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By Mark Jurkowitz

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Have You Seen the Globe Today?
Wanna know how aggressive the Times Co./Globe is about recruiting new readers? Check out this blog posting by Steve Gosset. (Scroll down to second item.)
Union in Lawrence?
It may or may not be a coincidence. But shortly after the paper was acquired by the Alabama-based CNHI company, editorial employees at The Eagle-Tribune in Lawrence are taking steps toward unionizing.

According to officials at the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston, that organization has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to represent the Eagle-Trib journalists after getting "a request from a substantial majority of the employees." The paper's management declined to voluntarily recognize the union and a company representative told Media Log there would be no comment on the unionizing effort.

If a union drive succeeds, it would cover about 80 newsroom employees, according to a Guild spokesman.
Libel Case to the Jury
There's been next to no publicity about this, but a libel suit involving the Boston Herald's Tom Mashberg is heading toward its conclusion in Barnstable Superior Court. The paper has been sued by a veterinarian who was the subject of a 1995 Mashberg story suggesting he was negligent in the death of a pet dog, in part, because he was out playing golf when the dog's owners were seeking treatment.

Media Log was unable to reach the lawyers for either side. But a Herald spokeswoman said the case is expected to go to the jury today. In the meantime, the Herald has not yet decided whether to appeal February's $2-million-plus libel award to Judge Ernest Murphy. The paper has a few more weeks to make up its mind whether to challenge the Suffolk County jury's verdict, which caught a number of media observers by surprise.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Anderson in for Aaron
Can't say I'm gonna miss him. TVWeek.com is reporting that rising star and hurricane hero Anderson Cooper will be replacing Aaron Brown in the 10 o'clock time slot on CNN. I never really got Brown and several years ago, wrote this about him for the Boston Globe:


On paper, CNN "Newsnight" anchor Aaron Brown has some good qualities. He is bright, even cerebral. He has a smooth set of pipes that are easy on the ears. He often asks smart, layered questions that go beyond the obvious. But as was the case in the days after the attacks on Sept. 11, the war on Iraq is again proving that he is just too studied, too enigmatic, and frankly, too weird, to be anchor material.

Brown's mannerisms - the subtle lip bite, the fingers playing at the corners of his mouth, the Mona Lisa-like smile - can seem contrived, even inopportune. And he is not well served by sitting next to retired General Wesley Clark, a CNN military analyst. Crisp, focused, and direct, Clark is the antidote to Brown's pregnant pauses, quizzical looks, and at times, languorous pacing. On Sunday, after a rather heated exchange with an Al-Jazeera journalist, a flustered Brown could only utter this mysterious passage: "On we go. General Clark, apparently it's going to be a night."

One of CNN's frustrations has been its elusive search for a marquee anchor. Maybe the network thought it landed one when it imported Brown from ABC in 2001. But with the possible exception of Dan Rather, no anchor can be more annoyingly self-conscious.

Theo, Larry, Dan, Tony Mazz...Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!
"Mark, where the hell ARE you on the Shaughnessy thing????"

That's the question that was posted on Media Log today with the soap opera "As the Sox Turns" in full swing. Boy, this is a doozy.

Red Sox Nation is in turmoil, looking for someone to blame. The Globe -- which appears to have gotten the big Theo signing story wrong in a manner reminiscent of the Herald's infamous "White Will Run" headline -- is under fire for its corporate connections to the Old Towne Team. If you check out the blogosphere, it looks like the posse has just about arrived at Dan Shaughnessy's house with the rope. (Now it's just looking for a tall tree nearby.) The Herald is now whacking the Globe/Times Co. around but good for its ownership stake in the Sox and the impact on its journalism and credibility. And meanwhile, the saga is dominating the front pages like it's 9/11 redux. The players are barking, the fans are howling and the TV trucks are lined up on Yawkey Way. All this over the fate of a baseball general manager.

