“I got so I simply gagged every time I sat before my desk to write an ad.” -Hart Crane I smile when “real writers” criticize their time making advertising. There’s a nostalgic quality to the criticism that lessens its impact and renders it charming. What makes me gag is the media garbage train, which includes […]

Pageview journalism is a method of presenting information online in a slideshow or other framework that garners as many clicks from a reader as possible. This is what it looks like: Writing for The Guardian, Charlie Brooker lambastes the painful conformity of web-based media today, largely in response to the shortcomings of pageview journalism and […]

I like to read about media enterprises that are thriving. It provides hope for the industry, and hope for me personally as a writer, editor and self-publisher. According to The New York Times, Etienne Uzac, 30, and Johnathan Davis, 31, founders of IBT Media, are bringing Newsweek back to print. Each issue will cost $7.99. […]

Nearly two months ago, I made the decision to stop adding new content to AdPulp.com. I wanted to starve the blog and my blogging habit in the process. In theory it ought to be easy to do, the starving of a blog. Just close the window on it. Shut down the machine. Look away. I […]

I learned about the existence of SCOTUSblog this morning. The site is read widely by those with an interest in Supreme Court cases, and this year won a prestigious Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media. While the industry pub I co-founded lacks the Peabody, I can see a clear parallel between SCOTUSblog and AdPulp. […]

Digital disrupts all in its wake. Even our language is not safe. Consider the word “content.” It’s a word I have adopted to clarify my professional specialty. In April 2006, I was promoted from senior copywriter to content director at BFG Communications in Hilton Head. I was head of my own department, the content department, […]

When I make time for broadcast news, I am appalled. The product is increasingly unwatchable at a time when the need for insightful and brave analysis is at a premium. I feel like a lot of people are shrugging their shoulders these days, and asking what the hell is wrong, and what can we do […]

Jon Steinberg of BuzzFeed was on Jim Cramer’s CNBC talk show, “Mad Money” today. The segment provides an instructive look at modern media, and the audience for bite-sized pieces of news and entertainment. I do not always like the BuzzFeed product, but I like the bold way Steinberg talks about his media company. “For us, […]

I’m interested in media literacy and brand authenticity and corporate accountability; therefore, I enjoy seeing media critics take a running stab at Advertising and PR’s heart. We need quality criticism (from outside the field) to keep us honest, challenge our assumptions and to make us think and think again. Eliane Glaser is one such voice. […]

Politically speaking, last week was one for the history books. A black man with a funny name was voted to the highest office in the land for the second time, proving 2008 was no fluke. And the right wing’s chief screw tightener lost his shit during a live “news” broadcast. In case you missed it, […]

It’s political season again and the airwaves are full of polluted words. Presidential campaigning is a travesty, an official lie. And mainstream media is a diversion, at best. It’s enough to drive a person to drink. Thankfully, there are voices crying in the wilderness. Voices like Arun Gupta’s.

Gupta, a journalist and activist, spoke in Seattle, WA on August 23, 2012. The transcript of his talk, plus the audio file are available for purchase from AlternativeRadio.org. I plopped down my $3 to download the transcript after hearing a portion of Gupta’s talk on KBOO Community Radio, earlier this week.

As a radical independent, I enjoy hearing people eloquently make a case against the corporate, two party Babylon system. Gupta does it well. Let’s listen in…

The Democrats are a firmly right-wing party while the Republicans are a fanatical right-wing party. What we’ve had over the last 30 years or so is the Democrats take the right-wing radicalism and turn it into bipartisan consensus. So the next iteration of the right becomes more and more extreme. We do know, if the right does get into power, if Romney is elected, they will nominate extreme Supreme Court justices, they will viciously attack organized labor beyond what the Obama administration is doing, and they will, of course, viciously attack reproductive rights and access to birth control. So there is an argument to be made, yes, you should just go in the voting booth. But on a whole host of other issues it’s difficult to say who is going to be worse.

Both parties are going to pursue austerity policies on Social Security and Medicare, neither party will address global warming, or, in fact, they will address it—they will make it worse. It’s “Drill, baby, drill.” Those have been Obama’s policies for the last four years. The wars will continue, the Islamophobia will continue, the targeted assassinations will continue, the police and prison industrial complex will continue, the assault on civil liberties, spying on Americans, and on and on and on. We know that it really doesn’t make a difference, because liberals do not provide any sort of oppositional force when the Democrats are in power.

