Thursday, November 16, 2017

US media gets craven over RT being named a foreign agent

The Nation, in a good piece by Aaron Mate, has the silence of American media — and American and international human rights groups — over the U.S. government's recent requirement that RT, the former Russia Today, has to register as a foreign agent.

First, it has less than 30K daily viewers. Nielsen doesn't list it among its top 94 cable networks.

Related, whether Russian-related purchases of ads in the U.S., and the minuscule amount spent on them, influenced our election last year or not (pro tip: it didn't), nobody's traced any of those buys to RT.

And yet, this:

RT has found few defenders among the foremost advocates of media freedom and free speech in the United States. The Nation sent queries about RT America’s foreign-agent designation to the leading US civil-liberties and media-freedom groups. Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Poynter Institute, and Columbia Journalism Review did not respond. Human Rights Watch and the National Coalition Against Censorship declined to comment. The silence by Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders contrasts sharply with their condemning of the ongoing Gulf-state effort to close Al Jazeera. 
There are some exceptions. Michael W. Macleod-Ball, a legal adviser for the American Civil Liberties Union, says the foreign-agent investigation of Russian outlets “highlights the potential for mischief” in having FARA applied unequally, but that not enough is known about the government’s criteria to reach a conclusion.

But not quite as bad as this:
At a recent Atlantic Council event, columnist and Brookings Fellow James Kirchick advocated “private sector initiatives…to name and shame and isolate RT and push it out of the respectable precincts of society.” For “young up-and-coming 22- and 23-year old journalists in the West,” considering employment at RT, Kirchick explained, “maybe they won’t take that job offer if they know they will never get a job afterwards at any reputable news organization.” On Twitter, a former Daily Show producer has just urged fellow comedians who work at RT’s comedy news show, Redacted Tonight, to stop being “useful idiots,” and instead “get work elsewhere.” 

Meanwhile, Google is reportedly considering banning RT. Other tech companies are looking at similar.

What's also shameful is the bipartisan collusion behind it.

As the action came from the Department of Justice, this arguably is AG Jeff Sessions throwing a bone back to President Donald Trump over Trump's alleged continuing anger over Sessions recusing himself from the alleged Russia collusion investigation, which necessitated the naming of Robert Mueller as special counsel.

For Democrats, this is another way to beat the Putin Did It drums and try to disempower Trump at the same time.

Both political parties, right along with journalists and journalism organizations, are showing their contempt for the First Amendment.

Beyond wingnuts who don't trust "the media," many intelligent left-liberals and leftists don't trust it for other reasons. Like this.

Monday, October 02, 2017

An ethics problem at the 'eastern front' headquarters

Near the bottom of this piece about the biolab on Galveston, where journalism turns straight to PR.

Multiple ethical issues here.

First is the local newspaper not doing a story like the Consortium News reporter actually did. That's PR by omission.

Second is multiple subsets of ethics issues in Ferguson's attack.

First subpiece is publicly attacking another journo for fake journalistic reasons.

Second is, er, lying, as it seems, about what the other journalist actually said and did not say.

Third is repeating that seeming lie to yet other outlets.

I don't know if there's a third main ethics issue, but that could be. That would be if the Consortium News author contacted the Galveston publisher, who then doubled down on Ferguson.


The bigger picture is that the "eastern front" probably does its fair share of turd-polishing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The war is being lost on the 'eastern' front

Nice, or 'nice,' to have an actual lead editorial tactician at this particular outpost on the 'eastern' front with the old head editorial tactician becoming the tactician for the entire publishing operation in this division when the previous Italian owner sold the division to the Germans.

Not so nice when it seems the only reason the new editorial tactician got the job was from being native to this division's patrol area and possibly being low-ballable due to her freelance work thinning out more and more.

Other than not being native to this brimstone site and only recently moved here, this staff sergeant in the editorial regiment could do a better job than the lead tactician. That includes page-building speed, page design quality, photo editing, story editing and other things.

Well, eventually a staff sergeant stops volunteering so much for the first louie when he or she is a seeming 90-day wonder. The 90-day wonder also, despite having had 4-5 years of freelance time for personal reconnaissance of the news scene, appears unaware of some terminology in her home state.

