From the New York Observer:
Win Your Very Own Drone in Journalism School Contest
From the New York Observer:
Win Your Very Own Drone in Journalism School Contest
From the London Telegraph:
Leveson: EU wants power to sack journalists
A European Union report has urged tight press regulation and demanded that Brussels officials are given control of national media supervisors with new powers to enforce fines or the sacking of journalists
For a kid growing up in small town Kansas in the 1950s, television ushered in a new world, full of both terrors and delights.
As a member of the very first wave of what became the Baby Boom, we arrived before the boob tube’s presence became ubiquitous, and when Dad brought home a pair of boxes, one cubical and the other long and narrow, our world paradigm shifted dramatically.
The cube contained a black and white television set, and the oblong box an antenna kit.
Dad cobbled the antenna together inside attic of our two-story home, running the lead down through to wall to the livingroom two floors down.
Our neighbors, a reclusive elderly couple, had been forced to put up a tall steel tower reaching up about 50 feet before they could grab a decent signal, but somehow Dad’s inspiration worked, and we had television that night.
Our life was never the same.
The fears came through the endless news stories about nuclear bomb tests and the latest Cold-and-growing-hotter War confrontations.
The delights came in the form of brilliant and mostly Jewish comedians, offering a view of the world that zeroed in on the same insanely macabre contradictions we had just begun to discover at the ripe old age of six.
Sid Caesar and his troupe were the reigning stars [how could they not be, with a crew of writers that included the likes of Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, and Carl Reiner]. The show’s cast was legendary. And to top it all off, they did it every week live in prime time.
From Your Show of Shows, Caesar appears with Carl Reiner and Howard Morris [“Uncle Goopy”] in a parody of one of television’s earliest hits, This is Your Life, where an unsuspecting audience member was plucked from obscurity and bombarded with people from her past. In this parody, the show takes the unexpected turn every kid secretly hoped would happen.
“This is Your Story”:
While Caesar and his crew painted in a broad brush with roots in vaudeville and the Catskills, two other comics brought a rapier wit and an edgier, more cerebral nightclub tone. And their targets were typically institutions, and they targeted their most corrosive effects.
Mike Nichols and Elaine May were simply brilliant, both witty and masters of the secrets of timing. It’s not surprising both went on to direct. While Caesar brought the pure catharsis of the belly laugh, Nichols and May left you thinking after the laughter had subsided.
Here they tackle a subject brought to the national attention by East Bay writer Jessica Mitford in her searing 1963 expose of the American funeral industry, The American Way of Death. The venue is The Tonight Show, then hosted by Jack Paar.
“The $65 Funeral”:
And here’s a subject near and dear to our own heart of late.
“At the Hospital”:
Finally, Nichols and May bite the hands that feed them in this wonderful little sketch they presented at the 1959 Emmy awards:
Hard to imagine this front page screamer from the Sunday Territorian of Darwin, Australia, appearing in a major paper here in the U.S., even the New York Post:
LIGHTNING STRIKES ICONIC STATUE LEAVING ONLY THE BREASTS BEHIND
Here’s the opening of the tawdry tale, written by Ellie Turner:
A SERPENTINE lightning strike has “blown the tits” off one man’s iconic tribute to Territory women. Literally.
Stonemasonry boss Tom Finlay, 48, was standing 50m from his voluptuous hand-carved Venus de Milo when a flash of white light and an “almighty kaboom” sent stone flying through the air.
Mr Finlay said he was amazed her 30kg breasts had survived the phenomenon.
His sculptural song may be ended, but the mammaries linger on.
H/T to Nothing To Do With Arbroath, which has pix of the front page here.
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Lehi scraps Morning Glory Road name due to erection connection
Petition » Software company feared visions of male anatomy would distract consumers
I blame the downfall of the newsroom in part on a movie, Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 blockbuster All the President’s Men.
Back in 2001, director Steven Soderbergh told Rick Lyman of the New York Times:
“This movie just has the perfect balance,” Mr. Soderbergh said. ”The perfect balance between all of the elements. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get that, and sometimes you just don’t. You are always hoping for that alchemy to occur where everything in the movie is lifted up, because everything and everyone is working at the highest level. You hope for it, and you work for it, and sometimes you get it. And this is just one of those movies.”
Worst of all, it made reporters into reputable folks, played by Hollywood icons Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Earlier cinematic portrayals of ink-stained wretches had come either from earthier actors like Bogart and William Holden. And when Cary Grant played one in His Girl Friday, the character verged on the downright sleazy.
But Redford and Hoffman played Woodward and Bernstein like folk heroes, mythological characters out of Greek drama, slaying a demonic president with the help of his own hubris.
Back when we first entered the newspaper game [9 November 1964], the craft was peopled by folks with foibles and eccentricities.
After all, as our dear departed mother reminded us on numerous occasions, “Why would somebody with the smarts to be a doctor or a lawyer work at a job that pays peanuts?”
