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July 31 2011

20:28

Peter Preston: Murdoch could let the News of the World rise again

Guardian :: The Sunday circulation market before closure of News of the World averaged around 9m national paper copies sold. The market last week, without the Screws, seems to be almost the same; say 8.9m. Who's gained? - The Sunday Mirror most all, up some 900,000 to just over 2m, but the Mail on Sunday has netted 400,000-plus, and the People and Star perhaps 450,000 each. Add in a boost for the Sunday Express and modest ripples of gain for virtually every other title and two conclusions seem inescapable.

[Peter Preston:] Rupert Murdoch, on his record and to his credit, hates closing papers. He'd rather sell them than fold them. So why – having gained nothing but pain from this shutdown – doesn't he put the News of the World up for sale?

Continue to read Peter Preston, www.guardian.co.uk

April 23 2011

18:22

When I was the ghoulish gawker

princess-di people coverBy popular demand (well, one tweet), here’s the tale of my journalistic function during the last big royal wedding, of Chuck to Di.

At People magazine, I was assigned to write obits for the couple in case an IRA attack struck the wedding. Recall that London still fell victim to sporadic terror and there was no greater symbol of British rule than its crown. It also helped that People’s editor then, Pat Ryan, came from an Irish family and was ever aware of the great struggle.

It happened to be that the wedding occurred on the morning People went to press. So I wrote, as I remember, variations on the theme: Charles dead, Diana dead, both dead. The obits were set in type on pages with appropriately fond photos. The pages were made into plates that were set aside the presses. If the worst happened, the order could go out — “Stop the presses!” — so the plates could be installed quickly and deliveries to the newsstand would be hardly delayed.

All that was missing were the facts of the event, if it happened. So I had to be at work criminally early that morning, sitting in Pat’s office, watching the wedding, ready to write a tight lede with whatever horrific details ensued so that could be set in type (typesetters — how quaint — awaited) and a new black plate could be transmitted to the plant (where the other colors awaited).

Why me? I was a newspaper guy and thus the fastest writer in sight. Magazine people looked down their noses at us newspaper people. We weren’t up to their high gloss, rough-hewn tradesmen that we were. When I applied at People, they were dubious, having never hired the likes of me. They insisted on a tryout and, though insulted, the boyhood dream of conquering Gotham beckoned, and so I acquiesced. The first morning, I was given a reporters’ notes and turned them into 120 lines of trivialized type by lunch. I asked for the next; they had nothing. Next day, same routine and ditto for the rest of the week. At the end, they hired me. My boss at the San Francisco Examiner, Jim Willse, said at the news of my departure for New York: “What, tired of journalism?”

Upon my arrival at People, another grizzled vet, Cranston Jones (there were two Joneses at People, neither a Bob; the other was Landon — one Princeton, the other Yale) pulled me aside and roundly scolded me for my tryout. “Don’t you ever do that again!” he instructed. I was ignorant as to my sin — and afraid to ask more — until a writers’ meeting soon afterwards, where Pat told us all that we had to do be more efficient and get up to writing one story a week. Five a week was, you see, unheard of.

I was a newspaper guy. I’d learned to write fast. As a rewriteman (sorry, not a rewriteperson), I used to write on “half books” — half-sized sheets of paper and carbon paper. We’d write a graph at a time and then — ah, this was my very favorite part of newspapering — yell “COPY!” and the poor slob one year younger and one rung down from me would have to run over to tear the book apart and distribute copies around the newsroom so the process at the heart of newspapering — the sacred production timetable — could get a head start on editing and typesetting and composing my fine opus.

I remember working rewrite on an Indiana prison break at the Chicago Tribune when I turned to the news editor, Ralph Hallenstein, to ask how much more he wanted. Ralph never stopped smoking. He’d fill a large ashtray every night, and until their game was discovered, the editors on the next shift held a “ghoul’s pool” and counted Ralph’s butts. Ralph died of lung cancer. When I asked Ralph this night, he took a pneumatic drag of his cigarette, exhaled three-alarms’ worth of smoke, and rasped over at me, “Find the nearest period.”

That’s how I learned to be fast. When computers came in, that didn’t change. I was the first the newsroom to use them because, as I sat on the midnight shift in 1973 waiting for someone in Chicago to die a horrible death so I could write a story under the rotating slugs “slash,” “crash,” “slay,” or “burn,” I was bored and started using the strange green-eyed monsters that scared everyone else (that, you see, is how I came to like technology and that’s what got me here today). Even on computers and to this day I write fast so I know I can finish in time and so I have a structure and then I use all the time available to edit. I edit more than I write. (Except sometimes on this blog when I just hit “publish” because, what the hell, I can always edit later. That explains the abundance of typos you find — evidence of my fallible humanity.)

