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News You Can't Use
Turns out the media may be far more fixated on a female court nominee than, say, the rest of America. Gallup reports:
"Despite the widely reported expectation that President Barack Obama will be looking for a qualified woman -- perhaps from a minority racial or ethnic group -- to fill the seat to be vacated by the retiring Justice David Souter, 64% of Americans say it doesn't matter to them whether Obama appoints a woman, with slightly higher percentages saying the same about the appointment of a black or Hispanic."
Only 6 percent said picking a woman was an "essential" idea, while 26 percent went with "good idea, not essential."
Former Beauty Queen Speaks
Sarah Palin is defending Miss California against "the liberal onslaught of malicious attacks."
The Bailout Begins
The Seattle Times may be the state's chief beneficiary, but doesn't give the story much space:
"Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved a tax break for the state's troubled newspaper industry.
"The new law gives newspaper printers and publishers a 40 percent cut in the state's main business tax. The discounted rate mirrors breaks given in years past to the Boeing Co. and the timber industry."
"Two months after denouncing a troubled financial company for doling out hefty management bonuses, a bankrupt news media company is doing the same thing," the Washington Times reports.
" 'Money for nothing?' blared a Chicago Tribune editorial in mid-March, responding to news that American International Group Inc. planned to give $450 million in bonuses to its top executives during a very public federal bailout.
"But this week, the Tribune Co. -- which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant and other dailies, along with 23 TV stations -- received permission from a Delaware bankruptcy judge to pay out $13.3 million in bonuses to some 700 local and corporate managers."
A Brigham Young University survey of more than 200 journalists will surely feed accusations of liberal bias:
"Most journalists were aware of influential blogs on both sides of the political spectrum, such as Daily Kos and Talking Points on the left and Michelle Malkin and Instapundit on the right. Despite equal awareness, journalists spend more time reading posts in the liberal blogosphere.
"For example, more journalists know about Michelle Malkin than Talking Points. Yet twice as many journalists actually read Talking Points than read Michelle Malkin."
Says Professor Richard Davis: "When journalists take story ideas from blogs, those ideas naturally will come from blogs they read. These reading patterns suggest journalists may be getting primarily one view of the blogosphere."
At the same time, even conservatives tell me that liberal blogs have been more popular and more successful so far.
Pay to Play?
In writing about the crisis engulfing newspapers, I've repeatedly noted that some see salvation in charging readers tiny sums for individual articles. Now Greg Horowitz at The Digitalists warns:
"No one seems to have considered the fact that they would be an absolute disaster for journalists.
"The argument for micropayments is usually couched in terms of how we must do something to save newspapers and the vital civic role they perform. If they go away, we are told, who will fund the Baghdad bureau? Who will be left to cover the statehouse and the city zoning-board commissions? And so apparently if we adopt micropayments, everything will go back to the way it was. Newspapers will become profitable again, reporters can once again be insulated from all that nasty business stuff that they never cared about in the first place, and everyone will get a pony . . .
"What exactly do these people think that newspaper execs will do with data showing exactly how profitable every single article is? Just sit on that information? Or will they use it to make business decisions about which departments, types of articles and individual journalists are delivering the most ROI? 'Sorry, Woodward, we know you won the Pulitzer last year, but your articles only generated $97.85 in revenue, so we're going to have to let you go.'
"Of course, it wouldn't just influence the executives. Journalists themselves would start shading their stories to what sells, and the most successful would be the ones who were the best salespeople (or who knew the most tricks). Get ready for a lot less zoning-board recaps and a lot more 'Top 10 Sexual Positions.' "
Must . . . resist . . . cheap . . . joke.
But as Horowitz acknowledges, the digital age already gives us the information about what is hot and what is not. You could already change your journalistic priorities based on what is attracting the most clicks. Micropayments could increase the temptation, I suppose. But no micropayments might eliminate the problem -- by putting some media outlets out of business.
All right, I'm off for a few days. Talk among yourselves.