Thursday, August 30, 2007

World Power-Femmes 2007

Clout counts, ladies and laddies. Rankings are according to influence and wealth. (Money + power, as it is Forbes magazine doing the rating.) Politicians over industrialists, but just barely. Number three is also, incidentally, the wife of Singapore's leader. She pulls the $108 billion purse strings of the city state's holding company. The sale of Thailand's major telecommunications firm to Temasek ousted the premier of Thailand last year. Few journalists figure in the top 100.

1. Angela Merkel (German chancellor)

2. Wu Yi (Chinese vice-premier)

3. Ho Ching (Temasek Holdings)

4. Condoleezza Rice (US Secretary of State)

5. Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo)

6. Sonia Gandhi (Indian National Congress Party)

7. Cynthia Carroll (Anglo American)

8. Patricia Wortz (Archer Daniels Midland)

9. Irene Rosenfeld (Kraft Foods)

10. Patricia Russo (Alcatel-Lucent)

Source: Forbes magazine

Senator Hillary Clinton is number 25; Nancy Pelosi is way down at number 26.
Oprah Winfrey, rated number 23, is considered more influential than either of these quintessential pols.

Most Media Queens rate considerably further down the Forbes list: there are just a dozen women who rated as journalist power fraus:

Oprah Winfrey Chairman, Harpo US (ranked 23)

Amy Pascal Cochair, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Pictures US (ranked 35)

Janet L. Robinson Chief executive, president, The New York Times Company US (ranked 45)

Nancy Tellem President, CBS Paramount Television Entertainment, CBS Corp. US ( ranked 49)

Meredith Vieira Host, The Today Show US (ranked 55)

Ann Moore Chairman, chief executive, Time Inc. US (ranked 57)

Diane Sawyer
Co-anchor, Good Morning America US (ranked 62)

Katie Couric Anchor, managing editor, CBS Evening News US (ranked 63)

Christiane Amanpour Chief international correspondent, CNN UK (ranked 74)

Anne Sweeney President,Disney-ABC TV Group;Co-Chair, Disney US (ranked 77)

Christie Hefner Chairman, chief executive, Playboy Enterprises US (ranked 85)

Cathleen Black
President, Hearst Magazines US (ranked 94)

Last Hack in Ulster made redundant

The end of the troubles means a cutback of Sunday Times news coverage in Northern Ireland, reports the mediaGuardian. That's why the Ulster office is no more.

The Sunday Times is closing down its Northern Irish operation and making its Ulster editor, Liam Clarke, redundant.

Clarke, who has worked for the paper for about 20 years and been on staff for more than 16 years, said he was leaving because the post had been made redundant "due to the changing news agenda".

The veteran has been at the forefront of some of the biggest and riskiest stories covered by the paper during the Northern Irish troubles.

But it seems that peace in the region, combined with budgetary restraints due to investment in new printing presses at the Sunday Times, have led to the closure of the post.

Clarke annnounced his departure to colleagues in an email, in which he said he had enjoyed his work.

"I had some great colleagues who I learnt a lot from.

"The redundancy settlement which is now being finalised should give me an opportunity to take stock without too much pressure to commit to anything full time or permanent straight away.

"People have suggested a few projects to me as the news of my departure filtered out. I plan to check all of these out in the coming weeks and, meantime, I am open to any other paying propositions.

"A drinks do might be a solitary affair as I was the only one in Belfast. However, we can have mini versions if any of you are over this way.

"Apart from that if I can be of any help do get in touch."

Clarke follows a number of news staffers out of the door over the past six months, including Whitehall editor Robert Winnett, social affairs editor John Elliott, night editor Maurice Chittenden, focus editor Paul Nuki, reporters Will Iredale and Gareth Walsh and education correspondent Geraldine Hackett.

Clarke's departure marks an end to one of the most turbulent news reporting careers on the paper, during which he frequently covered terrorism, extortion and crime.

In September last year, the Police Service of Northern Ireland agreed to pay substantial damages to Clarke after his home was raided following the publication of confidential political conversations between Sinn Féin and British government officials.

Clarke and his wife complained to police following the raid in May 2003, which was triggered by the publication of the transcripts of conversations between Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness and government officers, including Jonathan Powell, the prime minister's chief of staff.

The raid was carried out under the Official Secrets Act, but Clarke and Ms Johnston successfully argued that the wrong type of warrant had been used to gain entry to their home in Ballymena. They were held for five hours at Antrim police station, but never charged with any offence.

The transcripts were contained in the couple's unauthorised biography of Mr McGuinness entitled From Guns to Government, which contained the transcripts and suggested they had been obtained by phone-tapping. The tapes, it has been alleged, were made by the security services or the police.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

'Borrowing' Wi-Fi signal- is it theft?

In cities where free broadband is available,or for blackberry enthusiasts, this internet ethics dilemma about the honesty of logging onto someone else's bandwidth may seem ridiculous.
Whether you use a public network in a cafe or library rather than borrow your neighbors', it is important to be watch out for Wi-Fi hackers and to place some firewalls and passwords to protect info on your laptop. An enterprising rival reporter in a press room could get at your files or a thief could snatch your credit card details. When I was using free broadband in the business lounge of United Airlines at Narita airport, Japan, some opportunist made paid calls on my Skype account and depleted the balance. Skype had automatically logged in when I switched on my laptop, and this cheapskate caller just couldn't resist. Skype eventually refunded the money after a lot of correspondence back and forth. Now I take more care; Life is just too short for such hassles.

You frequently can get a free signal when parking in front of a cybercafe or business. One dead giveaway that others are using a broadband network are nerd-marks like the one pictured:
The rather lame name the hackers prefer is "warchalking", but then they come from a cybergaming background and have a distorted self-image leaning heavily on martial avatars.

