Thursday, October 15, 2020

Not getting the Gainesville Daily Register, part 2

So, in my previous post I talked about the weirdness and inflexibility of print deadlines at the Gainesville Daily Register.

Here are some other things, both as an individual paper and as a CNHI outlet, I don't get about it.

First thing I don't get is its lack of coverage on energy issues. Cooke County is in the top 30 percent of the state's counties in both oil and gas production, and yet, it does basically nothing in terms of industry news other than an occasional press report from the Texas Railroad Commission, with those pressers only having statewide, or on occasion, regional info.

Second is their "wire" coverage.

They regularly run stuff from the Texas Trib. That's fine. But, they've occasional run an AP piece. Occasionally as in once every three-four weeks. Are they paying for an AP account that's not being used? Or is another CNHI paper breaking AP contract by redistributing? (Wouldn't surprise me. Still not sure who is cheaper, Can't Need Huge Investment or Craphouse.) Or are they copying stories off the AP News website?  (Which, it should be noted, does NOT have a "copywrited" note on either the home page or on individual story pages.) I suppose it is possible that AP has added an a la carte offering to its system, but I highly doubt it.

Third is some of their local "advances."

For the unfamiliar, an "advance" is when a small daily, usually on the Friday or weekend edition, having gotten an agenda for the school board, city council, or county commission meeting, summarizes top items of potential action, should people want to attend, or at least know what to watch out for.

A while back, on a commissioners court advance, the header and lede graf was about changing the speed limit on a couple of county roads.

Really?

The story didn't even mention what, for residents in unincorporated areas, IMO was definitely the biggest item — the county possibly enacting a burn ban. (Commissioners didn't, but, nonetheless, IMO, the potential for that was the bigger item.)

I mean, I'm not perfect, and per any laziness being being issue No. 1, I am a bit slothful at times, too.

But, why?

For that matter, given that they run NO national advertising other than that CNHI national ad about that Alabama golf course that must be OWNED by the Alabama pension system, if not CNHI or Raycom directly, as often as it runs, why are they a daily? A Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday triweekly of 12-12-12 on pages would give almost the same number of pages as currently and cut their third-party press bill and delivery driver bill.

Or, if you're going to stay a five-day daily? Especially if you're just charging 50 cents still? Whack it to eight pages. (10 on Fridays in football, including your two football booster pages.) As part of that, stop insisting you must have two full pages of classifieds, since in most cases, after you subtract house ads and massive amounts of black background space around legals, you only have 1 1/4 pages of classifieds. From an insider point of view, it looks gimmicky, cheesy and crappy.

Drop text on top of any classifieds that spill from the first page. Bigger papers than you do this. Also? Get rid of the four pages of TV guide on Wednesdays. Nobody reads that any more, unless they're at the high end even of average newspaper reader range. (You're allowed to keep them if you get an advertiser to sponsor them.)

An eight-pager is quicker to produce, has a smaller print bill and has a smaller mail bill to non-local subscribers who don't do digital only. No brainer all the way around.

And, Mineral Wells is the same population, though Palo Pinto County is smaller than Cooke. And Cee Nothing Hear Infintesimally found enough brains to make it a semiweekly. (I would have gone triweekly, as I suggest for Gainesville.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The newest cheap-assedness from Wick Communications

 Regular readers here may recall that I've written about Wick, and the cheap-assedness angle, before.

The newest? From JournalismJobs, this "journalism product manager" position.

First, some snootiness that seems kind of typical of Wick.

No, the job title is not a typo. (If you don't know what a typo is, stop reading now.)

Then, the job itself.

Wick Communications is expanding its NABUR initiative, which combines community journalism with reader engagement via our own social media platform. NABUR, or Neighborhood Assisted Bureau Reporting, offers aspects of investigative reporting/feel-good local news combined on a site similar to Nextdoor or Facebook Groups. This project is funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

Basically, that sounds like a rewrite of what gets posted on FB Groups. Groups dedicated to an individual city can be a boon, but they can usually be a rumor-mongering pile of shit, based on personal past experience at multiple newspapers.

Second, "feel good" news is nowhere near investigative reporting.

Third, if it IS your own proprietary social media platform, how many people are members of it?

Fourth, per what I said above, Sierra Vista's site sounds like the rumors, or innuendos, are monged indeed.

Fifth, again, I wouldn't mind going to Montrose, but ... again, I'd want to know why Californication stopped there, assuming its population is still flat, and other things.

Sixth? Like other small former dailies, they're still doing a daily e-edition. Why? In all likelihood, you will never again be a daily print paper. You're wasting staff time and energy. And, if they're really still a five day daily in print, per my original post, why? (They cut from six days a week this spring.)

