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NYT in 90 Seconds

Bob Herbert Devotes His Last New York Times Column to the “Scandalous” Maldistribution of Wealth

Bob Herbert‘s career as a columnist for the New York Times spanned nearly 18 years, during which he devoted much of his column space to issues of poverty and wealth inequality in the United States. His final op-ed for the Times appeared on Saturday.

Herbert used his last lines to call the war in Libya a scandalous misplacement of American priorities, considering the state of the economy:

Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline… As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

It didn’t use to be this way, Herbert writes: “Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds.”

Instead of “pouring shiploads of cash into yet another war,” Herbert suggests we take a closer look at the seeds this wealth inequality may be sowing at home. “This inequality,” writes Herbert, “is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.”

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Nate Silver: Eight Out of 260 News Organizations Account for More Than Half of All Original Reporting

It’s Nate Silver‘s turn to take on the value of the New York Times paywall today, which he does for his Times‘ blog FiveThirtyEight in a refreshingly quantitative (albeit somewhat self-satisfied) fashion.

“For our readers who have been focused on real news — instead of news about the news industry,” Silver begins. Ahem! We at FishbowlNY think news about the news industry qualifies as real news, fyi. But enough about us.

Silver goes on to analyze the economic value of the Times by dissecting whether or not adequate substitutes exist for the Times in terms of original reporting.

Using Google search, Silver tallied how often various news organizations were cited as having “reported” news, in order to obtain a representative sample of which organizations were doing the bulk of original reporting (instead of just writing about someone else’s reporting). He then compared the results from 260 different news outlets, including  all blogs ranked in the Technorati top 100, all newspapers ranked in the top 100 in daily United States circulation, and other relevant outlets.

The fascinating results: “Collectively, just eight of the 260 organizations accounted for more than half the citations for reporting.”

The point he makes by this exercise is simple: there is a lot of competition for where to read the news, but little competition for actually reporting the news. And “the sort of reporting that organizations like CNN, The New York Times, The Associated Press, the BBC and Al Jazeera do… doesn’t come cheaply.”

New York Times Journalists Recall Horror of Captivity In Libya In Their Own Words

Accounts have already emerged detailing the six days during which four New York Times journalists were held captive in Libya. But now the Times has posted the first piece entirely in the journalists’ own words.

Anthony Shadid, Tyler Hicks, Lynsey Addario, and Stephen Farrell describe their ordeal, and while much of their piece recounts fear (“God, I just don’t want to be raped,” Addario whispers to Farrell at one point), a greater part of it is devoted to guilt, not only for their friends and family who they knew were terrified on their behalf, but for their missing driver Mohammed:

From the pickup, Lynsey saw a body outstretched next to our car, one arm outstretched. We still don’t know whether that was Mohammed… If he died, we will have to bear the burden for the rest of our lives that an innocent man died because of us, because of wrong choices that we made, for an article that was never worth dying for.

The article is also noticeable for the humanity it attempts to see even in the Pro-Qaddafi forces that held them captive.

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Released New York Times Journalists Recount Harrowing Ordeal in Libya

The four New York Times journalists who were missing in Libya for six days before being released Monday have disclosed the details of their captivity, including the physical assault they suffered.

The journalists are Times’s Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid, two photographers, Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, and a reporter and videographer, Stephen Farrell.

The four had been covering fighting near Ajdabiya last Tuesday when their driver inadvertently drove into a checkpoint manned by Pro-Qaddafi forces.

“I heard in Arabic, ‘Shoot them,’ ” Mr. Shadid said. “And we all thought it was over.”

Then another soldier spoke up. “One of the others said: ‘No, they’re American. We can’t shoot them,’ ” Mr. Hicks said.

The first night they spent in the back of a vehicle. The second night they spent in a jail cell with dirty mattresses on the ground. Lynsey Addario also said that over that forty-eight hour period, “there was a lot of groping. Every man who came in contact with us basically felt every inch of my body short of what was under my clothes.” Another captor stroked Addario’s head at one point while repeatedly saying: ‘You’re going to die tonight. You’re going to die tonight.”

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The New York Times Accuses Google of Being A Media Company

In the new digital media world, traditional lines dividing companies are blurring everywhere. David Carr at the New York Times makes the argument that even Google, which has adamantly denied being a media company in the past, can no longer escape the terrifying label.

Carr argues that Google is no longer merely a search tool because in generating results, it “does not want its search engines to crawl across a wasteland of machine-generated info-spam and amateur content with limited allure.” Though Google uses machines and algorithms to point users to more quality search results, the fact that it is still choosing one kind of content over another is “fundamentally an editorial exercise.”

