Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Torture, hurricanes and Wall Street (and good reporting)

A few more random links today, on topics covered here before:

Fly Air Torture, from Amnesty International. "No fares. No paperwork."
Thanks to the Bush Administration, the "war on terror" has been a big boon to our business. All flights are fully funded by unsuspecting taxpayers in the United States.

Before and After, a wonderful series from the Sun Herald in Biloxi, now a book. See what happened to dozens of private homes, historical places, and businesses in Mississippi from the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. Each photoset also has a bit of history of the place. I love the Waffle House photo, which looks like a classic Edward Hopper painting in the 'before' shot (and like a scene from Dante's Inferno in the 'after').

On the topic of newspaper history, an interesting insight from Richard Cohen in the Washington Post: A Thirst for Black Ink From Good Papers. He says what media critics have said for years, but with the coming Knight Ridder demise it makes it so much more poignant:
The phrase "Wall Street thinks" is a tsunamic oxymoron because Wall Street, by and large, does not think. Instead, it is ruthlessly reptilian, instinctively striving only for profits, which means money, which means more money for Wall Street. In the case of the Times -- and also, by implication, the Wall Street Journal and The Post -- Wall Street does not like the way these companies are managed. Although they are publicly traded, they are substantially controlled by individual families. This is undemocratic and inefficient. Pray it stays that way. all should appreciate that there is more than one way to measure value. For you to get richer, we will all have to get poorer.

In the Miami Herald, from Jack Dolen and Scott Hiaasen: Fire Rescue's Pay Files in a Chaotic Condition. Turns out the Miami Dade fire department charged 172 hours of computing work to come up with 6 records of overpayment. This kind of story -- inefficient government agencies that try to avoid doing work for the public by claiming their systems require expensive programming to compile it -- is a constant topic on the computer-assisted reporting message boards. This story does a great job of explaining to readers what it means. After all this work (and a request for additional funds to release the database to reporters) the department still can't resolve many of the records the Herald found questionable (a lot more than 6).


  • I was in contact with the Herald a few weeks ago with an idea on how to spur online interest in the newspaper site. They sounded interested but then just sort of let it drop. Thanx for the reminder here about the sad state of newspapers. Maybe will give the Herald a call again tomorrow. My idea can be tried out on a limited basis. If it works then it can be expanded but I definitely do think it will go a long way to INCREASING Herald.Com readership by quite a bit.

    So why am I helping a periodical that tends to the Liberal side? Call it nostalgia. I have fond memories of the Herald from when I was a kid in Dade (NOT Miami-Dade) County. I especially liked the innovative (for that time) color photos on the sports pages.

    Hopefully we can get that Herald readership back UP again. I think my idea will work.

    By Blogger PJ-Comix, at 6:46 PM  

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