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Thursday, June 26, 2008


LAO: Editing Broadsheets Abroad*

My latest post at LA Observed:
The Orange County Register's decision to outsource some editing to India shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone in our ailing newspaper industry, particularly here in Southern California, where a Pasadena news outfit flirted briefly in 2007 with the notion of outsourcing reporting to the subcontinent.

With 2008 shaping up to be the worst year on record for ad revenue, more creative solutions, and associated workforce reductions, are likely.

Not so in India.

They're accepting applications in India.

The company that the OC Register hired, Mindworks Global, has several job listings* posted on its Web site.

Because I've never worked on a copy desk, most editors would probably say I lack the experience necessary to perform the duties of a "copy editor." However, as Mindworks has made copy editing part of its mission, I thought I might help clean up its Careers* page. Consider it a bit of reverse outsourcing.

My edits are noted ...

Read the rest at LA Observed.

* UPDATE -- June 28, 2008 -- See footnote at LA Observed.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Nailed Down, Or Not ... Sell It

LA Times photo archive, UCLA Library.
LA Times owner Sam Zell made a lot of money in real estate before he considered buying the biggest daily on the West Coast. But now that he's stuck with it he appears willing to consider selling anything -- nailed down or not -- to squeeze a few more dollars out. And so, despite the down market, it appears he's looking to unload the "under utilized" LA Times building downtown, which more than a few people say is virtually worthless.

At this rate, one has to wonder when the paper's Pulitzers will show up for auction on eBay. Printing presses to follow by Christmas? Sad days continue on Spring Street.

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Monday, June 23, 2008


Fuck! George Carlin Died

As a kid, I kept his records hidden in a very special collection, top of the stack, right before Cheech & Chong.

His seven dirty words did not scar my young mind, particularly since he always used them in a sentence.

He was, by any measure, one of the greatest comedic performers and writers of the 20th Century.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


LAO: 'Toasts evenly, too'

'Hollywood Bread' advertisement, Oakland Tribune, 1941
My latest blog entry over at LA Observed:
While researching a project completely unrelated to Southern California's well of weight loss secrets, I came across a newspaper advertisement — pictured at right — for Hollywood Bread, and, as summer is the get-skinny season, it seemed as good a reason as any to share it here (view the full ad at this link).

You don't have to be a Los Angeleno to greet all diet claims with immediate suspicion, if not full-on Fran-Drescheresque laughter, but given this Hollywood Bread advertisement was published in the Oakland Tribune nearly 70 years ago, it not only amused me, but deepened my understanding of human gullibility and the pitfalls of misfiling long-term lessons in the short-term memory bin of our brains ...
Read the full entry at LA Observed.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


'You'll Remember It Forever,' They Said

Prom night.

They started talking about it before I even got to high school.

"The best night of your life," they said.

Some Brits are buying it. Some aren't.

A story in today's Wall Street Journal says British youths have reportedly developed a fondness for the American tradition, so much so they've taken to planning proms of their own, complete with all the frippery of kings and queens (they're British, after all). But the front-page WSJ piece characterized this not as a form of celebration, but as an "Alien Invasion," a cultural US export that the middle-class teen population of Great Britain could do without.

Says the story:
British teenagers say they've seen the events in movies like "American Pie" and television shows such as "The O.C.," and they want the chance to dress up and rent limousines themselves. That means a new reason for Britons to worry about the dilution of their culture, a new burden on parents' pocketbooks, and new businesses selling prom essentials such as tuxedos and corsages.

The piece goes on (and on) about the excess — parents renting hot cars for kids who promise to study harder ... young women splurging on expensive dresses …

A couple of the Brits quoted by the WSJ spoke as though this whole prom thing is an abomination of indulgence, a waste of time and money — the sort of concerns that few American parents have ever contemplated themselves. Nope. Never.

Personally, I paid my own way to prom, and if it were it my choice to do it all over again, I wouldn't. It's not that the whole party-in-a-golf-clubhouse thing turned tragic. I didn't get beat up. I had someone to dance with all evening. I even learned a few life lessons, such as how to identify "chicken cordon bleu" by sight and smell. Regarding tux styles, I also learned to never take fashion advice from someone old enough to be my grandparent, like the tux store owner who assured me that all the coolest tuxes had piping down the pant legs, and on the lapels. That frilly shirt was another of his recommendations. After all that, I insisted on the cane. At the very least I had enough sense to keep a weapon handy, just in case the whole piping thing when horribly wrong in the parking lot. But, really, in terms of it being that "special night to remember," all I recall relates to what a boondoggle it turned out to be.

I suppose I might have different memories if someone else had sprung for it. Unearned dollars spend so much more easily, especially when used to rent something like a Lamborghini. "They" never told me that was part of the tradition too.

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Monday, June 16, 2008


Tim Russert's Lessons Live On

After a weekend of moving commentary about the life (and untimely death) of journalist Tim Russert, it was no surprise this morning to see the top three titles atop the Amazon.com bestseller list were all works by Russert:
1. Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life

2. Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons

3. Big Russ and Me: Father and Son: Lessons of Life

Same pattern at iTunes, where the audio version of "Big Russ & Me" was tops for audio book sales.

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Friday, June 13, 2008


Russert's Death A Tragic Loss

Journalists don't do it for love, they do it because they love what they do.

They don't do it for dollars either. Those who think it's about the money are usually the ones who have the most trouble of all when it comes to relating to the press.

There's no denying that the most well-known anchors and hosts at the network level are well compensated, but anyone smart enough to get to that point knows there are many other ways — far less public ways — to work less and earn more.

Tim Russert had his critics, same as any reporter who has ever strived for fairness, pursued truth dispassionately, and dared to ask the same question more than once when the response was nothing close to an answer. A journalist who does that is bound to upset people on every side of any issue at least once and awhile. But Russert remained above it, a professional who continued to ask questions that needed to be asked, and probably a few that didn't. He was, after all, flesh and bone, as imperfect as the rest of us, but certainly more driven than most.

Russert's death of an apparent heart attack today, at the age of 58, came far too soon. He will be missed for years to come, yet, the spirit with which he approached his work will surely live on in the young journalists he inspired. It's a tragic loss.

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