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‘OREGONIAN’ SHRINKAGE WATCH
Apr 10th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

via charlesapple.com

The Seattle Times hasn’t shrunk much more lately, so we haven’t used our “Seattle Times Shrinkage Watch” meme much lately.

The same can’t be said for the monopoly daily in Portland, the Advance Publications (S.I. Newhouse family)-owned Oregonian.

Like Advance’s New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Oregonian has cut back on home delivery (to four days a week).

Like the T-P and other Advance papers, it’s been corporately reorganized as a “digital first” operation.

Its shrunken newsroom staff has faced a series of management dictates to post at least three online news items per day, to participate in (and start) comment threads for each item, and to eternally chase the Almighty Pageview Count. (As if standard “content site” target analytics from circa 2008 were still valid and could still lead to profits.)

And, as of last week, the print Oregonian is now a tabloid.

They officially call it a “compact” format, but it’s the same approximate page size as the Stranger. (That’s about three-quarters the current page size of the Seattle Times.)

It has (or is capable of having) color on every page. Each section is stapled (though management vows it’s all still fully recyclable).

The acres of national/international wire stories that used to dominate the front section have been slashed into a few stories and digests at the section’s back. Local coverage is still around (including, this week, a series on workplace sexual harassment), but is far more tightly edited.

However, the paper seems to have only dropped one comic strip (Rex Morgan M.D.).

These aren’t the final changes coming to the once-venerable “Big O.”

Like many shrunken daily papers, it’s moving out of its historic headquarters building, into smaller rented office quarters.

And management has told the remaining reporters they’ll soon be judged, and incentivized, for their stories’ online pageview counts and “engagement” statistics.

Expect a lot less boring but important local-paper-of-record stuff and a lot more cute cat pictures.

FIVE YEARS AFTER
Mar 17th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Classic P-I building from my book 'seattle's belltown;' museum of history and industry collection

I left the Missy James post up as this blog’s top item for a month, both to remember her and because I’ve been laser focused on finding paying work.

But it’s time for me to get back to the “writing” thang.

And there’s no more appropriate day to do so than on the fifth anniversary of the last printed Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The city lost a huge chunk of its soul and its collective memory when the Hearst Corp., awash in losses here and in its other print-media operations, pulled the plug on our town’s “second” yet superior daily paper.

There’s been a P-I sized hole in the local media-scape ever since.

Yeah, we’ve got the Seattle Times, albeit a shrunken one (though it’s apparently stopped shrinking any further, at least for now).

We’ve got the StrangerSeattle Weekly, CrosscutPublicola, and SportsPress NW.

We’ve got four local TV news stations (plus NorthWest Cable News), four local radio news stations, and all their respective websites.

We’ve got Seattle magazine, Seattle Met, and CityArts.

We’ve got the Daily Journal of Commerce, the Puget Sound Business Journal, and assorted tech-biz news sites.

We’ve got Horse’sAssSeattlishThe Seattle Star, and dozens of other (mostly volunteer-run) blogs covering local politics, sports, and arts.

And, oh yeah, we’ve got SeattlePI.com.

It’s still run by Hearst. It still has Joel Connelly’s acerbic political commentary, Josh Trujillo’s dramatic photojournalism, and the occasional excellent news story.

But its staff has shrunk to 14 reporters, photographers, and “producers,” down from the 20 it had at its stand-alone start in ’09. That, in turn, was a small fraction of the team the print P-I had.

That’s still a full-time payroll comparable to that of any newsroom in town, except those of the Times and the TV stations.

But it’s stretched thin by the requirement to post dozens of “click bait” and “listicle” stories every day.

Hearst is running PI.com according to the 2009 rules of a “content” web business.

Those rules, which nationally gave us the likes of BuzzFeed and Elite Daily, have proven profitable only among the most sensationalistic and most cheaply run operations that feed either on gossip, noise, or national niche audiences.

It’s no way to run a local general-news operation.

And it’s no way to pay for professional local journalism on a sustainable basis.

But neither Hearst nor any of America’s other old-media giants has figured out a better way.

So it’s become the job of us “street level” bloggers to find new rules, new concepts, to forge a new path beyond the ugly web pages stuff with worthless banner ads. To create the New-New News.

My personal bottom line:

I want a local news organization, staffed by folks who know what they’re doing and who are paid living wages.

