Articles about "Jack Shafer"


Henry Waxman retires — must be the scoldings from media critics

Orange County Register | Reuters
U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman announced plans to retire Thursday. In a statement on his website, the California Democrat said he was "not leaving out of frustration with Congress" and that it was "time for someone else to have the chance to make his or her mark." All excellent, plausible reasons to leave a job after 20 terms in office. But I know the real reason he left -- he couldn't handle the disapproval of media critics!

Oh sure, you say, media critics are the least-feared workers of the journalistic trade, people who pounce on typos and plagiarism scandals as if they were of equal importance. You might even make the case that Waxman isn't aware of media criticism (as if such a thing were possible). I'm just saying, the timing is suspicious, that's all. Consider: (more...)
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Jack Shafer to cover media and politics for Reuters

New York | Jack Shafer
Jack Shafer, who recently was laid off as Slate's media critic, is headed to Reuters to cover media and politics for its opinion section. Shafer tweets that Reuters editors "interrupted my plans to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, and criticize after dinner with an offer -- which I've accepted -- to write about media and politics for Reuters. I'm damn happy. Thanks, oh, my tweeps." New York magazine's Noreen Malone broke the news, saying "the tone, frequency, and length will be very similar to his output at Slate, where Shafer typically wrote shortish columns several times a week." || Related: On Jill Abramson's first day as New York Times executive editor, Hamilton Nolan suggests that she hire Jack Shafer as public editor. || Earlier: Shafer will continue to write for Slate, but not about media. || Advice: Following layoff, Jack Shafer tells journalists: ‘Always be looking’ (more...)
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‘It’s time for Slate to fully embrace its startup roots’

Reuters.com | Poynter Online
Paul Smalera suggests a Slate-Washington Post Co. divorce. "What Slate needs is a CEO, someone who can lead a spinoff, attract venture capital, talent in the engineering, sales and business staffs with the prospects of equity and a clean, er, slate, with which to reinvent the modern online magazine." He'd like to see "a real technologist and business person" like Google News’s Josh Cohen offered the chance to transform Slate into something venture capitalists like Fred Wilson, Chris Sacca and Reid Hoffman would invest in.

Slate was the original, crazy experiment of its time. It won the fierce loyalty of a generation of readers. But it’s time to re-run the experiment, exploiting the cash-rich, talent-starved startup environment of 2011, and see what the editorial mission of Slate — indeed, of online journalism as a whole — can become over the next 15 years.
Jack Shafer was asked in today's Poynter chat if Slate restricted what he could say about the operations there, post-layoff? "I am absolutely free to speak my mind about Slate, past, present, and future," he said. "So, yes, if I thought their digestive tract needed a new exit point, I could dig one with a rusty butter knife."
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Shafer will continue to write for Slate, but not about media

Adweek | Washington Post | Politico | AJR
Jack Shafer says he received a severance from Slate -- he was laid off Wednesday, along with Tim Noah, June Thomas, and Juliet Lapidos -- and was asked to continue writing as a freelancer. "I’ve accepted," he tells Dylan Byers, but "it won’t be press coverage. I’ll stir up the press animals in another venue." ("I hope we hire Shafer," tweets Reuters social media editor Anthony DeRosa, "cause somebody sure as hell will.")

Why was he let go? “It was a decision made for financial and editorial future reasons,” says Slate editor David Plotz. “Jack is obviously a brilliant journalist.” Eric Wemple writes:Plotz says that Shafer has been a “great colleague and great friend over many years” but clams up when probed for something more. And Shafer says that he was “happy for David to be my boss, and he’s been a good boss” but clams up when probed for something more.

Neither is much for sentimentality. Perhaps that explains why there won’t be one of those “so long” pieces when Shafer finishes up at Slate on Sept. 2. “Farewell columns are bush league,” he says.

