Does this make me look fat?

I love when I can spot myself, unnamed, in someone else’s writing:

Fort Wayne Observed and Indiana Parley allow Harper to satisfy his desire to comment on politics, government and local oddities, and both daily newspapers offer blogs by staff members. But many other blogs are embarrassing exercises in pointless narcissism.

Gotta love it.

Next aspiration: To be a thinly veiled character in a Lance Mannion short story! Give me long legs and a nice ass, Lance.

Posted at 12:48 pm in Media |

25 responses to “Does this make me look fat?”

  1. Jason said on September 14, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    > But many other blogs are embarrassing exercises in pointless
    > narcissism.

    Unlike having a bylined column with one’s photo on it, where one can vent one’s spleen on one’s enemies, to the befuddlement of 99.9 percent of one’s readers. That’s not narcissism.

    I enjoyed his condescending description of Mr. Harper, too: “when I was editor … and he was one of my political columnists.”

    That’s one step up from your mother saying, “I used to change your diapers!”

    478 chars

  2. Lance Mannion said on September 14, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    But, Nance, you’ve already appeared in two of my stories!

    I have to say you were pretty darn fetching in one of them.

    120 chars

  3. Marcia said on September 14, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve heard (from one of its writers) that the Columbus Dispatch doesn’t allow writer blogs.

    91 chars

  4. brian stouder said on September 14, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    Next aspiration: To be a thinly veiled character in a Lance Mannion short story! Give me long legs and a nice ass, Lance.

    No no no – long legs and a nice RACK – and then the rest falls into place (so to speak)

    fwiw – The Leininger piece struck me as bland and somewhat pointless (he could have pressed the essentially parasitic nature of some blogs, vis-a-vis conventional media, for example. But he mentioned it in passing and moved on). And before the Harper era began at FWOb, that site seemed like a compelling mix of trustworthy and offbeat; and now it’s predictable (more or less) and conventional

    616 chars

  5. TS said on September 14, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve heard (from one of its writers) that the Columbus Dispatch doesn’t allow writer blogs.

    They don’t need blogs. The paper is a blog, at least Blundo & Stephens and Hallet.

    200 chars

  6. Dwight the Troubled Teen said on September 14, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    But many other blogs are embarrassing exercises in pointless narcissism.

    ??? WTF ???

    ALL blogs are exercises in pointless narcissism!

    155 chars

  7. mary said on September 14, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    Is Mitch Harper the Apple Jelly guy?

    36 chars

  8. nancy said on September 14, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    No, that’s Frank Gray. He’s a columnist for the other FW newspaper, and doesn’t blog.

    Mitch is a former state representative and lawyer in the Fort. He also runs — you know, in sneakers and on his legs — competitively, and organizes various 10Ks and so forth.

    264 chars

  9. brian stouder said on September 14, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    No – that’s Frank Grey, who is “on assignment” and doing a Sunday-only column for the time being

    96 chars

  10. mary said on September 14, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    Now HERE’S some news:

    MCKEESPORT, Pa. – A woman pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with a bizarre incident in February that resulted in a fake penis being microwaved at a convenience store.
    Leslye Creighton, 41, of Wilkinsburg, entered the plea Wednesday, and authorities dropped the same charge against Vincent Bostic, 31, of Pittsburgh, who has agreed to help pay $425 to replace the store’s microwave, police and the couple’s defense attorney said.
    Police in McKeesport, about 10 miles east of Pittsburgh, said the Feb. 23 incident began when Bostic filled a fake penis with his urine that they said Creighton planned to use to pass a drug test to get a job.
    The two stopped at a GetGo! convenience store and, after wrapping the device in a paper towel, asked a store clerk to heat it up in a microwave, police said. Authorities said they believe Creighton wanted the device heated so the urine inside would be at body temperature during the drug test.
    The clerk, however, believing the lifelike device to be a severed penis, called police.
    Defense attorney William Difenderfer said Creighton faces a maximum punishment of $300 and 90 days in jail when she is sentenced Nov. 15 by McKeesport District Judge Doug Reed. Difenderfer called it “a humorous, but weird, case.”

    1299 chars

  11. nancy said on September 14, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Insult aside, I give the column a “meh.” It feels simultaneously spotty and three years late to the discussion, but at the same time I freely acknowledge there’s really no tackling this question in 750 words anymore, so some spottiness just goes with the territory. It’s just too complicated. However, some of the questions it raises — and Kevin’s columns are always full of big chunks of rhetorical questions, like we’re supposed to clip ‘n’ save for dinner-table discussions — can be dispensed with in a bumper sticker-length phrase:

    But can the “old�? media attract people to their Web sites without losing the customers, character and revenue that made them successful? Online information appeals to computer-savvy young readers, but how can newspapers attract paying customers if they give their product away in electronic form?

