Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bloomberg Hate Fest On Hiatus

Disgruntled Bloomberg Employees Either Too Beaten Down or Burnt Out To Bitch About Their Bosses Anymore
One of the things reporters like to do almost as much as cover the news is whine. Management gives them plenty of ammunition. They're too cheap, mercurial, Mussolini reincarnated, or just plain stupid. And so on.
While reporters usually conduct their hate fests over pitchers of cut-rate beer, it's rare for their enmity to be available to all. Which is what had made www.ourbloomberg.com such a guilty pleasure.
The site is sponsored by The Newspaper Guild, which is trying, so far in vain, to unionize employees in Bloomberg newsrooms. Reporters get to anonymously vent against management, which has provided plenty to bitch about.
Chief bitchee is Bloomberg news czar Matt Winkler, who is accused of varying degrees of hypocritical behavior and the reckless disregard of employees' lives, who complain of such indignities of being called at all hours of the night by second- and third-guessing editors trying to avoid Winkler's wrath, spending all their time matching the competition's stories rather than breaking their own and Winkler caving in to the subjects of unfavorable stories.
Ourbloomberg.com has also chronicled the alarming exodus of a talented crew of reporters, many of whom were tempted to work for the company by solid wages, even-better benefits and the ability to be a major player in financial journalism.
But a dip in profits hit even Bloomberg and the cost-cutting began. Those who had drank the company's Kool-Aid were suddenly spitting it up. With the Winkler reign of terror running unchecked, especially when Bloomberg the owner became Hizzoner, the Guild started sniffing around.
So far, not enough takers to force a vote. And lately, not enough outrage either.
The last posting was on May 15, preceded by one on March 4. In fact, after a steady stream of rantings in 2004, just 11 poor souls are urging their brethren to stop the insanity.
Bloomberg has either won the war, or its vassals are too busy or tired to rise up. Either way, getting rid of the status quo is a no-go.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dan Rather Not The Savior Needed By CNN

Newsday TV writer Verne Gay's trenchant observations about the tube are usually on target. But he lost his way yesterday campaigning for ratings-challenged CNN to lasso Dan Rather into its fold pronto.
Don't get me wrong, I like the guy. His reporting credentials are unquestioned (the Bush National Guard memo stink notwithstanding) and as he approaches age 74 he's still in a position to bring instant gravitas into any employer (Full disclosure: I wrote some commentaries and radio newscasts for Dan).
Gay postulates Rather would be more than a novelty attraction at CNN. Which would be true -- for about a week.
Let's not forget that Rather on the CBS News was not only in third place, but was a distant third. True, some of that could be chalked up to poor lead-ins in major market (e.g. Oprah helps many ABC stations kick daytime butt).
However, there were times in places like Chicago where Rather was the sixth-place show, meaning sitcom repeats were valued by more viewers than the news, at least the version rendered by CBS.
In other words, Rather could well find a home on CNN, but don't look for him to deliver it from the wilderness since Fox and its red-state denizens decreed who ruled the cable-news roost. And given that CNN appears to be trending more toward a shorter, peppier and, yes, younger approach, is there really room for a high-priced tarnished star to come on in?
Lots of intrigue. Lots of anguish. As Dan might be heard saying again someday: "Courage."
http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/nyc-ettel4321627jun27,0,899231.story

Thursday, June 23, 2005

How Not To Get A Job--Maybe You Shouldn't Rob The Joint Before You Start Work

You'd think filling out an employment application and going for a job interview would be easy enough. You'd be wrong.
Exhibit A: Two geniuses in the Bay Area apply for a job. Maybe the money wasn't enough, for they were foraging in a nearby office for cash and credit cards. How they got nailed is even a better story than how stupid the two of them are:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/06/23/BAapplicants23.DTL
Exhibit B: Memo to would-be robbers: Don't fill out a job application before you empty the cash register. Another loser in Las Vegas.
http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2005/Jun-22-Wed-2005/news/26761515.html

