No cheers for pouring her pint of Guinness

Dateline: Thu 05 Mar 2015

The Indy Star has an article in the Living section today in which beverage reporter (still laughing) Amy Haneline tells readers how she poured a Guinness at Brockway Pub in Carmel.

Before this was published, it was a video on the Star's dreadful, horrid, boilerplate website -- you can look it up. But you won't want to.  

You know, as do I, that this whole damn thing is too silly to bother.

The "story" is little more than a big fat free ad, or filler, padded by lists. It's also another signal that at Gannett, it's all about the web, 'bout the web, 'bout the web....

Gannett does, however, love its little lists, so Haneline offers up six "Here's how it's done" instructions: how to pull the handle, how to hold the glass, how to let the beer settle, etc. My favorite is No. 6: "Present and enjoy. Don't spill." Thank you, Betty O'Crocker, 1957. 

Readers also get a list of five other Irish-style pubs where Guinness is served in the city, including two that are chains.

Faith and begorrah,  there are a number of fine Irish beer joints in this city, but the newspaper's lack of institutional memory ignores what may be the king -- Connor's Pub in Broad Ripple, tucked away on a back street (6331 Ferguson) in a former house. Connor's has been serving patrons since 1980, and no more so than on St. Patrick's Day.

The final gulp: nowhere do we read or hear the nickname for the head of foam on a Guinness -- the bishop's collar.

Research? Easier to put on some makeup and pull a lever. 





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People: Dawn and Mike

Dateline: Wed 04 Mar 2015

 Former Indy Star editor Dawn Fable Lindquist, now a language arts teacher at Avon Community High School, is out of the hospital and embracing recovery.

  Here is what she told inquiring friends about her condition on Facebook Monday, when she posted "post-surgery glamour shots":  

    "some vision issues turned out to be a benign brain tumor. Doc took it out Thursday. Now I am on the mend"

     Dawn gives plucky new punch.

     She is also a sweetheart who was a highly-focused journalist when she came to the Star in the late 1990s.

    From 1998-2004, she worked in features at the Star, repeating the job she polished at The Times of Northwest Indiana, where that features section won high awards. She was an editor, a planner, and an assigner of stories.

    Like so many other journos, she decided to make a career switch into the education profession, For 10 years now, years, since 2005, she has taught English, creative writing, speech and compositon to her students in Avon.

     I have a particular fondness for Dawn, because of her work ethic, grace, humor, her lovely name and her bursts of enthusiasm for what is to me the unknown world of fashion and beauty. It also helps that I was among the editors at the Star who vetted and hired her when she applied. 

   Journalists stick together, whether in or out of the newsroom.

   Here is her address for get-well cards, confirmed by her husband David Lindquist, who remains at the Star covering music and various other arts.

     Dawn Fable Lindquist, 3601 Periwinkle Way, Indianapolis, Ind. 46220-5499


    Newspaper photographers have a rep for being mavericks; they're the men and women who, by virtue of job design, are more removed from the newsroom drama and, sometimes, more independent and quirky by nature.

  Mike Fender fits the bill in all the good ways. Always easy-going, totally grounded and professional, he was a Newsie who gracefully absorbed the Star/News merger in 1995, rolling with the punches, doing excellent work both in the field and as a manager.

     He is the consummate newspaper shooter veteran: he started working for newspapers as a sophomore in high school, and then went "straight from high school to the Xenia Daily Gazette," and to three other newspapers before he came to the Indy Star.

    OK, so the news:  as of Feb. 20, Mike left the Star, wearing an Elvis outfit, to become director of multimedia at Angie's List. He posted some wonderful and true reflections on Facebook:

   "Newspapers have their struggles, many businesses do. But the list of great photographers, writers and editors I have shared time with at the Star will always be like a family to me. A somewhat dysfunctional one, but one I've come to love none the less.

   "They used to call newspapers the "Daily Miracle." Now in this crazy digital world that miracle happens at even a faster pace. Despite all the changes the people working at the Star today are still a relentless bunch trying to tell you something you don't know every minute of every day."

      A friend of Mike's emailed me a while back that the move to Angie's List was not only profitable but a reflection of "the photo (not the writing...) on the wall" (my expression) -- meaning there was not much future at the digitally-directed Gannett-owned Star where staff and salaries are frequently cut.

