Tuesday, April 26, 2005

"Detroit's Albom stays on job after phony column"

I said earlier that Albom should be forgiven, then I changed my mind somewhat. Maybe Albom should stay on the job, but he should be scrutinized ruthlessly. Alas, I think he won't get that scrutiny in the long run. As reported in USA Today:

Albom, a best-selling author, will resume writing for the Free Press, according to the letter written by Carole Leigh Hutton, the newspaper's editor and publisher. Albom's work has not appeared since an April 7 column in which he discussed the problems and apologized to readers.
...
Hutton, in her letter announcing that the paper had completed its internal review, said, "We took into account many factors, including the seriousness of the offense, the importance of our credibility, the history of those involved and Albom's 20 stellar years at the
Free Press. We now look forward to that work continuing in the Free Press."

That sounds rather accomodating -- and enabling -- on the editor's part. I don't think he will be watched very closely, as he should be.

Too bad. If the best can make up stuff and call it journalism, and then get off relatively lightly when they get caught, then an essential trust is lost. I don't blame anyone who views news with a skeptical eye.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Texas League standings


What a sight, huh? A perfect day for baseball.

In case you haven't noticed, I am a fan of minor league baseball, especially the Texas League. This game was played on April 24, 2005 between the San Antonio Missions and the Midland Rockhounds. San Antonio won, and now they're one game behind the Rockhounds in the west division.

It really was a perfect day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Benedict, the mime



There it is, the old I'm-behind-an-invisible-wall mime bit.

At least we know the pontiff has a sense of humor.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Revisiting Mitch Albom III

After reading this piece by Don Steinberg, I don't think I'm willing to cut Mitch Albom any slack anymore. As Steinberg said, Albom is "a media franchise", and he is the equivalent of any high-paid athlete in their field. He should be held to a high standard because he is setting the example.

If an athlete were caught in outright cheating (as Joe Niekro was, on national television), most sportswriters would, rightly, call for a reckoning. Albom was caught cheating, and we can see it as plainly as that nail file sailing out of Niekro's hand in 1987.

Albom should face some kind of reckoning.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Strangest Texas League names

Minor league baseball teams sometimes have interesting nicknames, but these historic teams from the Texas League show exceptional creativity -- or desperation.

Houston Babies - 1888-89
Sherman Orphans - 1895
Sherman Students - 1896
Shreveport Gassers - 1915-24
Longview Cannibals - 1932

And my personal favorite:

Texarkana Casket Makers - 1902

Friday, April 15, 2005

"Group Says 'Nogger' Ice-Cream Ad Racist"

The name of this ice cream may have been poorly chosen, but I think the flavor of this product is the actual offense -- licorice! Ice cream!

Blech!

"Paper apologizes for fake seal hunt story"

A story by Barbara Stewart reveals she is of the same cloth as Mitch Albom.

Thought balloon: Now if only those pesky subjects of the story would have done what I said they would do! Don't they know I am a member of the fourth estate?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Revisiting Mitch Albom II

A column in the Detroit Metro Times really slams Mitch Albom, this time for his lame apology.

One point of interest in all this is Albom’s attempt to downplay the sificance of his transgression. “You can’t write that something happened that didn’t, even if it’s just who sat in the stands,” Albom wrote in his apology. “Perhaps it seems a small detail to you — the players still love their teams, they are still nostalgic, they simply decided not to go after the column had been filed — but details are the backbone of journalism, and planning to be somewhere is not the same as being
there.”

Small detail? It’s as if there would’ve been no problem had the two players simply attended the game.

In the opinion of News Hits, that’s not the real issue. This is: Albom wrote a piece intentionally designed to deceive his readers. Even if Cleaves and Richardson had made the game as planned, Albom’s column would’ve been built on the implicit lie that he was there watching the action with them, talking to the players as the game unfolded, recording the conversation. [Emphasis added]


Ouch.

"Four Charged in U.N. Oil-For-Food Scandal"

Geez.

It pains me to see that Americans, fellow Americans, were involved in the oil-for-food debacle. Bastards.

One of the indictments announced Thursday charges a Texas oil company owner and two oil traders with paying millions in secret kickbacks to Saddam's regime to secure oil deals, thus cheating the program out of money for humanitarian aid.

The fourth person charged was Tongsun Park, a South Korean citizen and fugitive who allegedly accepted millions of dollars from the Iraqi government while he operated in the United States as an unregistered agent for Baghdad.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

One of the best names in Major League baseball





Texas League standings

The Arkansas Travelers are in first place! And so are the San Antonio Missions! I know, it's only four games into the season, but a guy can get a little excited about Texas League baseball, can't he?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Revisiting Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom's journalistic mistake is causing some jaws to drop. Some are even comparing him to Jayson Blair, the New York Times reporter canned for making stuff up and passing it off as news writing.

Some interesting pull quotes from a Michael Hirsley piece:

What Albom did was write a column as if his two interview subjects were at the Michigan State-North Carolina NCAA tournament Final Four game in St. Louis on April 2. In earlier interviews, former Michigan State players Jason Richardson and Mateen Cleaves told Albom they planned to attend the game, but they did not.

Filing on Friday for a section that was printed by Saturday morning, several hours before the game, Albom wrote, and copy editors did not change, that Richardson and Cleaves had flown in for the game and were in the stands wearing Michigan State clothing.

It turned out schedule conflicts kept both players from attending the game.

"It's not viewed as a minor infraction because in the minds of the editors, it was a fabrication," Free Press public editor John X. Miller said of the column gaffe. "More than being factually wrong, this was something reported that did not happen."


... and ...

Rebecca Ann Lind, an associate professor of communication at University of Illinois-Chicago whose specialty is media ethics, said pressure to be "up to the minute" causes mistakes such as Albom's.

If it continues, she said, "Where is the line between making something up that you think will happen and simply making something up?"


... and ...

High-profile ethical missteps including fabrications and plagiarism ended the careers of reporters [Jack] Kelley at USA Today, [Jayson] Blair at the New York Times and [Uli] Schmetzer at the Chicago Tribune.

In 2003, Albom wrote a scathing column about Blair's book-deal ambition and lack of contrition after his downfall.

"What he doesn't get is that journalism is not Hollywood," Albom wrote. "It's not about closing the deal. It's not about face time. It's about - simply put - telling the truth." [Emphasis added]


Perhaps, because it was sports, Albom did not think these comments applied to his writing. Or perhaps he made an honest mistake, one brief moment when he got rushed, or got lazy, or what-have-you. Perhaps with proper contrition, he could be forgiven. I think I might be willing to forgive him. But he will probably pay a dear price for this one slip.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

"Editor, reporters to investigate erroneous Mitch Albom column"

Why are newspapers allowing columns about sports games to be filed -- and printed -- before the game is actually played? I understand the whole thing about deadlines and embargoes and such, but come on!

Albom said he wrote the column before the game took place, as if the events already had happened, based on what the players had told him they planned to do. The paper said the players' plans changed after they were interviewed.

The column had to be filed Friday afternoon -- a day before the game -- but appeared in the paper Sunday, Albom said. The paper said the section in which the column appeared was printed before the game.


It's just sports, I know. But how can a writer write about a game ahead of time? And why is the column printed before the event? The situation deserves some investigation.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

"New Iraq gets Kurd President"

Iraq's parliament has elected a new president -- a Kurd, at that. Good for them.

In the words of one parliamentarian:

"This is the new Iraq — an Iraq that elects a Kurd to be President and an Arab former president as his deputy,” parliament Speaker Hajem al-Hassani said after the vote. "What more could the world want from us?"


Indeed. What more?

I wish them the best of luck.

What's this?



Check it out below.

"Honda Robot Helps Teach in Classrooms"

Go, Asimo!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Celebrating a great man

The world lost a great leader when John Paul II passed away, but we are the richer for having had him.