Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

105 years ago today.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

At 1:07 AM on October 1, 1910, a bomb went off at the Los Angeles Times.

The bomb was planted in an area full of volatile chemicals and near natural gas lines. The explosion and fire killed 21 people, most of whom burned to death.

At the time, there was a massive struggle between “labor” and “capital”; Bill James, in his book Popular Crime, suggests that we came close to a second Civil War during this period. The bombing of the Times was only one part of a great war, which included the assassination of Frank Steunenberg (more about that in the future), the Haymarket riot, and the Wall Street bombing.

The Times of the time was strongly pro-capital and anti-union, which made it a target. Three men – Ortie McManigal and the brothers J.B. McNamara and J.J. McNamara – were charged with the bombing. McManigal rolled on the McNamara brothers, who were members of the iron workers union.

The labor movement engaged Clarance Darrow to defend the McNamara brothers. He agreed to do so, but warned them that he would need a boatload of money ($350,000 in 1910 dollars) to a proper job. The unions painfully raised the money.

The problem was that the McNamara brothers were pretty much guilty. Darrow is supposed to have told them, “My God! You left a trail of evidence a mile wide!” Ultimately, Darrow pled both brothers out in order to avoid the death penalty.

This case came pretty close to destroying Darrow. The plea bargain alienated him from labor, cutting off a large source of his income. In addition, Darrow was charged with two counts of jury tampering for actions during the case: I’ve written about that before. It took a while for Darrow’s reputation to recover.

Historical article with photos from the LAT.

Wikipedia on the bombing.

Howard Blum’s American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century is a very good book on the bombing and the aftermath.

TMQ Watch (for real): September 15, 2015.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

That’s a 74-word lead with a parenthetical clause and a double hyphenation. Welcome to Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Welcome back to TMQ Watch. After the jump…


TMQ Watch: September 15, 2015.

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

For the past few days, Gregg Easterbrook has been hinting at a “major announcement” about the future of Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Today was the day. And where did TMQ fetch up?

Would you believe the New York Times?

We almost didn’t believe it either, but, yes, TMQ is now under the purview of the paper of record. We’re not sure how we feel about this yet. But having just finished Public Editor Number One, we are hopeful that Easterbrook will be subject to fact checking, editorial guidance, and possibly even a corrections process; and, that if need be, the current NYT public editor can pull back on the reins and yell “Whoa!”

Does this mean that TMQ Watch will continue? Indeed. We would have already written up a TMQ Watch for today. However, we got stuck into a situation at work. We will not go into details except to say that we were busy all day (including lunch). Our plan is to curl up tonight with about four ounces of Canadian Club 10 Year Old Reserve, some fizzy water, and a copy of Carry On, Jeeves.

So new TMQ Watch tomorrow, probably late afternoon would be our guess.

Random notes: July 15, 2015.

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

The Shep turned himself in to the Detroit PD. (Previously.)

Correction: July 13, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated Modern Farmer’s new “it” grain. It is sorghum, not quinoa.

Obit watch: June 18, 2015.

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Nelson Doubleday Jr., heir to the Doubleday publishing empire and former owner of the New York Mets.

I was going to let this go by, but there were a couple of things in the NYT obit that tickled my fancy:

Mr. Doubleday was an avid outdoorsman, fond of practical jokes and not particularly bookish. He enjoyed playing golf; hunting at his plantation near Beaufort, S.C.; sailing the world on his yacht, Mandalay; and heading off to annual pheasant-hunting trips in Somerset, England. In the 1960s and ’70s, he invested in two hockey teams, the California Golden Seals and the New York Islanders. On his daily drive into Manhattan, he chatted with a group of fellow CB radio enthusiasts who called themselves the Cuckoo’s Nest Convoy. His handle was Bookworm.

Obit watch: June 10, 2015.

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Vincent Musetto passed away yesterday. NYT. NY Post.

I’ve written about Mr. Musetto before. For those who don’t remember, he was a long-time employee of the NY Post, and the man behind one of the greatest headlines in the history of newspapers:

Well. Well well well. Well.

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The American-Statesman announced Thursday that it is shifting its daily printing and packaging operations to San Antonio and Houston, resulting in about 100 job losses in Austin.

