November 24, 2008
“Bailout” is quickly becoming the media’s overused buzzword du jour.
Spurred by coverage of the economic bailout and now the auto industry bailout, writers and editors are going out of their way to inject the B word into as many stories as possible — even when the story has nothing to do with any kind of bailout at all.
The latest offender is Variety, which posted a story this weekend called “Needed: Network bailout?” Intrigued by the possibility that the U.S. government would even consider bailing out struggling TV broadcasters, I clicked on the link … and quickly found out that wasn’t the story at all.
Instead, Michael Schneider writes about how ad revenue is down and the networks may have to cut back on programming to make ends meet. It’s all very interesting, but using the “bailout” buzzword so inappropriately is misleading and unfair to readers.
November 24, 2008
Boston is a notoriously tough town for athletes to play in, and the media plays a huge part in that. Some athletes thrive under the proverbial microscope, while others are driven to the brink of insanity.
Mostly, the obsessive media coverage stems from the fans’ own obsessions with their hometown players and teams. But with so many outlets covering every team’s every move, it can be tough for any one writer to stick out. And so occasionally we get things like Bill Burt’s column in today’s Eagle-Tribune, the provocatively — and obnoxiously — titled “Brady Who?”
Sure, Patriots backup quarterback Matt Cassel is exceeding everyone’s expectations as he fills in for Tom Brady. He gets better every week, he’s putting up ridiculous numbers, and his teammates are looking to him for leadership. And the fact that, before this season, he hadn’t started a game since high school, makes his feats even more impressive.
But the fact is the Patriots are still 7-4 and in second place. Will they make the playoffs? Likely. Will they win the Super Bowl? Highly doubtful. And will Cassell start dating a Brazilian supermodel? Nuh uh. So to call his emergence “one of the greatest stories in NFL history,” as Burt does, is pure hyperbole.
Brady came off the bench seven years ago to lead the Pats to three Super Bowl wins. Now THAT is one of the greatest stories in NFL history. Cassell’s just the latest in a long line of athletes who have taken advantage of special opportunities.
And “Brady Who?” is just the latest in a long line of columns that give the Boston sports media such a bad image.
November 22, 2008
One of the great things about reading newspapers online is the comments section, where crazy people with nothing better to do leave their opinions — sometimes about the story they just read, sometimes about whatever happens to be floating through their nutty little minds.
Swimmin’ Hole! will commemorate these last bastions of journalistic excellence with this weekly “comment of the week” section. Our first winner comes from a story in The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass., about a child rapist captured in the Dominican Republic. The comment is by “Laiza,” who writes:
he should definately be locked up for life and i hope he gets a big horny cellmate to teach him a little lesson..
I am totally naming my next fantasy football team the Big Horny Cellmates.
November 21, 2008
Pity the poor staffers at Conde Nast.
Sure, other journalists are parking their bosses’ cars and sorting mail, but these magazine employees are about to really have it rough. The New York Post reports today that Conde Nast is eliminating free lunches for employees who eat at their desks, curbing its “free subscriptions for everyone!” policy and — gasp! — cutting back on Town Car use.
No Town Cars? What are these people to do?
Sounds like Conde Nast execs should have stopped these practices a long time ago. Don’t they know they work in the 21st Century media, where “boosting employee morale” and “being a company that people like working for” are long forgotten?
November 20, 2008
We know it’s a rough time to be in the media. Now the Newseum is commemorating these difficult times by getting in on the job-cutting fun itself.
Nineteen employees at the Washington, D.C. media museum have accepted buyouts, and another two have retired, resulting in a 10% workforce reduction, according to FishbowlDC.
The Newseum just opened up a shiny new building on Capitol Hill back in April, moving from Arlington, Va. Swimmin’ Hole! visited last month, and the place is a must-see for any news or journalism junkie. Highlights include 9/11 front pages surrounding World Trade Center debris and a collection of newspapers from historic moments like the end of prohibition. Definitely check it out … while there are still staffers left to let you in.
November 20, 2008
The election may not have helped the evening news at all, but it’s giving a boost to some major newspapers.
“Really? People are buying more papers and driving more ad sales?” No, stupid. That’s crazy talk. These papers are making money through moichandising: selling posters, T-shirts and coffee mugs emblazoned with their post-Election Day front pages.
The Los Angeles Times says it’s sold $686,000 of its “It’s Obama” souvenirs. The New York Times is hawking reprints, photos and even a special book, and the Chicago Sun-Times is auctioning off 44 prints of its Nov. 5 front page on eBay. Hell, even The Onion is selling prints of its “Black man given nation’s worst job” front page (which will soon be hanging in the Swimmin’ Hole! offices).
Obviously this phenomenon isn’t something newspapers can bank on for future success. Nobody’s gonna want a framed print of a typical front page. And, sorry CNN, the only people who’d wear a “Spacewalker loses tool bag” T-shirt are tool bags.
But if more newspapers can start thinking creatively like this — and spend less time treating their employees like crap — they may have a future after all.