Revenue streams.

Maybe you haven’t heard: The Detroit Newspaper Partnership is looking to cut another 7 percent in costs. Another round of buyouts is coming, but now that most newsrooms have burned the deadwood, cut the fat, stripped the muscle and amputated its pinky fingers and other superfluous body parts, it’s now time to, what? Suck the marrow?

I dunno. I tell you this only to stress that for me, for pretty much everyone with a stake in the newspaper industry, worry is our constant companion. At this point in my life I’ve learned not to let it consume me, but honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve thought next year might, possibly, lord willin’, inshallah be better than this, I can’t even remember.

So I’m always looking around for interesting job opportunities. They frequently present themselves at this time of year, summer’s beginning, when I can’t take them. This was yesterday’s:

Here’s the deal. We sell adult stuff. Not porn, but toys, lubes and all that. In our business they are called “adult novelties” Why do we sell adult stuff? Because people really enjoy buying it, that’s why. It’s called making money. The local economy isn’t doing that well, but we are doing great!

We do the website / Internet thing. We have been at it for 10 years now. It’s not too shabby. The work environment is as casual as anyplace on earth and people here are nice.

You’ll write stuff and maybe take pictures of it. We then create a webpage. People see what we have to say and decide whether to buy or not. A great copy writer will balance salesmanship with truth. You’ll be honest and upstanding. People will respect you for it and you will earn their trust.

The job is Monday-Friday 9AM – 5PM. …This is not a freelance job, nor is it a work-from-home type of thing. This is a real copy writing position. You will sit at a desk in a crappy office.

It goes on from there. They extend an offer to apply and invite writing samples about a package of bachelorette party stickers. I blinked when I saw what they wanted: “100-200 words.” Say wha? That’s a big ol’ copy block for a catalog. It sounds like they’re producing the J. Peterman catalog of adult novelties.

This could be my dream job:

The night started the way they always start — sexy dresses straight from the dry-cleaning bag, new shoes, the thrilling sight of the stretch limo pulling up to the apartment door. It’s Clarissa’s bachelorette party, and we are going to plow a wide swath through the night, starting with pomegranate martinis at dinner and ending with shooters at 2 a.m. Comes the witching hour, and here we are – Jenna is puking in the ladies’, Jess is dancing with some guy who has his hand on her ass, Cassie is slumped at the other end of the table, drunk-dialing her exes and crying for no reason. And the bride-to-be? She left an hour ago, and if you squint, you can see her through the window of the tattoo parlor across the street, stretched out on her stomach, some illustrated-man ink artist putting the groom’s name at the top of her butt crack. And you? You’re looking down at the pink bubble sticker you slapped on when the evening was young, a sticker just above your left boob that reads “flirt.” Just so you remember which one you are.

That’s 187 words. They actually sound like fun people, if you don’t mind the soul-destroying work of crafting 150 words about personal lubricant.

Wait, what?

That Craigslist ad makes me despair, actually. After our weekend of filmmaking, which would have been impossible without Craigslist, I wonder what the newspaper industry has in the pipeline to compete. Many in the business have criticized Craig Newmark for failing to “monetize” his creation; in fact, I think they have a special word for him, from a high-level econ seminar, something like “bad actor” — used to describe a capitalist who doesn’t want to make money. That implies a similar site could be monetized, while remaining free, so what are they bringing to the table? There’s always a better idea, a way to innovate. My guess is: Not bloody much. They’re GM in 1972, looking at the first Hondas rolling off the boat from Japan, scoffing, who’d want to drive that stupid thing?

As I said: I worry.

OK, on to bloggage, because that’s what we love:

Headlines that shouldn’t be written, much less clicked on: Oprah Winfrey completes her 21-day vegan cleanse.

Oh, and this just in: Copy editing outsourced to India.

And why don’t we leave it at that? Have a swell day, all.

Posted at 11:00 am in Media, Popculch |

40 responses to “Revenue streams.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 25, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Suck the marrow.

    That’s your blog post hed, chief. And it’s what they’re doing.

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  2. LAMary said on June 25, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Oprah should outsource her eating to India.

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  3. brian stouder said on June 25, 2008 at 11:26 am

    That J Peterman link is a riot!

    I think you should definitely go for the ‘adult stuff’ copy writing position.

    If cab drivers (for example) can collect home-truths as they interact with their daily array of restive individuals who need to get from Point A to Point B (“…and step on it!”), imagine the insights into humanity that one could gain at an ‘adult novelty’ emporium. (imagine the sort of complaints/warranty claims they must get….)

