Friday, February 27, 2009

Today's Word—Another Voice Stilled

The Rocky Mountain News (1859-2009)

“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to you today. Our time chronicling the life of Denver and Colorado, the nation and the world, is over. Thousands of men and women have worked at this newspaper since William Byers produced its first edition on the banks of Cherry Creek on April 23, 1859. We speak, we believe, for all of them, when we say that it has been an honor to serve you. To have reached this day, the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News, just 55 days shy of its 150th birthday is painful. We will scatter. And all that will be left are the stories we have told. . . .”
—Final Dispatch, The Rocky Mountain News (See final website, videos, farewells.)

“Denver can’t support two newspapers any longer. It’s certainly not good news for you, and it’s certainly not good news for Denver.”
—Rich Boehne, CEO, E.W. Scripps Co., announcing closing of the 150-year-old Denver daily yesterday.

“People are in grief.” —John Temple, editor, The Rocky Mountain News

"For me, it’s a very, very sad day. As much in public life you may disagree with editors, you may get taken to task by editors, I really do believe that the First Amendment and the free exercise of the press is at the heart of what makes us strong. We lose a Colorado icon, we lose a newspaper that has contributed so much, I think, to the history of this state.”
—Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rocky Mountain News: RIP


Rocky Mountain News to close after Friday

Parent company Scripps said it was unable to find a buyer for newspaper

DENVER - The Rocky Mountain News in Denver will publish its last edition Friday.

Owner E.W. Scripps Co. announced on the newspaper’s Web site Thursday that its search for a buyer for the paper was unsuccessful.

Scripps CEO Rich Boehne said in a statement the newspaper is “a victim of changing times in our industry and huge economic challenges.” Scripps says the paper lost $16 million last year.

Click here for AP story.

Today's Word—By the Numbers

Some Journalism Numbers:
86%: Adults over 18 who read community newspapers (in markets with paper under 25,000 circulation)
59% of those consider the local paper a primary source of news about the community (up from 45% in 2007)
11% consider TV a primary source of local news (down from 20% in 2007)
3.4% consider the Internet a primary source of local news (same as 2007)
27 hours: average time per month spent online
2.5 hours: average time per month spent watching online videos
68.3 million: number of people who saw a NYTimes Obama ad on Facebook after election
300%: increase in registered “fans” on the NYTimes Facebook page within 24 hours of the Obama ad (from 49,000 to 164,000)
$5.9 billion: online ad spending in the U.S. during third quarter of 2008 (up 11% from 2007)
8.9%: anticipated increase in online ad spending in 2009
(Source: Columbia Journalism Review, 2009, with data from: National Newspaper Assn.; Nielsen;
Nieman Journalism Lab; Interactive Advertising Bureau; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Arbitron; e-Marketer.)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's Word—No Journalism in Heaven?

Why God’s Not Interested in Journalism:

“I might be a media critic, but I feel like the homesteader with the feverish child moaning in the buckboard who gallops into town and begs old Doc Anderson to for God’s sake do whatever he can. I know, I know—nine times out of ten the next line in the movie is a forlorn ‘I’m sorry, Ben, God took her.’ But I don’t think God’s interested in journalism. (That might be the silver lining.) If journalists disappear from earth we surely won’t find them in heaven, where all the news is good and every politician is honest.”
—Michael Miner, columnist, The Chicago Reader

Editorial comment: But plenty of openings on the hot beat...

Meanwhile, An Update from the Morgue:
“Niche” Newspaper? Deseret News to become “Mormon Niche Publication”?
Another Lifeline Needed: Hearst to sell or close SFChronicle?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Today's Word—Shelf-Life


Fey: “It has been said that to write is to live forever.”
Martin: “The man who wrote that is dead.”
—Tina Fey and Steve Martin, presenting the Academy Award for screenwriting, 2009

Editorial comment: Also with long shelf-life: bran muffins, and stupidity.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Today's Word—Journalism Defined

What is Journalism?

“As a trade, journalism most frequently requires an aptitude for perceiving, ferreting out, comprehending and reporting the ingredients of major happenings in the lives and surroundings of the humble and the mighty, as well as an aptitude for interpreting and putting into ‘news shape’ the significant ripples of village gossip, middletown chatter, and urban talk because of their human interest, or their weird, strange or unusual flavor.”
—George Fox Mott (1907-1987), journalism professor, 1940

Editorial comment: Our fathers’ journalism? Perceptive ferret gossips?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Today's Word—Training Matters

Journalists (still) Needed

“What is really threatened by the decline of newspapers and the related rise of online media is reporting—on-the-ground reporting by trained journalists who know the subject, have developed sources on all sides, strive for objectivity and are working with editors who check their facts, steer them in the right direction and are a further check against unwarranted assumptions, sloppy thinking and reporting, and conscious or unconscious bias.”
—Gary Kamiya, columnist, Click here.
(Thanks to alert WORDster Arnold Ismach)

