Monthly Archives: June 2010

I am Dave Weigel


No, I haven’t become schizophrenic. What I have become though is somewhat sympathetic to Dave’s predicament (if you’re not sure what that predicament is, let me Google that for you). This somewhat improbable turn of events occurred after I read the mea culpa of sorts that Dave penned over on Big Journalism.

Though it might appear that we have little in common other than our chosen profession, Dave and myself are very much alike in one respect. We have both taken some pendulum-like swings along the political spectrum and, I think, continue to search for what we truly believe.

You see, I was once a liberal. Then I was a staunch conservative. Then I wasn’t sure what I was. Then I arrived somewhere at moderate/libertarian, but maybe leaning to the right. While that isn’t exactly the political path that Dave is on, we’ve both shifted over the years and we may continue to shift.

Having gone through all these changes, I continue to aggressively question what I believe on an almost daily basis. I try the best I can to cultivate independent thought. I try to consume punditry from both liberals and conservatives and allow for a free market of ideas inside my mind. I read books. I don’t watch cable news. I read the work of both professional thinkers and journalists and amateur bloggers (though not all bloggers are amateurs). I try to get a broad picture of how people perceive issues and policies in different parts of the country and even the world. I keep an open mind, but stand firm on certain principles. 

Though I haven’t personally been subjected to the scrutiny that Dave has, I’ve understood that this kind of… flexibility if you will can be punished. One may be perceived to be wishy-washy, a waffler. We live in a world in which it’s more acceptable to be a rigid ideologue than a free thinker.

I also recognized myself in Dave when he wrote:

…I was cocky, and I got worse. I treated the [Journo]-list like a dive bar, swaggering in and popping off about what was “really” happening out there, and snarking at conservatives. Why did I want these people to like me so much? Why did I assume that I needed to crack wise and rant about people who, usually for no more than five minutes were getting on my nerves?

Why did Dave, a purportedly right-of-center journalist feel the need to show conservative-bashing street cred to a list of leftists? I think we all know the answer to that. I’ve personally felt compelled to do the same on many occasions. It’s no secret that many reporters tend to lean left and expressing conservative views among a group of journalists can cause quite a hush to fall over the crowd. So we joke and say things that will be sure to allay the possible fears of our liberal colleagues in the newsroom. If you ask me, this is the real tragedy of this whole thing.

I also heard echoes of myself when reading this part:

But I was never combative against liberals. Reporting in a close-knit campus community made it impossible and untenable to pick political fights every day. I was more interested in covering politics than in advocating for a political stance (outside of columns I wrote for my paper and later the daily campus paper). I cared more about finding out stories first than about advocating positions — those stories would get me the jobs I wanted, not the opinions I had. And I knew that I didn’t want to be pigeonholed.

This is pretty much the reason I stopped writing and overseeing the Daily Daley. I knew I wanted to pursue journalism professionally and I didn’t want to be known as an unpaid writer of commentary. I wanted to do the kind of original reporting that I was linking to. I wanted to break stories, to investigate government wrongdoing, to inform the citizenry. In order to do all that, I knew I needed to be paid, to “turn pro” as it were. So I understand Dave when he says he didn’t want to be pigeonholed. I’ve even used the same word when talking about my situation.


Sympathetic as I am to Dave, one thing that he wrote made me righteously angry and that is the anti-blogger rhetoric:

In the first (and still best) “Austin Powers” film, a United Nations representative makes a faux pas and calls the film’s villain “Mr. Evil.”

“It’s Dr. Evil,” he huffs. “I didn’t spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called ‘mister,’ thank you very much.”

This is how I feel when I’m referred to as a “blogger,” sometimes with a political qualifier like “liberal” or “conservative” attached. I’m a reporter. I’ve been a reporter since high school.

Haven’t we had enough of this bloggers-are-not-journalists meme? Being a blogger simply means that one utilizes blogging software to post content to the Internet. Some bloggers are journalists and some journalists are bloggers. Some are only one or the other. Please, let’s stop being offended by these labels. And Dave, you should really know better. Christ, if Jay Rosen thought this debate was over in 2005, you and everyone else should MOVE ON. Redesigns, Does Away with Pageview Metric Redesigns, Does Away with Pageview Metric

Published on June 28, 2010 has just launched a new site design, which embraces a “single-page” format.

With the redesign, the media company hopes to be able to sell large, customizable ads and put an end to the “pageview” metric, focusing more exclusively on user engagement such as time spent on pages.

The new story page design “breaks through conventional constraints to deliver an immersive and interactive news experience” which allows consumers to watch, read, comment, navigate, share and interact with news all from a single page, according to a release. The new design features a larger embeddable video player with transcripts and subtitles and integrated slideshows with section “slices” featuring related text, multimedia and video.

The site is calling an end to standalone slideshows, something news sites have used to drive pageviews, writes paidContent.

Praise the lord! For more on those pernicious pageviews:

You can’t fake leadership

Make it official: Everything Barack Obama touches turns to mush. Not because he wants to screw up everything, but because he’s simply in over his head as president of the United States.

He is the quintessential wrong guy at the wrong time, and the events of last week provided another exclamation point to that sentence.

Before you lash out, read the whole thing. I’ll wait………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………After having read the whole piece, is it true or false?