Pirates In Vermont? FCC Gets Tough On Radio Outlaws

Authorities Rattle Brattleboro Over Tiny Station That Was A Big Pain In The Butt
So, the FCC finally got around to raiding a pirate radio station in Brattleboro, VT, just over the border with Massachusetts, one that had become a virtual fixture in the community.
The question is what took it so long, given that complaints first surfaced in 2003.
http://www.reformer.com/Stories/0,1413,102~8860~2934641,00.html
Of course, pirate stations are nothing new. But with increasingly crowded airwaves, they often interfere with legitimate signals. Maybe the FCC is too busy with other stuff to go medieval on these rogue signals. Or perhaps they keep popping up in enough different locations that it's hard to pin them down. Or both. The bottom line is they're a pain, even if they might broadcast something you might want to hear.
The New York Radio Message Board is rife with stories about pirates in Brooklyn broadcasting Caribbean and Jewish programs albeit on different frequencies.
And at a time when commercial radio is locked in what could become a mortal struggle with its satellite rivals, anything that diminishes the ability of people to tune in is enough to set off waves of panic in the sales office. But is the FCC listening?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Wall Street Weenies? Not Working Six Days At The "Journal" Makes You A Wimp

"The idea is to allow people to relax with the Wall Street Journal," notes Journal publisher Karen Elliott House in today's NY Times article about the Saturday Weekend edition to grace newsstands and front porches starting Sept. 17.
It's nice Elliott wants people to be relaxed reading the paper. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for her reporters and editors, even though House told the Times having the Saturday paper would somehow be easier on the staff.
"People won't be working six days a week. But any of the real stars of the Journal work a six-day week now."
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/20/business/media/20journal.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1119295050-ayS62nBPsMGBN1IXZeCxWQ
So, are we to take from that comment that anyone who has the temerity to have a life away from the newsroom and perhaps spend some time with their family is akin to some civil-service clockwatcher who's using valuable oxygen that the 80-hour-a-week warriors desperately crave?
While it's doubtful House meant to imply she had a newsroom full of slackers, it was no doubt a dig at the newsroom's union and its chieftains, with whom she has had frosty relations, at best.
Indeed, House's comments were read with gusto at the union, who reminded its members that more work, equals more pay, regardless of whether the Journal sees it that way.
http://www.iape1096.org/
As far as the union's concerned, the real wimps are the ones who don't put in for the overtime they work.

Friday, June 17, 2005

XM Gets Really Weird

XM Satellite Radio has managed to carve out enough music channels to satisfy those of us who've been disenfranchised by the stultifying safety of commercial radio. But while there's something for just about everyone, there's such a thing as too much narrowcasting, even for XM.
That's where it can help to also spend time listening to them online, which is the only place you'll find channels devoted to Retro Lounge, Southern Gospel and especially Heavy Metal. But my favorite of the online-only offerings is the Special X channel, which is billed as "Just Plain Weirdness."
True enough.
It's sort of like a Dr. Demento show on warp drive, lots of stuff you've never heard, totally forgot about, or never should have been recorded in the first place. It also makes for some unique segues. Where else would you hear Liberace playing "Flight of the Bumblebee" followed by Frank Zappa's "Stevie Spanking"?
A few other samples from recent listens:
William Shatner--King Henry V (he reads Shakespeare, sort of)
Kurt Russell--Sugar, Sugar (Yes, the Archies tune)
Lee Marvin-Wand'rin Star (Makes Shatner seem like Pavarotti)
Surf Punks-Klo-Rene
Jack Kerouac reading lots of his poetry

And so on. You'll leave with quite a buzz. But it's a lot cheaper than getting stoned.