My answer was always some variant of “Because it’s what I was born to do, dammit.”
And it was.
For lots of folks back then, journalism was a true calling, something discovered on the road to somewhere else, a lifelong addiction acquired in an instant.
And it was also, as a Sacramento Bee colleague once quipped, “The most fun you can have out of bed,” adding a suitably lascivious grin.
In what other line of work could a seventeen-year-old kid pick up a phone, identify himself and his affiliation, and be talking with a governor a few minutes later? And in what other line of work could a college dropout be tasked with asking questions and writing stories that could bring down politicians, get civil servants fired, or provoke massive eight-figure lawsuits?
Now add to the equation a reality of those long gone days, the existence of real competition between newspapers, papers owned, as often as not, by human persons rather than the corporate sort.
The existence of competition meant that a story ignored by one paper would be Continue reading
It’s certainly got that high concept ring to it.
From LA Observed:
How does Hollywood manage to keep a $430 million tax break?
RT’s Marina Portnaya tackles one of our favorite bugbears, the surrender of the American news media to the neologisms of political spinmeisters:
And don’t you just love “low information voters”? As opposed to, say, ignorant voters? But then that latter term would rightly direct some of the blame towards the news media, which do so much to insure that very ignorance. . .
Verizon patents targeted advertising method that determines if viewers are laughing, cuddling, sleeping or singing
‘Detection zone’ would extend to telephone conversations, pets
Former Berlin Al Jazeera correspondent Aktham Suliman denouncing his former employer’s submission to monarchical control in a Deutsche Welle interview:
In the case of Syria, Al Jazeera barely reported about the rebellion in the first few weeks. Some of my colleagues and I protested, pointing out that there was stuff happening in Syria and we needed to report on it, regardless of our personal opinions. Back then, however, the ruler of Qatar was trying to change the Syrian president’s mind and encourage him to take certain steps toward political reform.
When Assad didn’t respond, Al Jazeera then said: Now get to work on Syria! It’s not a good feeling when you have the impression that you’re no longer a journalist, you’re basically just a guard dog responding to your owner’s whistle when he tells you to go after this state or that government. It was really quite extreme: this long silence at the beginning, then the frantic involvement afterwards – and with the Qatari ruler always the one calling the tune.
Speaking from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Assange focuses on the plight of 232 journalists now behind bars and those like Bradley Manning now facing long prison sentences for exposing the secrets of those in power. He has few kind words for the mainstream press.
And then there’s his announcement that 2013 will see a million new documents posted on WikiLeaks.
Once upon a time, Nicholas Pileggi was a journalist, a commendable craftsman of workmanlike stories. Then he wrote an exceptional book about organized crime, Wiseguy, that he later scripted as a film, Goodfellas.
A second book, Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, became another hit film, Casino, starring two of the leads from his earlier hit, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.
But somewhere along the line, he succumbed to the Hollywood temptation, which we know from personal experience can be quite powerful. We didn’t succumb, and it cost us dearly. But that’s the subject for another post.
The final proof of Pileggi’s downfall into the merely mercenary is a television series about a topic we know well, Las Vegas in the 1960s.
Pileggi knows Vegas, as his second book proved, which leaves us all the more dumbfounded at his latest venture, Vegas, a CBS series starring Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis, and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Quaid plays a character we encountered on numerous occasions during our first daily reporting job, beginning early in 1966, when we hired on to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, covering — among other things — the night cops beat. Every evening we hit both the Las Vegas Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff’s office, located in separate buildings blocks apart and on opposite sides of Glitter Gulch [Fremont Street].
Pileggi’s series centers on the man who occupied the sheriff’s office back then, Ralph Lamb, a member of a powerful political clan that included brothers Darwin [a Clark County commissioner when we were there who also landed an uncredited role in the 1966 Western The Professionals] and Floyd, a very powerful state senator who chaired that body’s Finance Committee.
But we knew Pileggi had sold out utterly when we watched the very first episode of the series, in which Lamb is appointed sheriff by the Las Vegas mayor after his predecessor is gunned down by the Chicago mob.
We laughed. Lamb was appointed by the county commission in 1961, since the post was a county office wholly outside the mayor’s jurisdiction. His predecessor, Butch Leypoldt, far from being gunned down by wiseguys, quit his post to take an appointment with the state Gaming Control Board.
In a later episode, the mayor who named Lamb to the job loses his office because he refuses to wear makeup, unlike his mob-backed opponent — a glib reference to the Nixon-Kennedy debates, where Nixon declined makeup and was judged the loser by TV audiences [unlike radio listeners, who gave the nod to Tricky].
In reality, Oran K. Gragson, the mayor who held office then was elected in 1959, well before Lamb’s appointment, and didn’t leave office until 1975. And what drove him to run for office was his discovery of a burglary ring operating inside the city police department.
But that doesn’t fit with the Hollywood story line, so out went the facts and in came convenient fiction.