American Journalism Review editor Rem Rieder, who put a Shafer profile just before the Slate layoffs were announced, wonders why the online publication axed "someone who is performing at such a high level? .... This is a truly befuddling and disappointing decision." || Earlier stories:
> Shafer says he gets up at 2 a.m. to read front pages of major papers
> Why Shafer once considered changing the name of his column to "Litter Box"
> Shafer discovers NYT plagiarism while hunting for "Stupidest Drug Story"

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Slate lays off press critic Shafer, others

Adweek.com | American Journalism Review
"We have made some editorial changes, including a small reduction in our full time staff and our contractors,” says Slate editor David Plotz. "Press Box" columnist Jack Shafer confirms in an email to Adweek's Dylan Byers that he was laid off, but says he'll continue as a contributor. Plotz tells Byers:

The industry we’re in changes very quickly. This was a decision that made sense both financially and editorially. It was a painful decision for us. But it was a decision that we think—coupled with some new editorial and technological investments that we’re going to make—will pay off in the long run.
In a just-posted American Journalism Review profile of Shafer, Erik Wemple calls the Slate veteran "utterly uncorrupted by friendship, money, power, anything. He is ruthless with people he doesn't know, but what is impressive is how ruthless he can be with the people he knows."
Times executive editor Bill Keller is a fan:

I admire Shafer for taking his subject seriously enough to do his homework and think things through. He's working in a field that sometimes seems to have been overrun by the snarkoleptics, who blow raspberries for a living. He's fun to read, but there's usually an actual idea in his pieces, and some reporting, and some sense of history.

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Patch critiques raise questions, defense of hyperlocal journalism

Slate | SimsBlog
Reports that AOL will spend $120 million on Patch this year have started a fresh wave of skepticism about the financial viability of Patch, and hyperlocal journalism as a whole.

Earlier this week, Judy Sims noted problems, including that "most local advertisers are high-maintenance clients that are time consuming and expensive to acquire and difficult to retain." She suggests AOL should focus on building its national sites in specific verticals (which it has been consolidating into 20 "power brands," with many merging into The Huffington Post). The vertical sites could then include local content on those topics, Sims wrote. "What if you could go on ParentDish, Aol Autos, KitchenDaily or Engaget and drill down from the national level to also see local content, listings and ads?"

Then Jack Shafer wrote for Slate that Patch's problems may show hyperlocal efforts are a "complete waste of time and resources." He argues:
"I'm convinced that Web users are more interested in hypercoverage of their interests — sports teams, hobbies, food, vacations, family, games, et al. — than they are of the starving-artists exhibition at the farmer's market, increasing parking-meter rates, the city budget, local real estate prices, or many of the other topics covered in Patch. Besides being wildly expensive to create, hyperlocal news doesn't seem to appeal to a broad audience."
In the comments on his piece, several people defended non-Patch hyperlocal efforts. Batavian publisher Howard Owens said local news is only expensive to publish "if you have a big corporate structure to support and shareholder demands to meet. There are a handful of successful local online ventures that produce a ton of highly engaging, sought after, popular, memorable local news that do it at a fraction of the cost of the corporate entities."

West Seattle Blog's Tracy Record said, "For those of us operating independent community news sites, it is a business that is NOT 'wildly expensive' to run -- Patch makes the classic error of adding the middle-management layer, among other expenses -- and it is of great interest."

Dan Kennedy, a Northeastern University journalism professor, said the problem was not lack of interest in local news, but that you can't "impose a corporate, cookie-cutter approach in covering local communities."

EARLIER: Knight News Challenge learns hyperlocal efforts are best when homegrown
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So what if NYT writes about other papers now and then?

Slate
Times ombudsman Arthur Brisbane says he understands why some readers don't like it when the paper "slips a shiv" into other newspapers.

It’s unseemly and makes The Times, which is viewed as journalism’s top dog, look like a bully. It’s clear, as well, that some readers expect The Times to apply the same laser-like focus to itself, which doesn’t seem to happen much.
Jack Shafer has a problem with that.
What would Brisbane prefer? That the Times view the Murdoch papers' conduct, the Gannett pay packages, and the frat-boy shenanigans at Tribune from the perspective of a guidance counselor? That the Times pussyfoot while composing its stories? Give me the bully treatment any day—even though I don't think any of the pieces cited by Brisbane comes remotely close to bullying.

The Times executive editor's wife is promoting Shafer's piece. Emma Keller tweets:

Prob shdn't RT this but what the hey. RT @Slate: RT @jackshafer: How stupid is the Times' @thepubliceditor? http://slate.me/hTOHqC
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