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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 08:43 AM ET, 10/24/2011

Media news derivatives: Oct. 24

In case you missed it — Still thinking about copy-editing. Following a post by Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton on the ills found within the paper’s copy, the Erik Wemple Blog offered up a somewhat contrary perspective. That perspective is, essentially, deal with it. Yes, the copy-editing staff at just about all newspapers these days is strung out; errors will indeed find their way into the paper and into blog posts. But at what cost perfection? If that cost means converting reporter slots to copy-editing slots, I say that’s a price too steep.

And one other question: Why, when people see copy mistakes, does the blame always fall 100 percent on the shoulders of the copy editors? Why not blame the people who likely introduced the error to begin with — namely, the reporters and line editors?

Also: Michele Bachmann has no grounds for slamming the media for failing to verify something before reporting it.

Elsewhere:

*Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) will join Fox News as a commentator on the 2012 presidential race. That is, if Fox can keep him off the hiking trails.

*Interesting stuff happening between the Huffington Post and the Newspaper Guild, the organization that had boycotted HuffPo over its reliance on unpaid bloggers. Forbes’s Jeff Bercovici reports that the boycott is now over, because HuffPo has agreed that it won’t assign unpaid people to cover news. If those unpaid people just decide that they want to cover news, however, HuffPo in all likelihood won’t do much to stop them. Here’s a statement from the Guild:

We appreciate the Post’s lively engagement in an ongoing dialogue. After a number of very productive meetings, the Huffington Post has agreed to draw a bright line in the sand between staffers and bloggers, with (unpaid) bloggers no longer being assigned stories or expected to cover news.

*Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman said a while back that Apple’s virtual Newsstand was not a game-changing innovation. He’s now amending that prediction, based on data showing that Newsstand is moving apps for magazines and newspapers. Why is this happening? Sonderman ventures an answer:

Empty shelves beg to be filled. Look around your home. Look for all the shelves, in bookcases or perhaps wall-mounted. Are any of them empty? Probably not.
If I went to your house and put up a new shelf today, you would probably find something to put on it by tomorrow. When given a shelf, a human will fill it.
Newsstand exploits this instinct. Its dynamic icon shows what currently rests on your virtual shelves. When you first install iOS 5 or get your new iPhone or iPad, the Newsstand icon’s empty shelves sit there on your home screen, looking lonely. You tap the icon, you see the full-sized empty shelves, and then you see the “Store” button right there to help you fill them. As you fill the first shelf, another empty one appears below it, beckoning you further.

*David Carr of the New York Times blasts Gannett for wrapping up an exit package of $37 million for outgoing CEO Craig Dubow. How did he earn that honey pot? Carr explains:

His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster. Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns.
Never a standout in journalism performance, the company strip-mined its newspapers in search of earnings, leaving many communities with far less original, serious reporting.

*Janet Maslin gives the rundown on the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs. On the question of Jobs’s personality:

Although Mr. Isaacson is not analytical about his subject’s volatile personality (the word “obnoxious” figures in the book frequently), he raises the question of whether feelings of abandonment in childhood made him fanatically controlling and manipulative as an adult. Fortunately, that glib question stays unanswered.

On Jobs’s achievements:

“Steve Jobs” greatly admires its subject. But its most adulatory passages are not about people. Offering a combination of tech criticism and promotional hype, Mr. Isaacson describes the arrival of each new product right down to Mr. Jobs’s theatrical introductions and the advertising campaigns. But if the individual bits of hoopla seem excessive, their cumulative effect is staggering. Here is an encyclopedic survey of all that Mr. Jobs accomplished, replete with the passion and excitement that it deserves.

And the article contains a fun correction:

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the premise of “Angry Birds,” a popular iPhone game. In the game, slingshots are used to launch birds to destroy pigs and their fortresses, not to shoot down the birds.

By  |  08:43 AM ET, 10/24/2011

 
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