    It cannnot help but enrich and inform (or engorge) your eventual Great American Novel (or Great American Novelty)

    PS – ran an interesting series a year ago called America Unzipped, which touched on (so to speak) the adult novelty business. The impression that one got was that the industry and its people and their customers really are ‘adult’, in the best sense

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  4. LAMary said on June 25, 2008 at 11:37 am

    When I had a grim job selling lithographic supplies in NYC, my friend Bill used to leave messages like, “Tell Mary her latex marital aids are ready,” with the receptionist.

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  5. coozledad said on June 25, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Put that bachelorette party in your novel. I don’t have any idea how much that pays, but there’s a dearth of good writing out there. My wife picked up a book from the library a few months ago that tried to thematically link a love match and a trip to mango country in India. Apparently it was a bestseller. We both only managed a couple of pages before quitting. I opted to read a much more exciting catalog of horsedrawn farm implements instead, and my wife resumed reading a particularly cheerful issue of Granta.

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  6. Laura said on June 25, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Hey Dispatch readers: my son (and dog) are on the cover of Metro today. He’s enjoying his 15 minutes.

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  7. nancy said on June 25, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Mary, I used to write “for sexual favors,” “misc. weapons,” “monthly heroin supply” on the memo line of my rent checks. My landlord had a sense of humor.

    Damn websites. All I see on the Dispatch’s metro/local page is a icky closeup of some ground beef. I assume that’s not your son, or your dog, Laura.

    This reminds me, it’s time for a trip to Cowtown.

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  8. Laura said on June 25, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    You can only see it in print or in the electronic version, Nancy. Abe’s on a skateboard while “walking” Sully. I expect they will get some letters about animal cruelty, lol.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on June 25, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    My sis works for the state of Florida and their employees have gone the last two years without pay raises. Of course, their health insurance went up substantially each year. It’s everywhere. Save us, President Obama!

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  10. Laura said on June 25, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Julie, I’m self employed and I had cancer, so my health insurance makes me cry. Somebody better save us.

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  11. Jolene said on June 25, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Brian: Thought you might like to know that there’s a story re the possibility of moving the FW Lincoln Museum to Washington in today’s WaPo. Was on the first page of the Style section in the print version.

    If Washington is chosen, you’d be able to combine a visit to the stuff you think of as belonging to you (or, at least, to FW) w/ a contemplative moment communing w/ (a figure of) the great man himself at the Lincoln Monument or picturing his mortal wound at Ford’s Theatre.

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  12. brian stouder said on June 25, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    This reminds me, it’s time for a trip to Cowtown.

    The fellows and I are headed for Columbus early Friday morning – for a game convention (“Origins”) downtown. We prefer the European style board games (colorful, funny, and usually with a decpetive amount of nuance) – but the convention draws all sorts, including the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, and goths, and so on.

    Not uncommon to see the occasional women dressed in chain. Come to think of it, last time I was there, it was a Saturday, and there was a big colorful parade just outside. When I saw a float featuring a very good likeness of Superman kissing an impressive looking Batman, it hit me that it was a Gay Pride parade.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on June 25, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Laura, I’m surprised you could get insurance at all. And even our group rates make me cry–just to add our healthy 21 YO son it was $2000 annually.

    Jolene, that story was also in the Journal Gazette this morning: Our local library system is also interested, but it’s going to be difficult going against DC.

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  14. brian stouder said on June 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Jolene – thanks for the link, but I am rooting against DC!!!

    The Indiana consortium includes the Indiana History Center (backed by the Lilly Foundation), plus the Allen County Library, the governor’s office (it can only help that it’s an election year) and luminaries such as Ian Rolland (local philanthropist and retired CEO of the Lincoln Financial Group).

    The one sure thing is Fort Wayne will lose it; my hope is Indianapolis gains it. The stuff might as well fall into a black hole, as to go into the Library of Congress or the Smithsonian.

    If Indy doesn’t get it, then I’d root for Springfield Illinois….the place where Lincoln really DID “become famous” – despite what the one rube says in the WaPo article, about Lincoln becoming famous in DC

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  15. Jolene said on June 25, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Yesterday, I read an online chat w/ Tom Ricks, the great WaPo military reporter.* (He is the author of Fiasco, which every American should read. Seriously, I don’t typically read military history, but this book is wonderfully well done–and heartbreaking.) Anyway, in response to a question about the cost of the war, he said something about having been in Europe recently, where the schools and the roads are better. He didn’t say anything about health care, but, for the most part, that’s better too. Heaven forbid, though, that we should emulate the French.

    *He is among the latest group of early retirees. In the chat, though, he said that he’d likely have been reducing his commitments at the Post even w/o the buyout, as he wants to spend more time writing books. Like some of the other recently departed Posties (e.g., Tom Shales), he’ll write for the Post on a contract basis even though he’s no longer employed there. Fortunately for him, the buyout doesn’t have the same implications that the layoffs at smaller papers have had for our friends.

