Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Most painful topical pun of 2009, so far

"How do you solve a problem like Korea?" -- Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV parses the Sound of Music when contemplating the nuclear testing in Asia. Their answer? "Possibly you don't."

Monday, May 25, 2009

A freelance print journo's foray into telly

Freelancer reporter Graham Johnson's travails with Zig Zag productions in London, trying to provide shock tv for hardmen without deep pockets, seems to be a lesson in schlock tv reporting for (hardly) men. Here's an excerpt from "Strong-arm tactics", Johnson's Guardian piece about the visual media's darkside:
The first thing you learn about TV folk is that they've got no stories. I'm generalising here. When I say TV folk, I mean some TV documentary makers, as opposed to the (slightly) more honourable breed of TV news reporters and execs.

The second thing you learn is that they haven't got any money to pay for stories. This brings me on to the third thing you learn about TV people - if they can't afford to buy stories, then they will try to take them from you... Many down-trodden print journalists look at TV as being the promised land, which will one day make them famous, give them the credit they deserve and free them from the pressure of tough news execs.

Memo to careworn, overworked print journalists: the magic of TV. It's all a blag. It's an illusion. Stay where you are.

Click here to read the complete article.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Roxana back in the US of A - land of the free press

Oops, this journalist in the spotlight did blunder by obtaining a classified document, an Iranian assessment of US combat in Iraq, and keeping it. Did not publish it, either. After she tripped over to Israel, the Iranian authorities thought this dual citizen may have divulged its contents to "enemies". Hence a kafkaesque trial was held behind closed doors and a judge imposed an 8 year sentence. The reporter attempted a hunger strike protest inside. But Ms. Saberi says to get her through the night in the Tehran prison cell, in her darkest hour, she'd belt out the American national anthem, the "Star Spangled Banner."
"Corny, I know,: says the former Fargo-born Miss North Dakota. "It's good to be back in the 'land of the free and the home of the brave,' " she beamed. Roxana's unusual Japanese/Iranian features are extremely attractive and I envision a hot career for this freelance newscaster.

See the BBC file here

Addendum: She's already won a prize at the Cannes Film Fest!
According to the Associated Press:
A film co-scripted by U.S.-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi won a prize in one of the Cannes Film Festival competitions on Saturday.

"No One Knows About Persian Cats" won a special jury prize in the festival's Un Certain Regard competition.

The film is a lively look at Tehran's underground music scene and the risk of censorship and jail faced by Iranian musicians.

Saberi shares a screenplay credit on the film, which was directed and-co-written by her romantic partner, Bahman Ghobadi.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hacks get low pay for low value product, says CSM

The Christian Science Monitor (available only online and not in reading rooms, folks)
runs a piece , rather against the grain, on why journalists don't deserve high pay. I think the self-recrimination pieces are turning readers off, too

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pope-arazzi scrum in the Holy Land

A Papal Scrum and a clear case of a government flack manhandling a tough Jewess shooter at the sacred Dome of the Rock are featured in Julian Rake's post on the Reuters' Axis Mundi blog. Herding cats is a cinch compared to security gorillas' heavy-handed attempts to control the pope-arazzi and the local press on this historic visit, which required 80,000 security troops plus a popemobile and was codenamed "Operation White Cloak"!
Dion Nissenbaum at Checkpoint Jerusalem dubbed it Media Smackdown, round one, and perhaps there may have been a foreboding sense of a potential Vatican Celebrity Death Match in this volatile place. Ask Hedi Levine, of Sipa photo agency, aka the shovee.

It takes all kinds: A journalist named Jeff Israely on the Vatican pool and a cameraman named Tony Gentile were following the octogenarian German Pope B-16 - he da bomb! - whose Italian handler protested had never, never, never been in der Hitler Youth; oops, the Pope had detailed this youthful interlude in his official autobiography and in speeches at Auschwitz and Cologne. Whatever. Some of the pool journalists were gestured just to "talk to the hand" during these scuffles. Watch the professional comportment in this very controlled and accredited venue. The helipad from Hell!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Video from the Grave accuses Guatemalan President

This brave correspondent puts the dead in deadline. Talk about from Guatemala to "Guate-peor! [from GuateBad to GuateWorse]. A noted journalist recorded this accusatory video, which has been released by his lawyers after his brutal assassination. The resulting
political storm threatens to bring down the president.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Roxana free at last

