Friday, January 14, 2005

Rounding things up

Now that the first week of classes is over, I can find my desk again and round up a few thoughts I've been throwing on the "hmmmm" pile:

  • Thanks to Romenesko for posting the resignation memo by Vickie Elmer, assistant managing editor/business for the Indianapolis Star. It so well encapsulates the battle for the soul of this industry that we seem to be going through:
    I leave The Star as senior management seeks to reinvent the Business section so it focuses on the business elite, managers, executives and opinion leaders. My vision has always been broader and more inclusive -- we provide stories that appeal to clerks and CEOs, college students, cafe owners and cleaning ladies.
    The Star's editor, Dennis Ryerson, defends the paper in this E&P story.
  • The "landing on your feet" award goes to Lloyd Brown, the former editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union who left that paper amid allegations of plagiarism and using the company computer connection for porn (previous post). I'd missed the recent stories that he landed an $80,000-a-year job writing speeches and doing miscellaneous flackery for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Read more from the Lakeland Ledger.
  • Bloggers continue to get fired for writing things about their daytime employers on their blogs. Tempting as it may be, that's just dumb. Adam Penenberg has a good look at the ethical -- and, frankly, practical -- issues for journalist bloggers in his Media Hack column for Wired News. More fodder, too, for the debate about whether journalists should jettison the "balanced" part of fair and balanced and just be honest about where they're coming from.
  • I've been particularly bothered all week by the reaction of some newspaper editors in Jesse Oxfeld's Newspaper 2.0 column for Editor & Publisher. (The column eventually will go behind a paid archive, so beware if you click on that link weeks from now). Doug Feaver, exec editor of and his successor, Jim Brady, tell Oxfeld that when discussing blogs, they don't mention the "b" word. As Oxfeld writes, "We're going to have to call them something else," Feaver says, noting the "baggage" the term carries with some newspaper editors.
    Same reaction at the Wall Street Journal Online.
    Can we do anything else to signal to young readers that we don't' get it? We can't even bring ourselves to use their term? You want to talk elitist and condescending in the same breath? (But, of course, as Oxfeld notes, there are places like San Diego and Spokane and Ventura County, Calif., that don't have such hangups. )
    Sill, OK, "blog" bothers you? Then call them what they are: columns. You don't think so? Ever read a Walter Winchell column? Herb Caen? We weren't too proud to call them columnists, yet in many respects they were blogs in ink.
    In other words, get over it already.

And finally, of course, there was just the general crappy tenor to the week with Armstrong Williams and CBS. Too many bytes have been created and too many barrels of ink spilled for me to do more than shake my head in disgust. But I will point you to a New York Observer column by Tom Scocca that raises the interesting question of whether the CBS investigation will be the template for "journo-purges."


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