Monthly archive

November 2005 - page 2

Why there will always be local local media

I’ll let the ridiculousness speak for itself (but with emphasis mine):

Probably still best known as the
backdrop to the world’s favourite 80s soap opera, Dallas has now been
named as the Most Fun US City
by Verizon Information Services.

The online local search and shopping site’s travel guide ranked the top 25 cities based on yellow pages listings…

The top 25 list was compiled from more than 1,000 locations and
compared the number of leisure activities listed in the phone

Via Frontburner.

Back to the drawing board?

Jeff Harrell, who blogs at The Shape of Days (and also designed this blog) has some advice for the OSM Pajamas Media folk:

What a fiasco. A week after announcing their new brand identity, upstart media something-or-other PJ Media is back to being … well, PJ Media. Based on the statement issued yesterday by PJ Media founders Charles Johnson and Roger L. Simon, it’s unclear whether the company intends to legally change its name from OSM Media LLC to some variation on the PJ Media monicker, or whether it’s just going to add a doing-business-as to its masthead. Or, for that matter, change its mind again next week and go back to being Original Sauce Media or whatever it was supposed to be.

Guys, branding is important. In trying to get mad word-of-mouth going during their first week of operations, OSM née PJ Media spent a lot of money and got a lot of buzz. Problem is, all of that buzz is now wasted. Every single human being who’s heard of PJ Media a.k.a. OSM now associates the company with an embarrassing kerfuffle over its name instead of with … um … well, I’m still not entirely clear what the company was trying to be. But whatever it was, it’s not that.

Much as it pains me to say it, the best course of action for Chuck and Rog would be to cut their losses, shut the doors, drop out of the public eye, then come out swinging next month with a new venture with a different and better name and a clearer — that is to say, at least slightly clear — plan.

UPDATE: I dunno, Jeff– the gods of new new New media seem to be in a forgiving mood.

Staying in the PJ's

When I saw Jeff Jarvis’ fisking of Pajamas Media’s/Open Source Media’s grandly misguided statement’s of purpose, my immediate reaction was that these guys were letting their boardroom patois slip over into their communications with their readers. As a carrier, it’s easy to recognize the disease.

Turns out, I was right:

So how did this happen in the first place? Back at the
beginning, certain, shall we say, paternalistically minded parties
(i.e., the guys in suits) decided that we should act like grownups, and
being as yet somewhat immature—at least as businesspeople–we did as we
were told.

Which is how, one day, we ended up sitting around a
conference table listening to representatives from a "branding"
company. What followed is still a bit of a nightmarish blur, but it
involved a PowerPoint presentation on the history of names, and such
probing questions as, "If you were an animal, what animal would you
be?" (Which is how we almost ended up as Jellyfish Media.)

said. So, in the spirit of "open source," we thought we’d tell you the
real story behind the reason for our name change. And hope that our
corporate parents will be satisfied with good grades and healthy

A good lesson for all of us in the new new New media.

Another side of the story

Much of the mediati, local and national, has been buzzing over the Star-Telegram’s Ken Parish Perkins’ resignation in the light of  plagiarism allegations. Eric Celeste, Editor of Southwest Spirit, and Ken’s former editor at the Startlegram sent The Frontburner, Romanesko, and us his take on Ken’s and the paper’s actions:

I‘ve calmed a bit since last week, when I was convined Ken Parish Perkins was
wronged by Fort Worth Star-Telegram editor Jim Witt and the entire "family" at
that paper. Since I used to work at the paper (I’m the f
ormer Arts Editor and
Features Editor; I was Ken’s editor when he was hired in 1996), since I have
friends there, and since his wife shared inside information with me, I’ve been
able to come to a fuller understanding of what happened and why. I’m no longer
furious. I’m still upset, though, as I’m not convinced that destroying a man’s
reputation and (possibly) career was the right thing to do. As the cowardly
hit-and-run posts and stories concerning Ken’s character continue to pop
here, I think it’s important that I tell what I know and explain why I hope he
will continue to write for my publication. And since JIm Witt said in his own paper that earning readers’ trust was the central issue here, I’m sure he won’t
mind my shedding additional light on what happened.

A few weeks ago, Ken
wrote a short overnight story that had two sentences describing "The Others" in
the ABC show "Lost." Those sentences were verbatim (with additional information
added in) taken from Entertainment Weekly’s online "L
ost" glossary. Jim Witt
says a "reader" alerted the paper. What Witt failed t
o note in his "full
disclosure" moment was that this reader is an editor at the paper’s regional
competitor, The Dallas Morning News. That editor alerted another editor at the
Star-Telegram, who put the investigation in motion. They found another similar
instance of a graph or two (I’m not sure) that matched up a published story a
few years ago (again, it was background information) and a great many instances
of similar phrasings from, for example, background info found on network web

Thus began the end for Ken. He had no recourse, no ability to
appeal for mercy, because none could be granted. Why not? Because editors are
scared to make decisions on their own. They edit scared every day, in every way.
They’re scared of the Internet, scared of taking a stand, scared of using their
gut, scared of being criticized by readers or fringe media wonks or colleagues
or corporate suits, scared of making a decision that could mess up the sweet
life they’ve carved for themselves. The Star-Telegram was scared that since the
Morning News alerted them, they would do something on it in their paper. Making
an independent decision could get one into trouble.