The jailed Iranian-American journalist Roxena Saberi has left her cell in Tehran and is with her parents.Her suspended sentence allows her to leave Iran, and she will return to the US within the next four days, they said.
click here to see the latest wire reports on her freedom. Her lawyer implied that spying charges were based on the fact that she had downloaded a secret document onto her computer after translating it for an employer in Iran.
Meanwhile, another much longer- term political prisoner, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, is languishing in Burma. Doctors were summoned to see her in the lakeside residence where she has been imprisoned.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

London QualityStreet Freelancers check out commissions on US newspapers

qualitystreet, a cooperative of london freelancers with an online self-help group, recently turned their attention to freelancing in the States, and mentioned the McClatchy stalwart, The Sacramento Bee. This text is excerpted from one of their threads, and the paper's little mascot (right) was penned by Walt Disney himself.

Hey, the Bee is a rather venerable newspaper, publishing non-stop
since 1857 and winner of five Pulitzer prizes. There's a Fresno Bee
and Modesto Bee, too, and all are owned now by the McClatchy
company. Disney designed their logo back in 1943. If you imagine
that a newspaper office is a hive of activity, meant to create buzz
and stinging commentary, it's not such a weird name. (I came from
California to the UK, hence the nostalgia for the Bee)

Consider these names: The Unterrified Democrat (Linn, Missouri), The
Daily Boomerang (Laramie, Wyoming), the Birmingham Eccentric, the
Bloomington-Normal (Illinois) Pantagraph , The New Orleans Times-

Freelancing for smaller US papers can be problematical...section
editors of community papers sometimes commission outsiders, but most
recycle wire copy or increasingly get outsourced to India (where
content providers reportedly earn just $7.50 or three quid per 1000
words!) Not all are accustomed to wiring payments, and can be
daunted by exchange rates and time differences. Beware the pre-dawn calls from Yankee intern factcheckers!)
Syndication of previously published features or analysis is probably
more feasible, especially with a bridging site like "Featurewell".

As for these contract clauses... Marie Claire used to make
surrendering all your syndication rights part of endorsing the
payment cheque. They refused to wire money into an account for that
reason. One problem with this is if a writer wants to gather up
farflung articles and publish a collection, all the rights must be
sorted out first. Very aggravating!

Roughedge Krap Policy
To: About the papers formerly known as broadsheets

1) Well there is the Sacramento Bee which is a weird name for a local

My favourite - though UK not US - is still the Keswick Reminder.

Shock Jock Too Savage for UK airwaves

He's suing Blighty!
What a weiner.
Reuters notes:

The UK has been able to ban people who promote hatred, terrorist violence or serious criminal activity since 2005, but the list was only made public for the first time this week.

Hamas MP Yunis Al-Astal and Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky are among the 16 named people by the Home Office as being excluded.

Also excluded are two leaders of a violent Russian skinhead gang, the ex-Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Stephen 'Don' Black and neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe.

The remaining six have not been named, as doing so would not be in the public interest, the government said.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Swine Flu Soundslide show gets thumbs up

Click here to see how swine flu creates echoes in empty Mexican churches shown in this Guardian sound slideshow. Prayer is not as available to Mexicans in this current health crisis and the church's tactics are discussed. Is this the future of feature news coverage? It's podcast + pix, and is easy to download.
Something about the reporter's Irish lilt and the surreal wire photos coalesce to make this a sensitive report about a possible pandemic. Especially on Cinco de Mayo. The Mexican tourists trapped in China have just got an airlift back home. Ole.

and, according to Harper's magazine (another future avatar of the aggregate news roundup):

Egypt, which has no cases of the flu, ordered all
its pigs killed, especially slum pigs; police at Manshiyat
Nasr slum fired tear gas and rubber bullets at rioting
Coptic Christian pig farmers.
Geneticists continued to
sequence the flu's genes. "Atgaaggcaa tactagtagt
," read the opening line of the segment-four
hemagglutinin gene. "Acatttgcaa ccgcaaatgc agacacatta."

And the latest fad in the midst of "Parmageddon" and Aporkalypso?
"Pimp your mask, man."

Extra, extra- White House won't bail out newspapers

It's official: No bailout for our industry, and few journalists were expecting one for the Fourth Estate.
Click here for the details:

The White House on Monday expressed "concern" and "sadness" over the state of the ailing US newspaper industry, but made clear that a government bailout was not in the cards.

"I don't know what, in all honesty, government can do about it," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. "That might be a bit of a tricky area to get into given the differing roles.