Bringing Home the Freshest Kill

Posts in the media category

 Spider Woman by Alex Maleev

  • Daniel Kalder on Edward Snowden and the irony of leaking:  “…when it comes to leaks, irony abounds. The Russians and the Chinese and the Cubans relish the irony of protecting a dissident from the US, the self-proclaimed champion of human rights. Snowden hopes to escape to a country less free than the one he betrayed in the name of freedom. And let us not forget the master-leaker, Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who entered the Ecuadorean embassy in London to avoid being sent to prison, and now lives in what is, essentially, a prison. After a year of seeing his pasty face around their offices every day, I cannot imagine how much those diplomats must hate him. Those whom the gods would destroy…”
  • More Kalder — on the last words/goodbyes of death row inmates: “…it’s easier for the condemned if they have religious faith. God, Jesus, or Allah provide reassurance that life’s journey is not about to end on the executioner’s gurney, and that even the worst murderers will be forgiven in heaven as they were not forgiven by the State of Texas.”
  • Noah Rothman on the media’s transgressions in covering the Trayvon Martin trial: “Clearly, the public is more sophisticated than some members of the media believe. The way in which baseless speculation motivated by personal bias is packaged to appear to be analysis is as transparent as cellophane. It is insulting and it is detrimental to the future of the business of television journalism.”
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  • Glenn Greenwald on MSNBC:  “But whatever one wants to call this, ‘journalism’ is the wrong label. Even ideologically-friendly media outlets which claim that mantle should be devoted to accountability and treating those who wield power adversarially, not flattering the preexisting beliefs of their audience and relentlessly glorifying political leaders. Presidents have actual press secretaries and Party spokespeople for that.”
  • Kathy Shaidle — Bring Back the Duel: “Under the dueling system, courts will be freed up. The firearms and funeral businesses will boom. And at the end of the day, the world will be down a few idiots. This isn’t some ‘modest proposal,’ either. I’m deadly serious. And if you don’t believe me, it’s pistols at dawn.”

Duel in the Prärie

  • Scott Locklin on Kickstarter: “… I’m all for capitalism, the arts and charity, but kickstarter is a place where all socially and technologically inept proposals go to … needlessly gather internet attention that would otherwise be more productively spent on cat memes.”
  • The Daily Galaxy: “If confirmed, the discovery of the elusive Higgs Boson would help resolve a key puzzle about how the universe came into existence some 13.7 billion years ago – and perhaps its ultimate fate. ‘It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable and at some point billions of years from now it’s all going to get wiped out. This calculation tells you that many tens of billions of years from now, there’ll be a catastrophe,’ said Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, who is also on the science team at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator.”
  • The Japan Times: “Using genetically modified pigs that lack the ability to grow their own pancreases, a team of Japanese scientists has succeeded in growing the gland in the pigs by injecting normal pig embryonic cells into their embryos. The achievement marks progress toward the team’s goal of creating human pancreases in pigs for transplantation into human diabetic…”
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English: Rachel Maddow in Seattle.


  • Joel Gehrke: A Short, Incomplete History of Media Tying the Tea Party to Tragedies
  • Matt Ridley: “The classic apocalypse has four horsemen, and our modern version follows that pattern, with the four riders being chemicals (DDT, CFCs, acid rain), diseases (bird flu, swine flu, SARS, AIDS, Ebola, mad cow disease), people (population, famine), and resources (oil, metals).”
  • Mike Riggs: Why Is David Brock’s Democratic PAC Attacking Paul Ryan for Voting Against More Drug-War Funding?
  • Pravda not impressed with Pussy Riot: “However, the supporters of Pussy Riot pay little attention to the legal details of the case (as well as to the details of how the performance was conducted). They focus primarily on the personalities of the ‘victims,’ calling them smart, talented, beautiful, sexy and so on. They say nothing about the creative way and the legacy of the band. The legacy is just as bright and ‘heroic’ as the act at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Wolf howling
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Unwittingly, the prestigious men of letters at the Columbia Journalism Review have discovered a few reasons why the newspaper industry is dying.

The overriding motif in a recent issue of CJR is the angst felt by newspaper reporters as their industry shrivels into a black hole. A staff editorial called “More Than a Job” weeps:

Losing any job can be traumatic, and we are not suggesting that this emotional toll is unique to journalism…

O! But they are.

The suffering of a downsized journalist, you see, has grandiloquence and pathos. As CJR informs us…

The job is a calling; the mission is to try to improve small corners of the world.

What twaddle (h/t Parsifal).

Aren’t we all trying to “improve small corners of the world” by trudging through the existential nausea of being? The fact that Downsized Factory Worker With 5 Kids doesn’t broadcast his struggle to captive readers makes his loss even more noteworthy.

The joy of irrelevance

The problem with newspapers and newspaper personnel may run deeper than dead trees and antiquated business models. Many aging journalists lack skills outside the inverted pyramid. Strangely, they seem proud of it.

