The Washington Post’s new CMS eliminates the option to “spike”a story to indicate it wasn’t going to make it in the paper. The anachronistic newsroom colloquialism was replaced instead with the colorless “delete.”
The Post’s John Kelly writes:
To “spike” a story is to eliminate it before it sees print. It has its origins in a physical act. If you look at old photos of newsrooms from the ’30s or ’40s, you will see eyeshade-wearing men, their sleeves held up with garters, sitting at long tables. Sticking up from those tables are metal spikes. A story that was insufficient for whatever reason would be smashed atop the spike, the paper perforated and pinioned like a butterfly or the head of a traitor. We long ago stopped using metal spikes, but the word persisted. In our old computer system, you could dispatch a story by clicking on a drop-down menu, highlighting the word “Spike” and clicking enter. It was a bloodless, digital spiking, but I always got a kick out of knowing the word connected me to journalism’s past. Continue reading
Declining advertising revenue, slow adoption of new technologies and fealty to a crumbling old model of news distribution were already doing a number on the psyche of the average news reporter. But this one is a
pretty low blow. Scientists in Tokyo, who apparently have nothing better to do than jabbing a salt-covered pencil into the eyes of journalists worldwide, like say oh, I don’t know, creating a viable renewable energy infrastructure or attacking the moon or building more of these things that will take on the responsibility of driving your drunk ass home or limiting the number of emails I get with the word ‘fuckstick’ in the subject line, have created a journalist robot that can gather and publish basic information. More from SingularityHub:
Researchers at the Intelligent Systems Informatics Lab (ISI) at Tokyo University have developed a journalist robot that can autonomously explore its environment and report what it finds. The robot detects changes in its surroundings, decides if they are relevant, and then takes pictures with its on board camera. It can query nearby people for information, and it uses internet searches to further round out its understanding. If something appears newsworthy, the robot will even write a short article and publish it to the web.
OK, so this article is a bit vague here, and does not provide any examples of work the RoBernstein has produced (“5-8 bit clips minimum; applicant robots should also include a cover letter and several reference programs”) or any information on how it would possibly be used, so I’m not entirely buying the game-changing tone of the article just yet. It’s unclear what counts as “changes in its surroundings,” how it considers these changes relevant, how it chooses which photos to take, what sort of questions it asks bystanders and how it processes the answers. The post’s author hypothesizes the robots could be used in battle zones too dangerous for human reporters to enter. Continue reading
Been meaning to post this funny and dead-ass skewering of TV news style, with much thanks to Kathlyn for the tip.
The BBC’s Charlie Brooker, essentially a limey Jon Stewart, on how to report the news.
Not that print journalism doesn’t have its own well-worn and weary styles lazy reporters fall back on all the time. How many times have you read a celebrity profile that opens up with something like: “Mark Linn-Baker sat across from me munching pensively on his cracked pepper mescalin salad, as he chewed over the cosmic fundamentalism of a digital world where cousins can longer truly be strangers. “You’d be surprised how much the invention of Geneology.com and Facebook would have shattered the original TGIF lineup,” Linn-Baker said while ripping off a heel of 15-grain ciabatta loaf and dipping it into the tub of triple-pressed olive oil carried over to him by an obsequious publicist wearing a leather thong.
Everyone’s favorite punching bag:
Well duh. From a story in The Independent (UK) on Monday:
People working in media, publishing and entertainment sectors are the heaviest drinkers, according to the Department of Health. They consume an average of 44 units a week, almost twice the recommended maximum amount of three-to-four units a day for men, and two-to-three for women.
Job by job: The alcohol league
*Media, Publishing and Entertainment sectors 44 units per week
*IT workers 34 units per work
*Service sector workers and retail 33 units per week
*Finance, insurance and real estate 29 units
*Education and transport workers 24 units
It’s from England, and it’s a bit of a broad category (does entertainment include everything Amy Winehouse has consumed?), but I don’t doubt it’s true for just media and similar in America too. I’ve been waiting for them to add “hard drinking” to the list at Stuff Journalists Like. I bet it’s on its way. Hard drinking and hard deadlines are like a test of your worth among seasoned press folk: “Do it without vomiting next time and then you can call yourself a reporter, kid.”
A hallmark trait of working at a newspaper is having to cover a fire, car wreck or plane crash with a hangover mocking and jabbing you from its comfortable perch in the back of your brain. I once was wrenched away from a sedate hangover-at-the-desk-day to go stand in the rain for hours covering a major bank heist on Hilton Head (by the Bandaged Bandit, if any y’all remember him) until I couldn’t take it any more and had to slip behind some bushes to … you know … do what you do behind bushes on a hangover day. And the story was still pretty damned good, if I do say so myself (and I do).
Many reporters I know have stories about being called into duty after hours when they were already a few steps into their cups. This guy once came stumbling up to our newspaper office at GW at 2 a.m. drunk and in a mad scramble for a notebook so he could go report on the big frat/student
government candidate party that was getting busted. We had sent him to the party undercover and he made sure to blend in by drinking lots of beer (why I was at the newspaper office at 2 am on a Saturday has nothing at all to do with not having any friends or being an irreconcilable newspaper nerd, btw). Now he works for Newsweek, has been to Iraq a few times and was interviewed on NPR and appeared on The Daily Show on the fifth year anniversary of the war. So, yeah.
It’s hard times out there for people in media and publishing, and “media/publish” is probably on track to overtake “professional alcoholic” in terms of highest beverage consumption demographics. But are things really that bad for you IT folks that you are not far behind? YOU HAVE ALL THE JOBS WE USED TO HAVE! Maybe it’s celebratory drinking?
I used to try to raise a glass in honor of every paper we’ve lost or significant layoff that is announced. Then I died from alcohol overdose and my doctor recommended I stop for a minute.