Read more details and a flurry of comments from agitated or angst-ridden internet users on this BBC link:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Drudgery leads the way to influence

The most influential journo in America, says New York magazine, is none other than the newly-reclusive Matthew Nathan Drudge. His mega-website, which famously broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal nearly a decade ago, even spawned a more leftwing anti-site, predictably dubbed the "Drudge Retort" in letters which slant the other direction. It's a backhanded compliment. The guy, hailed as an "equal-opportunity zinger" does not talk through his trademark hat. He seems to be the real deal. Well, mostly. The rebel has gone mainstream.
Read a paen to the erstwhile gossip who Camille Paglia praises as
"a highly creative performance artist who has invented his own genre. The Drudge Report is a kind of existentialist high-wire act.”
It hits the stands this week. Eventually all journalists will be tempted to "kiss his ring" if we want to be linked to his 4 million regulars, he predicts with a chuckle. He is clearly the guy with the greatest hits--more than the NY Times! No longer must Drudge dumpster dive for gossip, but he does tap into New York Times exclusives via their wire service from his bastion in Miami. The poignant case history of a prematurely balding high school nerd who got back at the world through computer power is compelling.

Castro defies death rumours, nixes Perez Hilton's bug-eyed cyber-scoop

Miami heat was generated all weekend as rumors about Fidel Castro's demise whipped around. And on the Blogosphere, there was a giddy salsa dance of self-congratulation; the anti-Commie scoop of the century was being broken not by any of the sober Mainstream Media outlets, but by that queen of snark, self-appointed Hollywood 'nemesis' Perez Hilton. This unhinged Cuban-American had breathlessly blogged on Friday that, according to his exclusive inside sources, Florida police were preparing an afternoon press conference to announce Castro's death at age 81. A round of Cuba Libres and Mojitos for Calle Ocho por favor!! Caramba. As part of his "Celebrity Juice", Perez posted a photo of Fidel with "Dead" scrawled across his forehead and a podcast of a hot Gloria Estefan tune as a backbeat for gusano gloating about the passing of the "oppressive ogre."

Problem was, Castro just was not cooperating. No confirmation. Friday passed, so did Saturday and Sunday. So Perez's report of this death was, er, greatly exaggerated. It's no secret that South Florida has been panting to hear news of the ultimate "biological solution" to the Cuba conundrum for decades. And for the past year, ever since brother Raul has been appointed the figurehead in La Havana, there's been a deathwatch out on the "Bearded ONe."
When it happens-- and it will, since Fidel Castro is not a cyborg and must eventually pass away-- journos are likely to hear the news first on radio. (Or, as an SMS text on their Blackberries following reports of a sudden respectful silence of radio and television inside Cuba proper.) Hugo Chavez , Venezuela's head honcho, or the Nobel laureate Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be among the first to know.

Trusted Cuba-watchers such as Anita Snow of Associated Press, Dudley Althaus of the Houston Chronicle, Dolly Mascarenhas and Tim Padgett of Time Magazine, or Jon Lee Anderson of the New Yorker will be the ones to break this historic news. Sorry Perez, best stick to the fluff. Babalulu of a premature file. It raises a yellow light about the dubious fact-checking prowess of a rumor blog which is so self-reverential it believes its own hype.

Supposedly, as a kind of rebuttal to the rumor mill, the ailing Castro has just published a signed article. But no photos or video footage of him has surfaced since June. El Barbudo is vain about his appearance, they say.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Radical Restyle of familiar cartoon characters - Meet the 'Simpsonzu'

The Simpsonzu by *spacecoyote on deviantART

A 14-year-old animated show inevitably gets predictable, so this exotic repackaging of the Simpson cartoon cast sent out a jolt. Fans were intrigued, puzzled, or confused. But they kept clicking online to eyeball it or download it. In fact, the "deviant artist" who styles herself Space Coyote was overwhelmed by the eventual fallout from her Japanese Anime-reinvention of America's yellow 'toon family, the Simpsons, which she posted last January in order to amuse her friends. After the blogosphere got the images out, reactions were strong and swift. The professionals scrutinized this decidedly odd take and decided it was commercial. Now Max Groening, the driving force behind Homer & co , has asked the artist to do a stint with his longrunning show.

For a larger image, click on one of the cartoon couch potatoes, and then click on "full image". D'oh.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Jesus puff piece. No offense intended?

This front page picture causes a furore in Kuala Lumpur when it ran in the Tamil-language newspaper, Makkal Osai.
The Malaysian newspaper issued an apology to Murphy Pakiam, the Roman Catholic archbishop, and the Malaysian government, which had complained that the graphic disupted "the naitonal harmony."

SM Periasamy, general manager of the paper, explained that a graphic artist downloaded the image from the internet to illustrate an article, and failed to notice that this particular Jesus clutched a butt and a beer.

"We are sorry for the mistake, but it was a very honest one," he told wire reporters, adding that the employee had been sacked.

"At no time did we mean to downgrade any religion," Mr Periasamy said. The ill-chosen illustration ran under an article about the sayings of great leaders. The quote: "If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits them'.

More than 60 per cent of Malaysia's 27 million people are Muslim Malays and Islam is the official religion.

Russian dressing down, French leave it out: summer antics

Vladimir Putin's KGB six-pack on display caused ripples (and not just muscular ones) around the globe. The precise message that the Russian leader intended to send about Russian virility, personal fitness, and posturing was puzzled over. He's like a petite Arnie Schwarzenegger wannabe with Arctic eyes. Komsomolskaya Pravda published a pinup of the barechested Russian president alongside a workout guide to pump up a similarly "vigorous torso." Putin's prowess as a downhill skier and a black belt in judo is underscored with constant macho photo ops. Turn on the tv and watch the Supremo at the controls of truck,a train, a submarine or a fighter jet.

And while the shirtless look on holiday is sported by the French leader, too, not all bulges are created equal. L'express accused their rival, Paris Match, of airbrushing out the Presidential love-handles of Nicolas Sarkozy. To prove the point, they published side-by-side photos. Paris Match sensed fishing for an August silly story and declined to comment on the alterations to the wire photograph. Are they courting favour through flattering images of the leader? Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Feels like kiddie porn years later? Nevermind

Nirvana's underwater baby speaks:
'It feels kind of creepy'

Celebrity ain't what it used to be. A where are they now? feature in the Independent, rejigged from an MTV retrospective, explores childhood fame on vinyl.

