Monthly Archives: February 2008

Jimmy Kimmel is engaging in coital relations with Ben Affleck

The New York Times provided a hilarious example of newspapers’ self-enforced irrelevancy the other day, when they attempted to write about Jimmy Kimmel’s “I’m Fucking Ben Affleck” response to Sarah Silverman’s “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” video. The article is meant to show the Times is totally plugged into the viral vidgeist — but of course it serves only to show how out of touch and prude newspapers are.

As Vulture points out, “The entire article is a masterpiece of tortured syntax that deftly removes all humor from the videos.” Here are the best parts, as flagged by Vulture:

“A satiric video in which Mr. Kimmel, the host of the ABC late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live, talks enthusiastically — jokingly, we are led to believe — about his sexual relationship with Ben Affleck, has been a huge hit online. …

“After Ms. Silverman revealed that she was hooking up with Mr. Damon — everywhere, it seemed, and all the time — Mr. Kimmel vowed to take his revenge. … Most of the lyrics of Mr. Kimmel’s and Ms. Silverman’s songs are too graphic to be repeated here. One vulgar word describing the coital relations between, on the one bed, Ms. Silverman and Mr. Damon, and on the other, Mr. Kimmel and Mr. Affleck, was repeatedly bleeped out for the broadcast of each video.”

Never mind the priceless juxtaposition of New York Times second-reference style with the subject (Mr. Kimmel is fucking Mr. Affleck — must show the proper deference!). Could the Times possibly have written a more unironic, monocle-wearing ode to their own dowdiness? It’s not just the language dodge, which is bad enough. They’re still writing about comedy bits with a straight face — the way the Times probably wrote about that just wonderfully droll Church Lady in 1988.

This was a one-off (two-off, really) viral video attempt. Proper responses include laughing and forwarding to a friend; watching a second time; ignoring; and writing a blog post about the inevitable and annoying response videos. Responses that show you don’t get it include: writing a long article simply summarizing the videos — even while blushing and hiding from the central joke — and treating them like big productions that need to be explained and reported on.

R2-D2 and the siny guy

I’m probably a little late to this party, but this is just too cute.

She’s right: The siny guy always worries, that pansy!

The linguistic idiocy of TV meteorology

I know I said recently that newspapers should stop worrying so much about AP style and other copy editing minutia. But I have to add a large exception for jargon — particularly, as John McIntyre notes in a great post, redundant meteorological jargon:

Listening to the radio in the car yesterday, I heard an announcer warn of the possibility of “rain activity” later in the day. How, I wondered, does rain activity differ from rain?

McIntyre also gives a nice rundown of the many unnecessary words TV weatherpeople use for snow:

snow event, snowfall, snowstorm, snowflakes, sleet, slush, wintry mix, blizzard, precipitation, icy pellets, powder (for skiing), blanket and the apparently irresistible vulgarism white stuff.

Ah, mid-Atlantic winters. One of the great things about living in New Hampshire (lots of snow) and then Florida (no snow) is not having to watch TV newspeople go nuts over the hint of flurries and report from the supermarket on people rushing to buy bread, toilet paper and milk — just as they (both newspeople and shoppers) have done every single other time ever that there’s been snow in the region.

And yet, you never hear anyone worry that TV news is going broke. No justice, I tells ya.

Diablo Cody wins for Lamest Punk Oscar Statement

Few things are more annoying than celebrities-slash-“artists” taking meaningless faux-stands against the celebrity and public relations machines that drive American pop culture. My all-time favorite example is Kurt Cobain wearing a “Corporate magazines still suck” T-shirt on the cover of Rolling Stone. Because, you know, that’s so much more punk than simply turning down requests for an interview and not appearing on the cover of the country’s biggest music magazine. He took a stand, maaaan.

Anyway, Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody joined these esteemed ranks when she totally refused to wear designer Stuart Weitzman’s diamond-studded shoes on the Oscars red carpet Sunday. See, she found out they cost like a million dollars — and there are people starving in Haiti, maaaan. I totally believe her when she writes things like this on her MySpace blog:

I must have somehow missed the part where my shoes cost a MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS and my “choice” of footwear would be publicized nationwide. I honestly thought they were just sparkly shoes. Mr. Weitzman did mention that the diamonds were real when I tried them on, but I’m not Nancy Rockman, Expert Gemologist. I didn’t, you know, bust out my miniature spyglass and assess the potential worth of my kicks.

