Monday Edition 1/25/10

SERPICO: Excellent NY Times Sunday piece recalls the exploits of Frank Serpico, the cop who blew the whistle on NYPD corruption and the spineless liberal hypocrisy of Mayor John Lindsay’s administration. Oh, and don’t forget the NY Times’ role in helping Serpico and David Durk get their stories out.

The front-page story by David Burnham on April 25, 1970, pressured Mayor John V. Lindsay to form the Knapp Commission, before which Mr. Serpico testified that “the atmosphere does not yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers.”

The commission carried out the most extensive investigation of police wrongdoing in the city’s history and exposed a pattern of entrenched corruption and cover-up that helped usher in reform.

“It was terrifying in those days — they were really sticking their necks out,” recalled Mr. Burnham, who now works at a data-gathering and research firm. “We really shamed the city, and things really changed.”

Mr. Serpico does not exactly agree. He believes the department still does not acknowledge its internal problems because the leadership’s top priority is to avoid scandal.

“I hear from police officers all the time; they contact me,” he said. “An honest cop still can’t find a place to go and complain without fear of recrimination. The blue wall will always be there because the system supports it.”

TOTALITARIAN CHINA: Bye bye free speech. A Monday morning from Reuters. They don’t want our stinkin’ “information imperialism,” the Australian reports.

About 120 million people in China use the internet only over mobiles. One state-run newspaper labelled the appeal from Washington as “information imperialism”. China Daily said the US aimed for “internet hegemony”.

HOFFA TALKS, NEWSDAY WALKS: Editorial and other white collar employees followed the lead of their Teamsters Union boss and rejected Newsday’s chock-full-of-cutbacks contract, the NY Times reports. Leaders of the Long Island local had called the deal “horrible and unprecedented” but the best they could do. Cablevision, which massively overpaid for the ailing daily in 2008 — the price tag was over $600 million — says it lost $7 million last year. Newsday used to be a fearsome newspaper with one of the highest market penetrations in American paid dailydom. Now, its print edition is fish wrap and its paid online product isn’t worth any fraction of a watt. Tough luck, idiots all.

PULITZER WEASEL: Prize board chief says the National Enquirer looses on a technicality — the newspaper calls itself a “magazine” and so is “ineligible” for journalism’s top honor, ABC News reports.

“We checked the Enquirer Web site, and it apparently calls itself a magazine. Under our rules, magazines (both print and Web versions) and broadcast entities are ineligible,” said the prize administrator Sig Gissler in an e-mail, to

YOU CAN’T PUT A GOOD [OR BAD] DON DOWN: It doesn’t matter how much money he looses and how far he’s willing to trash journalistic standards (put another way, truth, justice and the American way), Willaim Dean Singleton always comes out of top with wads of greenbacks in his pockets. Good interpretive report on MediaNews Group’s bankruptcy filing on Friday comes from Alan Mutter in Reflections of a Newsosaur.

Singleton not only knows and loves newspapers, but he also is uniquely un-squeamish among publishers in doing whatever it takes to make a publication profitable.

In his pursuit of finding sustainability for newspapers, nothing is sacred to Singleton. If he can merge production or circulation operations, he will. If he can consolidate newsrooms or ad sales, he will. If it is cheaper to outsource customer service or ad make-up, he will.

He has done it before and, if the opportunity presents itself, he will do it again.

No other senior newspaper executive is as daring and seemingly impervious to pain as Dean Singleton.

That’s why he’ll climb out of this wreck, saddle up and start all over again.

GETTING READY TO BITE: On the eve of Apple’s big announcement(s) on Wednesday, clip here for an anticipatory roundup from Wired’s Gadget Lab. ALSO: The NY Post reports today that Apple will announce Verizon as cell carrier for its tablet, presumably a prelude to Verizon iPhone sales when AT&T’s exclusive contract expires (reportedly in June).

ANTI-POT SPOT: A solid argument against drug use can be viewed in this Fox News clip in which stoners Richard “Cheech” Martin and Tommy Chong argue (barely) that marijuana should be legalized “for anyone who wants to smoke it — we don’t want to legalize it for Republicans.” Beyond displaying what years of drug abuse can do to a brain, the clip also suggests that news anchors should take a chill pill. Such excitement! Yech.


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