Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Tag

Dear LA Times, Again,   Leave a comment

la-times-square-446x238I don’t mean to annoy, honest. Can you say the same?

Yesterday, I re-subscribed subscribed to your digital media, and was told by your representative that I would also continue to get the Sunday newspaper for several months at no charge. OK, that’s yesterday’s news. Today, I sent you an email, hoping to alert management to what happened. And I conveniently provided a link to my blog that explained everything in some detail.

Here’s the email I sent through your “Contact Us” form:

Subject * Comments
Website URL (if applicable) https://mowryjournal.com/2016/09/07/dear-la-times/
Message * I subscribed yesterday, and the whole process was fraught with errors and problems. You really need to examine how you interact with your customers … because it’s not going well for you.

And I know newspapers can’t afford to make mistakes right now.

I blogged about the experience; link is provided in the space provided. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. Happy to help.

Henry

I got a rather prompt response from one of your representatives:

Dear Ms. Mowry,

Thank you for contacting Los Angeles Times mobile support.

We are sorry for the difficulty you have experienced on our website. Would you be willing to provide the exact error you receive upon subscribing? In addition, we appreciate if you can send a screenshot of the error. We look forward to hearing back from you.

In the interim, you can try to subscribe through this link:

https://myaccount2.latimes.com/dsssubscribe.aspx?icmp=templateb&pc=1

If you require further assistance, please call our Customer Service at 1-(800) 252-9141 or simply respond to this email.

Sincerely,

Lemuel Florague

A few notes about that response:

  1. I do not self-identify as a Ms. Perhaps there are other LA Times’ communicants named Henry that do so, but I do not. Mr. Mowry, or actually, just Henry, is a great way to address me.
  2. I cannot provide a screenshot of the error message, as I did not save it, and if you had read my email, you would have learned that the error was addressed yesterday. Before I wrote you.
  3. Thank you for providing the link to your subscription screen, but if you had read my email, you would have learned that I subscribed yesterday. Before I wrote you.
  4. You might want to check your customer service records about my subscription; I’m sure the 3 people that I spoke with yesterday kept good notes that would illuminate the issues for you.
  5. Oh, and if you had read the blog that I referenced for you, and that I linked for you, that would have helped as well.

I did respond to your email, however, as follows:

Feel free to read my blog, and then get back to me. Your questions will be answered when you do that.

Unfortunately, you did not respond to that email, so I don’t know if you’re still confused about my subscription status. Or my gender identity, for that matter.

Please advise.

Best,

Henry

One Of Your Newest, Frustrated Subscribers

Dear LA Times,   1 comment

I used to be very frustrated with your circulation department; it was the worst. I canceled my subscription years ago … and yesterday, my wife and I decided it was time to re-subscribe. After all, you had sent me multiple emails over this holiday weekend asking me to do exactly that.

subscribe-to-the-la-times

We had both found a series of articles that you published recently about a battle between an Irvine PTA president and a power couple – parents of a 6-year old boy – that decided to take her down, no matter what. Velda tried to read the article, and failed as she was not a subscriber. I got linked to the article through a Facebook personality I follow, and I read the article perfectly well. And I was not a subscriber.

At least, that I knew of.

I tried to give you money to start a subscription, and your website wouldn’t let me. I was told I had to call subscription services, so I did.

They lied to me, and 11 minutes of my life was gone.

I told them I wanted to give you money and receive the Sunday printed edition as well as unlimited digital access for both of us. Total cost: $9.99 for 13 weeks, like your offer said. Sold!

But subscription services would not take my money. They told me I was getting a free subscription to the Sunday paper for 26 weeks (didn’t ever ask for that, and you never told me. Gee, thanks!). All I had to do was go to latimes/activate, and I could activate the digital access part of the subscription.

Nope.

So, I had to call back, get another subscription department drone on the phone, and try again. This person “saw the error on my account” and told me I had to talk to the digital subscription department to get it fixed. That brought me to Erica.

I told her the whole story: how I wanted to give her money, and the website wouldn’t let me. How I wanted to be a subscriber.

I did what she told me while we were still on the phone together.

Fail.

She then tried to subscribe for me in parallel, and she got it to work, but not by doing what I asked. You see, I actually asked to stop the free delivery of the Sunday paper, and allow me to pay for it.

Nope.

Erica did do a paid subscription for digital access, which I was assured would work for both Velda and I after 4 days of processing time. Apparently, the whole computer subscription idea takes 4 days, so your servers must be really slow, but that’s another problem.

Back to my situation.

After two phone calls, conversations with 3 people in your circulation department, and a 23 minute conversation with Erica who at least took some of my money, here’s what I now have:

  1. A free subscription to the Sunday paper, which I offered to pay for several times … but, no. It’s free, and I better like it.
  2. A paid subscription for digital access, costing $0.99 per week for 4 weeks, and then $1.49 per week after that. And, when it’s magically processed on your end, I should be able to register Velda for no additional charge.