Gupta admits there is “an argument to be made” for voting for the least offensive of the two corporate candidates. It’s an argument I am working over in my head, just in time for our Oregon ballots to arrive via snail mail. I have a history of voting for third party candidates for President, because I prefer to vote my heart. That’s my preference and my right, misguided as it sometimes seems. My problem this fall is I feel as disillusioned with “making a statement” when I vote — which is what voting third party largely is — as I do with voting for a Democrat.
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Newspaper readers don’t have the kind of relationship with newspaper reporters that they do with famous columnists, authors or the talking heads on TV. As far as readers are concerned, newspaper reporters are pretty much anonymous. So what’s the big deal, if some of the nation’s best newspapers including The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Houston Chronicle and The San Francisco Chronicle are running articles written by offshore “reporters” and publishing them with a fake byline?

I guess it depends on your point of view. It’s clearly a big deal for journalists. One of the best in the business, David Carr of The Times, notes, “while the rest of us were burning hot dogs on the grill last week, the newspaper industry seemed to be lighting itself on fire.”

Clearly one of the brightest coals in that fire, is the This American Life piece on Journatic, a content farm owned in part by the Tribune Company.

The Journatic employee, Ryan Smith, who spoke to This American Life, describes how he pretended to be from the Houston Chronicle when speaking to a source in Texas for a story. He also describes how much of the copy he was tasked with editing originated in the Philippines and was full of grammatical errors. Smith also wrote a confessional for The Guardian about his experience at the company.

My stomach turned and my guilt grew. The company I was working for was harming journalism: real reporters were getting laid off and were being replaced by overseas writer-bots.

Naturally, Journatic’s CEO Brian Timpone, has another story to tell. “We were writing things that were controversial. Our writers were being threatened individually by the subjects of stories. We did it to protect them from the threats.”

He also notes that the articles in question needed to have bylines so they would show up in Google News results. Uh huh.

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As a writer, I am a knowledge worker and member of the Creative Class. Which is to say, I am busy developing not only words that make meaning, but dollars that make ends meet.

That’s the deal with the Creative Class. Creative people gather in special places, and through the power of our collective ingenuity we create wealth for ourselves and the communities we call home.

But not so fast. “The Rise of the Cre­ative Class is filled with self-indulgent forms of ama­teur microso­ci­ol­ogy and crass cel­e­bra­tions of hip­ster embour­geoise­ment,” argues Jamie Peck, a geography professor and vocal critic of Richard Florida’s theories.

Freelance writer Frank Bures of Minneapolis shared that gem in Thirty Two, a new bi-monthly magazine for the Twin Cities. Like me, Bures was seduced by the idea that we aren’t alone in a world where writers are not highly prized. No, we’re members of a club. No, not a club, a class. Yes, we are in a class where we’re always learning and striving, and the future is bright.

Bures suggests that Florida “took our anx­i­ety about place and turned it into a prod­uct. He found a way to cap­i­tal­ize on our nag­ging sense that there is always some­where out there more cre­ative, more fun, more diverse, more gay, and just plain bet­ter than the one where we hap­pen to be.” Given how dreamy writers and entrepreneurs can be, it was an easy sell.

Bures also recounts conversations with Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk, on the topic. Bures calls her an “apos­tle of Florid­ian doc­trine.” Nevertheless Trunk points out, “If you want to look at a city that’s best for your career, it’s New York, San Fran­cisco or Lon­don. If you’re not look­ing for your career, it doesn’t really mat­ter. There’s no dif­fer­ence. It’s split­ting hairs. The whole con­ver­sa­tion about where to live is bullshit.”

Of course, “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit,” notes Harry G. Frankfurt. Which makes me want to point to other popular tropes that are really just steaming piles of fecal matter.
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It’s been 40 years since Nixon’s second successful bid for The White House.

It’s also been 40 years since the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CREEP) sent a group of rubber-gloved thugs to break in to Democratic National Committee headquarters at The Watergate.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, who won The Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for their coverage of the break-in and political conspiracy, have a new piece in the Post that paints Nixon in severely dark tones.

In a tape from the Oval Office on Feb. 22, 1971, Nixon said, “In the short run, it would be so much easier, wouldn’t it, to run this war in a dictatorial way, kill all the reporters and carry on the war.”

