Sunday, March 25, 2007

Grazin' in the Mass Media

By now you've no doubt heard about the controversy-scandal at the L.A. Times regarding the editorial page editor's choice of Hollywood producer Brian Grazer to "guest-edit" the Sunday opinion section, Current. Andres Martinez, the editorial page editor, resigned after Publisher David Hiller killed the section upon learning that Martinez was dating a publicist for Grazer. The perceived conflict of interest was the reason Hiller gave for killing the section. After Martinez resigned, he commented on some blogs, blasting various people, including Times media columnist Tim Rutten. Rutten responded on a blog, and there was one comment from him, about journalism conflicts of interest, that caught my eye. I'm sharing it only because it made me laugh and I thought it would amuse you too. Though, of course, it's also an important reminder that we need to be careful about conflicts of interest. Here's what Rutten said:

"I've always subscribed to the late Abe Rosenthal's standard for journalists: 'I don't care whether my colleagues sleep with elephants, so long as they don't cover the circus.' "

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Myth of a Neat Newsroom -- Exposed!

By now, we are all settling into our new digs in Camarillo (no, not the newsroom seen at left), enjoying our ergonomic chairs, flat-screen monitors, and the open, light, bright and airy room. Everything is so neat and clean and uncluttered and pretty. But is that what a real newsroom generally looks like? San Francisco Chronicle reporter Peter Hartlaub thinks movies and television shows misrepresent the look of a newsroom. He says they glamorize the rooms with neatly organized desks that hold books stacked just right and cups that are well-stocked with pens and pencils. He says the latest movie to get it wrong when it comes to journalists' work spaces is "Zodiac," which includes scenes from the director's vision of what the Chronicle newsroom looks like. Hartlaub says the neatly organized desks in "Zodiac" are the first mistake. He writes: "In real life, newspaper reporters just lie down a few of their heavier books horizontally to keep the others from falling, or they cram everything into the shelf tightly so all solid matter surrounding it is unable to move, like a well-played game of Tetris." He says the typical journalist's work area may contain: a dead plant, partially covered by a pile of used reporter's notebooks; a bunch of stuff the ergonomics consultant dropped off two years ago, in an unopened pile; and half-eaten ham sandwiches and birthday cake. Referring to Drew Barrymore's "Never Been Kissed," in which copy editors have their own offices, he writes: "Every group of copy editors I've worked with is lined up in two evenly distributed rows of tightly packed cubicles, like a team of basketball players flying in coach." So Hollywood's depiction of the newsroom may not have always been accurate in the past (though "All the President's Men," pictured here, is generally regarded to have gotten it right), but with our shiny, new digs here, we may demonstrate that a newsroom can indeed be neat and orderly. You can read the entire article here. My thanks and two thumbs way up to Trinity for posing for the photo above, back in our old offices, which were dark, cluttered and in disrepair.