She just thought that they were sparkly shoes, people! How could she possibly have known that Weitzman makes a special pair of shoes for one rising star every year?! Doesn’t every actress wear zirconia-encrusted shoes on the red carpet? It’s not like Weitzman told her how expensive the shoes were, right? Oh, he did? Okay, well at least she wouldn’t participate in any other over-extravagant red carpet traditions, right? Uh — wearing a Dior dress doesn’t count, does it? Surely those sparkly things at the neckline were just zirconia! And anyway, why would she have agreed to wear the shoes when she’s doing everything possible to stay out of the public eye? According to her blog,

I would never consent to a lame publicity stunt at a time when I already want to hide.

Really, folks, just leave her alone! She doesn’t want to talk anymore about how she was just a li’l stripper-turned-blogger-turned-screenwriter before Juno, or about her book, or her Entertainment Weekly column. She’s way too real and punk for any of that kind of self-promotion.

Just leave her alone and let her wear her Dior and act like she’s Avril Lavigne’s punker/realer big sister in peace. And then read her blog about it.

SNL’s ‘Milkshake’ miss and the limits of viral video fads

Saturday Night Live’s first post-strike episode was surprisingly solid, thanks to Tina Fey and her love of slightly sexist humor and poop jokes. Only one sketch bombed (a TMI drunken wedding toast) and an otherwise brilliant Rock of Love parody was ruined by Amy Poehler’s annoying one-legged farter (topic for future consideration: why SNL still bothers to come up with “characters” and why SNL characters and catch phrases were ever big deals in the first place).

The most interesting sketch came near the end, when a scene opened on Bill Hader doing a spot-on Daniel Plainview impression inside what turned out to be an old-fashioned soda shop. Sure enough, it was an “I Drink Your Milkshake” sketch. And it got an interesting audience response — not crickets or forced laughter, but what seemed to me to be chuckles of sheer bafflement. Most of the audience simply didn’t know what was going on. (The biggest laugh line was Kenan Thompson joking that Hader would get a cold from his shake — hardly a reference to the original gag or the movie.) It was a great lesson in the limited reach of Internet fads and viral video.

The sketch is based on a scene from There Will Be Blood in which Daniel Day-Lewis’ crazed oilman shouts “I drink your milkshake!” I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I gather it’s roughly equivalent to Borat saying “I crush her” only more violent. Various geniuses made viral videos parodying the line, or mashing it up with the Kelis song “Milkshake,” or otherwise creating Internet hilarity. New York Magazine’s Vulture blog called it (only semi-sarcastically, as far as I can tell) “2008’s fastest-growing catchphrase” and provided a guide to its proper usage. Various non-NYC-insidery-blog media outlets picked up on what the cool kids were blogging about, and soon you had the Associated Press noting in its Oscar roundup:

Despite the art-house nature of “There Will Be Blood,” Day-Lewis’ performance has seeped its way into popular culture. A line he bellows during the film’s stunningly violent climax — “I drink your milkshake!” — has become a bit of a catch phrase.

Note the hedge “a bit.” Judging by the response to SNL’s milkshake sketch, the catch phrase hasn’t seeped very far beyond the in-the-know audience from which it came. It’s saying a lot if Saturday Night Live’s audience — not a hip bunch like the Daily Show crowd, but probably a good barometer of general pop culture awareness — missed the joke.

The sketch is a good reminder of how even the Internet’s top pop culture blogs are still pretty self-contained and inter-referential and off the general population’s radar. The same thing happened last year when Best Week Ever discovered “Chocolate Rain.” They tried to turn their discovery into a pop culture phenomenon; viral vid parodies ensued; and “Chocolate Rain” singer Tay Zonday appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show — again, to the audience’s utter bafflement.

I Drink Your Milkshake and Chocolate Rain are both fascinating examples of pop culture’s real-time, Internet-era metamorphosis. Their narrow reach, and the hipster blogs’ attempts to recreate old-school fads like catch phrases and characters in viral video form, show that maybe things aren’t changing as quickly as we thought.

Why can’t news be interesting just for the sake of it?

I came across two blog posts yesterday that offer reminders of how the prevailing view of what’s news needs to change.

