News Cycle

A look at the news, politics and journalism in today’s 24-hour media.

Archive for December 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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I’ll be spending most of my energies where they belong, with family and friends this Christmas. While I might post something now and then, I’ll be away from the computer for the most part until the first week in January.

So enjoy the holidays and see you in 2010!


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December 21, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Posted in Vacation

LA Times Layoff Names Starting to Become Public

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Kevin Roderick of has been compiling names of some of the layoffs at The Los Angeles Times this week. Here is some of his report:

Arts reporter Suzanne Muchnic sent a brief farewell message to the newsroom this morning — “Saying goodbye is hard to do. Sending my new e-mail address is easy…” Assistant book editor Orli Low’s note this afternoon was a bit longer:

[“]Words cannot describe my feelings, both upon entering this place in those first few days of working here and upon leaving it today. It’s really hard to leave the best job you can imagine, but I do so knowing that those who pre-deTimes-ed me and those still here fighting the good fight are among the finest and most talented people there are. I have enjoyed every last minute of it and wish you all only the best.[“]

Her exit, and that of longtime book section writer Susan Salter Reynolds, appears to leave only editor David Ulin and deputy Nick Owchar in what used to be the Book Review pod, plus Jacket Copy blogger Carolyn Kellogg.

On the science desk, the exit via layoff of John Johnson leaves — at least for now — plenty of health and medical writers, but no reporters with hard science as a specialty. …

When ESPN Los Angeles debuts Monday, its team is expected to include LAT Lakers bloggers Andrew and Brian Kamenetzky and the Times’ Dodgers bligger Jon Weisman, according to the website The Big Lead.

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December 19, 2009 at 12:24 am

Daily Kos Founder Moulitsas Responds to Chris Matthews’ Comments

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Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas took on Chris Matthews today, albeit on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” Here is his conversation with Ed Schultz.

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December 18, 2009 at 11:09 pm

CPJ Reports 68 Journalists Killed in 2009, the Most Ever

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More journalists were victims of work-related deaths this year than in any other year on record as 68 lost their lives, according the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The agency’s year-end analysis, which was released today, shows that the high number was a result of the election-related slaughter of more than 30 media workers in the Philippine province of Maguindanao, the deadliest event for the press in CPJ history.

The old record was 67 deaths, set in 2007, as voilence in Iraq was at its height.

In addition to the 68 recorded deaths, CPJ is continuing its investigation into 20 other journalist deaths worldwide to determine whether they were work-related.

“This has been a year of unprecedented devastation for the world’s media, but the violence also confirms long-term trends,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon on the agency’s website. “Most of the victims were local reporters covering news in their own communities. The perpetrators assumed, based on precedent, that they would never be punished. Whether the killings are in Iraq or the Philippines, in Russia or Mexico, changing this assumption is the key to reducing the death toll.”

The Philippine massacre was devastating as 29 journalists and two support workers were among the 57 people brutally murdered in a November ambush motivated by political clan rivalries, the agency reported. It said that the deadliest prior event for the press came in Iraq in October 2006, when 11 employees of Al-Shaabiya television were killed in an attack on the station’s Baghdad studios.

The Maguindanao killings, while extreme, reflect the deep-seated climate of impunity in the Philippines, where long-term law enforcement and political failures have led to high numbers of journalist murders and low rates of convictions over two decades. For two years running, CPJ has identified the Philippines as one of the world’s worst nations in combating violence against the press.

“The killings in the Philippines are a shocking but not entirely surprising product of a long-term reality: The government has allowed unpunished violence against journalists, most of it politically motivated, to become part of the culture,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The Maguindanao massacre could serve as a turning point for the Philippines if its leaders can gather the political will to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice. If it is business as usual, we will continue to see journalists killed in the years to come.”

Already, CPJ and other press freedom groups are concerned about the integrity of the Maguindanao investigation. A report by four local press groups found that the crime scene had not been well preserved, that potential witnesses had been intimidated, and that the investigation was poorly coordinated. One law enforcement official told CPJ that he and his colleagues have insufficient resources and inadequate security to carry out the probe.

In other troubled areas, work-related deaths in Iraq are on the decrease: Four Iraqi journalists were killed during the year, the lowest annual tally since the war began in 2003.

Somalia was another matter.

But violence soared in Somalia, where nine local journalists were murdered or killed in combat situations. Throughout 2009, Al-Shabaab militants waged a terror campaign against the Somali press, murdering journalists and seizing news outlets. Among the victims was Said Tahlil Ahmed, director of the independent broadcaster HornAfrik, who was gunned down as he and other journalists were walking through Mogadishu’s Bakara Market to a press conference.

“The nine deaths in Somalia are a tremendous loss for the tiny band of journalists who risk their lives every day just by stepping out into the street,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney, who helps oversee CPJ advocacy in the region. “Their courageous reporting exposes them not just to crossfire and random violence but to targeted killing by Islamists who want to control the message.”

Four journalists were killed in Pakistan during the year, among them Musa Khankhel, a local television reporter known for his critical coverage. Abducted while covering a peace march in a militant-controlled area near the town of Matta, Khankel was tortured and then shot repeatedly.

As in past years, murder was the leading cause of work-related deaths in 2009. At least 50 journalists were targeted and slain in retaliation for their work, representing about three-quarters of the deaths in 2009. Eleven journalists were killed in crossfire while in combat situations, while seven died while covering dangerous assignments such as police raids or street protests.

