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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • Foolish Inconsistency

    The Washington Post today demonstrates how not to deal with media…like the Washington Post.

    Mike Wise

    Mike Wise, a sports columnist for the Post, recently put some bogus information on his Twitter account.  Why he did so is a little unclear — a joke, a test, whatever. Wise unwisely wrote that Pittsburgh Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger would be suspended five weeks instead of the anticipated six.

    Wise, who also has a radio program on WJFK 106.7FM, a local sports talk station, quickly admitted inventing the non-fact.

    The Post, understandably doesn’t like it when their reporters get caught fabricating news. They suspended Wise for a month.  (Meaning that Wise may miss slightly fewer paychecks than Roethlisberger.)

    We know he was suspended because Wise announced it on his radio program today.

    The Post Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, then wrote a blog item about it saying that Wise had committed the “greatest sin” of journalism.  Alexander quotes Wise at length whipping himself for his sins — on the radio.  

    But then here is the interesting part.  Alexander quotes the Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli  as declining to comment.

    “I’m not going to discuss anything personnel related,” Brauchli said.

    In the very next sentence the Post’s sports editor, Matthew Vita — a Brauchli subordinate comments:  “Clearly, we consider what Mike did was poor judgment on his part.” Vita added: “He knows that what he did violates our core principles.”

    Now wait a damn minute.  We understand why some personnel actions are not appropriate for bosses to talk about.  But when the person who was sanctioned talked about it at length on the radio…and  when the Washington Post Ombudsman writes about it…and the Post media guru Howard Kurtz Tweets and blogs about it…shouldn’t someone tell Brauchli that he is just looking silly by refusing to talk to his own Ombudsman about stuff that everyone else as his paper is talking about?

    Wouldn’t it have made sense for Brauchli to say something about the “high standards” he expects all his charges to maintain? 

    Declining to talk in a situation like this — is a knee jerk reaction which only serves to make the boss look like a jerk.

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  • “Are You Lost?”

    Never miss a chance to make a bad first impression. That seems to be the campaign motto of Chris Young, running for mayor of Providence, RI.

    The candidate appeared on a local Fox television station’s “Coffee with the Candidates” segment. When asked what he likes to do for fun — he broke into song. A bad one.

    Young serenaded the embarrassed host with a self-written religious tune apparently called “Are You Lost?” By the second stanza, the answer for Young was clearly “yes.”

    Give him points for persistence — Young said he would have liked to have performed with his guitarist – “Who is in the lobby” — and said he would like to come back and sing with his whole band.

    When his interviewer didn’t gag at the suggestion Young said…how about later this week?

    Perhaps the appearance was a giant put-on…like our favorite Yo-Yo Man. If not, we suggest to Mr. Young to keep his day job…assuming he has one.

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  • LA Teachers Can’t Do Math

    Give a dunce cap to the LA teachers union. The LA Times reported yesterday that the head of the local teacher’s union is calling for a “massive boycott” of the paper.

    Why? The newspaper has recently begun publishing a series of articles based on an analysis of elementary school student test scores to measure the effectiveness of teachers.  What really frosts the union is that the paper plans to publish the names of teachers showing which ones students aced the tests and which ones tanked.

    “You’re leading people in a dangerous direction, making it seem like you can judge the quality of a teacher by … a test,” the Times quoted A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, as saying.

    Imagine that.  Tests to measure performance in schools.  Who ever heard of such a thing?

    Boycotting newspapers is a tactic that will only work when you can muster a sizable chunk of the paper’s reading public.  The LA Times has a circulation of over 600,000.  There are about 6,000 teachers involved — unless our math is wrong — at least half of them should be happy with their ratings.  Given that not all of the bottom half are likely subscribers — we’re guessing that the union’s efforts will fall flat.

    The oldest adage in media relations is the advice to never get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.  The teacher’s union has thrown a spitball at an outfit which buys it by the railroad train carload.

    What’s worse — they have invited national attention to a story that might otherwise have come and gone locally.

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