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Roger Clyne Makes Peace With The Media

By on May 6, 2015 in Featured, Journalism, Marketing, Music | 0 comments

Not one, not two, not just three errors. A half-dozen, at least, and ones that don’t even require significant research to fact-check. That happened in a recent review of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers show in Boston*, when the writer made mistakes ranging from the number of albums to the theme of certain songs. Many people or companies, when faced with so many egregious mistakes, would demand corrections, retractions, apologies. They would send nasty emails to the writer and vent about the disrespect for months or years. Not Señor Clyne or his band of amigos. Instead, they did what they do night in and night out as an exceptionally hard-working independent band. They raised a glass to the writer. Here’s the thing: The article perfectly captured the loose atmosphere of a Roger Clyne show. It also portrayed his strengths, and his growth, as a songwriter. Even with (or despite) the factual errors, the article was great for the band and its fans. Many would argue it’s easy to ignore the errors in a positive article, but in practice that seldom happens. As a reporter and editor, I received countless complaints from the subjects of positive stories, often about obscure and or meaningless errors. One example: I once wrote about the preservation of a historic locomotive but misidentified its number. Organizers and others derided me publicly and to my editors because of this mistake — which did not change the substance of the story — and many of them attacked me personally. I’ll let you guess what happened when they contacted me for a follow-up. So should you ignore errors? No. Most reporters want to get the facts right and will make requested corrections. But use such a request as an opportunity to build a relationship with the reporter and the media outlet, not bash the media or accuse them of some deeper conspiracy. With this review, the band likely knew their passionate fan base would let the reporter know about the mistakes. But by thanking the writer publicly, they also primed that fan base for positive interactions with the reporter. This will serve them well in the long run. Not only will they almost assuredly get a positive preview the next time they visit Boston*, but other reporters will likely recognize the band’s humanity and more willingly cover concerts elsewhere. Here’s to life. *This post originally identified the city where the show took place as New York City. Yes, I made an error in a blog post about errors. Of course I...

Cleansing My Temple

By on Oct 7, 2010 in News | 0 comments

When it comes to the notoriously nasty world of political blogging, is there a line where civil discourse becomes uncivil? Following in the footsteps of another media empire, the Open Container Media Empire has teamed up with itself to try and answer that question. The Open Container Media Empire is the parent of two cats — one of us is wearing a cone and doped up on drugs, but I’ll let you figure out which cat/blogger — and one perfect son. “We believe there is a great opportunity to debate and discuss the important political issues and to include all media outlets, bloggers big and small and raving lunatics on TRAX in our posts. But we believe that all debates can be done in a civil, dignified and respectful manner,” says a statement on, well, okay. This is the statement, but whatever. The OCME statement continued: “We also believe that the discourse can be tolerant of divergent beliefs, ideologies, driving abilities, sexual orientation, skin colors, drink choices and opinions about the Dodgers.” The ratings of the various media organizations were done on a -3 to +3 scale, because at OCME we decided that was the best way to grade was to give a rating that confused people even more than figure skating scores. I mean, the 10-scale is passe and a thumbs up/thumbs down is only done by media outlets that actually pay critics, instead of just recruiting, say, free labor, students or pets to do the heavy lifting. As for the ratings for major media outlets, Fox 13 was given a 2.82, primarily because it’s not the lunatic-bin of Glenn Beck clones that everyone expects anything “Fox” to become. The Salt Lake Tribune received a 2.45, thanks to their hiring of many of OCME’s friends — although, to be fair, the ratings were finished before their bizarre endorsement of Gov. Gary Herbert. KUTV Channel 2 was given a 2.34 because, based on Rod Decker’s questions at the Herbert Is A Saint press conference, they are very tolerant of insanity. KTVX 4 received a 1.66 because OCME likes Chris Vanocur and doesn’t know anybody else. Not everyone scored positive, however. The Deseret Digitial Mormon Media Empire received a cumulative -69.65 because …. THEY HATE GAY PEOPLE. They hate every lettered-person in the LGTBQQ etc. etc. community. They see them as addicts, as “sinners” waiting to be fixed. They’ve given up on helping prostitutes, drug addicts or sexual abuse victims. They want to “help” gay people by curing them of … what? Love? Natural physical attractions? “We listen to them [media outlets] and then we rate whether they have a positive or negative tone,” said OCME President Josh Loftin. “[We look for] whether it [media organizations] furthers civility in politics, and in life, or hinders it, and then whether our impression of the media organization is positive or negative after the reading them.” Josh Loftin II, vice president of sales for OCME [who, frankly, should be fired] is spearheading the project for OCME. He said the OCME hopes to elevate political and social discussions. “If this process is successful, we won’t steer the outcome of a news story, but we might have some influence on an editor to actually use words like ‘gay’ without saying it [the word] like it [the word] is covered in fecal matter [shit],” Loftin II said. Regarding the DDMME’s lack of civility, Loftin II pointed to coverage of the recent “bigotry-laced, ignorant and basically asinine” speech by the next LDS prophet, Boyd K. [Korn] Packer during the recent LDS General Conference. While other media outlets covered it as a news story — because, after all, it was deeply offensive to every gay person, their friends, their family and, hell, even many straight Mormons — the DDMME somehow covered the speech without mentioning that anyone was offended or that the speech was even about GAY PEOPLE. No, it’s people “struggling” with “same-sex attraction,” which Mr. K. [Korn] Packer equates with “crack smoker.” When asked for a comment, DDMME Overlord Mark Willes kicked Loftin and Loftin II in the nuts [balls], then tried to kick the cats in their respective reproductive organs [not balls]. Both are fixed [spayed or neutered, but OCME gets confused about which is which] so no damage was inflicted. Okay, no comment was actually requested, but everyone can agree there is a good chance of that response [Willes kicking Loftin & Co. in the nuts [balls]] happening, right? So, starting after this post, let it be noted that OCME will enforce its new civility policy by refusing to link to any media outlet it deems as “uncivil.” For now, that simply means no links or mentions of any story published in the Deseret News, on KSL TV or blathered about on KSL Radio. And yes, this is a serious ban: If you want anymore discussion of any about these outlets or the stories they publish, turn elsewhere. Because OCME is done [meaning, until the next late-night...