To millions of music fans, the underwater photograph of a naked baby, a dollar bill floating before his face, will forever mean Nirvana. The star of the cover of the band's second studio album, Nevermind, has rather more complicated feelings towards the image.

"It's kind of creepy that so many people have seen me naked. I feel like I'm the world's biggest porn star," Spencer Elden, who was three months old when the picture was taken, told MTV News.

Spencer's parents were paid just $200 for allowing their infant son to be photographed by their friend, photographer Kirk Weddle. Little did they know at the time that the picture would feature in millions of record collections all over the world.

But Spencer, now a 17-year-old high school pupil in Eagle Rock, California, who works part time in a juice shop, surfs, snowboards and dreams of becoming an airline pilot, has had some recompense for his unsolicited fame.

He is one of the few people to have a platinum record of Nevermind hanging on his bedroom wall and even confesses, in youthful moments of hormonal agitation, to using the chat-up line: "You want to see my penis again?"

"It's kind of cool, knowing that I've been on an album cover, but I feel pretty normal about it because growing up, I've always known I was the Nirvana baby. It never really struck me like, 'Oh, shit, that's me on the cover.' It's always just been whatever for me," said Spencer.

"At the time, my parents didn't know who Nirvana was. No one really knew who they were. And then all of a sudden, it took off, and I just happened to be on the album cover."

If it had not been for Spencer's mother, Weddle might not have come up with the concept for the Nirvana album cover at all.

"My dad went to art school over here in Pasadena, and while he was going there, he had a good friend named Kirk, who was, at one time, a Navy seal and an underwater demolition expert. And so, to go to art school, he gave up diving. One day, he and my mom were sitting at the dinner table during a party, and my mom actually came up with the idea. He was saying how he missed scuba diving and she said, 'Why don't you just do underwater photography?' When he graduated, the first gig he got was the Nirvana album, and he needed a baby. So they just threw me in the pool, and snapped a whole roll of film in like a second."

Released in September 1991 on Geffen Records, Nevermind was Nirvana's breakthrough album, bringing the Seattle grunge scene to a worldwide audience and selling more than 26 million copies worldwide. Listed at number 17 in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In 1992, Weird Al Yankovic created a spoof of the cover for his own album Off The Deep End, which featured Yankovic swimming towards a donut. Nevermind was not Spencer's only appearance on the cover of a music album. In 2003, aged 12, he was featured on the cover of The Dragon Experience, the third solo album by cEvin Key of industrial group Skinny Puppy.

In 2001, seven years after the death of Nirvana's lead singer Kurt Cobain, Rolling Stone magazine asked Spencer to remodel the Nevermind slot to celebrate the album's tenth anniversary.
--Ciar Byrne

Pre-teen spirit

Peter Rowan

U2 'Boy', 1980

At the age of six, Peter Rowan, the brother of Bono's close friend Guggi, posed for the cover of U2's first album 'Boy'. He went on to become Ireland's skateboard champion, even appearing in The Commitments.

Billie Jo Campbell

Violent Femmes, 1982

Billie Jo Campbell was three years old on the iconic cover. Now 27, Campbell, lives in LA and works with her mother, running a clothing company. (Fair use of Wiki photo restricted)

anonymous pre-teen London girl
Blind Faith, 1969

Weird rumors inspired by this album cover: the girl was Baker's illegitimate daughter or was a groupie kept as a slave by the band.In 1969, a mystery girl appeared on the cover of Blind Faith, clasping a hood ornament from a 1957 Oldsmobile. Snapper Bob Seidemann, a former flatmate of Clapton, searched for "a girl as young as Shakespeare's Juliet...If she were too old it would be cheesecake, too young and it would be nothing. The beginning of the transition from girl to woman, that is what I was after. That temporal point, that singular flare of radiant innocence."

A 14-year-old girl on the London Tube was asked to model, but her younger sister, just 11, eventually posed (with her parents' permission) in exchange for her own horse.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Correction of the Month: A pseudo-apology runs in the Guardian

The football column in London's Guardian recently ran a rather snide "correction." Have a read of Simon Hattenstone at full throttle. (Hat tip to the website

This column might have given the erroneous impression that it does not revere the legendary football manager, Sven Goran-Eriksson. The Guardian wishes to apologise to Mr Eriksson for any distress caused, and is happy to clarify that he is the manager of the season 2007-08, the only coach to have done the double with three clubs in three countries, the modern master tactician and Sweden's greatest babe magnet, bar none.

Svennis, I'm so, so, so, so, so sorry. I shouldn't have compared you to Death in The Seventh Seal, shouldn't have called you frigid, lily-livered and deluded, or harked on about your Cuban heels, or made gratuitous references to your Zeus-like libido, or been catty about the sweet dream that you were managing Manchester United, or questioned your ingenious scouting on YouTube. I was foolish, Svennis, an ignoramus. Glib. Just a stupid football fan wantonly giving you sticks.

My colleagues advised me to wait at least three games before apologising. But that would be wrong. One game in, and you already have my heart. I have not been so exhilarated since Dennis Tueart scored with overhead kicks in three successive games and Colin Bell streaked on to the pitch at half-time singing If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold it Against Me).

Sven is playing fantasy football. In two weeks he has bought the ingredients for a divine footballing cake and baked it to holy perfection...

Sheikh-up? Al-Jazeera accountants jailed

Pity the Al Jazeera English language field correspondents. Those on-air smiles look a little tight lately in Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, DC;
It's not only because the splendid archive footage has all been run through and it's time to get more features in the can for the 24/7 feed. Apparently, foreign correspondents have griped that, in the scramble of obtaining all that new shooting, stacks of their monthly expenses were left unreimbursed. So it's not all non-stop glamour in tv news. Complaints fell on deaf ears at the Qatar-based television station for months. Finally it was revealed that most of the no-account accountants had been tossed in jail. Since broadcasts are not aired inside Qatar, at the insistence of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the money freeze had stayed a mystery. An inside source now tells Feral Beast that the Al-J's "liquidity problems" are getting sorted.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Scary Ware-y

The Huffington Post runs a long piece about the prescience of Mick Ware, the outspoken Australian war reporter who jumped from Time magazine's Baghdad bureau to CNN news.

