Category Archives: Media

Pop Song 89!

Let’s be clear here. When I said it was important to support the Post-Intelligencer as it adapts to technology, that did not mean you could go and blog the weather.

The weird thing about weather is that there’s a pretty simple non-technological way to determine it: look out the window. And if that doesn’t suffice, there’s probably a widget for it. But don’t insult our intelligence by trying to ramp up page views with a paragraph on the weather.

Oh, and Department of Revenue press releases and WDOT advisories aren’t far behind in my book. The worst thing you can do if you have a blog — far worse than if it were a newspaper — is make it boring. You guys just did that.

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That’s OK — This Just Sets Up The Late-Term Scott Pelley Interview In Which The President Looks Back And Recounts Just One Mistake

Clearly the President should lay off the quips:

President Obama’s historic appearance on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” was accompanied by a foot-in-the-mouth quip about the Special Olympics he later regretted.

Talking about his dismal bowling skills, Obama said he’d been practicing and had gotten his score up to 129.

“Oh, no, that’s very good,” Leno told Obama.

“It was like the Special Olympics or something,” Obama joked, drawing laughter from the funnyman and his audience.

Actually, I didn’t notice Leno laughing . . . maybe because he knows better than to make an unfunny schoolyard crack about the Special Olympics.

Which all is what it is — no offense intended obviously — but somehow the Times missed that part of the interview . . . strange, because it was probably the most interesting thing he said. (Later on, the Times television critic Alessandra Stanley filed this review (not included in the print edition) that mentioned an “implolitic” moment in the second-to-last paragraph.)

But seriously folks, here’s the takeaway — President Obama shouldn’t try so hard to be liked or be funny. It’s unbecoming of a President. Let Bob Dole be funny. Let John McCain want to be liked. I don’t expect much from Presidents, but this is one thing I kind of demand. And the sad thing is that I think Bush 43, of all people, really understood this.

Obama is many things — Hope! Change! Etc.! — basically a lot of stuff that we all aspire to be or aspire, uh, something or other. What he should not be is the first 84 minutes of The Ringer.

And The Best Part Is That It Will Simplify Your Recycling Regimen

A disclaimer: Although I don’t live in Seattle, and BATP is of course a Seattle-based production, I love Seattle and have visited many times. Some of my best friends live in Seattle! Which is to say, I don’t necessarily understand all of the ins and outs of the demise of the Post-Intelligencer beyond what I saw on World News Tonight, but since this is a blog, and the internet is apparently responsible for killing print media, I feel like there’s a sort of responsibility to support the Post-Intelligencer as it adapts to becoming a web-only publication. Seattle people should make a point in the next week or two to go to the website, and if they have a blog or email or whatever, link or send along a link to a Post-Intelligencer story that looks good. Make it work. I think it can work.

Today begins the first day of a “journalism adventure” and one that I hope succeeds. Which also is to say that some of the hand-wringing about the death of print media is kind of overwrought. In my hometown, Phoenix lost its second newspaper back in the 1980s when the Phoenix Gazette folded. Back in the 1980s, the Gazette had no “web-only” option to fall back on. The P-I does. That’s a good thing. Try not to fuck it up. At least 20 newsroom employees’ jobs depend on it.

Several of us in the BATP constellation have been watching the bad news over the last couple of months about print media and discussing it — some of us don’t read a physical newspaper anymore, some of us do (I use mass transit each day, so I do; I still need something to read) — but it’s kind of clear how antiquated the delivery system is. A while back I was stunned to hear that printing the New York Times costs twice as much as sending every subscriber a free Kindle. That is stunning. No, really stunning.

So that said, I hope Hearst isn’t just scuttling the franchise, because this is a real opportunity to try something new. And outside of the Bay Area maybe, I can’t think of another place in the country that isn’t more technologically savvy than Seattle. Go with it.

But go big. Real big. Make sure every single article is permalinked and let the website make assloads of cash on content that’s already there. The now-defunct New York Sun is just sitting there online with big 300-pixel ads on the right margin collecting hits.

As a web-only entity, the Post-Intelligencer can’t argue that they’re losing subscribers to the internet, since that’s all they’re doing. Embrace it. And while you’re at it, why not consider putting everything from its 146-year history online? The New York Times recently made available its .pdf’ed ProQuest articles dating back to 1851 online and it’s fantastic — it’s an amazing archive that researchers and interested people can now access. And if you pay attention to Google, you’ll see that the Times’ articles have kind of body-snatched search queries since the paper went big online. Now perhaps an article from Seattle in the 1800s isn’t a big Google search hit, but it could be. Go with that, too. It’s worth a try.

In short, I want to believe. Let’s do this . . .

The Medium Isn’t Always the Message

In this week’s podcast, we talk about the end of the Seattle P-I, which will become an internet-only publication as of next week. Last week, a prof at Columbia’s journalism school, the guy who teaches the core course, “Reporting and Writing 1,” took some heat in the blogs for making this comment about internet journalism:

“Fuck new media,” the coordinator of the RW1 program, Ari Goldman, said to his RW1 students on their first day of class, according to one student. Goldman, a former Times reporter and sixteen-year veteran RW1 professor, described new-media training as “playing with toys,” according to another student, and characterized the digital movement as “an experimentation in gadgetry.”

Chris Orr at TNR says this is “gross professional malfeasance” to not teach J-school students about the internet.

I take Goldman’s comments somewhat differently. It seems to me what he was saying is that writing and reporting chops are necessary no matter what the medium. And I think that’s true. There are a lot of bloggers out there — even some successful ones — who could use some help on the basics. Theoretically, solid reporting and writing skills are transferrable to any medium. That’s what you go to school for, not to to learn how to tag a post in WordPress.

You Didn’t Have To Squeeze Me But You Did And I Thank You

President Obama owed Huffington Post writer Sam Stein one. Last night, he paid him back:

It was a bookend moment.

President Obama on Monday evening became the 10th American president to call on Helen Thomas at a White House news conference. And he was the first to call on Sam Stein, a reporter for The Huffington Post, whose Internet publication sprung to life during Mr. Obama’s candidacy.

. . .

Mr. Obama glided through the questions without making any obvious news. Then, he turned to Mr. Stein, 26, who last month became the White House correspondent for his publication.

“Are you willing to rule out — right here and now — any prosecution of Bush administration officials?” Mr. Stein said, asking whether Mr. Obama intended to endorse an investigation by a so-called Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

As he did with Ms. Thomas, Mr. Obama essentially bypassed the question, saying, “My general orientation is to say let’s get it right moving forward.”

It was not the answer but the very fact that he took a question from Mr. Stein that created a buzz and signaled yet another shift in the ever-evolving news media landscape.

Greg Packer, Get Your Media Whoring Hands Off My World Series Parade!

There were like literally two million men on the street and you pick this guy to interview? Astonishing:

Fans here had waited 25 years for a championship parade down Broad Street. The Phillies gave them one Friday, and so many fans showed up that they nearly shut down the city.

. . .

The parade drew fans from beyond the region, too. Greg Packer, 44, of Huntington, N.Y., drove in for Game 5 of the World Series and stayed for the celebration. He arrived on Broad Street near City Hall at 5 a.m. to secure what he considered the best spot.

“In New York right now, we have no Mets, no Yankees, no stadiums,” he said. “I came here to represent and cheer our neighbors.”

But even worse than a hack Greg Packer quote — one of zillions — is that the hack Times writer missed the true quote of the day. Lame!