Must-see TV. I don't think so.

Meanwhile, News gossip doyenne Joanna Molloy, who got the original scoop, launched a fresh set of missiles toward the Post and Gotti.

How embarrassing for the New York Post to have yet another wildly inaccurate front page yesterday with the story "Victoria Gotti never had breast cancer" - even as Victoria Gotti told the nation she did on "Good Morning America."
Gotti told GMA host Charlie Gibson, "What I have is considered by most to be cancer.
"They refer to it as noninvasive cancer.
"I like to say it is not, because I don't want to be labeled as having cancer. Not that there is anything wrong with it."


Peyser and Molloy! In the steel cage! A slap fight for the ages! Be there!

Don't Tell Scott McClellan About This

A buzz in Bangkok when the PM holds court with reporters
Thailand's prime minister has a new way of letting reporters know he's not pleased with some of their questions, you know, the ones that actually question his policies. Democracy Fever. Catch it.

Hurricane Cantore

It's Never A Good Thing When This Guy Hits Town
Weatherman as rock star? Believe it, when it's Jim Cantore doing live stand-ups in the hurricane zone du jour. He's got fans, even though if you see him on a beach or street corner near you, that's not what we in the business call a good sign. But it makes for good TV. The Miami Herald caught up with Cantore as he spends his day courting Katrina.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

News Of The World Admits It's Not 'N Sync With The Truth

That Means A Big Payday in London court for Justin Timberlake
One of the banners on the home page for British tabloid king News Of The World, www.newsoftheworld.co.uk promises "We Pay Cash, Big Money For The Top Stories."
Of course, that's standard practice for the tabs on the other side of the pond, who then find themselves hurtling down a slippery slope of their own making.
Which is how NOTW cozied up to aspiring model Lucy Clarkson, who told the tab last year she boinked Justin Timberlake. That especially got tails wagging because of his longtime, public relationship with Cameron Diaz. Timberlake was not amused, and sued Clarkson and the paper.
Today, the defendants were in court, with their lawyers falling over each other in court trying to issue the most profuse apology, thanks to the UK's severe libel laws, and admitting the story was lies, lies, all lies.
The Guardian's account of the court proceedings was restrained, and free of gloating. At least there was an account. And in a real shocker, no mention of what happened at NOTW's Murdochian brethren, The Times and The Sun. The truth is out there. Sometimes it's just hard to read about it.