Monthly archive

June 2005

Late … to a pulp

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Not to jump on the anti-print bandwagon, but how mad am I that the first time I think I have a good answer for the New Yorker‘s caption contest, the deadline is past BEFORE I get my copy of the magazine in the mail?

So, regardless of what you think of the "real" winner, here’s mine:

"All the A-list bloggers said that the Long Tail is the wave of the future, so the call to my neighborhood primatologist was a no-brainer."

Thank you veddy much. Tip your waiter. Try the veal.

Is this thing on?

Delayed gratification bullets

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While we were out:

Yet even more SPCA. Again.

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As promised, here’s the additional SPCA info I was sent during the transition period:

First, an anonymous reader sent me the following email:

Hi Mike!
 
After reading your article and the SPCA’S response to some of the
allegations I decided to go over to Pam Chennaults home and see for myself.   
Since I live in Sulphur Springs, Texas and I am a dog breeder myself.   
 
We called Pam, and asked about the story and then asked if we could come
see for ourselves.   I had already told her that it was reported that she had
deplorable conditions "again".    She invited my husband and I over with about
30-45 minutes notice.   We went, and
I asked Pam if I could take pictures and she said  "please do".  I told her
what I planned on doing with the photos, and she said that she wanted me to.
 
SO, you will find pictures of Pam Chennaults place that I took last week
attached.  Today is June 22,2005 just for a reference. 
 
Please respond!

It was followed almost immediately by the following email:

I hope you look at these, and see that she doesn’t have 75-100 dogs.  She
has approx 45 dogs, and they are in good shape. 
 
Pam’s neighbor is giving her fits, and that is who is causing all the
problems.  He hates her, and he is trying to sabotage her.  If you will look
closely at the photos you will see his red truck parked next to the fence.   He
will sit in that truck and honk the horn for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, and
keep the dogs tore up.  He & his wife take video footage everyday of  her
and her dogs.   
 
Pam’s friend Debbie spoke with Butch Adam’s, the sherriff of Hopkins
County, and he said there is no ongoing investigations into Pam Chennault’s
activities.  Pam actually invited the sherriff out to her place last week after
we were there, and although Mr. Adam’s couldn’t go, he did send another deputy
out to see.    The deputy said the place was clean, and the dogs looked good.
 
Also,  in your reporting you have mentioned calling to speak with people
involved in the reporting of this case…. have you called Pam??   Her number is[redacted].  I am sure she would welcome you to come see for yourself.    Her
email is [redacted]

I’ve included the relevant photos in the continuation. Emphasis on relevant, as some of the pictures are of desks, random furniture, etc.

These anonymous emails bring up two points, one actually relevant to the business mission of this blog:

  1. To me, these pictures only prove my earlier point that this debate is largely a matter of individual standards. To me, who just got done sharing a late dinner with my dogs after swimming with them in our pool, the pictures that the reader sent are appalling. Dogs in small cages, whether clean or not, don’t impress me.
       
    BUT, can I say that these dogs, as pictured, need to be rescued and taken to different cages at an SPCA facility? No. Whether I personally approve or not, there is not legal "abuse" in these pictures.

    (To be fair, nothing about these photos indicates how many dogs there are, or were at the time of the raid.)
       

  2. I did not contact Pam. Because I am so busy with issues related to our business, I don’t intend to do any more direct research on this matter. And yet this is the point relevant to our business as relates to citizen journalism:
       
    If a journalist I was paying hadn’t tried to talk to Pam Chennault, I’d be hopping mad. It’s reporting 101. But, I, acting as a citizen journalist in this case, didn’t find the time to make that extra call or visit. Can I be blamed for that? If I’m holding myself out as a professional reporter, absolutely. As an unpaid, interested party, I don’t know that it can be expected.
       
    There is, of course, a certain "If you can’t stand the heat, get outta the kitchen" argument that says that I shouldn’t have jumped into this fray if I wasn’t prepared to go all the way. And, if you’re a journalistic ethics purist, that’s probably true.
       