Now, here's the answer to the post on Media Log. I am keeping my powder dry, watching, reporting and preparing to do a major piece on this in next week's (not this week's) dead tree version of the Phoenix. This drama raises a lot of meaty issues and has not played itself out yet. So despite the powerful temptation to weigh in online, I'm going to turn old media and defer to others for now. In fact, the reaction of the blogosphere is part of the story I will ultimately be writing.

For those trying to keep up with events, I would recommend Dan Kennedy's blog as a good clearinghouse.

P.S. -- Speaking of the Globe's sports section, did anyone notice today that in the box scores for the new NBA season, the paper is including both minutes and seconds under the minutes played stat line? So last night, Allen Iverson played 50 minutes and 26 seconds, according to the paper. Talk about too much information.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mapes Responds
If you want a first peek at fired "60 Minutes II" producer Mary Mapes's version of what happened after last September's ill-fated report on George Bush's service record, here's an excerpt of her upcoming book in Vanity Fair that was posted on the Poynter site.

Two of the more memorable passages: "I must answer the bloggers, the babblers and blabbers, and the true believers who have called me everything from a 'feminazi' to an 'elitist' liberal to an 'idiot.'"

And "I didn't know that the attack on our story was going to be as effective as a brilliantly run national political campaign, because that is what it was: a political campaign. I didn't know that we were being bombarded by an army of Bush backers with different divisions, different weapons, and different techniques, but always the same agenda: Kill the messenger."
You Look Fabulous
Boston magazine created quite a stir earlier this year when its list of 100 most powerful local people included just one person of color. But there's obviously a difference between being powerful and being fabulous. Because the current November issue lists "the fabulous 40" -- which is defined as "a celebration of Bostonians who possess a combination of panache, self-confidence, exuberance, career success, fashion sense, and singular looks." Thumbing through that feature, one will find many fabulous folks of color. (A photo of Sox slugger David Ortiz leads the feature.)

Who knows? Some of them may one day morph over to the power broker list.
Carroll Coming to Shorenstein Center
Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy confirms that former Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll (scroll down for bio) -- who left that paper amid reports of philosophical disagreements with the Tribune Co. -- will be landing in Cambridge soon.

According to Jones, the highly respected Carroll has been invited to spend a semester as a Shorenstein fellow starting in January. But there's a also a possibility he may end up with a year-long stint at the center as a Knight Visiting Lecturer, pending approval of the Knight Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government.

Ironically, Carroll almost ended up in Cambridge five years ago when he was set to succeed Bill Kovach as curator of The Nieman Foundation. But he took the L.A. Times job instead, and Harvard then tapped Bob Giles, who has proved to be a controversial choice, for the coveted post. See Sept. 16 "Don't Quote Me",
Andelman's Legacy
This post on Media Log by AmusedbutInformedBystander about sports talker Eddie Andelman's impact said it much better than I did. So if you missed it...
Eddie's influence runs beyond just sports talk, it influenced all sports coverage. The irreverance of the early Sports Huddle seemed to clear the way for all media to recognize that the stodgy sports emperor was naked -- in newspaper game stories and columns as much as sports talk; the game stores evolved from Jack Barry and Roger Britwell to Bob Ryan and Peter Gammons; the columnists evolved from the Larry Claflins to the likes of Leigh Montville; talk shows evolved from the WHDH 'Voice of Sports' to the Big Show. Eddie doesn't get all the credit, but when it comes to adopting an irreverant attitude toward the cult of sports (and not the merely vicious attitude of Dave Egan), Eddie led the way.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Is it Sign Off for Andelman?
This Globe story today makes one wonder if Eddie Andelman is finished on Boston radio. If that's the case, we'll take a look at his remarkable career another time.