First, Alan Mutter calls out The Oklahoman for wildly overplaying a story about a U.S. Geological Survey project mapping out where burmese pythons could survive in an ever-warmer U.S. The study found that the pythons “could colonize one-third of the USA, from San Francisco across the Southwest, Texas and the South and up north along the Virginia coast,” according to USA Today. The Oklahoman’s story examined the finding that most of Oklahoma is now a possible python habitat, and concluded in the fourth paragraph that

Even though the pythons might find Oklahoma’s weather suitable, local wildlife experts don’t expect to run into any of the massive constrictors any time soon.

Nonetheless, the piece ran as the front-page lead story with a large, two-deck headline reading: “Big snakes could slither into state.”

The story, of course, says no such thing. Mutter asks, “why did the Oklahoman play this non-story in the sensational fashion it did?” I think the answer — besides simple bad editorial judgment — is that papers fear running interesting stories just for the sake of running an interesting story. There has to be some ostensible “news peg” or other timely reason for running the story.

Continue reading

Some honest comics nostalgia, for once

Over at Slate, Grady Hendrix has written a nice appreciation of Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber, who died last week. I’ve never read the comic book (nor have I seen the notorious George Lucas movie “adaptation”), but I’ll definitely be looking for the Essential collection after reading Hendrix’s piece:

Howard the Duck sent up the ’70s and parodied Marvel’s purple prose style (“The ghastly rumble of the explosion reverberates off the Pocono mountainsides—a sonorous death burp echoing into eternity. …”), but the book grew into something deeper. Howard raged against the glorification of violence, had a nervous breakdown, lost Beverly to Dr. Bong, was transformed into a man, and, in the end, rejected his friends and bitterly set out on his own, trying to forget a past of pointless superfights. One issue was all text; another took place entirely on a long bus trip. These were surreal flights of fancy with razor-tipped wings, America’s answer to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

What I like most about the piece is that it dispenses with the post-Kavalier and Clay veneration of golden and silver age comics and recognizes that, at heart, they aren’t much more than fun cultural artifacts:

The clunky comic books written for Marvel and DC (the two biggest comic book companies) in the 1960s and ’70s may have acquired a certain retro chic, yet they bear almost no relation to the comic books of today. Marvel was the House That Squares Built, and in the kingdom of the unhip, Gerber was the only writer who had a clue.

[large snip]

Gerber was the amphibian stage in the evolution of comic books, from when they swam in the funny-book oceans to the modern age, when graphic novels walk the earth and earn glowing reviews in the New York Times.

The early superhero books were obviously important to their historical contexts. And I like a good old-school Justice League of America 100-Page Super Spectacular as much as anyone. But the deification of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Siegel & Shuster, et. al. can be tiresome. This is a nice, if minor, corrective.

In other comics news, I’m definitely going to get this book.

The mysterious downfall of a Prince

Prince’s generally dreadful — but copious — recent output is one of the enduring pop culture disappointments of the past 15 years. His “comeback” performances at the 2004 Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame ceremony and last year’s Super Bowl notwithstanding, Prince’s creative decline falls somewhere between post-accident Stephen King and post-sanity Michael Jackson.

My friend Eric reminds us of better Prince times in this post, where he provides links to Prince’s aborted Camille and Dream Factory projects. They’re both definitely worth downloading and listening to, and they’ve inspired me to do a more thorough re-examination of what the heck happened to Prince (short answer: ego and a misunderstanding of hip-hop). This will require a bit of listening and a rereading of the fascinating biography Possessed.

But to get the conversation started, here’s a review of the 2004 album Musicology that was supposed to run in the St. Pete Times a few years back but got lost in the shuffle. It was an attempt to counter the CW at the time (which has since been revised, I think) that Musicology was vintage Prince and a real comeback. I saw Prince live for the first time on the Musicology tour, and he was great. But the album was just as boring and lame as The Rainbow Children, Emancipation, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, etc.

