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New York Times media desk gets the Hollywood treatment (sort of)

A new documentary on the New York Times is to hit the silver screen soon.

According to the blurb, director Andrew Rossi “deftly gains unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom and the inner workings of the Media Desk”.

Going by the trailer, media reporters David Carr and Brian Stelter feature a fair bit, with media desk editor Bruce Headlam and media reporter Tim Arango also getting a look in the short promo.

“I still can’t get over the feeling that Brian Stelter was a robot assembled to destroy me,” says Carr.

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NYT: Will an obsession with SEO kill off the clever headline?

May 17th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism, Traffic

Is search engine optimisation ringing the death knell for the poetry of headline writing? Successful web headlines are, according to New York Times blogger David Carr, a “long way from the poetics of the best of print headlines”. But, he goes on to argue, there is a middle ground between the witty headline aimed at a thinking brain and the information stuffed headline aimed at a processing algorithm. And while Carr’s own headline – “Taylor Momsen Did Not Write This Headline” – does not quite stand up in the information delivery stakes, it does score pretty high on both wit and SEO.

Don’t know who Taylor Momsen is? Neither do I, beyond that she is the mean one on “Gossip Girl.” But Facebook knows her well, Twitter loves her, and she and Google have been hooking up, like, forever.

One more fact about Ms. Momsen: she has nothing to do with this column, let alone the headline. But her very name is a prized key word online — just the thing to push my column to the top of Google rankings.

Full post at this link…

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US Digest: media echo-chambers; one-man bands; LA (Times) real estate agents

Talking about making sausages

Dispatches from inside the “echo-chamber of mediated Manhattan” today, courtesy of the NYT’s David Carr. Carr has an interesting piece up on what he sees an increasing amount of news on the news: ‘Breaking the story that isn’t

As a media reporter, I’m obviously not one to suggest that the activities of journalists are not a legitimate source of inquiry. But I worry that the incremental needs of an always-on Web — everyone wants to know what the state of play is at any given moment — will imperil the practice of longer-form journalism, the kind that demands time, an open mind, a lot of questions and sometimes results in dead ends.

As a media reporter reporting on a media reporter reporting on over-zealous media reporting, I’m really obviously not one to suggest that the activities of journalists are not a legitimate source of inquiry.

As Carr puts it, “the manufacture of sausage is sometimes as much the point as the sausage itself”.

These US Digest posts are little more than an aggregation, a round-up of published material, but Carr has the close online scrutiny of ongoing stories in his sights.

Twitter and blogs may have become part of advancing the story, but it’s more likely that incremental updates on what the reporters are up to — or misleading rumors about same — may harden the opposition, button up sources and sometimes derail investigations.

So at what point does the navel-gazing jeopardise good stories? How much talking about making sausages spoils the taste of them?

Carr’s piece may have been prompted by the attention paid to his paper’s coverage of the Governor Patterson scandal, which he refers to as “wild and wildly off-base rumours”. Paying the most attention was the ever-vigilant NYTPicker.

“The deeper sounds of a small journalistic orchestra

Journalists complaining about cost-cutting moves toward ‘one-man band’ journalism isn’t anything new. Journalists extolling the virtues and opportunities of ‘one-man band’ journalism isn’t anything new either.

But using a handful of good examples Howard Kurtz has produced a decent, objective edition of Media Notes today looking at both sides of the coin. Lazy journalists living in the past be warned, it also includes some intimidating tales of multi-tasking.

The highlight of the piece is the story of one journalist’s remarkable transformation, graduating from suits and ties to baseball caps and a dirty hatchback:

A coat-and-tie journalist who has worked in television news for 27 years, Broom had to reinvent himself – with the aid of a three-day boot camp on shooting video – when he joined the Gannett station in 2007. Now he wears a black jacket and black Channel 9 cap and rarely goes to the newsroom. Instead he cruises the area in an unwashed white Honda hatchback, its front seat filled with a Dell laptop, police radio, tripod and Sony HVR-V1U video camera.

Kurtz’s article is balanced, and doesn’t jump to defend the profession against the suggestion that journalists should be able to do it all, but there is a simple reminder that standards may be at risk:

A one-man band is cheaper, quicker and more nimble — but cannot produce the deeper sounds of a small journalistic orchestra.

