Showing posts with label Newsweek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Newsweek. Show all posts

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's all hell and agony at the Daily B-Word

Today, The New York Times gives us a delicious account of the latest bloodletting -- this one high-level -- at the off-off-Broadway production that is Newsweek / The Daily Beast, starring Tina Brown and a cast of . . . dozens?

If this were sometime back in the day, and if we had the luxury of this production being some sort of experimental cinema, surely there would be some small ad in the back of The Village Voice going something like

Of course, the unabridged, unedited version of what the famed film critic wrote would have gone more like:

"You'll laugh! You'll laugh at your foolish notion that this piece of drivel was worth $2.95 of your hard-earned money. You'll cry! That's because there are no refunds at the box office. But this can be said with confidence: Tina Brown is something else. You just don't want to know what it is."
FOR THIS production -- sadly a real-life one -- there will be no Vincent Canby review. He died in 2000, leaving the dirty work of recounting the awful fate of a once-proud weekly and its beleaguered staff to a new-generation Times scribe, Jeremy W. Peters:

Ms. Brown cast the moves, which coincided with a meeting of the Newsweek-Daily Beast board on Monday, as a restructuring. Mr. Miller will run the operational side of the newsroom while Ms. Rosenthal will help steer the news report. Ms. Brown also recently hired an outside consultant, Lisa Benenson, to help with the restructuring of the magazine.

“I see Newsweek constantly evolving and improving,” Ms. Brown said in an interview on Monday. Describing what effect she hoped the changes would have, she added, “I think it will make it much more nimble.”

Monday’s departures were just the latest moves for a company that has experienced substantial upheaval in the last year. As Newsweek was put up for sale by The Washington Post Company and bought by the audio magnate Sidney Harman, its senior editing team was replaced and its business management turned over. Then in April, Mr. Harman died after a bout with leukemia and his wife, former Representative Jane Harman of California, assumed her husband’s responsibilities on the board.

Staff members at Newsweek and The Daily Beast said the environment there had become difficult in recent weeks. People who work there, who did not want to publicly criticize their bosses, say morale in the newsroom has sunk as Ms. Brown has had more frequent outbursts in front of her employees. “It’s all hell, it’s agony,” she has been overheard telling staff members about the quality of their work, according to one of them.
NOW WE KNOW why the 99 percent drinks.

It's because the 1 percent is bat-s*** crazy . . . and in charge.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Experience a city fighting back

Sorry, Newsweek.

A city that can produce a lipdub deemed "the greatest music video ever made" by Roger Ebert can't be one of "America's dying cities." A dying city isn't just a matter of population losses; a dying city is one that has lost its spirit.

A dying city is one in which the civic culture has unraveled and no one is his brother's keeper.

A dying city has no answer to the question "Why try harder?"

IF THIS LIPDUB is any indication of Grand Rapids' mettle as a metropolis -- albeit a small metropolis -- it's a lot healthier city than Newsweek is a magazine. Is what I am submitting for your approval, as Rod Serling might have said.

Now, I'm not qualified to judge whether Ebert is correct in Grand Rapids having produced the best music video ever, but I'd say this one is at least in the ballpark.

Experience Grand Rapids, indeed!

HAT TIP: The non-profit media conglomerate formerly known as National Public Radio.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stop the presses for thee -- not for me

So, this is how it ends.

Newsmagazines turning on newspapers with sharpened shivs. Self-important and cooler-than-thou tech bloggers turning on dowdy and plodding paper-and-ink scribblers, advocating euthanasia for Grampaw Media. Newspaper publishers turning on their readers, and The Associated Press turning on everybody with a phalanx of suits and lawyers behind it.

Wow, New York University professor Clay Shirky
was right. There is going to be chaos as print trudges down that long Extinction Highway.

THERE'S ALSO going to be ill-tempered snark, callousness and all-around "don't let your mouth overload your ass" bomb-throwing. The latter is courtesy of Newsweek (Really? That hasn't folded already?) technology editor Whatshisname.