Glum in Guam Over ESPN.com Cheap Shots

ISLAND LEADERS LASH OUT OVER BEING PORTRAYED AS TROPICAL BUMPKINS IN COCKFIGHTING STORY; CONTRITE CHIEFTAINS IN BRISTOL PULL THE STORY

Apparently, it's easy to take swipes at local customs and portray residents as backward savages when they're not part of your core demographic. Or so ESPN.com thought.
Freelancer Mike Ogle wrote about going to a night of cockfighting, which is legal in Guam. But Ogle wasn't content in his May 24 article (since pulled by ESPN, but you can find it cached if you look it up on Google) to give his up-close-and-personal account of an evening watching roosters being gored by each other. But instead of merely offering up an offbeat slice of life, he also felt a need to throw in a few racially insensitive remarks for good measure. To wit:

Evidently, this is what the locals do to pass the time on this 341-square-mile island (about three times the size of Washington, D.C.) stuck all by itself in the middle of the Pacific. Truly, the middle of nowhere. Entertainment options are limited.

Oh, you mean he came for the nightlife? Oops. Actually, he probably could've killed an hour or two at the island's KMart, the world's largest. Never mind. Ogle was just getting started.

Guam, though, is not exactly Manhattan (23 percent live below the poverty line), and the crowd was not exactly the upper crust of the population. They say if an American man walks through a particular poor village in Guam, families will offer their daughters.

Ogle doesn't tell us, though, if he got laid that night.

It appears it took a while for Guam elders to catch wind of the article, as they first complained to the network on June 14. A few days later, ESPN got around to saying it's sorry. So far, Ogle remains mum. It could be argued, he's just plain chicken.
http://www.guampdn.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050618/NEWS01/506180303/1002

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Give Me An S! On Second Thought....

THE POSITIVELY TRUE ADVENTURES OF THE TEXAS CHEERLEADERS WHO PUT POOP ON PIZZA
Hey, we cover all the news, including this item about a really shitty prank. Literally.
http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/local/states/texas/northeast/11908121.htm

Monday, June 13, 2005

Wall Street Journal In Need Of A Roadmap

WHERE THE HELL IS POMPANO BEACH, ANYWAY?
If you're doing a story headlined "The Hottest Vacation House Markets," it would help to have a handle on where those places actually are.
In today's Wall Street Journal, June Fletcher and her copy editors could use a remedial cause in map reading.
While touting Pompano Beach, FL, Fletcher placed it as the "southernmost settlement in newly fashionable Palm Beach County." Only problem? It's not. Pompano's actually in the northernmost part of less-than-fashionable Broward County.
Of course, residents trolling in their seven-figure waterfront mansions and condos in Boca Raton and Delray Beach might be surprised to learn they were newly fashionable.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Imus Still Apologizing for Sorry Sid Rosenberg

I-MAN MAY BE TRYING TO PREEMPT A LAWSUIT FROM TOM CRUISE FOR "HOMO" REMARK

Sid Rosenberg got the boot from the Imus In The Morning show two weeks ago for a disgusting joke about Kylie Minogue's breast cancer.
So even though the Sidster's finally been silenced -- at least on Imus -- it seems the I-Man is still cleaning up after his former sports guy's mess, according to the New York Post's John Mainelli. http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/47790.htm
The latest transgression involved Rosenberg calling Tom Cruise gay. Just kidding, Imus told his listeners yesterday.
Nobody's talking about why Imus first got around to being contrite weeks after he let the remark go by without much of a peep. But you don't need a lawyer to point you in the direction this one was heading.
Cruise hasn't been shy in the past about marching into court, as the UK tab The Express found out the hard way in 1998 when Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman sued over an article that said their marriage was a sham.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/203779.stm

Kvetching About Kvetch, Or Evidence The New York Post Copy Desk Doesn't Have A Clue About Jews

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A REPORT ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM IS GUILTY OF SAME

