Yesterday, the already-shrunken world of media reporting lost its two grandest figures: Jim Romenesko, the quiet man who singlehandedly set the agenda, like a front page editor for all media news (semi-retiring, by choice); and Slate's Jack Shafer—America's most consistently fearless press critic (laid off). Step back. Look around at the smoldering carnage of the media critic landscape. Who's left to carry the "harassing one's own industry colleagues" torch? A brief look, below.
Did you wonder who your favorite Slate contributor is voting for? Good news: now you know! Michael Kinsley instituted the quadrennial endorsement list in 2000—go back and read how wrong all the Bush people were!—and it's been a beloved feature ever since, the two more times they've done it, because everyone cares how a Slate copy-editor is voting (spoiler alert: for Obama). There is one McCain vote, a half-hearted endorsement from the conservative editor and Slate lady-blog contributor Rachael Larimore. But there are fewer third-party votes and abstentions than in either of the two previous iterations of the feature, even in divided anyone-but-Bush 2004. Because, duh, people like Obama more than Kerry. But one man, press critic Jack Shafer, remains relentlessly devoted to his utterly wrong-headed principles. Shafer, once again, is voting for the Libertarians! Shafer in 2000:
"It's with great shame that I confess that Slate is a nominee" in the Webby Awards, says Jack Shafer, the site's lead destroyer of all fun. He's upset that so many people get to come home with a trophy: 600 winners and over 1100 pre-announced "honorees," out of almost 10,000 contestants who paid $275 or more each to be considered. He estimates the awards show pulls in $2 million (which honestly doesn't sound like that much to me, considering costs). Of course Shafer's hate-on, like any promising Slate piece, has a caveat.
Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman should learn rule number 63 or web publishing: by deleting a blog post, one only draws greater attention to it. On Friday, the Conde Nast magazine's media industry terrier, Jeff Bercovici, wrote a typically niggling piece for Portfolio's website about best-selling fabulist, Malcolm Gladwell (displayed after the jump). According to Bercovici, the Tipping Point author is the bane of the fact-checking department at his day job, as a writer for the New Yorker, another title owned by Conde Nast boss Si Newhouse. There was nothing that controversial about Bercovici's item: Gladwell has himself drawn attention to his mockery of orthodox journalistic practice. But the post disappeared from Bercovici's Portfolio blog over the weekend.
Remember when I freaked out that Malcolm Gladwell, the most successful pop-non-fiction writer of our time, was bragging about pulling pranks at the Washington Post? And remember how I was further irked that Gladwell was lying about lying? And remember how Pareene was like seriously, Rebecca, this is tired? Actually, you might not remember that, because it was a private conversation we had. But Slate media critic Jack Shafer thinks it's interesting.
The New York Times is forever trying to identify and co-opt (bogus) cultural trends, from metrosexuals to bed bugs to Argentinian cocaine. And now, oddly and odiously placed in the Sunday Styles section, they discuss "Drunkorexia," a combination of eating disorders and problem drinking. But don't worry, they don't jump on this one too salaciously. They go to great lengths to provide context and perspective: "Drunkorexia is not an official medical term." Ohhh, thanks Times! [NYT]
Slate's media scold Jack Shafer gets to abuse newspapers today by writing about a new study that found that fewer than 2% of stories with errors got corrected in a group of ten metro daily newspapers. This is where we jump up and down and yell "One of us, one of us!" Can we put the bogeyman of how those stupid blogs are error-ridden and never correct anything in a shallow grave now? (Actually maybe let's see how the rest of today goes here before we start gloating. Feeling kind of over-caffeinated and error-ridden already! Might print anything!)
Jack Shafer on Times Digest: "The shorter New York Times, set in the same fonts as the newspaper, is the perfect brief news read, provided you're 1) not near a computer and can't download the Times Reader; 2) unable to get the regular Times; 3) extraordinarily pressed for time; or 4) in a mood to make only one hand available for reading (such as when you're in the whirlpool)." [Slate]
Slightly quiet on the "Rupert Murdoch craves Dow Jones" front. Still, today we learn that editors at the Wall Street Journal knew of the bid at least a week before it came out, but said nothing, and were thus beaten to the story by CNBC. The decision to sit on the story, says the Times "raises a nettlesome issue for the media: What are a news organization's obligations to report important market-moving news about itself or its parent company before the news is officially disclosed?" Ooh, nettlesome. Harsh words! Better—perhaps someone took advantage of the information for some money-making trading! Hello, SEC!