Persecuted Mormons

By on Oct 14, 2009 in Journalism | 0 comments

Two front-page stories in Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers on a speech by LDS elder Dallin Oaks provides a stark example of the failures of the Deseret News as a news organization. In the Trib’s story, they zero in (appropriately) on a comparison that Oaks made to the backlash against Mormons for the anti-gay rights positions to the bloody, and often deadly, abuse blacks suffered during the civil rights fight. In the Deseret News advertorial, the speech is essentially reprinted with transitions added to give it the semblance of a news story. There is no balance, no response. Even more interestingly, the article does not even mention the comparison to the persecution of blacks in the South, nor does the sidebar reprinting of his summary where he made the comparison. The article was written by Scott Taylor, a veteran reporter at the Deseret News who, until relocating to the newsroom and the religion beat a few months ago, was writing for Church News. A quick tip for readers, quite frankly, is to simply read anything written by Taylor with a skeptical eye. While disappointing, this is what readers should now expect from the Deseret News on certain issues, most notably gay rights and the LDS Church. Their coverage will be slanted. This is not to say the Deseret News will be slanted. On 95 percent of the issues, they will be balanced and, in my opinion, often a better newspaper (especially with lots of anecdotal leads!). But on 5 percent of the issues, they will not be balanced, which sullies the respect for the other 95 percent of the news. Oh, and that 95/5 split mentioned above? Not my numbers, but the numbers told to me and others by Editor-in-Chief and Pulitzer Prize-winning READER of the Deseret News, Joe Cannon, and managing editor Rick Hall. It was an oft-repeated defense for their censorship of Prop 8 news when I was at the Deseret News as an editor. A small irony in all of this is that the LDS Church’s Bureau of Righteous Thought, in their press release summary of the speech, highlights the comparison of criticism of the LDS Church to persecution of blacks in the South. Besides further proving the idiocy of the Deseret News advertorial, it emphasizes that the new Deseret News editorial mission is truly coming from within the newspaper, and not from their owners at the LDS Church. Disclosure: I worked at the Deseret News for almost a decade as a reporter and editor, and my grandfather was the chairman of the board from 1996-2006. Although I was a vocal critic of Cannon’s “More Mormon” emphasis in the last couple of years, I was not fired or forced out, but left willingly to work for City Weekly a couple of months...

One Year Ago, Something Happened

By on Sep 14, 2009 in Journalism | 0 comments

News happens every day. Somedays, it is life-changing, such as a Moon landing, the start of a war, or terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Some days, it is horrible tragedy that reminds us how often humans are at the mercy of nature.  And some days, it is just news. There has to be front page stories every day.  That’s a simple fact.  And one year after that front page story, it will be the one year anniversary of that story.  So what do most people do?  Read the news of the day, not the news about the news one year ago. More and more, however, that news from one year ago, or five or ten years, is becoming the news. It’s an insipid trend, especially at the local level.  On an almost weekly basis, there are stories about stories from the past billed as current news. (Note: Instead of holding one story out as example, I have decided to paint a broader swath. My intent is to not implicate any particular people or specific story, but to condemn pretty much every anniversary story). Until August, I was an editor at the Deseret News, and yes, I edited some of these anniversary stories. The creep of these stories, however, was noticeable this year, a symptom I blamed on the reduction of the news staff. While it may seem counter-intuitive to devote time to anniversary stories when actual news is not being covered, it makes sense from a management stand-point. With a dwindling staff, beats are spread more widely, and reporters have a tough time really delving into an issue they cover in a way that pushes the conversation forward. So to get a grasp on a big issue, they look backwards to try to gather lessons learned. Editors, who are usually stretched thin as well, tend to not complain much about these stories because they have the luxury of time when handling them. Photographers like them because, no matter what the story, a good photographer can shoot a great picture. Designers like them because the page can be laid out in advance, and copy editors like them because they can read them well before deadline. In short, these anniversary stories are crutches used by every single person putting together a paper. This is especially true for the Sunday paper’s front page, the weekly money shot for journalists. This used to be the slot reserved for investigative pieces, issue stories written by beat reporters with a deep knowledge of a current debate, or actual big news from the previous day. But now, papers have basically eliminated investigative journalism, employ skeleton (and often inexperienced) staffs on Saturdays, and lack beat reporters with the ability and time to really delve into a story. So, they foist anniversary stories on an unknowing reader, hoping the semblance of news fills the void created by the lack of real news. The problem, however, is that these stories are almost never legitimate news. Instead, they are puff pastries, filled with pretty words and decorated with pretty pictures that are, in the end, empty calories. End note: This post was inspired by #1 on a great list by Don Gilmour at the Mediactive blog. For the most part, I agree with every suggestion of his, and I really like the idea of rewarding commenters who will identify...