So two views of latter-day Prince: His jaw-dropping (literally — watch Dhani Harrison) RnR Hall of Fame performance (Prince solo starts around the 3:20 mark) …

And a contemporaneous review of Musicology:

Continue reading

How to fix newspapers IV: Go beyond the wires, join the Web party

(Also see Prelude and Parts I, II, and III)

Scott Karp has written a post defining his vision for a new kind of Web journalism: one in which linking to the vast sea of information beyond a newspaper’s walls becomes a key part of bringing news to readers. He writes:

“Do what you do best, and link to the rest” is Jeff Jarvis’ motto for newsrooms — the imperative is to reorient newsrooms from a resource-rich, monopoly distribution approach to reporting, where a newsroom could reasonably aim to do it all themselves, to a resource-constrained, networked media reality, where newsrooms must focus on original reporting that matters most — SUPPLEMENTED by links to other original reporting done by other newsrooms — and by individuals.

The idea is that journalists, editors, and newsrooms need to LEVERAGE the web, leverage the network to help them do more — in so many cases now, with less.

But I would take Jeff’s web-savvy advice a step further: “Make linking to the rest an essential part of what you do best.”

It’s a compelling vision, and the examples of forward-thinking papers already using Scott’s Publish2 network show it can be done. [After-the-fact disclosure: I now work for Scott at Publish2.] But as I’ve discussed with Scott, while this may be a great idea for newspaper Web sites, there are no hyperlinks in print. How can we marry this vision of newspaper-as-linker to the print product?

Return for a moment to the question of why newspapers are boring. I’ve suggested two answers: that the kinds of stories papers typically run aren’t interesting or relevant to average readers, and that non-local stories send the strongest signal that papers are boring. I described some institutional reasons papers run those kinds of stories, but I left out a main one: Those stories are a majority of what the wires provide.

Most newspapers rely for their non-local news and opinion on some combination of the AP and the Washington Post/LA Times, New York Times, and McClatchy-Tribune wires. These wire services are important and necessary for putting out a paper. But they deprive readers of so much more. “Horrible as it may sound, on many days the newsprint front page tastes of already chewed gum,” Jack Shafer writes in Slate. He’s right — because newspapers’ narrow pool of sources has been outpaced by the Internet.

Continue reading

Can we have some democracy, revisited

I recently wrote a plea to scrap the absurd, undemocratic primary process we’ve seen this year. The New Republic has an editorial in the current issue calling for the same, with the added bonus of actually suggesting an alternative:

The Republicans can do whatever they like, but Democrats should adopt a simple, fair system for the next election cycle. Superdelegates ought to be eliminated, and each state’s delegates awarded to candidates in proportion to their share of the statewide vote. As we have previously recommended, the states should be organized into a system of rotating regional primaries to end their self-defeating contest to leapfrog each other on the calendar.

Democrats have long crusaded against Republican efforts to constrict democracy by limiting participation in elections. It would be nice if the party lodging these complaints did a better job of living up to its own principles.

Weekly Wire grumblings

“We don’t have to keep watching this …”

I believe my fiancee said this three times (though it might have only been twice) during this week’s episode of The Wire. It’s getting hard for me to stop pausing/snorting in frustration, I guess.

The most annoying thing about the episode was the Clay Davis courtroom scene. First of all, it sure seemed like they were in and out of a major political corruption trial in a single day. This wasn’t even narrative compression, as far as I could tell. Davis arrived on the courthouse steps in the morning, and stood on the same steps that afternoon as an exonerated man.

Secondly, what kind of prosecutor — a state’s attorney, no less! — puts a major political figure on trial for corruption without concrete evidence that he used his position to take bribes that enriched him personally? That is, when Davis gives his big speech about how sure he takes kickbacks, but he gives it all back to the poor folks in his district so they can buy winter coats and food, why doesn’t Bond come back at him with receipts for Davis’ BMW purchase, the deed for his Eastern Shore estate, or whatever other extravagances to which Davis surely has helped himself?

Bond seemed to build his case around donations going into Davis’ charities, followed by the exact same amounts showing up in Davis’ bank account. So when Davis says “But I gave it all away to my needy constituents by the time I walked down the street,” you’d think a good prosecutor would have solid evidence to be able to say, “No, you didn’t — you bought a $5,000 umbrella stand and a private jet” or what have you. Or at least to say, “Nice act turning out your pockets, Senator, but how does that explain the $2 million you still have in your bank account?” Maybe Davis would have won the jury over anyway. But as it is, it just seems like the state’s attorney is a moron.

