Wednesday, May 27, 2009

San Francisco Chronicle Has Had Wrong Prop 8 Headline Up For Almost A Day

Does anyone know what Prop 9 is? Some mysterious initiative that strips everyone of protest rights? I don't know. Maybe the Chron laid off all the online editors? I took this screenshot yesterday at 5:18, and the page is still up here, with the same headline, as of 9:40 a.m. PST on Wednesday.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Harbinger of the End of the Online Commenting Free-for-All?

According to an article that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday, a judge told a local paper in Alton, Ill., that they must disclose the identities of two anonymous online commentors (a new word?) who posted their thoughts on the beating death of a 5 year old. The judge found that the two posted information that might help the murder investigation.

The Alton Telegraph tried to quash the subpoenas for the commentors' identities by asserting Illinois' journalism shield law, which protects anonymous sources, but the judge axed that attempt.

This reaffirms an adage that most journalists (and probably all lawyers) should know, and likely know already: When it comes to electronic communications, you are never anonymous, and there is no privacy.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New York Times Graphic: 'Roid Rage Responsible for Yankees - Red Sox Rivalry?

According to the Times, "For those keeping score, six of the key participants in those two series ['03 and '04 ALCS] have been linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Like Ants Scurrying Under the Magnifying Glass

Byline Beast of N.Y.: Times’ Sewell Chan Racks Up 422 in Year

On average, if you pick up a copy of The New York Times, Mr. Chan’s name will appear in it 1.15 times. Since he debuted in The Times in November 2004—with a contributor’s credit on a story about the lowering of terror-threat levels—Mr. Chan, now 28 years old, has recorded more than 600 credits. He has covered Hurricane Katrina, the transit strike, the Lake George boating disaster and the fine print of the municipal budget. “He’s a terrific reporter,” said former metro editor Susan Edgerley, who hired Mr. Chan away from The Washington Post. “He’s hugely energetic. He’s curious, smart. He loves coming to work every day. He’s a joy to have in the newsroom.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

More on Reporting v. Blogging

I just read an S.F. Chronicle article from about a week ago that relates to my post on Herb Caen from yesterday. According to reporter Joe Garofoli, savvy Bay Area politicians are courting local and statewide bloggers to further their political ambitions.

A couple money quotes:

It's a relationship bloggers and politicos think can be mutually beneficial - particularly for the candidate, as the relationship is largely free of the adversarial pushback pols receive from traditional media.


While there are bloggers who break news, most do not consider themselves journalists in the traditional sense, but rather opinion-makers who sometimes report. Many are partisans, political geeks who, if they're not tapped into the local political party apparatus, are hardwired into online networks of like-minded people.


Many bloggers see themselves as serving an adjunct function to journalists. Sure, Brian Leubitz regularly breaks news on the Calitics blog he founded ( "But then a (traditional media) reporter will pick it up and do the reporting that I don't necessarily want to do," Leubitz says.

I seem to recall Garofoli as a writer for SF Weekly, though I may be wrong. He appears to have imbued this article with his own grizzled pride at being a "traditional" journalist. I have to say I'm with him on that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Herb Caen as Prototype Blogger

Herb Caen once told his "legman," the guy who does all of a great columnist's grunt work, that he was ruining Caen's items by doing too much reporting.

That's the irony that stood out to me in this Sunday S.F. Chronicle piece by Jesse Hamlin, who wrote about being Caen's legman from 1979 into the 1980s.

When I started with him in '79, I was too thorough of a reporter, in a way; Herb said I was asking too many questions and killing items. He wanted just enough confirmation to verify the basic story.

Far be it from me to critique Caen, a master of his craft. Caen probably worked harder on each of his columns than I have thus far in my journalism career.

But his philosophy, the need to get just enough for a juicy item, smells to me like what most mainstream bloggers do on the Web today.

What I see in too many bloggers today is a readiness to mouth off on rumors and news events without doing any independent reporting. If traditional journalism gradually crumbles to a hard, indestructible core, the act of making enough calls to dependable sources to flesh out the truth will be what remains. That's the difference between most of us and them.

Caen had his sources, but he didn't need to get to the bottom of the story. That wasn't his gig - didn't need to be. In those days, the Chronicle probably had enough of a staff to get the real news out.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beware of Salted Prunes

This little sonuvabitch caused some trouble around the old apartment recently.

It claims to consist solely of salt and prunes. You might as well put a label on the atom bomb that says "Ingredients: Plutonium."

Also: It has "pit fragments." Bullshit. It has pits, period.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Song and a Self-Congratulatory Backslap

Check out an mp3 of Radiohead's Grammy performance with the USC marching band.

Also, I was reading old blog posts, and I stumbled across this one I wrote on Oct. 1:

I would be surprised if McCain wins this election. In the end, I predict an Obama near-landslide, along the lines of a 53-47 popular vote split, if not more. If you look at the Bush-Kerry electoral map from 2004, it seems clear that Obama can turn key states: New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, Florida. If Obama can't pull this off, then I have serious questions about the rationality of the American voter.

The final tally: Barack Obama - 66,882,230 53% John McCain - 58,343,671 46%

Damn you Nader voters for screwing up my prediction! But seriously, thank God I was right. Also, the states Obama flipped from Bush to blue? New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, Florida (and North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Looking Back

Maybe now is not the time to be thinking about W., but this brief Vanity Fair story written by a guy who was college friends with one of Bush's daughters and invited several times to the White House is a great read.

One month after the worst attack in U.S. history, George W. Bush watched a 100-minute-long Anthony Hopkins film called Hearts in Atlantis.

It is an awful movie, and as it drags on I feel increasingly uneasy. Surely the president should be doing something else. Occasionally he gets a phone call from Andy Card, his chief of staff, who, as I understand it, is in the West Wing meeting with the head of the F.A.A. to determine when Washington’s Reagan National Airport will be safe to completely re-open (some flights began operating earlier in the week). Each time the phone rings, I hope the president will excuse himself to join them. But he doesn’t. Over the phone, the president tells the men to “get that airport opened up!” and then heads to bed.

Notes on Obama's Inauguration

-Welp, I think the Iranians proved today that they're prepared to dislike just about anybody.

-Potential Daily Show headlines? "Obama Sworn In; Sen. Kennedy Stricken by Seizure; Dow Drops 300 Points; Supreme Court Chief Justice and President Both Bungle Most Historic Oath of Office in History". It's only fair, right?

-NY Times liveblog is like a treasure trove of hilarious:

The Bushes Depart | 12:56 p.m. The helicopter steps are folded up. The blade begins to rotate. The Obamas and Bidens are standing still, holding each other’s hands, as they watch the helicopter rev up. We now have lift-off; the Bushes have left the Capitol at 12:55 — almost half an hour ahead of time. The Obamas wave.

The helicopter is swinging out over the Mall first instead of heading directly to Andrews. Surely the Bushes can’t hear the crowd below, but the chant is one that sports fans jeer to the opposing team: “Na Na Na Na/Na Na Na Na/Hey Hey Hey/Good-bye.”

-Did Chief Justice John Roberts flub the oath of office? Investigating. Maybe he was pissed that Obama voted against him and was the president of the Harvard Law Review, while Roberts was only managing editor. Update:Obama has retaken the oath out of "an abundance of caution."

-This from the NY Times story "For City Used to Pomp, a Legend is Born": "'Today, we’re hoping to see history,' Anad Thomas, a 32-year-old nurse from Westchester County, N.Y., said as she rode down 16th Street on a crowded bus just before 7 a.m. Her personal survival kit included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and plenty of tissues, along with a camera."

NOOOOO Anad! Don't eat the peanut butter!!