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December 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

New York Times Starts Layoffs of 26 Newsroom Employees

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Chris Rovzar, writing for, has the names of the first few people who have been given notices of being laid off at The New York Times:

It’s a “pretty grim atmosphere” over at the Times today, when layoffs are coming down from on high as the paper tries to reach the 100-person editorial cut it announced earlier this fall. While 74 staff members took the buyout, that left 26 to go. Layoffs have been ongoing all day, sources tell us, with the unlucky few people called upstairs out of the newsroom — where now people are “standing around in clumps and obviously talking about everything.” Here’s the list of names that we know so far who have gotten the ax, and their departments:

Eric Konigsberg — Culture
Sara Rimer — National
Christine Hauser — Metro
Josh Barbanel — Real Estate
Mitch Blumenthal — Continuous News
Kate Galbraith — Business
Allen Salkin — Styles
Monica Evanchik — Web

Barbanel is married to Times writer Anemona Hartocollis, who remains on staff. “They both came to work today with jobs, and one of them went home without one,” observed one writer. “Not that that should mean some kind of job security, but it’s kind of fucked up.” Salkin was another surprise, as he contributes a cover story almost every week to “Styles.” But the cut that’s sparking the most buzz is Konigsberg, who was brought to the paper to be a “Metro” editor and also wrote the “Age of Riches” series. He was later lured to the “Culture” section by Sam Sifton, who was recently made food critic for the paper. “Eric basically lost his rabbi,” said a co-worker. “He’s a completely elegant writer … People around here are in shock over it.”

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December 16, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Publishers Circulation Fulfillment, Nation’s Largest Newspaper Distributor, Will Lay Off 97

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Publishers Circulation Fulfillment Inc., a newspaper delivery company, plans to lay off 97 workers at its Rockleigh, N.J., site — about 40 percent of its workforce there — in the first half of 2010.

The company said the layoffs are the result of a decision by The New York Times Co., one of its clients, to shift customer service and other functions to another vendor.

Diane McNulty, a spokeswoman for the Times, confirmed that the contract is being shifted “as we continue to evaluate all of our opportunities to manage costs and to operate more efficiently.”

The company, the nation’s largest newspaper distributor, said the layoffs will begin Jan. 15 and end around May 7. Workers, who are not unionized, will receive up to 13 weeks of severance.

The layoff notice to the workers in Rockleigh clouds the optimism that the rounds of job cuts might be easing. New Jersey’s jobless rate declined to 9.7 percent in October from 9.8 percent, staying below the national average of 10 percent.

The state will report the November unemployment rate next week.

After the layoff, the company will have about 150 workers in Rockleigh, according to spokesman James Cunningham. Publishers Circulation Fulfillment has had a location in Rockleigh for about a decade, Cunningham said. The office was previously in Hackensack.

The company is based in Towson, Md., and it has sites in North Billerica, Mass., and Pensacola, Fla., as well as in Rockleigh. Its clients include USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, The Star-Ledger and the Daily News.

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December 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Millions of Blinds and Shades Recalled by Consumer Product Safety Commission

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Safety Council announced today a voluntary recall to repair all Roman shades and roll-up blinds to prevent the risk of strangulation to young children.

This recall involves millions of Roman and roll-up blinds. About five million Roman shades and about three million roll-up blinds are sold each year.

CPSC has received reports of five deaths and 16 near strangulations since 2006 in Roman shades, and three deaths since 2001 in roll-up blinds.

Strangulations in Roman shades can occur when a child places his/her neck between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the backside of the blind or when a child pulls the cord out and wraps it around his/her neck. Strangulations in roll-up blinds can occur if the lifting loop slides off the side of the blind and a child’s neck becomes entangled on the free-standing loop or if a child places his/her neck between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material.

“Over the past 15 years, CPSC has been investigating window covering hazards and working with the WCSC to ensure the safety of window coverings. We commend the WCSC for providing consumers with repair kits that make window coverings safer and look forward to future steps to eliminate these hazards,” said Inez Tenenbaum, CPSC chairman.

Over the years, CPSC has been investigating deaths associated with different types of window coverings and has worked with the WCSC to address the hazards posed by them. In 1994 and in 2000, CPSC and WCSC announced recalls to repair horizontal blinds to prevent strangulation hazards posed by pull cord and inner cord loops. As a result of CPSC investigations, the industry has modified its products and provides free repair kits for existing horizontal blinds and other window coverings. In October 2009, CPSC issued a new safety alert to warn parents about the dangers associated with window coverings.

Consumers that have Roman or roll-up shades in their homes should contact the WCSC immediately at or by calling (800) 506-4636 anytime to receive a free repair kit.

To help prevent child strangulation in window coverings, CPSC and the WCSC urge parents and caregivers to follow these guidelines:

1. Examine all shades and blinds in the home. Make sure there are no accessible cords on the front, side, or back of the product. CPSC and the WCSC recommend the use of cordless window coverings in all homes where children live or visit.

2. Do not place cribs, beds, and furniture close to the windows because children can climb on them and gain access to the cords.

3. Make loose cords inaccessible.

4. If the window shade has looped bead chains or nylon cords, install tension devices to keep the cord taut.

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December 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm

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