So anyway, I sat there that morning on the 29th floor of Time Inc.’s building, staring at Pat’s surprisingly small TV in her office, taking notes to have ready the kinds of specifics Time Inc. editors so loved to jam into sentences like falafels into a pita: Don’t just tell me the bomb exploded the carriage; tell me the color of the horseman’s bloodied hat. But nothing happened, thank goodness.

As soon as the wedding was over, as I recall, the plates were ordered destroyed so no one would see what pessimists we were. At a newspaper or wire service, writing obits in advance is good form. It’s an honor, even: Your impending demise is worthy of a timely report made ready and held for release — “HFR” is boldly written atop such copy. I wish I were important enough to have an HFR obit done of me. Indeed, I’ve long said that the only fringe benefit of working for a newspaper is getting your obit in it. Except now I may outlast papers. Obits are at the heart of what newspapers do.

But at a magazine — even People magazine — writing an HFR obit for HRH was seen as rather distasteful. Actually, for a long time, magazines weren’t fond of death. Time Inc.’s publications didn’t believe in death as a cover story until John Lennon made it into People’s cover and sold like mad. Soon, People was obsessed with that I’ve called bodily fluids journalism: the diseases, affairs, births, and deaths of the famous. I joked that we should have just changed the name to Dead People magazine.

Sixteen years and many, many People covers later, Diana did die. And now, 30 years after the wedding I didn’t cover, William and Kate are to be wed. That’s what led me to Twitter this morning to recall my macabre duty way back when. I was saying how little I care about this event — as, I think, is the case with most Americans. Still, networks and magazines will demand we give a shit and spend a fortune doing so. I dared disdain the royals in a tweet and — it took only a minute for Brits to fall into my trap — I was scolded by those who said they cherish the royals as symbols of endurance. I see them as symbols of privilege. I prefer symbols of change and opportunity.

But still, I wish William and Kate a happy and lovely marriage … and long lives.

August 05 2010

16:06

People you meet on the road…

…are as varied as the places you pass through. Each of these folks has a story to tell or a story in them. Let’s tally up our chance encounters over the past week or so.

Day One was a long day…from my place in California’s great agricultural Central Valley to Newell’s digs in the gold grubbing historic foothills and then over the Sierra Nevada range to the endless dry miles of the Nevada desert, champing on flatbread sandwiches and fresh grapes (thanks Newelly) as we watched the white lines whiz by. The next morning Newell looked out the window of the Motel 6 room and spotted an elephant just outside. Not for real – but a metal sculpture belonging to a friendly hobbit of a man with a trailer load of metal artfully formed into elephants and other animals. He’s from Jackson, California – between our home bases.

Day Two we wake up in a KOA campground in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Being a couple of wusses (with a lot of expensive equipment) we decided to take shelter the night before in a cabin rather than tent. To protect out gear (and that’s our story). Morning found Newell happily working away on her computer (yeah for Internet on the trail!!) while I rustled up a hearty breakfast of steak and fried potatoes – way too much for the likes of us, so we knocked on the door of our neighboring cabin and invited MarthaVan (short for Martha Van Inwegen) over to help us demolish our meal. Martha is in our age range and had traveled from working at a TV station (marketing) through various businesses and now is on the road herself marketing her line of personal products – destination this week was Butte, Montana for a mountain bike race. She tossed a couple of samples our way to experiment with – and they do a wonderful job of erasing the grease and grim of being on the road all day.

Friday through Monday had us meeting different batches, since we were at our respective relations’ homes. I swear I met more teens, pre-teens, and munchkins than there are in the entire state of Wyoming at my sister’s place. Well, maybe only ten or so, ranging from about three to young adult. But the one time we crowded into Jeanie’s living room for a potluck meal we were toe to toe and hip to hip as we ate.
A great group…they offered to take me horseback riding (too late in the day, sorry…maybe next time) and I whizzed them through two months of lessons in two days. No kidding – a bright batch with a passion for grabbing information and turning it around and making it their own. Of course it didn’t hurt that I only had a few pupils rather than the normal 35-45.
Newell settled in with her brother and his son…both of them typical back country rugged mountain men with the kind of charm only found in those who honestly enjoy their own existence and sharing it. While I left my family with hugs and kisses…Newell tossed extra baggage into the van. Yep, she went fishing and hiking and that bag is packed with fish and game (the fish she caught…the game courtesy of her brother’s freezer).

Day Six was uneventful as far as meeting folks went. From Wyoming to Pocotello, Idaho. There was a nice young man who checked us in at the campground and that was about it.