    But if that’s the standard, you can’t expect many people to participate as citizen journalists. You can expect honesty; reasonable diligence; etc., but you can’t expect the same time and resources.
       
    This is a primary reason that we don’t believe in a "pure" citizens journalism model, at least as a substitute for the mainstream media.
       
    BUT, put the energy and agitation of citizen journalists in the same room as the paycheck and obligations of professionals–
       
    That could be revolutionary.

The same anonymous reader followed with another email:

Hi Mike!
I promise that I am not going to be a crazed person that emails you with
every little piece of information, but I think this is noteworthy for you.
 
Mr. Sam Stephens  Posted the following to your site on June 16, 2005, and
on Monday, June 20th  the SPCA was at his door following up on an anonymous
complaint.   I think it is more than coincidence, do you??           For this
very reason, I do wish to remain anonymous and hope that you will grant this
request.     I realize that you are listing to the SPCA side, and that is fine
by me. 
But, you need to ask yourself just one question…. Why are
there more animal shelters in this country than those for the homeless, or
battered women & children???
 
ANSWER:  Animal Shelters bring in more money $$$$$$$$$$$$$

I emailed Sam, and he confirmed that he was investigated and says that he passed with flying colors. He pointed out that it seems a strange coincidence, and complained that when the SPCA comes out based on a complaint, the complainant is anonymous.

The anonymity of complainants is a tough issue. In the end, I don’t think it it justified, as it leaves open the possibility of abuse, or the appearance thereof.

Finally, to the anonymous reader’s money argument, I still can’t find any credible evidence to suggest that the SPCA makes big money off of seizures. $150/dog minus expenses? Not a business I’d jump into, and I’m a pursuer of Quixotic media launches.

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Are you with us?

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If you’re here, that means that not only has our blog made the transition, but you have too.

Do me a favor: First person to get here, leave me a comment so I’ll know it worked.

Thanks!

Sit tight

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There’ll be a little weirdness here at the ol’ Daily Peg
for the next few days. We’ve finally grown up and gotten our own
TypePad account, so the blog will be migrating, with cleaned up links
on the side rails and various other changes. Plus, we’re putting a
placeholder marketing site up at the main domain in the hopes that
folks will stop thinking that this blog is our final product.

For now, all domains will still work, but in a few days, those using
the "shapeofdays.com" URLs and RSS feeds will need to make a switch.
For all I know, there’ll be a brief time where the site isn’t
accessible at all.

Confused yet? Good. We’re in this together. Better instructions TK.

In the meantime, I’m not going to post much here, because I’ve
already ported the content to the new site, and I don’t want to have to
post everything twice.

Also, be warned that if you make a comment or trackback during this period, it won’t make the move.

I’ve gotten emails from several folks with new information on the
SPCA imbroglio, and I’ll deal with that a.) once the blog is moved and
b.) once I decide how to handle it. There’s a good related post brewing
about what this whole experience has taught me about stand-alone
citizen journalism (as opposed to a hybrid). To do justice to
investigating the interesting stuff coming my way (and the loose ends
from the earlier posts), I’d have to drop my other unpaid job that has
little to do with investigating animal seizure issues. Obviously can’t
do that, but I want to give a fair hearing to these folks.

So hang tight friends. We should be back in the game in 24-48 hours. soon.


UPDATE SUNDAY NIGHT: It’s harder to move a blog than one might
think, at least all the prettiness and formatting thereof. Should be
done by Tuesday. In the meantime, you can go ahead and update your
bookmarks:

  • www.pegasusnews.com will get you our homepage. Just a placeholder for now.
       
  • blog.pegasusnews.com is the blog address. It might go dark for a couple hours, but should remain the same.
       
  • All RSS feeds should remain unchanged. Let me know if that’s not the case.