Unfortunately, their paywall is so hard I can't tell if they're still five days in print, or just five days in e-editions. Nor can I tell how many pages they're pushing.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

GRACKLES INVADE NORTH TEXAS

But, it's not QUITE "Children of the Corn."

But ...

STOP THE PRESSES!!!



If this is your lead story, as a pullout, with not one but two photos on the front page, you're at a small daily paper that should either
A. Consider running a Trib partnership story on the front, if you have to
B. Consider an AP story if you have a membership (that issue may be "open" per what I know) or
C. Consider going non-daily.

Knowing the cut-rate chain ownership?
B. May be iffy because of what is in parenthesis in combination with occasional inside content
A. Might turn up corporate noses, but if you do a story below just the grackles lead photo as wild art, why not
C. Will never be done as long as an Alabama dime can be milked.

If you're the shorthanded editor, whether or not you're familiar with the reality of end of summer/start of fall great-tailed grackles in North Texas, I'm sorry for your situation. I'm also sorry per other things.

As for that reality?

Grackles as an "urban invader" will find some swarming spot in any town of more than 5,000 people.

And, no, they don't just swarm at cheap places, or high food-litter places, like Walmart.

When I lived in the Metromess, one of their top swarms was along Oak Lawn, most heavily near the intersection with Turtle Creek Boulevard. In the Best Southwest, they semi-swarmed DeSoto's Town Center area because of the Tom Thumb across the street and the proximity of Ten Mile Creek.

Oh, north Texas newspaper? Those aren't common grackles. They're great-tailed grackles.

And bird experts or semi-experts, whether for small newspapers or Aggie state Extension pages? Stop calling them things like "pests" just because, like ravens, they're smart enough and opportunistic enough to massively expand their urban range.

Finally, said person who wrote this is not only the editor but also the general manager of this daily paper. It's the Gainesville Register. The Peter Principle runs deep. OR it runs cheap at CNHI.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

NYT bigfooting media religious coverage

On my primary blog, I recently discussed a New York Times story about President Donald Trump's continued support among the religious right, especially in rural heartland areas.

Here, I'm going to shift that focus more to the New York Times' coverage of religious issues and how it bigfoots other media and shows some arrogance as part of that.

There's an old joke off the Old Gray Lady's masthead of "All the news that's fit to print," that runs: "It's not news until the New York Times prints it."

And, on the Religious Right's willing, individual-believers wedding with Donald Trump, in a piece a month ago, the Old Gray Lady would have you think so on this issue as well.

"Christianity will have power"? Yes, Trump said it. But, many other sites have done reporting on various angles of individual believers, and not just nameplate pastors like Robert Jeffress, lining up for Trump. So, did the Times really roll the ball forward?

Its top editorial staff would have you think so.

First, two of their marketing Tweets and my responses:
Uhh, no. I don't "need" anyone.
There you are, Mr. NYT National Editor Marc Lacey.

Then this:
Sorry, but no translator needed, Ms. Deputy National Editor Yang.

Here you are:
Just what did Dias leave off the table?

First, why Trump instead of Ted Cruz? That speech was in January 2016, before the Iowa caucus vote. On paper, Dominionist Ted Cruz and his Seven Mountains daddy were the ideal candidates for the Religious Right to back. So, why didn't they? Pew notes that, in polling, the most devout among the evangelicals DID tilt Cruz, even though, overall, the Religious Right tilted Trump. Obvious deduction? Lots of these people may be sincere in their belief claims but don't go to church that often!

Related? One other thing Dias left on the table (well, there's yet more, but this covers the basics):
Remember, Trump's speech was in Iowa, January 2016, before the Iowa caucuses.

Did she ask any of the people interviewed whether Trump was their first choice or not? Did she ask about the frequency of their attendance? Or, since this was reported over that long of a period, did she hang out a few Sundays to check for herself?

If you're going to have someone with a graduate religious degree from Princeton work on this story for, I presume, several weeks, and you can't answer that? The story comes off as election-year pandering, in my book. True, you would still want the focus on Trump, but if you can't explain why him, not Cruz, then you can't fully explain "why still him" today, can you?

Second is Dias claiming that this is all new:
The Trump era has revealed the complete fusion of evangelical Christianity and conservative politics, even as white evangelical Christianity continues to decline as a share of the national population.
In reality, with data research sites like Pew having written about this for three or four years straight now, the "Rise of the Nones" (which is a broader issue than just the decline of conservative evangelical Xianity, and blogged about me three years ago, as well as last year) is yesterday's news. Indeed, the piece of mine three years ago noted that, by this year, per Pew estimates, "nones" would equal Catholics in the American population.