…Or maybe it’s not about the pageviews

Goldberg himself — who, again, was as wrong as a journalist can possibly be on Iraq, and now thousands of people are dead — says the Post now hires “people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training.” Jeffrey Goldberg should possibly consider setting himself on fire.

Thanks goes to one of my many astute Twitter followers:

“General desperation for pageviews”

“How could we destroy our standards by hiring a guy stupid enough to write about people that way in a public forum?” one of my friends at the Post asked me when we spoke earlier today. “I’m not suggesting that many people on the paper don’t lean left, but there’s leaning left, and then there’s behaving like an idiot.”

I gave my friend the answer he already knew: The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training. This little episode today is proof of this. But it is also proof that some people at the Post (where I worked, briefly, 20 years ago) still know the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior, and that maybe this episode will lead to the reimposition of some level of standards. 

This is the first I’ve seen the blame for the Dave Weigel imbroglio laid at the feet of SEO-gone-wild. Thoughts?

The Killer Inside Me (or Neil Steinberg?)

BP’s problems vs. Cubs/Sox problems

BP Problems v. Cubs/Sox Problems
BP: Executives worried about getting asses kicked by Obama
Cubs: Executives worried about getting asses kicked by Pirates

BP: Concerns about inability to drill in deep water
Sox: Concerns about inability of starters to go deep into games

BP: Facing PR embarrassment if crowds boo during Cubs-Sox series
Cubs/Sox: Likewise

BP: Watching profits dry up as oil continues to spill
Cubs: Watching profits dry up as Ramirez continues to cash checks

BP: Early summer of 2010 turning into disastrous period in company history
Cubs/Sox: Likewise

BP: Can’t control a spewing toxic geyser
Sox: Can’t control Ozzie’s postgame rants

BP: Old company facing possible ugly end to storied history
Cubs: Old manager facing possibly ugly end to storied career

BP: Hope to have spill wrapped up by fall
Cubs/Sox: Hope Chicagoans go back to focusing on the Hawks by fall

BP: Take out full-page newspaper ad to apologize for Gulf spill
Sox: Take out full-page newspaper ad to apologize for Hawk Harrelson

BP: Hoping unlikely methods work to stave off further spill damage
Cubs: Hoping unlikely All-Star (Silva) works to stave off last place

BP: Changed name and logo without changing core business
Cubs: Changed owners without changing core roster

BP: Killing marlins and rays
Cubs: Getting killed by Marlins
Sox: Getting killed by Rays

BP: If spill situation isn’t remarkably better by July, jobs will be in jeopardy
Cubs/Sox: If W-L records aren’t remarkably better by July, veterans will be in jeopardy

Contributing: Matt Farmer, Don Jacobson, Marty Gangler, Drew Adamek, Scott Buckner and the inimitable Beachwood Mark.

Comments and submissions welcome.

Another Beachwood classic :-)

Now is the time to experiment

Love vs. money

So the book’s easiest takeaway, as far as journalism goes, is that we should be willing to experiment with our media: to be open to the organic, to embrace new methods and modes of production and consumption, to trust in abundance. But, then, that’s both too obvious (does anyone really think we shouldn’t be experimenting at this point?) and too reductive a conclusion for a book whose implied premise is the new primacy of communality itself. Shirky isn’t simply asking us to rethink our media systems (although, sure, that’s part of it, too); he’s really asking us to embrace collectivity in our information — in its consumption, but also in its creation.

And that’s actually a pretty explosive proposition. The world of “post-Gutenberg economics,” as Shirky calls it — a world defined, above all, by the limitations of the means of (media) production, be they printing presses or broadcast towers — was a world that ratified the individual (the individual person, the individual institution) as the source of informational authority. This was by necessity rather than, strictly, design: In an economy where freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one, the owners in question will have to be limited in number; distributed authority is also diffused authority. When the power of the press belongs to everyone, the power of the press belongs to no one.

But now we’re moving, increasingly and probably inevitably, toward a media world of distributed authority. That’s a premise not only of Cognitive Surplus, but of the majority of Shirky’s writings — and it’s a shift that is, it hardly needs to be said, a good thing. But it also means, to extrapolate a bit from the premises of the cognitive surplus, that the reflexively individualistic assumptions we often hold about the media — from the primacy of brand structures to the narrative authority of the individual correspondent to the notion of the singular article/issue/publication as a self-contained source of knowledge itself — were not immutable principles (were not, in fact, principles at all), but rather circumstantial realities. Realities that can — and, indeed, will — change as our circumstances do.

An African iPhone? There’s No App for That

The best-kept secret about Africa in the last decade is the continent’s rapid and creative adoption of modern technology. African countries have for the most part leapfrogged the technologies of the late 20th century to adopt those of the early 21st en masse. There are now 10 times as many cell phones as land lines in sub-Saharan Africa, and since 2004, the region’s year-over-year growth has been the highest in the world. When Nokia’s billionth handset was sold in 2000, it was in Nigeria.

So where is Apple?

A faraway land with few iPhones? Sounds like a magical place I’d like to visit.

Stop embarrassing yourselves

So, what we normally tell organizations is this: either change your communications climate, or stop embarrassing yourself with a failed social media experiment.

Thanks for putting it so well Curt. As always folks, please read the entire post.

By the way, Curt is awesome. You should hire him.

He can be found on Twitter: and here’s his company’s website in case you were too lazy to click on the referring link: