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Bathroom Reading

Once upon a time on a local blog an anonymous reader challenged Media Maven Marcy Burstiner to critique the paper in which her column appears. This week she delivered.

Her chief complaint against the North Coast Journal is cover story wordiness. “A story needs to deserve its length,” she writes. “A writer has to consider each word in it as if it were money — it has to be well-spent.”

Her criticisms are valid when it comes to some stories, but we disagree with her comparison of the Bill the Chimp article to the Titanic. The outcomes of both are known in advance, but Bill was fresh. It was a tribute and requiem for the newly dead rather than a retelling of ancient history.

Burstiner suggests two half-size stories would be more palatable than the weekly plat du jour. Maybe, but it’d ruin the cover’s grand theme.

Agree or not, you have to appreciate her use of toilet imagery. Unless, perhaps the article she criticized is yours.

  1. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 3:22 am | #1

    I really enjoy the cover story every December suggesting Christmas gifts to buy from local stores. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

    Oh, wait.

  2. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 9:03 am | #2

    3:22, you don’t understand new journalism. In new journalism there are no rules. Why, you don’t even need a wall between the news department and the ad department.

    If you seek prosperity for capitalism, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate, Mr. Gorbachev. Open this gate, Mr. Gorbachev! Tear down this wall!

  3. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 11:44 am | #3

    Both of you….C’mon it’s not that bad. Are you suggesting the editorial departments of the local newspapers are beholden to their advertisers? That’s a crock of crap.

    Yes, the advertising departments will put out supplements that they will insert into an edition. You see them with topics on home improvement, back to school, holiday editions and what not. But other than that, give me a break.

    Oh, that’s right, the last North Coast Journal story on the rodeo cowboys really had to do with the cattle truck controversy at Richardson’s Grove and so that means the Humboldt Cattlemans’ Association must be in the back pockets of the editorial staff at the Journal….wait, so that means we’re going to start seeing “Eat More Beef” full page ads appearing soon.

    Does the content of a media outlet, be it newsprint, radio, television or cablecast reflect the producer of that medium. For God’s sake, yes. Including the public broadcasters.

    If you really want to see a true media democracy, then invest the capital it takes to produce a newspaper or broadcast radio and television signals and get your like minded friends to create the content. Oh wait, did I say invest the capital? Now there is a sticky wicket. That would mean someone would want to control it.

    Or perhaps, the government can run the media outlets.

    It’s a really good thing Blogs are the only source on the planet for unbiased fair and balanced reporting. That, and church bulletins.

  4. Ekovox
    August 2, 2007 at 11:45 am | #4

    The above post is mine. Sorry for posting anonymously.

  5. anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 12:08 pm | #5

    Yet advertising dollars can control content in news media when a news story sheds light on some unsavory practice of the advertiser. Shareholders expect to profit on their investments. The success of Arkley’s free daily’s profits are a function of dollars per inch, and they are not going to write something that would negatively impact a major customer of there advertising dept.

  6. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 12:12 pm | #6

    http://www.northcoastjournal.com/112306/112306.html
    http://www.northcoastjournal.com/112405/112405.html

    Ekovox, you seem to be confused. I believe the gift guide is pay-for-placement. If I’m wrong, I’d love for Hank to correct my error. I know merchants who have paid for placement in the gift guide in the years before the guide was elevated to cover-story status.

  7. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 12:14 pm | #7

    Ekovox, you seem to be confused. I believe the gift guide is pay-for-placement. If I’m wrong, I’d love for Hank to correct my error. I know merchants who have paid for placement in the gift guide in years before the guide was elevated to cover-story status.

    Check these issue covers:
    November 23, 2006
    November 24. 2005

    I’d give you the links, but WordPress seems to equate links with blogspam.

  8. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 12:15 pm | #8

    Ahh, sorry, must be delayed publishing. I had cleared my browser cache, but my first post didn’t appear after I looked for it twice.

  9. August 2, 2007 at 12:16 pm | #9

    WordPress holds any comment that contains more than two links for moderation because (you’re right) it thinks it’s spam.

  10. Hank Sims
    August 2, 2007 at 12:31 pm | #10

    I believe the gift guide is pay-for-placement.

    Yes, it is.

    It’s an advertising supplement, though. It’s not a “cover story.” It’s not a story of any sort. One week per year the Journal becomes the Tri-City Weekly, but somewhat classier and with a few news stories and entertainment columns thrown in.

  11. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 2:40 pm | #11

    If it’s not a cover story, why is it on the cover? How is the front page considered a supplement?

