Tag Archives: New York Times

An elegant news feed for a more civilized age

Been spending a lot of time this week playing with and exploring the new iPhone, getting caught up on the last three years of technical and social innovations I’ve been in the dark about. Cut to scene in our kitchen on Tuesday where I was again giving an awesome demonstration of the capabilities of the Lightsaber app, through which you can brandish your space phone and have a simulated — even musically soundtracked — laser sword battle. Upon completion, roommate Brittany said to me: “So is that how you’re going to get a new girlfriend?”

As I was loading up other apps, I couldn’t help but be baffled why the New York Times app, which provides updates from all sections of  the paper in an eye-friendly format, was free, while this skeeball app — and all its incumbent Jersey shore nostalgia — cost 99 cents.

If I can drop a dollar to spend hours trying to win pretend plastic combs and erasers, I can justify spending at least another dollar on the top news of the day.

But you shouldn’t have to pay for the lightsaber app. Lightsaber, like information, wants to be free.

More journalism lulz

1) From part 3 of Held by the Taliban, New York Times reporter David Rohde’s account of his kidnapping and seven months held in captivity by Taliban extremists:

I argued that the United States was not the menacing, predatory caricature that they believed. I also tried to counter their belief that all Americans were astonishingly rich. Nothing I said, though, seemed to change their minds.

One day, I received a copy of Dawn, an English-language Pakistani newspaper, that featured an article on the perilous financial state of The New York Times. I saved the newspaper until commanders stopped by for visits.

Showing them the headline “New York Times Struggles to Stay Afloat,” I explained that the American newspaper industry — as well as the American economy — was in a free fall. They listened to what I said and nodded. Then, they ignored me.

HA! Stupid terrorists. Your naive Pollyannaism about the newspaper industry is downright charming. Maybe I could hand the phone over to a copy boy or a rewrite girl instead? Don’t you even read Romensko?!

Which brings us to:

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News miles: Rethinking your info diet

This story is fucking riveting and you better be reading it:

Held by the Taliban, reporter David Rohde’s account of being kidnapped and held prisoner by the Taliban for seven months until finally escaping. Loaded with intense moments like this one:

On the first day there, I went to the bathroom and returned to find Tahir with a fresh cut on his calf. It looked as if someone had drawn a line across his leg in red ink. A local Waziri militant had taken out his knife and tried to cut off a chunk of Tahir’s calf, saying he wanted to eat the flesh of an Afghan who worked with Westerners.

Part 1

Part 2

The story is also notable for the execution of one of the most successful — and largest — media blackouts ever when the Times asked other news orgs to not run the story out of concern for complicating the release of the prisoners.

Yeah, guess which one of the below have similar stories to share?

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Twins: double the J job market woes

I can barely even read through stories like this any more. But this story is a fairly dead-on portrayal of the Sisyphean task of hunting for journalism jobs today. Especially with lines such as:

Apparently, even a canned response was impossible in New York.

I usually describe the process as a perpetual cycle of screaming into the void, especially back in yonder ancient days when you could spend hours a day assembling packets of clips (and resumes, and cover letters, and clip descriptions, and printed-out versions of online content) and dropping them into a mailbox, releasing the package to some terrible in-pile purgatory or waste bin damnation, maybe never even given the humble nobility of having a pen knife slid across the glue seal to release some of the pressurized optimism stuffed inside. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad, but I would have no way of knowing otherwise.

If science (once it’s done fighting the moon over there so we don’t have to fight it here) ever explores the outer reaches of the galaxy, I would not be surprised to hear a report one day of the mysterious texture of some extra-solar planet, with jagged rock formations and sloping dusty mountainsides, barren save for a small, slowly growing pile of 11×17 manilla envelopes seemingly expelled from the sky above and left there unmolested, their glue seals and optimism still firmly in place.

And this is one of the better ideas I’ve heard in a while:

Katie launched into “Nowhere Man,” then “In My Life,” the sax’s mournful wail ringing through the tunnels in the Times Square subway station on a Friday afternoon. Her sign read: “Don’t Give Money, Give Business Cards.”

Jobs Wanted, Any Jobs at All


(NYT) SEVENTEEN months out of Rutgers University, they live in an unwelcome continuum of mass rejection. Between them, Kristy and Katie Barry, identical twins who grew up in Ohio, have applied for some 150 jobs: a magazine for diabetics, a Web site about board games and a commercial for green tea-flavored gum; fact-checking at Scholastic Books, copy editing for the celebrity baby section ofPeople.com, road-tripping for College Sports Television.

