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WHITE NOISE

by YES! Staff

Is this a joke?

Starbucks employees at Wake Forest University complained to their management about offensive content in the April Fool’s edition of the student newspaper, Old Gold & Black. A lead article, “Starbucks Junkies Find On-Campus Dealer,” joked about Starbucks’ student patrons and their non-student employees. A fictional student named Ché “Emo” Marx complains in the article: “I never have to be served by black people when I go back home to Portland.” Campus baristas, many of them black, were seen discussing the newspaper in angry tones on April 2. Other contentious articles in the spoof newspaper included a mockery of Aramark Dining Services, which runs the Wake Forest University Starbucks, and an editorial, “Diversity is creepy, should disappear.” The campus newspaper has put out an April Fool’s edition for many years and this year carried the masthead, “OGBYN.” — GL

Our industry in… recovery? You might think that newspapers which are constantly trying to do more with less would need the Associated Press now more than ever — at least, that’s what the AP thought when it raised its prices last year when it overhauled the way it brought wire copy to the newspapers who both provide the AP’s product and pay for the privilege to run it. But the plan was scrapped in October 2007 when some 180 papers gave — or threatened to give — the required two-year notice to cancel the service. Now the AP looks to make access to its wire copy cheaper for newspapers by about 20 percent while at the same time aggressively defending its work against web pirates who copy and paste the articles on their sites without paying any membership fees and, in many cases, collecting revenue. At the AP’s annual convention this week in San Diego, Chairman Dean Singleton said, “We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under some very misguided, unfounded legal theories…. We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more.” It’s a blow, for sure, against “news” outlets that don’t do any original reporting or produce their own material, like aggregators and most bloggers. And it’s good news, we think, for an industry that has been picked apart like carrrion by the circling vultures. At least we’re fighting back, anyway. But it also means that blogs — the ones that only “riff” on previously published news reports — will get a lot more boring if they can’t lean on cherry-picked AP to support their theses. And Matt Drudge, we fear, is doomed. — BC

First images of flag-draped coffins released

Photojournalists gathered at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on April 5 and recorded the ceremonial unloading of a flagdraped casket from a transport plane, Photo District News reported on its website, pdnonline.com. It was the first time during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that Americans have seen press coverage of such a ceremony, known in the military as a dignified transfer, according to the website. On April 3, the Pentagon released the details of its new policy on media coverage of dignified transfers. The next day, Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers, 30, of Hopewell, Va., died when an improvised explosive device exploded while he was on duty in Afghanistan. His wife became the first military family member to consent to media coverage under the new policy. The photo ban was supposed to be officially lifted April 6, but everything was ready when the plane carrying Myers’s casket arrived in Delaware late April 5. Photographers say the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center handled the press setup with professionalism. On Feb. 26, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lifted a blanket ban on news media coverage of the honor guard ceremonies that mark the return of military casualties from abroad. The new policy will permit media coverage of the ceremonies, during which caskets draped with American flags are brought home from war, after consultation with the families of the fallen. The Obama administration’s move restores press access to the honor ceremonies, which had been the practice from World War II through the Panama invasion of 1989, the website stated. —KTB

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