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  16. moe99 said on June 25, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I’ve heard from a Philly attorney that one of her clients requires her firm to outsource legal research to India. Money saving, probably. But it vitiates the attorney client privilege.

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  17. Jolene said on June 25, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Here’s Gene Weingarten’s take on how life w/o copyeditors might unfold.

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  18. Sue said on June 25, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    If you take the “We do the website / Internet thing” job you have GOT to let us help you. Please. With Coozledad on board, you’ll be employee of the month in no time.

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  19. Kirk said on June 25, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Brian, it’s Gay Pride Weekend this weekend, too. Also Ohio Special Olympics, Community Festival and a few other things.

    And Laura, I knew there was a reason I championed that picture at the news meeting yesterday. And, yes, we probably have received calls about it. We get calls from crazy people all the time about the most innocuous pictures, blaming us for encouraging all manner of harmful behavior (“Those kids shouldnn’t be walking around barefoot!”).

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  20. John said on June 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    You’ll write stuff and maybe take pictures of it.

    What? No taking it home and road testing? Casually ask if there is an employee Sybian.

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  21. nancy said on June 25, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Ew. gross. That reminds me, though — a while back I read that the Japanese had developed an exercise machine that simulates horseback riding. Daily riding was the best workout I ever got, and I’d kill to find a gym doodad that can match it.

    Minus the, er, saddle horn.

    EDIT: Here we go: The Giddy-Up. (Note the typo in the headline. No, we don’t need copy editors, do we?)

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  22. whitebeard said on June 25, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    There was once a fake customer service response on FaceBook to a wrong order to a sex boutique that read along the lines of “We are sorry that we cannot supply the extra-large red dildo you ordered from our website store photo (photo attached) because that is our fire extinguisher.”
    It had me truly rolling on the floor laughing and my wife asked if I was all right, which made me laugh even more.
    As a retired copy editor, the prospects are scary today, what with outsourcing to India and pencil-pushers wielding a sharp axe to increase the bottom line.
    When I was a wire editor in The Soo, I would hop in my Austin 850 (the original of the BMW Mini, only much smaller) after work and deliver newspaper bundles to paperboys. It included one drug store, because it was across the street from the tavern where I delivered a fresh copy of the newspaper to the publisher who was taking the public pulse there every weekday.
    It was a great gig because the IRS equivalent in Canada let me deduct gasoline and car repair costs and I had fun. I also started hobby farming and a horrible rainy spring drowned my potato crop and the taxman declared it a regional disaster and sent me a letter listing all kinds of other items I could deduct.
    Here I was gloating with a basketful of tax deductions and the news editor at the next desk tried to deduct mileage costs for going to fires and such and the taxman disallowed it because he didn’t need to go there.

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  23. coozledad said on June 25, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I was delegated to go pick up a gag gift for a friend’s bachelor party from Adam&Eve when its retail operation was located in a warehouse in Carrboro, NC. I didn’t even know what it was supposed to be. It was reserved in the groom’s name. Turns out it was a King Dong (an outsize dildo for truly morbid people). I asked the clerk if there was any return policy on them, and she said Hell no.
    Anyway, once it was presented at the party (at the Ramada Inn Lounge), various drunk guys were walking around with it hanging out of their fly. A High School friend of mine who was a notorious snap victim ventured out of the lounge into the restaurant, (where somebody probably called the cops)and out into the parking lot, where he was waving it at the cars traveling highway 70. I don’t know why he needed the dildo for that excercise, because everyone I knew who’d seen his cock in the shower after P.E. called him “Horsemeat”. And he was only five feet tall.
    The guys who went to fetch him back to the lounge said the cops rolled up just as they got to him.
    The cops were just shaking their heads and laughing. One of them asked “Is that really your dick?” One of my friends said

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  24. alex said on June 25, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Revenue streams. As in money shots?

    That actually sounds like a delightful gig, Nance. I’d pounce on it if the job were here in Hoosier Holler. I used to do stuff like that and it’s a great way to make a living without having to take life too seriously.

    And speaking of misadventures with dildoes, I had a raucously funny time with one at a UPS place in Chicago. I’d just gotten back from a visit to Florida, where I’d stayed with a former in-law, a salty old septuagenerian who was in the habit of putting on a mumu in the morning and strolling down to the beach with a cocktail and a couple of doobs and hanging out with other little old ladies talking dirty. One such morning I overheard her saying that one of her biggest laments in life was that she’d never had a dildo with a clit tickler.

    So when I got home, I decided that a thank you present was in order. I went to the nearest naughty boutique and asked to see their dildoes with clit ticklers. They showed me quite an impressive array, but I was shocked when I saw the clit ticklers in action. The motion was sort of like that of a snake’s tongue but so forceful you’d half expect it to lacerate your innards. Anyway, I chose a large, shapely one that set me back about $70. They even put it in a gift box for me.