Now, if this were a normal (i.e. good) Wire season, I would chalk that up to David Simon showing that Bond is paying the price for arguing the case himself as a potential launching pad to the mayor’s office, rather than taking it to the feds like Freamon wanted. But Bond is too smart to present a bad case like this. And since this is the season where everything is a joke, it’s probably just another bad piece of writing.

How to fix newspapers III: Don’t cut editors, change them

(Also see Parts I, II. and IV.)

Alan Mutter has a post making the rounds today bluntly titled “Can newspapers afford editors?” Mutter wonders how many editors really need to look at a story before it goes to print.

There are some obvious rejoinders to Mutter’s post. John McIntyre has a good one:

Dear reader, as a copy editor for the past 28 years, I’ve seen what writers, both amateur and professional, file, and you don’t want to. Unless you have a depraved appetite for factual errors, blurred focus, wordiness, slovenly grammar, peculiar prose effects and other excesses, it is in your interest for someone other than the writer to go over that text to clean it up, identify its point, and make sure that it gets to the point before you lose all interest.

John Robinson writes:

Of course, editors do much more than edit copy. They teach. We aren’t the New York Times. Reporters don’t come to us fully baked. (No one does, actually.) Editors help guide coverage. … We have also developed specialists. A good conceptual editor who can inspire reporters may not be a good technical editor who can find grammatical flaws or write pithy headlines.

But if we’re going to seriously rethink newspaper assumptions and traditions, we have to rethink all those assumptions — including the ones Mutter questions.

My own feeling is that we shouldn’t think of editing as a zero-sum game, as a choice between three edits (or six, or whatever) and pristine stories on the one hand, and no edits but awful copy on the other. Fewer eyes may be absolutely appropriate — if those eyes look at stories differently than they do now.

That means empowering and giving more responsibility to reporters and editors alike. It may be that having copy editors who focus on style, grammar and headlines are increasingly a luxury. But the answer isn’t to fire all copy editors and rush stories to print without thinking about any of those elements. The answer is to change the definition of a copy editor, reporter, and line editor.

Continue reading

How to fix newspapers II: Readers aren’t Ralph Wiggum

(Also see Prelude and Parts I, III, and IV.)

Taking a different approach to news requires looking at the audience in a different way. A traditional newspaper might view its readers as fairly unsophisticated people who have no exposure to news or pop culture elsewhere; as innocents who will faint at bad language; as sponges who will accept whatever the paper gives them, whether or not it’s well-written, well-edited, or interesting. This view ignores major changes in the culture at large.

As Steven Johnson notes in his book Everything Bad Is Good for You, today’s pop culture is far more complex than that of even 15 years ago. Shows like Lost, The Sopranos, and The Simpsons have dozens of characters and plotlines, layers of jokes, and a lack of clichéd handholding that made older shows so literal. Video games require players to juggle dozens of objectives while figuring out how a game’s world and rules work. “All around us the world of mass entertainment grows more demanding and sophisticated, and our brains happily gravitate to that newfound complexity,” Johnson writes.

It’s not just shows and games. Consider “the cultural and technological mastery of a ten-year-old today: following dozens of professional sports teams; shifting effortlessly from phone to IM to e-mail in communicating with friends; probing and telescoping through immense virtual worlds; adopting and troubleshooting new media technologies without flinching,” Johnson writes. “… Their brains are being challenged at every turn by new forms of media and technology that cultivate sophisticated problem-solving skills.” Advertising and public relations, too, are far more sophisticated. The media menu has been greatly expanded for anyone with access to the Internet. Meanwhile, people are exposed to cursing, sex, and violence at ever younger ages.

But as the rest of the culture has become vastly more sophisticated, newspapers generally remain stuck in a bygone era — often willfully so. Instead of ignoring the changes in the audience and culture, an aspirationally non-boring newspaper would embrace them in service of a more interesting, lively news report.

Continue reading

How to fix newspapers I: What is news?

(Also see Prelude and Parts II, III, and IV.)

“Must the news be boring?”

That’s the question that opens Michael Hirschorn’s terrific “The Pleasure Principle,” an Atlantic article in which he dares to consider a “radical notion” that might help save newspapers: “Stop being important and start being interesting.”