Yes, Eddie had lost six inches off his fastball in recent years. But he was a godfather of sports talk in this town -- a funny, innovative, creative, ingenious radio talker who infused sports with an infectious humor and enthusiasm. Long before WEEI's testosterone-laden "guy talk" formula came to dominate the market, Eddie was a huge star in the business.
Fitzgerald Speaks
Because of previous commitments, I was unfortunately unable to catch prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's long awaited moment on the public stage today. In case you want it, here's a transcript of his remarks courtesy of the New York Times.

And not that it means much, but here's one pretty positive review of his performance.

These excerpts on the subject of forcing Judy Miller to testify, included in an Editor & Publisher piece, will not convince a lot of First Amendment advocates that Fitzgerald is on the side of the angels. But at least he didn't sound like he enjoyed putting journalists in the hoosegow:
Asked about the role played by New York Times reporter Judith Miller in the probe, Fitzgerald said he wished "Ms. Miller did not spend one second in jail. ... No one wanted to have a dispute with the New York Times or anyone else. I would have wished nothing better if no one would have gone to jail. I was not looking for a First Amendment showdown."

But he added: "The only way you can do an investigation like this is to talk to reporters. ... I had to make judgments and do my job and not walk away if I think a crime of obstruction was committed." He said, "We thought long and hard before we subpoenaed any reporters." In fact, there was a long list of reporters they might have talked to, and did not.

Before proceeding against Miller and the ones he did target, he made sure that one judge after another concurred: "I think what we did was borne out by how judges ruled.

"We could not have resolved this case if we forgot about reporters ... that would have been reckless.

"I do not think that reporters should be subpoenaed anything close to routinely, it must be an extraodinary case. But if a reporter is an eyewitness to a crime and you walk away -- you are being reckless." He said that in some cases you can learn from reporters that a crime was NOT committed.


Still, what's very interesting now is how the focal point of the journalism story has changed here. The subject being chewed over ad infinitum in media circles is no longer the issue of confidential sources or whether we need a federal Shield Law. Instead, it's the behavior of the New York Times itself in letting Miller live up to her self-annointed title of "Miss Run Amok."

Here's what publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. had to say on that basic subject today.

The Times has thus far not been able to contain the fallout from this episode, and while it's a good bet that Miller has seen her last Times byline, it's impossible to rule out other casualties. Sulzberger's right about one thing. "The story is not over."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Battle Over Theo
An interesting sidebar to the snagged negotiations over a new contract for Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is the growing debate over the coverage in the Boston dailies. The Herald's Tony Massarotti is accusing the Globe of carrying water for team president Larry Lucchino and citing its parent company's ownership stake in the ballclub as part of the evidence. Here are the nut graphs:

That said, some things need to be made clear. The first is that the media is a very dirty business; on some level, we are all compromised. The second, as one longtime observer once pointed out, is that Lucchino is a political animal. The Globe owns the Red Sox which means the Red Sox own the Globe, which is not a criticism as much as it is a statement of fact. The same is true of WEEI, or at least parts of it, which is currently in negotiations for Red Sox broadcast rights and compensates Lucchino for a weekly radio segment.

So, for an assortment of reasons, the two most powerful media outlets in New England are not about to challenge the words or methods of Lucchino and the Red Sox. (Not really.) And that is OK so long as we recognize there are conflicts of interest everywhere now and the truth will be distorted as a result of it.

That is why, as much as ever, we should hope this remains a two-newspaper town.

This also triggered a pretty heated debate on WEEI between Dale Arnold and Michael Holley with Arnold raising suspicions about the Globe/Sox ties and Holley defending his former newspaper.

Massarotti is right about wanting Boston to remain a two newspaper town, but his very serious insinuation that the Globe is in bed with Lucchino because of its business relationship with the team seems pretty thin. Every reporter has his or her sources who cooperate on stories for a variety of reasons. Reporting accurate information that someone else might not have isn't necessarily evidence of a deep dark conspiracy.
A Matter of Timing
A sharp-eyed, clear-minded media observer (and it ain't me) noticed this interesting juxtaposition of events. Outgoing CBS News President Andrew Heyward will be succeeded by Sean McManus on Nov. 7. Guess what's happening on Nov. 8? It's the release of Truth And Duty, the book written by Mary Mapes, the producer of the ill-fated Sept. 8, 2004 "60 Minutes Wednesday" expose on George Bush's military service record, who was fired by CBS for her role in that story.

