Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hungarian Goulash Wednesday

Home Sweet Home. Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter and willing tool of neocon thugs in the Bush administration, has apparently found a home more to her ideological liking--the Wall Street Journal editorial page. She'll fit in wonderfully there, amid all the true believers and scoffers of the reality-based community.

Nice Use of the Web. The new owner of the Akron Beacon Journal may be in the process of cutting its staff so deeply as to render it a glorified suburban shopper, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still sometimes produce worthwhile material. The paper's website (it's very name,, now serves as a sad reminder of the paper's onetime outsized ambition and penchant for overachievement) has a great package about Akron-area residents who have died in Iraq. How about doing something similar, While you're at it, you might also take a look at a similarly well-executed package the Buffalo News has just published on its website about one-time area graduates who have both left and remained in the region. I happened to read it because one of its featured targets is my friend Vince O'Keefe, a fine writer, college professor and now a stay-at-home dad in Avon, who got a little thrill out of having his face appear on the front page of his hometown paper. Vince's story is told here and here. Last year, I told some of Vince's story in this column.

How the Bush Gang is Like the Mob. Our idiot Attorney General was back before Congress yesterday, trying his best to explain the unexplainable, and proving once again that not everyone who assembles an otherwise uplifting life story of rising from relative poverty to a Harvard degree is necessarily a smart or honest person. But it reminded me that a friend sent along this interesting little video clip from You Tube some time ago, which makes light of the chiling similarties between Bush henchmen (including Gonzalez) visiting the hospital bed of then-AG John Ashcroft and the famous scene from The Godfather in which Michael Corleone is forced to act quickly to protect his hospitalized father from being murdered. Bush even helps cement the comparison by reportedly using the nickname "Fredo" for Gonzalez.

Errors on the Increase at NYT. As you may have read or heard, the New York Times has recently moved to new digs, after a century at its old offices. The new physical location was designed so as to further integrate the web and print operations, the reality being that the paper (like most others) is now largely organized to run as a 24-hour news operation, constantly updating itself via the web. Naturally, there's much debate in journalism circles about what that might mean for the future, but also about what it means for the soul of the operation. One thing it has led to, I would argue, is a noticable uptick in the number of errors I've observed in the print product (not a huge increase, mind you, since it's gone from very few to a few. Writer Virginia Postrel noted this typo in a recent headline. And on today's front page, there's an egregious error in an otherwise ho-hum report about New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's strong-arm tactics (the governor's press person's name is used twice in one sentence). That's something you would rarely if ever see in the past.

And finally, back to Cleveland and our own PD. We all come across articles in the paper that make us scratch our heads. But one article in the Plain Dealer's business section last Friday took the cake. It's a 395-word account of a non-story: the fact that beginning in September, all Macy's stores will require all employees to wear black. Please, someone (preferably from the PD), explain to me why that information warrants an entire feature story, however compact it might have been (it was on the front business page). A two-sentence news blurb for filler, maybe. But a whole story? Come on. In this and other developments at the paper, I feel the distinct chill of a return to pre-Doug Clifton dominance by the business side over the editorial department. But this story was especially craven in that regard.


At 11:18 PM, Anonymous John Kroll said...


Check your Sunday Plain Dealer for coverage of Ohio's war deaths and news of our database, available, along with other features, here.

John Kroll
News impact editor
The Plain Dealer

At 2:01 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Thanks, John. I did indeed notice that this morning, and was glad to see it. But I hope you might care to also take a crack at answering for the paper on the question of that bizarre Macy's story I also mentioned. Why exactly did that warrant an entire feature, and on the front business page no less?


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