Category Archives: Change

Gersh eats dog food

What can I say? He’s pushing for another award.

For Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman and Courier-Life editor Vince DiMiceli (seated behind Gersh in the video) the news is born to be hyped. Here’s the Gersh-flavored promo copy that accompanies today’s weekly roundup at

The Brooklyn Paper — a garden of earthly delights

Think about what we do for you — we send reporters into movie theaters in hopes that they get bitten by bedbugs; we have columnists who eat dog food; we break news stories like convicts break rocks in the big yard; we fill the pages of our weekly print edition with spirited copy and pictures that will brighten your water-cooler conversations; we report so you can decide. And what do we ask in return? Just click the headline above and start downloading our full print edition — and keep hustlin’, Brooklyn!
Yeah, that’s right. Keep hustlin’ everyone.
• • •
UPDATE 2/18: Gersh disciple Ben Muessig wrote about Gersh’s latest adventure this morning on AOL — “Eating Dog Food: The Future of Journalism?”

The Last DJ

By Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Think about it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free

• • •

Well you can’t turn him into a company man
You can’t turn him into a whore
And the boys upstairs just don’t understand anymore

Well the top brass don’t like him talking so much,
He won’t play what they say to play
And he don’t want to change what don’t need to change

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say, hey hey hey…

And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Well some folks say they’re gonna hang him so high
You just can’t do what he did
There’re some things you just can’t put in the minds of those kids

As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
How much you’ll pay for what you used to get for free

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say, hey hey hey…

And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

Well he got him a station down in Mexico
And sometimes it’ll kind of come in
And I’ll bust a move and remember how it was back then

There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say, hey hey hey…

And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ

So, you want to be a journalist!

By Brooklyn Lee at xtranormal

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video via Dana Rubinstein. Thanks, Dana.

Think you know the answer? Don’t be so sure. (And what if reading is NOT fundamental?)

Those who present contrary views are sometimes written off as cantankerous cranks. But with accepted formulas so regularly being discredited, those who stand against the grain might be our truth tellers and prophets.

What if, for instance, rather than lamenting the decline in serious reading among young people, we embraced their ability to learn more and learn faster through quick-paced technology that encourages multi-tasking? What if books are, like newspapers, yesterday’s news, and that’s okay?

Jeff Jarvis, an outspoken champion of new, hyperlocal and social media, asks simply, “Who says our way is the right way?”

Reacting to Matt Richtel’s long piece in Sunday’s New York Times, Growing up digital, wired for distraction, Jarvis says that the apparent inability of youngsters to make it through a book is not, prima facie, a problem, only a challenge:

Is this new generation distracted or advanced? How can they best learn? How can they teach? What tools can we use today besides books? What new opportunities do all their tools present? That’s what educators should be asking.

The Times sets up its piece in a predictable fashion: “On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?” We quickly learn Singh’s choice.

On YouTube, Singh explains, “you can get a whole story in six minutes. A book takes so long.”

The Times report, which cites studies on the use of technology by young people, is largely displeased with this. “Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body,” said Dr. Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School and the Center on Media and Child Health. “But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation.”

Back to Jarvis:

A group of Danish academics say we are passing through the other side of what they wonderfully call the Gutenberg Parenthesis, leaving the structured, serial, permanent, authored, controlled era of text and returning, perhaps, to what came before the press: a time when communication and content cross, when process dominates product, when knowledge is distributed by people passing it around, when we remix it along the way, when we are more oral and aural. …

Gutenberg scholar Elizabeth Eisenstein reminds us that for 50 years after the invention of the press, we continued to put old wine in this new cask, replicating scribal fonts, content, and models. That’s what’s happening now: We are trying to fit our old world into the new one that is emerging. We’re assuming the old way is the right way.

Predicting if Murdoch’s iPad Daily will be the salvation of newspapers is a crapshoot

The board on which the news media plays is constantly moving and the only certainty might be that most newspapers are toast and that whatever we predict today will be history tomorrow.

