There are few things that The Observer loves reading about more than the lurid world of ultra high-end real estate. From Eastern European oligarchs buying $88 million dorm rooms for their daughters to billionaires butting heads over custom renovations to their mega-penthouses, real estate is a both a personal and a professional obsession. And during this past year, there are few reporters that we have enjoyed reading more than New York Times’s Alexei Barrionuevo, who has chronicled the ups and, well, the ups of the trophy market in his Big Deal column over the past 16 months.
So we were sad to hear that Mr. Barrionuevo will be leaving his column and The Times to work on a documentary series called Project Allegro.
The state of journalism is bad. Of course, Jonah Lehrer and Fareed Zakaria—high-profile writers at The New Yorker and Time, respectively—were recently exposed as frauds and plagiarists, but that’s not the worst of it. Not even close. The phone-tapping scandal that nearly imploded NewsCorp’s news division last year? Nope.
In fact, nothing illustrates the distressing state of affairs more clearly than the reaction to Judge William Alsup’s recent order that Google and Oracle turn over the names of the reporters and bloggers whom the two companies had paid for potentially positive coverage supporting their case in a high-stakes copyright lawsuit.
Wait, what reaction? Oh, you didn’t even hear about this?
“This gentleman made a mockery of journalism, and he did it for no other reason than to sell his books, ” Peter Shankman told The Observer by phone this week. The social media entrepreneur (who believes in “Twitacles”) was talking about Ryan Holiday, American Apparel public relations expert and social media con man. Mr. Holiday’s release of his first book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, last week coincided with him revealing that he had used Mr. Shankman’s service, Help a Reporter Out (or HARO), a clearinghouse for would-be expert sources, to deceive news outlets like MSNBC, ABC, and The New York Times.
Typically, journalists don’t get much fan mail so much as letters from The Concerned Public, weighing in on their take with whatever the matter of the day is. It makes sense: Reporters at daily newspapers—especially those who quietly, diligently, and often thanklessly hack away on metro beats—are usually tasked with the gathering of facts first and foremost, and then, the clear-eyed relaying of those facts (usually in a well-established format, like the inverted pyramid). Where there’s room for creativity, it’s in the subtle details, and they usually don’t end up the recipients of epic pieces of fan mail from world-renowned authors.
Until they do.
COMMENTER HALL OF FAME
All over Twitter, and Tumblr, and email and Instant Message, media folks are passing around a new Tumblr they are wasting their precious time laughing at today.
On Friday afternoon, prompted by a survey in which journalism was ranked among the worst jobs in the country, New York Times media reporter David Carr asked a question: How do America’s journalists feel about their jobs? Carr opened the question up to commenters, who cut a pretty wide swath of opinions. One commenter, however, stood out above the rest, giving less an answer than a hilariously trolling story about a particularly high-ranking Timesman’s ascent.
But this wasn’t just any ordinary commenting troll.
Occupy the Media
Facebook, the virtual friend-making machine invented by a socially handicapped Harvard computer whiz*, has published a note teaching journalists how increase their followings.
It is not a primer on the acquisition of friends. In September, Facebook introduced “Subscribe,” an option which allows other users to receive only your public updates. You can encourage subscribers to hang on your every word without having to let them into your photo albums, contact information, etc. It’s just one of many new Internet-based relationship categories (Gchat sources, Twitter crushes) for which journalists (an historically unpopular race) should be grateful.
Stu Loeser, Mayor Bloomberg’s spokesperson, just sent out a note regarding an Awl report listing the names of reporters arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests. In the email, reprinted below, he goes on the attack, noting that only 5 of the 26 reporters arrested are credentialed by the city, almost as if to distinguish between the rights of credentialed and non-credentialed reporters.
And who were the actual, real, card-carrying, government certified reporters arrested? AP reporter Julie Walker and Patrick Hedlund from DNA Info were both issued Desk Appearance Tickets for Disorderly Conduct, while Paul Lomax of DNA Info and Karen Matthews and Seth Wenig, both of the AP, had their arrests for trespassing voided.
Full memo after the jump. Do enjoy, and, don’t forget: Bloomberg’s spokesperson reads The Awl. Be less stupid:
The Rum Diary, based on another literary punch-out by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, was made three years ago, shelved in some musty editing room where unreleasable movies go, and looks it. The dust still shows.
Johnny Depp is dismally miscast as the alter ego of the rebellious author with the “screw you” attitude—a wasted, beat-up alcoholic who goes to Puerto Rico to work for a doomed newspaper called the San Juan Star whose faltering editor (Richard Jenkins, unrecognizable in a gray wig) is helpless to draw much attention to world events on a lawless island overwhelmed by gangsters and riots.
Beloved newspaperman – from back when the term held significance – and novelist Pete Hamill spoke about his new book Tabloid City, the future of journalism (it will survive) and the good old days last night at The Museum of the City of New York.
“This was my attempt to sum up Read More