Chicago Tribune building

Exhibit A

Journalist Don Terry was laid off by the Chicago Tribune. These days, he’s a CJREncore Fellow.” Terry regales us with his personal tale of woe, one dotted with references to Lou Grant. (Yes, the Lou Grant TV show. In committing the sin of Pop Culture Reference, Terry opts for “hopelessly outdated” rather than just “dated.”)

Since getting laid-off/axed/downsized/right-sized/fired last February from the Chicago Tribune, where I worked as a staff writer for eight years, I’ve downloaded and watched almost every episode of the first three seasons of the old Lou Grant television show on my iPod Touch. It helps me sleep.

That passage is electric, full of immediacy and a sense of “now,” isn’t it?

Admittedly, I’m being an asshole. Terry has no duty to appeal to young readers, and honestly, I’d rather he reference Lou Grant than royale with cheese.” But, as a sage chronicler of the human condition (cue laugh track), Terry has a forum — and a privilege — to offer the world something timeless. Naturally, he sabotages that privilege with pop culture gimmickry and a narrative style that feels as dated as his Lou Grant reference.

Lou Grant (TV series)

Soapbox of the Web triumphalist

If journalism adhered to my rules, the following edict would roar through the halls of every J-school:

  1. Pop culture, by nature, is ephemeral and fleeting;
  2. Pop culture references are poor narrative tools; and
  3. Pop culture references that only Baby Boomers understand are pure shit.

More from Terry, though, as he weaves drunkenly between self-indulgence and Lou Grant:

Lou confronts his star reporter, Joe Rossi, about his demeaning attitude toward an older colleague, a veteran cop reporter desperately trying to stay on the wagon and in the business.  “You don’t like Driscoll, do you?”

“He’s a dinosaur,” Rossi says.  “It’s all over. Whatever happened for him was over a long time ago.”

“I’m a dinosaur,” Lou says.

Rossi doesn’t say anything.

“It would be nice if you argued the point,” Lou says.

More silence from Rossi.

Lou grabs his arm.

“It would be smart if you argued the point,” he says, pointedly.

Can you feel the allegorical wonder? Terry is a dinosaur too, but he can teach these “new media” whippersnappers a few things.  Sigh…if only he gave a damn.

Quitters never win, and winners never…

…languish proudly in a weird shame spiral. O! This fast-paced world has no use for the ennobling waters of my gruff wisdom. Today’s hatchlings can’t change a typewriter ribbon, much less hammer out a sports brief with the requisite 5 Ws! Despair! Calamity!

Twaddle again. Maybe Terry isn’t Web savvy, but so what. He was beating deadlines long before Pip Tweetcock won his first Lord Snowden trophy. That’s worth something, isn’t it? Yes, reader! I’d say it is!

Look at Roger Ebert, practically at death’s door — the man tweets like a hummingbird and writes long-form blog posts. Millions read him in an age of instant gratification. Perhaps there is hope for Don Terry.

Exhibit B

Encore Fellow No. 2 is Terry McDermott, late of the Los Angeles Times. Unlike Terry No. 1, Terry No. 2 embraces nouveaux médias. He articulates what many of us feel:

I hated the conventions that bound daily journalism, the stilted, odd language in which it was written as well as the contrived structures into which that odd language was shaped. The common newspaper style is so heavily codified you need a Berlitz course to interpret it. More than formal, the style is abstract and artificial.

Agreed. Thanks for understanding, Terry No. 2. Please share your notes with the other Encore Fellows. (BTW, McDermott is Irish for “free from envy.”)

Exhibit C

Closing time

It’s last call at Typo’s, a fictional pub I just invented to add color and charm to this drab narrative. Typo’s is a putrid shitscape where journalists go to die. Naturally, that’s where I find Jill Drew (ex-Washington Post). She’s drinking Singapore Slings and heckling the piano player. Big Jim Tucker sits to her left.

Jill can’t understand why the market for stilted, odd language and heavily codified abstractness has dried up. However, she appreciates that time constraints factor into the mystery. Says Drew, mouth afoam with gin and pineapple juice:

Few people have the time to really experience the wonders of a newspaper. You have to commit time to it, to devote the time, which gets harder and harder to do in our fractured, distracted, multimedia world.

That’s true. I definitely don’t have time for the wonders of Mitch Albom, Dave BarrySteve Duin, and Maureen Dowd. (Although Erma Bombeck still arouses my love tendrils. Wait, no, she doesn’t — she’s dead. Sorry, I regret the error.)

Drew’s solution is to raise prices:

If people pay more, perhaps they’ll place a higher value on what’s delivered, and spend more time with it.

Whiskey Tango Fuck??!

Look, I’m not heartless — I can appreciate newspapers’ nostalgic qualities. I lament the downfall of a lost industry.  But I won’t sob as Scoop Q. Columnist lolls about in his fellowship hammock and 401K plan. His downsized counterparts in “lesser,” “unchosen” fields can barely pay their bus fare.

But what do I know? My surname means “swelling lump,” and I’m rarely “free from envy.”

Lou takes one last look at Typo’s before hailing a cab. He feels the icy wind slap his rotund backside. He then collapses into the snow and dies.

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