The solution? Turn
everything over to the runaway train known as "the process." Have a computer
check your work against everything every published, uttered, or thought. Have
committees of people from other papers that evaluate what the response should
be. Have HR drones look up procedures in manuals. Do everything they can to
further dehumanize this business. No longer does an editor walk into someone’s
office, shut the door, and try to offer a response that considers the totality
of man and what he’s given to the paper. They ignore that he turned down a job
in Atlanta because, as he told friends at the time, the paper felt like family,
and he was afraid he’d lose that at a bigger title. They don’t consider that he
stayed at Motel 6s and ate free buffets instead of ordering room service to save
the company money, even though he didn’t always have to.

Taken as a
whole, the number of problems found in Ken’s copy was very troubling. There’s no
denying that. But was it worth destroying a man’s career? I’m sure many would
say yes. I don’t think so. For me, it deserved a sharp reprimand for cutting
corners, and I think a three-day or one-week suspension for the five or so
sentences that appeared to be lifted from another source in two stories. It
would deserve a stern lecture the thrust of which would be, "Ken, even though
you’ve written more than a story a day [on average] for this paper for nine
years, even though you’re balancing a lot with work and two kids, you can’t put
yourself or us in this position again. This is your warning." I know some of the
paper’s management agreed that something similar to this should have been the
path chosen, but those people were overruled.

There’s a lot of things I
still don’t know. I don’t know why Ken did such stupid, careless things. I don’t
know if anyone will ever give him another chance in this business. I don’t know
how many people will join the Ken Parish Perkins dogpile, using third-hand
gossip from gutless "sources" and petty hacks. I don’t know if I’m saying all
this just because I’m a naive fool who believes that a business which tries to
examine the human condition should allow a man a chance to fight his demons,
large and small, before casting him out.

But I’m going to focus on what I
do know. I know Ken has overcome greater obstacles than this. I know he will
survive and, I hope, thrive. I know I would recommend him to anyone. I know Ken
is the best human being I’ve ever met in this business. I know that doesn’t
absolve him his journalistic sins, whatever they may be. But I know it should
count for something, even if it only means that I’ll continue to give him
freelance work as it arises. I’ll do so mostly because I think it’s the right
thing to do, and partly because I’ve alway enjoyed throwing rocks at trains. I
wish more people did.

I don’t know Ken, nor have I ever read a word of his copy. But if Eric says he’s good people, that’s enough for me.

Of course, as suggested by a post on Media Orchard: If local newspapers used their resources intelligently, Ken would have just linked to the EW piece online — and then spent his time writing original copy about things happening locally.

Must-read, the trifecta

It’s been a week full of must-reads… Russell Beattie uses the occasion of Newsvine’s launch to articulate what is at the heart of the difference between our vision and many of the other hyperlocals:

I don’t know what they’re doing exactly, but the “community news
source” is a proven business model and an uptapped need in the current
web. There’s lots and lots of towns, neighborhoods and cities out there
that have a need for someone to keep track of the local school boards,
and high-school sports scores and all that stuff, and write up daily
reports. Forget all this “social news” crap where lazy people read a
bunch of news sources, add a bit of uninteresting, usually uniformed
opinion or analysis and throw it out there as a story. There’s a real
need for professional journalism, but published with a blog-like
versatility, accessibility and accountability. We don’t need more
columnists – we need more journalists, willilng to get their hands
dirty, keep their opinions to themselves as best as possible and help
inform the rest of us of what’s going on in the places we live.

Amen, brother. Well, except for the lack of opinion. We think there’s room for both. It’s like the Michael Keaton line in The Paper:

You’re not a columnist– You’re a reporter who writes long.

Via Staci Kramer.

Ad scarcity? No such thing.

And there never was. As usual, Jarvis says it best.

I wonder where the media placement role will fall in the world of pay-for-performance behavioral advertising. I doubt it will be with the agency.

Quote of the week

Oh, gag me with a mitre.

Jeff Jarvis, in reference to Open Source Media’s (nee Pajamas Media’s) claim that

The goal of our enterprise is to bring gravitas and legitimacy to the blogosphere…

Ouch. A lesson I learned early on, thanks to a fisking from Rex Hammock— that stuff might play in the boardroom, but not with your fellow bloggers.

Go to Top