    Best to Mike, and hoping your velvet Elvis artwork from Mexico made the move to the new joint as easily as you. 





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Mass media

Dateline: Tue 03 Mar 2015

"Mass media is mass deception" is a bumper sticker which pretty much sums up where many young people are coming from -- they do not trust the old grey ladies to report the truth.

Hence our polarization; those who do not read or trust mainstream media are turning up their noses to it. 

The problem is, as one friend explained, that this has created a glut of media consumers who only read what re-enforces their particualr perspectives.

This friend, who toiled in the fields of old-school journalism until her job became intolerable, tells the story of her daughter, who gets her "news" exclusively from a conglomerate blog that tells her what she wants to read about the issues of the day.

This is an insult to what we once called the Fourth Estate -- news organizations and journalists who vowed to challenge government propaganda and the powers that be at any cost.

But we brought it on ourselves, to a large extent. When reporters stop challenging, people stop reading.

Welcome to the world of Fox and MSNBC, which is the MSM version of only hearing what you want to hear. Hence the crisis that is today's journalism. 



A little bird

Dateline: Tue 03 Mar 2015

told me that the Star's daily circulation is down to 97,000 or so.

We used to run 200,000 daily, 400,000 Sunday.

Those days are long gone.

You know the Star is screwed when a former veteran reporter takes a young colleague (an associate at her current job) to meet the players at the Indy Star. It was all part of making contacts.

Instead of being wowed by the journalists working at the newspaper, or even having dialogue with them, or a freaking conversation, the ex-reporter and her young friend listened to executive editor Jeff Taylor pontificate about "monetizing our digital hits" with a gleam in his eye.

To say that he monopolized the conversation with his world-view is exactly correct.

To say that his world view is wrong leads us back to the increasingly dismal circulation.






Back at it: 'Where Journalism Goes to Die'

Dateline: Tue 03 Mar 2015

Within the last five years or so, as traditional, mainstream, print journalism was morphing, and failing to thrive no matter how many cocktails it wrote about, many of us sincerely and optimistically clung to a belief: "It will be OK. The kids will figure it out."

The rap was that big, generous funders would create a forum for public journalism; richies would subsidize investigative reporting, and all shall be well....young, bright people with a burning thirst for truth and possessed of questioning, first-rate minds would plunge on through the fog and the lies, and present us with brand-new balanced journalism, based on fact, albeit not on news paper but on websites, in podcasts -- whatever.

Alas, all shall be bullshit.

One of the best pieces on this matter is "Where Journalism Goes to Die," by Ken Silverstein, who worked at Harper's magazine and the Los Angeles Times before becoming an investigative reporter for First Look Media.

Here is what Silverstein says, in a piece published Feb. 27 in Politico and picked up by other websites:

"Back when I was hired, First Look and The Intercept (the debut project) were just getting started. It seemed like it was going to be a fantastic opportunity for journalists. I was told that I could basically create my own job and write investigative stories about anything I wanted. I knew at the time little about Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire who founded and funded First Look, but he wasn't a big part of my decision-making."

Silverstein assumed the boss/owner, who founded E-bay, "must be a decent guy" since he was funding the enterprise to the tune of $250 million. He was also encouraged by First Look's top dogs: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, who told the story of Edward Snowden's unmasking of the National Security Agency. Serious talent, big kahunas. 

However, the organization unraveled, according to Silverstein, in a period of six months or so, in an inability to make decisions, a failure to stick to deadlines, a penchant for getting beat-out of major stories by competitors and a general huge amount of hand-wringing over such silly nonsense as expense accounts (paying for drinks for Washington, D.C., sources -- it's a must).

I found First Look because it had done solid work looking at the other side of a hugely popular (with the 30-something set) podcast, Serial, that offered up some of the sloppiest reporting I've ever encountered. Without going into a diatribe over Serial, suffice to say that First Look had challenged the NPR reporter Sarah Koenig, and did so successfully.

I was looking forward to reading more, since First Look obviously was capable of goring sacred cows, but alas...another one bites the dust, at least from Silverstein's seasoned perspective.

Here's the complete story. The title alone, "Where Journalism Goes to Die," is worth your time to read it...

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