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Monday, November 18, 2002

Poynter editor says MediaNews changes are coming
Online Journalism Review
Poynter online editor/marketing director Bill Mitchell tells Staci Kramer that some of the Poynter presence on -- yes, that URL still gets you here -- may be scaled back. Also, he says, the feedback process will be revamped and the registration process reexamined while a redesign triage system is being set up for the rest. Mitchell says redesign reaction falls into four categories: "1. good ideas that can be implemented reasonably quickly. 2. good ideas that make sense but will take time. 3. bad ideas. 4. rants rooted in fundamental objections that MediaNews is part of Poynter."
> Letters: "What Poynter has not done is inundate us with pop-ups"

Posted at 5:30:26 PM
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Skakel scoop has teen newsies changing layout on deadline
Hartford Courant
Samantha Ueckerman's high school journalism class assignment was to "go after the hard story." The 16-year-old junior fired off a letter to Michael Skakel and, to her surprise, got a four-page, handwritten response from the convicted murderer -- and right on deadline. "The kids were so excited," says teacher Nicole Rossi. "We had to change the whole layout."

Posted at 4:54:51 PM
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Radio station gets 700 SacBee mentions in five years
Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Bee ombud Sanders LaMont thought something was fishy about the local radio coverage complaints he was hearing. LaMont did some checking and discovered this: "One radio station has been mentioned in The Bee 700 times in the past five years. That is the same station that has generated 100 percent of the complaints that it isn't covered enough." (The second most-often mentioned station received 194 Bee plugs in the same period.) He says KFBK's promotions director deserves a raise, "and Bee editors need to take a closer look at how one station could get so much publicity and the others so little attention." (Second item.) PLUS: A sexual assault, a murder, and an ID dilemma.

Posted at 1:34:52 PM
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Ombud: Sports columnist nearly committed an ethical sin
Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune sports columnist Kurt Kragthorpe's recent piece calling for the resignation of University of Utah football Coach Ron McBride failed to note that Kragthorpe's brother, a Buffalo Bills coach, has been mentioned as a McBride replacement. Ombud Connie Coyne says the columnist didn't violate the paper's ethics policy by not disclosing that, "but he pushed up against it. And sometimes a push is as good as a hard hit." Other ombud columns:
> WP readers didn't complain about Malvo stories, but lawyers did
> Florida readers back paper's decision not to name sniper victim
> Pynn: In '67, editor said no one will be reading papers in 10 years
> Spokesman-Review ombud departs for editorial page assignment

Posted at 12:23:08 PM
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Critic says Reds tabs patronize their intended readers
Los Angeles Times
Media critic David Shaw says the Chicago Tribune's RedEye and the Sun-Times' Red Streak "seem little more than byproducts of their owners' panicky overreaction to a younger generation they clearly don't understand." Shaw showed the youth-oriented tabloids to a college-aged pal, who gave this review: "Amazingly superficial ... bad writing, Maxim-esque irony that doesn't quite work ... disturbingly random in what they consider news."
> Chicago student: "Both publications suck to similar degrees"
> Young man prefers online news over print newspapers

Posted at 11:35:18 AM
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QuickLink: A10265

X-rays prove Olbermann does have too much backbone
One of Keith Olbermann's old ESPN bosses used to tell him he showed too much backbone during spats. Recent X-rays prove the guy right. "I do have too much backbone," says Olbermann. "I am part of that hidden minority, the spinal mutants, who have six lumbar vertebrae instead of the customary five." That revelation, he says, "was the final sign that it was time to do something that for months has been crystallizing out of the gauzy haze of the unconsciousness that surrounds us all: I need to apologize to ESPN."

Posted at 11:16:05 AM
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Landers' 1992 Cadillac, IBM typewriter headed to auction
Chicago Sun-Times
The late Ann Landers/Eppie Lederer's black 1992 Cadillac Brougham, with the license plate AL 55 -- for the year she started her column -- may fetch in the "upper teens,'' says the auction house boss. Other items of interest include 40 to 50 owl statues -- "People gave them to her for her wise advice'' -- and the columnist's IBM electric typewriter. BID ON THIS: Robert F. Kennedy signed his "To Seek a Newer World" with the hugs-and-kisses salutation, "For Eppie, XXOO, Bobby.''
> "The Teenager and Sex" manuscript will be in the auction pile

Posted at 10:37:08 AM
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QuickLink: A10247

Oh-so-popular campus sex scribe struggles with fame
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Caley Meals, the new sex columnist at the University of Wisconsin's Badger Herald, says the attention she's getting almost wears her out. "I get recognized everywhere -- it's really weird," she says. "I don't know if I can handle it. Sometimes you feel like (expletive), and you look like (expletive), and you don't want to be known as the sex columnist. You want to be able to walk down the street."

Posted at 10:14:41 AM
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NYT article forces Minnesota meat shop to go high-tech
Star Tribune of Minneapolis
Thanks to a brief New York Times mention, employees of Thielen Meats in Pierz, Minn. are working 14-hour days to keep up with orders. Before the NYT plug, the Thielen clan sold an average of 1,800 pounds of bacon a week; last week they peddled 9,000 pounds. "It's been wild," says Renee Thielen. "We had to get a computer. We never had the need for a computer before."