    I ran home and wrapped it up for mailing, then headed over to UPS. When I sat it down on the counter, the package started vibrating loudly and moving noticeably. I tried to conk it off but it wouldn’t stop. Everybody’s eyes were on me as I unwrapped the damned thing to turn it off. I’m sure I was as red as a beet. The little Asian lady at the counter was howling hysterically. Just another day in Boyztown.

    Good thing I had the opportunity to remove the batteries before it was in transit. This was in the days just post-9/11 and it sure would have sucked if they’d grounded a plane and detonated a dildo on my account.

    People were making headlines in those days over far less. Remember the Iraqi guy with his elderly mother who got busted at O’Hare when he tried to discreetly explain a sex toy to the baggage handler? He referred to it as a “pump” in broken English, they thought he called it a “bomb” and he spent the next week or so in custody while the whole world laughed at his predicament.

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  25. nancy said on June 25, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    It does sound like a fun job. Alas, it only pays $25K for a full-time commitment.

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  26. Sue said on June 25, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Holy gods, the number of things I have never heard of continues to amaze me.

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  27. Dorothy said on June 25, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I’m with you, Sue. I have a feeling we’re way more innocent than we even realize.

    Laura that’s an extremely cool picture of your son! People have asked me the same question when they see how hard Augie pulls me when I’m walking him. (for those who don’t have the paper, the caption says “Who’s walking whom?”)

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  28. moe99 said on June 25, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    The TX GOP platform wants to get rid of all the nudes in DC:

    Those found at the Smithsonian and other spots of noted debauchery.

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  29. Laura said on June 25, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks for the pic shout out, Dorothy, and thanks for defending it, Kirk. Even if he wasn’t my kid, I’d say it was a beautiful shot.

    Re: insurance, Jolene. $1500/month. It’s killing me. Time to get a real job, I guess.

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  30. MichaelG said on June 25, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    What a coincidence, Jolene. I just checked “Fiasco” out of the library this afternoon on the way home from work.

    One of the reasons my erstwhile wife and I are legally separated rather than divorced is health insurance. She has none where she works and I can continue to carry her on mine as long as we don’t get divorced. Also taxes are more favorable for us filed jointly rather than singly. We are totally split. We talk no more than once every three or four months and then only for business reasons like taxes or something. I don’t even know if she has boyfriend or not and don’t care but I don’t hate her and sure wouldn’t abandon her to a life without health coverage.

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  31. Heather said on June 25, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    $1500/month??! Holy @#$%. I guess I will not complain about the $30 increase on mine that I just found out about. Really sorry to hear about that, Laura–that’s a crime. It gets to the point where you almost hope to get sick so you’re not throwing all that money away.

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  32. Laura said on June 25, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Every time we saw what the hospital billed to insurance, my husband and would joke that we were really sticking it to the man.

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  33. moe99 said on June 25, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Vatican now in favor of showing breasts in Virgin Mary paintings. That sure sets me back a ways given my strict Catholic upbringing at St. John’s w/ Monseignor Vogel.

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  34. alex said on June 25, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    MichaelG, you’re making a mockery of marriage. My spouse can’t get any of my benefits nor I his.

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  35. alex said on June 25, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    $25K? Ouch. Good help’s too easy to find these days.

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  36. MichaelG said on June 25, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I’m sorry things are still that way, Alex. Best I can offer is that progress is slowly being made. I think marriage for all is making its way over the horizon. Let’s just hope that it arrives sooner rather than later.

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  37. brian stouder said on June 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    MichaelG – Alex beat me to the same comment. I suppose things will twist and turn when other parties become overtly involved.

    But back to adult novelties! I was genuinely surprised by the Sybian link above…especially the $1,300 price tag for the thing.

    And then I came upon this (so to speak), and it seemed there was no escaping todays batch of phallic symbols

    an excerpt:

    The world’s first moving building, an 80-storey tower with revolving floors giving a shifting shape, will be built in Dubai, its architect says. The Dynamic Tower design is made up of 80 pre-fabricated apartments which will spin independently of one another. “It’s the first building that rotates, moves, and changes shape,” said architect David Fisher, who is Italian, at a news conference in New York. “This building never looks the same, not once in a lifetime,” he added.

    An 80 story Sybian device!

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  38. LA Mary said on June 25, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Alex, you should move to California. You can get married here and if you choose not to, you can get domestic partner benefits. Earthquakes schmearthquakes.

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  39. alex said on June 25, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Where’s the shot of it morphing into a phalus?

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  40. MichaelG said on June 26, 2008 at 9:27 am

    I’m waiting for one of the religious wingnuts to equate the Calif Supreme Court decision vis-a-vis gay marriage with the fires now burning hereabouts.

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