And for those of us born in the Old Country, V was never a drink, it was that awful TV series about alien invaders.

It wasn’t that bad I suppose… Great premise, just so very earnest and well, American.

Now they’re remaking it.

If you’ve ever wondered why journalists aren’t paid enough, this clip shows off the power balance of modern PR versus Media quite nicely I think. The expectation is that you’ll write/produce fluff and that that’s what the readers/watchers want. It’s not, which is why laying off journalists and reducing the already pitiful amount freelancers are paid is not going to work as a cost-saving measure.

Bonus points if you can tell me who that is and why they’ll never take the skies from me.

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Such superlatives are not often handed out here in Audentworld… but this fine photo caption really needs to be shared with the world.

Trousers and how to wear them.

That’s right, apparently “one leg at a time” and “zip in front” isn’t enough. No, we need an entire article, pointed to from the front page of Stuff to get the message across.

EDIT: I see they’ve updated the headline on the story itself to the much less irritating “Trouser styles and how to wear them” (sarcasm) but the pointer from Stuff remains.

And that’s just pants.

What he said

March 24, 2009

I’ve often thought the biggest problem with newspapers today is that they’re saddled with a management structure that could be transplanted to any other kind of business with little or no changes needed. Insurance, for example, or a sewerage plant.

In other words, they’re not running a newspaper, they’re running a company that happens to produce news, and they really have a very tenuous grasp of what makes a newspaper earn money.

Some of them seem to think they sell print editions to punters. This is not true. They sell eyeballs to advertisers. They lure the eyeballs in with good stories, excellent photos etc, but they’re the bait, not the product.

Jason Whittaker has blogged on this and clearly, he’s got a career death wish:

The recession is not killing Big Media in this country, as the sales department will tell you. Nor is the internet and digital media to blame, as the prevailing theory goes. Media companies in Australia are struggling to make a buck through a lack of imagination. Through short-sightedness. Through commercial timidity, certainly.

Ultimately, though sheer management incompetence.

I can’t find anything to contradict him on.

but an awful time to be in journalism.

And by journalism I mean newspapers.

And this piece by Clay Shirkey, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable explains it far better than I could have.

Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including the copying of his column to alt.fan.dave_barry on usenet; a 2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself, because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to read it.

One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” I think about that conversation a lot these days.

Anyone interested in the death of the media should have a read… it’s well worth while.

It’s always a tricky business, achieving balance in news reporting.

Sure, some stories are easy – it’s a fire, at a warehouse, so you write about that. Not much balance needed really, just some good pictures and a quote or two.

Most news, however, needs balance. Each reporter brings his or her own bias, each editor has a point of view. For many years I wrote – and indeed crusaded – on the topic of broadband. I decided early on that not only was the topic important to my readers but that I needed to take an editorial stance in favour of one side of the many broadband debates. That is, I sided with unbundling instead of against it. That was an editorial decision and I stuck to it but constantly reviewed the value of that decision. Eventually the mainstream reporting came round to my point of view (even my editor, who once famously asked me “what’s the point of broadband?” and was unconvinced by my argument and who has since gone on to win awards writing about the urgent need for … broadband. But I digress. And gloat) and now everyone writes about broadband without a second thought.

If there’s one journalist I’ve always envied it’s Kim Griggs. She writes about science. She writes about New Zealand. She writes about science in New Zealand and she does it for Wired magazine and the BBC and The Guardian and any number of proper publications. I’d hate her but she writes so very well. I’d hate her for that as well, but what can you do…?

She is pro science. It’s hard not to be, and of course it’s her round so you’d expect her to have a bias towards science.

She also used to write for The Listener and, following the debacle over The Listener’s censorship of another journalist’s blog on the matter (go on, send me a letter as well, I dare you) Kim posted about it to Russell Brown’s Hard News on the matter. I’ll recreate it here – Russell, Kim, let me know if that’s not OK with you and I’ll paraphrase instead.

I was part of a group of four writers who wrote a science column for The Listener for a couple of years. Our idea, promoted to Pamela in the first instance by Marilyn Head, was to provide stories about the abundance of interesting science that is being done in New Zealand. Our hope was that the stories would show the array of different aspects of New Zealand’s science community – there are some great stories out there – but also build up an appreciation of science so that there is an understanding, and critical thought about what science can and can’t do. So that when we debate climate change or nanotechnology or GE or xenotransplantation or the Large Hadron Collider, there can be more light and less heat in our discussions.

We eventually quit – spat the dummy truth to be told – when we were told our stories had an endorsing (of science) tone. This, from a magazine that had run a story about laughter yoga (well written though it was) under the science and health banner.

Seriously – their stories had a tone that implied they were endorsing science.

I really don’t know what to say to that. I’d encourage Pamela the editor to post about it here if it’s not accurate, but my fear is that this is exactly the kind of thing Pamela and the editorial masters at The Listener would say.

It goes beyond dumbing down and becomes something much worse – the promoting of ignorance. Can we really stand by and watch that happen?