The problem is not just that the NYT is behind the curve on Nones. It's that a lot of people who might fall into "Nones" territory may not know this if they get much of their religious news from the Times, or from outfits following its lead. This ties to how politicians think their constituents are, overall, even more conservative than is true.  

As for the "complete fusion" issue? Forty years ago, the Religious Right backed for president a man who had expanded abortion access while governor of California, who never went to church and who consulted astrologers. (Ronnie turned Nancy on to that, not the other way around.)

In other words, I don't see anything beyond the idea that the politer, mainline Protestant rural versions of the Religious Right were, in their own way, thinking they'd "own the libs" with Trump as president. Per my take on sociology of religion issues within the Religious Right, that's not new to me, either.

Indeed, I mentioned that in my first tweet in a thread after my responses to the editorial marketers.
See, that "bully" part is important. Per "The Rise of the Nones" issues, the Religious Right has been losing power for some time. Rather than sidle up to Hillary Clinton and her conservative DC prayer circle warrior background with The Fellowship, though, because she was pro-choice, and ignoring that Trump long had been so, they backed Trump.

The bullying? Bullying and shaming people into expression of religious belief in small town America, even in blue states (Galloway vs Town of Greece) was and still is a real thing. Remember, most members of the Religious Right hate atheists even more than gays, and may hate non-Christians, especially Mooslims, almost as much.

OK, next:
Trump has played the faux-martyr role to a T since HUD sued him and his dad 50 years ago for racism in apartment renting. He knows how to play an audience like a cheap fiddle.

More sociology of religion that was missed.

And, I haven't even touched on the issue of possible political framing being involved with how the story was crafted.

So, for folks at places like CJR who say the New York Times has no competition? That's kind of the problem. For folks like Jay Rosen who have said in the past that papers shouldn't be competing with one another for angles on the same story? In cases like this, yeah, maybe they should.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

CJR claims early-days VOA was not propaganda

That claim was made in the pages of Columbia Journalism Review by Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Cold War was fought not with weapons, but with information and ideas. In the struggle, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, American government-funded news outlets, were on the front lines. They were powerful not because they were propaganda, but because they weren’t.

Now, I "get" that Simon was writing a "Trump bad" piece, and on one particular instance of Trump being bad — his politicizing of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe by his appointee, Matthew Pack.

BUT! Two wrongs don't make a right.

And, the reality is that these agencies WERE propaganda from early on.

On the print side of the early CIA front world, the book "Finks" of a few years ago illustrates that with Paris Match and other mags. In the big picture world, Scott Anderson's new "The Quiet Americans" discusses this in passing.

Per my current featured post, and the one I had featured below that about CJR caving to Zionism, this is FAR from the first time it's had a pretty big boo-boo. And, how much do people shell out for J-school degrees from there? So, I've added a CJR tag for further stupidities on its part.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Texas Tribune plays Social Darwinist

We all know the media world in general, and newspapers and related print in particular, is undergoing a craptacular new coronavirus implosion, furloughing hundreds, if not thousands, across the country.

And, here we have good old Evan Smith hiring glorified interns, including one "reporting fellow" well enough off to be at Northwestern.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Nonprofit status no cure for what ails Salt Lake City Tribune

Ten months ago, Jay Rosen was raving about the SLC Trib quickly getting approved for nonprofit status. The Texas Tribune was offering to help it (including, surely, with making big bucks off events promotion which has now been dinged by COVID).

At the time, I said "not so fast" with the huzzahs and handsprings.

I noted on the financial side that the SLC Trib had no paywall, just a fauxwall. (It has now started one, reportedly, though I'm not sure how real it is.) I also noted it was still a legacy print paper, with overhead the Texas Trib didn't have. I also noted it's in a two-paper town. (And the Deseret News still has no paywall.) Finally, I noted that foundations who might have help for such transitions will have less help as more papers consider them. (And, in hindsight, they'll have less help available as COVID hits those foundations, too.)

Finally, I noted how the Trib's news coverage (especially on environmental issues) has been impacted by its "sponsors." 

And Poynter now says, indeed, indeed. And, it notes that last issue is the one at point.

SLC Trib ME Jennifer Napier-Pierce resigned a month ago over tussles over the paper's coverage of a Huntman scion's run for governor. The resignation, from what Poynter gleans around the edges, wasn't hugely bitter, but it was an issue, especially since a nonprofit paper can't do political campaign endorsements.

The bigger issue, as it notes? The Trib-News JOA expires the end of this year. And, reading between the lines on Poynter, apparently neither paper has done huge whacks to its print editions as of this time.