White Noise: News and happenings from inside the media bubble

by Brian Clarey and Jordan Green

Our industry in crisis

According to her bio, Elizabeth Albanese was the perfect president of the Dallas Press Club: earning a college degree by age 16, adding a master’s in journalism from the University of Texas and a Harvard Law degree a few years later and then stints writing for the New York Times and reporting for CNN before settling into a job as Dallas bureau chief for The Bond Buyer, a small trade publication based in New York City. So esteemed she was by her colleagues that over three years she won 10 Katie Awards, given annually by the Press Club of Dallas to the best journalists from five states in the Southwest. Only problem was that Elizabeth Albanese, AKA Lisa Albanese, was not who she purported herself to be, with no college degrees at all, a journalistic career limited to a small Texas weekly and, perhaps not so shockingly, a history of fraud, malfeasance and embezzlement. Nobody knows who judged the 2006 Katie Awards – Albanese won four, more than anyone else that year – and instances of misuse of a press club credit card for things like hotel rooms and shopping sprees to the tune of $10,000 were also factors in her removal from office. But the real victim here, besides millions of Southwest media consumers, are the Katie Awards themselves, which have been an institution since 1958. The Dallas Press Club, which has since elected new leadership, is unsure as of press time whether the 2007 awards will be distributed or if the tradition will continue at all. – BC

Latino Al-Jazeera?

The 2003 documentary film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised chronicled how Venezuela’s powerful RCTV television network went to soap operas when crowds convulsed the streets of Caracas cheering the return to power of popular leftist leader Hugo Chavez after a failed coup. Chavez has recently alarmed international press advocates by yanking RCTV’s license. In its vacuum the Venezuelan government is building a regional news organization, Telesur, to cover Latin America with a left-wing slant. Its news director is the 38-year-old Andrés Izarra, who resigned from RCTV during the attempted coup. Simon Romero writes in a June 16 New York Times dispatch that “Telesur is seen as this hemisphere’s answer to Al Jazeera, a Latin American network aimed at fostering integration and countering the influence of news organizations like CNN. The man guiding this experiment is Andrés Izarra, a rising star of President Hugo Chavez’s ambitious project to upend elites in Venezuela and elsewhere in the region.” Not everybody’s exactly thrilled. When Telesur and Al Jazeera announced a content sharing arrangement last year, Connie Mack, a Republican congressman from Florida, derided it as “creating a global television network for terrorists.” – JG

It’s censorship, I tell ya

Joel Stein, columnist for the Los Angeles Times and contributor for Time magazine, used to be best known for his stance on US troops in Iraq, namely that we shouldn’t support troops engaged in actions we disapprove of, or maybe you caught him on VH-1’s “I Love the Whatever” series. He came to our attention last year when he penned his subversive “Have something to say? I don’t care” column in the LAT (excerpt: “A column is not my attempt to engage in a conversation with you.” Priceless.) Now he can be accused of a strange type of coitus interruptus after canceling a scheduled lecture/workshop at Los Angeles adult toy store Babeland at the behest of his employers. The class was called “How to Give a Blowjob.” – BC

Roch interrupted

Since its launch in the fall of 2004, has become the daily go-to source for heavy information consumers in the Gate City, not quite as frequently visited as a personal e-mail inbox and perhaps more indispensable than the News & Record’s homepage. If the site didn’t quite break stories, it certainly amplified those generated by its print media competitors, and rumblings and gossip on the blog aggregator often presaged big stories. Curator Roch Smith Jr. announced Monday that the site will shut down by the end of the month. He promised that the blog aggregator will be replaced by a new project, which “will offer a better experience for Greensboro 101 users and bigger business opportunities.” Gone will be the centerpiece “Feature,” in which Smith highlighted a handful of blog posts every day or so. He’ll also be ditching the “Newswire” section. What’s left is essentially the “Latest Blog Posts” column. And Smith says he’ll widen the geographic scope of the new project, because “business opportunities that exist for a local blog aggregator depend on scale (i.e. multiple cities).” – JG