Posted at 9:46:16 AM
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Poetry mag gets $100 million+ from woman it rejected
Chicago Tribune
Ruth Lilly received several rejection letters from the Chicago-based Poetry magazine over the years, but she didn't take them personally, says her lawyer. Lilly proved that by giving the magazine well in excess of $100 million over the next 30 years, with no strings attached. "Yes, it does seem to have a couple of extra zeroes at the end of the number," says Billy Collins, the U.S. poet laureate. "It is probably an unprecedented gift to a literary publication. It's a wonderful and good thing, unambiguously good, that Mrs. Lilly has done."

Posted at 9:22:35 AM
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Wolff: Media mogul bash was like a painful wedding
New York magazine
Industry Standard founder John Battelle threw a big media conference, and told the bigshots in attendance not to let any brilliant quotes leak out of the place. "There was really hardly any need for a gag order -- everyone was mum, or saccharine," says Michael Wolff. He reveals -- and now faces disciplinary action? -- that at one session, participants were supposed to discuss the future of the business and try to answer the question: What's the next big thing? "Everybody was very earnest," says Wolff. "It was like a book-club meeting or a really painful wedding."

Posted at 8:54:44 AM
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Report: Donahue's MSNBC show likely to go by year's end
USA Today
NBC News execs will probably pull the plug on Phil Donahue's MSNBC talk show by year's end, says Peter Johnson. He notes Donahue was the subject of a biting "Saturday Night Live" parody over the weekend. "When your own network starts goofing on you, watch out," notes Johnson.

Posted at 8:07:20 AM
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Freelancer says Koppel, ABC stole his Pol Pot exclusive
Advertising Age
Freelance journalist Nate Thayer has sued ABC and Ted Koppel for $30 million-plus, claiming they stole his exclusive 1997 story about the whereabouts of former Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. Richard Linnett writes: "At the heart of the lawsuit is the question of who has the right to market a scoop to the rest of the media: The outlet airing the story or the reporter who got it?" An ABC News rep says: "We look forward to the opportunity to prove in court that Thayer's claims have no merit."

Posted at 7:40:32 AM
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NYT: One in five mag covers from '02 show minorities
New York Times (reg. req.)
David Carr says more minorities are appearing on magazine covers, but "in many broad-circulation magazines, the unspoken but routinely observed practice of not using nonwhite cover subjects -- for fear they will depress newsstand sales -- remains largely in effect." SURVEY SAYS: Of 471 covers from 31 magazines published in 2002, about one in five depicted minority members. The figure was only 12.7 percent five years ago.

Posted at 7:19:58 AM
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ABC's Jennings signs new contract, gets production firm
Wall Street Journal
With the new deal, Peter Jennings extends his time at the ABC "World News Tonight" anchor desk three years and gets a production company to produce documentaries. (He's mum about money.) "Some in the industry say Mr. Jennings, lately a close No. 2 to NBC News in ratings, wants to compete against Brian Williams, who is set to succeed [NBC anchor Tom] Brokaw," reports Emily Nelson.

Posted at 7:02:30 AM
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Feds probe closing of L.A., Cleveland alt-weeklies
Los Angeles Times (reg. req.)
The U.S. Department of Justice wants to know whether Village Voice Media and New Times violated federal antitrust laws when they closed competing weeklies in Los Angeles and Cleveland, thereby dividing the markets between them. Tim Rutten reports: "If federal prosecutors find sufficient evidence to pursue a case, it would be a novel moment on at least two counts: One would be the spectacle of the nation's leading alternative weeklies, with their roots in the insurgent journalism of the 1960s counterculture, being treated like a 19th century cartel. The other would be the very strait-laced John Ashcroft's Justice Department entering the legal lists to uphold the commercial rights of massage parlor operators, escort services and phone sex operators, which provide the bulk of the chains' classified advertising."
> Earlier: Lawyers say weeklies deal could raise antitrust issues

Posted at 6:49:33 AM
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Additional items for November 18, 2002
> Maxim staffers don't see themselves as journos like they do at GQ
> Military, journos at "boot camp" practice working while under fire
> Roll Call changes publication schedule for first time in 13 years
> WashPost memos from '99 discussed "worrisome" circ declines
> NYDN's Kosner: ABC took "the neat way" to get Burrell exclusive
> Look out, Dr. Phil!: Reader's Digest folks would love a talk show
> Podhoretz's essay wins him a free Hawaii honeymoon (fifth item)
> Ouch!: WSJ Mossberg critiques Poynter's redesign in Letters
> USAT critic: Stephanopoulos seems pleasant, but a bit adrift
> NYC media bigs toast Chicago mag editor Babcock's new novel
> WSJ: Disney mostly happy with Us Weekly deal, but tension exists
> How reporter goofed on Eisner story (fifth Kurtz item)
> Send link suggestions, letters, etc. to
> Read the news on Romenesko's Obscure Store & Reading Room

Posted at 6:34:38 AM
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