Editorial comment: True enough. Fishin’ ain’t catchin’, and webbery ain’t sense-making.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today's Word—Those Were the Days

Balm for Bad Newspaper News

“Watch some old episodes of Lou Grant, the late-seventies TV series about life at a newspaper. . . . The show, which stars Ed Asner as an irascible city editor. . . , is a time capsule of an era when circulation was up and anxieties about the industry’s future were down. In Lou Grant’s newsroom, the phones are always ringing, the typewriters clacking, the reporters free to spend days or weeks working on a story, without fretting over ballooning expenses or the next round of layoffs. The Internet, of course, is a nonfactor; the most advanced technology is a Telex machine. In short, Lou Grant revels in the old-fashioned milieu of shoe leather and black ink.”
—Steven Kurutz, writer, Columbia Journalism Review, Jan/Feb 2009

Editorial comment: Fine, but I can't see Lou Grant “reveling” anywhere, let alone in a “milieu.”


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Today's Word—From the Gulag

Selective Perception

“I am not objective?” Rubin demanded. “Me? Then who is objective?”

“No one, of course,” the artist exulted. “No one! No one ever was and no one ever will be. Every act of perception has an emotional coloring. The truth is supposed to be the final result of investigation, but don’t we perceive a sort of truth before any investigation has begun?”
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), writer, from The First Circle (1968)

RED-LETTER DAYS: Today in History
2001: FBI’s Robert Philip Hanssen arrested as Russian spy for 15 years; 1995: “Get Smart” airs final episode; 1988: Anthony Kennedy sworn in to Supreme Court; 1960: 8th Winter Olympics opens at Squaw Valley; 1953: “Bwana Devil,” first 3-D movie; 1930: Pluto discovered; 1929: First Oscar Awards; 1885: Mark Twain publishes Huckleberry Finn; 1861: Jefferson Davis becomes Confederate president; 1856: Know-Nothings convene in Philadelphia; 1564: Michelangelo dies (See

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today's Word—Hate Mail

Why I miss my hate mail

“It’s an odd thing to admit, but in a perverse sort of way, I actually miss the wretched river, the rancid flow of puerile, nasty, sickeningly homophobic email I used to receive on a regular basis from the ultra-right and the Christian right and the Mormon right and the Bush-impaired whenever I would post a friendly, pointed column full of tangy liberal attitude. . . . . Oh, I miss all the lovely and positive email too, which outpaced the nasty stuff by a huge margin. But the hate mail was very special indeed, great fodder for live readings, for the reaction of horrified disbelief of anyone who saw it, for the charming reminder of just how ugly and violent and grammatically challenged the human animal can be.”
—Mark Morford, columnist, (2/13/09) Click here.
(Thanks to alert WORDster Kevin Doyle)

Today in History: 1979: China invades Vietnam AND “Prairie Home Companion” premieres; 1972: Nixon departs on historic China visit; 1968: Record-high U.S. casualty count in Vietnam war; 1947: Voice of America begins broadcasts to Russia; 1933: Newsweek born; 1911: First automobile self-starter; 1904: Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” premieres in Milan; 1865: Gen. Sherman sacks Columbia, S.C.; 1801: U.S. House selects Jefferson president over Aaron Burr (See

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's Word—Lie-Detectors

Why We Need the Press

“There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the information by which to detect lies.”
—Walter Lippmann, (1889-1974), newsman, author, Medal of Freedom winner,in Liberty and the News (1920) (Thanks to alert WORDster Rob Rabe)
(Time cover, Sept. 27, 1932-->)

NOTE: Yesterday was National Hug-a-Journalist Day. It’s not too late...

Today in History: 2005: National Hockey League cancels season for lack of interest; 1959: Castro becomes Cuba’s president; 1950: “What’s My Line?” debuts; 1948: “The Camel Newsreel Theatre,” first NBC-TV nightly newscast; 1945: Bataan recaputured by Allies; 1923: Archeologist Howard Carter opens King Tut’s tomb; 1868: Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks founded in NYC; 1852: The Studebaker is born (See

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today's Word—Accomplices

Courage in Hard Times

“No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices. . . . If none of us ever read a book that was ‘dangerous,’ nor had a friend who was ‘different,’ or never joined an organization that advocated ‘change,’ we would all be just the kind of people Joe McCarthy wants.”
—Edward R. Murrow (1900-1965), legendary newsman

NEWS NOTE: Sunday is National Hug-A-Journalist Day.

