So who is “the sleaziest man in sports”?

One of my favorite podcasts is Slate’s Hang Up and Listen. Maybe because there’s no shouting and no “Brian from Bridgetown, you’re on the air.”

One of the topics in this week’s edition was the latest Favre selfishness: did he or did he not inappropriately send messages (text and voicemail) to Jenn Sterger, attention-seeker de semaine? I don’t know Ms. Sterger’s body of work, but every story seems to be accompanied by a photo (or slideshow of photos) of her in as little attire as the editorial rules of each outlet allows, so I’m just guessing she’s not a panelist on Meet the Press. (In fact, she was (still is?) a “sideline reporter” and contributor to the Sports Illustrated website.)

The conversation on the show laid most of the blame — if that’s the correct word — on Deadspin, the “let’s skewer the athletes” website — for flaunting all established rules of journalism when it comes to attribution. In it’s rush to release the story, did the website have the right to use her name as the source when she was still deciding if she wanted to do so? The question, then: is it Favre or the Deadspin reporter or editor who made the decision to publish the sleaziest?

I don’t care what you call me, just don’t call me late for dinner

Another time-honored tradition gone down the tubes.

“The Associated Press has changed how it is asking its reporters to refer to themselves in their articles…”

The story reminded me of the comedian (and I use the term charitably), Bill Saluga, a “one-shtick-wonder.” This was his claim to fame:

 

A call for honesty in publicity editing of reviews

We’ve all heard stories about how movie companies pick out just a few words from review that seem to lavishly praise their films (God bless the ellipse). In that light, I saw this post on Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf regarding the selective use of reviews when it comes to promoting your product, in this case the new Mantle biography by Jane Leavy. Seems the review said one thing and the publisher’s pub dept. choose to truncate the qualifying phrases just enough to make an 1990 novel by Leavy seem like the greatest thing since sliced light bulbs.

Look, we all know that the job of the publicity people is to put the best face on the authors and the books, and certainly you can’t count on someone to do the legwork to refute your claims, but come on, people, have some self-respect. If the book is good, it’s good. I find most of my reading comes from word of mouth anyway. Even if I read a bad review, nine times out of tell I’ll read the book anyway if it’s about a subject or from  author author I like.

 

 

I forgot that it’s wrong to plagiarize

Steve Martin used to have this routine:

You can have a million dollars and never pay taxes.

How?

First, get a million dollars. Then when the IRS comes and ask you why you haven’t paid any taxes on the million dollars — two simple words:

I forgot!

I forgot I was supposed to pay taxes.

This came to mind after reading about the latest case of professional plagiarism. The writer is always amazed that he/she did something like that. It was subconscious, they say. But you know what? I believe it can happen, and that it isn’t always intentional.

When I worked at a summer camp man (many) years ago, I came back from a  day off to learn that a male staff member had been fired because one of the girls campers accused him of flashing her as he was exiting the shower. Now I wasn’t there to see the alleged incident, and I didn’t know the guy that well, and this may have actually happened, but isn’t it also possible that it was an accident? A gust of wind, an inadvertant scratch without realizing someone was within viewing range? The staffers were a bit put out that he was so quickly dismissed, but I can also see the side of the camp owner who had to protect his business. As do the newspapers when they let can someone accused of the crime of plagiarism, no matter how innocent or well-meaning the writer might have been.

Marketwatch.com wrote about this event. I find it a bit amusing that every first mention of a company is accompanied by the lastest financial snapshot. But that’s what this particular site is all about, I guess.

Discuss.

WaPo redo: WTF?

I love Tony Kornheiser. I don’t know him, but I love him. I’ve been reading his work going back maybe 25 years, when he was a columnist for the Washington Post when it was a good newsPAPER. When he started Pardon the Interruption, I was able to put a face and a voice to the name and enjoyed him even more, especially when I discovered his eponymous radio show on iTunes. His sarcasm and wit… it was like looking in the mirror (though I am younger and have more hair).

Like certain kinds of food, he’s not to everyone’s taste. He can be very cranky and whiny, but I always admired his honesty; he calls ’em like he sees ’em. And lately he’s been calling out the Washington Post, his former employer who bought him out in what seems to my uneducated mind as a relatively bitter breakup. But I don’t think it’s a case of sour grapes when he and his goes off about the new design of the print edition, which he and his colleagues compare to The Wall Street Journal, and with good reason. Kornheiser educates his listeners with a primer on the newspaper biz and the necessary evil of balancing editorial content with advertising, which, after all is what generates the major revenue. The gang also opines that in a few years there won’t even be a print edition, that all attention is being paid to the on-line version.

You can hear the show via podcast on his website (which doesn’t really stink). It’s been one of the major topics on the show — ostensibly a sports program since it’s on the ESPN affiliate in DC — for the past few days.

Here are a few stories about the Post‘s redesign, from Journerdism.com, poynter.org, Editor & Publisher, and MediaBistro.com. The consensus is that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

Meanwhile, WaPo publisher Katharine Weymouth is advising calm in this letter to readers, which also includes a PDF guide to the redesign, which you can read here.

By the way, if any of my Facebook friends are friends of Mr. Tony’s, please pass along my admiration and good wishes and tell him I’d love to interview him some time.

Trimming up, slimming down

One of the ways my colleagues’ publications save a few bucks here and there is by cutting the size of the physical page. For example, one organization went from a standard tabloid format (think NY Daily News) to something smaller (ESPN the Magazine). They have also asked for smaller stories from their reporters.

Said company is also increasing its web-presence. This strikes me as a bold move, since its demographic skews older, and — one would think — less computer savvy. But I guess I’m the one with the old fashioned notions. I see from a casual glance at Facebook that there are a lot of people my age and above who have pages.

  • A reluctant welcome

    It’s no secret what’s going on the field of print journalism. It’s going into the crapper. I wonder if Mr. Internet realized this would happen when he invented the World Wide Web. Regardless, the situation is here and we’re stuck with it. The purpose of this blog is to blow off a little steam, and I invite my fellow ink-stained wretches to join in with their own tales of woe or triumph. Maybe this will turn into a nice little support network. Questions? Suggestions? E-mail me at worriedjournalist(at) gmail(dot)com.
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