March 6, 2011

Citizen Huffington

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:09 pm

The Wrap is reporting that Arianna Huffington dared writers to go ahead with a planned strike because no one would notice. Does she honestly think that if they did the folks who just paid $315 million won’t notice that the backbone of the online publication has been removed?

The Huffington Post writers are on strike! People are starting to notice.

If the deal has been signed and witnessed, obviously Arianna can do the Liberace routine and cry (about the strike) all the way to the bank. If the deal hasn’t been finalized the folks shelling out the money might have cause to wonder if they should sign on the dotted line.

It’s a cliché to say that the Internets is a vast new frontier that is still trying to define itself and so a writers’ strike now will be historic no matter what the outcome.

There is no mention of the strike (that we can find) on the Huffington Post site. This brings to mind the strike at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in the late Sixties.

The comic strip La Cucaracha, done by Lalo Alcaraz, has been parodying the Huffington Post strike by depicting events at the fictional “Riffington Post.”

At this point some folks may want to post a troll comment that says that if an online columnist reports on the Huffington Post strike, it is just a case of sour grapes because he never got an offer to join their posse.

As a rogue/rebel/loner columnist, who wants to buck the Internets trend and imitate the old newspaper concept of “three do journalism” as done by Walter Winschel and Herb Caen (it’s perfect for the new skim fast media), we could also sign up to go provide photo coverage of local high school games in the Berkeley area for some local news sites. We know we would do a good job because we’ve done that for various small daily newspapers and our efforts pleased the editors, but we were getting paid. Doing it again (for practice?) just doesn’t appeal to us. We’ve been to the Academy Awards and are not very much interested in seeing if we could get a media pass to do it again.

There are some things we would like to do and see and know that we could subsequently bang out an online column that would be of acceptable level quality.

We noticed that there has been some recent student protests in Berkeley last week. If we were there, we would hike up to the campus to see what’s happening, but since we are on location (reporting live from the Cow’s End Café in Venice CA, today) we’ll have to send folks to the local Berkeley news sites such as Berkeley Side and Berkeley Daily Planet.

If Aggregator Websites get the chance to cross post some demonstration arrests news from Berkeley, fine. If they don’t, “Sen loi G. I. (as the natives used to say in Saigon)”

Sure, it might be fun to win the Internets “Prom King” popularity poll and get some wider readership, but there is a certain freedom available to one of the few adherents to the three dot school of columning that appeal to this particular writer. If we get a plug from (for example) Mike Malloy on his radio show, or from Brad Friedman on his Bradblog site, that means we will see a higher number of hits listed for our efforts. It’s just a different number to us. If not, well, (as Ned Kelly once said), “Such is life.”

The folks who contribute (or should that be past tense “contributed”) to Arianna’ big online aggregate site, had to please the master, but it probably required a good amount of close proof reading, polishing, and html-ing. We can be much more loose and informal and jump from topic to topic. We don’t have a “beat” to report. We have the luxury of being able to pick items we think fit in the day’s effort, write it up, copy, post, and depart.

We extend sincere good wishes to the writers on strike and the union supporters in Wisconsin. (Is there a link to a place where we can send pizzas to the striking writers?)

We note that Keith Olbermann posted an item, on Fok News (his new blog) mentioning how much easier it was to deal with management when he had a union to back him up.

We can say we second the motion from personal experience. Do Republicans honestly believe that an individual employee could have fought unfair treatment by management at a large International News Service (that comes early in the alphabetical listings of such organizations) all alone? Do they really think an individual could get a company to say “Yes, that was unfair” and recant and relent with no one else on their side? Well, it a different ball game when the union shop steward says “when he backs down, let him save face” because if he doesn’t back down, they will strike just to protect you from unfairness regarding working on a holiday. (He did back down, they didn’t strike, and the day after my holiday, I waked in and handed in my resignation.)

Perhaps we will do a future column about how wonderful the world looks to self reliant Republicans who have completely lost touch with the reality.

What if all the striking writers from their own Aggregate website and make it a big success? Would some company offer to buy them for $315 million, and if they did would the writers reap the rewards of their labor? We hope they do because it might teach some greedheads to respect the workers.

Additonal links for more information about wrtiers’ strike

Walter Winchell has said: “Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leave practically nothing unsaid.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Ally Oop,” “Take the money and run,” and the Peanuts theme music. We have to go get the information we will need to know for a visit to the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard CA. Have a “do not cross the picket line” type week.

February 8, 2011

An Eddie Haskell style joke on bloggers?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:24 pm

Larry Flynt pays his writers well and delivers the checks promptly. He is one boss who doesn’t have disgruntled employees bad mouthing him behind his back. Current and former employees of Larry Flynt Publications always speak well of him. Hugh Hefner made Playboy magazine the highest ranked potential market for freelance writers and also made some remarkable profits with his philosophy about paying generously. Unfortunately, Hefner was so successful at making his magazine an attractive prospect for freelancer writers he had to close down the golden opportunity. Playboy articles are now all done on assignment (according to a reliable source who is a former boss) only basis. Neither freelance query letters nor submissions are accepted.

William Randolph Hearst assembled a remarkably talented posse of writers by offering them more money to work for him than other newspaper publishers could. Hearst was the source of the term “lobster shift” (AKA “lob-shift”) and caused his biographer W. A. Swanberg (Citizen Hearst Bantam Books paperback p-83) to write: “The Examiner office was a madhouse inhabited by talented and erratic young, men drunk with life in a city that never existed before or since. They had a mad boss, one who flung away money, lived like the ruler of a late Empire . . . and cheered them on as they made newspaper history.” Hearst was not a sexist. He did hire a red haired chorus girl, Winifred Sweet, who became a successful reporter.

