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White Noise: inside the media bubble

by Brian Clarey and Amy Kingsley

Outsourcing boredom

Pasadenanow.com, the web incarnation of Pasadena Living magazine in California, has hired two journalists in India – one in Mumbai and the other in Bangalore – to cover city council meetings and local politics for the site. “A lot of the routine stuff we do can be done by really talented people in another time zone at much lower wages,” said James McPherson, editor and publisher of pasadenanow.com. Their combined yearly salaries will be just over $20,000, which is good news for industry bean counters but is an alarming development for journalists whose work consists largely of attending and reporting on these meetings. How long before The Rhinoceros Times world headquarters is somewhere in Delhi?- BC

Going with, and for, the gut

One of the big national stories last week landed on Thursday when President Bush, invoking the threat of al-Qaida, explained his rationale for the Iraq war to two reporters in very, er, personal terms. “They are a threat to your children, David,” he said to NBC’s David Gregory. The president is, as we all know, getting a lot of heat about Iraq. The change in rhetorical tone might be an effort to dredge up some support among the increasingly skeptical press corps. If it does, then the president ought to consider promoting his speechwriters to the defense department, where he could really use a successful strategic shift.- AK

Famous Greensboro pair

The May issue of Jane magazine featured its Guide to Breast Health which contained, among other things, sports bra road tests, practical health advice and a photo essay featuring the naked boobs of 23 New York women (for a total of 46). They continued the feature on their website, janemag.com, by inviting women across America to post snapshots of their two greatest assets. Imagine our surprise when, in the course of our normal daily newsgathering, we were treated to an eyeful of Erika from right here in Greensboro on the boobs blog. About her breasts, which are quite lovely even after suckling her daughter through infanthood, Erika says, “I use to want implants but not any more. I have a new love for them and deep v-necks!”- BC

N&R goes long?

It’s Memorial Day, an occasion that brings out the patriot in mid-major dailies across the country. The Greensboro News & Record is no different. This morning readers were treated to a sprawling treatment of the life of a local Casualty Assistance Officer. It’s actually pretty challenging and interesting stuff, but the length of the piece brought to mind two other recent narrative-style features in the N&R. There was the Quinceanera package published the previous weekend and a Sunday spread on biodiesel, both of which spanned nearly a country mile of column inches. What’s the deal? Is this just experimentation, or is the leisurely feature going to become an N&R staple?- AK

Cone’s first ban

Last month the internets were abuzz with the notion of a blogger code of conduct after a mention in the New York Times. Still, the flame wars on the Greensboro blogs continue to burn. Prominent Greensboro blogger Ed Cone (edcone.com) has long professed his commitment to open comment threads for reasons both practical (“I don’t have the time or energy to moderate comments on any kind of a consistent basis.” April 9, 2007) and philosophical (“I run my personal weblog as a quasi-journalistic endeavor… and the comments are part of that story.” August 2006). But last week the blogfather finally had enough of one regular visitor to Word Up and banned him from commenting. The culprit? Connie Mack Jr., AKA Connie Mack Berry, a convicted felon and husband of Rachel Lea Hunter who ran an unsuccessful campaign for North Carolina Supreme Court Justice in 2006. His crime? Trolling. “Stop flooding the comments with semi-coherent flame-baits, or you will be banned.” Cone wrote on May 15 in the comment thread of a post about Lou Dobbs and leprosy which quickly degenerated into a grudge match between Mack and a regular commenter to Cone’s site called Bubba. Mack has been reprimanded by Cone before, notably for commenting on the blog under other people’s names. “If your wife runs for office again,” Cone wrote, “I will open comments to you as a campaign spokesman.”- BC

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