No press pass, no get out of jail free card

Student journalist Cameron Burns finds himself on the other side of the story today in The Daily Californian, after finding himself charged at by riot police on a California freeway at the end of last week.

Covering a demonstration over public education funding for student paper The Daily Californian, Burns had left his press pass in the office and was tackled to the ground and arrested alongside the protesters, despite repeated assertions that he was a journalist.

The result? A twenty hour stint in jail and a court appearance scheduled for April 6.

L.A. Times disappears behind paywall Johnny Depp

From Reuters, news of dismay among the L.A. Times’ readership after the front page – “our most valuable real estate” according to Times’ spokesperson John Conroy – was replaced by a mock front page adorned with a huge advert for Tim Burton’s new Disney-backed Alice in Wonderland adaptation.

It seems some readers have been particularly offended by the decision to use a mock-up front page in the background of the ad, which includes the paper’s masthead, although the word ‘advertisement’ is written underneath in small letters.

“We made it clear that this was a depiction of the front page, rather than a real front page of the newspaper,” said Conroy. “We had an unusual opportunity here to stretch the traditional boundaries and deliver an innovative ad unit that was designed to create buzz.”

Perhaps the style of the L.A. Times advert is particularly galling, but as the Reuters article points out, it is not the first quality newspaper to exploit the value of the technique, called a ‘cover-wrap’.

The nationally circulated USA Today drew criticism for a pseudo edition of its newspaper distributed at an AIDS conference in Geneva as a promotion for a pharmaceutical company. The Wall Street Journal and other dailies have run partial wrap sleeves around the outsides of their papers.

I’m not sure how the film reviews page rates in real estate terms, but the film producers are in luck significantly less people will have gone for a viewing there, where the film didn’t make quite the same splash.

Fading to Black have an image of the cover here.

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NYTimes.com: Two years on at Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal

December 14th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

The New York Times’ David Carr takes a look at the Wall Street Journal, two years after the paper was sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Under Murdoch, it’s ’tilting rightward’ with a broadening array of news content he says.

“[U]nder Mr. Murdoch’s leadership, the newspaper is no longer anchored by those deep dives into the boardrooms of American business with quaint stippled portraits, opting instead for a much broader template of breaking general interest news articles with a particular interest in politics and big splashy photos.”

Full post at this link…

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BuzzMachine: Carr sounds like an ‘oldies station’

March 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

You could just predict the backlash on this one: David Carr’s latest piece in the NYTimes outlining a dream editorial meeting:

“No more free content. The web has become the primary delivery mechanism for quality newsrooms across the country, and consumers will have to participate in financing the newsgathering process if it is to continue. Setting the price point at free – the newspaper analyst Alan D. Mutter called it the ‘original sin’ – has brought the industry millions of eyeballs and a return that doesn’t cover the coffee budget of some newsrooms.”

And here’s Jeff Jarvis’ take on it over at BuzzMachine:

“David Carr sounds like an oldies station as he replays the same old record about charging for content (hey, Carr, would you please walk down the hall and do some reporting in your own damned building – I’ll give you the phone number for the right person – and find out why your own friggin’ paper made its own good economic decisions to stop charging?!?)”

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LA Times: Micropayments – a rainbow for journalism… or a Hail Mary?

January 14th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

The prospect of micropayments for news raises its head once again. This article follows in the wake of David Carr’s piece in the NY Times, ‘Let’s invent an iTunes for news’ which has been neatly debunked by Paul Bradshaw on his Online Journalism Blog.

Might have worked a few years back, but most agree that horse has already bolted. Full story…

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García Interactive: ‘Death to the free’ – John Duncan on why people should pay

January 13th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Inspired by three online news items (David Carr on NYTimes.com; Gawker’s Nick Denton / Jonah Bloom of AdAge), John Duncan argues on Garcia International that the ‘recession is (ultimately) good for online publishing.’

“There comes a time for most orthodoxies when they just plain run out of doxy,” he writes…”The biggest mistake newspapers made in the internet era was to devalue content by dishing it out for free.”

His point is perhaps clearest in his final paragraph:

“What we are learning now is that a user of a free product does not have remotely the same value as a customer of a paying one.”

Full story…

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