The NYT goes into the tank…

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

The Port Authority Bus Terminal has new bathrooms.

Chris Valens, a spokesman for the agency, said 16 bathrooms in the terminal were being redone at a cost of $13 million. That is about $812,500 each.

Off the top of my head, that doesn’t sound unreasonable, considering the special needs of the Port Authority bathrooms. But how are they?

The color scheme is contemporary, with grayish-silverish floor tiles. The partitions are dark and have textured surfaces. The urinals in the men’s room look like some on the website of the manufacturer Toto, with the $1,071 flushometer valve. The toilets, made by Kohler, have similar-looking Toto valves.

But that’s only one reason I brought this up (though I am notably bathroom obsessed, as those who know me well will testify):

A second person who checked out the women’s restroom — and who asked not to be identified because she has always wanted to be an anonymous source — reported her findings by email: “Black shiny granite-y sink. Arched faucets by Sloan. Tasteful slate gray and powder gray tiles.”

Does NYT policy on the use of anonymous sources allow for the use of same if the only reason they want to be anonymous is that they’ve “always wanted to be an anonymous source”? I know this is just a light story, but you make an exception here, an exception there, and before long you end up with Jayson Blair.

Edited to add: Well, well, well. The public editor has weighed in.

Obit watch: February 17, 2015.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Arnaud de Borchgrave, journalist and author.

Lesley Gore. A/V Club.

Not really an obit in the conventional sense, but: the Bob Feller museum in Van Meter, Iowa is closing. One of the interesting things about this is that the Feller museum was one of the last remaining “free-standing” museums devoted to one player:

Only two remain: the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, two and a half blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, and the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library in Greenville, S.C. Six others, including the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey, are either housed at or supported by larger entities.

Also interesting: some of the memorabilia will stay at the musueum (which is going to become the new city hall), some of it is going to Progressive Field, and some of it is going to the U.S.S. Alabama:

In Van Meter, Feller is equally revered for his military service. He enlisted in the Navy two days after Pearl Harbor, the first United States professional athlete to volunteer, costing him three full baseball seasons and most of a fourth. He saw combat in the Pacific theater as a gun captain aboard the Alabama. Feller proudly called himself the only Navy chief petty officer in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Obit watch: February 13, 2015.

Friday, February 13th, 2015

David Carr, prominent NYT journalist, passed away last night.

Carr also wrote the critically acclaimed memoir, The Night of the Gun, about his struggle with drug addiction.

I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn’t end any time soon.

Edited to add: nice tribute from Amy Alkon.

Edited to add 2: A/V Club.

Obit watch: February 12, 2015.

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Bob Simon, for the record.

God and man don’t believe in modern farmer.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

A while back, I briefly touched on the “Modern Farmer” situation. Briefly, “Modern Farmer” was a promising and National Magazine Award winning magazine:

From its start in an airy office above a Swedish cosmetics store in Hudson, N.Y., the magazine was both admired and skewered. Intended as a media and lifestyle brand for what Ms. Gardner, a former Manhattan magazine editor, liked to refer to as people who want a little more back story to their food, its initial Spring 2013 edition had a stylish rooster on the cover, an alarming feature on the problems of wild pigs and a column called Ask an Ag Minister.

I never actually read it – I’m not sure I ever saw a copy for sale, and it sounded a little pretentious – but I was interested in what was happening with the magazine, especially after the editor resigned.

Well, the other goat has fainted:

Modern Farmer, the 100,000-circulation quarterly and website that tried to link effete urban farmers’ market culture with the practicalities of actual farming, became a magazine without an editorial staff on Friday, when its remaining paid editors walked out its doors. The future of what remains of the Modern Farmer brand is uncertain.


By Friday, when the remaining two paid editorial staff members departed, the sales manager had already left after having told advertisers like Dodge and the Detroit watchmaker Shinola that they weren’t going to publish a spring issue. Reached at her home in Hudson, Ms. Gardner said she could not speak about the matter and feared legal action. She remained unsure about her next move in the media world.

I’d actually never heard of Shinola, the watchmaker. I guess this goes to show how effective advertising in “Modern Farmer” was.

(Hattip: Jimbo.)