That's a 90-day wonder, who despite all her alleged writing experience, doesn't know AP Style well, doesn't know that "entrée" is a synonym for "entry" and not just a French meal course, and who doesn't know that a phrase like "second annual" should not be capitalized because it's not part of a title, and many more thing. Worse yet, from a daily paper's POV, is that she has nobody else proofread her front pages. So, besides crappy layout, even if she's edited stories, cutline spelling mistakes and more continue.

I've said enough, as I continue to trudge with the other troops in the trenches, and also up my recon of the surrounding scene.

I've attached a map of a recent day's tactics by the louie. Just enough to give the big picture without giving away secrets. And no, that's not the worst possible map.

Monday, September 04, 2017

The 'eastern front' may be hitting headwinds in France

What would people think about a six-day daily regiment that

Is looking (again) for an editorial captain.
That’s after promoting the city news First Louie to the position in May.
Hired an exercise, athletics and competitions First Louie at the start of fall competition season.
That is after a possible fall competition First Louie from another army company decided not to go there.
And, turnover in editorial non-coms.

Interesting, no?

Been there once myself.

Eventually, the top general got rid of the regimental commander at the outpost, but it took  more than a year of the local marching staff describing command problems before action was taken.

And, no, no secrets. These are all publicly known openings. 


Turns out the regimental commander has been gotten rid of at this post, too. Wasn't handling the troops correctly in some cases, and may have wanted to "handle" them in others.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Morning News and Star-Telegram JOA five years off? Less?

The Morning News recently announced it was outsourcing most of its advertising graphics work to Gannett. That's with a layoff of 45 people.

That, in turn comes just six months after the Snooze said it was outsourcing its page-building to GateHell. That got rid of about 20 jobs.

The Snooze cited "declining revenue," but didn't say how bad the decline was, whether the paper or the Belo parent is still profitable, if so, by how much, etc.

Speculation about the Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram entering a joint operating agreement has run rampant for several years, starting when they started divvying up, and sharing the packaged product of, pro sports coverage in the Metroplex.

Of course, that was before Belo split TV and newspaper sides, followed by the newspaper successor half selling all non-Dallas print properties. Oh, and Belo sold off its share of for short-term money, but what's a long-term revenue hole that's soon starting to hit. More on that here, on the deal, and here, on the five-year preferred treatment that has has two years left.

During the previous speculation, everybody figured the Snooze was operating from the side of strength. I didn't totally think that then, and certainly don't know.

McClatchy is a pretty strong newspaper company, and has held the StartleGram long enough to develop some stability there. If anybody is in a position of at least relative strength, it's the StartleGram, in my book.


In all of this, the smugness of the Snooze, year after year, is part of why I blog about this. I have a friend who works there, and his girlfriend used to. I don't know that she still does, as she was a copy editor/paginator, per the outsourcing to Gatehouse. No schadenfreude against them, but the company's smugness stinks.

Plus spinning off the graphics to Gannett? I guess Belo's alternative biz of providing graphics, advertising and PR services in Dallas isn't working, else these people would have been moved rather than shit-canned, right?


Update, Sept. 19: The Snooze must be getting closer to packing it in .... I saw help wanteds for SIX different intern slots. Yes, they'd be taking interns anyway, but with fewer staff to supervise them, how much do they learn? Or are they replacements?

Monday, August 07, 2017

Goodbye to Granite

It's been six-plus months since I left the last newspaper I worked at for Granite Publications, one of three people downsized as the paper planned a switch from semiweekly to weekly publication.

I'm not one to talk too much out of school, but other former editors and publishers there, in some cases even before ever starting there, talked about the "Granite gossip," or "Granite gallop," or similar.

In the case of my previous paper, it was, in my opinion, a series of bad publisher hiring (and firing) decisions that led to that point.

The publisher who was there when Granite bought the paper was let go before I got there. I've heard various versions of why. As best as I can guess, steering between Scylla and Charybdis, is that he was adamantly resistant to pages being built at Granite's mini-Gatehouse pagination hub. (And, speaking of Gatehouse, this, as part of this story.) That was probably in part about editorial control and in part about finances, as he would already have known how he was being build for Granite's hubbed graphic art services.