Here's a description of that book from the Amazon.com. I think it's fair to anticipate that it may say unkind things about CBS News -- and perhaps even Mr. Heyward.

TRUTH AND DUTY is a riveting account of how the public's right to know or even to ask questions is being attacked by an alliance of politicians, news organizations, bloggers and corporate America. It connects the dots between the emergence of a kind of digital McCarthyism, a corporation under fire from the federal government, and the decision about what kinds of stories a news network can cover (human interest, yes; political intrigue, no).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Milestone or Millstone?
Here's another take on the 2,000 dead media milestone from the conservative press watchdog group Media Research Center.

Release Below:

Morbid Networks Tout Iraq War's "Milestone"

Aligning themselves with Cindy Sheehan, network news shows touted the 2,000th death of an American serviceman in Iraq on Tuesday. Anticipating what anchor Aaron Brown termed "another milestone" on Monday's NewsNight, CNN's Tom Foreman suggested left-wing activists were not trying to be exploitative: "War protesters are carefully saying the 2,000 dead should not be played for political advantage." The next day, CNN's cameras were among those broadcasting Sheehan's rainy photo-op on the sidewalk in front of the White House.

Tuesday's evening broadcasts deemed the death count far more significant than the adoption of Iraq's first democratic constitution. Officials yesterday announced that an overwhelming 79 percent of Iraqis voted in favor of the new constitution back on October 15, but if you had sneezed, you'd have missed hearing about it on either the CBS Evening News or ABC's World News Tonight.

CBS anchor Bob Schieffer delivered only this single sentence - "Iraq's government announced today that voters did approve the country's new constitution in this month's referendum" - before moving on to a full story about the 2,000th death. Schieffer saved time for this snide aside: "More than 90 percent of the 2,000 who died in the war have died since the President declared major combat was at an end in May 2003."

On ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas only briefly noted how "in Iraq today, there was a milestone on the road to democracy: The official results show that a new constitution was ratified by an overwhelming margin." That was it for Iraqi democracy. ABC chose as its lead story what Vargas called the "terrible milestone" of 2,000 killed in Iraq. Viewers saw two stories: Martha Raddatz on the anguish of Army medical personnel and Barbara Pinto on parents in an Ohio town who have lost sons in Iraq.

The NBC Nightly News devoted a full story to the 2,000 "milestone" followed by a piece from Iraq which began with the overwhelming approval of the constitution by 79 percent, what reporter Richard Engel at least called "a historic milestone" before he provided a general status report on the war, stressing both the ongoing violence and how "there are some bright spots," such as more jobs.

This morning, all three broadcast shows led with the death count. CBS's Hannah Storm announced: "We're marking a grim milestone this morning, as 2,000 American soldiers and Marines now have died in the war in Iraq." ABC's Jake Tapper at least pointed out "the war in Iraq can be viewed through any number of positive milestones: the capture of Saddam Hussein, the first election, or the ratification of the constitution," before launching into his report on 2,000th death. On NBC's Today, Richard Engel limited his coverage on Wednesday to the 2,000th death, although he acknowledged that "U.S. troops here in Iraq are not holding any special events." Indeed, the military does not deem it a "milestone" in Iraq. (See box.)

A recent MRC study of this year's Iraq war news found the networks had already produced 400 evening news stories noting America's war casualties, far more than those discussing episodes of heroism on the part of those same troops. Indeed, on Tuesday morning only FNC's Fox & Friends and CNN's American Morning showcased Army Specialist Darrell Green, who thwarted the suicide bomber who tried to destroy Baghdad's Palestine Hotel on Monday, saving many lives. Green's captain told CNN that while "this was definitely a large explosion...this was a success story thanks to soldiers like Specialist Green."