I want it to attract an audience at least as loyal (and as willing to help support it) as KUOW’s audience.

I want it to be the first place this audience looks to to learn what’s been going on around here, in the last day or the last hour.

I want it to reach out across subcultures and social strata.

I have collected a few ideas in this regard, a few potential pieces of this puzzle.

And I’d love to hear some of yours.

WE’RE ALL BEZOS ON THIS BUS
Aug 8th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos apparently summoned his inner Charles Foster Kane and decided, “I think it would be fun to run a newspaper.”

For a mere quarter billion (less than some of his fellow one-percenters spend on bigass yachts), Bezos has instantly become a news media powerhouse (of the “old media” persuasion).

Basically that’s all we know at this point.

Some people are suggesting that Bezos might use the WaPo as a bully pulpit for his own national legislative agenda (which may or may not include fewer minimum-wage hikes, sales-tax breaks on online/interstate commerce, and restrictions on book publishers and other suppliers from setting enforced retail prices on products).

Other people are suggesting a Bezos-subsidized WaPo could revive bigtime journalism by relieving it from the need to earn a Wall St.-acceptable profit level.

Still others wonder how someone based in this Washington can effectively lead an institution based in that Washington. Don’t just dismiss these as the typical remarks of Northeast provincialists.

As we’ve mentioned, the WaPo‘s business model has traditionally been that of a local paper whose locality happened to be the nation’s capital. Unlike the NY Times, it had little direct presence beyond the Northeast during the pre-online years, aside from its wire service and its syndicated columnists.

Under Bezos, the WaPo could become a national business; not just a DC/Maryland/Virginia business with national influence. Its website, and future related online products, could become not just greater attractors of “clicks” but greater forums for the big issues of the day.

But where would that leave the local DC news? (Remember, the WaPo originally “broke” the story of the Watergate break-in as a local crime story.)

The less-glamorous, formerly more-profitable half of the WaPo institution needs its own reassurances from the Bezos camp.

PS: The Washington Post Co. will remain under the Graham family, under a new name to be announced later. That company will still include the formerly Microsoft-owned Slate.com, as well as TV stations and the Kaplan educational-publishing outfit.

‘OREGONIAN’ SHRINKAGE WATCH
Jun 25th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

1950 front page via portland.daveknows.com

Imagine a Portlandia sketch about people desperately seeking newspapers.

For dog training and bird cage lining. For papier-maché school crafts projects. For kinetic art pieces and retro fashion ensembles. For Wm. Burroughs-style “cut up” wordplay. For packing objets d’art and eBay shipments.

But there aren’t any newspapers to be had.

Not in the vending boxes. Not in the stores. Not in the attics.

Not even in the landfills—they’ve been picked clean of ‘em.

The citizens are outraged. They form support groups. They exchange tips on where the rare newsprint can still be had.

Of course, they do all of this online.

That’s the scenario I imagined when I heard of the Newhouse/Advance Media chain’s latest cost-cutting spree.

You remember how Advance’s newspapers in Ann Arbor MI, Birmingham AL, and (most famously) New Orleans cut back their print issues to two or three days a week.

The New Orleans operation backtracked. This week it launched a tabloid called T-P Street on the regular Times-Picayune‘s off days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday). The Street papers will be sold in stores and vending boxes, but won’t be home-delivered.

That’s the tactic Advance is taking in Portland.

First, they registered a new corporate name, “Oregonian Media Group,” replacing “Oregonian Publishing Co.”

Then they immediately posted an announcement that claimed the new entity would “expand news and information products in Oregon and Southwest Washington.”

Of course, that “expansion” is really a contraction dressed up in corporate buzz-speak.

The print Oregonian is going newsstand-only three days a week this October, with home delivery offered four days a week. (Home-delivery subscribers will get full digital access to all editions.)

And at least 45 newsroom employees are losing their jobs. That’s about 22 percent of the paper’s current editorial workforce, which in turn is a little over half of its 1990s newsroom strength. Some 50 workers are being canned in other departments.

That reduction might not be the final total; at least a few new hires will replace high-senority people taking severance packages.

If you ask whether the Seattle Times could join the trend of papers only home-delivering part of the time, the answer is “maybe but it’s complicated.”

The Times took over the Everett Herald‘s home-delivery operation. If the now Sound Publishing-owned Herald wants to keep delivering every day, the Times is contractually obligated to do that delivering.