I caught up this morning to Saturday's New York Post, which had a bad case of the copy desk run amok.
It contained a Marsha Kranes dispatch about a 13-year-old human rights case, where a rabbi was subjected to anti-Semitic remarks in an East Side restaurant. He had asked for a coffee in a paper cup instead of a china cup in accordance with kosher law, which doesn't allow for non-kosher dishware.
http://www.nypost.com/seven/06042005/news/regionalnews/47712.htm
The rabbi was finally awarded $500 for his mental anguish.
A good story, ruined by the headline: Coffee Kvetch.
Now we know the Post is known for its catchy headlines, which usually succeed in hitting their mark. But being cute and accurate should not be mutually exclusive.
Kvetch is a Yiddish word that can be used as a noun for somebody who's a whiner or complainer. It's an uncomplimentary term, which in no way should be part of a story about a rabbi who was called in public the most filthy four-letter word you can say to a Jew.
Someone who stands up for his dignity should never be mistaken for a kvetch. And in a city that has more Jews than Jerusalem, the Post should have known better. And if it did, but for the sake of expediency went ahead and ran with it anyway, shame on them.

O'Brien Mania at CNN: Miles and Soledad Getting Hitched In The Morning

BILL HEMMER BIDDING BYE-BYE TO CNN AFTER FINDING THE PROSPECT OF BEING FED TABLE SCRAPS BY SCOTT MCLELLAN LESS THAN APPETIZING

Despite being low on the radar, CNN's American Morning is more often than not a decent rendering of the night before and the day ahead. It manages to sufficiently steer clear of propping up too many talking heads and drowning in its own gravitas, although it avoids the froth of the other network's morning shows. In other words, a Jeannie Moos piece and uncanned banter among the anchors instead of a Faith Hill concert and a cooking segment.
But CNN would dearly love for more viewers to show American Morning some love. Which is why Miles O'Brien is being shipped up from Atlanta to spend three hours next to Soledad O'Brien in New York.
Out goes Bill Hemmer, who thought better of moving on to become CNN's senior White House correspondent. Too many hours spent doing too many standups for too many programs probably helped Hemmer take a pass. Look for him on a rival network near you in the near future.
http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/cnn/0605/07cnn.html?UrAuth=`N_NUOcN[UbTTUWUXUTUZTZU\UWU_UVUZU`U\UcTYWYWZV
CNN also unveiled new details about its three-hour afternoon block, brilliantly enumerated by Lisa de Moraes in the Washington Post this morning, who noted American Morning's Jack Cafferty will be part of the rogues gallery:
"[H]e will join Happy, Dopey and Grumpy -- otherwise known as former "Crossfire" banterers Paul Begala, James Carville and Robert Novak -- along with a slew of political analysts, a former terrorism adviser to President George W., a former defense secretary, a former Homeland Security inspector general, an ex-acting director of the CIA and a sprinkling of generals, for a fun-filled three hours anchored by Wolf "Look, the Paint -- It's Drying!"
Blitzer."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/06/AR2005060601826.html
What should give CNN viewers pause is President Jonathan Klein calling the personnel moves changes in the "cast" of American Morning. The O'Briens should take no comfort in finding out they are performing for us, although for the sake of ratings maybe it wouldn't hurt for an anchor every now and then to come from the Yale School of Drama instead of the Columbia School of Journalism.

Monday, June 06, 2005

News Flash: Jon Pareles Actually Has An Opinion

TIMES ROCK CRITIC SPEWS OUT GALLONS OF SAVED VENOM AT NEW COLDPLAY CD

Nothing like the imminent release of a blockbuster CD to get a rock critic's blood boiling. For the new Coldplay album "X and Y" will sell millions of copies no matter what any critic says about it, good or bad.
That must get the goat of New York Times chief rock critic Jon Pareles, who trashed the CD in yesterday's paper.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/arts/music/05pare.html?
What's more remarkable, though, about Pareles' review isn't his assessment -- which I don't agree with -- but the fact that he was as strident with his opinion as he was.
Pareles has too often been afflicted with Show-Off Syndrome in his reviews, preening in his copy to show readers how much he knows about music theory and composition, every variation of world beats -- Bhutanese throat music, anyone? -- and his know-it-all attitude about rock history, that he often forgets to tell you how he actually felt about a concert or record. Witness this passage on a Kraftwerk concert, which just came out on June 3.

