Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Crazy 8

The Hill:

The ex-landlord of Jennifer 8. Lee, the New York Times reporter who drew attention for the parties she threw for well-connected twenty-somethings in her apartment while on assignment in D.C., says she intends to sue Lee for damage inflicted on the place during her tenancy.

Lee’s soirees were the subject of 2004 articles in the New York Sun and the Washington City Paper, which portrayed her as a junior version of the late Katherine Graham. Perhaps that was the problem.

Beth Solomon, owner of the 1,500-square-foot penthouse condo in the neighborhood of Shaw, is preparing to sue Lee in D.C. Superior Court for more than $60,000 for loss of use and damage incurred during Lee’s residency there from January 2003 to August 2004.

The $2,800-per-month rent included a fully furnished living room and fully stocked kitchen.

Among the damage alleged in the complaint is destruction of flooring, some subfloor areas and kitchen cabinets, resulting in full replacement; stains on wall-hanging artwork, rugs and all living-room furniture; a broken tabletop; damage to an heirloom baby grand piano; and missing kitchen items.

In addition to damage to the apartment and its furnishing, Solomon’s fellow condo owners complained about Lee’s parties, citing instances of beer raining “down onto us,” the walls of the building “shaking” due to the number of people in the building, and party guests relieving themselves wherever the spirit moved them.

Said one e-mail, “At every gathering there, you can anticipate that racket on their floor and upon the roof will ensue until 2:30 a.m., when sufficient noise and litter have been created to pacify themselves.”

Lee’s attorney, Larry Bank, said, “I think [Lee] is less responsible” for the damage than alleged. “I think Beth Solomon had existing conditions and she put them off on Jenny.”
After months of negotiations, the parties have reached an impasse and Solomon has taken a previous offer of a $20,000 settlement off the table.

Bank said he thought the previous negotiations were “fair and reasonable,” adding, “I guess she just wants her pound of flesh.”

I can't wait for the Daily Show tonight


I'm listening to Bush on the radio, and he DOESN'T ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS!

I point you now to this gem from Matt Loker of The Daily Californian:

The simple fact is this: Kerry spent record amounts of money, collected the endorsements of basically everyone except Chuck Norris and still lost to a guy who talks like he’s giving a sixth grade report on something he didn’t study.

“Mr. President, how do you feel about Indonesian President Yudhoyono’s recent actions in regard to International Monetary Fund lending policies?”

“The thing about Indonesia is it’s got a land area of one point eight million square kilometers and its main export is bauxite. Next question.”

["What the Hell, People" by Matt Loker, The Daily Californian, November 5 2004]

C'mon you DC Press Corps, get some balls!

Politics Anyone?

I’m going to keep this brief:
Paper Tiger Dems lash out at Condi.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy called Rice "a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it's been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire."

Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota said Rice "misled the people of Minnesota and Americans everywhere about the situation in Iraq, before and after that war began." He added: "I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally."…

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas accused Democrats of "inappropriate partisan attacks against a nominee who deserves our respect," and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska proclaimed it "a nomination all of America can be proud of."

While most lawmakers who opposed Rice were long-standing critics of the war, Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh, who backed the invasion, also said he would vote against her.

"We have been the authors of much of our own misery and as a result of that I cannot find it in my heart or in my mind to vote for a promotion of Dr. Rice," Bayh said.
$80 billion more to pay for a military disaster.
White House Projects 2005 Deficit at $427 Billion
Jan 25, 11:52 PM (ET)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House estimated on Tuesday that the U.S. budget deficit for 2005, including an extra $80 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan operations, will total $427 billion.
How much?
Say again?

So really, notwithstanding the transparent dishonesty and manipulation, we are looking at a record $430 billion annual budget deficit – almost 5% of GDP.

Every year the U.S. borrows $500 billion. Where does it get it? Increasingly China. To service this debt, American taxpayers pay interest. Even at roughly prime, this means $25 billion per year in debt service alone, borne by the taxpayers – us. Think of it this way: instead of cash, the US could give one giant American technology company to its debtors, increasingly China and Japan, every year or two.