And if the Times has drivers and paperboys/girls in Snohomish and north King counties working every morning, it might as well have them in the rest of King County.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 6/2/13
Jun 2nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

joshua trujillo, seattlepi.com

  • There was a remembrance in Cowen Park marking one year since the Cafe Racer tragedy.
  • Unlike some of the “radicals” fighting against low wages at fast-food joints, I actually patronize fast-food joints. And I want the fine people who prepare my meals to be properly compensated for the fine work they do.
  • The FBI investigated the song “Louie Louie” for two whole years, only to find a simple love lyric made unintelligible.
  • Will legal pot in our society lead, invariably, to corporate pot?
  • To Microsoft’s regret, it just can’t get people to say “Let’s Bing it.”
  • Our ol’ pal Gillian Gaar reports the “Welcome to Aberdeen: Come As You Are” sign might come down.
  • Who, besides “out o’ sight, out o’ mind” NIMBYs, benefits from the suburbanization of poverty?
  • A Cheerios commercial features a nice interracial family. The usual dorks and trolls respond as you’d predict.
  • Lawrence Lessig would like a Democratic Party that’s less beholden to corporate funders.
  • Texas: future Democratic stronghold?
  • Some people will miss making fun of Michelle Bachmann. I won’t.
  • The Chicago Sun-Times, once billed as “Chicago’s Picture Newspaper,” is firing all its photographers.
  • No, Ms. magazine, the 10 most important things American women could not do before the 1970s wold probably really include more important things than “read Ms. magazine.”
  • Istanbul was Constantinople. Now it’s a battleground of democracy vs. shady dealmaking.
  • WikiLeaks dude Julian Assange sees today’s Google as an increasingly reactionary gang of government-butt kissers.
  • Let’s close with a haunting look at a run down (but still open!) tourist site, the Flintstones theme park in Arizona.

messynessychic.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/14/13
May 14th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