So it’s curious that Rupert Murdoch — who’s in the process of purposefully eliminating his newspapers’ online audiences — is banking a chunk of NewsCorp’s future on a newspaper, albeit an electronic one.

NewsCorp and Apple are reportedly set to announce details of a jointly developed project — a daily newspaper built expressly for iPad-like devices. No print version, no Web version (but “The Daily,” as it’s being called, is likely to be heavily promoted, and its features teased, on both platforms). NewsCorp is said to have invested $30 million in the launch, and has assembled a staff of 100, including five-star journalists, so that The Daily will feature mostly original content (plus, presumably, at least some Fox video).

With each day’s Daily expected to cost 99 cents at the iTunes store, its sales scheme replicates the single-copy hawking of newspapers on newsstands. The product will publish once a day with just minor refreshing between “press runs” (a departure from the Web’s frenetic minute-by-minute updates).

Mediaphiles should have learned by now not to bet against Murdoch in any game, particularly the newspaper game for which Murdoch has a special fondness, and there are sound arguments on both sides.

In a Mashable post on Sunday, Ben Par asks, “Is Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-Only Newspaper the Future of Journalism?” His conclusion: “Murdoch Gets It”:

While I may not like some of Murdoch’s ideas, (see Murdoch: Take Your Google Ball and Go Home), I give credit where it’s due. Murdoch’s commitment to a digital future for journalism is commendable and forward-thinking. He realizes more than his competitors that the future of news isn’t in propping up print publications, but creating truly immersive digital experiences. He may very well be creating the template that brings other newspapers into a profitable digital age.

Meanwhile, David Carr in today’s NY Times is less enthusiastic:

If you want a good look at the past and future of the News Corporation, compare the Web site of The New York Post — surely one of the ugliest, least functional in the business — with its snappy new iPad app. It’s a charming product, one that well reflects and amplifies the spice and excesses of the mother brand.

The night-and-day bifurcation is understandable given that Mr. Murdoch has never entirely trusted the Web, with its terrible advertising economics and brutal fight for revenue from consumers.

If nothing else, the arrival of The Daily early next year will likely push me into the legions of iPad-totters (while I’m a reasonably early adopter, I try to wait at least until Apple’s first post-launch hardware revision before buying).

Meanwhile, I await speculation on The Daily’s prospective impact on the 2012 elections. FoxNews revolutionized television news and helped set the tone and slant of political discourse for all media; can we expect The Daily — itself a revolutionizing vehicle — to do any less?

• • •

Click here for additional reporting from The Guardian UK.

E&P fires its editor & its staff

The new owners of Editor & Publisher magazine, which for more than a century was considered a bible of the newspaper industry, jettisoned what was left of its old editorial regime, Maynard Institute’s Journal-isms reports today.

The magazine’s previous owner, Nielsen Business Media, closed it last December; it was bought and revived a few weeks later by Duncan McIntosh Co., publisher of Boating World, Sea Magazine, America’s Western Boating Magazine, and FishRap magazines. The new owners did not retain previous editor Greg Mitchell and instead elevated 26 year E&P veteran Mark Fitzgerald to that post and kept on two reporters.

“It was 10 of the weirdest months of my life,” Fitzgerald told Journal-isms. “It was almost like working with a cult with these people. I got no clear explanation of why we got fired.”

What’s next for Fitzgerald? From Journal-isms:

He said he did not know what he would do next because “I literally have been working 24/7. I just haven’t had a moment to think about it.”

Folio magazine recalls that “at the time of the purchase, McIntosh told FOLIO that the magazine had ‘a great staff’ and that the magazine was ‘more vital now than ever’.”

Reader sensibilities: Just how considerate should an editor be?

When what you publish is likely to really piss people off — and let’s define “people” as your average work-a-day readers, not powerful politicians, rich developers or prized advertisers — should you hold back (or at least thoroughly weigh the arguments for holding back)?