Today in History: 2008: No Juice! Roger Clemens swears to Congress, “I have never taken steroids or HGH.”; 2000: Last “Peanuts” comic strip runs, a day after Charles Schulz’s death; 1960: France explodes first A-bomb; 1949: Jack Webb’s first radio crime drama; 1945: Dresden firebombing; 1905: Teddy Roosevelt discusses America’s “race problem”; 1898: UK’s first auto traffic fatality; 1895: French inventors patent first movie camera-projector; 1633: Galileo called to face Inquisition (See

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's Word: Helo-Moosehunting

Sportscasting Dodges a Bullet. Literally?

“When I was in high school, my desire was to be a sportscaster. ESPN was just kicking off, just getting off the ground, and I thought that's what I was going to do in life, is be one of the first woman sportscasters. Until I learned that you'd have to move to Bristol, Connecticut. It was far away. So instead, I had a daughter and named her Bristol.”
—Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, 2008
(Click moose bag for “The Ballad of Sarah Palin” video.)

Headlines: HONEY!? Get Me Rewrite!

Today in History
2004: First same-sex couples married in San Francisco; 1999: Clinton impeachment fails; 1973: North Vietnam starts releasing U.S. POWs; 1909: NAACP founded; 1912: Last Chinese emperor abdicates; 1870: Women in Utah Territory get the vote; 1809: 200! Abraham Lincoln’s and Charles Darwin’s birthdays; 1789: Colonial furnituremaker Ethan Allen dies (See

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Honey, Get Me Rewrite!

These remind me of an old Bloom County cartoon:
“Did you hear about the corduroy pillows? . . . They're making head lines....”

(Thanks to alert CyberContributor Harry Crosby).

Today's Word—Have You Seen My Watchdog?


“If there were ever a time for a strong and sharp-toothed press corps to hound our lawmakers in Washington, it would be now. . . . It’s startling, then, to discover the dwindling number of journalists on the beat. Rather than an increase of journalists schlepping their laptops to Washington, there’s been a mass exodus [as] newspapers across the country have gouged their staffs in order to stave off unhappy Wall Street investors and prop up their profit margins.”
Megan Tandy, reporter, In These Times (2/3/09)

WORD TEASE: What common English nine-letter word creates eight additional different words as one letter is removed, one at a time? Answer under Comments below. (Thanks to alert WORDster Arnold Ismach)

Today in History
2006: BOOM! Dick Cheney shoots hunting buddy; 1990: Nelson Mandela freed after 27 years in prison; 1979: Ayatollah Khomeini’s followers seize power in Iran; 1960: Jack Paar leaves “The Tonight Show”; 1945: FDR, Stalin & Churchill sign Yalta Agreement; 1937: Simultaneous radio broadcast on all three U.S. networks; 1812: “Gerrymandering” created when Massachusetts Gov. Eldridge Gerry signs redistricting law (See

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Today's Word—Amid the Maelstrom . . .

. . . A Place to Think

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.”
—Edward P. Morgan (1910-1993), TV/radio newsman and commentator

Today in History
2007: Barack Obama announces presidential candidacy; 1996: Chess Master Gary Kasparov loses to a computer; 1970: Franch avalanche buries skiers; 1964: Dylan releases “The Times They Are A-Changin’”; 1962: captured U-2 pilot Gary Powers swapped for Soviet spy; 1933: First singing telegram; 1846: Mormons begin trek from Illinois to Utah; 1763: French and Indian War ends as France cedes Canada to England

Monday, February 9, 2009

Today's Word—Corporate Trolls...

. . . & Empty Husks
"[N]ewspapers like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune are being ruthlessly cannibalized by corporate trolls . . . , turned into empty husks that focus increasingly on boutique journalism. Corporations are not in the business of news. They hate news, real news. Real news is not convenient to their rape of the nation. Real news makes people ask questions. They prefer to close the prying eyes of reporters. They prefer to transform news into another form of mindless amusement and entertainment.”
Chris Hedges, columnist, pundit and author, 2008. See URL.
(Thanks to alert WORDster Javan Kienzle)
Today in History
2001: U.S. submarine collides with Japanese fishing boat off Hawaii, killing 9; 1999: Senate begins deliberations on Clinton impeachment; 1993: NBC News settles with GM on fiery pickup lawsuit; 1971: Satchel Paige first Negro League player nominated for Baseball Hall of Fame; 1965: First U.S. combat troops go to Vietnam; 1964: Beatles appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show”; 1960: Coors brewery heir kidnapped; 1951: Greta Garbo becomes U.S. citizen; 1950: Joseph McCarthy accuses State Department of communist infiltration; 1900: Tennis’s Davis Cup established; 1825: House elects John Quincy Adams president

Friday, February 6, 2009

Today's Word—Advice for English Majors & Other Garblemouths


“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”
—Mark Twain (1835-1910), who knew his words
(Letter to D. W. Bowser, 3/20/1880)

Today in History
2000: Hillary Clinton launches candidacy for U.S. Senate; 1998: DC National airport renamed for Ronald Reagan; 1993: Tennis great Arthur Ashe, 49, dies of AIDS; 1952: Elizabeth II becomes Queen of England; 1937: Of Mice and Men published; 1862: Ulysses S. Grant’s troops capture Fort Henry; 1778: Franco-American alliances signed

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Today's Word—Internet Can Eat Your Brain!