The question shouldn’t be radical, but answering honestly means reconsidering decades of traditions and habits — and if there’s any group that relies on tradition for guidance more than baseball coaches do, it’s journalists. But like Tevye said, “Traditiooooon, schmradition!” What journalism really needs is a bunch of Moneyballs.

It’s telling that Hirschorn didn’t start his piece by asking, “Are newspapers boring.” Everyone knows they are. Modern newspapers can’t help it — it’s a direct reflection of their guiding principles: to be historiographical (i.e. the first draft of history: the paper of record), informative, and traditional (cautious about change, a safeguard of culture and discourse, etc.). But what if, as Hirschorn asks, newspapers instead made it their primary goal to be interesting, relevant, and surprising? How would that change what newspapers cover and how they cover it?

Continue reading

How to fix newspapers: Prelude

(Also see Parts I, II, III, and IV.)

In the discussions about what has happened to the newspaper business, several usual suspects always seem to pop up. (No, not Fenster.) Readers don’t have enough time. There’s too much competition from other media. Young people don’t care about the news or don’t read newspapers. People only care about Britney Spears nowadays.

All of those may be true to some degree. But something always seems to be missing from the discussion: the role of newspapers and the news within. In other words, maybe we need to stop blaming readers for ignoring newspapers and start thinking about our responsibility: what it is we put in papers that doesn’t attract or actually repels readers. Or, as Howard Owens puts it in the title of this conversation-starting blog post, “Maybe it’s journalism itself that is the problem.”

Owens writes:

The issue is, the current way important news is gathered, reported and written isn’t working. It hasn’t been working for several decades. It’s only now becoming a crisis, thanks to the likes of Craig Newmark, Realtor.com, AutoTrader.com and Monster.com. …

Discovering a journalism that does what journalism should do — match the needs of society rather than dictate to society what people should want from journalism — will be real hard work, and it will challenge assumptions and afflict comfortable mind sets.

Over the course of the next few posts, I’d like to offer up some of the ideas I’ve developed over the past couple of years while working for a forward-thinking publication. Because Owens is right on both counts: the news isn’t working, and it’s going to be hard figuring out first how to fix it and then how to change the mindset of an entire industry.

Some background: For the past two years I have been a news editor at tbt*-Tampa Bay Times, a free daily tabloid published by the St. Petersburg Times that’s aimed at “younger” readers. tbt* began in fall 2004 as a free weekly tabloid, mostly covering local entertainment, lifestyle stories, and other weekend guide-type material. Like other free tabs, the stories were shorter than a broadsheet’s, the headlines were edgier, and there was a heavy use of “alt-form” design.

A daily version launched in March 2006, applying much of the tone and look of the weekly section to the full range of news covered by a daily. (tbt* has no Web site to speak of, but you can view an “e-edition” of the paper here.) There’s one gossip page per day; some lifestyle columns about pets, relationships, and the like; a couple non-gossip entertainment pages (for stories like this one); four to six sports pages; and the rest is news: five to eight local pages, three to five national/world pages, a consumer page or two, and several pages for the “News Talk” pages, which essentially function as a combination opinion page and print aggregator of good stuff from the Web. There’s also a 1.5- to 2-page color photo spread with often-witty headlines and cutlines that covers news photos, wacky photos, and just plain beautiful photos that you don’t normally see in a newspaper; this is the paper’s most popular feature.

The paper doesn’t just take the same old stories and cut them down to 5 inches. tbt* has turned out to be a unique experiment in rethinking traditional approaches to news judgment, story selection, and the very notion of the newspaper reader, in an attempt to be smart and engaging as well as a quick read. The approach has worked: the five-day-a-week tbt* has gone from a total weekly circulation of 150,000 to north of 350,000 in less than two years — this in a two-city metro market with two longtime daily papers and no mass transit system. The price tag is undoubtedly a big factor, but I think there’s more to it than that.

The following posts reflect some of the lessons I’ve learned at tbt*, and may provide a partial answer to Howard Owens’ challenge. (Disclaimer: All these posts are my views alone and are in no way endorsed by, spit on by, or otherwise related to anyone else at tbt* or the St. Petersburg Times.)

(UPDATE: I changed the title of the post from “How to fix journalism,” both to be slightly less presumptuous and also because Owens’ focus really seems to be on newspapers. Or at least I want to focus on the newspaper aspect of his challenge.)