Tribune Quits AP for a Week, Should Really Quit Paper Itself

I’d love to see Tribune papers really get some good reporting here, not just from within but from experienced beat-bloggers, city-bloggers, and more comprehensive, microfunded reporting as done by the likes of spot.us.

Tribune papers without AP

Personally I think the best way to cut costs is to slowly let the printed version of the paper wither away, until all that ends up at the end of subscribers’ driveways is a stack of obituaries. THEN everyone will finally get the point and take to reading the paper online, on their kindle, their blackberry, Macintosh tablet or anything else that doesn’t turn your fingers black.

Syndicate far and wide, but don’t put all your marbles in one not-so-reliable product…. especially when it ain’t free!

photo by quinn.anya via flickr (CC)

The Chicago Tribune and other Tribune Co. newspapers plan to utilize as little content from the Associated Press as practical during the week of Nov. 8.

The goal, as the papers review costs and needs, is to see whether severing ties with the news cooperative next fall is a viable option, the Chicago-based media company confirmed Monday.

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LA Times Announces Brand X Link Farm

ThisisBrandX.com way to go LA Times This is Brand XLaunch early and launch often.

But don’t let the cat out of the bag before you’ve got a basic index page, 404 or… anything but the de facto Register.com-branded ztomy.com-fueled link farm.

So when the LA Times announced a “new product launch” in an all-staff memo this afternoon (thx, Ed) it was disappointing to see that said product was nothing but a Register.com link farm. Not to mention, what the memo describes is merely a repackaging of the short-lived print edition of Metromix along with some “reverse-published” blog posts. Whatever that means. Perhaps it can only be read when held up to a mirror?

Times editor Russ Stanton had this to write about the so-horribly-named-it-makes-me-quiver ThisIsBrandX.com: “It’s content sharing on an extremely local level and will bring our great work to an audience that does not currently see it.”

I feel for my friends at the LA Times who do amazing work in spite of it all. But the news about newspapers these days just gets me depressed. And with a name like Brand X — which implies knock-off, pirated, counterfeit merchandise — I just hope that the bulk of the content isn’t produced in China.

And anyway… THIS is Brand X:

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Jack Fuller on Free Expression Theory and the Tribune’s ‘Waterboarding’ Blunders

When Jack Fuller pens an op-ed in the Tribune criticizing the media, it’s worth taking note. Fuller was the president of Tribune Company’s publishing group until late 2004 after working his way up through the reporting ranks and editing ranks over 30+ years at the Tribune.

But I couldn’t help but note the irony today, that soon after listening to On the Media‘s lead piece examining newspapers’ definition of “waterboarding” — I stumbled upon Fuller’s “News sells more opinion, at cost of sincerity” in the Trib.

“The concern with large news media corporations has been that they would stifle diversity of political opinion,” wrote Fuller. He picks on MSNBC’s and FOX News’ commercialization of political opinion slanted “toward whatever attracts a crowd.”

Now, with the fragmentation of media and audience, there is no clear commercial argument against presenting the news with a point of view.

But there remains an atmosphere of politicization and “stifling” in print, take for example the Chicago Tribune’s definition of “waterboarding” as explained on the aforementioned On the Media very uncomfortably and definisively by deputy editor Randy Weissman:

Our official definition is — effective today — “an interrogation technique that simulates drowning a prisoner, comma, creating the sensation of imminent death.”

OK. Just as inefficient a definition as the New York Times (“simulated drowning”) or the LA Times (“an interrogation technique simulating drowning that dates to the Spanish Inquisition”) but its his awkward defense that seems to reveal political motivation behind using “simulate” and “sensation.”

Weissman:

Simply put, if you look in Webster’s, drowning is death, and waterboarding would only fit that definition if, if the prisoner died. Ask most people if a person drowns what happens, you — I would be willing to bet you that they would say he died.

Even after On the Media host Brooke Gladstone reiterated that drownING is the gerund and surely someone who is drowning can still be saved, Weissman blamed the politicization of the Trib’s semantics on Webster’s (where the gerund is not defined):

Well, I will go along with Webster’s New World Dictionary, which says “to die by suffocation in water or other liquid.”

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LA Times Creates Google Map for California Fire Storm ’07

Updated links to media/official/citizen coverage of the fires below.

I’ve messed with numerous mapping applications — namely Mapbuilder and Platial and none are as effective, easy to maintain / update and share as this map tracking the ongoing fires in Southern California. Nice one, Times.

Map Updated 10/29

View Larger Map


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For more fire coverage: CBS2/KCAL9 has multiple live video feeds available here, ABC7 is live here. KNX 1070 is doing a commendable job, covering this story like the natural catastrophe that it is playing out to be and knowing, ala Katrina, that while many may lose power and/or have to leave their homes, they still could have access to radio. Several KNX reporters have been on the story for over 24 hours straight now, and they’ve been broadcasting commercial-free since the story broke early Sunday. Listen in here.

SignOnSanDiego is also in breaking coverage mode via their text-only Fire Blog updates. With up to a quarter million people already being evacuated from areas of San Diego County it’s possible Qualcomm Stadium could be very reminiscent of the Superdome staging area (except of course that it’s not covered and the weather ain’t nearly that bad, save for the smoke in the air).

Also, LA City Fire Department is now live with its long-incubating real-time alerts feed. Subscribe via e-mail or Twitter. For very regular updates from San Diego to your mobile device, follow Nate Ritter.

Below, The Daily news‘ less-detailed Google Map focusing on Los Angeles and the Valley and a real-time slideshow of the more incredible photos documenting the fires via flickr:
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NYT Retires TimesSelect Pay Wall

new york times select now free foreverAnd all the greatest content shall be free!

No doubt Murdoch will open up WSJ.com to all as well. Both the Times and Journal were the only daily newspapers to successfully implement a paid subscription model, the Times reportedly generating over $20 million in revenue over the course of the two year TimesSelect experiment.

But the advertising landscape has changed, especially as ad sales models shift away from the pageviews to total time spent. This on the same day that AOL, which stands to benefit greatly from Nielsen’s total time spent measurements, announced a realignment of its ad strategy and a physical move from Dulles to Madison Avenue.

PaidContent breaks down the TimesSelect numbers here.

While I’m glad that I’ll no longer have to read another Frank Rich column out of context, cut-and-pasted on some random blog, I’m even happier that the excellent multimedia content on TS, as well as Kristof’s spin-off blogs (like this one written by my friend Will) will be free for the world to read.

So, are my beloved TimesSelect podcasts going to return… or what?

MORE: NYT;s letter to readers — the Pay Wall comes down at midnight EDT on the 19th. Also, Gillmor, Jarvis, and Ingram react.