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The long, tortured suicide of The Ann Arbor News

Attention, subscribers: Word on the street is publication cutbacks for the print product will be announced today. Supporting this rumor: The rat has left the sinking ship. Paper Tiger No More -- a former insider -- recounts of all the expensive side-projects The News tried that wasted money. One thing left untried: Good Journalism. Maybe if they cut the happy-talk crap and covered the political and economic life of Ann Arbor at first hand -- by attending meetings and interviewing the power brokers -- people in Ann Arbor would give a shit about their home-town paper. Paper Tiger No More: Dear Newhouse, journalism - not gimmicks or cutbacks - is your only hope (long)
Second, while Michigan's economic woes and the current newspaper apocalypse are driving a large part of this move, Newhouse is greatly accelerating the destruction of its own products. The company's current strategy for its Michigan newspapers - if you really can call it a strategy - if nothing less than suicidal. You can't drive away, or buy out, a large proportion of your best journalists, decline to replace them, and expect customers to keep buying your product. Seriously, would anyone consider buying a car from Ford if they offered you half the options and worse gas mileage for the same price? That's what Newhouse is doing. Lastly, given my experience at The Ann Arbor News, I have absolutely no confidence that the people in charge have any ability to react to these changes and/or adjust their strategy to make things better. Let me give you a quick rundown of a few management-driven projects undertaken during my tenure at The News: Book project 1: The sports department produced an excellent book on the 100th football game between Ohio State and Michigan, and the series in general. Management then signed a printing contract with a local real estate agent. Seriously, the guy was a part-time realtor, part-time book publisher. The book came out months later than it was planned and too late to take advantage of the anniversary hype. There was no national or regional distribution agreement with a single book store or chain when it did. The book was overpriced, under-distributed, and pallets of them were left to molder in the basement of the News until thousands were destroyed. I'd be surprised if we sold one copy for every 10 we destroyed.
So much more silliness at the link.

March 21, 2009

BBC Heads into the Wilds of the Colonies to Report Only the Most Salient News of the Day

BBC NEWS | Americas | US bikini wax ban plans...

This is why you're fat

** Jack ** is not fat. This is why you're fat. frieders.jpg Friders Deep fried White Castle cheeseburgers.

March 20, 2009

Report: Many Guantanamo Detainees Are Innocent

Ex-Bush admin official: Many at Gitmo are innocent

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday. "There are still innocent people there," Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. "Some have been there six or seven years."

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a "mosaic" of intelligence.

"It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance," Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather "sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified."

March 19, 2009

Habitat for Humanity turns to destruction in Michigan

Saginaw Journal - In Hard-Hit Areas, Habitat for Humanity Adds Demolition to Its Mission - NYTimes.com

Volunteers are learning to rip down plaster, pull apart walls and tear off roofs. To the nonprofit group’s long-held aim of constructing houses for those in need, Saginaw’s affiliate has lately added to its mission by doing the opposite.

As part of an agreement with the city, and with at least $500,000 from the state and federal governments, the Habitat for Humanity volunteers and paid workers plan to demolish two vacant, dilapidated houses here a week, every week, over the next two years. As for creating homes, they will build or refurbish eight houses this year.

The shift in the organization’s focus is a sign of the times in Saginaw, a shrinking city northwest of Detroit where at least 800 houses sit empty and doomed, and offers a glimpse of what increasingly empty neighborhoods in many cities may soon face as foreclosures continue.