Uh oh.

Google chief economist Hal Varian told the Times that Google has “astutely avoided” the media business for the past 12 years, but it’s hard to agree with him looking at the company from the outside. As the Times summarizes, Google:

derives 96 percent of its revenue from advertising, has a video platform that is currently negotiating with the National Basketball Association, a movie studio and various celebrities, and is developing a subscription service that would be plug-and-play for publishers and consumers the world over.

Google, it may be time to officially welcome you to the media industry. Don’t worry, there are worse places to be!

Or so we’re told.

NYT in 90 Seconds

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In this edition:

David Carr reports on the Golden Globes, where everyone is “a little special.” Hey, that sounds just like our elementary school.

Today gains a fourth hour in its continued quest to become its own 24 hour-a-day channel.

The American Songbook returns to Lincoln Center, with rapper Mos Def in tow. Chappelle’s Block Party this ain’t.

And finally, as if you weren’t depressed enough by the state of the industry, David Leonhart tells us what our government could have bought with the $1.2 trillion it’s spent in Iraq:

For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

But it’s not all bad. There’s two more hours of American Idol on again tonight!

NYT in 90 Seconds

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  • One look at the changes over at Time names the weekly’s ever-slimming look, its new Friday street date and pending employee cuts (is that all?) as the major changes Richard Stengel has initiated in his half-year post at the mag. Patience in its reader base will be key in upcoming months until the redesigns of the magazine and the new Web site— which makes its debut today— are complete.
  • The Politico plows ahead with high aspirations in the midst of a general retreat from Washington coverage forced by the glut of news from the capital city; and to top it off, access to the new venture’s reporting will be free for readers both online and in print.
  • As we’ve noted, bloggers are (still) not appeased by the A.P.’s confirmation of a disputed source used in reports on the violence in Iraq, as this week they’ve shifted their criticism to the fact that the A.P. itself was at the root of the article acknowledging police captain Jamil Hussein, the source in question.
  • WSJ reporter Robert Frank and NYT contributor Robert Frank both will release new books— on the same topic (American wealth) no less— this summer. Not to worry: apparently the writers are “more amused than annoyed” by the coincidental timing.
  • Cole Campbell, one of the earliest newspaper editors to foster the idea of ‘civic journalism,’ died Friday in Reno, Nevada, when his vehicle flipped on an icy road.
  • DirecTV is all set to unveil the Sat-go, a 25-lb mobile satellite and television system projected to retail at over $1,000 bucks a pop starting this spring, today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
  • A story suggests that the ensuing print-Internet court battle being waged in China over violated copyright laws reflects the start of a media war and hints at a possible shift in policies in a country that has long been called a “no man’s land for intellectual property rights.”
  • An email from one of the Times‘ own, a senior editor, may be used in the suit against the paper over columns written about the deadly anthrax mailings back in 2001.
  • NYT in 90 seconds

  • Microsoft celebrated its new operating system Vista by visiting the Nasdaq headquaters in New York. According to the article, the system will make “Windows machines more secure, powerful and graphically dynamic.” It will be availible to the general public on January 30th. Bill Gates will own the entire planet by late-February.

  • In another computer story, One Laptop Per Child will begin producing its $150 laptops in mid-2007. The original goal was $100, but the Minesweeper people held out for more money.
  • Both 30 Rock and Studio 60 survived through the midseason cancellation fest despite dissapointing ratings. 3 lbs., however, did not. Well, there’s a shock.
  • NYT in 90 Seconds

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  • We’re so lost as to where in the process the Freedom Tower is, even this straightforward article doesn’t even help.

  • Bush’s “decider” declaration unwittingly adds to “lexicon of marital relations.”
  • Almost unbelievably, Ken Lay says Enron was the media’s fault.
  • Our Sweet Sixteen wasn’t filmed by MTV, but these are.
  • New Jersey writer rejects Harvard gals apology.
  • NYT in 90 Seconds

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  • Cheryl Tiegs — yes that Cheryl Tiegs — delivers a first-person account of her experience on airplanes. This is somehow in the business section.

  • ABC suspends Good Morning America executive producer for e-mail leakage.
  • This “Katie Couric” person sure generates a lot of coverage.
  • Viral video marketing stunt backfires for Chevy.
  • Who knew? Synagogues are becoming more and more like swinging comedy clubs. Just ask Lynn Harris, the mb instructor and writer-comedian who married a Rabbi.
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