They did not get any of these. More than a year has lapsed without so much as an interview. Apparently, even a canned response was impossible in New York.

“I wake up hopeful and check my e-mail and then all there is is the Merriam-Webster word of the day,” Katie lamented. “Or a stupid Facebook thing. So-and-so sent you a puppy. Or a drink. Great!”

Keep reading….

Is a profile in the Times a fast-track to getting employment? Daily Intel is following.

This Week in Great Sentences

Maybe the only time Pat Conroy and a particular brand of naughty bits have appeared together in the same blog post?


What fresh hell is this?

David Carr, “You’re gone. But, hey, you can reapply,” NYT 8/30, commenting on The (Westchester) Journal News’ plan to force 288 news and advertising employees to reapply for their jobs.



God can forgive a lot of things but he can’t forgive what we’ve done to Bluffton, South Carolina.

author Pat Conroy, as quoted by Justin Paprocki, “Pat Conroy returns with Charleston-based novel,” Island Packet 8/23


Whether or not his compass was finally true, he endured as the battered, leaky vessel through which the legislative arts recovered some of their lost glory.

Sam Tanenhouse, “In Kennedy, the last roar of the New Deal liberal,” NYT 8/30


There is only one way to make money at writing, and that is to marry a publisher’s daughter.

George Orwell, Down and Out and Paris and London, 1933


Dildos, like cars and chocolate bars, are produced on assembly lines, and the

at the factory

at the factory

operatives who busy themselves molding, massaging, and cleaning them are not the sweaty-palmed phallophiles you might think they are. They’re about as normal as an average German mother, albeit one who might turn a blind eye to the bondage gear littering your living room when she makes a surprise visit.

Conor Creighton,” Surrogate Cocks, Inc.,” Vice Magazine (sometime earlier this summer)

Bag it, Tag it: A post-mortem for the New York Sun

You learn lots of interesting things about people when you have a grocery eye view of their world. In the space of two tightly packed paper bags, you can tell who’s vegan, who’s only able to buy groceries with government assistance, who’s getting government assistance for groceries but can still afford an iPhone and Chanel bag, whose kids need an extra boost of protein, the number and appetite of people’s cats, etc.

Today I learned that one of the last things the New York Sun did was to give very nice, sturdy and easy to carry tote bags to its employees. Then it ceased publication and laid nearly everybody off.

This I found out from the woman at my register today who brought the bag to fill with her groceries. She used to cover music for the Sun until it shuttered in September of last year.

Do you still write at all? I asked

“Yes, if I can find anyone who will actually pay me to do it.”

The Sun was an interesting and worthwhile (despite reportedly hemorraghing $1 million a month) experiment in big-city journalism that launched in 2002. Interesting because it attempted to land a massive, fully armed battle helicopter right on the crumbling ledge of the cliff the rest of the print world was digging into with cracking fingernails. Worthwhile because it highlighted smart writing, intelligent coverage and tried to inject the kind of sensible, academic conservative dialogue that William F. Buckley advocated into the New York City liberal gestalt. Worthwhile also because the introduction of a new newspaper in New York City in 2002 was a big, steaming middle finger to the prevailing trends at the time that even that frozen bag of edamame I put in the woman’s bag could have seen was a ridiculous time to invest money in a new print publication with a staff of 110 full-timers.

The Sun’s closure last fall was immenent and anticlimactic, because it didn’t have the cultural tenure of The New York Times or the Daily News, or the intensely important niche coverage of the Wall Street Journal and because it was appreciated more in concept than in practice.

I told the woman that I am also a former newspaper reporter, that I still cover music for the paper down South (though that is gradually and predictably fading away) and had some stuff run on Billboard at my peak (though I haven’t heard a word from them since my one connection left to be the music director for Jimmy Fallon’s show).

“Have you tried blogs?” the lady asked, a question which I couldn’t immediately determine whether it was borne out of hopeful sincerity or sarcastically sadism.

Yes, I said. And the truth is, I said, I’m more interested in just being involved in important writing than I am in getting paid for it, but it would be nice to make a living off it again some day.

