Thursday, April 30, 2009
Philip Markoff's fiancee calls off wedding.
I know, me too. A real shocker.
Still, it's quite a turnaound from two days ago, when she was doing her Tammy Wynette imitation.
Guess it was better to call off the wedding now rather than go through a D-I-V-O-R-C-E later.
By now, many have you heard about the latest bloodbath at the Baltimore Sun, which shed 61 more journalists -- one-third of those left -- from the Sun's already-lonely newsroom.
No layoff, no matter where it occurs, is pleasant.
But someone in the Sun brain trust apparently wanted to take that maxim to a new level. From the Guardian in the U.K. comes word that writers and photographers covering the Orioles-Angels game on Tuesday were told during the game their jobs would soon be no more.
During the game. As if they didn't have enough on their mind keeping a close eye on the action, now they also had to think about how to feed their families along with getting their work in on deadline.
The poop in the pressbox was first reported by the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett, who was there when the news was delivered.
The article doesn't name the journalists, and the Sun isn't talking specifics, but Jeff Zrebiec, who wrote yesterday's game story, and national baseball writer Dan Connolly are likely on the chopping block.
All of which shows Sun managers are a bunch of losers, just like the Orioles.
--On page 314, he mentions Florida Marlins owner "Bob Luria." Maybe he was thinking of ex-Giants owner Bob Lurie? The Marlins’ owner is actually Jeffrey Loria.
--On page 144, he had Billy Martin trying to get himself fired from Texas in July of 1974 so he could manage the Yankees. He was off by one year; it happened in 1975.
Perhaps the most amazing error of them all came on page 196 when he had the Yanks trading away relief pitcher Sparky Lyle in the spring of 1979. Here, Golenbock contradicts Lyle - and himself - since they co-wrote Lyle’s book "The Bronx Zoo." The last paragraph of that book is a post-script, saying that Lyle was traded away on November 11, 1978.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The rumors bore out, and The New York Times is thinning out some of its offerings, offing the Escapes section that appears on Friday, along with the regional sections for Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York City.
Escapes will be dispatched to oblivion as of May 1, with some of its offerings melded into the Weekend section. So maybe we'll still get to read about the particulars of vacation homes, weekend getaways and what it's like to live in some idyllic town far away from you. It was usually a pretty good read and I'll be sorry to see it go.
Same goes for the regional sections. Even though they had been watered down the last couple of years by sharing content across some of the titles, they still served a purpose, especially in Westchester -- my neck of the woods.
The local paper, The Journal-News, is so wanting as a publication that the Times was frequently able to offer stories the J-N never even thought of. Ironically, several of the section's freelancers were J-N alumni who had wrested themselves from that vortex of mediocrity.
And that is another part of this story. These sections were written almost entirely by freelancers who now have many fewer outlets for their work in the Times. Indeed, cutting the freelance budget will likely save millions.
There will be a zoned page in a new regional section that will debut May 24. But that doesn't leave room for much. Nor does it likely leave room for restaurant reviews, much needed as most of what passes for reviews in the J-N tend to be fawning rather than authoritative.
But what's more troubling is these and other cuts announced today may be yet another harbinger of more troubling cuts to come. Judging by this memo from Bill Keller, another day of reckoning may be at hand -- and soon.
Monday, April 13, 2009
The new MLB Network wants to be all things baseball. After all, that's the only reason for its existence.
Today, it proved it's still working out the finer points of that business model.
This afternoon brought word of the sudden passing of Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who collapsed as he prepared for the Phillies-Nationals game in Washington later in the day. Kalas, a Hall of Fame broadcaster, had become as identified with the Phillies as any player, and his fame was known well beyond Philadelphia.
MLB broke in to a taped program called "Cathedrals of the Game" for a brief update from its main anchor, Matt Vasgersian and then quickly returned to the program, which was inexplicably cued up from where it picked up after the last commercial break.
The rub: the network was showing a feed of the Phillies-Nationals game at 3 p.m. ET, just minutes away. So, by re-racking the program they jump in late. But just as baffling, they use the feed from the Nationals broadcast, rather than the Phillies.
True, Nationals announcers Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble said all the right things about Kalas. But the only right call was to switch gears and go to the Phillies cast -- and hear from Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler reflect on their departed colleague.
Also left unanswered is why MLB Network only has in-studio programming at night with its complement of analysts when there were four games being played during the day Monday, including the one it was showing.
Clearly, the network has to be more nimble for when events dictate, especially when ESPN is waiting to clean your clock. ESPN News for a time simulcast its Philadelphia radio affiliate, as listeners called in with their heartfelt thoughts about losing Kalas.
MLB Network doesn't have that luxury, but it does have the ability to react sooner than later, especially with the broadcast resources of all teams available to it.
Fans who went to the network thinking it would be a go-to source of information deserved better.
So did Harry Kalas.
"We Lost Our Voice Today"
"Struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball!"
There were many memorable calls in the storied career of Harry Kalas. That he finally got to call a World Series victory for his beloved Philadelphia Phillies last year must have been one he treasured.
Kalas died this afternoon after he collapsed in the press box at Nationals Stadium in Washington.
He was 73.
It's no accident that he's in Baseball's Hall of Fame. You knew the voice. That his unmistakable baritone will no longer be telling Phillies Nation about the latest exploits of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels is stunning, no matter who you root for.
Given that he was with the team since 1971, at least two generations of fans meant following the Phils meant listening to Kalas.
The games will go on. They just won't sound the same.
