White Noise: News from inside the media bubble

by Brian Clarey, Jordan Green and Amy Kingsley

Our industry in crisis

The Detroit Free Press, known by its fans as the “Freep,” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily owned by Gannett. It is also, on occasion, guilty of counting their journalistic chickens before they hatch. In April 2005, Free Press sports columnist Mitch Albom, whose column is syndicated nationally and who is also known as the author of wildly popular books Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, submitted a column about two NBA players watching their alma mater, Michigan State, battle UNC in a Final Four game. The problem was that the players, Jason Richardson and Mateen Cleaves, had a last minute change of plans and did not go to the game – a problem for Albom who filed the story Friday night, before the game was actually played, for the Sunday edition. Albom, who has had an exemplary career in journalism, was suspended and apologies were made to readers by the venerable daily. And then it happened again. Last week the Freep reported on a Tuesday speech given to Chrysler executives by the company’s CEO, Bob Nardelli, in Wednesday’s paper. But Nardelli did not give the speech until the next day due to illness. A correction in the Free Press treated the incident as a date mix-up, but we know the truth. Memo to The Detroit Free Press: It’s not news until it actually happens, – BC

Tough-guy bowtie

While discussing Sen. Larry Craig’s bathroom adventures on the Aug. 28 edition of “MSNBC Live,” talking poodle-head Tucker Carlson related an episode 20 years ago where he was “bothered” by a gay man in a Georgetown men’s room. When asked what his response was by fellow guest Joe Scarborough, Carlson reported that he and a friend returned to the bathroom and “grabbed the guy by the – you know, and grabbed him, and… hit him against the stall with his head, actually!” to which Scarborough and host Dan Abrams broke into peals of laughter. Carlson later backpedaled, saying that the man “physically grabbed” him and that he and his friend “seized the man and held him until a security guard arrived… I wasn’t angry with the man because he was gay. I was angry because he assaulted me.” We can’t speak as to the veracity of either statement, but will point out that, given Tucker’s twinkish appearance and proclivity for bowties, it probably wasn’t the first or last time he’d been approached by a dude. Being approached by a cruisey gay guy in Georgetown Park is about as common as being approached by a panhandler in Central Park (“Sex? Ya got sex?”). At the same time, straight-identifying Republican teenage males aren’t exactly known for self-restraint when it comes to the subject of homosexuality, we’re just saying…. And wasn’t that guy on “Dancing With the Stars”?

Also interesting is the fact that in a segment less than 10 minutes long about Larry Craig, they managed to squeeze in a full 45 seconds of B-roll video featuring Bill and Hillary Clinton. – DR

Money, money

Newspaper ad revenues decreased more than 8 percent between April and June, according to the Newspaper Association of America. During the same period of time, revenues from websites increased by 19 percent, which was not enough to make up for the lost money, according to an analysis by Jim Romenesko. Before you chalk this up as a death throe of the news industry, remember that much of the decline in ads came from the real estate industry, which is hurting right now. An upswing in the economy would probably mean more money for ad departments. – AK


WFMY introduced a new website they’re calling Dig Triad. There are a couple of things going on here. First of all, the easiest way to figure out the site belongs to a television station is the screen captures that serve as graphics. On Labor Day, the site sidelined local news and led with a story about President Bush’s surprise trip to Iraq. A story about contaminated potato salad – vital to Labor Day festivities – received second billing. In a forum about the site (users must register to participate), some users complained the site contained little local f;air. I agree. With a different URL, you could throw this site up anywhere from Modesto, Calif. to Twin Falls, Idaho. – AK