  12. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 2:51 pm | #12

    Let’s make one thing clear. The Eureka Reporter does not turn a profit. It doesn’t even come close to breaking even. It has some advertising income, and the printing plant in Fairhaven is making some money. But the combined revenue does not come close to paying the Reporter’s bills. Security National does.

  13. Hank Sims
    August 2, 2007 at 3:06 pm | #13

    The front page advertises the supplement. Like I said — one week a year, think Tri-City Weekly. It’s not that complicated.

    In case it isn’t apparent for some reason, nobody in our editorial department has anything to do with the Gift Guide.

  14. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 3:13 pm | #14

    Sounds like high editorial standards to lend your soul to the ad department for only one week a year.

  15. Hank Sims
    August 2, 2007 at 3:16 pm | #15

    We don’t lend our soul — we lend pages.

  16. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 3:54 pm | #16

    Anon 3:13….

    In 1988, six months out of journalism school, my first job on a newspaper was the small daily in Helena, MT. One day I was arguing with the editor that the newspaper’s first reponsibility was to separate the ad side from the news side.

    He said, “This newspaper’s first responsibility is to stay in business.”

    Most newspapers don’t have a benefactor to pay the bills. The Journal does what is necessary to remain in existence. It’s only one week per year, and it’s pretty clear that its advertorial, not editorial.

  17. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 4:02 pm | #17

    Thank you Andrew for agreeing with me. Advertising revenue in lieu of editorial standards to pay the rent. Hank doesn’t want to admit the Journal is cheapened by handing the cover over to an advertising piece.

  18. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 4:05 pm | #18

    You know, when you put a gift guide on the cover and don’t have a your regular feature-length news-based story on the inside, umm, doesn’t that mean the gift guide really *is* a cover story?

  19. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 4:06 pm | #19

    Don’t twist my words.

  20. Hank Sims
    August 2, 2007 at 4:08 pm | #20

    I don’t? You’d think the phrase “Tri-City Weekly” would have rung some bells.

    It’d be nice to have 52 cover stories a year. It’s 98.077 percent as nice to have 51 cover stories a year.

  21. Hank Sims
    August 2, 2007 at 4:09 pm | #21

    ..doesn’t that mean the gift guide really *is* a cover story.

    Not if it’s not a story.

  22. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 4:13 pm | #22

    Hank, you missed your true calling. You are a politician.

  23. Hank Sims
    August 2, 2007 at 4:20 pm | #23

    Whatevs.

  24. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 4:33 pm | #24

    Hank…arguing with anons is pointless. We both should know that by now.

  25. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 4:49 pm | #25

    Bird, your repeated condescending attacks on anonymous posters has worn thin. I will never, ever, ever, ever vote for you or any candidate you endorse. Ever!

    And I know I speak for all the other “Anons” when I say this! All!

  26. August 2, 2007 at 4:55 pm | #26

    And I know I speak for all the other “Anons” when I say this! All!

    Rubbish, dear anon. Heed my advice. You do not speak for “all.”

  27. derchoadus
    August 2, 2007 at 5:04 pm | #27

    Anonymous Says:

    August 2nd, 2007 at 4:49 pm
    Bird, your repeated condescending attacks on anonymous posters has worn thin. I will never, ever, ever, ever vote for you or any candidate you endorse. Ever!

    And I know I speak for all the other “Anons” when I say this! All!

    Ooohhh, Lookie. It’s King Anon!

    Puuulease!

  28. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 5:27 pm | #28

    When you start to lose your sense of humor, your mind cannot be far behind. Heraldo, I only say this because I love you. If the hyperbolic nature of the first paragraph of my post at 4:49 didn’t tip you off to its generally humorous intent, the grandiosity in the second paragraph certainly should have.

  29. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 5:35 pm | #29

    Anonymous 4:49 pm here again! I’m sure Andrew Bird knew I was making a serious observation in a humorous style about people who thoughtlessly deride anonymous posters, and that I was not making a nasty comment about Andrew Bird himself. (I, though Anonymous, respect Andrew Bird.)

  30. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 5:36 pm | #30

    Anonymous posters are OK. But arguing with one while using your own identity is futile because anons aren’t accountable. Like with facts for example.

  31. John Smith
    August 2, 2007 at 5:43 pm | #31

    Andrew, I gave web citations for my facts. What is it about reality that bothers you? I sign a fake name to my real facts and that makes you feel better? Whatever floats your boat. Here’s a name for you.