factmag.com

  • Somebody thought it would be cool to try to laser-etch a phonograph record onto wood. The result sounds a bit like the early, dial-up-connection versions of RealAudio.
  • Item: Indoor pot growing uses lotsa electricity. Comment: You mean stoners aren’t the purest-O-the-pure eco-saints? Next thing, you’ll be saying electric cars and wood stoves aren’t pure-green either.
  • Oh, Those Kids Today! #1: Monica Guzman insists today’s under-30 folks aren’t entitlement-obsessed narcissists, but rather are “people waking up to their own power and not being willing to compromise it.”
  • Oh, Those Kids Today! #2: Young adults are even driving less than prior generations. How un-American can ya get?
  • The Legislature’s special session could see a Dem-controlled State Senate again. Maybe.
  • Seattle teachers who refused to administer standardized tests have achieved a partial victory.
  • Just last week, we bemoaned the idiotic prose and strained “corporate hip” attitude of KOMO’s “young skewing” local website Seattle Pulp. Now the whole site’s dead, without even leaving its old posts alive.
  • Are the Sonics Back Yet? (Day 126): No. But we should have the final, final answer (for this year at least) on Wednesday. Don’t get your hopes back up. But hold on to the love.
  • Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Plunder thought it would just be keen n’ dandy to play tracks by Sonics-purist and Seattle’s-honor-defender Macklemore in their arena. Nope, no way, uh-uh, no siree bub.
  • Might Microsoft buy Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook hardware operation just to kill it?
  • Amazon’s fledgling in-house book publishing operations might expand to include “literary fiction,” whatever the heck that means anymore.
  • Disappeared local institution we neglected to mention earlier: the Green Lake Baskin-Robbins.
  • Weird crime story of the week: “Woman who killed ex with insecticide-laced Jågermeister pleads guilty.”
  • It’s illegal but it happens anyway: denying employment to people for the sin of being in debt due to being unemployed.
  • Katy Evans at the Tacoma group blog Post Defiance notes how indie live music has become a more complicated, bureaucratic, and problematic biz, especially in towns like hers in the shadow of bigger towns.
  • Seattle Times Shrinkage Watch: The paper’s own reporters have to pay for website subscriptions to their own work. Except they can “opt out” of it if they insist.
  • You remember how the New Orleans Times-Picayune went to only three print issues a week? No more. They’re now putting out newsstand-only editions on the four non-home-delivery days, just like the Detroit papers are.
  • Talking into computers and expecting them to understand you has always been, and apparently will continue to be, little more than a screenwriters’ conceit.
  • Anthony Galluzzo at Salon wants you to stop the hipster-bashing already. He says it’s old, tired, and becoming classist.
  • Jim Tews, who describes himself as “a decent white male comic,” insists that most white guys performing standup are not sexist boors.
  • No, Rolling Stone readers, Nirvana is not the fifth worst band of the ’90s. That would actually be Sugar Ray.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/9/13
May 9th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • We’ve got to save Metro Transit from the devastating cuts that have decimated Snohomish and Pierce counties’ transit systems. There’s a public forum about it on Tuesday, 5/14, 3 p.m. at Union Station. (Despite the unfortunate, pseudo-snarky tone of the hereby-linked article at KOMO’s SeattlePulp.com, its message is important.)
  • While upscale NIMBYs fight to keep those dirty non-upscale people out of their “clean” neighborhoods via attacks on “aPodments” (the only affordable, non-subsidized housing being built in town these days), the building of mass-produced “exclusive” luxury apartment towers continues unabated.
  • Seattle Weekly Shrinkage Watch: Restaurant reviewer Hanna Raskin (with whom I appeared last year at a MOHAI/Seattle Public Library “History Cafe” panel) has quit, rather than accept a lower-paying job as a “food and drink editor.” Back in the Weekly’s heyday, restaurant reviews were more prominent than any other “culture” category, accounting for almost a quarter of the paper’s cover stories. Now, they might or might not be part of the paper at all. (The Weekly’s also fired its music editor Chris Kornelis.)
  • Meanwhile, the Weekly’s onetime sister paper the Village Voice is down to 20 editorial staffers. Its two top editors received orders from on top to cut five of those positions. Instead, they quit.
  • Amitai Etzioni at the Atlantic claims “the liberal narrative,” which he defines as support for big-government paternalism, “is broken.” No, it isn’t. It’s government itself that’s broken, and only the “liberal narrative” has the means to fix it.
  • Jeanne Cooper, 1919-2013: The dowager “Duchess” of The Young and the Restless had played the same role for just short of 40 years. Before that she’d been in countless westerns and dramas (The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, etc. etc.). Her three kids include L.A. Law/Psych star Corbin Bernsen.
  • In not-at-all-surprising news, YouTube will add paid-subscription channels.
  • Let’s close on a happy note (on the 80th anniversary of Hedy Lamarr’s breakthrough film Ecstasy) with Hysterical Literature, a video project by photographer Clayton Cubitt. In each segment a woman reads from a favorite book while, out of camera range, a second woman gives her a Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator treatment. (NSFWhatever.)

via criminalwisdom.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/7/13
May 7th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

neil hubbard via cousearem.wordpress.com

  • It was 37 years ago this month: The TMT Show, the first faint stirrings of Seattle punk rock culture. May Day of the Bicentennial year. Three bands rented a hall in the Odd Fellows building on Capitol Hill. About 100 people showed up. From these DIY roots sprang, directly or indirectly, all the noise that emanated from this burg ever since.
  • The City Council’s revised South Lake Union rezone: even fewer affordable housing units than Mayor McGinn’s plan, but more preserved Space Needle views for condo owners.
  • The old Seattle Rep space, which became the Intiman Playhouse, is now the “Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.”
  • Ray Harryhausen, 1925-2013: The king of stop-motion animated fantasy was better known than his films’ official directors, for a good reason. Those dudes were simply in charge of the live-action scenes. The filler, if you will. Harryhausen was the films’ real auteur.
  • Ex-Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein sez search engines are getting rich off of the pirated works of fine people such as himself.
  • I’m not so sure that there really is a “Conservative Quest to Eliminate Facts.” It’s more universal than that.
  • It’s not so much that the tech companies listed in one woman’s Tumbler blog “Only Hire Men,” but that they seem to presume only men will even apply to work there.
  • Dear Crowdfunders: Millionaire celebrities and billionaire media titans don’t need your Kickstarter money. Really.
  • Even the bosses of America’s hyper-bloated “security” bureaucracy don’t seem to know all that’s in it.
  • Recent “good news” about newspapers’ paid readership (in print and online) seems, in some cases, to be exaggerated.
  • Blogger Mark Manson has “10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America.” Number 5: “The quality of life for the average American is not that great.” Number 6: “The rest of the world is not a slum-ridden shithole compared to us.”
  • Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to remind you Jesus probably neither a corporate lobbyist nor a Tea Partier.
  • The downside of traditional publishing: A Brit lady who writes popular children’s books really wants her publisher to stop putting them inside pink covers. She says pink turns boy readers away and distracts from her stories’ often-serious content.
  • The downside of modern publishing: An American gent who’s written three novels “to good reviews” (if not good sales) tries self-publishing and finds it to be “the worst.”
  • I’d be more interested in Out of Print, Vivienne Roumani’s forthcoming documentary about the digital publishing “disruption,” if the director didn’t seem so obsessed with making everyone younger than herself look like an idiot.
  • Let’s close for today with some wonderful old Greek and Greek-American music from the 78 era.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/8/13
Apr 8th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via seattle bike blog

