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Thursday, Apr 5, 2007



March 2007, 88 pages, $5.95 USD


Paste is exactly as its name implies: a magazine full of bits and pieces, glued together here, stitched there, some ribbons and sequins slapped on top. It is an eclectic hodgepodge of pop culture delights, featuring articles on music, books, movies, and even food. Its interviews are random, its music selection all over the place—but hey, who doesn’t like a little variation once in awhile?


The main section, so to speak (there are subsections and sub-subsections) is prominently titled “The Scrapbook,” a collection of recent music news, film, and culture articles. It is a huge section; in the most recent issue it ranged from page 18 to 42. And out of 88 pages? That’s some scrapbook.


Music articles take the most space. Pages are broken down into color-coded areas (this month’s issue: hot pink and white) that each have a different title: “The Bottom Line,” “Ears We Trust,” “Filmmakers to Watch,” and others. My personal favorite is “4 to Watch,” a two-page spread of four up-and-coming music artists from around the world that Paste thinks are really neat. It provides all the essential info: their hometown, members, fun facts, why they’re worth watching, and what other bands they’re similar to. I’ve found that this last part is not always entirely accurate—sorry, Issue #29, but the Silver Lakes in no way remind me of Belle & Sebastian.


 


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Thursday, Apr 5, 2007

America’s premier J-school dean takes a hit. In his own school’s publication, no less!

It was satisfying for a few reasons to read Robert Kuttner’s piece on Internet journalism in the March/April issue of Columbia Journalism Review. The article acknowledges a change in thinking among old-school journalists, who are beginning to understand that the Internet is not so much a distraction from print (aka serious) journalism as it is a lifeline for increasingly imperiled newspapers and the best of what they have to offer.


This article gives hope to those of us who would like to preserve the newspaper tradition of investigation and original reporting. In addition, the Kuttner piece quietly rebukes an article last year in the New Yorker that compared Internet journalism’s content to that of a church newsletter. The author? Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Nick Lemann.


Kuttner’s piece also proposed we stop lumping all bloggers together and recognize that some blogs are more reportorial than others. He proposed, perhaps facetiously, we start a category called CROGS—that is Carefully Researched Web Logs.


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Wednesday, Apr 4, 2007

Time magazine recently conducted a poll that asked prospective voters what candidate would make the best high school principal; who’d be a better babysitter; and even, which one they’d like to see on the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars. I’m sure there is some cultural significance attached to these questions; some sociological statement as to what character traits we’d like to see in our leaders and what images we project onto them. I am also sure that some writer, with a greater intellect, will pick apart these polls to summarize what effect these unorthodox perceptions will have on the presidential race. This, however, is not what I will attempt to do here. This column will overcome the trivial and meaningless banter that the media focus on during an elongated presidential contest and attempt to focus on the issues at hand.

There are a lot of so-called “second tier” candidates who don’t get the media coverage they need or deserve. This is mainly due to their lack of fundraising capacities. (Senator Hillary Clinton has reportedly added $26 million to her presidential war chest.) Without a significant bankroll, these “second tier” candidates are written off by the major media players as irrelevant because they aren’t able to saturate the public with advertising in early primary states.


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Tuesday, Apr 3, 2007

The Toronto Star reports that The Washington Post will close its Toronto bureau this summer. This move follows Canadian bureau closures by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine and the Chicago Tribune, leaving the Great White North with as many American newspaper foreign bureaus as Tuvala, the Marshall Islands and Antarctica: zero.


For newspapers struggling to stay in the black, cutting foreign bureaus is an obvious move, especially in places like Canada, where local news organizations all publish online for all the world to read. But foreign correspondents play a different role than local news organizations - they explain events to an audience who aren’t familiar with the place being written about. And as some of the experts quoted in the Star‘s article point out, Americans and Canadians seem to be growing less familiar with each other every day.


For an interesting look at the role American journalists covering Canada play, check out Jule Meehan’s piece, “The View From Here”, from the 2006 summer edition of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.


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Monday, Apr 2, 2007

Online Journalism Ethics – An Oxymoron?


As digital media blazes new trails and transforms itself, the need for fresh ethical standards grows more urgent with every deadline. At Poynter Online, Bob Steele has written “Helter Skelter No More: An Evolving Guidebook for Online Ethics,” which outlines one of the institute’s recent projects: to assemble professional journalists with experience in online journalism to establish a new Guidebook for Online Journalism Ethics. The project was triggered by a survey the Institute conducted that revealed what many already knew: deep ethical dilemmas exist when doing journalism online. And they are different than the ethical challenges print journalists frequently encounter. They include vetting the opinionated nature of “news” blogs; easing the tension between the speed of news delivery and the quality of news content; understanding the sophistication of digital advertising and its relationship to content; and tempering the growing need for more visual content, to name a few. The Golden Rule applauds these efforts and looks forward to reading that guidebook.


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