Category Archives: MSM

SF Bay Area papers eliminating critical editors


Back when esnl got his start in the newspaper game, our stories were subjected to at least three levels of editing, sometimes more depending on the size of the newspaper.

The first level came from the supervising or assigning editor, usually a deputy city editor. The story then went to the city editor, then to the copy desk, where the story was checked for grammar, style, typos, and continuity problems by a copy editor. From there it went to the slot man, the final check in the editing process, who examined the story for content and placement.

If the story was sufficiently significant, the vetting might also include the managing editor and his boss [all the editors of that level were male at the papers where we worked], plus a lawyer if any legal issues were raised. Then, after the story was set in type, a proofreader gave it the final once-over for typos and dropped lines of type.

That’s why you rarely if ever saw misspelled words, misattributions, incorrect tiles, and so much more.

But with the waves of downsizings we’ve reported over the years, typos flourish, facts go astray, and stories have grown choppier — and so much more.

And now the Bay Area News Group [BANG], the company that owns almost all the newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area, is getting rid of the last vestiges of editorial review.

Here’s the memo staff members received today, via Romenesko:

From: James Robinson
Date: Apr 22, 2016 6:02 AM
Subject: Some changes to our editing and production processes
To: &BANG News All

We’re launching a series of changes to the assigning and copy editing process in an attempt to manage a planned loss of approximately 11 FTEs. We are choosing this course, as many papers have across the country, rather than cutting more deeply into the ranks of content producers or neglecting our digital needs.

The bottom line is that we will be eliminating a layer of valuable editing across most of the copy desk — what is known in desk parlance as the rim. The result:

  • Staff stories that go inside sections will not be copy-edited. The assigning editor will be the only read. (In sports, late stories that do not go through an assigning editor will continue to be read on the desk, once.) Stories for our East Bay weeklies will not be copy-edited.
  • Staff stories for section covers will receive one read on the desk rather than the current two.
  • Proofreading will be reduced. This is going to place a new level of responsibility on reporters and, especially, assigning editors. Many of the ways in which the desk bails us out — often without us noticing — will disappear. That will mean:
  • All assigning editors must run Tansa on stories before moving them to the desk, and all proper names will have to be cq’ed. Grammar mistakes that make it through an assigning editor are highly likely to appear in print.
  • Reporters and editors will need to be more familiar with AP and BANG style.
  • Budgetlines will need to include accurate deadlines and lengths. Desk folk who receive overly long stories will not have time to redo page designs; they will be instructed to cut from the end (on some occasions, early notice to the desk that a story is running long may avoid this fate). When deadlines are blown, the desk may need to grab a web version of the story and move on.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

Continue reading

Headline of the day: The medium is the message


From the Guardian:

No female film directors from two major Hollywood studios through 2018

Paramount’s last film by a woman was 2014’s Selma while 20th Century Fox has not released a female-directed movie since 2010, investigative report found

When captions go bad: Television’s sad reality


As we’ve noted before, one of the consequences of the chemotherapy that followed the removal of a malignant bladder and prostate was damage to the nervous system, one of those things not sufficiently emphasized before the chemo.

We can understand why: Oncologists and surgeons are eager to save their patients, and an emphasis on the negative impacts of chemo might deter some patients from undertaking therapies that, all things  considered, still allow their patients to experience long and fruitful post-therapy lives.

That said, one of the most vexing outcomes of our own treatment was a significant loss of hearing.

Some loss of hearing is inevitable by the time you reach the latter half of your seventh decade, even more so when you’ve done a fair amount of target shooting in your youth, listened to a lot of loud Rock and Classical music, indulged in a couple of decades of cigarette smoking, and swallowed a variety of anti-inflammatory drugs to treat chronic rheumatoid arthritis.

But before the chemo, all we needed to make out the dialog of network television and DVDs was a slight increase in volume.

But the chemo changed all that.

Elder daughter said “Well, dad, just turn on the captions.”

And so we did.

And then we discovered something remarkable.

While DVD captions were generally accurate and clearly displayed, for both television programs and films on cable and broadcast television, captions were generally incomplete, often misspelled, and frequently inaccurate.

All too often, the result is large gaps in dialogue, often rendering scenes all but incomprehensible.

We have to wonder why.

Given that scripted shows are, by definition, scripted, why don’t networks simply use the scripts, which are always produced by computers these days, to simply feed in the dialogue, rather than use real-time transcription services?

Given that using scripts would not only require less labor and provide much greater accuracy for hearing-impaired viewers, we think that’s a damn good question.

Chart of the day II: Even bankers better trusted


More bad news for the Fourth Estate, this time from From A new understanding: What makes people trust and rely on news, a new survey by the Media Insight Project — an initiative of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research:

BLOG Press trust

Global Corporate University hits stormy seas


The University of California, starved of funds by a succession of austerian state governments, has turned to onerous tuition increases and academic prostitution as a means of keeping afloat.

Corporate funds increasingly direct the focus of research, and corporate officials and university faculty and administrators spin through the revolving door, reap hefty rewards with each spin.