(Newspaper companies are like insurance companies. Everybody's independently incorporated, but with incorporation structured in such a way that you're required to follow most home office dictates while most burden of blame, failure, etc., is on your own local publishing shoulders. The independent incorporation, as well as independently incorporating graphics and pagination services, is also done for tax reasons.)

The company then hired someone without one day of newspaper experience to be a publisher-in-training and shuffled other staff around, thorough pissing off the then-senior ad salesperson.

That soon enough didn't work out. They then hired someone with previous publishing experience, who was nice enough personally, and with some ideas, but just ... not a go-getter, etc.

They then canned him without a replacement lined up. That's when my arm was broken due to an on the job accident caused by another driver. I appreciate corporate filling out workman's comp's initial claims papers for me — even if it was in part due to other worries. I less appreciated, with an in-and-out interim publisher there, nobody from corporate springing for flowers, a get-well card or two, etc.

No, I resented it. And still do. The owner had done a couple of other good things in the past, but this sets the needle back to zero.

They then finally hired the person they should have hired three years ago, if they were determined to can the publisher in place at the time of purchase. (BUT ... more on other aspects of his background in another piece.)

The biggest problem, in my opinion, is that the owner,  who is the daughter of the founding owner, bought this paper on nostalgia. It was the first one her dad, the founding owner, owned, though later selling it. It was the town where she grew up. Nostalgia as a basis for financial decisions in general and business decisions in particular is usually not that smart.

On the resentment side, add to that my downsizing, and them not trying to find room for me, or immediately moving me to the front of the line, or even officially automatically considering me for relevant positions — they had two publishers' spots open, both of which involved a fair degree of selling, but not sales-only. It would have been an adjustment, but, it was certainly doable.

True, they have offered me, when they sold the company paper I worked at before, to give me the open editorial job at their nearest paper, and keep the same rate of pay for me, which was more than the normal salary for that slot. I wound up, because they asked, pinch-hitting at the Center paper for three weeks, and then asked if we could make this permanent. It was yet more money, but it did them a big favor, too.

Since then, Granite has split, as well, with founder Jim Chionsini hiving off the majority of papers after taking over again as boss man from daughter Brandi, and giving her a few that I think he wanted to axe.

At a paper now, a daily, that also does a magazine, I have to say that her idea for magazines in general wasn't all bad — but it was far from all good.

First of all, the rigidity of saying that such a magazine should have the same theme, issue after issue, is stupid. Sorry, Brandi, but no other word for it. (Being at a place that has a magazine, but does it like an actual magazine, I have personal reasons to say that.)

Second, your expectations should have been tapered back. Most your newspapers, a 32-page mag every quarter was heavy enough lifting. Actually, 32 pages 3x a year would be about right for the more rural papers. (I know that 24 pages quarterly would be the same number, but, a 24-page magazine would be its own stupidity.)

Third, without paywalls, you're still floundering in other ways.

Fourth, as I look at publisher hires at multiple papers ... erk???


Update: Since this has been posted, Big Jim Chionsini sold Center, and the Mount Pleasant paper that a previous publisher there wrecked, to Moser Community Media.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

More vampirism in the newspaper industry

I've seen it outside the forty-fourth estate, but it is apparently starting to catch on inside, too.

"It" is a newspaper trying to get as detailed a past salary history as it can from you as early in the process — as in as part of the application — as it can.

Via Journalism Jobs, I believe it was, a while back, I saw a Virginia newspaper saying that W-2s from previous work were part of the hiring process. I found that paper's Twitter account and told it what place it could find to file those W-2s.

Then, the growing Community Impact group. Its web-based application asks for salary at each previous spot. I had had two jobs with it pop up off of one of my job search engines. I had started applying for the higher-level one when I saw this. So, I put in $1 per week/month/year on each job.

And didn't apply for the other position.

These folks are relying on a mix of a still weak job market (don't listen to Janet Yellen at the Fed), an ongoingly weak newspaper market, slick branding of "we're new and different" (with Community Impact), and masochists in the biz who don't want to leave.


But, that's another story.