Like HP or Google, both worth about $50 billion based on current market capitalization.

I heard IBM just did a big deal with a Chinese company.

So in essence, America is borrowing money from China to feed its wars, tax cuts and consumption (of many, many Chinese goods), which the American taxpayer repays with interest, the profit from which the Chinese use to finance the purchase of major American business properties.

Hmmm…trade imbalance? Sweet. ;P

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Why do newspapers charge for yesterday's news?

Boing Boing:

Dan Gillmor's got a great post on what's wrong the the major newspapers' approach to their Web archives. I've long been mystified by the way the newspapers have approached the Web. Papers like the New York Times have decided that their archives -- which were previously viewed as fishwrap, as in "today it's news, tomorrow it's fishwrap" -- are their premium product, the thing that you have to pay to access; while their current articles from the past thirty days are free.

The thing is that while there is certainly a small commercial audience for newspaper archives -- corporate researchers, the occassional grad student with a grant -- the noncommercial audience for archives is much larger: people who want to read the news from their birthdays, researchers amateur and pro looking up historic dates, Bloggers writing about seminal moments.

Conversely, there is a large commercial audience for new news, that is, people who'll pay to see today's news while it's still news and before it becomes history. That's why the news business is so much larger than the history business.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The End of Objectivity? (Version 0.9)

Ed: Dan Gillmor is a longtime former reporter/columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and is author of We the Media. He recently left the Merc to begin working on a project on "citizen journalism." He posted this to his blog earlier today. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Maybe it's time to say a fond farewell to an old canon of journalism: objectivity. But it will never be time to kiss off the values and principles that undergird the idea.

Objectivity is a construct of recent times. One reason for its rise in the journalism sphere has been the consolidation of newspapers and television into monopolies and oligopolies in the past half-century. If one voice overwhelms all the others, there is a public interest in playing stories as straight as possible -- not favoring one side over the other (or others, to be more precise, as there are rarely just two sides to any issue).

There were good business reasons to be "objective," too, not least that a newspaper didn't want to make large parts of its community angry. And, no doubt, libel law has played a role, too. If a publication could say it "got both sides," perhaps a libel plaintiff would have more trouble winning.

Again, the idea of objectivity is a worthy one. But we are human. We have biases and backgrounds and a variety of conflicts that we bring to our jobs every day.

I'd like to toss out objectivity as a goal, however, and replace it with four other notions that may add up to the same thing. They are pillars of good journalism: thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and transparency.

The lines separating them are not always clear. They are open to wide interpretation, and are therefore loaded with nuance in themselves. But I think they are a useful way to approach quality journalism. They are, moreover, easier to achieve in an online setting.


When I was a reporter and, later, a columnist, my first goal was to learn as much as I could. After all, gathering facts and opinions is the foundation of reporting. I liked it best when I felt I had left 95 percent of what I'd learned out of the final piece. The best reporters I know always want to make one more call, check with one more source. (The last question I ask at all interviews is, "Who else should I talk with about this?"

Today, thoroughness means more than asking questions of the people in our Rolodexes (circular or virtual). It means, whenever possible, asking our readers for their input, as I did when I wrote my book (and other authors are doing on theirs). Competitive pressures tend to make this a rare request, but I'm convinced that more journalists will adopt it.


Get your facts straight.


This one is as difficult, in practice, as accuracy is simple. Fairness is often in the eye of the beholder. But even here I think a few principles may universally apply.

Fairness means, among other things, listening to different viewpoints, and incorporating them into the journalism. It does not mean parroting lies or distortions to achieve that lazy equivalence that leads some journalists to get opposing quotes when the facts overwhelmingly support one side.

Fairness is also about letting people respond when they believe you are wrong. Again, this is much easier online than in a print publication, much less a broadcast.

Ultimately, fairness emerges from a state of mind. We should be aware of what drives us, and always willing to listen to those who disagree. The first rule of having a conversation is to listen -- and I know I learn more from people who think I'm wrong than from those who agree with me.