The wording was meekly defended by Op-Ed editor David Shipley, who had sought out Merkin for the piece. Merkin obviously -- and perhaps correctly -- didn't want it to be about her brother. Still, you can't ignore the $2 billion gorilla in the room. And that's essentially what the Times did, and which Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal essentially admitted to Hoyt was an error.
"surely hannah montana movie deserves a respectful review, is as if they are making fun of her. Miley does not speak this way at all," is a typical comment, grammatical errors and all.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Don't get me wrong, I find the front-page ad that snaked up the left side of yesterday's Los Angeles Times just as odious as the next guy.
Even the Times seems to be holding its nose in its own story today of the controversy, when it noted: "The Times appears to be the first major U.S. newspaper in modern times to have run a front-page ad in a format that could be mistaken for a news story, said Geneva Overholser, director of the School of Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication."
So, with all the outcry over the ad for the new NBC show "Southland," Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein regrets the move. Not. "Because of the times that we're in, we have to look at all sorts of different -- and some would say innovative -- new solutions for our advertising clients," Hartenstein chirped, noting the ad garnered a "significant premium" from regular rates.
It's small comfort to know that Times Editor Russ Stanton objected to the ad, but wisely didn't throw himself under the train and quit in protest. As he's seen his staff sliced and diced by buyouts and layoffs, he knows there aren't any jobs out there. Better to fight from the inside than go on the dole as a martyr.
Granted, Hartenstein has the herculean task of trying to right the Times' finances when circulation and ads are like lemmings that have an appointment with the nearest cliff. That means if has to live dangerously, so be it.
I wouldn't put it past Hartenstein to pull a similar stunt again. What may hold him back, though, are the advertisers themselves, who might wind up with more bad press than the extra visibility of a front-page ad is worth. So long to that "significant premium." But then at least you wouldn't have to say so long to integrity.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I only recently stumbled upon a March 20 column by the Maynard Institute's Richard Prince a fascinating discussion on whether sportswriters should quote verbatim athletes who mangle the English language, or fix their quotes without changing their intent so the players sound coherent.
Prince digests an extensive email dialogue by members of the sports task force of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com started the discussion when citing a transcript of a quote from a player from Tennessee-Chattanooga at the start of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, who said: "When we seen that we got UConn, I mean, we was happy to be up there on the board."
Freeman asked whether the transcription service should've cleaned up the quote (no, the service replied) and what can sportswriters do about the profusion of black college athletes who speak like this.
Some posters said quotes should be fixed because black players are subject to a double standard. Said one: "How many times have you seen a White person quoted as saying 'gonna,' but everyone says that. When the guy's Black, you usually see 'gonna.'"
But J.A. Adande of ESPN.com says he sticks to verbatim, because the actual quotes are easily accessible. "If readers can see the discrepancy it's fair of them to ask what other words we've changed in quote."
There are some who not only favor changing quotes but taking it a
step further. Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said he actually
counsels athletes on the importance of speaking properly.
"Just so you know," Kelly wrote, "I just helped out an agent friend of mine by instructing three draft prospects on what to say during their team and media interviews. Part of it was encouraging them to use the Kings English. We joked about it a lot, but they got the point."
Just so you know, Omar, however well-intentioned you might be, that's not your job. Nor should you make it yours. At least not while you're writing for the Sun-Sentinel. That's what teams have media-relations staffs for.
I wrote last year how I was skeptical when Newhouse threatened to close the paper, unless a huge chunk of the newsroom -- 40 percent, as it turned out -- took buyouts and agreed to other concessions. After all, how could Newhouse shutter its flagship paper and leave a gaping hole in coverage of the Garden State? However, I'm now a reluctant believer. At blinding speed, the newspaper biz has gone from bad to worse to extremely crappy, with a forecast of more apocalyptic adjectives to come.
That means the Globe, which lost $50 million last year and could lose $85 million in 2009, while not in a death spiral yet, is in the newspaper I.C.U. with little hope of getting out. Sure, the unions can agree to concessions. Heck, maybe those lifetime job guarantees for veteran employees can be disposed of. Higher newsstand prices just enacted can help. But is all that merely putting off a date with the inevitable?
The New York Observer has a piece on how the Globe could become, in effect, a New England edition of the Times. Conceptually, it sounds ridiculous. But so does the notion that a buyer can be found for the Globe, or that the Times can sustain it indefinitely.
The Times would not have to look far for a precedent, namely its own national edition, which features a couple of pages of New York news. That could be swapped out for Boston-area items with a skeletal staff of 6-10 reporters, maybe a columnist and a couple of editors. Same goes for the sports pages, a couple of whiich could be repurposed for a Boston audience. Much of the rest of the paper could go out as is, with a tweak here or there for New England, e.g. a column of local business briefs.
I'm not saying this is an optimal solution -- of course, it isn't -- but it may be the only way to preserve what little capital the Times Co. has left in the Globe without incurring huge costs for a shutdown (one analyst values the Globe at no more than $20 million, a far cry from the$1.1 billion the Times paid in 1993).
Regardless of the outcome, the Globe that readers will see in 6-12 months will be vastly different from the one they have now. Which is a lot different than the one they used to have. All that change has done nothing to make the Globe a better paper.
But at least it's still a paper.
Friday, April 03, 2009
If anyone from either company would like to chime in, the space is theirs for the taking.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
People with ridiculous lisps,
Two transvestites (that I am aware of),
A guy who looks like Charles Manson on a bad hair day.