>Romanov goes bananas with new tirade (The Guardian)
This one hits three of my five primary interests: Monkey news, soccer and journalism. (Missing: Cat pictures and BSG.) For background purposes, Vladimir Romanov is the Lithuanian owner of the Scottish Premier League club Hearts. From the story:
“Addressing the media, who Romanov has taken to describing as ‘monkeys’, the Lithuanian declared: ‘Today I will express my opinion in English about refereeing in order that your Mowgli will not make you tell lies,’ he said. ‘To discuss whether referees take money or not is the same as discussing a woman who gives herself with no love. Isn’t it better to concentrate on the standard of their work instead of looking for reasons for their poor performance?’”
A toast to Vladimir Romanov! Your indecipherable rants make even our most outspoken professional sports franchise owner seem like a shrinking violet.
>Indonesia to try to plug mud volcano with concrete balls (CNN)
(Via my brother)
I have nothing to say about this, aside from expressing my sincere hope that Indonesia’s giant concrete balls, when inserted into the crater of the mud volcano, can finally stem the gushing brown flow that has tormented so many people these past nine months.
>Chimps Observed Making Their Own Weapons (Wash Post)
I want to know so much more about how one goes about gaining the trust of spearmaking chimpanzees.
The Washington Post’s work on The Other Walter Reed has, clearly, been outstanding. (And can someone please give Anne Hull a Pulitzer already? It’s criminally overdue. Una Vida Mejor was robbed, I tell you. So was Rim of the New World. And while we’re throwing links about, please read A Baseball Story if you’ve forgotten what good writing looks like.) The reports have spawned some interesting takes in journalism commentary. Rem Rieder writes in AJR:
“To do this kind of journalism takes talent and commitment. But it takes something else: It takes time. And that’s what makes the steady decimation of America’s news staffs so troubling. As the newsroom roster shrinks, enterprise reporting is the first casualty. Priest and Hull each spent more than four months on this story. There’s not much room for that in a byline count world.”
My newsroom is so far of the non-shrinking variety, so I don’t know to what extent enterprise reporting truly is the first casualty at publications of worse fortune. I’m familiar with the mindset in which the sacrifice of enterprise is a logical response to cutbacks, however, and I fear that it’s shared, consciously or not, by many newspaper managers.
The problem is that “paper of record” comprehensiveness is too intertwined, perhaps even interchangeable, with the definition of quality in the 20th century newspaper orthodoxy to which a shocking number of newsroom-dwellers of all ages still adhere. Not only has the industry never lived up to the paper of record billing, we never bothered assessing whether the manner in which we pursued the goal actually resulted in a product that was useful to readers.
Given the challenges to our business and distribution models, the last casualty of personnel cutbacks should be enterprise of The Other Walter Reed variety, that which is uniquely valuable, useful or otherwise just plain interesting. So, what do we want? More competently transcribed county meeting stories, or a report that leads to federal charges against a commissioner?
Then again, one example of excellent work is hardly reason to start exchanging high-fives over the supposedly inherent superiority of big media. This isn’t a triumph for the philosophy of “Jurassic journalists” in “dinosaur media,” but simply a single example of true quality. As for how to achieve such results more consistently, maybe we all should consider Jeff Jarvis’ new rule for newspapers: Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.
>A History Department Bans Citing Wikipedia as a Research Source (NYT)
As the story quotes Jimmy Wales, they shouldn’t be citing encyclopedias of any kind. But, as one of what surely must be a rather limited pool of people with expertise on such an extremely specific topic with, let’s be honest, little practical application to the world in which most of us actually live, why the hell didn’t he just fix the offending entry?
>What would you do if you ran The (Cincinnati) Post and had a year to live? (CityBeat)
Obviously, upon learning that you have but a year to live, you should immediately quit your job running The Cincinnati Post and climb Mount Kilimanjaro. You should then sail around the world, but only after reading this incredibly specific book. A better plan, seeing as how only your paper is dying, not you, would be to stop doing every single thing for which the only justification anyone can think of is simply, “Because that’s what we’ve always done.” Then again, every newspaper needs to do that. Howard Owens has more specific thoughts on turning the death watch into a bold experiment, which is not to say that Post staffers, or all of us, for that matter, would not find our souls embiggened by, say, walking from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.
Anything catch your eye in this screen shot from my Google Analytics account? And, on a completely unrelated note, have I mentioned lately how much admiration I have for all the fine men and women at the U.S. Department of Justice?
Speaking of my site stats … People, please upgrade your web browsers! I shudder to think of what this site, or the rest of the web, looks like in Internet Explorer 5 on Windows 98. Really, Firefox and IE7 are both quite lovely.
>Fire the Wire — And Hire Locally (E&P)
We hated wire copy during my college newspaper days. (Which, alarming realization, were a decade ago.) It was a last resort, filler of no unique value to our audience. Why put something that anyone could get anywhere on pages so carefully targeted at a specific audience?
A quick spin through 312 Tuesday front pages at the Newseum showed 50, nearly one-in-six, with an AP report on the war’s disproportionate impact on small towns. Forty-three, almost one-in-seven, carried various wire accounts of the same insurgent attack on an American combat outpost. Which leads me back to the link I started this post with, in which Mark A. Phillips writes:
“Wire service copy has become a commodity that is sent around the globe via the Internet at blistering speed. … By the time your valued local newspaper reader gets a copy of your paper, the news could be a day old. Is this really serving your readers? Don’t you want to give them something they truly cannot get anywhere else?”
To which I say, simply: Church!
>From video gamer to surgery ace? It could happen, study suggests (LA Times)
(Via Knight Science Journalism Tracker)
The story doesn’t specifically state whether playing Contra and Silent Service for seven hours a day for most of the early 1990s is correlated with fewer errors while performing common surgical tasks, but, if so, I am SO quitting the newspaper biz.