ABC, CBS and NBC didn't interview Specialist Green or mention his heroics. Evidently, they don't consider him to be as newsworthy as the 2,000 victims of Bush's war. - Brent Baker and Rich Noyes


The MRC may be right that the final tally on the Iraqi Constitution deserved more mention, but its analysis conveniently ignores the major coverage that was given to the voting itself. I'd hate to be in the MRC's shoes -- essentially trying to make the argument, without saying so, that it's somehow unpatriotic to focus on the deaths of American troops.
2000 Dead In Iraq
The media are always attracted to milestones, so the grim one from Iraq made a number of front pages today.

It looks like the New York Times is offering one of the fuller accountings of the U.S. war dead.
The Baton Passes at CBS News
Well, the rumor that CBS chairman Les Moonves was going to replace CBS News President Andrew Heyward with the head of MTV Entertainment is now officially wrong.
The Tiffany Network today announced that CBS Sports President Sean McManus is taking the job. Release below:



Sean McManus, who has served as President of CBS Sports since 1996, has been named President of CBS News and Sports, it was announced today by Leslie Moonves, Chairman of CBS and Co-President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of Viacom. The appointment is effective November

McManus succeeds Andrew Heyward, who will assist in the transition and depart CBS at the end of the year, when his current contract expires.

In addition to his new role as President of CBS News, McManus will continue to serve as President of CBS Sports, which he has transformed into the Number One broadcast organization of its kind in the industry. McManus, who will continue to be based in New York, will keep offices at the headquarters of both CBS Sports and CBS News, although he will spend the majority of his time at CBS News for the foreseeable future.

"Sean McManus is a superb executive, a great leader and a fierce competitor whose pedigree for excellence in live-event programming is well-known," said Moonves. "Under his leadership, CBS Sports has moved over the past decade into the Number One position in its field, and the quality of what we put on the air is the very best in the business. I believe Sean's background has prepared him well for the significant tasks that face us at CBS News, and I am very pleased that we have such a brilliant executive within our management team who can take on this crucial role."

"I'm very excited about the opportunities that lie head," said McManus. "CBS News is a truly great institution, and its people have defined excellence in broadcast journalism since the beginning of the medium. The business is changing and the challenges are many. I'm confident that, while maintaining the standards and values of this great organization, we can build upon its legacy and become even more successful, competitive and relevant to the viewers and the nation we serve."

Heyward, who has held the post of President of CBS News for almost 10 years, will serve as an advisor to the CBS News Division and assist McManus in the transition.

"Andrew is a man of great character, whose integrity and experience has guided our News division through a time of tremendous change in our industry," said Moonves. "I want to thank him for his unwavering commitment to the core values of journalism, and for his years of creativity, dedication and loyalty to this company. I wish him only the best and look forward with anticipation to what I'm sure will be an important next phase in an already-distinguished career."

"I've worked at CBS News for more than 24 years, as a field producer, broadcast producer, executive producer and president," said Heyward. "The last quarter-century has been a time of seismic change in the broadcast-journalism landscape, and it's been my privilege to play a role in steering CBS News across that shifting terrain. My colleagues at CBS have enriched my life beyond measure, through challenging times and triumphs alike."

McManus was named President, CBS Sports, in November 1996. During his tenure as President of the Division, CBS Sports has become the year-round leader in sports television.

McManus began his career in 1977 at ABC Sports, where he was a production assistant and associate producer. He joined NBC Sports in 1979 as an associate producer assigned to the NFL, Wimbledon, the PGA TOUR, "Sportsworld," auto racing and the Tour de France. In 1982, McManus became the youngest vice president in the history of NBC. As Vice President, Program Planning and Development at NBC Sports through 1987, McManus was responsible for all programming and was instrumental in the rights negotiations for the Olympics, the NFL, Wimbledon, the Breeders' Cup, the Orange Bowl, auto racing and NCAA college basketball.