Huh? Oh, right. Daniel Lyons. Yeah, that's the ticket:

It's hilarious to hear these folks puff themselves up with talk about being the Fourth Estate, performing some valuable public service for readers—when in fact the real customer has always been the advertiser, not the reader. That truth has been laid bare in recent years. As soon as papers got desperate for cash, they dropped their "sacred principles" as readily as a call girl sheds her clothes. Ads on the front page? Reporters assigned to write sponsored content? No problem.

Now, new companies with names like Politico and Huffington Post and The Daily Beast and Gawker are beating newspapers at their own game. The new guys are faster, and often better. They're leading, with newspapers chasing behind. If the old guys really want to retain their chokehold on the news business, they should consider buying up the new guys. Problem is, the old guys waited too long, and now they're too broke to make acquisitions. Whoops.

Sure, nobody has yet figured out how to make loads of money delivering news over the Internet. But that's partly because there are too many old newspaper companies, stumbling around like zombies: creatures from another century, clinging to their lame old business model, surviving but not thriving—and sucking up money that Internet companies could put to better use.

Instead of giving newspapers bailouts, we should be hastening their demise. The weak papers need to die. The strong newspapers need to go into bankruptcy and restructure their businesses with smaller staffs and lower cost structures. Yes, it will be painful. But journalists will find jobs — and they'll be working in a better, faster medium.
IF THERE'S ANYTHING I dislike more than puffed-up pontificators of pompous pablum (See 'ya, Mr. Safire), it's puffed-up pontificators of pompous pablum holding forth from the Emperor's New Boutique. Does this guy really think Newsweek will last as long as the metropolitan dailies he so wants "out of the way"?

No, I don't want to see a newspaper bailout -- one can't "watchdog" one's master. And, yes, I think newspapers are toast, for all the reasons Lyons cites and more.

But to wish a speedy death upon them? Advocating "hastening their demise"? All while flitting across the piles of rubble and the fields of carnage with a blithe "Yes, it will be painful. But journalists will find jobs — and they'll be working in a better, faster medium"?

That's just bulls***.

Can you say "Famous last words"?

Can you say "Arrogant, stupid and sadistic"?

BEING A COOL, hip and invulnerable newsmagazine guy, Lyons gets to write like an ass and call it analysis. Whistling past one's own graveyard means never having to say you're sorry -- or having to consider that you are calling for the hastened destruction of careers . . . and lives.

Calling for unemployment checks and dashed dreams. For bankruptcies and foreclosures. For divorces and college educations deferred.

Working for an Olympian institution such as Newsweek means never having to consider that people work at newspapers, that you want their livelihoods to disappear, or that bad, bad things happen when people's livelihoods disappear. Especially when your livelihood disappears forever, which certainly would be the case for many of today's remaining working print journalists.

But that's OK. Whatshisname -- oh, right . . . Lowry . . . I mean Lyons -- has it all figured out.

"Yes, it will be painful. But journalists will find jobs."

I guess considering the whole "Where?" and "When?" details are just sooooooo beneath the pay grade of the Newsweek technology editor. Whatever.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ask not whether Obama goes to church

Am I the only person who is really irritated by these unctuous reports from the Politico that President-Elect Barack Obama is not attending church on Sunday? Here is an excerpt from reporter Ben Smith’s dumb story:

As my colleagues Jonathan Martin and Carol Lee noted last week, Barack Obama -- despite undergoing a campaign maelstrom over his pastor -- isn't a regular churchgoer. He didn't often attend Sunday services on the trail, and--unlike Presidents-elect Bush and Clinton--hadn't been since his election.

This is the kind of reporting one would expect from the Christian Broadcast Network, whose editors and reporters presumably view less than weekly religious observance as an offense against God, and as a sign of moral depravity in a public official, but why is this presumably secular publication making such a big deal about it? I regard as an invasion of Obama’s privacy.
JOHN B. JUDIS, it is apparent, guards Barack Obama's privacy much more jealously than does the president-elect himself. I wonder what he would say about a press corps that treated President Bush with such extreme deference?

Obama, for one thing, made his own Christianity a campaign draw in his efforts to court both the religious left and elements of the religious right. Pictured above -- and here -- is a campaign flier from the South Carolina Democratic primary last winter.

Did Obama invade his own privacy? Was that entire aspect of the Obama '08 campaign something "one would expect from the Christian Broadcast Network [sic]"?

Did Obama's Christianity cease to be in the public domain once America cast its ballots Nov. 4?

Has George W. Bush's privacy been violated when commentators of a certain stripe blame his Christianity for every boneheaded thing he's ever done as president? Has Bush's privacy been violated by all the armchair psychoanalysis of how his Christian faith has intersected with public policy?

Indeed, was the Washington press corps way out of bounds when reporters noted Ronald Reagan rarely attended services?

IT IS TOO MUCH to expect perfect objectivity from any journalist -- mainly because such a thing doesn't exist. It is ridiculous to expect such within The New Republic's realm of "viewpoint journalism."

But is it too much to expect a little reportorial legwork . . . and a little intellectual honesty as well?

For example, let's look at the July 12 edition of Newsweek:
The cross under which Obama went to Jesus was at the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ. It was a good fit. "That community of faith suited me," Obama says. For one thing, Trinity insisted on social activism as a part of Christian life. It was also a family place. Members refer to the sections in the massive sanctuary as neighborhoods; churchgoers go to the same neighborhood each Sunday and they get to know the people who sit near them. They know when someone's sick or got a promotion at work. Jeremiah Wright, whom Obama met in the context of organizing, became a friend; after he married, Obama says, the two men would sometimes get together "after church to have chicken with the family—and we would have talked stories about our families." In his preaching, Wright often emphasized the importance of family, of staying married and taking good care of children. (Obama's recent Father's Day speech, in which he said that "responsibility does not end at conception," was not cribbed from Wright—but the premise could have been.) At the point of his decision to accept Christ, Obama says, "what was intellectual and what was emotional joined, and the belief in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, that he died for our sins, that through him we could achieve eternal life—but also that, through good works we could find order and meaning here on Earth and transcend our limits and our flaws and our foibles—I found that powerful."

Maya says their mother would not have made the same choice—but that Ann understood and approved of Obama's decision: "She didn't feel the same need, because for her, she felt like we can still be good to one another and serve, but we don't have to choose. She was, of course, always a wanderer, and I think he was more inclined to be rooted and make the choice to set down his commitments more firmly."

After his stint as an organizer, Obama went to Harvard Law School. He didn't officially join Trinity until several years later, when he returned to Chicago as a promising young lawyer intent on becoming a husband, a father and a professional success. Around the time Obama was baptized, he says he studied the Bible with gifted teachers who would "gently poke me about my faith." As young marrieds, Barack and Michelle (who also didn't go to church regularly as a child) went to church fairly often—two or three times a month. But after their first child, Malia, was born, they found making the effort more difficult. "I don't know if you've had the experience of taking young, squirming children to church, but it's not easy," he says. "Trinity was always packed, and so you had to get there early. And if you went to the morning service, you were looking at—it just was difficult. So that would cut back on our involvement."

After he began his run for the U.S. Senate, he says, the family sometimes didn't go to Trinity for months at a time. The girls have not attended Sunday school. The family says grace at mealtime, and he talks to the children about God whenever they have questions. "I'm a big believer in a faith that is not imposed but taps into what's already there, their curiosity or their spirit," he says.

Amid the hubbub, Obama continued to try to work out for himself what it meant to be a person of faith. In 1999, while still in the Illinois State Senate, he shared an office suite with Ira Silverstein, an Orthodox Jew. Obama peppered Silverstein with questions about Orthodox restrictions on daily life: the kosher laws and the sanctions against certain kinds of behavior on the Sabbath. "On the Sabbath, if I ever needed anything, Barack would always offer," remembers Silverstein. "Some of the doors are electric, so he would offer to open them … I didn't expect that."

Since severing ties with Wright and Trinity, Obama is a little spiritually rootless again. He lost a friend in Wright—and he lost a home, however tenuous those ties may have been toward the end, in Trinity. He has not found a new church, and he doesn't plan to look for one until after the election. "There's an aspect of the campaign process that would not make it a good time to figure out whether a particular church community worked for us," he says. "Because of what happened at Trinity, we'd be under a spotlight."