A convenient myth
Lamb is portrayed as a stalwart mob fighter, which was hardly the case. Sure, Lamb did once up a famous Chicago wiseguy, but that’s only because Johnny “The Gent” Rosselli violated a prime directive, making a show of hitting the Strip casino circuit in a way certain to draw the unwanted attention of regulators.
Here’s how A.D. Hopkins of the Las Vegas Review-Journal described the encounter:
Rosselli and one Nicholas “Peanuts” Danolfo were sitting in a booth at the Desert Inn with Moe Dalitz, the proprietor, when Lamb sent in a rookie cop to tell Rosselli to come downtown and have that mandatory conversation with Lamb. Rosselli was 61 by then, but he had worked for Al Capone and had once beaten a narcotics rap when the arresting officer disappeared, permanently. He told the young cop to get lost, just as Lamb had expected. The sheriff had instructed the officer to be no hero that day, so the rookie retired to the parking lot, started his engine, and waited.
Now Lamb went into the resort and pointed out to Rosselli the discourtesy he had shown an officer. Then he grabbed Rosselli by his expensive necktie, dragged him across the table, and slapped him around a while. Danolfo started to jump in but Dalitz, spotting another officer coming up behind Danolfo to sucker punch him, grabbed his necktie and bade Danolfo resume his seat, observe and learn. Lamb threw Rosselli into the back-seat cage of the rookie’s waiting cruiser and sent him to jail, ordering the extra touch of delousing. Rosselli made bail and left town.
Note that companion in the booth, one Morris Barney Dalitz, late of the Cleveland Syndicate and the resident mastermind of the casino skim devised by Meyer Lansky [aka Hyman Roth in Godfather II]. Lamb made no attempt to rough up or harass Moe [a gentleman we also lunched with in 1966, having no idea who he was at the time other than the grandfatherly type oddly eager to buy a new 19-year-old reporter a delightful meal].
No, Lamb didn’t slap Dalitz, who was a real power. Moe channeled millions, built hospitals, funded golf courses, gave to charities.
Another friend of Ralph
Another good buddy of Sheriff Ralph was Benny “The Cowboy” Binion, a murderous thug from Texas who built his own Sin City gambling empire despite a conviction for killing a fellow bootlegger in his native Dallas back in 1931. He beat another murder rap by shooting himself in the shoulder, and contracted the killing of “Russian Louie” Strauss through Las Vegas wiseguy Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno.
With a felony conviction, Binion should’ve been denied a casino license, but Las Vegas Sun publishers Hank Greenspun — who got his start in Vegas as publicist for mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel — churned out the ink in Benny’s defense, Continue reading
From that erstwhile bastion of strait-laced propriety, the Smithsonian:
The Fungus in Your Cheese Is Having Weird Sex
From Bloomberg Businessweek, putting events in a proper 1960′s journalistic perspective, an era when newsrooms were fueled by large intakes of caffeine and nicotine:
Another Reason to Hate Global Warming: Lousy Coffee
From China’s official news agency, Xinhua, a story that must have Chairman Mao spinning [but not around a pole] in his crypt:
From The Reykjavík Grapevine, reporting on unintentional Icelandic media mayhem:
Teletubbies Get Sopranos Subtitles, Hilarity Ensues
From The Independent:
Brazilian student sparks outrage after selling virginity online for $780,000 to raise money for poor families
Hosted by Larry King and sponsored by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation, whose founder, Christina Tobin, joins in the questioning, the debate — held last night — features four candidates appearing on presidential ballots but excluded from the staged debates appearing on the mainstream media.
All questions were submitted via social media.
They candidates are:
In response to widespread blackout from both the mainstream media and political establishment alike, RT is honored to be presenting a platform for the major third-party candidates also vying for the White House this election year to debate. We offered the event live in cooperation with the debate’s organizers, the Free and Equal Elections Foundation.
The event was moderated by multi-award winning broadcast journalist Larry King and was broadcasted live from Chicago, Illinois. Thom Hartmann, the star of RT’s The Big Picture and noted radio host, was one of a few select journalists hand-picked to hit the candidates with questions about their campaign.
The Washington Post actually covered the event.
From Abby Martin, a much-needed correction to the ludicrous use of the S-word by politicians and the media, featuring a pair of real socialists:
On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin cuts through the misleading rhetoric about socialism in a post-Cold War era, talks to Mike Prysner, Co-founder of March Forward and member of the PSL (Party of Socialism and Liberation) to help break it down. BTS then talks to PSL nominee and U.S Presidential Candidate, Peta Lindsay, about the socialist vision for America.
Two stories from today’s Los Angeles Times.
First, about a woman who received minor injuries after coming across a mother bear and her cub:
Bear attacks woman walking dog; officials vow to kill it
Second, about an accident that occurred when a driver hit a deer laying on the road after it had apparently been struck by another driver:
Woman dies in vehicle crash after hitting deer in the road