After NBC, McManus joined Trans World International, the television division of International Management Group, the largest sports marketing firm in the world, as Senior Vice President of U.S. Television Sales and Programming. From that point, he joined CBS in 1996.

I'm not sure why McManus won't be giving up the presidency of CBS Sports. But the conventional wisdom is that Heyward's days were numbered after the ill-fated
60 Minutes Wednesday report on George Bush's military history. (Remember, it wasn't the show's conclusion that Bush received preferential treatment that really created the problem, it was the information it used to get there.) In any event, 10 years is a long time for someone to remain atop a network news division.

McManus will have his work cut out for him figuring out both a permanent successor to Dan Rather and a way to get the CBS Evening News out of third place. If any network is going use the transition at the anchor desk to dramatically change the nature of its newscast, it will be CBS.
Till We Meet Again
Here's a real shocker. Judy Miller is reportedly discussing the possibility of a severance package with the Times.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Reaction to the Voice/New Times Merger
We quizzed a handful of experts and some Village Voice alum about their reaction to today's news of the merger between the Voice's parent company and New Times Media (See previous post.) Their verdict wasn't very positive.

Kit Rachlis, former executive editor of the Voice, former editor of L.A. Weekly, and now editor-in-chief of Los Angeles magazine: "This is not a good thing for the alternative press. It's not a good thing that a single company will own a greater percentage of alternative weeklies" than any mainstream company's share of the daily newspaper universe. "The alternative press thought this was bad for daily papers, I don't know why it thinks it's good for itself."

Alexander Cockburn, former Voice staffer and now editor of Counterpunch: "It's sort of contrary to everything the Voice first stood for when it was founded in the 50's....It's a mega-media conglomerate. I think it's a bit late in the day for a mega-media conglomerate. I just don't think it's interesting."

Karen Durbin, former Voice editor and now film critic for Elle magazine: "I'm inclined to be pessimistic. There are still a number of very good people at the Voice and I can't help feeling dismayed for them...I do think what's been happening at the paper over the past few years bodes ill for the future. They're just slicing and dicing like crazy."

Jonathan Larsen, former Voice editor, had a more upbeat take in this email: "I think this will be good for all concerned. As both a reader and a judge for the Oakes Award for enviromental reporting, I have run across a lot of excellent New Times stories in the last decade. I think the company will bring fresh energy to the Voice, which is looking as if it could use some."

Ben Bagdikian, former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley and author of The Media Monopoly: "This is kind of a rapid closure of the alternative papers." The Voice has "been bought by people who are really making a conglomerate of the alternatives. They are no longer really an alternative voice in the media...I think that the Village Voice, which has gone through some previous transformations, now joins that kind of conglomeration."
Merger Mania Strikes Alt-Weekly Land
The worst kept secret in the alternative newspaper world is officially out. As widely anticipated -- and in some quarters feared -- Village Voice and New Times media announced the creation of the biggest alt newspaper chain today. Here's the recent Phoenix story on the merger. And the press release is below. More details and reaction to come.

Combination creates nation's premier alternative media company

New York and Phoenix - Village Voice Media and New Times Media, the nation's
leading alternative media companies, today announced a definitive agreement
to merge. The new company will be called Village Voice Media and will
publish free weekly newspapers and Web sites in seventeen of the nation's
largest markets.

New Times chief executive officer Jim Larkin will be CEO of the new company,
and New Times executive editor Michael Lacey will be executive editor of the
combined operation. Village Voice CEO David Schneiderman will be President
of Village Voice Digital.

"Together, New Times and Village Voice Media create a truly national media
company with highly desirable demographics, geographic diversity and a
unique print and Internet platform that is poised for tremendous growth,"
said Larkin. "Alternative publications today, particularly those owned by
New Times and the Village Voice, have become the definitive voices for ideas
and information for young, progressive readers."

