My Archives: February 2003

Friday, February 28, 2003

So the two authors of a new book about the journalist-PR person relationship decide to take things up a notch at their NYC book release party. What better way to do this than with an interpretive dance performed by a man and a woman who undress each other down to skimpy outfits. This display of twisting and writhing is supposed to symbolize the "process that goes on between a journalist and a PR person." The problem, you ask? The book publisher is a part of NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg's publishing empire. And as you can probably guess, the publisher didn't feel like dancing.
And in the same link mentioned here, the former editor-in-chief of Golf Magazine admits that he never even read the publication over his 25-year stint because how-to articles about golf didn't "stir" him. Now he's writing for a competing golf magazine. Hmm.

Posted by Chris @ 04:47 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Do you know that Saddam Hussein owns 2 percent of Lagardere SCA, the French company that operates Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., which publishes Elle, Car & Driver, Women's Day and other magazines? Neither did I. I'm sure all the Southern NASCAR fans who read Car & Driver religiously don't know it, either. Meanwhile, Red Herring Magazine is struggling to find a buyer. Maybe Saddam ought to look into this...

Posted by Chris @ 02:23 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

I've been under the weather for the last few days. Hence, no postings. But I find my return to health thwarted by what I see happening on the news front. For starters, MSNBC dumped Phil Donahue's butt (even though his ratings were on the rise) and is replacing him with Dick Armey (such an unfortunate name). Evidently, an MSNBC study found that Donahue was presenting "a difficult public face in a time of war" (i.e., he had the gaul to offer an opposing view on something). Meanwhile, another MSNBC show host, Michael Savage, is under attack for saying that Hispanics "breed like rabbits" and women "should have been denied the vote." And over at CNN, a new script approval system will require all reporters to screen their stories with "an anonymous source in Atlanta" before they can go on the air. In CNN's words: "A script is not approved for air unless it is properly marked approved by an authorized manager and duped (duplicated) to burcopy (bureau copy)... When a script is updated it must be re-approved, preferably by the originating approving authority."

Sounds like an accounting procedure, not reporting. Someone email me when TV cable stations get back to some semblance of real journalism. Maybe then I'll turn on my TV again. For now, I'm boycotting. Ugh.

Posted by Chris @ 11:51 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Blogging is hot, and Google is trying to get a piece of the action by buying Pyra Labs, a firm that makes blogging software. The word is that Google plans to start a blogging tool or service on its site, something that could make blogging even hotter as a communication tool than email or instant messaging. But critics question the ability of everyday amateurs to "report" on news and issues instantaneously in their own hastily-arranged words. So much for legitimate news, they say. Well, as both a journalist and a blogger, I think blogging holds tremendous potential for creating debate around issues that are going under (or un) reported. Then there's the scoop factor. Just think of it: A 50-year-old reporter for the New York Times gets scooped by a 20-year-old blogger in Iowa who posts something newsworthy on Google. In a few years, journalists could be cruising Google's blog postings looking for news to report. At the very least, competition from bloggers could force journalists to do our jobs better; not a bad thing when you think about it.

Posted by Chris @ 02:48 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

With the media using phrases such as "impending war" to describe the situation with Iraq, some are questioning the use of such adjectives. I, meanwhile, have an impending date with my take out lunch from the local Chinese restaurant -- while I listen to the soothing sounds of Primus' "Jerry was a Race Car Driver," one of my favorite songs since moving to the New South. (It gets a lot of air play...probably not surprising given that this is NASCAR coun'ry.) Dooooog will hunt!!

Posted by Chris @ 01:04 PM EST [Link]

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I'm sitting here watching Frontline, the PBS news show that is by far the best documentary form on television. I highly recommend this weekly series for learning more on a variety of social and international issues. Frontline has a superb series on the Gulf War and Saddam Hussein that is worth checking out if you get a chance. I'd better get back to watching. More later.

Posted by Chris @ 09:45 PM EST [Link]

Monday, February 17, 2003

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch appears to be very in favor of war with Iraq. So much so that this article points out that none of the 178 editors in his stable of reporters around the world seem to be willing to take an anti-war stand in their coverage. Whether this is true or not, it reminds me of the journalism history class I took that covered the rise and fall of William Randolph Hearst, the 19th and 20th Century media mogul widely considered to be the father of yellow journalism (i.e., the power of the owner to control the story and influence the outcome of events in a particular way). Hearst is said to have used his position as a powerful and politically-connected media owner to fan the fervor behind the Spanish-American War of 1898. Only instead of Hearst's famous quote to one of his photojournalists ("You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war"), Murdoch mantra to his TV and print reporters today might be: "You furnish the war, and I'll furnish the salary bonus."

Posted by Chris @ 02:44 PM EST [Link]

Friday, February 14, 2003

So who has the power to declare war? Is it the president, or Congress? Some members of Congress are saying that's their job, not the the president's job. Now these members of Congress are taking the president to court over it, saying the U.S. Constitution prohibits the president from taking the United States to war without adequate debate on the subject, and presumably, a vote by Congress. If you want to confirm for yourself, here's the Constitution. See Section 8, Clause 11. (I already looked.) Seems like these members of Congress have the Constitution to back them up. But today's courts are another matter entirely...

