Category: Uncategorized

‘I Call Bullshit On This’

The response of a reporter following up on a tip that his editor spent too much time in traffic? No, this reply came from David Wildstein, the Chris Christie Port Authority appointee who took the fifth when called before a committee investigating the politics behind the September closure of the George Washington Bridge. That same New Jersey Assembly committee released a cache of documents on the case Friday afternoon, including gems like this from Wildstein’s correspondence:


By the way, Mann and his editors say they don’t know where that claim about his request being based on editors stuck in traffic came from:


Update: The exhibits, which include numerous press requests and stonewalling of same, should be required reading in J school. The local press responded quickly with The Record’s Road Warrior columnist, John Chichowski, reaching out to the Port Authority on Sept. 12.


His piece the next morning led to the quick reversal of the ‘test’ causing the delays. Mann and others followed up, persisting for months, with FOIA requests that were ignored or pushed off, repeated queries from a variety of angles, and efforts to go directly to sources when the official spokesman blew them off.

The documents are worth reading for another reason: as a primer in bureaucracy and government.


Plunging Through The Twitter Groundrail

… there will always be a learning curve, and there will always be those of us who take the curve too fast and go plunging through the guardrail. The faster technology evolves, the more of us will end up taking the plunge. It’s comforting to think it will only happen to those who deserve it, but it’s far from the case.

– Jeff Bercovici in Justine Sacco And The Self-Inflicted Perils Of Twitter


“If I Could Have One Wish …”

Each time I started my Nieman Lab 2014 look ahead, Steve Martin paid a call. Clad in his elegant suit, seated on the stage at Studio 8H, he solemnly proclaimed his one wish for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in harmony, then quickly segued to increasingly selfish and grandiose desires.

A diversionary tactic, true, but also a reminder of how easy it is to slip into pretension. Also of how easily we can scratch a retro video itch …

Why This George Tames Picture Of JFK Is My Favorite

Why This George Tames Picture Of JFK Is My Favorite

New York Times photographer George Tames captured this image of John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office on Feb. 10, 1961, only weeks after he was sworn in as president. Captioned ‘The Loneliest Job,’ Kennedy looks as though he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders in utter solitude. In one image you can see everything you need to know about the isolation and responsibility of the presidency.

In reality, it’s an object lesson, a reminder that the 1,000 words a picture speaks can be our projection. Kennedy broke his back in World War II and despite the glorious football photos that showed an agile, athletic young president, he was in constant pain. He stood at the table behind his Oval Office desk to read the papers — leaning down with his weight supported by his hands to get a closer look.

Knowing that doesn’t change the power of the image, which presages some of the days Kennedy would have in that office during the Cuban Missile Crisis and other moments of personal or public crisis.  When I think of JFK, this is the last picture in my personal slideshow.

It’s also a reminder that what we see isn’t always what it is.

4/4/68: RFK, MLK & ‘The Awful Grace Of God’

It is impossible to watch this video of Robert Kennedy breaking the news of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to an Indianapolis crowd without knowing that combination of grace, wisdom and pragmatism that spoke from the heart to the hearts of so many would be gone so soon. And yet … and yet, it is impossible not to watch without a glimmer of hope that the ineffably awful doesn’t have to mean the end of what is right. (via Upworthy)

NASCAR Exec Says Crash Video Takedown Was Exception, Not Rule

Saturday afternoon NASCAR set off a social media storm when it used — technically, abused — the DCMA YouTube takedown tool to block a quickly spreading fan video of a horrific crash at Daytona. NASCAR admitted late that afternoon that the takedown was about controlling the video, saying it was a matter of “respect” for the 30-plus injured fans, while YouTube reversed the block within hours because it was not “copyright infringing.”

Now Marc Jenkins, NASCAR vice president of digital media, has explained the racing league’s actions to the Washington Post‘s Erik Wemple. Jenkins told Wemple they used the copyright takedown as the only available way to stop the Tyler Anderson video out of caution, not because it was a copyright violation. He’d also really rather we don’t see it as censorship or as routine.

So what is NASCAR’s usual policy for fan multimedia? Jenkins told Wemple:

We don’t enforce the guidelines unless the content is used commercially. … We do proactively go after pirated video of the television broadcast, but that’s the only time we use it. … We encourage our fans to take those videos and to send them out on Facebook or to tweet’em out … We’ve partnered with Twitter in the past. Our sport is based on, and one of our great attributes is — it’s open and easy to interact with us.

Jenkins didn’t apologize or say it wouldn’t be repeated, although I doubt NASCAR would do so again by abusing its YouTube takedown power unless it legitimately can claim copyright infringement.

What happened Saturday shows, though, that the policy holds only as long as NASCAR approves of what the fan is doing or is willing to tolerate. As I wrote then:

If NASCAR wants the boost from social media, as it clearly does given its interaction on Twitter, Facebook and other places, it should go all in.