But increasingly, officials and faculty draw simultaneous paychecks from taxpayers and corporations.

Nobody embodies the Global Corporate University than Linda Kathi, chancellor of the University of California, Davis, who approaches the issue of branding with more zeal than a cowboy at roundup time.

A Greco-American, Katehi came to Davis from her post as Provost and Vice Chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the campus which served as the University of California’s partner in the biggest-ever corporate partnership in American university history, the Energy Biosciences Institute, funded with $500 million in cash from BP — a story we covered extensively during our time at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

One of Katehi’s Davis branding efforts has run afoul, however.

From The Young Turks:

University Spent A Lot Of Money So You Wouldn’t See This

Program notes:

UC Davis made headlines in 2011, when a campus police officer pepper sprayed a line of peaceful protesters, during a sit in. They have since spent a great deal of money trying to erase that incident from the internet, and using taxpayer dollars to do it. John Iadarola, Kim Horcher (Nerd Alert), and Cara Santa Maria, hosts of The Young Turks discuss.

The University of California, Davis spent at least $175,000 to improve its reputation on the internet after images of campus police pepper-spraying protestors went viral in 2011, according to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee. The money went to public relations firms that promised to clean up the university’s search results.

One company outlined a plan for “eradication of references to the pepper spray incident,” according to the documents, and was eventually paid nearly $93,000, including expenses, for a six-month campaign in 2013. After that, the Bee reports, the university paid $82,500 to another PR firm to create and follow through on a “search engine results management strategy.” The latter firm was later given thousands more in other contracts to build a university social media program, and to vet its communications department.”

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial cartoonist took an interesting take on Katehi, combining the latest campus controversy with Thursday’s ouster of the coach of the city’s losing NBA team:

Jack Ohman: Coach Katehi

BLOG Ohman

And Katehi may need a new job if a growing chorus of state legislators have their way, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Three California state lawmakers called on the chancellor of the University of California at Davis, Linda P.B. Katehi, to resign on Thursday, The Sacramento Bee reports, citing Ms. Katehi’s effort to remove unflattering Internet posts about campus police pepper-spraying student protesters five years ago.

Ms. Katehi came under fire after a report surfaced on Wednesday that the institution spent at least $175,000 on public-relations consultants to scratch online references to the pepper-spraying incident and improve the college’s image.

The Democratic assemblymen Mike Gatto, Freddie Rodriguez, and Mark Stone all said they wanted Ms. Katehi to step down. Mr. Gatto told The Sacramento Bee that this was the second strike against Ms. Katehi, citing her acceptance of a seat on the for-profit DeVry Education Group’s Board of Directors. Ms. Katehi resigned the seat after critics protested, saying her position could harm the university’s image.

“Spend millions on PR while student costs soar? It is time for Katehi to resign,” Mr. Gatto added on Twitter.

The Sacramento Bee posted the web-scrubbing contracts and associated documents. Here’s one:

BLOG branding

More from the Sacramento CBS affiliate:

“Having the chancellor on a board of a for-profit textbook company when our students are the ones purchasing those text books, that was bad enough,” Gatto said. “But then to hear the university spent hundreds of thousands on a P.R. firm – money that could be spent in the classroom – that was the last straw.”

While no one from UC Davis would talk to on camera, they sent us a statement Thursday saying their PR strategy to clean up their online image was an effort to preserve the great work of the university.

As for UC President Janet Napolitano, she remains silent on both the calls for Katehi’s resignation and the recent bad press.

Also on Friday the university released an official statement upholding their media-scrubbing efforts. Here’s the money quotes:

Communicating the value of UC Davis is an essential element of our campus’s education, research, and larger public service mission. Increased investment in social media and communications strategy has heightened the profile of the university to good effect.

As part of this overall communications strategy, it is important that the excellent work underway at UC Davis with respect to educating the next generation of students, pursuing groundbreaking research, and providing important services to the State is not lost during a campus crisis, including the crisis that ensued following the extremely regrettable incident when police pepper-sprayed student protesters in 2011. Communication efforts during this time were part of the campus’s strategic communication strategy. In fact, one of the main objectives during this time was to train staff on how to effectively use digital media to improve engagement with our stakeholders.

Communicating the value of UC Davis is among the many reasons why our campus was able to increase its endowment to $1 billion last year, garner more than $700 million in research grants, and attract the highest caliber of students and faculty from around the country, with a record number of student applications this year.

Most of the growth in the communications budget is tied to raising the visibility of our College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine, both rated the best in the nation.

In a 2014 Chronicle of Higher Education Report titled, “Higher Ed Marketing Comes of Age,” the mean amount that universities spend on marketing was reported as $3.7 million, with the highest at $25 million. We believe UC Davis compares favorably with other institutions of higher learning. Communications spending represents a small fraction of the $4.3 billion operating budget of UC Davis.

Meanwhile, an ongoing protest against the chancellor ended as a result of the web-scrubbing uproar, reports the local CBS affiliate:

The students who staged a sit-in outside UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s office have ended their protest.