Her advice: A friend of hers, Michael Azerrad, wanted to be a music writer. He started writing dozens and dozens of back-of-the-book reviews for Rolling Stone for barely any pay. Then, finally, he became a top writer for the magazine before writing Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, probably the definitive biography of the band published just a few months before Kurt (or Courtney … OH NO HE DIDN’T) shot himself.

“Sometimes you just have to write for low pay or free or whatever until you get to that level of name recognition before you can move on to something better,” she said. “Of course, that was in the 80s.”

She talked about how she writes for some blogs herself for not much pay nowadays. “Everyone’s having trouble,” she said, which made me feel slightly better about my situation, just like when I read the tweet (still don’t care for that word) from Susan Orlean the other day about her fellow Nieman fellows being out of work.

No, I didn’t get her name. I was about to ask but then she ran off, not even opting to fill out the raffle ticket you get when you bring your own bag, even if it is for a defunct media enterprise.

The history of journalism is littered with the empty shells of worthy competitors who held their own against the big city titans but were ultimately plowed under by financial problems or natural selection. The Raleigh Times lost out to the N&O eventually. The Washington Star is the prime example — a paper that probably at times hit harder and faster than The Washington Post, with a scrappier attitude that certainly kept the editors and reporters at the bigger Post on their toes, always wary of what the competition was up to. The Star was lousy with talented journalists who went on to do great things: Howie Kurtz, MoDo, Fred Barnes, Jack Germond, Mary McGrory and many others (including like 10 of my J school profs at Maryland) worked there before it shut down in 1981, a month before I was born [shotgun on the book idea about the Washington Star, fyi, you idea-grubbing hounds]. The Sun stood toe-to-toe with the Times on some of its cultural reporting, but just couldn’t make ends meet in this print-purging environment.

It reminded me of another transaction at the register about two weeks ago. The woman fumbled with her purse and pulled aside a few loose bills and change.

“Oops, that’s my newspaper money,” she said.

You seem a bit old for a paper route, I said.

“No, I use it to buy papers with,” she said. “Three papers a day, ever since I was a kid. The Times, the Post and the Daily News.”

Wow, good for you, I said, not revealing my ink-stained background.

She went on an unprovoked rant about how important newspapers were as grease in the wheels of democracy, how blogs will never replace the in-depth reporting of newspapers, how she doesn’t even look at ads online but will sometimes actually seek them out in the print paper (you’re looking at them online, even if you don’t realize it, I thought, and it’s a marketer’s dream that lives in your subconscious).

Good for you, I said with sincerity. I told her I worked for newspapers for a few years before being effectively chased out.

“You should get back into it,”  she said. “Don’t give up on it!”

Uh, yeah. If only it were that simple.

Then today I came across this bit of info from the Nieman J Lab web site (see how deliciously circular these posts are?) a few weeks ago talking about how the New York Sun web site is threatening resurgence. The site still grabs about 100,000 hits per month even in its defunct state (by comparison, this site has reached about 3,500/month at its peak), and is showing signs of life with new blog posts and a resumption of the Out and About column online.

As I was writing this, my roommate and I had a brief conversation about how solid the writing in The Sun was particularly in its arts-and-culture side, and how interesting it was for the right-of-center publication to try to stake out a place in New York City.

Maybe The ethos of the Sun still has a place in New York City. Maybe the enthusiasm of the customer who sets aside her money for three papers every day will spread wide and far.

But before she left, the lady with the New York Sun bag said this:

“Well, maybe I’ll end up working at Trader Joe’s some day.”

Hell, I said, that’s how I ended up here. Another employee, James, used to work at the now-shuttered Ann Arbor News and the Detroit Free Press before landing in TJ’s BK.

But we’re not hiring right now, lady, so just get in line, OK?


For the New York Times to place this sticker:


on the same page as this note:

cityWhich says:

“This is the last issue of The City. Starting next weekend, to consolidate local coverage and reduce costs, it will be replaced by a new section, Metropolitan, a showcase for distinctive writing, ambitious photography and innovative storytelling about New York and its suburbs. The new section will include some features from The City as well as the television listings now located in the back of the main news section.”

Also cut: Escapes, which, I admit, I had a hard time differentiating from “Travel.” More on the cuts here.

Balls. Unless the 50 percent off was in reference to the amount of content you will be receiving with your home subscription.