Don’t miss today’s review in the Times of the new memoir by Gail Sheehy. Not that she needs any more exposure.
By Christopher B. Daly
Three cheers for Politico! They must be doing something right, because they have enough money to keep hiring more journalists. Today’s Times brings news that Politico has just named Susan Glasser (age 45!) to fill the vacancy created by the recent departure of former NYTimes political reporter Rick Berke. Glasser is a heavy-hitter: former WaPo reporter, Foreign Policy editor, serious book author. She’s also an insider’s insider, a Harvard grad married to NYTimes White House correspondent Peter Baker. Just prior to this promotion, she was running Politico’s twice-monthly print magazine.
No real surprises here. But what caught my eye in the Times story about Glasser was this passage, quoting Politico co-founder Jim V:
“It’s so much harder to break through today,” Mr. VandeHei said, “so you have to be smarter and even more ambitious. We want to keep it growing and growing and growing.”
The site will most likely make more hires for its leadership roles, he said.
Keep on hiring!
By Christopher B. Daly
Welcome to the news business to the latest wealthy businessman seeking to have a role in politics through the media. The newest member of the club is Bill Binnie, the founder of the media venture NH1, which is having its rollout this month in the state known as FITN for its “first in the nation” presidential primary, which is just around the corner in political terms.
Based on a quick search, it appears that Binnie is a Republican who made a fortune in plastics, which he converted into another fortune in the investing business. Born in Scotland, Binnie went to Harvard (on a scholarship, it should be noted) and to Harvard Business School, then did a stint at McKinsey as a consultant, telling other businesses how to run better. Eventually, he actually founded and ran several businesses of his own, including Carlisle Plastics, followed by a venture capital firm, Carlisle Capital Corp.
In 2010, he ran as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire and lost. He is a big donor to GOP causes and fund-raiser, and he has served as the chair of the finance committee for the N.H. GOP.
Now comes his latest venture: NH1, which debuts next week. Here is part of the Boston Globe‘s take, from today’s Capital section (which, BTW, is a welcome addition to the paper and potentially more meaningful to a lot of Globe readers than its much-heralded [if I may use that term!] new Catholic-watching section called Crux):
At a time when most newsrooms are shrinking, Binnie Media is doing the opposite, doubling staff to 120 in the past year and recruiting top journalists like former CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser and veteran political reporter Kevin Landrigan, who was laid off when The Telegraph of Nashua closed its New Hampshire State House bureau earlier this year. Binnie has also attracted a number of other seasoned journalists from cash-strapped local papers.
Hooray for hiring. It’s good to see someone taking up the slack from the diminished statehouse press corps. And Binnie could not have done better than to hire Kevin Landrigan — whose desk used to abut mine when we both worked in the Massachusetts Statehouse Press Gallery in the mid-1980s, he for the Lowell Sun and me for the AP. Kevin was simply the best reporter in the room (the Globe’s Frank Phillips was down the hall in a separate room, and John King didn’t stay long enough to build up Kevin’s cred). I learned a lot just from eavesdropping on Kevin’s phone conversations with his sources — not that I picked up any actual facts but I got to see his technique at work, which was relentless questioning, double-checking, and working his sources. He broke a lot of stories and always seemed to know what was about to happen next. I knew Kevin as decent, fair, straight-ahead, a total pro.
As for Binnie, he has actually been involved in TV and radio in New Hampshire for a few years, but he is taking another step forward in creating NH1, which is billed as a multimedia platform — which I guess means broadcast TV, plus a website (still under construction) but no print medium that I can see. The idea appears to be to capture some of the vast amounts of money spent in New Hampshire every four years on TV political ads.
Will NH1 survive through the lean off-years in politics?
By Christopher B. Daly
[Update: Here's a thoughtful, tough evaluation of Ken Burns from an academic historian. It makes some points I have been struggling to articulate. H-t to Harvey Kaye.]
Could either Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt get elected today? That’s a fun question to kick around as the epic new video documentary by Ken Burns unfolds on PBS.
The lead writer of the series is the redoubtable Geoffrey C. Ward, who is probably one of the most successful, most familiar, and least known American historians of recent decades. Ward, who apparently has never had an academic appointment in a university history department, has a real knack for writing history in a way that lots of people appreciate. A graduate of Oberlin and former editor of American Heritage, Ward has an impressive track record: 18 books (including a 1989 biography of FDR, A First-Class Temperament), a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Parkman Prize for history, seven Emmys, a bunch of other prizes and the “Friend of History Award” from the Organization of American Historians.