Day Seven…our second longest day. We landed at an RV park in Burns, Oregon and had just settled in when a group of young guys pedaled and drove in and set up camp near us. Turns out they were a group of Tennesseans and Texans who were doing a marathon coast to coast bicycle trip in support of aid and to draw attention to the Nashville flooding. So there we were – the two of us editing and trying to get online (don’t ask, it was abysmally slow) and them setting up tents, shooting interviews with each other, editing and relaxing.

Day Eight – I made waaayyyy too much coffee so sent the pot their way and they finished it off (hate to waste good food) and we were on the road again…this time to Adin California. The Newell guys have a cabin in the area where they go to do manly things and we got caught up in the spirit. I’ve shot handguns, but this was the first time since I was a kid I can remember using a rifle (only a 22). Pow! Pow! Another pine cone or can hits the dust!
The memorable folks this day were the gang at The Only Frosty In Town. Everyone there said hi to us and they meant it. Why did we stop there? Well in the Newell family the first person to spot Mount Shasta on the way to the cabin earns a cold treat courtesy of the other traveler(s) – and that was me since Newell was driving.

Day Nine and our final day on the road. Last night we stayed at the High Country Inn, Susanville. Wow. Big beds with fresh sheets and the first real hot shower on the trip (yeah, some of the places we stayed had showers which varied from dibbles to those wonderful changes from perfect to scalding to chilly without warning). I feel spoiled. Fast Internet, air conditioner.
Got up and had breakfast at the Sage Hen restaurant where we met our (first) person of the day – the newest waitress on duty. She took our orders carefully and returned with a perfect breakfast, only making a slight mistake when Kathy got the over hard egg (that’s me) and I got her over easy egg. Everything was forgotten as we inhaled the fluffy pancakes, perfectly cooked sausage and other tidbits.

We’ll be on the road in a bit and home tonight where I’ll finish this posting. The purpose of all this is to remind you that everyone you meet can become a posting or a visual story. Whether they be strangers met in passing or lifelong relatives…look for those stories that give your audience insight into how others live.

This posting written by me with a LOT of assistance from Kathy Newell who can remember details I often forget.

Happy trails to you…


February 22 2010

08:43

Entertaining The People Through Different Movies

FUN AND ENTERTAINMENTENTERTAINING THE PEOPLE THROUGH DIFFERENT MOVIESAfter a long work we want to take rest and relax our self and make free from every thing. I found one of the best things is Fun and Entertainment the name behind is to entertain us by movies in which different Film star & Playback Singer, Brand Management, Corporate Shows, Website Design & Development, Event Management, Celebrity Management, Product Launches, Fashion Show, Orchestra, Ghazals, Media Services, Foreign Artist, Internet Marketing,etc. national and international film movies entertain the people and to satisfy them. MUSIC PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN OUR DAILY LIFEMusic is one of the most beautiful things that we can feel through our hearts. Music is played by different instrument such as piano, guitar etc. the instruments played by the different people make us to entertain and feel relax from your daily works. Music played by different Playback Singer entertains you and feel that we are in other world for some time. DIFFERENT MUSIC ENTERTAINED TO THE PEOPLE THROUGH ONLINE Music may be either classical or pop music . depending on the people choice the music is entertained to you at your door step through online. And now certain free discount coupons available to you through online.

Fun and Entertainment the name behind is to entertain us by movies in which different Film star & Playback Singer, Brand Management, Corporate Shows, Website Design & Development, Event Management, Celebrity Management, Product Launches, Fashion Show, Orchestra, Ghazals, Media Services, Foreign Artist, Internet Marketing,etc. national and international film movies entertain the people and to satisfy them. I found one of the best sources to make people free from their work and relax them by entertaining them. One of the best site I had visited is deals365. us

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December 02 2009

08:37

#WANIndia2009: Making money – ‘Our world is not only editorial, it feeds business’

Some interesting examples of how publishers are branching out into e-commerce were given at this morning’s opening session of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN)/World Editors Forum (WEF) conference by Iñaki Palacios and Francisco Amaral, directors of design firm Cases I Associats.

The pair advocated ‘monetising the channel not the content’ when it comes to charging online and looking at how e-commerce can be brought in.

Italian sports newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport, for example, has recently launched Gazzatown: an online shop that requires registration, which originally sold football goods but now has expanded to other sports products.

“Our world is not only editorial it feeds business,” said deputy editor, Gianni Valenti in a video clip in the presentation.

“Having a strong brand name gives a guarantee – it is the only way of overcoming fears that people have of buying online.”

Gazetta dello Sport website

Neatly illustrating his point, Valenti said adding a newly-signed football player’s shirt shortly after his transfer has been announced during the transfer window was particularly important, for example.

Elsewhere People.com’s editorial team has produced videos featuring style tips and filled its online shop with related purchases – for example, highstreet clothing matching a celebrity’s outfit.

All coverage of #WANIndia2009 from Journalism.co.uk can be found at this link.

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