Disclosure is gaining currency as an addition to journalism. It's easier said than done, of course.

No one can plausibly argue with the idea that journalists need to disclose certain things, such as financial conflicts of interest. But to what extent? Should journalists of all kinds be expected to make their lives open books? How open?

Personal biases, even unconscious ones, affect the journalism as well. I'm an American, brought up in with certain beliefs that many folks in other lands (and some in this one) flatly reject. I need to be aware of the things I take for granted, and to periodically challenge some of them, as I do my work.

Another way to be transparent is in the way we present a story. We should link to source material as much as possible, bolstering what we tell people with close-to-the-ground facts and data. (Maybe this is part of accuracy or thoroughness, but it seems to fit here, too.)

To the extent that we make thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and transparency the pillars of journalism, we can get a long way toward the worthy goal of helping our audiences/collaborators. I don't claim it's easy, but I do think it's worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tuesday news

Jeff Jarvis tears the NYT a new one on their piece today on the blog Iraq The Model.

And also, shit is going down right here on our own campus. Weird.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

In defense of CBS

Greg Palast lashes out at the CBS panel, the Times, and parent company Viacom for the CBS sackings. What the media left out in recent weeks: that Mapes et al waited way too long to work on something he'd produced for the BBC five years earlier.

CBS said, "The Panel found that Mapes ignored information that cast doubt on the story she had set out to report -- that President Bush had received special treatment 30 years ago, getting to the [Texas Air National] Guard ahead of many other applicants …."

Well, excuse me, but that story is stone cold solid, irrefutable, backed-up, sourced, proven to a fare-thee-well. I know, because I'm one of the reporters who broke that story … way back in 1999, for the Guardian papers of Britain. No one has challenged the Guardian report, or my follow-up for BBC Television, whatsoever, though we've begged the White House for a response from our self-proclaimed "war president."

CBS did not "break" this Chicken-Hawk George story; it's just that Dan Rather, with Mapes' encouragement, found his journalistic soul and the cojones, finally, after 5 years delay, to report it. Did Bush get special treatment to get into the Guard? Baby Bush tested in the 25th percentile out of 100. Yet, he leaped ahead of thousands of other Vietnam evaders because the then-Speaker of the Texas legislature sent a message to General Craig Rose, head of the Guard, to let in Little George and a few other sons of well-placed politicos.

[See some of the documentation at and a clip from the BBC Television report at]

Mapes and Rather did make a mistake, citing a memo which could not be authenticated. But let's get serious folks: this "Killian" memo had not a darn thing to do with the story-in-chief -- the President's using his daddy's connections to duck out of Vietnam. The Killian memo was a goofy little addition to the story (not included in my Guardian or BBC reports).

So CBS inquisitors took this minor error and used it to discredit the story and ruin careers of reporters who allowed themselves an unguarded moment of courage. And, crucial to the network's real agenda, this nonsensical distraction allowed the White House to resurrect the fake reputation of George Bush as Vietnam-era top gun.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

at least melanie doesn't send us these:

why be a journalist when you can babysit for one?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Future of The New York Times

BusinessWeek, ; January 17, 2005

Since 1896, four generations of the Ochs-Sulzberger family have guided The New York Times through wars, recessions, strikes, and innumerable family crises. In 2003, though, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the current proprietor, faced what seemed to be a publisher's ultimate test after a loosely supervised young reporter named Jayson Blair was found to have fabricated dozens of stories. The revelations sparked a newsroom rebellion that humiliated Sulzberger into firing Executive Editor Howell Raines. "My heart is breaking," Sulzberger admitted to his staff on the day he showed Raines the door.

It turns out, though, that fate was not finished with Arthur Sulzberger, who also is chairman of the newspaper's corporate parent, New York Times Co. (NYT ). The strife that convulsed The New York Times's newsroom under the tyrannical Raines has faded under the measured leadership of his successor, Bill Keller, but now its financial performance is lagging. NYT Co.'s stock is trading at about 40, down 25% from its high of 53.80 in mid-2002 and has trailed the shares of many other newspaper companies for a good year and a half. "Their numbers in this recovery are bordering on the abysmal," says Douglas Arthur, Morgan Stanley's (MWD ) senior publishing analyst.