  32. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 5:45 pm | #32

    Anon 4:49/5:35: I figured you were making humor. My remarks were directed toward the anon who was giving Hank a hard time over the Journal’s Xmas buying guide. Like newspapers grow money on trees. lol

  33. John Smith
    August 2, 2007 at 5:50 pm | #33

    If there’s one thing this thread has taught me, it’s that signing your name does nothing to add to your credibility. Hank is a prime example. The facts are there. Maybe he quibbles over the phrasing “cover story” versus something inargurably accurate such as “cover feature.” Either way, what his publication does every December is a matter of the historical record. Instead of discussing the ethical implications, he stonewalls like Clinton or Bush when they have their hand on the Bible. My opinions don’t change whether I give you my name or not.

    Jesus H. Christ. You’re posting comments on a blog written by “Heraldo.” You don’t need to know his name to take his opinions at face value and debate his ideas. Don’t hide behind a crutch of an excuse, dismissing people out of hand in one case and not another. If you can’t stand up and handle anonymous opinions, you shouldn’t be discussing any issues Heraldo raises, at least not here on this largely anonymous blog. You haven’t come to grips with the Internet era. This is how we talk. This is how we exchange ideas. When you come here late in the game and whine, you just make yourself out to be an old fuddy duddy.

  34. John Smith
    August 2, 2007 at 5:52 pm | #34

    I’m the one giving Hank a hard time over his paper’s ethical lapse. And I’m not alone. I believe I’ve seen signed letters to the editor raising the same issues.

  35. John Smith
    August 2, 2007 at 5:54 pm | #35

    OK, to placate Hank, I’ll call it a Cover Advertisement. But in my book, when a publication runs a feature news/human interest story every week, and the one week you replace the cover with an advertisement and fail to run the feature story, that makes the advertisement the feature. End of story.

  36. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 6:01 pm | #36

    See what I mean about arguing with anons? lol

  37. August 2, 2007 at 6:11 pm | #37

    I have a hard time getting worked up over the Journal taking one week out of the year – which just happens to be one of the darkest and most insane – to run an obvious non-story that fits with the shopping craze. It’s a break, not an endorsement.

    There is a difference between anonymous and pseudonymous blogging. “Anonymous” could be any number of people which can confuse the discussion.

    Posing as an endless number of anons is not necessarily “how we talk” now. I visit lots of blogs that don’t allow anonymous comments (ie they require an email at least). What’s wrong with having a handle? Its easier than Id’ing yourself with an ever-changing time stamp.

  38. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 6:45 pm | #38

    I post regularly in a couple of sports forums for the San Diego Chargers. You have to create an identity to post. My handle is “humbolt.” Nobody knows my identity. (I’m the only one in Eureka anyway.)

    I wish more blogs would require those who want to post to sign up and create an identity. That way you get to know that identity, and you can evaluate the integrity of what that identity says based on on the identity’s past postings. It also prevents one anon from masquerading as several different people.

    Some sports forums use “reputation,” green (good) or red (bad) dots next to each identity that denote the identity’s repute based on the ratings of other posters. While this does help you figure out who’s got it together and who’s full of BS, they do tend to become popularity contests, cliquish. The Chargers forum I post at most often got rid of it.

  39. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 6:55 pm | #39

    Johnm Smith wrote: “When you come here late in the game and whine, you just make yourself out to be an old fuddy duddy.”

    Andrew Bird is not old!

  40. Andrew Bird
    August 2, 2007 at 7:24 pm | #40

    Thanks for making my night, anon 6:55. I’m not going to argue with you. lol

    I have noticed that men and women under 30 call me “sir” more and more. My co-ed team played the Coast Guard last night in softball. When I asked their team captain if we could take some infield practice, he replied with a terse “yes sir!”

  41. Hank Sims
    August 2, 2007 at 9:13 pm | #41

    Instead of discussing the ethical implications, he stonewalls like Clinton or Bush when they have their hand on the Bible.

    Nah, here I am. At your service.

    Define your terms, though, please. When you say “the ethical implications,” I honestly don’t have any idea what you could mean. The ethical implications of running extra ads? Of not running a cover story? Of some sinister combination of the two?

    If we didn’t run a cover story one week, for whatever reason, but didn’t run any extra ads, would that have ethical implications? How about if we ran a whole bunch of extra ads but still ran the cover story?