After five weeks camping out, the student protesters say they achieved their goal of bringing local and national attention to what they say is Katehi’s unethical behavior.

The students vacated the building around noon and walked in silence, with tape covering their mouths, around campus.

As CBS13 in Sacramento reported in March, her eagerness to pad her payroll drew some legislative umbrage:

The chancellor of UC Davis is being asked to step down by a Sacramento Assemblyman who says her service on two for-profit boards is a conflict of interest in her leadership role.

Chancellors are allowed to serve on for-profit boards, and it’s encouraged and can be beneficial. But those board seats must be approved, and many call Chancellor Linda Katehi’s choice of companies questionable.

“These positions help her financially, but I have no idea how it benefits the people of California and the students at UC Davis,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty.

The Sacramento Democrat and former city councilman says Katehi made poor choices in accepting paid board seats with DeVry Education Group and John Wiley and Sons, a college textbook publisher.

“Serving on boards that have very questionable benefits to the taxpayer and sometimes negative benefits, DeVry is being sued by the federal government for being a diploma mill,” he said.

On 18 March 18 Kathei responded to the outrage over her dubious corporate profiteering:

My acceptance of the position on the DeVry Education Group board of directors did not comply with UC policy. I made an error in accepting it. I take full responsibility for that error, and I have resigned from the board. I accepted the position because I believed I could help DeVry better evaluate its procedures for delivering a sound curriculum and for measuring students’ performance and progress post-graduation. Nevertheless, I apologize for my mistake and the distraction this has caused for our university community.

My service on the board of John Wiley and Sons from 2011-2014 complied with UC policy. My goal in accepting that position was to help Wiley improve the quality of its educational materials, while making them more accessible and affordable for students. While I recognize and appreciate the concerns raised by many in our community about my service on the Wiley board, my work on the board had no impact on UC textbook purchases.

I served on an unpaid advisory panel of King Abdulaziz University from 2012-2013, which included the former president of Ohio State University; however, I did not participate in any meetings. My appointment complied with University of California policies. My goal was to increase student diversity. To further our work together on behalf of California students, here is my commitment to our UC Davis community: I will establish a $200,000 scholarship fund for California undergraduate students at UC Davis from my Wiley stock proceeds.

Service on private and public boards is widely recognized as a responsibility of academic leaders. As a woman and a STEM scholar, my service has helped to correct the chronic lack of diversity on a number of boards. My pledge to the UC Davis community is to more carefully vet such invitations and to meticulously follow UC approval procedures in the future.

Kathei inspired another editorial cartoon on 20 March, this one posted on the Fire Kathei Facebook page:

BLOG Kathei anon

We leave the last word to legendary columnist Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News:

Somehow, Katehi kept her job after the pepper spraying — a mistake that was compounded by this caper lifted straight from the pages of George Orwell, inventor of “the memory hole.” True, $175,000 isn’t a lot in the multi-million sinkhole that is today’s American university, but hey, maybe two or three lower income kids could have gotten their sheepskin, instead. Just my crazy idea.

Of course, UC Davis being a public university and all, Katahi’s Orwellian crusade came out in the media. That meant the launching of 1,000 new articles and blog posts like this one, not to mention a slew of negative commentary about the school on social media. So that now, kids thinking about applying for admission to UC Davis for 2017 will learn that, as in the headline of this SEO-optimized blog post, that UC Davis is the place for all your pepper spraying needs.

I rarely ask for things, and God knows I don’t get paid by the pageview (because I’d be broke if I was) but please do your part to make this post — or articles like this — go viral. Not just for the initial crime, but now for the cover-up, Linda Katehi has got to go as chancellor of this warped institution. For one more spurt of nostalgia, here’s the video of an amazing protest that the kids at UC Davis conducted in 2011…leading to Katehi’s infamous “walk of shame.”

UC Davis Chancellor Katehi walks to her car

Quote of the day: Making Trump seem moderate


Leave it to Bigoted Bilious O’Reilly, the constipated curmudgeon who serves as the mainstay of Fox News, to make The Donald seem like a moderate.

He accomplished this miraculous feat in an interview of Trump when he questioned the Republican about his claims that he could create jobs for minority youth.

Here’s the money quote from Monday Night’s O’Reilly Factor, referring to African American youths he saw in Harlem whilst en route to Yankee Stadium:

How are you going to get jobs for them? Many of them are ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads, and I hate to be generalized about it but it’s true, if you look at all the educational statistics, how are you going to give jobs to people who aren’t qualified for jobs?

But then what else should we expect from a network that features fired Los Angeles racist cop and king of the N-word Mark Fuhrman as their distinguished forensic consultant? You know, they guy almost singlehandedly responsible for getting O.J. off?

Headline of the day: Trans-Pacific Pandering


From the Intercept:

Pro-TPP Op-Eds Remarkably Similar to Drafts By Foreign Government Lobbyists

Newspapers in California published pro-TPP columns that appear to have been at least partially authored by lobbyists working for the Japanese government.