Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Somnolence au volant : une étude choc à l'approche des vacances" - Sciences - TF1 News

This is astonishing - "sleeping" while driving and not realizing it.

"Editorial - The Court, the Constitution and the Reality of Guns" - NYTimes.com

It will take a very long time to undo a decision such as this one, but we must be patient and press forward, hoping that smarter justices will make the right decisions in the future.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Across Street From the White House, Coffee and a Chat With Lobbyists" - NYTimes.com

As a former paid lobbyist for the newspaper business, I find all of this utterly foolish and downright stupid. "Lobbyist" is a dumb term to start. We all have an interest in what our government does and some choose to take that interest in do something with it. It might mean writing a letter or it might mean joining an association to work on our behalf. That works the same way and should not be distinguished in the case of a business which also has an interest in what government does.

We should do away with the whole lobbyist thing and make all contacts with anyone in the federal government subject to mandatory disclosure. Feel free to say anything to anyone in the federal government about anything, but do it on the record. Period.

People in government should ask if the person approaching them is there on behalf of anyone else, and failure to disclose who should be subject to a fine. It could be your neighbor, your boss or your client; it doesn't matter. Disclose or pay the price, and that disclosure, too, is part of the public record.

Either everyone is a lobbyist who voices anything to the government or no one is. End the silly distinction between good people and bad lobbyists.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Editorial - A Bruise on the First Amendment" - NYTimes.com

The New York Times got it right; the US Supreme Court did not.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"A Slate for the Digital Age" - Gadgetwise Blog - NYTimes.com

Sorry, but I don't get it. If you can't save it, or work with it in some way, other than using less paper, what the devil is the value?

"France Telecom Said to Join Bid for Le Monde" - DealBook Blog - NYTimes.com

This has been idea much discussed over decades - a phone company buying a newspaer - but I think this would be the first major move in that direction? Perhaps Canada is an exception? Others?

"Ink Gushes in Japan’s Media Landscape" - NYTimes.com

There is a tendency to look at this, and other stories, and say that Japan is simply behind the US on this score, or that other countries are ahead or behind. In doing so, we assume that certain things are taking hold in the US and that it is the standard by which others should be judged. What if Huffington Post, for example, has no future? What does that mean? I think there is at least a credible chance that we will learn the answer to that. Who really pays attention to the Huffington Post except out of some curiosity?

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Culture et Loisirs" - nicematin.com

Something I saw today in Nice Matin that struck me as a good thing that I do not see too often...
In the section of the paper with information on weekend events, the paper has devoted a full page to telling us readers what Nice Matin’s editorial leadership thinks are the best things for “us” to consider doing this weekend. In each case, they not only say what it is – two concerts (both Irish!) and a museum exhibition – BUT also WHY “we” should go in some detail in each case. That takes a lot of confidence to do this, and I believe it is what a good newspaper ought to be able to do and do it reliably well. By tapping the best of what the newspaper has to help the paper make a judgment like this the paper is doing what a lone blogger or fly-by-night news offering cannot do.
It influenced my judgment about whether to go to one of the events, and I have now decided that I will go in part because of the recommendation.
Imagine if newspapers could channel their capabilities better to help people make smart and informed choices in all areas, not just entertainment and culture. That’s the role I always thought newspapers were supposed to play!
The story is not to be found on the Nice Matin website, however!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Ultra-Orthodox Jews Protest Ruling" - NYTimes.com

I find myself getting increasingly irritated with what I think is a huge gap between our liberal ideals of equality, integration and multiculturalism and the fanatical commitment of many who call themselves Israelis to some idea they have that they are a special people deserving of some place that others should not occupy. They are precisely no better or worse than the rest of us and I would be a lot more comfortable with the US govenrment if it were in bed with a country that shared these kinds of principles. I find myself questioning whether Israel as a country does, and the no response to that question keeps winning.

When you look at a newspaper home page, what is your first impression?

The New York Times

Nice Matin

I don't think we give enough attention to this question. There has to be a better way for a newspaper website to convey what it is and how it does it than what we see today. There ought to be as distinctive a look and feel to a newspaper website as there is to a printed newspaper. Anything less than this and newspapers are shirking their potential once again.