For an Antepodian hack in a flakjacket, he's about as good as they come. The guy challenges spin (and ridiculed John McCain's protected shopping spree at a Baghdad souk). He has consistently reported tight action with flare, and has never sugarcoated complicated outcomes. Ware's insurgent sources around Baghdad keep him pessimistic, which is out of synch with the cheerleaders of this occupation. Mike Drudge attempted to smear him as a drunk.

Still, the Feral Beast did a doubletake at Huffington's headline. At first glance,it seemed to read "The Scary Presence of Mick Ware"...which, given Ware's oft-broken nose and maniacal expressions which are less than telegenic, did not come as a surprise.It seemed a tad mean, however. It's crucial to cut out the lip-glossed understatements repeated from government press conferences, and get the grit on the war from guys like Mick.

Tony Snow points to blizzard of resignations, including his own

Tony Snow Signals His Resignation, Plus ‘A Couple’ More ‘Coming Up In The Next Month’

After the demise of Karl Rove, Bush's cackling 'Boy Genius' who also answered to the Texan frat nickname of 'Turdblossom", all the thumbsuckers speculated about how the remainder of Bush's term would pan out sans “the Architect.” Bush is “fighting lame duck status,” reporta the AP. Now White House Press Secretary Tony Snow has spun back: “As the president has said many times, he’s going to sprint to the tape.”

But, according to the analysis websiteThinkProgress even Tony Snow doesn’t want to hang around for that sprint. In an interview with the conservative Hugh Hewitt show, Snow signaled that he won't linger until the end of the term. He also mentioned that there are “probably a couple” of other high-level resignations “coming up in the next month or so.”

HEWITT: Are there any other resignations upcoming, Tony Snow?

SNOW: I think that probably…as Josh said the other day, he thinks there are probably a couple coming up in the next month or so. […]

HEWITT: Your intention to go the distance, Tony Snow?

SNOW: No, I’m not going to be…I’ve already made it clear I’m not going to be able to go the distance, but that’s primarily for financial reasons. I’ve told people when my money runs out, then I’ve got to go.

Snow’s upcoming departure makes him one of a bevy of top administration officials who, since November, have left their posts. ThinkProgress has compiled a list of some of the key resignations:

- White House Senior Political Adviser Karl Rove
- White House Counselor Dan Bartlett
- White House Budget Director Rob Portman
- White House Counsel Harriet Miers
- White House Political Director Sara Taylor
- White House Director of Strategic Initiatives Pete Wehner
- White House Deputy National Security Adviser J.D. Crouch
- Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty
- Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer
- Justice Department White House liaison Monica Goodling
- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
- Army Secretary Francis Harvey
- Joint Chief of Staffs Chairman Peter Pace
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson
- U.N. Ambassador John Bolton
- USAID Director Randall Tobias

With so many key staff departures, the AP reports that “Bush has decided he might get more done in his final months by going it alone,” making increased use of executive orders and veto power.

US readers agog about Latter-Day loving

Most people credit the tele-series "Big Love" for sparking fascination in Mormon mating customs; it's unlikely that the moderate Mormon Mitt Romney's electioneering has that much to do with this phenomenon.
But for Brooke Adams, there's no need to multi-task as a reporter anymore. Polygamy is her full-time beat for the Salt Lake City Tribune. A million readers have clicked onto her online articles over the past year,
and their interest is not flagging. Surely they cannot all be related through Brigham Young!
According to an article in this week's Editor & Publisher, hers is the only exclusively polygamy beat in the nation. She is the go-to person for quotes about Mormon women. She knows many modern women who share their husbands with 3 other wives and has gained the confidence of her interviewees, who trust her not to misjudge or misquote them.

Although Utah has outlawed polygamy, as has the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly referred to as the Mormons) Adams estimates there are about 25,000 to 30,000 members of polygamist or "plural life" families in her state. Some 37,000 are believed to be living throughout the western United States.

It was clearly the legal battles of Warren Jeffs, the polygynist leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or FLDS, formed in 1935 by a number of polygynist Mormons who had been excommunicated), that inspired the expanded reporting. Jeffs, who lives in Hildale, Utah, where the church is partially based, was arrested last year on felony charges related to his part in arranging an underaged marriage between two cousins. On the FBI's Most Wanted List for a time, Jeffs' legal battles have drawn national interest.

Editor Nancy Conway says she decided to expand the paper's coverage of the topic as Jeffs' legal tangles grew. Polygamy, she says, "is a part of the social structure of the west. We felt we needed to look at all its aspects." Conway says the Tribune's reporting has drawn both praise and criticism, "but in the end it is our job to tell the truth as best we can."

Adams prefers to use the politically correct phrase, "plural-life families", which makes them seem like people rather than textbok cases. Since fundamentalist Mormon women do not have multiple marital parners, only the men do, the technical term the Tribune uses is polygyny. (Polygamists sound as if they lead secret lives, to many out-of-state readers.) After eight years of gaining insights, Adams no longer worries that she is "outing anyone" with her reporting on this sociological curiosity. When she spotlights the travails of, say, Winston Blackmore -- who supported 15 wives and at least 100 children-- it's in the public interest. ""I don't think the fundamentalist community wants crimes to go on either, arranged marriages or forced underaged marriages," she says.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bloviators Anonymous? The CIA nods to blogs

That bumbling firm for spooks in Langley, Virginia, now takes bloggers seriously, even if most professional hacks still tend to look askance at aggregators with cyberlinks and ranters with agendas. Check out this and learn how the CIA watches anyone who files as a 'citizen journalist' on a weblog and especially monitors officials who might leak to them. The intelligence agency has updated its regulations and now releases formerly classified information to bloggers under the Freedom of Information Act. (Hat tip to abc's "the blotter".) What's more, an online tool has traced edits on the Wikipedia website to the CIA's office network (and also to the Vatican.) Beware cyber-moles. You can be traced.