  • Enterprising citizens calling themselves “Reasonably Polite Seattleites” took it upon themselves to install unauthorized “bicycle lane protectors” (reflective plastic pylons) along Cherry Street uphill from downtown. The city vows to remove them.
  • Seattle police chief John Diaz will retire, allowing Mike McGinn (or perhaps a successor mayor next year) to put in another figurehead for uncontrolled street-cop brutality.
  • In a Belltown where anything non-one-percenty is increasingly out of place (more about that in a day or so), Roq La Rue has been kicked out of its longtime space in the old Film Row RKO distribution offices. Fortunately, Seattle’s premier “pop surrealist” art gallery has found new quarters in Pioneer Square, effective some time this summer.
  • Meanwhile, a Crosscut contributor named Andy Fife asks whether there is a “Seattle arts aesthetic.” Actually, there are several. There’s the “world class or bust” desperate slickness of most of SAM’s big permanent displays. There’s the “rich ex-hippie” mellow slickness of Chihuly and company. There’s the “modern monumentalist” big stuff seen at the G. Gibson and William Traver galleries. There are the house styles of Cornish and Gage and their recent alums. And there’s the “let’s put on a show” urban folk/pop styling of most of my personal faves.
  • New Orleans city bosses apparently want to simultaneously (1) shut down music venues, and (2) promote their city as a live-music tourist destination.
  • NBCNews.com blogger Wilson Rothman claims Apple’s iTunes is “out of date and out of touch.” Specifically, Rothman dislikes the whole idea of having to pay for song recordings. He seems to prefer the Spotify model, in which artists make fractions of fractions of pennies. That’s supposed to be the modern way?
  • Here’s one author who hates the new economics of the book biz—Scott Turow, one of the few writers who’d thrived under the old system.
  • Joshua Macht at the Atlantic claims Time magazine has perhaps three years to live.
  • Hacked computer data shows the global one-percenters are hoarding trillions in secret overseas tax-haven accounts. Leaders of nations other than ours claim to be aghast.
  • The newspaper industry has started measuring revenue from online paywalls and ancillary products/services. The resulting figures show papers are now losing a little less money than previously thought.
  • The death last week of Spanish exploitation-film giant Jess Franco has been followed by the loss of another of that country’s great directors of sex and/or violence, Bigas Luna.
  • Annette Funicello, 1943-2013: The only original Mickey Mouse Club cast member to have a real adult showbiz career was the wholesome sex symbol in the Beach Party movies, and a pop singer of unusual clarity and panache. During her cameo in the Monkees’ film Head, she proved not afraid to parody (without breaking) her squeaky-clean image. She remained gracious and classy, even during her long slow illness.
  • We’ve also lost Les Blank, who directed 42 documentaries of varying lengths and topics (all shot on film). He’s probably best known for Burden of Dreams, the “making-of” film about Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. Many critics considered Blank’s behind-the-scenes story to be more compelling than Herzog’s feature.
  • And another goodbye, this one to Hilly Krystal, influential owner of NYC punk club CBGB. While he opened it as a hippie spot dedicated to “country, blue grass, and blues,” he quickly adjusted to welcome the burgeoning Bowery underground scene. The result was what the New Yorker called “the ultimate garage—the place garage bands everywhere want to play.” (Update: This hereby-linked story is from 2007. Krystal’s still worth remembering nowadays, though.)
  • Femen and associated groups held an “international topless jihad day” across European capitals, though the slogans painted upon themselves seemed to almost all be in English.
  • Ending the drug war was never one of Obama’s top priorities. I suspect it’s because the whole bohemian-relaxation vibe clashed with the striving-for-progress zeitgeist that informed Obama’s worldview. But, as with gay marriage, he may be soon forced to act by a groundswell of popular opinion.
  • The Nielsen ratings now claim there are 5 million “zero television” households in the U.S., up from a mere 2 million in ’07. (The “kill your television” “radicals” will, naturally, completely ignore this information.)
  • Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s minions threaten to pull the Fox broadcast network off of over-the-air stations (including affiliates tied up in long-term contracts) and go cable-only, unless the courts outlaw a service to stream local over-the-air stations to local viewers via Internet connections.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/2/13
Apr 2nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • My ol’ colleague Art Chantry’s got a poster design listed as “object of the day” by the Smithsonian’s design museum. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
  • One Reel wasn’t making an April Fool’s joke when it said it hadn’t rounded up enough sponsorship for a Fourth of July fireworks show.
  • Metro Transit is in deep fiscal muck, again. It needs the Legislature’s help. Only the Legislature’s been taken held hostage by deliberate gridlockers.
  • It’s that time of the year again, the time when we get to say the Mariners are 1.000.
  • SeattlePI.com Shrinkage Watch: Four years after the death of the Post-Intelligencer, Ernie Smith at Medium.com looks at the paper’s online-only successor and sees “a shell of its former self” heavy with “ad-covered wire copy”:

Here’s a company that had a four-year head start to reinvent its model, its journalism, and its overall mission. And here’s what the business side has apparently been doing the whole time — figuring out new ways to run advertising on top of advertising on top of advertising… It shows how bereft of ideas the business side is for making money from journalism on the Internet.

  • Can video game heroine Lara Croft be revamped to look less, well, gratuitious?
  • Jiffy Mix, a good cheap product from a good responsible company.
  • Tim Goodman at the Hollywood Reporter believes “the TV industry needs its version of Steve Jobs.” If there really were another Jobs out there (a polymath genius who can grok tech hardware, software, design, marketing, and management simultaneously), he or she would likely be working on ways not to save the TV industry as we know it but to further “disrupt” it (I know, a horrid term for a horrid phenomenon).
RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/22/13
Mar 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • When bad covers happen to good novels….
  • The (beautiful) wooden Elvis statue outside Mama’s Mexican Kitchen was stolen. We who all adore it need it back.
  • Every now and then, civic boosters talk about bringing the Olympic Games to Seattle. Such efforts have traditionally been quashed quickly by locals worried about traffic and local-government subsidies. But this time (for the 2024 Summer Games), could the boosters have the upper hand over the NIMBYs?
  • City Councilmember Richard Conlin says housing for poor people should be kept in the south end, away from all the nice-upscale people.
  • (Meanwhile, it’s good to remember that America’s urban ghettos were the historic result of specific policy/planning decisions. Do an online search for “redlining” and “blockbusting” to learn more.)
  • “Tiny houses” are all the rage in certain circles. But wanting to plop one down inside a city, well that’s news.
  • At least one ESPN pundit predicts the Seattle Mariners will be “this year’s surprise team.” In recent years, as you know, the M’s have provided too many of the wrong kind of surprises.
  • Wash. state is Number One! (In making higher education unaffordable, that is.)
  • Seattle teachers’ protest against standardized testing has reached the eyes and ears of the New Yorker, which notes that this particular test is not used so much to evaluate students as it is to evaluate the teachers themselves.
  • The Catholic Northwest Progress, the regional archdiocese newspaper, is the latest grave in the print-media cemetery. The paper’s incessantly anti-gay-marriage stance probably didn’t help.
  • The years-in-the-promising Bell Street “boulevard park” project is finally starting construction. When it’s done, Bell will have one lane of traffic and one lane of parallel parking; the rest of the right-of-way will be extended sidewalks and planters.
  • The thing about the Vancouver BC company’s inadvertently see-thru yoga slacks: The women who attend these classes and wear these clothes are often trying to show off their figures, not to men but to other women, not to attract desire but admiration/envy. But that doesn’t work if the “exposure” is too blatant.
  • In the ten years since the Iraq War, the buildup to same, and the almost unquestioned media cheerleading for same, have we learned anything (except to distrust the media)?
  • In the Internet era, news readers have umpteen sources for big national/global stories, but far fewer people reporting local events or investigating local dirt.
  • Montana may make roadkill legal to eat: On tonight’s dessert menu, chocolate moose.
  • After testing the waters in commercial book genres (romance, mystery, etc.), Amazon’s getting into the “literary” book racket.
  • While the “people of the book” were making their usual noisy gripes that everything was going to hell, independent bookstores have staged a quiet comeback.
  • Speaking of naysaying the naysayers, Bono would like you to know that many worldwide trends (poverty, AIDS, etc.) are actually on a positive swing these days.
  • Is Jay Leno finally being pushed into retirement? For real this time?
  • Urban-planning pundit Richard Florida made big bucks from instructing cities how to pursue “the creative class.” Now he says (sort of) that that doesn’t work.
  • Following Chris Ware’s acclaimed Building Stories, local art-book press Marquand Books is putting out another “box set” graphic novel, containing objects of different sizes and shapes telling one meta-narrative. It’s The Magician, by onetime Dallas arts promoter Chris Byrne. It’s an ultra-limited-edition product. Its artistic ambitions, if anything, are greater than those of Ware’s work.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/14/13
