Media roundup: WaPo columnist waits an eternity for the electrician
One of the criticisms journalists hear most often from readers — or that I hear, anyway — is, "How is this news?" I'm usually quick to defend a writer's prerogative to write whatever he or she pleases, the argument being that what's fluff to one reader is news to another. But then I read something like John Kelly's Sunday column in the Post, and I wonder if we should take our readers' criticisms to heart.
The piece begins with the heart-pounding lede, "I spent last Wednesday waiting for the electrician," and it was only because I needed some content for this roundup that I forced myself to read on. I'll spare you the same trouble by rehashing the story here. John Kelly was told the electrician would come between 2 and 6 p.m., but the electrician did not show up, forcing Kelly to reschedule for the following morning, when the electrician appeared and restored electricity to Kelly's "once-dark bedroom." That is all.
Kelly's gripe is that he wasted an entire afternoon waiting for the electrician. He dared not "run an errand, walk the dog, take a nap or go to the bathroom, for you know that as soon as you do, he will show up." I can think of at least one valuable way for a columnist to spend that time: penning a column! About something other than waiting for the electrician, that is.
Politico reporter Kendra Marr resigns over plagiarism scandal: FishbowlDC broke the news that Marr, a former Post reporter, had been caught lifting passages from other publications. Marr, a 2007 graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, recently switched from covering national politics for Politico to transportation for Politico Pro, a paid platform. The Post's reports that, according to a colleague of Marr's at Politico, she "felt 'extreme pressure' to get up to speed." Post media blogger Erik Wemple, TBD's former editor-in-chief, served up copious analysis: an exhortation for Politico to "come cleaner!"; a side-by-side comparison of stories by Marr and the New York Times about a proposed security fee for air travelers, which suggests Marr's story is "an artful re-write of the Times piece"; and a post implicating "Politico’s go-go newsgathering culture," which states, "The pressure, the workload, the whole culture — it probably wouldn’t be as hard to bear if a young reporter felt she could find a sympathetic ear in the upper reaches of the organization. But there’s some on-the-record testimony suggesting the opposite." (Side note: Marr has not yet updated her Twitter bio. At least now she'll have some free time for baking and Scrabble.)
No one trusts journalists who turn a profit: A guest op-ed in yesterday's Examiner cites a new Gallup poll which found that 55 percent of Americans "have little or no trust of the journalists who report the news." "The most intriguing aspect of Gallup's study is that the results are remarkably similar to last year's findings," Jason Stverak writes. "Distrust of the media is embedded in the American mind-set and there are no indications that perception will change anytime soon." Later, though, he writes, "Traditional media outlets will continue to play a role in American living rooms. But as more people begin to distrust their old media source, they will seek new outlets to quench their need to know." Didn't he just make clear that more people don't distrust "old" media — that the level of distrust has been level? Stverak's own bias is clear enough: He argues that "[n]onprofit news outlets are becoming the trusted source for millions of Americans," and his bio at the end of the column reads, "Jason Stverak is the president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a nonprofit journalism organization..."
Editors: Don't be boring on Twitter: Steve Buttry, director of community engagement and social media for the Journal Register Company (and who held a similar position at TBD), offers that advice, in so many words, on his blog. Simply tweeting links to stories isn't enough, he says. Editors should also comment on tweets, retweet others' tweets, tweet about people in the community, tweet links from other sources, live-tweet, and otherwise tweet, tweet, tweet. Good luck finding time for editing, editors!
Labor activists don't like anything having to do with the Washington Post, even art: Washington City Paper's Ally Schweitzer, a former events editor at TBD (anyone noticing a trend here?), reports that D.C. labor activists aren't happy with the inclusion of All the President's Men in the D.C. Labor Film Fest. "After all, the Washington Post has a long history of alienating organized labor," she writes. "Just earlier this year, the Washington Teachers’ Union picketed outside the newspaper’s headquarters on 15th Street NW in protest of its editorial board’s perceived anti-teacher bias." Festival director Chris Garlock "agrees that the media company’s post-Watergate labor record is abysmal" but "doesn’t think that the film is a tasteless choice for the Labor Film Fest." Nor do I. Now, if the film were shown at HUMP!, that would be a different story.
