Saving Local Newspapers: Let Us Band Together to Battle Facebook and Google

From a New York Times story, by Cecilia Kang,  headlined “Plight of Newspapers Generates an Uncommon Bipartisan Unity: Lawmakers from both parties blame companies like Facebook and Google for the struggles of local newspapers”:

Anger toward big technology companies has led to multiple antitrust investigations, calls for a new federal data privacy law and criticism of the companies’ political ad policies. Perhaps no issue about the tech companies, though, has united lawmakers in the Capitol like the decimation of local news.

Lawmakers from both parties blame companies like Facebook and Google, which dominate the online ad industry.

“Many of the things that make you a good journalist have to be discarded to make you a good writer”

From a New York Times column, by Roger Cohen, about the lives of Sonny Mehta and Ward Just:

Samuel Beckett, when asked one beautiful spring morning whether such a day did not make him glad to be alive, responded, “I wouldn’t go as far as that.” Life is a predicament, death the elephant at the horizon that looms larger as the years pass.

Still, life is what we have. To give less than everything to it is dereliction. . . .Midwinter is not what prompted these reflections, although when a freezing wind whips off the East River all thoughts turn to refuge. No, the death in quick succession of two friends was the catalyst. . . .

Maddenisms: “I think to be a Packer fan you have to be willing to put stuff on your head.”

Former NFL coach John Madden.

J.A. Adande, director of sports journalism at Northwestern’s Medill School, has over the years  collected Maddenisms—the sayings of former Oakland Raiders coach and sportscaster John Madden. He recently posted some favorites on Twitter:

“When you win [as a coach] you get to be a genius. But if you look at it, you’re a guy that was a PE major in college. Your best class was recess, and then you become a coach. When you win some games you’re a genius. You go from being good at recess to genius. . .”

When Buck Henry Fooled Walter Cronkite: “Zoos should be closed down until the animals could be properly attired.”

From a New York Times obit, by Bruce Weber, on Buck Henry:

With John Belushi (left) on Saturday Night Live.

Buck Henry, a writer and actor who exerted an often overlooked but potent influence on television and movie comedy—creating the loopy prime-time spy spoof “Get Smart” with Mel Brooks, writing the script for Mike Nichols’s landmark social satire “The Graduate” and teaming up with John Belushi in the famous samurai sketches on “Saturday Night Live”—died on Wednesday in Los Angeles. . . .

Do People Who Talk In an Interesting Way Also Write In an Interesting Way?

As a longtime editor at a city magazine, I crossed paths with thousands of would-be writers who wanted to talk about the stories they wanted to write. At first I tended to think that people who talked well also could write well.

That assumption was a trap that resulted in many headaches and kill fees. Finally I learned to listen and then say, “That sounds interesting but send me a note with more on the story and how you want to do it.” It wasn’t perfect but seeing something in writing did help identify a surprising number of good talkers who were flat and uninteresting writers.

“Robert Caro’s closet holds some of his 11 Smith Coronas, ready to be cannibalized for parts.”

From a New York Times story “Robert Caro’s Papers Find a Home”:

Robert Caro is famous for colossal biographies of colossal figures. “The Power Broker,” his Pulitzer Prize-winning life of Robert Moses, weighed in at nearly 1,300 pages. His as-yet-unfinished biography of Lyndon B. Johnson—he likes to call the volume-in-progress “the fifth of a projected three”—totals 3,444 pages and counting.

The books are already monumental. And now Mr. Caro is getting monumental treatment himself.

The New-York Historical Society has acquired Mr. Caro’s papers—some 200 linear feet of material that will be open to researchers in its library. . . .

The New Yorker Sub Game: “Horse Trading in 2020”

January 8, 2020 update:
Ok. Called NY yesterday to renew. They said $150/yr. I said no fucking way. Then she said $89/yr. I said ok. Then she offered another 3 months for $12.50. I said ok again. So 15 months for $102.50. I called back today just wanting to round it up to two years; so another 9 months. I was thinking $40/$50 and I’d be good. She added on another full year for $40. So 27 months for $142.50 = $63/yr. I’m fine with that. Horse trading in 2020.
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The New Yorker Sub Game: “What is this, a back alley Moroccan fabric bazaar?”
December 8, 2019

In 2017 I posted about “The Magazine Sub Game: How Does the New Yorker Play It?” and continue to get c0mments showing continuing reader frustration with the ever-changing price of a New Yorker subscription. Some recent comments:

Times Insider: “What techniques did you use to get reluctant people to talk?”

From a Times Insider column in which Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor talked about doing the Harvey Weinstein stories that won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service:

How do you two work together? You didn’t really know each other well before.

KANTOR We didn’t. Very early on we just had an ability to trust each other. Part of what you’re doing when you’re reporting a story like this is that you’re trying to be strong for everybody else. You want to be strong for your sources. You want to be strong in dealing with Harvey Weinstein. The partnership is a place to gather strength, but also to be a little vulnerable. We can really talk to each other in a very honest way.

How Movies, and More and More of Today’s Journalism, Can Be Kind of Fake

Hopkins and Pryce in “The Two Popes.”

Over the holidays I watched three good movies based on the lives of three real people:

“The Two Popes,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, is described this way: “Behind Vatican walls, the conservative Pope Benedict and the liberal future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.”

“The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is described as: “During World War II, the English mathematical genius Alan Turing tries to crack the German Enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.”

Ricky Gervais on Celebrities and Politics: “You Know Nothing About the Real World”

So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.

So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God and fuck off, OK?

—From Ricky Gervais’s opening monologue at the Golden Globe awards.