Distributing free newspapers

One of the oldest marketing moves by newspapers is to distribute free copies to non-subscribers.

In Chapel Hill, I noticed that one of the local papers was delivering a portion of each paper that covers Chapel Hill to non-subscribing households. Most of these papers sat, untouched, on the driveways. I really wonder if this resulted in any new subscribers. It forces the person receiving the paper to actually look at it without any guidance.

Here in Nice, where I am now, yesterday's local newspaper was not put on driveways, but it was free. They do this periodically when they have support, in this case from a local bank. So the papers appear in all the normal places, and one need only pick it up and it is yours. There is a wrapper on the outside with a little info about the bank and a sailing event that it has sponsored. Instead of wrapping the paper in practical and interesitng guidance, there were just platitudes about how wonderful the paper is; if it does not look like there is something wrong with this picture, you are not looking at the right picture!

What's missing in both of these is remarkable. Where is the "guide" for the customer or the non-customer to what lies in that paper. For the customer, it is a chance to remind about the value and the utility of the paper, and for the non-customer, it is a chance to introduce the paper, creatively, and quickly. The absence of this is one of the reasons why I think newspapers are not going to muster enough creativity to get themselves out of the hole in which they now sit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"North Carolina congressman, Bob Etheridge, gets physical with reporter"

Based on what I've seen, if the young man did not touch ETHERIDGE and ETHERIDGE grabbed him, I would advise the young man to press charges of assault and possibly a civil complaint. Our respective rights to speech in a public place include the right to be free of physical assault because someone does not like what we may be saying.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Digital Domain - From Groupon, Daily Deals With Daily Laughs" - NYTimes.com

Easy-to-use catalogue model

How many newspapers are as easy to access as is this catalogue?

"Big City - Interest Grows in Arabic Class at Friends Seminary" - NYTimes.com

This is a great story that needs to be repeated all over the country. How can we hope to share the planet with so many other people who get up each morning thinking in a language we cannot understand. Bravo for this school and the students who have opted to study Arabic. I wish I could back to that age and join them in the decision.

"Sarkozy s'immisce dans le rachat du Monde" - SudOuest.fr

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"BP and Officials Block Some Coverage of Spill" - NYTimes.com

I wonder who will fight for this access if we start losing significant major media enterprises.

"Caradeux Camp Journal - Haiti’s Displaced See Their Stories on TV" - NYTimes.com

We see very little about any role the Haitian newspapers are playing, and even less about the role newspapers in other countries are playing.

"Editorial - The Wrong Message on Deficits" - NYTimes.com

So many people sending so many conflicting signals on such a complex and criticially imporant matter.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Bravo Will Make You a Reality Star (if the Web Agrees)" - NYTimes.com

The implicaitons of this for news judgment exercised by other media companies are huge and troubling.

"Spillonomics - Underestimating Risk" - NYTimes.com

I look forward very much to reading this.

Friday, June 04, 2010

"Oil Spill Resources" - Green Blog - NYTimes.com

Is this as good as it could be? Couldn't it be designed and presented in a much more dynamic and easy-to-use manner?

"Wal-Mart to Offer Workers College Degree Program" - NYTimes.com

Which newspapers in the world have entered into similar agreements with universities that could provide newspaper customers with a college education? The New York Times has some such relationships, but it seems too bad that Wal-Mart is beating the local knowledge leader in so many markets - the local newspaper - with an offering to help customers further their educations.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

"Israel should lead investigation into attack on Gaza flotilla, says US" - The Guardian

If this is true, I find it outrageou that the OBAMA administration is asking the attacking party (Israel) to carry out the investigaiton when an international inquiry would be so much better for everyone involved unless Israel is really guilty of some of the charges leveled against it in this matter. In that case, it would not be so good for Israel.

In any case, I want my President to support the most objective and inclusive determinations in this matter and one cannot expect that result when the fox is asked to asses its assault in the middle of the nigth on the hen house. That is not to denigrate Israeil, but rather to make such an obvious point.

At worst, let their be two inquiries. The truth can then sort itself out between them.

This is very disturbing news.