OJ Simpson's confessional book to be resurrected by victim Ron's family

O.J. Simpson apparently has cinched a deal to publish "If I Did It," Fox News reports. That's the notorious book which was slated for release last year and then canceled after negative public reaction. Judith Regan,an editor at HarperCollins publishing, lost her career after pitching this dubious memoir in which O.J. spells out step by step how he would have murdered his ex-wife Nicole and Ron Goldman if he had indeed committed the crimes for which he was found "100 per cent not guilty" back in 1995.
The one-time pro football player was forced to pull the plug on publication of this weird "hypothetical confessional" genre late last year, after the public held its collective nose at the stench of his opportunism.

But in July, a federal bankruptcy judge transferred O.J.'s book rights to the murder victim Goldman's family. The judge reckoned it would help cover the enormous $33.5m debt Simpson still owes them after losing a wrongful-death suit in the civil court. The Goldman family located a savvy LaLa land literary agent, Sharlene Martin, who inked the publishing deal. Incredibly, this tasteless book is about to be launched, this time with the Goldmans' commentary woven around the original manuscript. No guarantees that the book will be as rivetting as helicopter footage of cops chasing a lone white bronco SUV on Los Angeles freeways.
"If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," Johnnie Cochran used to rap in the courtroom. Hmmm. "And git some profit..." he might have added. Ghouls will not be denied their celebrity crime fix, and huge sales are expected.
Portions of the profits will benefit the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice;
fuller details later today. WHich publisher will sink this low to rake in this much? Watch this space.

Anthrax case menace to reporters' sources

Five US journalists are required to finger the sources who leaked details about a scientist under scrutiny in the 2001 anthrax attacks, a federal judge said Monday.
Once again the first amendment comes under attack. When freedom of the press may be sacrificed, it shows contempt for the US Bill of Rights. So what else is new?

Wire services reported that U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the reporters to cooperate with Steven J. Hatfill, who has accused the Justice Department and FBI of violating the federal Privacy Act by giving the media information about an FBI investigation of him.

The reporters named are Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman of Newsweek, Allan Lengel of The Washington Post, Toni Locy, formerly of USA Today, and James Stewart, formerly of CBS News.

Walton denied Hatfill's request to demand information from the media companies ABC, The Washington Post, Newsweek, CBS, The Associated Press, The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times.

Hatfill's attorneys want the reporters to reveal the identities of law enforcement officials who were cited anonymously in articles about the investigation. The journalists gave depositions under a court order but refused to reveal their sources, arguing that the First Amendment and a federal common-law privilege shield them from having to disclose the names.

Walton disagreed. He said District of Columbia federal courts have historically denied a common-law reporter's privilege and said he would not "bring into being such a privilege."

Creating such a privilege in this case would have the "perverse effect" of handicapping a plaintiff whose good name was destroyed by government leaks, Walton said. The reporters' fear that testifying would chill the flow of information, Walton said, is outweighed by the Privacy Act lawsuit.

Five people were killed and 17 sickened by anthrax that was mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hatfill, who worked at the Army's infectious diseases laboratory at Fort Detrick, Md., from 1997 to 1999, was publicly identified as "a person of interest" in the investigation by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The case remains unsolved six years later. Francis Boyle, a bio-terrorism expert who worked with the Bush administration, contends that the anthrax scare, which heightened terror after the 9/11 attacks, was likely an inside job to push through the passage of the Patriot Act.

The NY Times adds:
The reporters are not defendants in the suit but are likely to face contempt sanctions if they fail to comply with Judge Walton's order.

In April, Judge Walton referred the parties to mediation in an effort to settle the case. A separate lawsuit by Dr. Hatfill against The New York Times, claiming that columns by Nicholas D. Kristof had defamed him, was dismissed by a federal judge in Virginia in January. Dr. Hatfill has appealed.

Last year, the government and five news organizations, including The Times, paid Wen Ho Lee, an atomic scientist once suspected of espionage, $1,645,000 to settle what Judge Walton, in his decision yesterday, called a "strikingly similar" case.

17 per cent drop in Time magazine readers; Rivals delighted. 300 Jobs to be slashed

There may be dark days ahead for Time magazine (pictured left, with its controversial mid-90s pigment-enhanced cover of OJ Simpson beside Newsweek's untouched version.) Mainstream print media looks like it's in free fall, folks.
Time's domination over Newsweek is on the wane, according to
Louis Hau, a business analyst for
Time magazine remains America's largest newsweekly, but its lead over archrival Newsweek has narrowed considerably, according to circulation figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Time's total paid and verified weekly circulation during the six months ended June 30 stood at 3.4 million, down 17.1% from 4.1 million during the same period last year following a reduction in January in the magazine's rate base. Newsweek's circulation stood at 3.1 million, virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

Time spokeswoman Betsy Burton said the decline in circulation was in line with the magazine's expectations after it slashed its rate base--the average circulation level it guarantees advertisers--from 4 million to 3.25 million. The move was part of Time's plans to shift its ad sales efforts to audience measurements, as opposed to strict circulation measurements. The magazine has said the former will provide advertisers with more transparency and accuracy.

Also in January, Time began publishing on Fridays, rather than Mondays, and overhauled the magazine's design to place a greater emphasis on news analysis.(It resembles a faux-Economist.) Burton said the redesign has been well received by reader focus groups and said she didn't believe it was a factor in the magazine's circulation decline.

The first half of 2006 has been a challenging period of transition for Time Warner's Time Inc. unit. The subsidiary said in January that it would cut nearly 300 jobs, bringing its total headcount down to about 11,000. In March, it sold 18 smaller magazines, including Popular Science and Field & Stream, to Bonnier Group, a Swedish media conglomerate.

In conjunction with the rate base reduction, Time also pulled back on verified subscriptions--those subscriptions sold to doctor's offices, beauty salons and other public areas. Verified subscriptions at Time plunged 63.5% to 128,032 during the six months ended June 30, from 350,623 a year earlier.

But verified subscriptions were up sharply at other big Time Inc. titles. Sports Illustrated had verified subscriptions totaling 144,624 during the six months ended June 30, up 77% from 81,857 a year earlier, while verified subscriptions at Money skyrocketed more than ninefold to 214,760 from 20,866 a year earlier.

Other top 25 magazines notching circulation gains during the six months ended June 30 included O, The Oprah Magazine, up 4.3% to 2.4 million, and Hearst's Good Housekeeping, up 2.8% to 4.7 million. Losers included TV Guide, down 12.2% to 3.3 million; Playboy, down 5% to 2.9 million; and Ladies Home Journal, down 4.3% to 3.9 million.

Monday, August 13, 2007

AdAge rips 'Tough Issue'

Nothing beats "British dentistry" for enough jagged edges to rip up a supposedly indestructible advert. The teaser for a macho film release, which will be an insert inside the next edition of the lad rag Maxim, claims that no violent guy can wreck it with his bare hands. But two jovial lads over at AdAge rose to the challenge.
Advertising inside the upcoming Maxim magazine features "The Condemned," starring Stone Cold Steve Austin ("10 People Will Fight ... 9 Will Die.") The brash claim that this ad couldn't be physically destroyed caught the attention of Ken Wheaton and his rather wimpier editor, Jonah Bloom. Running in Maxim's "The Tough Issue," which hits US newsstands Sept. 20,
the ad is supposedly printed on special tough-guy paper and can't be torn or ripped by mere mortals.
Watch the Adage segment. It really tears Austin up.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is this just the tip of the iceberg? Reuters rumbled for another fake photo

This news photo, purporting to show a Russian sub that planted a flag and claimed the Arctic sea bed, is actually a ten year old movie still. That's why Reuters has that sinking feeling, reports Leigh Holmwood in the MediaGuardian.
This report shines a light on a Titanic error that threatens to sink the wire agency's reputation. Oh the humanity.

News agency Reuters has been forced to admit that footage it released last week purportedly showing Russian submersibles on the seabed of the North Pole actually came from the movie Titanic.

The images were reproduced around the world alongside the story of Russia planting its flag below the North Pole on Thursday last week.

But it has now emerged that the footage actually showed two Finnish-made Mir submersibles that were employed on location filming at the scene of the wreck of the RMS Titanic ship in the north Atlantic some 10 years ago.

This footage was used in sequences in James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster about the 1912 disaster.

The deception was only revealed after a 13-year-old Finnish schoolboy contacted a local newspaper to tell them the images looked identical to those used in the movie.

Reuters has admitted that it took the images from Russian state television channel RTR and wrongly captioned them as file footage originating from the Arctic.

RTR had also used the footage to illustrate stories about the North Pole expedition, but it is thought as library footage, and it never claimed it was actually of the flag-planting.

The pictures were first broadcast by RTR when the Russians were still several hours away from the North Pole.

Reuters distributed a package of clips that included the scenes from Titanic, alongside computer animations and footage of ships on the surface at the North Pole.

In its piece on the subject, two of the four Reuters pictures were from the Titanic filming.

Reuters has now apologised for the error and has made changes to its video material on the expedition, with captions denoting the various origins of the file footage used.

In a statement, Reuters said: "On August 2, 2007 in a TV story about two Russian submersibles planting a flag on the seabed under the North Pole, we used file shots of MIR submersibles as part of this story.

"Reuters mistakenly identified this file footage as originating from the Arctic, and not the North Atlantic where the footage was shot.

"This footage was taken during the search for the Titanic and copyright is held by Russian State broadcaster RTR.

"This location error was corrected as soon as it was brought to our attention. A still image of the submersibles was also taken from the footage and put out on the Reuters photo wire. The caption has been corrected."

The incident is doubly embarrassing for the agency since it follows a case in August last year in which it published an image by a freelancer of Israeli bombings in Lebanon that had been dramatised using photo manipulation, with the addition of smoke rising from allegedly burning buildings.

After that gaffe, Reuters promised to tighten up its controls on material being put out in its name.

contrarian's contrarian simply cancels himself out

Thumbs down on Andrew Keen's book, Cult of the amateur: How today's internet is killing our culture and destroying our economy. Why is this guy anti-blogging prof getting any attention? He's a throwback with far less savvy than most of the MSM (er, mainstream media, for those still baffled by blogging terms.)
Commentator Roy Greenslade quotes critic Jeff Jarvis, as someone who is not especially keen on this polemical book:
"Keen wants to be the contrarian's contrarian. But that only makes him a double negative. It makes him a curmudgeon, a conservative trying to hold on to the past, a mastadon growling against the warm wind of change."

shrink-wrapped coverage cuts foreign bureaus, bilks readers

A democracy needs reporters, writes Rosa Brooks in the Los Angeles Times. True, journalism hasn't entirely covered itself with glory lately (think the New York Times' Judith Miller and her misleading prewar reports on WMD in Iraq). But for every Judith Miller, there have been reporters such as the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth R. Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling, who, with photographer Rick Loomis, won a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for a series on the world's distressed oceans, or the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, whose recent reporting brought out previously unknown details on how Vice President Dick Cheney acquired unprecedented power within the Bush administration.

That's old-fashioned reporting, the kind that independent bloggers mostly lack the funds and training to do. If newspapers shrink their budgets and stop funding that kind of journalism, the blogs and television outlets that feed off newspaper reporting will have little hard news to sink their teeth into.

In this age of globalization, terrorism and war, we particularly need good reporting on the rest of the world. But as newspapers shed column inches and reporters, it's foreign news reporting that has suffered most. Budget cuts have forced many once proud newspapers, including the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun, to close their foreign bureaus. Only America's largest dailies -- the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times -- still maintain overseas bureaus, but even they have had to cut back.