Posted by Chris @ 11:45 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I don't know about you, but media efforts to brand war like it's a new product or play off game is disturbing. Check out these war plans by radio conglomorate Clear Channel.

Posted by Chris @ 07:28 PM EST [Link]

The new Governor of Georgia is following through on one of his campaign promises: to bring back Georgia's old state flag, which prominently features the confederate flag, an offensive symbol of slavery to African Americans. In 2003, doesn't the state of Georgia has better places to put its time and resources than reviving this old reminder of repression and hatred? Having driven Georgia's interstates a few times, I think the state should also ponder its strange juxtaposition of roadside billboards, which alternate every 20 feet between the urgently religious ("Repent now! Only God can save your soul!") and the downright raunchy ("WE BARE IT ALL! Nake women serving breakfast, COUPLES WELCOME! Exit 98!") No lie, Georgia has a chain of nudie diners up and down the state -- appropriately called the "Risque Cafe" -- where completely naked waitresses serve food. Appetizing, and hygienic, too. I ask: where is the Georgia Board of Health on this matter? And why would someone bring his wife or girlfriend to one of these places, unless he's asking for an argument? Maybe I'm missing something here, because I just don't understand the social contradictions of the Bible Belt.

Posted by Chris @ 01:34 PM EST [Link]

Friday, February 7, 2003

Following the election debacle of 2000, more states vowed to update and revise their voting systems. Many states are moving toward computerized electronic voting systems (i.e., the touch screen method). But there's a big problem. The technology companies that are developing these touch-screen voting systems have questionable ties to politicians, ties that raise the spectre of a conflict of interest. Just one example: U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagle, who used to be chairman and CEO of American Information Systems, a company that develops electronic voting systems. His stake in the company is valued at $5 million or more. He's apparently also tied closely to technology company ES&S, which conveniently counts the votes in his home state of Nebraska. Hagle is the first Republican to win election in Nebraska in 24 years. (Hmm...) These conflicts of interest evidently are rampant and, of course, are a very touchy issue. In fact, the person who published the link mentioned here has been threatened by attorneys to take the site down, presumably for naming names and implying there's a coercive effort to commit massive voter fraud on the American people. It's a fascinating link worth checking out.

Posted by Chris @ 11:45 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, February 6, 2003

Here's an interesting article about funding for the Space Shuttle in recent years. BTW, we had the opportunity in November to visit the Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Space Coast. If you're ever down there, you should visit. It's quite an experience. You'll get to go inside a real Space Shuttle, then walk underneath it and look at the tiles. You'll also get to see the Apollo and Gemini rockets. No matter how jaded the media are about how "costly and outmoded" the Space Shuttle has become (see p. 46 of this week's Time Magazine), your perspective changes when you see the real thing up close.

Posted by Chris @ 06:11 PM EST [Link]

According to the latest, it looks like there might be a perp walk in Martha Stewart's future after all. And I might just have to go check out this event. Given the general public's disinterest in media consolidation issues, however, I bet I'd be one of a handful of people there.
Other than this, I'm grieving UNC's loss last night to Doooook (other says "Duke") in men's basketball, an event that in this area is on par with the Superbowl. With UNC, NC State, Duke and Wake Forest all within an hour of each other, North Carolina lives, breathes and eats college basketball, and the "battle of the blues" (Duke-UNC) is still the best rivalry in college sports, even if the players are mostly freshmen this year. In another two years, Duke-UNC will once again be The Game, and I have every confidence that Dook will get a 102-78 wedgie from a bigger team such as Illinois or Cincinnati in the NCAA tournament this year. A girl can dream, anyway. Go, 'Heels!

Posted by Chris @ 01:37 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

From the looks of this new press release from the U.S. Treasury, the government is extending the debt ceiling. This lets the government borrow more money and puts the United States even deeper into debt. The Treasury also warns that Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling even more come springtime if the government is to "finance its operations." Check out the Treasury's Web site. At this point, the balanced budgets of the 1990s are but a memory.

Posted by Chris @ 09:06 AM EST [Link]

Monday, February 3, 2003

I should have a few new assignments to post soon. In the meantime, here's a well-written piece by a fellow freelancer that features yours truly. Back to writing query letters!

Posted by Chris @ 05:30 PM EST [Link]

Sunday, February 2, 2003

My thoughts and prayers are with those astronauts who perished on Columbia yesterday. What brave people to risk their lives to push the boundaries of science. I admire that so much. Scientists (I'm married to one) are among the most unheralded people in our society, and they're doing our most important work. It's a pity that we live in a celebrity-driven culture (does anyone really care what J-Lo is wearing today?) where we give the majority of our media attention to uncreative, untalented, uninspiring, unintelligent celebrities who no one will remember in 150 years. Meanwhile, TV networks give astronauts attention only when they die, and the combined effects of media consolidation, cutbacks that have eliminated subject specialists and the practice of hiring former models for reportorial positions has left us with clueless reporters who can't even begin to understand esoteric issues such as space exploration. It's sad, pathetic and quite frankly, it scares me. Thanks for letting me vent. I needed to. Take care, Chris

Posted by Chris @ 09:14 AM EST [Link]

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