"This merger combines two recognized leaders in alternative media with
strong reputations for editorial quality, award-winning publications, strong
brand equity and a deep community presence," said Schneiderman. "The Village
Voice and New Times were pioneers in establishing a voice for alternative
media, as we were both born from a desire to create a venue for
high-spirited, innovative public debate, and we believe this merger makes
perfect sense for both companies."

Village Voice Media will have a combined weekly audited circulation of 1.8
million papers and 4.3 million readers weekly when the merger is completed.
Village Voice papers will join New Times' national advertising sales agency
Ruxton Media Group. Ruxton will represent 35 weekly alternative publications
from coast to coast with audited circulations of 3.1 million weekly.

The merger also will bring VVM online classifieds into New Times'
backpage.com, which combines the popularity of free classified online
bulletin boards with new revenue opportunities for affiliated papers. The
addition of the six Voice papers means backpage.com is now licensed to 37
newspapers in major American markets.

New Times' and Village Voice's current portfolio of newspapers and online
assets, which include many of the nation's most respected youth-oriented
publications, are cultural touchstones in their respective communities. They
challenge mainstream sensibilities and provide active readers with in-depth
local news coverage, irreverent humor, spirited criticism, magazine-style
feature writing and the most comprehensive local music, dining, arts and
events listings.

Village Voice Media will have papers and Web sites in New York, Los Angeles,
San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis,
Orange County, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Kansas City, Nashville, the East Bay
including Oakland and Berkeley, and the Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area.

The Village Voice, which now owns five papers in addition to its New York
City flagship, was founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and famed
novelist Norman Mailer and quickly established a reputation for
no-holds-barred reporting and criticism. The New York paper has received
three Pulitzer Prizes and the George Polk Award, as well as Front Page
Awards and Deadline Club Awards, and its daily-updated Web site has twice
been recognized as one of the nation's premier online sites, receiving the
National Press Foundation's Online Journalism Award and the Editor and
Publisher Eppy Award for best U.S. weekly newspaper online.

New Times, which has grown to become the nation's largest publisher of
alternative weeklies with eleven newspapers, was founded in 1970 by Lacey
and others at Arizona State University. From the beginning, New Times
emphasized strong writing and solid reporting of local issues along with
cutting-edge cultural coverage, and its papers have routinely bested the
nation's leading dailies in national and regional writing contests, winning
top awards from Investigative Reporters and Editors, the George Polk Awards,
and many others. In particular, the chain has posted multiple winners and
national finalists in the Livingston Awards, the nation's top contest
recognizing journalistic excellence from younger writers.

New Times' dynamic growth in the decades since its founding and its refusal
to hew to political party lines in its news coverage has always drawn fire
from some critics within the alternative weekly industry. But others have
defended the company's well-established track record of investigative
reporting. "I think they're committed to uncovering wrongdoing," Jane
Levine, former publisher of the Chicago Reader, told the Boston Phoenix last
month. "It is generally accepted that they don't have a political position.
But I think it's pretty clear that they're bulldogs about uncovering
corporate or governmental malfeasance."

Pending federal regulatory approval, the New Times/Voice merger is expected
to be completed by early 2006
More Miller Fallout
Read New York Times public editor Barney Calame on the Judy Miller mess. Here's his "nut graph."

The Times must now face up to three major concerns raised by the leak investigation: First, the tendency by top editors to move cautiously to correct problems about prewar coverage. Second, the journalistic shortcuts taken by Ms. Miller. And third, the deferential treatment of Ms. Miller by editors who failed to dig into problems before they became a mess.
Here's Miller's response via email to Calame:



I'm dismayed by your essay today. You accuse me of taking journalistic "shortcuts" without presenting evidence of what you mean and rely on unsubstantiated innuendo about my reporting.