Republicans, perhaps thanks to the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” believe that they should pay their workers as little as possible for the most amount of work they can ring out of their workers.

Wouldn’t it be funny if a famous conservative made a bet with a wealthy Republican owner of a word plantation that she would do better than get the prols to work cheap? What if she made a bet that she could get writers to clamor for the chance to work for free? She could pose as a liberal, start up something cheap, and then get talented tree-huggers to embrace her “you don’t need a paycheck” response to the idea of paying writers generously by giving them a big audience as an “ego-stroke.” Then to prove that she deserved to win the bet she could sell her publication for a shipload of money and “cry all the way to the bank” with her profit. She could collect on such a hpothetical bet she had just won.

What if her writers were true ballsy Democrats who believed in workers’ rights and they all went on strike during the same week she collected her sales windfall?

What if on the same day they all tuned in something that was in the public domain? Is the “Modest Proposal” essay in the public domain? Come to think of it, a strike did fatally cripple Hearst’s L. A. newspaper.

On the same day the sale was announced, a friend suggested that this columnist could improve the quality of his words if he would spend more time fact-checking and double checking for spelling errors. A good city editor can turn one spelling mistake into a mortifying city room ordeal, but if it takes a goodly amount of time to turn out a contribution to the Internets done in a slap dash fashion, why should any extra time and effort be made? Fox News’ personnel (Is Fox a farm club for the stand up comedian circuit?) are backed by a court decision that says they don’t have to report news that is “true.” If they don’t waste time and money on fact checking, then why should a rogue columnist do it?

It is one thing for a Hunter S. Thompson wannabe to spend some personal funds to go to Fremantle in the W. A. (Western Australia) and spread the Gospel of online Gonzo Journalism, but it is a different thing entirely to see a Berkeley CA based web site owner and operator urge his work for free keystorkers: “We have to go out and work harder for Democrats in the next election cycle.” As Tonto once said; “What do you mean ‘we’ . . . ?” Couldn’t an imaginative writer cook up a wild conspiracy theory about such an order?

We seem to recall an issue of Paul Krassner’s “The Realist” which proclaimed that the Republican and Democratic parties were twins separated at birth. At the time, it sounded absurd to us. It seems we may have had the opportunity to naively question Krassner about that belief in a composing room encounter in the early Seventies, but deadlines are relentless and we didn’t have time to seize that chance. We now believe that Krassner was “spot-on” with that Sixties assertion.

If the next election is a choice between a Reagan Democrat incumbent and JEB, then maybe it’s time to double check and see if we can still cross post our material on Digihitch because the extent of our efforts over the next two years will be along the lines of doing a random bit of voter trend spotting in the automobile museums of Germany. If that doesn’t help Obama very much . . . oh well . . . at least there will be photos in the e-scrapbook to remind the writer when he gets old of just how much fun it was to do the “Europe on 5$ a day” routine in the second half of Obama’s first (and only?) term in office.

This year Germany is celebrating the 125th year of automotive history. Sounds like a fun thing for this columnist to cover. Once, long before we sent our first news tip to Ray Wert, we talked our way into a top rate automobile museum on a day when it was closed. We’d like to think Mr. Hearst would give us a “well done” on that stunt.

W. A. Swanberg (Ibid page 57) wrote that Hearst regarded journalism as: “an enchanted playground in which giants and dragons were to be slain simply for the fun of the thing.” Wouldn’t it be funny if Hunter S. Thompson read that book before choosing journalism for his career?

Yeah, it was great fun the one time we saw our efforts mentioned on Mike’s Blog Report. It made us feel like we might some day get a membership card and bragging rights that we were “in with the ‘in’ crowd,” but it was more fun when Time magazine’s Reagan era White House correspondent entered our apartment in Marina del Rey (many years ago) and exclaimed: “My God, Bob, it is a hovel!” We’ll have to work that moment into our memoirs . . . if we ever get around to finishing that project.

Would it be funny if a TSA employee said “turn your head and cough” during a pat-down?

The Daily Curser used to plug good blog postings. They are long gone, but still listed on a list of other blogs at a certain high profile liberal pundit aggregator site. Did the Cursor ever mention our efforts? What blogger holds the record for “talking shop” with the most winners of a Pulitzer Prize? Is four a good number?

Swanberg succinctly captured the hippie commune non-judgmental democratic atmosphere of a newsroom (Ibid page 70) in one sentence: “The Examiner had drinkers of all categories, moderate, steady, intermittent and inert, and the staff was so flexibly arranged that when a member fell from grace another would take his place without comment.”

[Note: One night in late 1996 we saw Hunter S. Thompson appear at Johnny Depp’s night club on the Sunset Strip. He drank an amber liquid from a whisky bottle for three hours and at the end of the evening he wasn’t showing any of the three symptoms of intoxication, which are: impaired physical dexterity, slurred speech, or incoherent thinking. What up wid dat? Was it a hoax or a miracle?]

Nietzsche wrote: “Nothing succeeds if prankishness plays no part in it.” We have always wondered how that applied to the stodgy Huffington Post or if it was the exception to the rule. Now we know.

Now the disk jockey will play the Doors’ “Show me the way,” “See what the boys in the back room are having,” and “Pour me another tequila, Sheila.” We have to go and try to decipher the inside joke behind the word “Rosebud.” May you have a “Let’s celebrate the $315 million sale with a big party!” type week. This columnist is going to have a glass of A & W. diet root beer and then browse through the travel guide books to Paris (France not Texas) which are available at the Berkeley Public Library – after we check out the latest pro Egyptian student demonstration at Sproul Plaza.

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