Kevin Shalvey

It Builds Character

Credit: Bill Watterson

Twenty-five years ago yesterday, a stuffed tiger and a kid — eponymous of philosophers — began a decade of newspaper syndication. You remember them: They hung around in the woods. In the winter, they carried a sled. In the summer, time always grew short. Read More →

In Which David Carr Teaches You about Reporter Branding

David Carr, a former crackhead and current columnist for The New York Times, his voice its usual rasp, says he loves to swear.

It seems true; the discerning listener could tell by the lack of hesitation when he says “fucking” in his next sentence. If you read at least a few pages of his book, a tome tracking his descent into drugs and, eventually, a gun or two, you might be able to guess about the relish with which he sometimes uses the word. You might think, actually, that he invented it. Maybe that he has it copyrighted and is hoping that it will catch on – that you’ll owe him a nickel each time you say it. That said, you’ll never see him use it on Twitter.

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The New Yorker Updates its Password System

If you’re a subscriber to The New Yorker‘s website, this morning there should be an email from the magazine in your inbox. It seems that if you hadn’t changed your password — the default was your email address, as we reported last week — the magazine went ahead and changed it for you.

The New Yorker has a Paywall Problem, Part 2

Comments left throughout The New Yorker’s JavaScript code include an email address of a faculty member at Lehman College.

Eleven years ago, when Jon Lech Johansen was a 15-year-old kid in Norway, he sat at his computer and banged out code that would become known worldwide as DeCSS, the base for a program allowing people to copy encrypted DVDs.

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News Scouts

Credit: Paul Downey
School badges, originally from the photographer’s sportcoat.

When Michael C. Dumler joined Foursquare and started checking in around the country, the badges at first came rolling in. They came quickly — the “Newbie” badge, a badge for your first ten check-ins, and a few others.

“However,” Dumler told me in an email from California, where he’s the business director at Breaking Development, “once you get the first handful of badges they become harder to obtain.”

It was inevitable that the media, seeing the popularity of social badges, would want to try it. CNN’s iReport program has a brand new badge system for contributors. MTV has one on Foursquare. The Wall Street Journal created a bunch — as of this morning, the paper had 39,326 followers on Foursquare.

So how will badging help the media?

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Tribune v. Tribune

Update 11:20 p.m.: The New York Times is now reporting that Randy Michaels, the CEO brought into Tribune Co. by Sam Zell, will be asked for his resignation.

Credit: Kevin Shalvey
The Chicago Tribune

Now that David Carr, over at The New York Times, has tipped everyone off to what appears to be an appalling amount of misogyny and mayhem brought to The Chicago Tribune by Sam Zell, it seems to be all that anyone in the Chicago media scene can talk about.

That’s forced Gerry Kern, the Trib‘s editor, to kick-start a tough process: He’s now trying to exhume The Chicago Tribune media property from the $8.2 billion grave into which Sam Zell has lowered the Tribune Co. In a memo — in which Kern is not using an inside voice — to his staffers, he said this:

Faced with the most crucial moment of our careers and the most perilous moment in the Chicago Tribune’s history, we did not retreat. Instead, we stood and fought to create a brighter future for the Chicago Tribune. That is real courage.

While most have watched the Trib‘s Chapter 11 case with finite smugness — “Oh, it used to be such a good paper.” — there’s now brewing a serious debate about the valuation model used during Zell’s buyout.

The deal reportedly was predicated on a five-year revenue model that overshot the amount of advertising that the 2012 elections would draw. And some at the Trib might have squeezed it through because they were “expected to benefit personally from closing the deal,” Crain’s reported.

So it seems that Kern’s strategy might be an attempt to further separate the Trib‘s editorial department from the failing financial behemoth that it has anchored for so long. Could this be the first step toward another sale for the paper?

As for the culture at the top of the Trib, the first domino fell. Lee Abrams, who had put out a memo apologizing for his bawdy intra-office email, submitted his resignation.

Dear New York Times: Thanks for Killing Editor’s Choice App

Now on an iPad: A.O. Scott’s review of the new Eastwood flick.

So The New York Times today has upped the usefulness of its app on the iPad. When I visited the App Store this morning, there was an automatic update that scrapped that awful Editor’s Choice app in favor of a near-full-content app.

For the discerning Times reader, the app seems initially to foster the story-wandering that we all love about the print edition. But it doesn’t seem to add much functionality — and is almost identical to the Times Reader that’s planted on your laptop.

It’s good, however, to have a full Movies section, because, really, how else would I know that Manohla Dargis thinks Jackass 3-D seems to “be exploring, with degrees of knowing and naivete, some of the same surrealist terrain described by Luis Bunuel in his memoir, ‘My Last Sign.’”

You have to wonder whether the rumors about Steve Jobs supposedly hating the Editor’s Choice app had anything to do with the improvements. Likely not, right?

A Farewell to Notebooks

Credit: Moleskine

Now that Moleskine has introduced a series of covers for your iPad and iPhone, you can put your X-ACTO away, stop carving your notebooks and relax.

Amazon has a pre-order listing, but there doesn’t seem to be a price point yet. (The Kindle edition had an initial listing of $39.99.)

And for you notebook-in-your-pocket junkies, the American-made Field Notes Brand says it has a “new product” that will be announced and available by Thanksgiving.

Eric Fisher

Why Your Photos are Contrived

Using photo geotagging records, Eric Fischer has created a series of city maps with photographic hot spots. In this post is one of Fischer’s Tourist vs. Locals map, with the tourist shots in red and the locals in blue. I’ve heard that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed site in the United States and this Bay Area map is showingRead More →

Rocinante Redux

The cover art from the Bantam paperback edition of Travels With Charley

Bill Steigerwald, now a blogger for Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette, has just taken off on a trip that we’d all love to take: He’s attempting to recreate the 10,000-mile American road trip made famous by John Steinbeck.

If you haven’t read Travels with Charley: In Search of America, Steinbeck’s account of his three-month trek in a custom pick-up, you probably should go out and buy it right now. Aside from a few dated sections — like, say, Steinbeck’s prediction that modular and mobile homes would be the future of American living — it’s still a mostly pitch-perfect look at Americans.

Let’s hope that Steigerwald is traveling vacilar, a path that Steinbeck describes this way:

If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesn’t greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.

For Steinbeck, the journey was enough; Steigerwald, however, will have deadlines. His posts will be here.