“The press is your enemy,” Nixon explained five days later in a meeting with Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to another tape. “Enemies. Understand that? . . . Now, never act that way . . . give them a drink, you know, treat them nice, you just love it, you’re trying to be helpful. But don’t help the bastards. Ever. Because they’re trying to stick the knife right in our groin.”

This reflective piece from Woodward and Bernstein comes, for me, on the heels of my first reading of The Boys On The Bus by Rolling Stone reporter Timothy Crouse. His behind-the-scenes look at the media and the coverage provided during the 1972 Presidential campaign is a critical read. While it too is 40 years old, the narrative is far from dated.

Crouse argues that Nixon and his team played the press like a violin during the campaign, feeding them an official story of the day and running them here and there, all the while keeping Nixon almost totally out of sight. The team included H.R. Halderman, Nixon’s White House Cheif of Staff, who worked at J. Walter Thompson in NYC and LA for 20 years before joining the White House team. Halderman also brought Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s White House Press Secretary, with him from JWT.

Not surprisingly, Halderman and Ziegler had a well defined media and brand strategy, and they executed it perfectly. Consider that The Watergate break-in happened on June 17, nearly five months ahead of the election, and it had no impact whatsoever on the election. In fact, Nixon won a majority vote in 49 states, including McGovern’s home state of South Dakota.

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Warren Buffett, the greatest investor the modern world has ever known, just ponied up $142 million to add Richmond, Virgina-based Media General to his list of prized companies.

Media General operates 18 network-affiliated television stations and their associated websites, plus several dozen community newspapers across the Southeastern part of the U.S. Titles like Richmond Times-Dispatch and Winston-Salem Journal are well known, but most of the others like The Goochland Gazette and The Bland County Messenger have small circulations in the range of 5,000 – 25,000, according to paidContent.

Is the old man getting sentimental, or is this truly a wise investment? Both, I reckon.

“I’ve loved newspapers all of my life — and always will,” Buffett, who delivered newspapers as a boy, wrote in a letter introducing himself and his newly formed BH Media Group to the Media General team.

Berkshire Hathaway purchased The Omaha World Herald, its hometown newspaper last year, and has owned the Buffalo News since 1977. Buffett has also been on the board of The Washington Post and owned a large share of that national paper for years. One might say he’s making Omaha something of a genuine media town now. As a native of the hilly river city, I’m happy about that.

Of course, there are others with other more important media matters on their minds. Professor, consultant and writer Clay Shirky, for one. He argues that “ordinary citizens don’t pay for news. What we paid for, when we used to buy the paper, was a bundle of news and sports and coupons and job listings, printed together and delivered to our doorstep.” Shirky believes that news has always been a loss leader subsidized by advertisers. And now those advertisers are off to greener pastures. “Ad dollars lost to competing content creators can be fought for; ad dollars that no longer subsidize content at all are never coming back,” he contends.

GigaOm writer, Mathew Ingram, adds that “the subscription price of a newspaper and circulation revenues in general have historically only accounted for a small proportion of a media company’s overall revenue. In most cases, the bulk of that revenue comes from advertising.”

I’m a fan of both Shirky and Ingram, but I don’t agree that all the value is in the platform. The Oracle of Omaha believes there’s value in content and he wants his new newspaper managers to find ways to maximize that value for readers (who will be asked to pay for the content, regardless of the platform). “It’s your job to make your paper indispensable to anyone who cares about what is going on in your city or town,” Buffett outlines.
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I lit up this morning when reading an article in the pages of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab. The article describes the inner workings of AllNovaScotia.com, a startup business journal in Canada’s largest Maritime Province that charges a healthy $360 a year for access to content. From what I can tell there is no free version. […]

The second season of IFC’s Portlandia airs this Friday. The show is much anticipated in Puddletown and beyond. Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen — the show’s stars — have been out “doing press” for the show. Thanks to the deeply sarcastic nature of the program and its willingness to skewer hipsters over an open fire, […]

Portland-based essayist and author William Deresiewicz explores what kind of values support the hipster persona in the opinion pages of The New York Times. “What’s the affect of today’s youth culture?” he asks. In other words, what’s going on underneath those pork pie hats and ironic t-shirts? Today’s polite, pleasant personality is, above all, a […]