You might argue that the decline of foreign reporting doesn't matter because, thanks to the Internet, you could go directly to the websites of many excellent foreign newspapers. But few of us have the time (or linguistic skills) to scour the world's newspapers.

Whether we read them in print or online, good newspapers do the work for us. But when the shrinkage of print editions is accompanied by shrinking coverage of world news, the world around us gets smaller and smaller until it contains little more than local scandals and the latest celebrity gossip.

Media 'biased, inaccurate, uncaring'

Once seen as a glamourous and caring professionals, journalists now are ranked down with lawyers as manipulative cynics, according to a recent poll.
AFP reports: More than half of Americans say US news organizations are politically biased, inaccurate, and don't care about the people they report on, a poll published Thursday showed.

And poll respondents who use the Internet as their main source of news -- roughly one quarter of all Americans -- were even harsher with their criticism, the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said.

More than two-thirds of the Internet users said they felt that news organizations don't care about the people they report on; 59 percent said their reporting was inaccurate; and 64 percent they were politically biased.

More than half -- 53 percent -- of Internet users also faulted the news organizations for "failing to stand up for America".

Among those who get their news from newspapers and television, criticism of the news organizations was up to 20 percentage points lower than among Internet news audiences, who tend to be younger and better educated than the public as a whole, according to Pew.

The poll indicates an across the board fall in the public's opinion on the news media since 1985, when a similar survey was conducted by Times Mirror, Pew Research said.

"Two decades ago, public attitudes about how news organizations do their job were less negative. Most people believed that news organizations stood up for America... a majority believed that news organizations got the facts straight," Pew said in a report.

The Washington-based Pew Research Center describes itself as a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

It's a Jungle Out There

Now that American network news and mainstream newspapers like Britain's The Guardian have featured Battle at Kruger, a snippet of life in the raw at a South African watering hole, Texan David Bruzinski has embraced his cyber-hero status.

The guy who in 2004 lucked into what experts say is the best wildlife footage ever recorded comes across as a humble enthusiast. Producers from the (slightly jealous?) National Geographic channel are planning a tv documentary about how these scenes were captured by a mere amateur, and later publicized by a more tech-savvy buddy. So now David finds himself standing out from the herd. Let's hope all the predators keep their distance.

In case you are one of the few who have not already clicked on to see the battle of survival at the Kruger waterhole, it's posted directly beneath this entry. Gripping stuff.

Battle at Kruger

A Texan tourist kept his cool and caught this epic sequence from the South Africa savannah on his video. The stunning footage, belatedly posted by another tour member on YouTube last May, has captivated nearly ten million viewers.
David Budzinski's scenes of a buffalo herd snatching back a stray calf from the jaws of death and hurling aside its predators-- lions and a croc--
has resonated with a vast audience who cheer on the herd. Professional wildlife photographers are agog at David's lucky timing. Check it out. These are actual feral beasts!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Just another prick in the wall - AT&T cuts Pearl Jam's Bush bashing lyrics

The band Pearl Jam has complained that the communications conglomerate AT&T took it upon themselves to censor a Lollapalooza performance, and chop 20 seconds of their Pink Floyd tribute that dissed Shrubya.
(That's Bush 43 for those who loyally avoid calling the current president Junior.)

The fallout about this tampering of free expression on the net has been swift and condemning of evil corporate ways. Hey, mistah, leave those kids alone!
Click here to view the webcast, complete with missing lyrics. The Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder (pictured left) belts out, "George Bush, leave this world alone" and, later, "George Bush, find yourself another home." Not exactly seditious comments, by any stretch of the imagination. We don't need no thought control...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Free press - TimesSelect paid service to shut

CH-ch-ch-changes are brewing over at the New York Times. Word is already out, via leaks at the NY Post, that the editors intend to faze out the TimesSelect service, which required payment for online access to prime content like columnists and Op-Ed pieces. Less than a quarter million readers were willing to pay upfront, some $7.95 per month, for Maureen Dowd, William Safire, and the gang. The practice irritated many web-surfers, even though all the newspaper's hard copy subscribers were entitled to free access. Staff repeatedly had petitioned for an end to the elitist service, some news reports said.

Also, the staid Grey Lady has trimmed down to an industry standard width, starting in today's editions. Being an inch and a half slimmer will save $10 million in paper costs and make it easier to unfurl the newspaper in, say, coach class airplane seats. "Honey, they shrunk the Times"...chortled Editor & Publisher. So what if the nation's newspaper of record has a motto pledging to run "all the news that's fit to print"? These days the editor may be stretched just to print "all the news that fits." But now any reader can go online for free, though they will have to tolerate the ads.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Pot Tea for the Teapot. High Expectations?

According to AFP reporters, chilled marijuana tea will soon go on sale at British health food shops. Customers can purchase iced cannabis tea legally in the UK, its Swiss distributor said.
Sold under the label "C-Ice Swiss Cannabis Ice Tea", the beverage contains five percent hemp flower syrup and a scant (0.0015 percent) quantity of THC, the active ingredient of marijuana.

Any ingredient that could nudge it into the narcotics category has been removed and the tea will not lead to dependency, assured the promoters.

But British anti-drug campaigners say that selling the tea could prove irresponsible because it will give young people the impression that cannabis is harmless.

The product was launched in Switzerland in 2003 and is already available in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Would someone please pour this new beverage down the gullets of our editors so we newspaper reporters in the states need not file incessantly on the
local angle and nothing else? Slurp this icy black beverage and chill, boss. That goes for you, too, Rupert.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Correspondent 'dos: Tintins now rival shaved baldies

Speaking of headliners, the Feral Beast can't help but notice trends in the way foreign correspondents style themselves these days. The vain guys, that is.
Sure, for years now, the most prominent look has been the Alpha male, testosterone-heavy baldy. It's a low-maintenance look which is guaranteed to be wind-proof. Think Andre Agassi/Bruce Willis/ Yul Brynner/ Mr Clean: just shave the whole head and avoid the unattractive Friar Tuck/ George Costanza fringe that can emerge. I can count dozens of presenters, photographers, and reporters who fall into this category. The uber-snapper John Stanmeyer of VII agency, BBC presenter and former hostage, Alan Johnston, Matt Walberg of the Chicago Tribune, CNN's Karl Penhaul and NY Times Baghdad reporter, Steve Farrell, spring to mind immediately.

