Pan o Palo

The Transport Countdown On The Com-pu-ter!
January 30, 2009, 8:59 am
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Again, via David Brauer (yeah, I don’t use you for Google Reader, but I still read you every day), here’s video from 1981 from San Francisco TV station KRON on *gasp* reading news on a computer:


January 15, 2009, 10:37 am
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Make your own here.

Chapel Of Bones
January 14, 2009, 9:28 am
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Via the indespensable David Brauer, we get a first-hand account of the, ahem, mood inside Strib headquarters from reporter Bill McAuliffe.

The Freeman Building across the street has been dark for six months or more (looking all too much like the foreclosed-on properties around the city, only super-sized); there’s a sign on the second floor skyway connection saying you can’t get there anymore. The basement gets more abandoned furniture shoehorned into it every day – the work stations where people we knew well spent their days. I suppose since we can’t sell ad space we’re soon going to be selling used office furniture. There’s so much of it down there they’re having a hard time keeping the exits clear. It’s like the Chapel of Bones.

I do wish someone would remove the Peanuts statues from the park across the street, but the person who put them there probably thinks they’re morale boosters, even with their peeling paint. Though that person very well might be gone…

Meanwhile, we’ll have to figure out how to accomplish the work we think needs doing – once we decide what that is. More investigations? You betcha! But don’t we have to fill some suburban zone sections? Who’s going to cover for the copy editors and team leaders who are leaving or have left? So we rotate reporters into Terry Collins’ general assignment swing shift, or Bennie Cohen’s obituary job. That takes them off their regular duties for a day a week. Lost continuity, distraction, confused sources, missed or late stories – they will follow.

And yet. . .this is in some ways an exciting time and place. Blindly we’re trying to figure out new ways to present news and information – video, slide shows, audio, blogs, mobile functions. We hope people will notice and value it. Video is certainly not our strength and it’s not why I got in this business, but it can be goofy fun (kind of like blogging!) and ultimately maybe we’ll learn how to use it effectively. Meanwhile, it means trying to tell the same story in several different ways under continual deadlines. Sometimes it seems like we’ve just re-invented AM radio news and thought of it as a great advance, while adding ever more work to everybody’s load.

One can only hope that, which ever medium comes out of this, that we’ll have people as passionate and sincere as Bill to contine to relay the day’s events.

Media Mania
January 2, 2009, 11:09 am
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It pains me to watch the slow death of “The Newspaper of the Twin Cities”.  I suppose, because of its Capital-investmentism and declining ad revenue, it’s going to be a sure bet that the Strib is going to the wayside rather painfully.

It keeps getting worse.

According to a staff memo, the Star Tribune will combine its “A” and “B” sections on three January Mondays “to gauge reader reaction.” Presumably, if readers don’t scream, the Strib’s national and local news sections will stay smushed together.

The Strib will begin the change Jan. 12, right around the time it could file for bankruptcy.

And worse.

Both Nick and Katherine write the kinds of very political columns that most newspapers would be more likely to feature on their editorial or “Op-Ed” pages than in their local news sections, and we have decided that, at a time when the economy is in a deep decline and advertising revenue is suffering, we would rather use these two full-time positions for reporting the news than for expressing opinion. We will continue to have Metro section columnists, but they will write columns that are not as overtly partisan.

Just.  Awesome.  Partisanism is their concern right now?  Not the collapsing economy?  Why is Chris Harte feigning that politics is even in play right now?  The financial constraints that we’re all under right now could (almost) justify axing two columnist jobs, but it’s somehow in the interest of political neutrality?  I don’t get it.

Granted, my newspaper experience is limited to a temp position in the PiPress’ classified department and delivering a few newspapers as a kid, so I’ll leave the expert detail of the industry up to the Brauers and Lamberts of the world.  Regardless, it still pisses me off that this is happening to “my” newspaper.  It pisses me off that this would happen to any newspaper, or semi-serious news organization that purposes to have the publics best interest in mind.  Let’s hope that a lot of this is hyperbole.