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: