Thursday, May 24, 2007

Two notes

  • Would the Enquirer have the guts to call out "the sheer weirdness" of the new Creation Museum, as the New York Times did today? Right now that's the most-emailed story on the Times' web site.

  • Why is it that every time I see Enquirer editor Tom Callinan quoted on something, he's explaining a mistake? Bob Steele of The Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values, who was called to Cincinnati to lecture the Enquirer staff after a reporter was suspended for plagarism, used his trip to turn out this article about how the Enquirer handles online forums. Callinan, who couldn't find his ass in the dark with both his hands, explains how the Enquirer fucked up and shut down most of the discussion boards on the site. Karen Gutierrez of CincyMoms also speaks up about discussions on that site.

    What neither person seems to understand is that creating lists of what people say isn't automatically useful, it's doesn't automatically lead to solutions and it's certainly not journalism. Note how often Callinan brings up the number of page views, and how low most of the numbers are. Callinan talks about "crowdsourcing" and Gutierrez talks about "viral marketing" as if they know what those terms mean. Good newspapers did "crowdsourcing" long before some blogger coined the term, but Callinan talks about it as if it's a recent discovery -- which, at the Enquirer, it is. And Gutierrez sends out a few emails and calls it viral marketing. Pathetic.

    After reading that, I checked the Enquirer web site to see if there were any discussions online. I found two -- one on immigration, and this one on Fountain Square. Look at the Fountain Square discussion. It's from October, linked today from a story about Taste of Cincinnati. How lame.


Anonymous Mr. Whig said...

Last time I checked, "viral marketing" using e-mail was often called SPAM, Karen.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Steele is not from "The Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Value," dipshit. He's from The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course that's the most e-mailed piece on the Times' site. A newspaper as hostile to and suspicious of faith as the Times writes such things. It's a really simple formula: Leftists think and therefore write left. That's not meant to be a jab. It's just a fact of the human condition. Look at any issue, and the Times has taken a consistent and definitive "position" simply based on what it chooses to write about and how it chooses to present it: abortion (or women's reproductive health, if you will), race/gender politics (or justice and antidiscrimination), the second amendment (or gun control), business (or workers' rights), law enforcement (or prisoners' rights and anti-authoritarianism), the Middle East conflict (or Israeli occupation; you get my point), the ICC, stem cell research, drug policy, social security, capital punishment, welfare, foreign aid, euthanasia, the environment, immigration and on and on. Any person honest with himself, who has read the Times and other media long enough, and who has a rudimentary understanding of philosophy, knows this. Simply choosing what stories to cover and the way to cover them (think the Times' unabashed assault a couple years ago against Augusta National, or its Gitmo coverage, both journalistic crusades on par with any religious proselytizing) betrays the editors' social, economic, personal, political and spiritual worldviews. There is no such thing as objectivity in story selection. Just as Enquirer editors choose to put a faith-centered story - devoid of the level of skepticism Newsache would prefer - on its front page, for a readership that is heavily faith-centered (hey, imagine that, kind of a key point there, don't you think - but hey, screw the readers; they don't know best for them!), the Times' editors did the same for its readership with the way it played the story. And when the Newsache editor is calling the shots at a media organization, you can ignore the Creation Museum and its ilk, and even ridicule them if you like, Nick Kristof or Frank Rich style. OK, now come back and talk about "serious journalism" and "the community's best interest" and how the Creation Museum doesn't pass the test. What about the individual's best interest? It's not always about the "community" pal; not even close. But all socialists/secular humanists end up there. And a good chunk of determinists/materialists/radical empiricists do as well. Well, the ones who get scared of the logical conclusions of brilliant Nietzschean thought do anyway. I always knew Newsache fell into the first camp. Now I suspect the latter applies as well (a truly verifiable conclusion, of course).

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nietzsche....yeah, I remember him...... wore No. 66 for the Packers, right?

Really, you're giving the Enquirer far too much credit for actually formulating some social agenda.

The only agenda the Enquirer has is to hit the right stride to allow it to become the world's largest shopper, which it will be when paid distribution ends and free circulation becomes the norm.

It will do that by being a cream puff on just about every subject. It can't challenge the Underground Railroad Museum fiasco, the ineptness of some regional reps in Congress, the incredible laugher of The Banks or just about anything that would mean it actually had to cover a story for more than a day or two, or present an intelligent argument.

You see, class, readers really don't care about that stuff. It's not really important. What they want is more stuff about the latest Survivor contestant from Terrace Park or -- even better -- West Chester, or the latest opening of a retailer in -- oh God -- West Chester (that place again).

The website is a more complex subject and is taught in a class titled Whoring 101.

And yes, viral marketing in spam.

The hillarity in all of this is the editors who create the ethical slimepits bring in experts to lecture the rank and file WHO ARE ONLY DOING WHAT THEY ARE TOLD TO DO.

Passing the buck like that is the real ethical issue, and editors who do so should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever happened to leadership by example?

Believe it or not, though, there are glimmers of leadership among the ranks of Enquirer editors. The best know well what is going on and try to find a balance. Others are afraid to speak up because doing so can be just about fatal, and that's a fact.

Ray Nitschke (correct spelling) was a terrific linebacker, even if he was a Packer.

I rest.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's Enquirer has a ridiculous column from Peter Bronson. I'm not going to link to it, because it honestly doesn't deserve any more traffic than it's already getting. In short, the column says, "It's Memorial Day, so you should support Bush. Otherwise you're not supporting the troops." In response I posted the following comment on the Enquirer's "Today at the Forum" blog. (I'm posting it here as well, because it's been my experience that the Enquirer won't approve comments they don't like.)


I just read Peter Bronson's Sunday column, and I'm outraged. Why do you allow Bronson's vile rhetoric to be printed in your paper?

Bronson never served in uniform, yet he feels qualified to lecture the rest of us on what Memorial Day means. And in his narrow little mind, it means supporting Bush and his disastrous Iraq war, "as long as we have young Americans getting killed."

Mr Bronson, that is not what Memorial Day is all about.

It's not about supporting President Bush.

It's not about absurdly opposing an Iraq exit strategy (or as Bronson shamefully puts it, "a Vietnam-era synonym for bailing out").

It's about honoring those who have sacrificed everything for their country -- the Democrats as well as the Republicans; the liberals as well as the conservatives.

It's important to note that a significant percentage of the military disapproves of Bush's handling of the war:

Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved.

...Just as telling, in this year’s poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003.

Bronson seems to feel that the only soldiers who deserve respect this Memorial Day are the 35 percent who approve of Bush's performance. And it disgusts me.

These distinctions may be outside the scope of Bronson's comprehension, but I can assure you that most Americans understand that they can simultaneously support the troops and oppose the war (which Jim Borgman illustrates wonderfully in today's paper).

Worse still is Bronson's insistence on blaming America's growing opposition to the war on the so-called "liberal media" -- as if the 3400+ Iraq fatalities have nothing to do with it.

(In addition to the media's alleged liberal bias, Bronson mentions college professors. It's telling that right-wingers like Bronson think everything has a liberal bias: the mainstream media; colleges and universities; movies, television, music and books; practically any "big city"; even America's judges are supposedly liberal. Apparently the only people you can trust are right-wing ideologues like Bronson and those folks over at Fox News. Give me a break.)

Bronson's repetitive regurgitation of partisan talking points is now sounding like a broken record. Maybe there are people in Cincinnati who look forward to his columns, but I find that hard to believe. In any event I think we can all agree that Memorial Day is not the time for such divisive rhetoric. The Enquirer should be ashamed of themselves for printing this trash.

12:28 PM  

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