But if you check on-screen and scrutinize photo-bylines, you will be sure to spot the quiff, which can make younger and with-it journalists look nearly as cool as video-jockeys. Think Astro-Boy or Tintin. (Hmmm, I don't mean to imply that foreign correspondents look rather drawn these days.)

It is an utterly appropriate look, given that Tintin is the world's most enduring international comic book correspondent, except maybe for Clark Kent, Superman's alter ego. Yet Kent was on the metro desk, after all, and intentionally missed all the big scoops because Superman was on the scene instead.
Tintin, the boy reporter, began his first adventure in 1929 in the Belgian comic strip Le Petit Vingtieme. Created by illustrator Georges Remi, aka Hergé, Tintin became an icon with his trademark crested quiff, plus-four trousers and his faithful dog Snowy. Each year more than three million copies of Tintin’s adventures are sold across 50 countries in 40 different languages. Note that these days, Tintin is not considered politically correct; the US chain bookstore Borders recently pulled copies of Tintin in the Congo from its shelves because of too many racist stereotypes in the colonialist-era text. Tintin in Tehran is not there, though, because it has not been published, yet it seems pretty relevant in these dire Islamaphobic times. (See mock-up cover at right, with its alarming image of Snowy as road-kill! Not, apparently, from an IED. Read it and weep.)

Tintin wannabes we have spotted lately include CNN entertainment reporter A.J. Hammer, their news reporter Michael Holmes, the BBC's London presenter Matthew Wright, the Guardian's Middle East ace, Rory McCarthy; and the list keeps growing. Even footballer celeb David Beckham had a go. It's the bald truth: things are looking hairier for journalists abroad.

There is one exception to prove this rule: a singular old-school journo who looks like he takes his grooming tips straight from Bigfoot rather than from the Belgian cartoonist Herge. That would be NY Times' two time Pulitzer-winner, John W. Burns. The Daily Show's Jon Stewart once chortled that Burns was wearing his hair on the outside of his helmet.
But now that Burns is stationed in London, it has been noticed that he goes to his barber far more frequently. How soon before we see him in a Tintinesque quiff? His untamed mane already is snowy.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Dirty Digger: charm offensive or just plain offensive?

The Bancroft family, who sold out Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, comes off as "dysfunctional as the Windors", writes Andrew Clark in the Guardian. Christopher Bancroft, the seller, is shown left.
Clark recounts a family farce almost as bad as Queen Elizabeth's annus horribilis, where one bitter relative shows up at the corporate meeting wearing a fishing cap emblazoned "Bite me."

The tycoon's brilliant business strategy just took a bit of time
"like a parent waiting for a baby to cry itself to sleep, Murdoch simply waited for the Bancrofts to exhaust themselves with in-fighting."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

online citizen journos get $20m

Adario Strange on Wired ponders what a very strange media week this was.
Rupert Murdoch, a mega-media mogul, overpaid for an old school media brand already in decline. Meanwhile, he says,
citizen journalism is red hot with Associated Content landing $10 million in financing today from Canaan Partners, and NowPublic pulling in $10.6 million in financing from Rho Ventures on Monday (this time last year, OhMyNews landed $11 million from SoftBank). This ain't small change.

It should be noted that high profile Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway (an official advisor to Facebook,) sits on Associated Content's board of directors. Longtime observers of Conway know that if "he's" is sniffing around, there's probably something interesting happening in that particular space. Nevertheless, if you are looking for clues to where media is going by tracking this week's investment patterns, you’re probably in a state of confusion right now.

Here’s a tip: Rupert Murdoch already has a huge global media portfolio and a master plan to match (he’s playing chess), piece meal deals like these citizen journalism investments are built for short term, 4-8 year impact and ROI (they are playing checkers). If your interest is in Internet media, and you don't boast the portfolio of assets of Murdoch, it’s best to keep your media investment forecast window limited to “Internet time” until you’re ready to play in Murdoch’s league.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ted Turner's undercover concubine network

At an academic writers' convention held somewhere in the white underbelly of America, Robert Olen Butler, a jilted Pulitzer Prize-winning husband, spilled the beans. Ted Turner, the media mogul and 'mouth of the south', had made his ex-wife, novelist Elizabeth Dewberry, an offer she couldn't refuse. She left him. He complained that Turner gave Dewberry a free condo in one of his buildings with the proviso that she share it with him for one week each month. And at least three other women have accepted similar deals.
So is Ted Turner, post Jane Fonda, just a philanderer, or is he now a proponent of Mormon-style Big Love, or a neo-Muslim with four wives? This undercover network is most intriguing. Condominium Concubine Network - a revamp by the guy who devised the original CNN. Gawker posted the weird memo which Butler, 50, sent to his graduate writing students at Florida State University.

It is not disclosed whether the paramours are all in the same building or --more likely-- bed down at Turner's 14 ranches in Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and South Dakota.) Butler's rather colorized version of the situation is that his perky child-bride (cattily dismissed as a mediocre novelist by her colleagues) has become infatuated with a man who resembles her own grandfather, the Christian Evangelical abuser of her youth, after suffering a painful blockage of the gut while cavorting with Turner in Argentina.
Who needs fiction with author's biographies as off the wall as this? Bookjacket photos of Dewberry and Butler, below, don't hint at these dark undercurrents. She appears to be as bland blonde as a Florida anchorwoman, though her books, such as His Lovely Wife, belie appearances, according to smitten reviewers. No photos of the family cats were available and the white fluffy dog they both dote on is something the Beast declined to publicize