Saturday, July 25, 2009

FJ laid-off golf writer makes a timely return

In recent months I've been critical of the Flint Journal's rather weak coverage of local golf, but it appears that a writer that the FJ thought they didn't need during the downsizing has been brought back, at least on a part-time or freelance basis to bail them out.

With recent announcements about the Buick Open at Warwick Hills (this is the last year for the event, a victim of GM's economic woes) and the return of Tiger Woods to the event, it appears the paper now needs their former golf writer back.

In just the past few days I've noticed the former FJ reporter's byline on several stories (he used to cover the Flint Generals hockey team, so maybe he'll get some more work when that season fires up again).

Writers: Can't live with them, but apparently can't live without them either. Hope the paper is paying him well for those stories.

Chevy V

In journalism a found body is assumed to be dead

Knowing the reporter that wrote this story, I can't imagine this is anything but an editing error.

Also it was my understanding this reporter, a former colleague at the Flint Journal, was a staff member at but there is no staff designation on his byline, so I'm not sure.

In Journalism 101 you are taught that when writing a news story about a death when you write "body" that means it was dead.

"Dead body" is always redundant and should never be used. On this morning there is a story that (at least as of 7:40 a.m.) uses that term. (Update: Checked back at 1:10 p.m. and the "dead body" is now just a "body" and the label is included with the writer, so all is well. Guess I am now a "citizen editor").

The story also uses a phrase I always found troubling. A body is found along a trail and the story includes the phrase "detectives are investigating." Boy, you would hope so, wouldn't you?

Another cop story pet peeve of mine is one you hear all the time on television and radio broadcasts about drunken drivers involved in serious crashes.

"The driver's blood alcohol was .20, more than twice the legal limit." No, it's not the legal limit, it's technically the illegal limit. I always preferred the more direct and correct phrase, that indicated that the driver's blood alcohol was above the limit that presumed intoxication.

Let's get this straight, there is no "legal" limit for getting drunk.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Inside Out: On "Life After Journalism"

Some good stuff over on Inside Out about "Life after journalism." As always plenty of great links and insights. staff listed on site

During the run-up to the launch, the Chief Content Czar told us there would be 30-35 editorial employees.

The new staff list shows 31, which includes the President & CEO (which beat does he cover?); the Chief Content Czar (which beat does he cover?); the Executive Vice President (which beat does she cover?); and a shared administrative assistant for the President & CEO and Executive Vice President and the Chief Content Czar has his own administrative assistant.

There are seven news reporters and seven sports reporters. The site doesn't tell us if they are all full-time or part-time and I don't know. We already know that full, or part-time they are making less than former staff members at the Ann Arbor News were making.

The staff list has 22 people involved in ad sales or production. On the old site there was little information about who was getting those jobs. It would be interesting to know how many of those ad sales or production people came from the Ann Arbor News. Please help if you can. Not a criticism, just a question

On Tuesday, posted a You Tube video of a woman singing her public comment about a controversial development. Several commenters at the old site (and me at this one) were critical of the poor coverage of the issue, as compared to the extensive report over on Ann Arbor Chronicle.

The Chief Content Czar told everyone, just wait until Friday that's when the real coverage starts and that the You Tube was just a place holder until the new reporter's story could appear in the real

So when I pulled up the new (all the links to the the old site included here on FFE will take you to the site, but the old item will not come up) I looked for the reporter's story on the meeting. It may just be me, but it is not in the news feed for the day.

There are links to a story much older than a Monday City Council meeting and there are other stories about items at the Monday City Council meeting (written by another reporter) but no report on the building controversy.

Again, it may just be I can't find the story, but while I am withholding judgment on the site overall until a week or so goes by, I didn't see a story on there that made me say "Wow, they are really on to something here." I was expecting to have my socks blown off at least with the first edition, but my socks are still on.

In the "News" feed there is a story about a pre-Art Fair bash that was written on July 14th. It would have made sense to have really breaking news in the first news feed. There is some of that, but most of the stuff there is soft features or news features.

There was a news feature on the cuts to the police department that talked about the police chief who was a deputy at the Oakland County Sheriff's Department back in the day when I covered cops for the Oakland Press. Barnett Jones was a great deputy, sergeant during the time I knew him. So that was a story that did interest me.

The offerings, especially for a first edition three months in the planning stages, was pretty average.

Chevy portrait IV

Thursday, July 23, 2009 is up and running

See it here.

I haven't taken the "tutorial" on how to use the site, but the outward appearance is underwhelming when I was told it would be "something like I had never seen before."

I'm going to reserve judgment until it has been up for a week or so. Feel free to offer your own opinions until then.

Bye-bye Ann Arbor News

Instead of trying to redo what Inside Out has already done, drop over and follow the links there for news about the final days of the 174-year-old Ann Arbor News.

Chevy portrait III

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A wake up call to the New York Times, Washington Post

A long, but interesting read. The comments are pretty instructive too. Thanks to a long time FFE reader for the link.