Nevertheless, his spiritual life on the campaign trail survives. He says he prays every day, typically for "forgiveness for my sins and flaws, which are many, the protection of my family, and that I'm carrying out God's will, not in a grandiose way, but simply that there is an alignment between my actions and what he would want." He sometimes reads his Bible in the evenings, a ritual that "takes me out of the immediacy of my day and gives me a point of reflection." Thanks to the efforts of his religious outreach team, he has an army of clerics and friends praying for him and e-mailing him snippets of Scripture or Midrash to think about during the day.
IF POLITICO is guilty of anything, it's not invasion of privacy. It's of not reading Newsweek.

Invasion of privacy?
Lay off the church thang?

Yea, I pray thee, Brother Judas Judis, giveth thou me a break.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Would you buy a used lobbyist from this man?

Would this be an example of Sen. John McCain being "imprudent," like what one of his friends mentioned to The New York Times in that story the GOP presidential candidate so hotly denies?

Newsweek reports:
A sworn deposition that Sen. John McCain gave in a lawsuit more than five years ago appears to contradict one part of a sweeping denial that his campaign issued this week to rebut a New York Times story about his ties to a Washington lobbyist.

On Wednesday night the Times published a story suggesting that McCain might have done legislative favors for the clients of the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, who worked for the firm of Alcalde & Fay. One example it cited were two letters McCain wrote in late 1999 demanding that the Federal Communications Commission act on a long-stalled bid by one of Iseman's clients, Florida-based Paxson Communications, to purchase a Pittsburgh television station.

Just hours after the Times's story was posted, the McCain campaign issued a point-by-point response that depicted the letters as routine correspondence handled by his staff—and insisted that McCain had never even spoken with anybody from Paxson or Alcalde & Fay about the matter. "No representative of Paxson or Alcalde & Fay personally asked Senator McCain to send a letter to the FCC," the campaign said in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

But that flat claim seems to be contradicted by an impeccable source: McCain himself. "I was contacted by Mr. Paxson on this issue," McCain said in the Sept. 25, 2002, deposition obtained by NEWSWEEK. "He wanted their approval very bad for purposes of his business. I believe that Mr. Paxson had a legitimate complaint."

While McCain said "I don't recall" if he ever directly spoke to the firm's lobbyist about the issue—an apparent reference to Iseman, though she is not named—"I'm sure I spoke to [Paxson]." McCain agreed that his letters on behalf of Paxson, a campaign contributor, could "possibly be an appearance of corruption"—even though McCain denied doing anything improper.

McCain's subsequent letters to the FCC—coming around the same time that Paxson's firm was flying the senator to campaign events aboard its corporate jet and contributing $20,000 to his campaign—first surfaced as an issue during his unsuccessful 2000 presidential bid. William Kennard, the FCC chair at the time, described the sharply worded letters from McCain, then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, as "highly unusual."

The issue erupted again this week when the New York Times reported that McCain's top campaign strategist at the time, John Weaver, was so concerned about what Iseman (who was representing Paxson) was saying about her access to McCain that he personally confronted her at a Washington restaurant and told her to stay away from the senator.
GIVING THE strong impression that you're on the take is imprudent. Galavanting around the country with a hot lobbyist not your wife is imprudent.

Vowing to keep our overstretched armed forces in a Middle Eastern cesspool for 50, 100 or 10,000 years "if need be" is imprudent. Flat-out asserting "there will be other wars" is imprudent, if for no other reason than tipping your hand in a high-stakes international poker game.

Unless you're bluffing. Which -- given the stakes and your opponents' willingness to call your bluff in the name of Allah -- is damned imprudent right there.

What's really imprudent, though, is telling bald-face lies to a press corps that more than has the means, the skill and the motivation to conclusively prove you're a damned liar tout de suite. If McCain, on the verge of securing the Republican nomination, is that contemptuous of the truth then follows up by completely underestimating the press corps, he is a man who has no business in the Oval Office.

We've had a gullet full of just the same -- with catastrophic results -- from its present occupant.