Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rather Blather in Berkeley

The Dan Rather rehabilitation tour rolled through Berkeley this week with interesting results. In front of an adoring crowd, Rather submitted himself to softball questions by the dean of the journalism school Orville Schell. Rather's nerves and rambling speech betrayed a significantly dimmed star of television news (go here to download the podcast).

Schell: This is a story, that if it had turned out differently, perhaps could have changed the election.
Rather: Well, I didn't think of it that way. That did not go through my head.
Schell: But how could it not have. I mean, it's just before and election
Rather: "It's very important that you know that I'm not the vice president in charge of excuses, and there are no's not an excuse, but it's a fact, I went straight from the Republican convention to cover a major hurricane in Florida. And we had discussed this story before as a possible story, but to say I was busy with other things is not an excuse, but you say well "how could you not have thought of it". I didn't really think about much of it and for that I'm accountable and I should have thought more about it but I didn't. And things moved very quickly, but whether anyone wants to believe it or not, I didn't really think about it in those terms.

Translation: I had recently come from a political convention and I wasn't thinking about politics--that's not an excuse but it's my excuse.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thought Bubbles from a Sinking Ship

"We haven't given up yet," said Luther Jackson, executive officer for the San Jose Newspaper Guild/CWA Local 39098. "All the people we talk to in these communities want more news, not less."
That's the explain why circulation is sinking and McClatchy just bailed out.

The New Boss

It has to be unsettling for the guy trying to buy a group of newspapers to read the poor quality of reporting on something for which he has inside knowledge. Responding to question about his interest in buying four newly purchased newspapers from the McClatchey Company, Dean Singleton of MediaNews Group said the following.
"Never have I seen so many people write so many things they didn't know," he said, apparently referring to recent articles suggesting that he was close to buying three California papers and The Pioneer Press in St. Paul from Mr. Pruitt for $1 billion.
Ouch. One wonders if his reputation for cutting costs will be put to work where he knows the truth is in short supply. Reporters who lead the cheerleading for the 'worker friendly' Yucaipa Company might want to reconsider careers.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Techno Fear

At a time when newspapers struggle to remain relevant the San Francisco Chronicle unloads a silly article about the threat to privacy posed by cell phone cameras. According to the article,
"Camera phones threaten to turn everyone into amateur paparazzi," says law professor Daniel Solove of George Washington University, an expert on privacy law. "We are witnessing our personal space shrink because of the way technology is being used."
Cameras don't threaten--people threaten, such as those paparazzi whose photos the Chronicle likes to dress their pages with. Our privacy law expert wasn't asked to offer an opinion about the privacy rights of people appearing in the photo that illustrated the article. But he might have had an opinion about the embarrassment just last February when the Chronicle mistakenly identified a taxi driver in a photo as a police officer with a record of suspensions for using excessive force.

If that weren't enough, the article goes on to explain how
California's anti-paparazzi laws which"forbid the use of telephoto lenses to capture images through the windows of homes", would apply to camera phones. Do they really mean to suggest that cell phones without telephoto lenses have greater legal protections than the equipment used by the paper's own photojournalists?
Wake me when cell phones come out with telephoto lenses.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Constant Whiner

It should be no suprise when politicians hire successful consultants to work on their behalf. According to an AP story by Laura Kurtzman, it is noteworthy that Governor Schwarzenegger has hired political ad man Alex Castellanos who helped President Bush to victory in the '04 elections and has had a hand in the elections of eight US Senators and six Governors.

The AP describes Castellanos as a former Bush aide who is a "master at politcal attacks" and knows "how to eviserate the opposition". According to the AP's version only Republicans hire people who attack the credibility of highly qualified Democratic candidates, while Democrats, such as James Carvell, Paul Begala, Chris Lahane, Bob Mulholland and Gary South, are merely volunteering to dispense good cheer about a few happy-go-lucky public servants. Add to that the constant campaign of pro-Democrat AP writers.

After assuring readers for months that Schwarzenegger was in deep trouble, that voters no longer wanted him as governor, while pointedly not offering a candidates to compare his popularity to, a poll (oops, I mean this poll) released last week showed that Schwarzenegger would beat both Democrat Steve Westly and Phil Angeledes. Shocked into this reality the AP decided to elevate a mere campaign hire to serve as a rehash of the 2004 election.

The AP smells a winner and they aren't happy.