While you posted Bill Keller's sanitized, post-lawyered version of the ugly, inaccurate memo to the staff he circulated Friday, which accused me of "misleading" an editor and being "entangled" with I. Lewis Libby, you declined to post the answers I sent you to six questions that we touched on during our interview Thursday. Had you done so, readers could have made their own assessment of my conduct in what you headlined as "the Miller mess."

You chose to believe Jill Abramson when she asserted that I had never asked her to pursue the tip I had gotten about Joe Wilson's trip to Niger and his wife's employment at the C.I.A. Now I ask you: Why would I, the supposedly pushiest, most competitive reporter on the planet, not have pushed to pursue a tantalizing tip like this? Soon after my breakfast meeting with Libby in July, I did so. I remember asking the editor to let me explore whether what my source had said was true, or whether it was a potential smear of a whistleblower. I don't recall naming the source of the tip. But I specifically remember saying that because Joe Wilson's op-ed column had appeared in our paper, we had a particular obligation to pursue this. I never identified the editor to the grand jury or publicly, since it involved internal New York Times decision-making. But since you did, yes, the editor was Jill Abramson.

Obviously, Jill and I have different memories of what happened during that turbulent period at the paper. I did not take that personally, though she never chose to discuss with me our different recollections about my urging her to pursue the story. Without explanation, however, you said you believed her and raised questions about my "trust and credibility." That is your right. But I gave my recollection to the grand jury under oath.

My second journalistic sin in your eyes was agreeing to Libby's request to be considered a "former Hill staffer" in his discussion about Wilson. As you acknowledged, I agreed to that attribution only to hear the information. As I also stressed, Scooter Libby has never been identified in any of my stories as anything other than a "senior Administration official."

The third "troubling" ethical issue you raised, my access to secret information during my embed in Iraq, had been fully clarified by the time you published. No one doubts that I had access to very sensitive information or that I did work out informal arrangements to limit discussion of sensitive intelligence sources and methods to the most senior Times editors. Though there was occasionally enormous tension over whether and when I could publish sensitive information, the arrangement ultimately satisfied the senior officers in the brigade hunting for unconventional weapons, the Times editors at the time, and me. It also led to the publication of my exclusive story that debunked some of my own earlier exclusives on the Pentagon's claim that it had found mobile germ production units in Iraq.

I fail to see why I am responsible for my editors' alleged failure to do some "digging" into my confidential sources and the notebooks. From the start, the legal team that the Times provided me knew who my source was and had access to my notes. I never refused to answer questions or provide any information they requested. No one indicated they had doubts about the stand I took to go to jail.

Your essay clearly implies that the Times and I did something wrong in waging a battle that we did not choose. I strongly disagree. What did I do wrong? Your essay does not say. You may disapprove of my earlier reporting on Weapons of Mass Destruction. But what did the delayed publication of the editor's note on that reporting have to do with the decision I made over a year later, which the paper fully supported, to protect our confidential sources? I remain proud of my decision to go to jail rather than reveal the identity of a source to whom I had pledged confidentiality, even if he happened to work for the Bush White House.

The Times asked me to assume a low profile in this controversy. I told everyone that I had no intention of airing internal editorial policy disputes and disagreements at the paper, as a matter of principle and loyalty to those who stood by me during this ordeal. Others have chosen a different path, ironically becoming "confidential sources" themselves.

You never bothered to mention in your essay my decision to spend 85 days in jail to honor the pledge I made. I'm saddened that you, like so many others, have blurred the core issue of that stand and I am stunned that you refused to post my answers to issues we had discussed on your web site at the critical moment that Times readers were forming their opinions.

Judith Miller


Three observations:

1) Miller is finito at the Times.

2) The collateral damage is spreading quickly to both Keller and Sulzberger. And while it's hard to believe there could be another masthead cataclysm at the Times a few short years after the Howell Raines fiasco, you can't rule it out at this point.

3) Let's give Miller and Abramson 12 ounce gloves and headgear and let them go at it for $24.99 a pop on pay-per-view.
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