Someone at the State News was having fun with a news story

As a former State News editor I am a frequent visitor to their site. Someone on Facebook put up a link to this gem this morning.

I probably would have stopped the fun tampon and period references in the second paragraph, but Brittany (not sure a male reporter would have been able to get away with this) laced her pun fun all the way through the story.

Michigan Wine columnists discusses ethics, Ann Arbor Chronicle wins first round of coverage battle

Another writer, this time a wine columnist for the Ann Arbor Chronicle, has weighed in on the issue raised here about's new wine columnist.

Hat tip to Inside Out for her post as well.

Also it was interesting to compare and contrast the coverage of a Monday City Council meeting by the now competing online newspapers in Ann Arbor.

Over at Ann Arbor Chronicle was a complete piece on the discussion and results of a controversial development in the city.

At the writer mentioned the controversy, but the site's coverage basically was a You Tube video of a woman singing her public comment about the development. No further information was given about the results of the meeting or the controversy. The reporter spent five hours at a City Council meeting and comes back with a video of one public comment.

The reporter also mentioned a conversation he had with a resident during a break.

Style over substance. Ann Arbor Chronicle wins round 1.

Chevy Portrait II

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Making fun of cable news, my favorite

Anything that mocks cable news broadcasts gets my vote. Put an "x" in this box.

Breaking News: Series Of Concentric Circles Emanating From Glowing Red Dot

How not to respond to a TV news interview

Taryn Asher, a former ABC-12 reporter now working in Detroit, was always a formidable competitor locally. She tied into a good one with the arrest of an Oxford councilman recently.

Trust me, television reporters love a good confrontation and boy does the councilman's wife give Taryn one. I do have a little sympathy for the wife who, for some reason, felt it necessary to come out and get in the face of the television crew.

The husband should have faced the music himself rather than put his wife and family in the front lines.

Here's the report:

Video removed

I removed the video of the Arizona investigation into Social Security because of its annoying auto play feature. Sorry for the distraction. It's gone.

Barbara Boxer knocked down for the count

Boy do I love it when those inflated windbags in Washington, D.C. get a taste of their own medicine live and on television. In this case Sen. Barbara Boxer stepped into the racial minefield with the head of group that represents black business people.

I especially love at the end of the video when some aid is whispering in Boxer's ear, perhaps trying to get her to stop her battle of wits, while she is yet unarmed.

It is always surprising that when these bags of hot air assemble that they don't lift off into the sky like some Hot Air balloon festival.

It's the roar of an engine, not the roar of a crowd

My sister sent me an e-mail with a number of great sayings about cars. Admittedly, my affection for beautiful, rumble-throated engines under the hood of magnificent, gas-guzzling machines is out-of-date and not politically correct.

Here's one of my favorites. I'll put up more later. Bring on the rpms. (Click on the photo to enlarge and read).

Monday, July 20, 2009 A preview look

Today was supposed to the launch of the all-new But as was reported last week, didn't happen, but they did put up a preview of the page.

As one commenter already said, the statement that "this will be something that you have never seen before" is a lot of hyperbole, unless they are holding back on something we can't see here.

It has the look and feel of "Facebook" at least at first glance, but we'll withhold judgement until Friday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

First AIG and now Social Security: Lavish parties on our dime

Some of you may have seen this investigative report out of Arizona, but Social Security officials turned aside an Internet conference and met at a nice Arizona resort to charge their batteries at our expense.

In today's world $700,000 is probably not much, but it's a lot of money to people on fixed incomes and out of work.

So while our legislators grip and complain about private companies and their expenses, maybe it's time to begin the charity at home. I had another thought yesterday while weeding the yard: With all the people in the country out-of-work, or making major concessions on salary and benefits, isn't it time for our government to feel the pinch as well. Maybe a 10-20 percent pay cut for legislators and their staffs.

And here's an idea, any health care benefits that Congress decides that we should all have, they should be required to live under those same benefits and not the Lexus, lifetime benefits they enjoy now. Are you with me? Can I get a witness?

Here's the report on the Social Security conference (You'll have to suffer through a 15-second solar panel commercial first also notice that the time is 5:03 and the local temperature there was 111):

Video removed, because its auto play feature is annoying.

To be honest, I go both ways on these private and government conferences. On the one hand it's an outrage that the money is spent so frivolously in hard times, but these conferences also supply a lot of jobs for local service and hotel employees, not to mention airline companies.

Aside: Back in 1995 a group of Flint Journal employees, including me, found a writer's conference that was meeting in St. Louis. With the emphasis at the Journal on new, punchy writing, we approached management about sending a few of us to the conference to hone these techniques. The answer was that the company would pay our registration (I think about $200) for the weekend conference, but we would have to pay our own travel and lodging, which many of us did.

I think the most extravagant thing we did was ride the tram cars to the top of the arch. Also at our own expense.