    First question: Yes, sorta. Second question: Wrong question. “Paying customers” don’t support newspapers, paying advertisers do. Whatever revenue is lost by giving the paper away free is muliplied by not having to worry about newsprint prices. Of course, then you’re no longer in the newspaper business, which means you can’t play by newspaper rules. Not to oversimplify, but this is the central problem that editors and publishers are losing hair over.

    (One reason they’re losing hair is because they haven’t quite figured out that “can’t play by newspaper rules” also means “don’t have to play by newspaper rules.” Change is good, but it’s also terrifying.)

    Kevin again: The former state representative makes his living as an attorney. Even so, his political contacts and knowledge of the community have allowed him to report a few fairly important local stories first.

    Contacts and knowledge of the community are not exclusive to Mitch Harper. They used to be fairly common in the newspaper’s own newsroom. Most days FWOb is a filter, like most blogs; he finds interesting stories that he can add a little information to and posts it. A lot of his “original” reporting is pretty eccentric to his own interests in politics and government; it’s hard to imagine many readers are coming by for the amateur video clips of congressional candidates marching in the Grabill Days parade.

    But one thing Mitch has been pretty successful at are the gotcha stories that the understaffed, demoralized News-Sentinel newsroom leaves itself wide-open to — the Zach Klein debacle, or the coverage of the paper’s own ownership wrangle last summer, to name but two. Neither of these stories required any more “reporting” than just paying attention, and yet no one did. It doesn’t take too many of those before you start getting a reputation, not as a news filter, but as a news source.

    Kevin again: Why should you care about any of this? Because (Marshall) McLuhan, a noted Canadian professor and author, believed societies are defined not by the content of their media, but by the nature of their media. Will “live�? access to information make us better-informed, more-involved citizens? Or will the relentless demand for instant, superficial news remove traditional journalistic safeguards, flooding an increasingly distracted marketplace with often dubious information that titillates but seldom satisfies or enlightens?

    Pause for a chuckle at dragging McLuhan, “noted Canadian professor and author,” into the debate. More rhetorical questions. What the hell is he talking about? “…often dubious information that titillates but seldom satisfies or enlightens?” You could say that about his own paper. Minus the titillation.

    I think it’s complicated, but also pretty simple: Information is valuable. Good information is more valuable. Presentation — where and how you get it — matters less than ever. As anyone who’s caught up with the headlines via BlackBerry can tell you.

    Here’s the last thing, and then I’ll shut up. My fellowship director tells a story about a friend of his who was director at Greenfield Village here in Detroit. He asked him what was the most important thing he’d learned as a curator at a historical site. The guy said, “That no carriage maker ever became a successful car maker. That no typewriter company made the transition to computerized word processing.” (We’ll give him a pass on that one. Even though IBM is now toast.) “That no wheelwright figured out rubber tires in time. And so on.”

    The Next Big Thing in Newsgathering. , in other words, will likely be figured out by people who aren’t in newspapers now. Scary, and exciting.

    4662 chars

  12. brian stouder said on September 14, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    OK Mary – I know I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed (so to speak) – but if Creighton (the female) was the one who had to take the urine test, why did she fill a penis with the spurious urine?

    201 chars

  13. brian stouder said on September 14, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    The Next Big Thing in Newsgathering. , in other words, will likely be figured out by people who aren’t in newspapers now. Scary, and exciting.

    That’s the interesting part of this. Newsgathering has an irreducible, LL Bean boots-on-the-ground, person to person nature, however the transmission and delivery arrangements change.

    When the printed newspapers finally fire their last reporter, and employ only sales reps and computer-geeks, then who will go to the city council meetings, or the school board meetings, or the courthouse, and report what happened to the rest of us?

    If it defaults into a “wickapediafied” reality (when I see wickipedia cited as the source for anything, I immediately view the information presented as about as consumeable as a wad of bubblegum stuck on the underside of the restaurant table), then THAT is the point where I will pay for a local internet-delivered news source.

    The thing that a “brand” like The News-Sentinel can sell to me is just exactly that – their imprimatur on the news they present.