And should you be at least as considerate to the sensibilities of your average reader as you are likely to be toward a powerful politician, rich developer or prized advertiser?

We have two real-time examples to consider this morning.

The Brooklyn Paper (my old pub) yesterday broke a story on its Website about the prevailing practice in Park Slope (a notoriously [sic] child-friendly, “socially-conscious,” uber-liberal neighborhood that is at the heart of Brooklyn Paper country), of paying nannies off-the-books.

The story originated with Park Slope Parents, a popular local blog, which produced a beautiful 73-page chart-filled study. The Brooklyn Paper did little original reporting (beyond publishing a column attributed to an off-the-books nanny); it simply reported someone else’s findings. The story was packaged by The Brooklyn Paper with its familiar hysterical slant — the paper called the news “earth-shattering” — and it was quickly picked up by local blogs and, this morning, by the NY Post.

Should The Brooklyn Paper have stated without equivocation that a large number of its readers are flouting the law and, perhaps of greater importance in a community like Park Slope, exploiting workers who, because they are largely third-world immigrants, many here illegally, are at a significant disadvantage in an employer-employee relationship? Ouch.

The survey did include findings that might be interpreted as image-affirming by self-conscious Park Slopers (such as that most nannies get vacation time and sick days, and that more than 40-percent of employers help their nannies find subsequent employment); but The Brooklyn Paper failed to report these findings or chose to downplay them in relation to its off-the-books lead.

Was The Brooklyn Paper correct in its approach?

As of this morning, 28 readers had posted comments online — this is an extremely high number for The Brooklyn Paper’s Website. Most expressed strong views, but they were divided. How about you?

• • •

Now comes this item from Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander:

Powerful photographs can have lasting impact, and a Post photo of two men kissing is an image that many readers can neither forget nor accept.

The photo, which ran on the newspaper’s front page and online last week, captured Jeremy Ames and Taka Ariga kissing outside DC Superior Court on the day that the District began accepting license applications for same-sex marriages.

Almost immediately, I began hearing from upset readers.… A few of the readers have engaged in rants, often with anti-gay slurs. … But most simply said The Post had offended their sensibilities by publishing the photo, especially on the front page.

A 65-year-old woman who’s been a subscriber since the 1960s wrote to say she had canceled:

“I realize that the world is changing rapidly – much more rapidly than I would like it to. While I realize that the Post must report on these changes – even the ones with which I do not agree – I feel that the picture on Thursday morning was an affront to the majority of your readership. It is not something that I want coming into my home. I believe that even your editors know that it would have been better placed in the Metro section and that it would have mitigated its impact to do so.”

Alexander reports hearing similar sentiments on the ombudsman’s call-in line. “Put it on page 10 or page four,” said one caller, “Put it in the paper, but I do not like it right there where I can’t avoid looking at it.”

Post circulation vice president Gregg Fernandes told Alexander that within a few day, 27 subscribers had canceled, citing the photo. (Alexander adds that “in contrast, The Post reported only two cancellations immediately after last July’s ethics uproar over its ill-advised plan to sell sponsorships to off-the-record ‘salon’ dinners at the publisher’s residence.”)

Here’s Alexander’s conclusion — what is yours?:

Did the Post go too far? Of course not. The photo deserved to be in newspaper and on its Web site, and it warranted front-page display.

News photos capture reality. And the prominent display reflects the historic significance of what was occurring. The recent DC Council decision to approve same-sex marriage was the culmination of a decades-long gay rights fight for equality. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the District. The photo of Ames and Ariga kissing simply showed joy that would be exhibited by any couple planning to wed – especially a couple who previously had been denied the legal right to marry.

There was a time, after court-ordered integration, when readers complained about front-page photos of blacks mixing with whites. Today, photo images of same-sex couples capture the same reality of societal change.

—Ed Weintrob