Mark Fitzgerald

Dawdling while photographing is (technically) illegal in DC

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
As more news photographers get swept up in police action at Occupy Wall Street-type protests around the nation, those covering Washington D.C. protests just learned of a decades-old law that gives the cops even more power to clear out pesky photogs.

Seems it’s an arrestable offense in the Capitol to spend more than five minutes taking a photograph in a public place. As Kirsten Berg of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports, the law was on the books but forgotten until a Washington Post blog included it on a list of similarly obscure statutes like the one requiring eel trappers — doubtless a big D.C. special interest — to, you know, check their eel traps. But in light of the Occupy conflicts between cops and cameras, the National Press Photographers Association is asking the city’s attorney general to repeal or revise that law and other ordinances that restrict photography. ||Previous: Three-time Wisconsin ‘Photographer of the Year’ arrested during Occupy rally Read more

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Booted for plagiarism, California columnist finds his Patch

Montrose Patch | Glendale News-Press
A California writer who lost his newspaper column after plagiarizing has explained himself on the local Patch site, where he’s now a blogger. Why?

Nicole Charky, Patch editor for the towns of Montrose and La Crescenta, says the reason she welcomes Dan Kimber is “pretty simple: Patch is a forum for the entire community.”

There’s a difference between Patch articles and its blogs, Charky writes:

Patch articles are written by trained and paid journalists. Articles are subject to journalistic standards of accuracy, fairness, originality and ethics and are edited to conform to those standards. We own them and we are responsible for them.

By contrast, blogs are submitted by unpaid volunteers who are community members. Some are writers, but the majority are simply residents with something to say. We invite all to blog, but we don’t tell you what to say. We don’t edit what you write. Bloggers own their blogs. They are responsible for what’s in them, and they are free to say what they like. Patch simply provides a platform.

Kimber used that platform to explain the plagiarism incidents in a Patch column entitled “My contrition.”

Kimber’s “contrition,” which he said was originally written for the News-Press, took issue with the newspaper’s findings of extensive plagiarism. “For the most part, that material was not a significant portion of the article (I invite anyone to look into the archives and see for themselves) with the exceptions noted by the editor,” he wrote. After the explanations, however, Kimber also wrote, “I was careless, I got lazy and it was dishonest.”

On Sept. 16, a News-Press note said that the paper had discovered Kimber’s column a week before had “largely duplicated” someone else’s work. The column was discontinued, and the paper later published an editor’s note saying an investigation had found instances of plagiarism in 20 percent of Kimber’s columns dating back to the beginning of 2009.

Patch’s Charky had a warning for Kimber in her column: “…we hope he doesn’t plagiarize anyone. If we find out he has, we will take his blog down. If YOU happen to find out that he has plagiarized anything, we hope you’ll let us know.”

Kimber could not be reached, and Patch Editor Charky did not immediately respond to an e-mail for comment. Read more


Washington Post third quarter newspaper losses exacerbated by Kaplan declines

The Washington Post Co.
The Washington Post Co. swung to a loss in the third-quarter as advertising revenue fell for the fourth consecutive period and its one-time cash cow, the Kaplan education unit, reported a steep drop in profits.

Newspaper publishing division revenue declined 9 percent in the quarter to $149.3 million, pushed by a 20 percent decline in print advertising revenue at the flagship Washington Post. The company said its declines were largely due to drops in classified, zoned and general advertising.

Digital dimes are not making up for the print loss in the newspaper division’s online unit, which include the Post Website and Slate. Newspaper online revenue dropped 14 percent in the quarter to $23.3 million. Display online ad revenue plunged 17 percent and online classified dipped 5 percent.

Overall, the Post Co. recorded a third-quarter loss of $6.2 million, or 82 cents a share. That contrasts with a third-quarter 2010 profit of $60.9 million or $6.48 a share.

Wall Street analysts had been expecting the Post Co. to report another profit this quarter, with the average estimate being a profit of $3.85 per share, according to Wall Street Cheat Sheet. Expect to see the stock (NYSE: WPO) fall on its opening Friday morning.

The Post Co. did exceed analysts expectations on company-wide revenue, which declined 13 percent to $1.03 billion. Wall Street’s expectation had been for a steeper decline of 16 percent to $1 billion.

The Washington Post Co.’s biggest problem these days isn’t the sluggish performance of newspaper advertising, an industry-wide problem – it’s the sudden change in fortunes at its Kaplan education unit. Read more


MaineToday Media sued for $124k by paper company

Bangor Daily News | The Citizen’s Voice | The Portland Press Herald
A North Carolina paper company is suing MaineToday Media Inc., claiming the Portland Press Herald parent owes $124,000 for more than 300,000 pounds of glossy paper.

But the lawsuit from Charlotte, N.C.-based McGrann Paper Corp. buries the lede. A more explosive revelation than an unpaid bill is the allegation that MaineToday is effectively in the hands of a “restructuring” firm, which is making all its financial decisions.

Michael R. Sisak notes that the lawsuit identifies CRG Partners as a firm “that specializes in restructuring companies at or near collapse.” The lawsuit says CRG has been making all decisions about paying vendors since Oct. 12, and that McGrann has been unsuccessful trying to collect on its bills. (Sisak is a staff writer for The Citizen’s Voice, which competes with The Times Leader, owned by a MaineToday sibling company.)

McGrann’s suit was filed just days after MaineToday CEO Richard Connor — who engineered the 2009 purchase of the Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram and other papers from The Seattle Times Co. – announced he was retiring effective Dec. 31.

Connor, a former Fort Worth Star-Telegram publisher, said he was leaving to have more family time and make way for a new generation of leaders. But a story by Al Diamon suggested MaineToday board members were looking into how expenses were allocated between Connor’s Maine publisher and Impressions Media, which publishes The Times Leader and other Pennsylvania papers. MaineToday President Dale Duncan also resigned. His last day is today. Read more


Sun-Times reporter: ‘Alex Trebek called me a saucy wench’

Chicago Sun-Times
As a contestant on the thinking person’s game show “Jeopardy” in the summer of 2010, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Kara Spak tore up the place, winning five nights in a row, amassing $85,401 in prize money and picking up a few devoted fans. That qualified her for more big money on the game’s “Tournament of Champions” that aired this week.

She tanked. “I lost on Jeopardy,” Spak writes in Friday’s Sun-Times, the inevitable lede from Weird Al Yankovich’s parody song.

On the stage, the 30-minute show went by in about 30 seconds, a complete blur of not being able to ring in and then finally getting in and answering with a wildly inappropriate answer (“What is a threesome?” to a question about a love triangle). During a commercial break that followed, Alex Trebek called me a “saucy wench.”

It didn’t help that she and her fellow competitor, a film preservationist, were up against computer scientist Roger Craig, who set the record for most winnings in a single game — $77,000 – and whose $230,200 in total winnings places him fourth among the game show’s top winners.

Still, Spak has a shot of moving on to the tournament’s semi-finals if her unusual bet of just $12 in the game’s Final Jeopardy lands her a “wild card” spot. The big reveal airs Nov. 8. Read more


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