A little bird

Dateline: Tue 03 Mar 2015

told me that the Star's daily circulation is down to 97,000 or so.

We used to run 200,000 daily, 400,000 Sunday.

Those days are long gone.

You know the Star is screwed when a former veteran reporter takes a young colleague (an associate at her current job) to meet the players at the Indy Star. It was all part of making contacts.

Instead of being wowed by the journalists working at the newspaper, or even having dialogue with them, or a freaking conversation, the ex-reporter and her young friend listened to executive editor Jeff Taylor pontificate about "monetizing our digital hits" with a gleam in his eye.

To say that he monopolized the conversation with his world-view is exactly correct.

To say that his world view is wrong leads us back to the increasingly dismal circulation.

30

 

 

 

3 comments

Back at it: 'Where Journalism Goes to Die'

Dateline: Tue 03 Mar 2015

Within the last five years or so, as traditional, mainstream, print journalism was morphing, and failing to thrive no matter how many cocktails it wrote about, many of us sincerely and optimistically clung to a belief: "It will be OK. The kids will figure it out."

The rap was that big, generous funders would create a forum for public journalism; richies would subsidize investigative reporting, and all shall be well....young, bright people with a burning thirst for truth and possessed of questioning, first-rate minds would plunge on through the fog and the lies, and present us with brand-new balanced journalism, based on fact, albeit not on news paper but on websites, in podcasts -- whatever.

Alas, all shall be bullshit.

One of the best pieces on this matter is "Where Journalism Goes to Die," by Ken Silverstein, who worked at Harper's magazine and the Los Angeles Times before becoming an investigative reporter for First Look Media.

Here is what Silverstein says, in a piece published Feb. 27 in Politico and picked up by other websites:

"Back when I was hired, First Look and The Intercept (the debut project) were just getting started. It seemed like it was going to be a fantastic opportunity for journalists. I was told that I could basically create my own job and write investigative stories about anything I wanted. I knew at the time little about Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire who founded and funded First Look, but he wasn't a big part of my decision-making."

Silverstein assumed the boss/owner, who founded E-bay, "must be a decent guy" since he was funding the enterprise to the tune of $250 million. He was also encouraged by First Look's top dogs: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, who told the story of Edward Snowden's unmasking of the National Security Agency. Serious talent, big kahunas. 

However, the organization unraveled, according to Silverstein, in a period of six months or so, in an inability to make decisions, a failure to stick to deadlines, a penchant for getting beat-out of major stories by competitors and a general huge amount of hand-wringing over such silly nonsense as expense accounts (paying for drinks for Washington, D.C., sources -- it's a must).

I found First Look because it had done solid work looking at the other side of a hugely popular (with the 30-something set) podcast, Serial, that offered up some of the sloppiest reporting I've ever encountered. Without going into a diatribe over Serial, suffice to say that First Look had challenged the NPR reporter Sarah Koenig, and did so successfully.

I was looking forward to reading more, since First Look obviously was capable of goring sacred cows, but alas...another one bites the dust, at least from Silverstein's seasoned perspective.

Here's the complete story. The title alone, "Where Journalism Goes to Die," is worth your time to read it...

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/ken-silverstein-the-intercept-115586.html#.VPXV1fnF8x8



1 comment

The Star and the Pacers

Dateline: Wed 22 Oct 2014

Who really cares if Gannett's Indy Star publisher Karen Ferguson and the Pacers' president Rick Fuson are an item?

Rumors began to float more than a month ago that the former Karen Crotchfelt was going through a divorce -- and (afterthought)  was romantically involved with Fuson, who was named president for the Pacers organization at the end of September. Fuson is also divorced. 

None of my business, really. 

Except in how Pacers' coverage might play out on the Star's sports pages. Or, since sports is big business, elsewhere in the newspaper.

Not being a sports fan, or a cheerleader, I'm unsure what to make of the Star's big "Save The Date" promotion, linking the newspaper and the basketball team together for a "pregame Block Party on Georgia Street" Oct. 29.

This shindig has been advertised twice now; the notice appeared most recently as a full-page color spread Tuesday on Page A9, complete with a Gary Varvel cartoon of many of the newspaper's leading lights mingling with some Pacer stars.

At some levels, the Ferguson/Fuson union makes sense. Ferguson sits on a lot of big downtown boards, as does Fuson, whose late dad was Wayne Fuson, sports editor for the News. But of course the two dynamos would know one another.

So none of us high-minded types gives a damn, but we are amused by reports, for instance, that Ms. Ferguson tweeted in the first week of October that it took her only 30 seconds to get from the Star's new HQ in the old Nordstrom building to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where the Pacers play.

Amusement may turn more reflective if conflict of interest issues arise. Others have pointed out that, in the past, the newspaper has had problems with reporters who may be a bit too close to sources.

And I personally find it off-putting when the newspaper turns itself into a pimp for any sort of merry-making. Better to stick with the basics -- report the damn news. 

But for now, let sleeping publishers and Pacers' brass lie. 

(File the following link under the heading: It must be true -- why else would there be so damn many photos since nobody gives a shit?)

http://www.indystar.com/picture-gallery/news/local/2014/10/13/pacers-executives-tour-indy-stars-new-office/17198791/

6 comments

News from Butler University re: Peter Kassig

Dateline: Tue 07 Oct 2014

This from the Butler MSA-

There will be an event held in solidarity with Peter Kassig, a former Butler Student kidnapped by ISIS tomorrow. Please send this information out to your groups and whoever else. He is being held by ISIS, and was threatened to be killed. His family and the Indianapolis community are hoping he will be released in a safe and healthy condition. He was a former Butler student, who grew up in Indianapolis, and has recently been doing great humanitarian work in Syria.

On Wednesday, October 8, we will be holding an event in solidarity with Peter and his family during this difficult time. This event will take place at 6 pm on the lawn between Irwin and Atherton. There will be a number of Muslim speakers talking about Peter and his background, and how we as a Butler community can help Peter and his family in this time of crisis and tragedy. We want this event to be something that is focused on Peter and his family, not on ISIS itself and the political situation. I ask that you pass this on to any emailing list you may have access to, whether it is the emailing list for Hillel, or individual faith based organizations. I also ask that you tell friends, classmates, or whoever you can, about this event even with such short notice. This event is open to the Butler community, and the Indianapolis community as a whole. To show our solidarity, we also ask that attendees try their best to wear white.

 

1 comment

Another photographer gone

Dateline: Fri 05 Sep 2014

Add Brent Drinkut to the list of photographers who is leaving the Indy Star.

He posted a photo of himself along with the other dearly departed on the photo desk -- Rob Goebel, Danese Kenon, Greg Griffo and Joe Vitti.

"I leave with some photo greats," he wrote.

I always liked shooters' offbeat sense of humor. Mavericks to a one.

 

2 comments

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