Just as video games have evolved from Pong to "Grand Theft Auto," Kraftwerk's music has also gained dimensions. Its timbres have thickened and deepened; its harmonies have moved beyond major and minor chords; its rhythms have evolved from steady-ticking eighth notes to dance-floor syncopations, drawing on the ideas of the disco, house and techno producers who were inspired by Kraftwerk in the first place. The contrast between songs from the 70's and more recent material was still there, but in both old and new pieces, Kraftwerk had pop reflexes, making its hooks clear and its choruses distinct. As a band that has always loved repetition, Kraftwerk is still in sync with dance tracks that layer patterns above a sparse beat.

But did you like it?
Readers never found out, and Pareles' editors apparently didn't care either way. It's a review, Jon, not a dissertation.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/03/arts/music/03kraf.html

Perhaps the newer culture domos at the Times, first Jonathan Landman, now Sam Sifton, finally put a cattle prod to Pareles to remind him about a crucial ingredient of a review, namely an opinion. For there's no shortage of one when it comes to Coldplay, whom he labels the "most insufferable band in a decade."

Coldplay has verged on self-parody. When he moans his verses, Mr. Martin can sound so sorry for himself that there's hardly room to sympathize for him, and when he's not mixing metaphors, he fearlessly slings clich├ęs.

And on it went. The Times thought enough of Pareles' prose to put it above the fold in the Sunday Arts and Leisure section.
Maybe Pareles is feeling the heat of colleague Kalefeh Sanneh, who will never be mistaken for a shrinking violet. Maybe he's been numbed by all the mediocrity that passes for popular music nowadays. Whatever it takes to make sure Pareles gets on his soapbox and stays there.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Deep Throat Got It All Wrong, Sort Of: John Dean Chimes In

STILL TRYING TO CLEAN UP THE MESSES NIXON LEFT FOR HIM WHEN HE WAS WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL, DEAN SAYS FELT IS FAR FROM FLAWLESS

Give John Dean credit for at least this much. Instead of reflexively becoming an attack dog when assessing Mark Felt like clown-felon G. Gordon Liddy and White House lackey Pat Buchanan, he puts Felt's impact and legacy in proper perspective, in a column that appeared today on www.findlaw.com.
"It is time to learn from what happened, not refight battles Nixon has, for good reason, lost," Dean writes.
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20050603.html
Which is not to say Dean is riding shotgun on the Felt bandwagon. He notes Deep Throat may have been a worthy whistleblower, but one who was far from perfect. In fact, he's still a bit puzzled over how much Felt told Woodward was misleading or, in his perhaps jaundiced view -- dead wrong.

Given the complexity of Watergate, it is not difficult to understand how Felt made some mistakes when meeting with Woodward in the dead of the night. Yet in other instances, it is not easy to comprehend how the No. 2 man in the FBI could have provided such bad information, knowing it could become public. And why has Felt let this bad information sit on the historical record for the past three decades?

Felt's outing prompted Dean to return to "All The President's Men" and offers an appendix to show instances where the book is wrong, based on what he says are Watergate documents he's reviewed as well as his own, considerable knowledge of what went down.

Interestingly, Dean looks beyond Felt to tip his hat to who he says is the real hero of Watergate, none other than Ben Bradlee "who not only supported Woodward and Bernstein, but had the trust of the Post's owner, Katharine Graham ... Although The Washington Post never "cracked the case," their keeping the story in the news within the Beltway had a great influence on the Congress, making it an important story. Had Bradlee not done so, history might have been much different."

Deep Throat TiVo Alert: McGovern and Buchanan Tell How They Feel About Felt

Give The History Channel credit for going beyond newsreels to tackle "Deep Throat," on its HistoryCenter program, though the initial broadcast this Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET is a tad on the early side for those of us on late-night baby-feeding duty. Thank you, TiVo.
On the docket is former Nixon speechwriter and apologist Pat Buchanan, alongside George (I even lost my home state in 1972) McGovern and historian Robert Dallek, whose next book is about Nixon.
While it's no secret where their sentiments lie, if Buchanan and McGovern get into it, you might not need that extra cup of java for your Sunday morning jolt.