"It's like the not-too-distant future in here!"

in Uncategorized

Dave Morgan of Tacoda:

Given the enormous
cost structures attendant to newspaper publishing, from buying
newsprint and operating printing presses to paying the salaries of
editors and reporters, these companies can sustain price destruction
for only so long. In the old days of two newspaper towns, once one got
a significant upper hand in the rate card battle, it started pushing
the other in a downward profit spiral that ended with either the
shutting down of the weaker newspaper, or its consolidation into a
government-sanctioned joint operating agreement with certain shared
services. There have been few other outcomes. It didn’t matter how
popular the newspaper was with its readers. It was all about
advertising.

That is what newspapers are
facing today. The swarms of Internet competitors are creating the
effect of a second newspaper when it comes to capturing local ad
dollars.

    What does this mean? 


This means that local ad pricing will drop, and competitively driven
pricing schemes, like performance-based pricing and auction-based
sales, will take hold.

While I think that this is a problem for newspapers to think about, I don’t know that it will (quickly) have a major impact in any decline. We, for instance, will be a great deal for lots of advertisers, but primarily those niche and neighborhood folks down the Long Tail who don’t currently advertise in the daily newspaper because it’s not efficient or affordable for them.

I think folks downmarket from the dailies will feel the pain much sooner.

I pledge allegiance to…what?

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We’ve talked a lot about standards for user submissions, reviews and comments on our site post-launch. There’s an interesting online discussion between Jeff Jarvis and Dan Gillmor re: a citizen journalist pledge.

It’s a tough issue, one which I’m sure we’ll change our tack on several times before we get it right. I like Jarvis’ two worder: Be honest.

But I think I prefer: Be responsible for your own actions.

How to enforce that and encourage lots of participation? That’s the rub.

And another issue to think about: Moderation of photos.

Circulation still a "dopey" metricFrancisco Franco still dead

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Miles Groves has an interesting column up at INMA (reg req.) in which he discusses the debate on circulation versus readership as the barometer of newspaper value. He argues that while readership is fine for selling advertisers, circulation is the Gold Standard for valuation.

We think both miss the boat. That’s why we’re going to try to sell advertising on an entirely different metric. And we’d much rather have 100,000 subscribers that read every day and post comment/content weekly than 1 million who don’t really engage.

But that’s just us. Some people think we’re crazy.

SPCA update

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UPDATED and corrected 11:02 AM

Just a couple follow-up notes on the SPCA coverage a couple weeks ago:

I never heard back from the SPCA on my outstanding questions. But,
to be fair, not being a full-time reporter, I never pursued them beyond
our last email exchange. And there’s not much they’re likely to tell me that would change my opinion at this point.

Today, Gretel Kovach at the DMN followed up on the issue, answering a couple of the questions I’d asked:

  • An SMU law professor thinks that the law precluding appeals in surrender/execution cases is unconstitutional.
       
  • The SPCA testifies on the winning side 90% of the time, which
    (depending on your point of view) means that they only pursue good
    cases or that justice is skewed.
       
    I go back to my old saw here:
       
    2,308 investigations.
    13 seizures.
    .5%

I do have one quibble with the DMN piece, though…

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Business plan revealed

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We’ve taken a lot of flack for being a bit obtuse on this blog regarding our plans. Finally, thanks to our bargain-basement CRM consultant, we’re ready to reveal all, below and in the continuation:

We will leverage the power of action-items to visualize.

Pegasus News practically invented the term "re-sizing".   
It sounds astounding, but it’s true!
Think macro-robust, subscriber-defined. 
What does the term "mindshare" really mean? 
We will redefine the commonly-accepted term "infinitely reconfigurable". 
Without meticulously-planned methodologies, deliverables are forced to become bleeding-edge.
What do we redefine?  Anything and everything, regardless of anonymity!
What does the term "leading-edge" really mean?
It seems marvelous, but it’s 100% accurate! 
What do we synthesize?  Anything and everything, regardless of semidarkness!

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