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Ben L. Kaufman
 

Covering Race, Closing a Paper and Photos of Caskets

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Americans under age 50 probably would notice if a local news story starts off with "the black killer" or "the Jewish scam artist." It's a practice that largely died along with such conversational expressions as Paddy wagon, Welshing or Jewing, Polack, Dago, Spic, Coon, Wetback, etc. With rare exceptions — where race, ethnicity or religion are central to a story — we don't do that any longer. Such historic racial/ethnic identifications have morphed into code words meant to carry the same message.  

Olympian Smokes Weed, Bored Media Have a Field Day

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps offered a classic celeb apology: Admit behaving badly while really not admitting he smoked marijuana. Blame youth/inexperience/Satan. Promise to reform. Something short of "I didn't inhale." His semipublic embrace of a bong is news if he presents himself as the anti-drug athlete. Otherwise, no, it isn't. However, the aftermath is news: renewed and canceled endorsements, suspension from competitive swimming and Mayberry cops investigating whether to charge him with a crime (they ended up not charging him).  

Buy an Ad, Save a Newspaper

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Ads determine the news hole in a ratio meant to show a profit; the news hole includes everything not an ad: photos, illustrations, headlines, comics, recipes, weather map, etc. Editors get page layouts with the ads blocked in. They work around them.   

Joe the Journalist, Palin's Whining and Other Media Developments

2 Comments · Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Joe the Plumber is reporting about the Israeli-Hamas fight for the conservative web site pjtv.com. Sarah Palin again whines that she's a victim of news media sexism, class discrimination and accusations of diva-ness while getting her facts wrong. Again. I won't even get into the resurrection of Cincinnati's Ken Blackwell as candidate for RNC chairman except to say that he and 'Sarah Oh-Twelve' would be a Democrat's dream.  

Special Skills Required for Early Morning Newscasts

0 Comments · Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Monday through Friday, WVXU News Director Maryanne Zeleznik cheerily announces it's a minute before 5 a.m. and leads into NPR's 'Morning Edition' and local programming. No spouse or roommate could be so chipper, and she doesn't flag audibly during the next five hours. It's not the perkiness of an ingenue but the confident sound of a village Wise Woman who enjoys her special knowledge and role.  

Is Detroit's Media Gamble the Future of Newspapers?

0 Comments · Friday, December 26, 2008
By limiting home delivery to days that most appeal to advertisers (Thursday, Friday and Sunday) while reducing production and delivery costs on four days, The Detroit Free Times and Detroit News can save a lot of money and some journalists' jobs.   

Enquirer and Daily Papers Down but Not Out

2 Comments · Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Enquirer Editor Tom Callinan is a veteran print journalist trying to reconfigure his 'paper' and staff under awful conditions in the Internet Age. Success will include keeping older, affluent readers and attracting younger, increasingly affluent readers. He doesn't need my advice, and I'm glad I'm not in his position.  

N.J. Court Decision Threatens Media's Ability to Cover Lawsuits

0 Comments · Wednesday, November 26, 2008
A New Jersey appellate court decision allowed a libel suit against The Bergen Record to go ahead even though the defamatory statements were accurately and fairly taken from a bankruptcy court complaint. The ruling contradicts the long-standing protection courts have given to information taken from documents filed with a court.  

Getting It Right on Election Coverage

0 Comments · Sunday, November 16, 2008
Credulity does not suit journalists or our audiences. We’ve moved from believing something because “I read it in the paper” to “I heard it on the radio” to “I saw it on the Internet.” It’s never so dangerous as when a comment or story is credible. It makes sense. It’s the kind of thing that What’s His Name would say. Long before the Internet, people were inventing or repeating quotes and attributing them to famous people to add authority to their arguments.  

Newspapers Shrink Away from the AP and International News

1 Comments · Friday, October 31, 2008
Spreading cancellations of Associated Press memberships could leave our premier international news service unable to maintain its breadth and quality. AP is the major source of international news in our daily papers and any diminution will degrade our already dismal understanding of events beyond our borders. About 100 papers gave two-year cancellation notices to the AP in recent weeks; whether they're negotiating ploys in a fee dispute or rethinking of news priorities is unclear.