thursday, may 01, 2008

The Paradigm Shift in American Sportswriting

Earlier this week, Will Lietch, the man behind the fantastically popular sports blog, Deadspin, decided to take part in a panel on Bob Costas's HBO show, CostasNow. Also taking part was Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger, who has made a name as an author of books on various sports themes.

The discourse died the second Bissinger told Lietch "You're full of shit."

Now, I might not possess a Pulitzer Prize but years ago, when I was setting out to get a degree in Philosophy, I learned the hard way that the hallmark of a losing argument was when you became incensed. Cursing means you have graduated to simply showing your ass.

Undaunted, Bissinger went on to excoriate Lietch as an exemplar of all the excesses attributable to those who write under the aegis of bloggers. In one sense, Lietch is a valid target due to the sheer dominance his site has over its niche. But the vitrol this lauded writer spewed out obliterated any possibility of discourse. read more

posted by kleph @ 2:00 am | comments

friday, april 18, 2008

Stop the Presses

Between 2004 and 2006, approximately 200 journalists working at The Dallas Morning News lost their jobs. Some were laid off, others opted for a voluntary buyout and good old attrition snagged a few as well. By the time it was all said and done approximately 30 percent of the newsroom staff was eliminated.

Manny Mendoza was one of the staffers who took the buyout. Instead of heading off to Vegas for a year's worth of poker playing as the former arts and entertainment critic previously vowed, he decided to join forces with Dallas filmmaker Mark Birnbaum and document what had happened.

He wanted to examine the unholy combination of forces that made the cuts necessary and look at the impact on the reporters and editors who were affected. read more

posted by kleph @ 3:00 am | 0 comments

monday, july 30, 2007

A Requiem for Foreign Journalism

I got an email from a gentleman I know very slightly through another website this week asking for information about Peru. Turns out he is about to head down here with his family and had some serious concerns about the situation in the country.

He did his research and came up with a number of stories about recent unrest which, allied with a State Department warning issued last week, had sharpened his concerns.

“It is hard to judge from the limited info I can find what the feeling is like down there,” he wrote.

I was able to give him an “on the ground” report – as well as pointing him to my entries on the incidents I’ve posted on my other blog Andean Currents - that assuaged his concerns but the fact he felt the need to even contact me over this was troubling to me. read more

posted by kleph @ 12:00 pm | 2 comments

monday, april 16, 2007

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

The wail of the banshee was loud and long and glorious but it ended with a pathetic bang in front of a typewriter one winter’s afternoon in Woody Creek, Colorado. It is saddening that the excesses of Hunter S. Thompson will probably overshadow the subtle and sharp skills he could bring to bear when he wished, but we have to print the legend, do we not?

Much as with All the President’s Men, I was lucky to find Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72 after I had been clasped in the sweaty embrace of journalism. Having been weaned intellectually in the harsh intellectualism of Wittgenstein and Hegel so I was little tempted to follow the book's frantic flights of fancy.

But the ability to pull the curtain away to reveal the great and powerful whatsis? Now that I was very keen to imitate. read more

posted by kleph @ 1:00 am | 0 comments

monday, april 09, 2007

An Interview with Jaime Razuri

On New Years Day, a Peruvian photojournalist for Agency France-Presse, Jaime Razuri, was kidnapped at gunpoint in the Gaza Strip. For six days his whereabouts were unknown as journalists and diplomats from around the globe demanded his release. He was freed, unharmed, on Jan. 7.

The incident made him a minor international celebrity and a major one in his home country. But it also overshadows a more than 20-year career that has included covering some of the most turbulent conflicts in our times.

Jaime studied photography at the University of Lima and then journeyed to Spain to hone his skills further. By the end of the 1980s he was working as a photojournalist in Lima during the devastating conflict led by communist insurgents that included the infamous Shining Path. read more

posted by kleph @ 7:00 am | 0 comments

monday, april 02, 2007

All the President's Men - Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

I had the good fortune (or prescience) to not read All the President’s Men until after I became a working journalist. As a result I was less swayed by the drama of sticking it to the man than the book’s vivid depiction of real journalists at work.

It’s my firm belief that every journalist can be classified by their favorite episode in the book (or scene in the movie). Most of the go-getting investigative types I've ever met were inspired by the idea of Bernstein jotting down the notes from the reluctant source on napkins, matchbooks, whatever.

That one always bothered me. It seemed somewhat… unethical. The source clearly is concerned about how they will be affected by giving out the information and the reporter is bending over backwards not to break that spell. Of course when the story is in the paper it’s not going to matter much is it? read more

posted by kleph @ 8:00 am | 1 comments

saturday, january 06, 2007

Jaime Razuri

Jaime Razuri was released by his captors in the Gaza Strip earlier today.

According to Agence France-Presse, Razuri was taken to the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"I'm fine. I'm very happy to be released. They treated me well and gave me good food," Razuri said minutes after he was freed.

"It was not a five-star hotel but it was very good. I was treated very well. I'm as well as I was when I arrived in Gaza." He also thanked "all those who were involved in my release."

Palestinian security sources said it appeared one of Gaza's powerful clans abducted Razuri on Jan 1. but Fatah officials working with Popular Resistance Committees, a small militant Gaza group, were able to mediate his release.

Razuri left Gaza and crossed the Erez border point into Israel accompanied by Peruvian and French diplomats just before 2000 GMT, AFP reported. read more

posted by kleph @ 10:00 pm | 0 comments

thursday, january 04, 2007

Jaime Rázuri

On New Year's Day, Jaime Rázuri, a 50-year-old Peruvian photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, was kidnapped at gunpoint on a street in the Gaza Strip.

He was standing in front of the AFP office when five masked men approached him, pushed him in a car and sped away, officials said. Beyond that details about the incident are very sketchy.

Peruvian officials have been quoted saying a dissident group of Hamas was responsible but that report was later refuted by the Palestinian government.

Jaime is a friend of mine. I got to know him while helping him polish his English for his assignment covering the World Cup soccer tournament last year. It would be tough to think of a less political, more kind person than Jaime. He is very soft spoken which can often camouflage his sharp sense of humor. read more

posted by kleph @ 7:00 am | 1 comments

thursday, september 14, 2006

Hard Times for the Rock of Truth and Righteousness

"Build the news upon the rock of truth and righteousness, conducting it always upon the lines of fairness and integrity, and acknowledging the right of the people to get from the newspaper both sides of every important question." - George Bannerman Dealey

I can still vividly remember the October day back in 2001 when I got a phone call at home from the managing editor of the paper I worked at. This was a little strange since 1) it was 8 p.m. on a Sunday night and 2) I didn’t really like her that much nor she me.

Anyhow, I was told my presence had been requested at a meeting early the next morning and, sorry, she was not at liberty to tell me what it was about.

Needless to say, when I went into the main office the next day all the paper’s panjandrums were sitting dourly at the table and a properly beefy security guard was just outside the door. After an exchange of my security card and beeper for a somewhat tawdry severance check I was invited to leave the building through the loading dock. read more

posted by kleph @ 12:48 am | 0 comments

saturday, december 03, 2005

Life as a Foreign Jounalist

Since heading to South America to make my way as a foreign journalist I have noticed many of my friends who still toil in the bosom of daily domestic newspapers are a touch envious. They shouldn't be. The grind of being a freelance foreign journalist provides as much frustration and irritation as working a cruddy bureau beat. It provides some of the same ethical dangers as well.

Recently, COX News Service put out a story that was blatantly plagiarized from other sources. The usual hand wringing and recriminations followed. They blamed their contract freelancer who, in turn, blamed his “fixer.”

Don’t know what a “fixer” is? Well neither did I and I am a contract freelancer by trade. Luckily, former South American contract freelancer David Paulin penned an interesting article for Editor & Publisher magazine examining exactly how foreign journalism works in the wake of this mess. read more

posted by kleph @ 2:40 am | 0 comments

saturday, october 02, 2004

The Shorthorn

Last night, was a reunion for folks who had worked at the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper, The Shorthorn. Sadly, I couldn't make it but I did enjoy the commemorative issue the folks put out for the occasion. (The entire issue is available as a PDF file)

Reporter Caren Penland did an excellent job telling the story of our hectic year covering the administration. There were street protests, threats of litigation, uncooperative sources, paper trails - you name it. I even had my very own "deep throat" source who tipped me off on some of the most important events. read more

posted by kleph @ 9:35 pm | 0 comments

saturday, january 10, 2004

Laissez faire and the Fourth Estate

A few days ago I laid out my reasoning for skipping the country in light of the abysmal conditions of working in modern journalism. Not the super-high-end-major-daily journalism where the halls are paved with gold and the cafeteria serves ambrosia… well, where they at least pay a decent wage and you have the resources to do something worthwhile. No, I mean the middle and lower tiers of the industry where 90 percent of us toil in rude obscurity.

A bit of news released yesterday kind of highlighted the doublespeak that envelops your life when you are working in these types of places. It seems the economy isn’t doing as peachy as once thought. According to the labor department the U.S. economy was only able to tack on 1,000 non-farm jobs last month – a little short of the 150,000 the government predicted would be in the offing. read more

posted by kleph @ 6:00 pm | 0 comments