Continue reading...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Strip mall stripper


HAGERSTOWN - A man strolled naked outside at the Centre at Hagerstown on Tuesday before police took him to Washington County Hospital for psychiatric care.

"He just got undressed" and walked, Officer Chris Robinson of the Hagerstown Police Department said.

The man, who was not identified, "was lucid at points," but didn't fully understand what had happened, Robinson said.

Robinson said the man, who might be homeless, would not be charged.

At around noon, Duane Roy, a computer network administrator for The Herald-Mail, was at the shopping center on his lunch break when he saw the naked man jogging, then walking.

The temperature was about 53 degrees then, according to weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

As shoppers gawked and made cell phone calls, Roy stopped and took pictures from his car as the man approached Wal-Mart. Roy said he's a freelance photographer and keeps a camera in his car.

Then, he drove past the man, parked his car, got out and took more pictures as the man passed Wal-Mart.

As the man turned around and went back past Wal-Mart, store employees wrapped him in a blanket.

Roy said a store official told him not to take pictures or publish them without getting permission. Then, a man in a suit who identified himself as a store security official ordered him to surrender his camera, Roy said.

Roy said he refused, so the man demanded the film in his camera, unaware that it was a digital camera.

Again, Roy refused. He locked the camera in his car.

"He said if I didn't turn the camera over to him, he would have me arrested" and ban him from the store, Roy said.

Attorney Mary R. Craig, who represents The Herald-Mail, said Roy "certainly was well within his rights" to take pictures.

The store can set limits, such as on taking pictures inside, but the expectation of privacy probably is less outside, she said.

She said Roy probably didn't violate anyone's privacy, especially the naked man's.

Alice Neff Lucan, an attorney who represents the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association, said Wal-Mart "emphatically" had no right to demand Roy's camera.

"He didn't violate any of Wal-Mart's rights and he didn't violate the streaker's rights," she said. "He just took a picture of what was in the public's view."

The Herald-Mail is a member of the press association.

Store manager Frank Archer couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.

Co-manager Barry Brown said the security officer demanded Roy's film - not his camera - because Roy didn't have permission to take pictures on Wal-Mart's property.

Brown said he didn't see the confrontation, but heard about it.

Wal-Mart corporate spokeswoman Christi Gallagher in Bentonville, Ark., said she hadn't heard what happened.

In general, though, the company insists that all requests for pictures, inside or outside its stores, be made in advance, she said.

If a photographer doesn't get permission, a store manager would tell him or her to call the corporate office, Gallagher said.

"We don't confiscate cameras," she said.

Roy said police officers at the scene decided that store officials couldn't seize his camera, but they could ban him and have him arrested for trespassing if he returned.

He said no one at the store took his name, so he doesn't know how the ban will be enforced.

Wal-Mart and The Home Depot own their buildings, while the other stores at the center lease space from Washington Real Estate Investment Trust of Rockville, Md., according to Deborah Everhart, Hagerstown's economic development coordinator.

Wal-Mart's photo policy

Wal-Mart's policy that all photos taken on its property must be approved in advance includes breaking news coverage, company spokeswoman Christi Gallagher said.

The company requires the media - or anyone else - to get approval before taking pictures in Wal-Mart stores or on Wal-Mart property, she said.

Asked if journalists photographing unexpected news, such as a fire, need the same permission, Gallagher said they do.

After hours, a journalist should call the company's 24-hour corporate hotline before taking pictures, she said.

- Andrew Schotz

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Happy New Year!

Slate tears CJR a new one:

Paging Dean Lemann! The prestigious Columbia Graduate School of Journalism could use this meandering, weak piece--which fails to deliver the goods in support of whatever its vaguely delineated thesis is--as a case study of an article that desperately needs editing before it's published. ... Oh, wait. The piece was published. By the prestigious Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. ... 5:40 P.M.