Here’s Tyler’s video:

Media Companies Abruptly Shut Down quadrantOne

And another grand plan by major publishers bites the dust. Tribune, Gannett, the New York Times Co. and Hearst have shut down quadrantOne effective immediately. The agency was an attempt to scale local for national display advertising, harnessing the power of the four owners and others. The abrupt website notice

Important Information About quadrantONE

To all of our valued partners:

As a result of the many changes that have occurred in the digital advertising marketplace over the last several years, the owner companies of quadrantONE have decided to seek different paths for national display advertising. As a result, quadrantONE will wind down current operations.

We’d like to take this opportunity thank all of our affiliate and advertising partners who have worked with us over the last 5 years. It has simply been our pleasure to serve you.


The quadrantONE Team

Chicago-based QuadrantOne launched five years ago this month as some of the leading newspaper publishers looked for ways to capitalize on their local reach by providing advertisers with ways to target across organizations. Joint ventures, particularly in the competitive media space, are notoriously difficult. Often the betting is on how long they will last, rather than can they succeed. In that respect, Q1 went a little longer than I might have expected, especially with Tribune’s financial woes and the management changes across the various companies.

Update: David Kaplan, who covered quadrantOne in depth for paidContent and knows the ad exchange biz upside down and sideways, has a piece up now at AdExchanger:

One cause, according to sources, was bickering among JV partners, including over the investment they would be willing to contribute to the company going forward. …

The disintegration could – in part – be attributed to growing internal programmatic strategies that create better yield than the assumed scale of the co-operative. Also, this may be a sign that exchanges are creating better yield these days. Why manage a separate exchange when you can go through existing exchanges such as Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange, PubMatic, Rubicon Project, AppNexus and so on, and receive comparable or better CPMs.

See comment above about JVs being “notoriously difficult” — then add in the usual problems of startups and the rapidly changing ad marketplace.

Disclosure: My brother Billy Kramer worked for quadrantOne in 2010-11 but is not one of those who lost their jobs with no warning today.

Roll On, Columbia, Roll On

  1. On a Saturday morning 10 years ago, some of us got up to watch the space shuttle land — space flight an almost-routine occurrence as the sharp pangs of Challenger faded to memory. And then Columbia disappeared, jarring us out of that complacency about space flight, reminding a nation that years of safe roundtrips didn’t erase the risk, ripping the heart of NASA, changing families forever.  Mike Massimo, @Astro_Mike to those of us who follow him on Twitter, used the medium that didn’t exist a decade ago to share some of his memories about the people who got to live their dreams by flying through space on STS-107:
  2. Today is the 10 year anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, I miss my friends but have awesome memories of each of them
  3. My favorite memory of Laurel Clark: taking our families together to the Children’s Museum in Houston, she was always fun to be around
  4. My favorite memory of Willie McCool: watching him give my one year old son a ride in a rolling chair through the halls of NASA
  5. My favorite memory of Rick Husband: eating his nacho recipe and hearing him talk about his family and flying jets, I miss you buddy
  6. My favorite memory of Dave Brown: going to wrap party for the movie “Armageddon” at the Kennedy Space Center and hangin with the movie stars
  7. My favorite memory of Kalpana “KC” Chawla: meeting and escorting her family during her first space launch at the Kennedy Space Center in ’97
  8. My favorite memory of Ilan Ramon is sharing Christmas together with our family and friends just before his spaceflight
  9. My favorite memory of Mike Anderson: flying in a T-38 together to Kansas and talking about spacewalking along the way, he was always smiling
  10. ‘Mission of Hope’ finds uplifting story within the shuttle Columbia tragedy – Cosmic Log… via @NBCnews
  11. And from others inside the program and out:
  12. #InMemorial RT @FragileOasis
    Journey of the human spirit goes on. Earth’s moon from Space Shuttle #Columbia 26 Jan 2003
  13. #inmemoriam The bright sun dissects the airglow above Earth’s horizon in this photograph taken on STS-107:
  14. 10 years ago today #Israel’s 1st astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon perished in Space Shuttle Columbia. We salute him.
  15. Thinking of the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia today during NASA’s Day of Remembrance
  16. Remembering the crew of STS-107, aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, lost 10 years ago today.
  17. #inmemoriam STS-107 Mission Specialist David Brown undergoes pre-flight training in a @NASA_Johnson airlock:
  18. Un día como hoy pero del 2003 el transbordador COLUMBIA estalla al volver a la tierra
  19. * As far as I know, Woody Guthrie wasn’t thinking of flights to the moon when he wrote Roll On, Columbia. The song, sung to the tune of ‘Good Night, Irene’ is an ode to a then-contemporary major feat of engineering, combining the power of rivers with the majesty of the Grand Coulee Dam. 

Wrong Kind Of Comments Thrive In A Vacuum

If commenters think your commenting thread is a public space where they can do whatever they want because nobody’s watching, they will do whatever they want. And that is not pretty. And then the potentially constructive comments never get posted, because normal people do not want to waste their time thinking and writing comments that will just get flamed.

— Bora Zivkovic, blog editor of Scientific American in a thoughtful look at the state of commenting. (It would be even more thoughtful if the animated art had an off switch.)