Archive for the 'reporters' Category

Jon Stewart goes “mad” on Jim Cramer?

For those who missed The Daily Show last night it was awesome… Jon Stewart took it to Jim Cramer and CNBC on the lack of “financial reporting” on their supposed “financial news” cable network.  Not to be a spoiler… but there are some great video clips of Cramer off air.  Take 20 minutes of your day and watch this episode!

Death Knell for Print News

There is a lot of hand wringing about the decline and fall of print newspapers.  I canceled my subscription to the Minneapolis Star Tribune over a year ago because good writers and local content were harder and harder to find (not to mention the dearth of international news).  But instead of giving up on print entirely, I subscribed to the NYTimes whose $660 annual subscription is feeling a bit too luxurious in these times.  

Meanwhile, I spend way too much time reading news online.  I love to get local news from MinnPost (where most of the good writers from the Strib went anyhow), the NYTimes online edition (nicely formatted on my iPhone for reading on the train), Slate, the Economist, Time, and myriad other blogs whose RSS feeds crowd my Google home page (not to mention podcasts).  Is $660 really worth the tactile joy of opening the paper over a cup of coffee, when I’m overwhelmed with up to the minute news at my desk?

It’s no wonder people are writing the obituary of print news (to read it you’ll have to go to  Craigslist and Monster took away the want ads, advertisers are less and less interested in the demographic that still subscribes to papers, and worst of all good writing is hard to find.

As Jack Shafer points out in Slate, they did see it coming but tried to create walled gardens of content which required subscriptions.  Alas, this too has failed.  The last bastion of hope is the sports section. Mark Cuban writes in his blog that pro sports teams should come to the rescue of local papers.  Even though the Internet has infinite shelf space, the quality of local sports coverage is poor.  Maybe the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press should ask the Vikings, Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, and Gophers for a little help. 

Potential Fight Club selection: Pablo J. Boczkowski’s 2004 book, Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers.  Also, check out this interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google “Eric Schmidt wishes Google could save newspapers“.

Jan 13 update: Interesting chart from eMarketer on where people get their news:


We will miss you Tim! Thank you for your honesty, integrity, and courage.

I know I had posted an article recently about where have all of the good journalists goneTim Russert, NBC News Washington Bureau Chief, was one of those few good journalists left… today we lost a great journalist and an awesome man.  Tim took his responsibility as chief moderator of “Meet the Press” very seriously, he also asked tough but thoughtful questions and did not let his guests slide with generic answers.  In the age of partisan reporting, Tim was at a whole other level – I could not tell you which party he endorsed.

For those of you who have not found the time to read “Wisdom of Our Fathers” it is absolutely essential for every parent – mother or father. 

Thank you Tim for your honesty, integrity, and courage!  You will be missed by us all.

All Fact and No Meaning

The other night I watched “Stranger Than Fiction,” a film written by Zach Helm, directed by Marc Forster, and starring Will Ferrell, the radiant Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and Queen Latifah.  Ferrell plays an IRS auditor who finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear: narration that begins to affect his entire life, from his work, to his love-interest, to his death.


Reluctantly, I admit, I was swept away by Ferrell singing a song by Eric Wreckless, “Whole Wide World,” like Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s song from OnceFalling Slowly”: ”take this sinking  boat and point it home, we’ve still got time / raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice” – what great lyrics.


What’s got me in this sappy mood?  Like David Brooks, I am growing weary of the presidential campaign which is “all about message management, polls and tactics. The communication is swift, Blackberry-sized and prosaic. As you cover it, you feel yourself enclosed in its tunnel. Entire mental faculties go unused.”


For an escape, Brooks reads an essay written by Michael Ward, “C. S. Lewis and the Star of Bethlehem,”


…while we moderns see space as a black, cold, mostly empty vastness, with planets and stars propelled by gravitational and other forces, Europeans in the Middle Ages saw a more intimate and magical place. The heavens, to them, were a ceiling of moving spheres, rippling with signs and symbols, and moved by the love of God. The medieval universe, Lewis wrote, “was tingling with anthropomorphic life, dancing, ceremonial, a festival not a machine.”


When we say that a star is a huge flaming ball of gas, he wrote, we are merely describing what it is made of.


I am suffering from too many facts and too little meaning.


Whole Wide World

By Eric Wreckless


When I was a young boy

My mama said to me

There’s only one girl in the world for you

And she probably lives in Tahiti


I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her


Or maybe she’s in the Bahamas

Where the Carribean sea is blue

Weeping in a tropical moonlit night

Because nobody’s told her ’bout you


I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Find out where they hide her


Why am I hanging around in the rain out here

Trying to pick up a girl

Why are my eyes filling up with these lonely tears

When there’re girls all over the world


Is she lying on a tropical beach somewhere

Underneath the tropical sun

Pining away in a heatwave there

Hoping that I won’t be long


I should be lying on that sun-soaked beach with her

Caressing her warm brown skin

And then in a year or maybe not quite

We’ll be sharing the same next of kin


I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Just to find her

I’d go the whole wide world

I’d go the whole wide world

Find out where they hide her


PS Check out Agent Provacateur’s new campaign featuring Maggie.

Just so tired of all the talking heads…

I am just so tired of the talking heads, where have all of the reporters gone?  Every time you turn on the cable news channels or the network news shows, there is another talking head shouting out their opinion of the day’s events on a 30 minute repeat cycle.  Where is the research?  Where is the insight?  Where is the investigation that will lead us to this conclusion?  Instead we listen to hour after hour of the same story spun over and over without one iota of research, insight, or investigation.  What has brought us to this?  Who is to blame?

Is it the news stations that have cut budgets and forced hourly deadlines on their reporters, making newsworthy journalism impossible (Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism provides some great insight into this topic)?  Is it the reporters who have found it easier to not question authority or prefer the ease of gathering opinions over facts?  Or is it us, the audience?  We want to feel like we are informed but we prefer to get our information in 30 minutes or less so that we can get back to the important task of following who will win the next American Idol?

If the political pundits weren’t bad enough… the only thing worse is the financial pundits!  Case in point the last couple of weeks was Jim Cramer of Mad Money on CNBC.  After an email question from one “Peter” – Mr. Kramer mistakenly told his audience that “No, No, No, Bear Sterns is fine… don’t move your money from Bear that’s just being silly.”  Having spent a few years in the industry, I have seen this a few times but one of the best examples was the hedge fund LTCM (Long Term Capital Management) that in 1998 lost $4.6b in less than four months (a great book for the record is When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein).  Mr. Cramer, you are just another talking head and you seemed to have robbed from Peter to pay Paul!  Your audience looks to you for investment advice and you weren’t willing to research the issue and make the tough call.  Instead you worried about a run on the bank and left your audience high dry with their worthless Bear Sterns stock.  Now that your audience knows where you stand, I would imagine your advertisers might be researching their investment and we will soon find you sitting high and dry.


Fluff and spin might work for my dryer but not for my news.  Where do you get your news?


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