WEDNESDAY’S LINKS: Bush’s ‘War on Media’, ‘WSJ’ Considering Page 1 Ads, More Colbert

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s edition, why Colbert sparked a firestorm in Washington, Bush’s “war” with the press, and rumors that Tribune Co. may be the next on the auction block.


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Bay Guardian Wants to Stop Singleton’s Media Grab
The MediaNews deal creates the potential for a newspaper monopoly of stunning proportions — and threatens the quality of journalism in one of the most populous, educated, and liberal regions in the nation. Singleton, known as “lean Dean” for his cost-cutting moves, is likely to slash staffing at papers like the Times and the Merc, consolidate news gathering, and offer readers less local news.


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Washington, a Town Without Wit or Pity, Finds Colbert’s Persona a Political Hairball
Chris Lehmann: The overwhelming evidence suggests that the humorless bloggers, columnists and activists who’ve lined up on the question of Mr. Colbert’s reception get neither the joke nor the character. They can be offended, though, in every which way.


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Is Bush Really at War With the Press?
“Rather than crying ‘war’ over the Bush-press disputes, I subscribe to Jay Rosen’s more modest idea that the Bushies ambition was to ‘decertify’ the press from its modern role as purveyor of news and portray it as just another special interest,” writes Jack Shafer. “Bush’s preference for ‘unfiltered’ news, received directly from his staff, is well-known. Disciplined and silent, as The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta put it, the administration has factored the press corps out of the equation.”


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Muffled ‘Voice’ Bodes Poorly for Alt-Weeklies?
Entertainment journalist Nikki Finke, a columnist for the alternative LA Weekly, says the Internet has not been able to compete with alternative papers in terms of editorial quality. “We go where mainstream papers fear to tread, we unearth what mainstream newspapers try to hide, and, in my case especially, we insult who mainstream newspapers fear to offend,” she says via e-mail. “But we do it with real journalism, which is what separates us from the average blogger. How can there ever be a diminishing role for that?”


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New-Look ‘WSJ’ Considering Ads on Page 1
“I won?t deny it,” said Journal vice president for news operations Jim Pensiero. “We’ve mocked them up. It’s not a given we put them into production.” Pensiero is overseeing a 30-member design committee assigned to what The Journal calls “Project Renaissance.” After going from 1942 to 2002 without a significant design change, The Journal is now working on what would be its second overhaul in five years.


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Tribune Next to Sell?
Will Tribune go on the block next? Some pros are betting on it. Like most other newspaper stocks, Tribune has been beaten to a pulp on poor earnings caused by a slump in ads and readership. Its stock is down 25% in the past year, hitting 27 on Apr. 5. It now languishes at 27.87. Of 19 analysts who follow the stock, 16 are down on it. But Lawrence Haverty of Gabelli Global Multimedia Trust, which owns shares, sees Tribune as takeover bait. It is “extremely cheap” based on its assets.


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Publisher Cancels Deal With Plagiarizing Author Viswanathan
A Harvard student’s novel, withdrawn from shelves last week after it was found to contain passages copied from another author, will not be reissued, and the student’s planned second novel will not be published at all, Little, Brown and Co. said Tuesday.


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Young People Challenge MSM
A quiet revolution is taking place in how people get their news. It is being spearheaded by a generation who have grown up in a connected, digital world, for whom the internet is just part of their way of life. For them, going online to find out what is happening in the world, and seeking to compare and contrast reports from different sources are the norm, as reflected by an opinion poll for the BBC, Reuters and The Media Center.


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Critic: Pulitzers Bad for Journalism
“I’ve come to believe that the Pulitzers — for all the celebrity, the champagne, the career-capping glory they bring — are bad for the profession,” writes Edward Wasserman. “They purport to stand for excellence in journalism, but if they do it’s in the same way that Rolls Royce stands for excellence in car-making.”


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Fear Stalks Sri Lanka After Newpaper Attack
People stayed off the streets in Sri Lanka’s north on Wednesday after gunmen killed two in an attack on a Tamil newspaper, prompting calls by journalists for greater protection. Unidentified attackers stormed the office of Tamil daily “Uthayan,” or “Dawn,” in the northern town of Jaffna late on Tuesday, witnesses said, searching for a senior journalist, smashing computers and equipment and killing two staff.

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