Among his many talents, I would say Ward excels at the majestic, omniscient note needed to introduce Big Subjects in our national drama like the Civil War or the Roosevelts. One arrow in Ward’s quiver is the “historical conditional” verb tense, as in: “His When his words are read by Peter Coyote, you better listen up.
As this recent NYTimes piece notes, Ward has a special connection to FDR — Ward suffered from polio as a child and still wears braces as a result — that perhaps gave him a special affinity or empathy with the president. Although it is not taught much in school, empathy may not be a bad quality in a historian.
By Christopher B. Daly
As a public service, I am rounding up some recent reports and commentary about journalism and history.
Here is a new report from our friends at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation, asking:
Where are the women in the executive ranks of the news media?
Here’s the latest episode of NPR’s “On the Media.” This week’s show looks at the decline in “beat reporting.” Any thoughts from my JO310 alumni?
Here’s the latest episode of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” — much improved since Brian Stelter replaced Howie Kurtz. So, should news organizations censor ISIL’s propaganda videos? I say, yes.
And from the NYTimes. . .
–Here is B.U. Prof. David Carr on TMZ’s sacking of the NFL.
–Here is a confusing story about NPR doing “live” shows. (Isn’t all of NPR live?)
–Here is a story about the sale of Digital First Media. Want to buy a newspaper? (I don’t mean one copy, I mean a whole paper!)
–Here is an update on the Hachette-Amazon brawl. I am still not sure which side to join in this one.
Here’s an update about the Story in the Public Square project, which is going on in Rhode Island (and in which I have a small role). From a blogpost about a recent planning meeting:
PROVIDENCE — A Narragansett Tribe elder and oral historian named Sunflower.
An Emmy Award-winning producer and director.
An author and Bryant University professor who has archived the wartime letters of countless women.
These are three of the about two dozen dedicated and diverse members of the Story Board, a group advising The Providence Journal and Pell Center leadership with its Story in the Public Square initiative. Since its inception in 2012, there have been two day-long conferences that studied, celebrated and practiced storytelling in its many forms.
The Story Board, which was created after a coffee house conversation, met for the first time Wednesday at The Providence Journal to brainstorm for the third annual Story Day conference being planned for the spring of 2015 — and future projects.
“The room overflowed with ideas,” said G. Wayne Miller, a longtime Providence Journal reporter and visiting fellow at the Pell Center.
Miller is leading the initiative with Pell Center Executive Director Jim Ludes, who on Wednesday likened the Story Board to chocolate and peanut butter because it fits so well with enhancing Story in the Public Square.
The still-being developed theme for Story Day 2015 is music — its abilities to heal, narrate emotion, bring strangers together and move past global boundaries.
“Music transcends,” said Kendall Moore, a Story Board member, award-winning filmmaker and University of Rhode Island professor. “…It has impact everywhere.”
Suggestions from Story Board members include discussing the origins and necessity of black gospel; two types of classical music in India; how the hearing impaired still enjoy music; the importance of arts and music education in schools; and creating a block of time for young musicians to jam with a seasoned artist (s). There could be bands, dancers and solo artist between lively panel discussions.
Getting additional youth and community members involved was also emphasized, as well as topics for the annual youth contest.
Said Miller, “this is not a closed club.”
Providence Journal Staff Writer and Columnist Alisha A. Pina is a member of the Story Board, a culturally, ethnically and creatively diverse advisory board with representation from every Rhode Island college and university and members from the broader community. Meet all of the Story Board members at www.salve.edu/story-board
Here’s the latest from David Carr, about the iconography of beheading.
Here’s the new issue of Common-Place, a terrific site about history, complete with a mystery story about a “missing” congressional election in Massachusetts in 1814. Hmmm. . .
Here’s a discussion on NPR’s “On Point” about my friend and colleague Mitch Zuckoff’s new book on Benghazi.
Here’s an inconclusive report on the resignation of the executive editor of Politico. (Reminder: one of the “5 W’s of journalism” is “WHY?”) Hmmm. . .
Here’s where the Times‘ public editor Margaret Sullivan wrestles with the issues raised by doing “profiles in the news.”
(Preview: not all the people journalists cover are admirable; deal with it.)