“Worries about the damage the Internet may be doing to young people has produced a mountain of books—a suitably old technology in which to express concerns about the new. Robert Bly claims that, thanks to the Internet, the ‘neo-cortex is finally eating itself.’ Today’s youth may be web-savvy, but they also stand accused of being unread, bad at communicating, socially inept, shameless, dishonest, work-shy, narcissistic and indifferent to the needs of others.”
The Economist, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Adam Ward)

Today in History
2007: NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak arrived for bizarre plot to kidnap rival in love triangle; 2003: Colin Powell urges United Nations to move against Iraq’s WMD; 1994: White supremacist Byron de la Beckwith convicted of murdering Medgar Evers in 1961; 1989: Last Soviet troops leave Kabul; 1988: Manuel Noriega indicted on U.S. drug charges; 1952: First Walk/Don’t Walk sign; 1878: Birth of Citroen; 1783: Earthquake flattens southern Italy

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today's Word—Our Window on the World

Enormous Impact

“News Corporation, today, reaches people at home and at work... when they’re thinking... when they’re laughing... and when they are making choices that have enormous impact. The unique potential—and duty—of a media company are to help its audiences connect to the issues that define our time.”
—Rupert Murdoch, media mogul, CEO of News Corp
(owner of Fox, Wall Street Journal, StarTV and scores
of other media and other companies.
2008 revenues: $32.9 billion)

(See TIME and video clip
at “OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism.”)

Today in History
2003: Yugoslavia dissolved, replaced by Serbia & Montenegro; 1999: NYC police shoot and kill immigrant Amadou Diallo; 1997: OJ Simpson acquitted of murdering his ex-wife; 1974: Newspaper heiress Patty Hearst kidnapped; 1969: PLO is born; 1945: Yalta Conference—FDR, Churchill & Stalin meet to discuss war; 1861: States meet to form Confederacy; 1826: The Last of the Mohica
ns published; 1789: Washington elected to two terms as first U.S president; 1783: Britain declares end of hostilities with the former American colonies

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today's Word—The Daily Snooze

Relaxed Press Relations

“Afterward, a colleague joked to me, ‘About midway through, I thought I was going to fall asleep.’ Too bad Obama has frozen the salaries of his top staffers. In earlier times, that kind of praise for a press secretary would have gotten him a raise.”
—John Dickerson, political correspondent,,
on Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs’ first White House press briefing (1/22/09)

Today in History
2005 Senate confirms Alberto Gonzales as first Hispanic attorney general; 2002 New England Patriots win first Super Bowl; 1998 20 skiers killed when U.S. jet severs ski-lift cables in Italian Alps; 1971 third Apollo Moon landing; 1959 The day the music—and Buddy Holly—died; 1953 Jacques Cousteau publishes The Silent World; 1948 First Cadillac with tail fins; 1938 Abbott & Costello radio premiere; 1913 16th Amendment, creating federal income tax, adopted; 1809 Illinois Territory created; 1690 First paper money in American colonies issued in Massachusetts

Monday, February 2, 2009

Today's Word—Groundhogs & Newspapers

National Buy-A-Newspaper Day

“There’s a reporter I know who’s especially fond of calling newspapers ‘the daily miracle.’ Every day in newsrooms across the country, a group of people from very different backgrounds get together, pry the latest news from their communities, sometimes willingly and sometimes not, and puts together a cohesive, informative product for thousands of people. It’s really incredible when you think of all the work this takes just to ensure that we have an informed democracy.”
—Chris Freiberg, founder, Facebook’s National Buy-A-Newspaper Day

FLASH: Punxsutawney Phil Sees Shadow, Predicts 6 More Weeks of Winter

Today in History
2004 Ricin discovered in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s offices; 1990 South African President F.W. DeKlerk promises to free Nelson Mandela; 1979 Iran’s Islamic revolution; Idi Amin takes power in Uganda; 1964 G.I. Joe’s birthday; 1943 Battle of Stalingrad ends; MGM fires Buster Keaton; 1887 First Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney, PA; Light pollution born—first electric streetlight; 1876 Baseball’s National League founded; 1847 First Donner Party member dies in Sierras; 1653 New Amsterdam, now New York City, incorporated; 1536 Buenos Aires founded