Mar 14th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Are the Sonics Back Yet? (Day 65): No. But the would-be team buyers and arena developers have posted conceptual art of the proposed arena’s interior. It’s got a steep seating bowl and three “Sonics Rings” around the upper levels. Yes, it’s intended to be loud.
  • Damning With Faint Praise Dept.: The Financial Times claims Boeing investors are not as “narrow-minded” as the company itself “(mostly) is.”
  • I won’t be the new Seattle Weekly editor. (They didn’t even email me back.) Instead, they’re poaching Mark Baumgarten from CityArts.
  • Meanwhile, John Roderick’s Weekly manifesto, “Punk Rock Is Bullshit,” has drawn national attention. Blogger Marianne Spellman calls Roderick’s piece an example of “how to get everything spectacularly wrong.”
  • The latest gravestone in the print-media cemetery belongs to an “alt-weekly” pioneer, the venerable Boston Phoenix.
  • You know the new Pope is just as anti-gay and anti-contraception as his predecessors. You might not know he was a serious collaborator with Argentina’s ruthlessly homicidal former junta.
  • Today’s lesson in the folly of marketing products “For Women” is brought to you by a Dubai computer company. It’s selling a tablet device called the Femme, pre-loaded with shopping and dieting apps.
  • 3D printing, that latest tech craze, isn’t quite up to the hype. Yet.
  • Hostess snacks may again be made soon. Probably not in Seattle, though. That property’s just too developer-lucrative now.
  • Three devoted fans have a dream, to rebuild the bridge set from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Even though they don’t have a place to put it.
  • Bob Woodward’s John Belushi bio, according to a guy who re-tracked-down its sources, got most of its facts right but still got the bigger picture all wrong.
  • In the Japanese tsunami of 2011, an historic forest on the country’s coastline fell—except for a single tall, thin tree. That tree eventually succumbed a year later, because its ground water had become too saline. But it’s remembered in a monumental plastic-and-metal sculpture, “Miracle Pine.” (The scaffolding in this image will be removed before the official unveiling.)

architizer.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/12/13
Mar 12th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Garance Franke-Ruta at the Atlantic wishes U.S. feminist demonstrators had more dignified, less confrontational visual icons under which they could march. Symbols like “Columbia,” the historic female representation of the nation/continent/hemisphere. Of course, there’s this little matter about how this icon is now best known as a movie-studio logo—now owned by Sony….
  • Are the Sonics Back Yet? (Day 63): No. But Chris Hansen is taking names for a “priority ticket” waiting list.
  • Do you wanna believe Knute Berger, who mourns the pending loss of certain local architectural landmarks to developers and their megabucks lawyers? Or David Moser at Citytank, who believes higher-density urban neighborhoods are the only way to keep lower-income folk from being shoved out to costly, car-dependent suburbs?
  • Richard McIver, 1942-2013: The 12-year Seattle City Council vet, who was the lone “token black” on the district-less council, was a regular champion for civil-rights issues and for neighborhoods the city often took for granted. And he made a great foil for Grant Cogswell.
  • Military officials don’t like a proposal in the state legislature to let “payday loan” companies trot out even more predatory lending products (which are often, but not solely, aimed at troops and their families).
  • Yep, police still don’t want police reforms. But they insist it’s a “labor issue.”
  • The Center School can again teach its “Citizenship and Social Justice” class. But the school district has imposed vague, unspecified restrictions on how it can be taught.
  • Meanwhile, Ta-Nehishi Coates wants to remind you that even “good people” can turn out to be racists.
  • Fret not, Tiffany Willis claims: America is irreversably “becoming more liberal.”
  • Cord Jefferson at Gawker believes when journalism is only open to people who don’t need a paycheck, only people who already have money will be journalists; and, possibly, only stories of interest to people who already have money will be reported.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/6/13
Mar 6th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