NPR's staff looks a lot like a blank canvas: As if National Public Radio doesn't have enough problems, now it must deal with The Root managing editor Joel Dreyfuss' open letter to the nonprofit, "NPR Has a Diversity Problem," which decries "the monochromatic vision of many liberal institutions — a disease that NPR has not escaped." [via FishbowlDC]
Fox News changed journalism as we did or did not know it: This Post story details the rise of Roger Ailes' "fair and balanced" news channel. It provides a serviceable overview, but if you're reading this roundup, then you already know more about Fox News than you'd ever admit in a bar.
The biggest 'myopic little twits' in D.C.: TBD put together what it thought was "The 51 D.C. journalists with the most Klout," the pun being a reference to a website that measures Twitter users' influence. But almost as soon as this link bait went live, we found that we had left out a number of local journos who, based on their Klout scores, were worthy of inclusion. How did we learn this? From Twitter, of course:
So we'll be putting together a second list. Did we miss you, or someone you know? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a higher score than our number one, the Washington Times' Emily Miller, maybe we'll write a fawning profile of you, too.
TBD plug redux: Our arts editor, Andrew Beaujon, wrote not one but two articles about American Spectator assistant editor Patrick Howley, who "infiltrated" a Stop the Machine/Occupy DC march with the intention, as Howley wrote in a story that was later bowdlerized, to "mock and undermine" the protesters. First: Does he even exist? Second: It appears so, but does truth exist in his article? Not so much.
Being a D.C. journalist is almost as fun as playing a board game: You remember board games, right? That folding carboard on which we used to roll dice, draw cards, and move plastic figurines? FamousDC made this humorous, hypothetical "DC Journo Adventure," in which you try to make it as a journalist here, and "escape with your dignity intact." Sample landing spaces, which result in moving forward or backwards: "Write a story for a Drudge link, fail to get Drudge link"; "Ask your 154 Twitter followers for story ideas"; "Lede contains four different sports metaphors"; "Have a parody Twitter feed made about you"; and, my favorite, "Get nothing damning back from your FOIA, write story anyway." Missing: "Create photo gallery about baby animals at Smithsonian Zoo," and "Start a Twitter fight with @IMGoph."
Where not to find media news on the Washingtonian's website: Here, I'm only now realizing. (But do click on that link if you want to read about the launch of a certain local news site that was supposed to change the media landscape in D.C.)
HOOK, LINE, AND STINKER
"The scene feels a little bit like a Grateful Dead concert — if the show were sponsored by Frito-Lay."
The sentence of the week comes courtesy of the Post's Emily Wax, from her story, "Occupy D.C. protest in McPherson Square: Woodstock meets Washington." I'll give her a pass on the headline, because maybe some nostalgic editor wrote it? But the above sentence is indicative of a lack of style — humor and cleverness, specifically — in the Post's Style section. It seems any outdoor massing of people who are, owing to a lack of bathing facilities, somewhat unkempt, is deserving of comparison with hippies. The Frito-Lay proposition is, presumably, meant to bring a contemporary focus to the dated Dead reference, but instead it further confuses an already poor simile. No, the occupation of McPherson is nothing like a Dead concert — I've attended both — unless Wax is familiar with the band's early days, when, perhaps, they performed in small urban parks, in front of less than 50 people. And no, this event would not be "sponsored" by Frito-Lay because, as Wax herself writes, these protesters are opposed to "corporate greed." Also worth noting: this photo.
Former TV producer and recent memoirist Carol Joynt, and Brett Haber, a longtime WUSA sportscaster, have joined the Washingtonian as editors-at-large. Slate's Annie Lowrey is joining the New York Times' Washington bureau. CNN political writer Ed Hornick is switching to sister network HLN, and will be moving from Washington to Atlanta, which means I won't have to begin following him belatedly on Twitter. Freelancer Jamie McIntyre, a WTOP and CNN veteran, is now a full-timer at NPR. Kevin Glass left his job as online assistant managing editor for the Examiner, but he has nothing nasty to say about his former employer. Nor does he have another gig lined up. Does he know something about this job market that I don't?
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Head out with the family to one of the many fall festivals dominating this month's weekends.