Thursday, August 07, 2003

And from the doesn’t quite get it yet file…

“Bloggers won’t match Limbaugh.”

This column in The Hill by Dr. David Hill shows only the vaguest understanding of how weblogs work.

The premise is flawed, because it compares a broadcast model to the networked weblog model. It would be more accurate to compare the collective influence of talk radio with the collective influence of weblogs.  

Hill gives four reasons blogs won't equal Limbaugh's influence. Points one, two, and four are gross generalizations about a nascent medium. What’s more, they describe limitations not of the medium itself, but of the way it’s (allegedly) been used so far. So to hold them up as reasons weblogs won’t ever catch up to radio is just silly.

Point three is true – Rush Limbaugh is a very talented fellow, and a single superstar blogger may never match his success. But as we’ve already discussed, that’s not the point of weblogs anyway.

Hill also touts Limbaugh’s show prep, as if a weblogger, especially one with a major media organization behind him, couldn’t match it. More important – Limbaugh’s show prep no doubt includes weblogs, and weblogs will contribute more and more to the media food chain as they evolve.

12:50:58 PM    comment []   trackback []

David Hoggard makes an interesting point – if the Burlington Industries building on Friendly is of historic significance, what about the old Burlington Industries building downtown?


Spin factors: Wilbur Ross has got to figure out what to do with that big half-empty modern monster of an HQ building, so of course he's going to talk up its value, and Hoggard would rather not see a baseball stadium go up where the old building now stands.


Still a good question, though.

11:37:52 AM    comment []   trackback []

It’s OK to suck in the funny pages of the News & Record, but there’s still no sucking on the op-ed page.


The Greensboro daily ran this morning’s “FoxTrot” cartoon in its comics section, complete with the word “sucks.”


Yet last week the N&R edited the word “sucking” from the “Doonesbury” strip, which runs in the opinion pages.


N&R editor John Robinson says he didn’t see the “FoxTrot” strip before it ran, but he probably would have run it anyway.


“We don’t have a lot of hard and fast rules, because we are a daily newspaper and can make things up on the fly,” Robinson told me on the phone just now. “We look at the tone, try to figure out what the person is saying. I’ll shop it around to other people to get a sense of what they think.”


“Doonesbury” runs in the opinion section, edited by Allen Johnson. Robinson oversees the rest of the paper, including comics. The two editors can and do have different rules and standards for what makes it into print.


“One thing we factor in is that the comics page, unlike others, is an entry point for kids into the newspaper,” says Robinson. “There is a coarseness in language you might accept elsewhere that you don’t have to accept there. I make a distinction with a different sort of eye.”


Editing comics is an increasingly tricky business, says Robinson, given the stuff you can say on network television today. He  recently decided not to run a “Get Fuzzy” strip that included the phrase “S.O.L.” The N&R ran a note in its place that said the strip contained inappropriate language.


“At first I thought, it doesn’t have any actual objectionable words in it, maybe it’s OK,” says Robinson of the “S.O.L.” episode. “Then I imagined myself sitting in my kitchen and having one of my kids asking what the letters stood for. That’s not a position I want to put parents in.”


Johnson stands by his decision to change “sucking” to “- - - - ing” last Friday, but acknowledges some “hypocrisy” in the different standards for different parts of the paper.


Those conflicts extend beyond the comics. The N&R runs ads for strip clubs in its sports section, for example. “I don’t think we should, but we do,” says Johnson, who is still a little irked that WFMY TV did a quick story on the “sucks” controversy without bothering to talk to him about his decision redact Garry Trudeau.


* * *


I was alerted to the “FoxTrot” strip by Eric Muller. I couldn’t remember if the N&R carried it, so I called my twelve-year-old and asked him to quit playing Age of Mythology long enough to go down to the breakfast table and check.


“I read it already,” said Elijah as he walked downstairs. “It was very funny.” He found the paper and read it to me.


That actually is funny, I said.


“Yeah, I know,” he said.


I asked him if he used the word “suck.”


“Yes, sometimes. Not around mom.”


I asked if “suck” is a dirty word, or a bad word.


“Actually, no,” he said. “I think a bad word is used to be mean, or it’s a cuss word. To me ‘sucks’ means ‘stinks, to the next level.’ I thought more about the pun than the word itself.”


Elijah says he reads “Foxtrot” whenever he reads the comics page, which he says happens about two out of three days. He added that he reads the sports page every day, first thing.


“You know the Red Sox are going to break your heart, don’t you?,” I said gently.


“I gotta keep believing,” said Elijah.

11:25:27 AM    comment []   trackback []