The first half of the Gannett Co. boss’s career was relatively ordinary.
He ran a company that bought up local-monopoly daily newspapers across the country. The papers (including, for a time, the Bellingham Herald and the Olympian) became more “professional,” if blander and more budget-conscious, under Gannett management.
By the late 1970s, Gannett owned papers (and printing presses) near most major metro areas.
That turned out to be the quiet groundwork for Neuharth’s real dream, USA Today.
Launched in 1982, “The Nation’s Newspaper” never completely fulfilled its journalistic promise, to be a paper whose “home town” was the entire country (as opposed to the “media capital” cities of NY/DC).
But it revolutionized domestic newspaper design and organization.
It revived the old newspaper tradition of short, sharp prose and a lively attitude.
It predated the Web with its emphases on graphics and on juxtaposing a wide swath of subject matter.
It became a companion for America’s business-trip nomads, that small but demographically significant caste of people living much of their years between airports and hotels.
It brought out-of-town sports and weather coverage (and snippets of news coverage) to people living far from their old homes and home teams.
And its success led the NY Times to launch national distribution. (For the longest time you could only get the NYT in the Northeast or from specialty out-of-town newspaper stands.)
No, USA Today never met lefty intellectuals’ Platonic ideals for newspapers. (To do that, it would have to have been an NYT clone with semiotics essays added.)
And even by its own standards and ambitions, its front (news) section was usually its weakest part.
But it added a “new voice,” a different set of news priorities, to the national conversation.
via jerry beck at indiewire.com
via seattle bike blog
So much has been written already about the beloved film critic, TV host, author, Russ Meyer screenwriter, champion of obscure good films, vilifier of stinkeroos, and stoic survivor of one of the worst cancers anybody ever had.
I can only repeat what’s already been said—that Ebert was admirably both a film-lore geek and a populist, a man of aesthetic standards who wasn’t above enjoying (and helping make) down-n’-dirty exploitation, and a great wit.
Here are two pieces of his that have been rediscovered of late.
In the first piece from 2010, he looks back at his post-adolescence, in an era when college administrations still actively attempted to prevent students from having sex.
Then in his 2011 memoir Life Itself, he discusses his completely grody cancer and says, “I do not fear death.” And he explains his political stance:
“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world.
Here are reminiscences of Ebert by two Seattleite members of his longtime blogging team, Jeff Shannon and my ol’ UW Daily staffmate Jim Emerson.
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.
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.
alex nabaum’s 'the evolution of china'
chris lynch, seattlest (2010)
Seattle Weekly now has new owners and a new office in Pioneer Square, not far from where the paper had begun way back in ’75.
And it’s going to have a new publisher and a new editor. Those guys announced their respective departures just after Sound Publishing took over the title.
I’ve sent in my application to be the Weekly‘s next editor.
I told them they shouldn’t consider me if they just wanted someone to supervise more shrinkage, with the occasional formal nod to “social media” and online platforms.
But if they wanted someone who would fight to make the Weekly matter to this city again, I’d be their person.
David Brewster’s original Weekly team vowed to bring us, as one of their ad slogans put it, “the news that actually matters.”
That goal can be revived.
The Weekly can be a lot more than just another freebie collection of entertainment listings and medical-pot ads.
It can be the “grownup” alternative to the Stranger; the seriously progressive alternative to the Seattle Times; the street-wise alternative to KUOW.
Think of the pre-cutback versions of Willamette Week and the NY Observer. Papers that treated their entire cities, and everything that occurred within them, as their “beat.”
Imagine a news/opinion organization that makes the right kind of noise, that afflicts the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, that answers the questions and questions the answers.
Not just another formulaic “alt weekly” but a full service forum where anything can be discussed and there’s always something new.
That’s what I want to help create.
It would be far easier to create that entity from the Weekly‘s existing staff, circulation, and ad accounts.
But if not, then a startup.
People ask what I want to really do with my life. That’s it.
igor keller at hideousbelltown.blogspot.com
via kip w on flickr
comics buyer's guide in 1983; via bleedingcool.com
When I worked at The Comics Journal (foundation of the entire Fantagraphics graphic-novel empire), publisher Gary Groth’s official line was that we were the smart, progressive alternative to the comic-book industry’s”mainstream” trade mag, Comics Buyer’s Guide.
Now, CBG is being shut down after 42 years, without even an ongoing website to remain.
CBG‘s parent company is transferring all CBG subscriptions to an antiques-collecting mag (really). Fantagraphics, however, is offering book discounts to ex-CBG subscribers.
(CBG’s publishers are also firing the editorial staff of another of their mags, Print; that title will continue with HOW magazine’s editors pulling double duty.)
Elsewhere in randomosity: