Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nina Totenberg's Musical Interlude

Dowager of the Supreme Court Press Corps Flees First Street for Fascinating Piece on Pablo Casals at the White House 50 Years Ago

"Morning Edition" thrives on NPR because not everybody needs to have traffic and weather together running in the background on a continuous loop.
It has the second-highest radio audience nationwide (behind only Rush Limbaugh) because it gives the listener some credit for actually having a brain and the attention span to listen to something different while communing with a bowl of Cheerios or stuck on the interstate.
Today's report by Nina Totenberg, mainly about the remarkable story behind cellist Pablo Casals playing at the White House is a perfect example. Running 7:18, it's a compelling narrative about a special moment likely unknown to many listeners, including me.
The larger theme of Totenberg's report is the celebration of the 50th anniversary of JFK's inauguration by the D.C. performing arts center that bears his name. As Totenberg notes, before the Kennedys, there was little in the way of regional arts companies and no such thing as the National Endowment for the Arts.
That all changed under Kennedy, a part of his legacy not as well-known or appreciated. The Kennedy Center's gala on Feb. 6 will change that. Meantime, Totenberg's piece is a fine primer. Well worth the listen. You'll have plenty of time to check on the traffic later.

Well, We Do Control the Media

Who's the News Director at WLKY, John Birch?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Just When You Thought Gannett Couldn't Suck More...

Readers in the Queen City Should Mount a Palace Revolt

In case you needed to get depressed, check out this doozie from City Beat in Cincinnati (hat tip: Gannett Blog) about how The Enquirer, the unfortunate daily paper of record in those parts, has a new editor with a checkered history of sending articles out for prepublication review--to the companies that are the subject of those articles.
As if it wasn't already bad enough in Cincy (and we're not talking about the just-concluded Bengals season), the Enquirer has as its business editor the son of Kroger's ex-CEO, who's a major domo in the city's business establishment.
This, from a paper that has historically been limp-wristed taking on the business powers that be. New editor Carolyn Washburn is likely to make a bad situation worse.
Yes, The Enquirer is a Gannett paper. Yes, that is why you're not surprised this is happening.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Recipe for Disaster, or at Least Morbid Obesity

But Maybe Julia Child Wouldn't Have Minded

Got a chuckle but, fortunately, not a heart attack from a recent recipe in The Wall Street Journal that the paper was forced to correct:

Preparation of a blood orange tart described in a Dec. 18 Off Duty article about citrus desserts requires a half pound of butter. The recipe incorrectly called for a pound of butter.

But what's four sticks of butter between friends---and their cardiologist?

You Mean Wayne Barrett Was Still at the Village Voice?

You Mean the Village Voice Was Still Being Published?

Yes, it really is a big deal when star investigative reporter/bulldog/politicians' pain-in-the-ass Wayne Barrett gets the heave-ho from the Village Voice. And then fellow Voicer Tom Robbins added an exclamation point when he quit in protest.
Barrett was at the Voice since 1973. You could probably find his mug next to muckraker in the dictionary. But being a part of the furniture going on 38 years also means you're making a certain salary, and Barrett's six-figure check was a little too rich for the fast-fading Voice alternative-weekly empire.
So, while his exit is a blow, let's put it into perspective. The Voice stopped being relevant sometime in the mid-90s, when it had a greater preoccupation with the porn ads in the back than with the content in the front.
The tone became more frothy. Iconoclasts were quiety shown the door. Its once-formidable roster of critics was gradually winnowed down to a B-list of less-compelling scribes.
Through it all remained the likes of Barrett, but when you're mired at a place like the Voice, even his best work could amount to one-hand clapping. So, his departure is the end of an era, but little else.
However, it could also be viewed as an opportunity, even for one of the bottom-lined-challenged dailies to pick up a thorn in the side who can still bring it at age 66. True, it's anything but a sure thing Barrett would be a good fit. After all, the Jack Newfield era at the Post was hardly one for the ages. But it's worth a gamble to show readers what they missed by not reading the Voice. Which was wasn't much, except for Barrett.

Soon, Gannett Will Charge Its Employees to Work There

Enough Really is Enough

So, word came down that Gannett wants to again prey on its beleaguered employees and prop up its profits (yes, the company is still very profitable), by making just about everyone take an unpaid one-week furlough.
There were furloughs last year. And the year before, to accompany several rounds of layoffs.

"Our top line revenues, however, while improving, remain short of where they were a year ago," said Bob Dickey, head of the community publishing division and head purveyor of crocodile tears.
"This is compounded by a still challenging and uncertain economy, as well as increasing expenses. To help us manage through these challenges, we have made the difficult decision to implement a furlough across USCP during the first quarter. This was, quite frankly, an option I had hoped we could avoid. Furloughs, while difficult, do allow us to protect jobs."

Oh, please.
As Gannett Blog's Jim Hopkins points out, Gannett's board awarded $4 million in executive bonuses last year for savings achieved in 2009 because of furloughs.
It's not that the company is losing money. It's just not making enough money as it perceives institutional investors want it to make. Maybe it's a reason why the stock was up as I write this on Wednesday afternoon.
Judging by my local Gannett paper, The Journal-News, (a long-ago former employer of mine), it's obvious every day that the company long ago stopped caring about putting out even a pale imitation of a newspaper.
With the latest furloughs, Gannett shows it cares even less about its employees.