    I’m not trying to stonewall — I just don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

  42. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 9:13 pm | #42

    Andrew,
    I wonder where you get your facts about the Eureka Reporter? I called to run an ad in the ‘home services directory’ and there is a two month waiting list. Not to say that makes them profitable, but certainly in demand, which usually leads to profits. It is a good paper, nice graphics, clean lines, decent local stories and opinion pieces.

  43. August 2, 2007 at 9:27 pm | #43

    The facts come from the audit. To quote Hank:

    If there’s one thing that the recently leaked Eureka Reporter circulation audit made clear, it’s that the paper is nothing close to a healthy, self-sustaining business. Its editorial-to-advertising content ratio, a key metric in the health of any newspaper, stands at 70:30, which in the real world is absolute death. Even leaving aside the fancy paper and the free delivery, owner Rob Arkley is pouring money into the paper to keep it afloat. Lots of money. So what was that you were saying about avoiding, at all costs, any “conflicts of interest — real or perceived”? If that’s the Eureka Reporter’s credo, there’s nothing for it except for everyone in the building to quit their jobs. Or to stop reporting the news. A tagline affixed to every other story stating the paper’s ownership can’t cut mustard as thick as this. A tagline isn’t a magic wand.

    Read the rest.

  44. Anonymous
    August 2, 2007 at 9:51 pm | #44

    Sorry, I’m not wrapped up in your pro-Arkley, anti-Arkley stuff….I read both of the papers. I don’t see much difference in the way the local stories are covered. Sometimes one is better than the other. I was just making a point that as an advertiser, I will have to wait, indicating some demand. I really don’t care how much Arkley puts into that paper if I can place an ad at a reasonable cost and get a decent response and it keeps coming to my door for free.

  45. August 2, 2007 at 10:05 pm | #45

    I’m not wrapped up in your pro-Arkley, anti-Arkley stuff

    Not to worry. I didn’t perform the audit.

  46. Anonymous
    August 3, 2007 at 5:53 am | #46

    I guess you missed the point. I don’t care what the audit says.

  47. Andrew Bird
    August 3, 2007 at 8:51 am | #47

    9:13/9:51….Glad you find something to like about both dailies. I do to. I believe Heraldo does also.

    How do I know the Eureka Reporter doesn’t make money? Do the math. No subscription revenue. Modest advertising revenue. Very few national advertising inserts. All these revenue streams are needed to keep any daily afloat. Without them, the Times-Standard could not stay in publicaton.

    The Eureka Reporter’s ad rates are lower than the Times-Standard. The Eureka Reporter has a larger staff than the Times-Standard. The Eureka Reporter pays its employees better than the Times-Standard.

    The Eureka Reporter’s printing plant in Fairhaven generates some revenue from printing other publications, including the Journal. It is an advant-garde press that has pretty much decimated the Times-Standard’s revenue from outside printing jobs. But it doesn’t make enough profit to pay for the Eureka Reporter.

    I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.

  48. Anonymous
    August 3, 2007 at 12:50 pm | #48

    Let me be clear: Who cares? Nobody but a handful of Arkley haters and Arkley lovers. For the person in the middle, it means I can get a good rate on advertising. I like that.

  49. August 3, 2007 at 12:59 pm | #49

    Who cares?

    Many people care about the integrity of their news source.

    But congrats on the cheap rates.

  50. Anonymous
    August 3, 2007 at 3:20 pm | #50

    Reading both papers, I find little difference in the coverages. Like I said before, sometimes one is better than the other. I find both papers virtuous in their reporting. I doubt the reporters are taking pointers from Mr. Arkley or Mr. other billionaire.

  51. Anonymous
    August 3, 2007 at 9:30 pm | #51

    Both papers reported a home invasion in Fortuna last week, then followed their reports with two days of silence.

    Be careful who you open your door to.

  52. Anonymous
    August 4, 2007 at 7:49 am | #52

    WTF?

  53. Andrew Bird
    August 4, 2007 at 9:08 am | #53

    Anonymous 9:30 p.m…..You hit on a major problem at small newspapers. The lack of follow-through. I know at the T-S there were times I left the readers hanging by failing to follow up the type of story you describe. The reality is that with a small staff and a heavy work load, stories that should be followed to some sort of a conclusion are suddenly dropped. My guess is there will be a followup if/when the suspects are arrested.

  54. Anonymous
    August 5, 2007 at 9:44 pm | #54

    You are well-informed, Andrew, so let me ask you this: Why, when such criminals are still at large, possibly still here in our community, why don’t the local papers print their pictures? That way, if we saw them coming, we would have a chance to avoid them.

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