scarfolk.blogspot.co.uk

  • Some clever Brits have devised “Scarfolk,” a blog of made-up historical artifacts from a fictional (and dreary as hell) English town. Along the way, they have a lot of fun with ’60s-’70s UK graphic design.
  • An “alternative taxidermy” artist from Tacoma will appear on a reality-TV show on Thursday evening.
  • Also on Thursday, a Belltown boudoir-photography studio’s holding a “donate a bra” night to help clothe the needy.
  • The next big Seattle Schools scandal: alleged racial double standards in student discipline.
  • The secret ingredient of Seattle hiphop just might be Pho.
  • Local stoners might want to drag out their right-wing grandparents’ “Get US Out of the UN” signs.
  • Another year, another threat of no Fourth of July fireworks unless big donations pour in.
  • Perhaps 60 Everett Herald print/distro workers will lose their jobs as Sound Publishing (which already has its own Everett printing plant) takes over the paper.
  • The Atlantic, supposedly one of the “success stories” of legacy print media in the Internet age, is not above asking writers to work for free.
  • Staged readings from Lolita are in hot water in Russia, thanks to the Putin regime’s calculated drive to demonize liberals and Westerners “for the benefit of a poorer, older, more rural voter base.” Hmm, that sounds familiar….
  • It’s a “golden age for corporate profits.” Just not for the rest of us.
  • Get ready for North Pole ship crossings, thanks to that climate change that billionaires pay Republicans to claim doesn’t exist.
  • Australia’s “multiethnic” TV channel goes to the lands surrounding the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and finds tales of horror and survival.
  • Peggy Orenstein notes that the “Disney Princess” characters, and their counterparts in other fictional universes, aren’t really about waiting for a prince as they are about vanity and shopping:

No, today’s princess is not about romance: it’s more about entitlement. I call it “girlz power” because when you see that “z” (as in Bratz, Moxie Girlz, Ty Girlz, Disney Girlz) you know you’ve got trouble. Girlz power sells self-absorption as the equivalent of self confidence and tells girls that female empowerment, identity, independence should be expressed through narcissism and commercialism.

‘SEATTLE TIMES’ SHRINKAGE WATCH
Mar 4th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

editorandpublisher.com

Former Seattle Times staffer Glenn Nelson has thoughts of his own about the paper’s pending online paywall (or, as he calls it, its “digital tin cup”).

Nelson mentions how, following his Times years, he served in several “subscription-model Internet startups.”

At those places, Nelson kept fretting that the Times would suddenly wake up and smell the digital coffee, then trot out online products based on the vast manpower the paper had (at the time) in sports, entertainment, food, and business coverage, and in photojournalism. (Nelson doesn’t think a better Times local-news site would have mattered, because “general news already was being rendered a commodity on the Internet.”)

These sites, had they been created, would have blown away any indie-startup competition.

But they never showed up.

Meanwhile, news-biz pundit Alan D. Mutter dissects why many people under the age of 45 don’t like print newspapers. It’s because they’re just too inconvenient to have around.

Mutter quotes venture-capital exec Mary Meeker as claiming…

…that young people don’t want to own CDs, haul around books, buy cars, carry cash, do their own chores, or be committed to a full-time job. Instead, they use their smartphones to buy, borrow, or steal media; rent shared cars at home and book shared rooms when they travel; hire people to buy groceries or cut the grass; and use apps from Starbucks and Target to pay for lattes and redeem coupons. Many of the digital natives even prefer short-term gigs that allow them to arrange their work around their life, rather than arrange their life around their work.

Actually, many younger (and older) adults would like full time jobs if there were any around to be gotten. But that’s beside the point here.

More important is Mutter’s observation that…

…The warmed-over digital fare offered by the typical newspaper falls well short of the expectations of two whole generations of consumers who are not only empowered by technology but also damn well sure of how to get what they want.

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