    Blogs run as hobbys by lawyers (or by no-life geeks, or by who-the-hell-knows-who!) are fine when they can link to ‘real’ news sources; but real news is only reliably produced by people dedicated to the process, and educated (both formally, and by other careerist journalists) to think critically and write clearly.

    1374 chars

  14. Marcia said on September 14, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Um, TS, Stephens is a travel writer now. Has been for a long while.

    And don’t you diss on my man Blundo.

    108 chars

  15. nancy said on September 14, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    Oh, and Brian — I can’t figure out that part, either. I had to take a drug test for a job interview a couple years ago, and it was pretty tight security. There was a temperature strip on the cup, the pot was sealed with one of those sani-strips, I was given strict instructions not to flush and the technician sat outside the whole time.

    Although it’s probably easier to carry urine in a handy penis-thingie than anywhere else.

    I wonder if they told the clerk it was a burrito.

    486 chars

  16. alex said on September 14, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Kevin Leininger might have done well to sit in on the Azar Nafizi lecture last night at our local university campus. (She’s the author of the best-selling Reading Lolita in Tehran, for those of you who may not know.)

    As a foreign observer of American culture, she points out that any consumer of news would have to assume from what is presented that Baby Suri is as important as the Iraq occupation. Does she look like Tom Cruise or Katie Holmes? Should the U.S. continue its occupation or cut its losses? These questions appear to have equal gravitas when presented by Katie Couric, whose PhotoShopped waistline is also a matter of enormous significance right up there with wars and hurricanes and jet plane crashes and evidently much more important than the genocide in Darfur, which rates no mention at all.

    The thing Nafizi says about literature is that it’s truly subversive. It’s the one medium that can make people have empathy for those of a different gender or race or ethnicity or time or place — unlike the news, which dumbs everything down to one-dimensionality.

    “The Muslim world,” a Bushism with a fair amount of traction, is one of those dumb-downs, she says. It takes half the world and makes an enemy out of it, never mind that just like the “Christian world” most of its people are high-minded and humane while only some misuse the religion for political ends.

    The time is ripe for some literary journalism. I predict that the ‘bloggers who can take things in this direction will be the successors to the dying network and newspaper businesses. People are starved for genuinely good reading and the newspapers aren’t about to provide it. Kevin, even as a columnist, might as well be your garden-variety right-of-center ‘blogger who watches Bill O’Reilly too much, an unoriginal didact who thinks every problem in the world can be traced to an elitist liberal conspiracy emanating from the Ivy League universities he wasn’t smart or rich enough to attend. Today, amazingly, was just one of the few instances in recent memory where he wasn’t on that bent.

    2085 chars

  17. mary said on September 15, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Maybe all she had with her that was handy for urine heating was a fake penis.

    77 chars

  18. Danny said on September 15, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    Yeah, proabably so. Just the other day our local 7-11 ran out of styrofoam coffee cups. Luckily they had a stock of fake penis’ that everyone was able to use for their coffees for the morning commute.

    202 chars

  19. mary said on September 15, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    It probaby didn’t work too well, though. Most cars only have cup holders.

    74 chars

  20. Bob said on September 15, 2006 at 4:00 pm

    What defines a successful car maker?

    Studebaker built wagons, fine carriages and other horse-drawn vehicles, and then built cars, trucks and military vehicles. Their pre-WWII cars were highly regarded, and they were first to introduce come out with a totally new design after the war, when Ford, GM and Chrysler were still offering warmed-over pre-war models. They were a significant player in the auto industry into the 1950s.

    430 chars

  21. Danny said on September 15, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    So Studebaker pioneered fake-penis-coffee-cup holders? I did not know that. They certainly were ahead of their time.

    118 chars

  22. mary said on September 15, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    I always wondered what that odd space was in the dashboard (they didn’t have consoles then) of my uncle’s studebaker.

    117 chars

  23. Danny said on September 15, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Yeah, I think that was the year that Studebaker introduced the “Woody.”

    71 chars

  24. basset said on September 16, 2006 at 9:52 am

    Studebaker wasn’t nearly as bureaucratic as the big car companies… much easier to do stuff like that on a Lark…

    115 chars

  25. Dorothy said on September 17, 2006 at 9:24 am

    You guys had too much fun with this story while I was at the beach.

    Hey – and I admit this with dubious pride – I graduated from Wilkinsburg High School, the same Wilkinsburg in the article Mary referenced! I recognize NO names from that story, I might add. I escaped Wilkinsburg in 1979.

    293 chars