She said. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, dearest LA Times, please allow me to say that you have the worst circulation department I have ever dealt with. THE WORST. You should fire everyone with “Manager,” “Director” or, God forbid, “Vice President” in their title in that area and start over.

After all, I had to call to give you money today, and not one person was able to take that money and give me a paid subscription. Your bureaucracy could not get out of its own way.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

Sincerely,

Henry Mowry

  • Free Subscriber to the Sunday edition of the LA Times
  • Paid Subscriber to Digital editions of the LA Times

PS: the piece by Christopher Goffard called “FRAMED” sold this subscription. I hope you give Christopher a raise.

More

LA Times: FRAMED, A Mystery In 6 Parts

(non-subscribers can read 5 articles on LATimes.com per month, and I highly recommend you read this one)

 

You Get Your News Where?   4 comments

news-icon-47075I don’t trust anybody.

Really.

When it comes to news, I trust NO ONE to tell me the truth. I think it’s as likely that Bill Maher tells me the truth as Katie Couric. Both work in media, after all. Both are known to stretch the truth to make a point.

So I don’t trust them to tell the truth.

My recommendation is don’t get your “news” from a cable comedy show. And, don’t get your “news” from a journalist that freely admitted she edited an interview to make a point … while misrepresenting the people she was interviewing.

Today, I read Pew Research’s latest finding about where people are getting their news today, and it saddens me to report that more and more people are getting their news from … online providers with no proven journalistic integrity. You know, companies like Google. Facebook. Verizon.

Big tech companies, every one. Proven to skirt the truth, every one. Pushing their agenda over truth, every one.

GoogleIn the case of Google, they were investigated by the DOJ, who found that they were slanting their search algorithm to favor their profit over quality information. The specific case was about travel providers: they put their in-house company above outside providers even when the outside provider had better options for the traveler.

Did they disclose this? No.

Then, they were found to have skewed search results so that if you were using the auto complete function for searches, you might miss that Hilary Clinton was being investigated and might be indicted. Specifically, if you typed in “Hilary Clinton Ind” the auto complete suggestions were Hillary Clinton Indiana and Hillary Clinton India. The result that was actually 8 times more popular was “Hillary Clinton Indictment,” and that wasn’t an autocomplete option.

Facebook logoFacebook employees have gleefully disclosed that they made sure conservative news stories were de-emphasized in their member’s news feeds. Was this sanctioned by management? By some management? No one is admitting it, of course, just as the IRS never admitted that it targeted conservative non profits. It just happened. Oops.

Verizon logoVerizon’s case is just as insidious, and it’s rooted in the idea of “net neutrality.” Verizon believes that it should be able to sell its piece of the information superhighway to the highest bidder … so, if, for example, they can get more money from Fox News or CNN or ABC, then they should be able to provide that information to their subscribers in a powerful way. They want news that you get on “their” devices to be controlled by their profits. You, the subscriber, committed to a 2-year contract, should get no say in the matter.

According to Verizon.

Fortunately, that concept was just shot down – resoundingly – by the US District Court of Appeals. Perhaps Verizon won’t get their way.

And that’s a very good thing, as more and more people are getting their “news” from these high tech companies, and those companies are getting an ever-increasing share of the advertising pie … meaning that traditional media companies have fewer and fewer resources to provide good journalism that’s vetted by multiple sources and untainted by a secret political agenda.

Here’s how TechCrunch describes Pew’s findings about our news consumption habits:

Pew found that nearly four-in-ten U.S. adults (38%) said they often get news from digital sources, including news websites or apps (28%) and social networking sites (18%). That still trails the 57% who often get news from a television source but outpaces both radio (25%) and print newspapers (20%).

Instead of news media benefiting from growth in digital ad spending, Pew notes how tech companies such as Facebook and Apple have succeeded in supplanting the choices and aims of news outlets with “their own choices and goals” as their platforms have become the dominant sources for content distribution, taking over the role that used to belong to newspapers.

And while the concentration of digital ad spending in the hands of a handful of tech giants began on desktop platforms, Pew says the data shows it “quickly took root in the rapidly growing mobile realm as well” — which the report also notes accounted for slightly more than half of all digital ad spending last year.

So, beware of who you trust in the information game. High tech companies have no legal responsibility to be “agenda neutral,” and yet more and more people are trusting them to give them (key word: GIVE) information with a minimum of fuss.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

More

New York Times: Court Backs Rules Treating Internet Like Utility, Not Luxury

Tech Cruch: Pew’s 2016 News Media Report Is A Tough Read For Journalism

Wall Street Journal: How Google Skewed Search Results

Fox News: Google Helping Hillary Clinton

Gizmodo: Former Facebook Workers….

FierceWireless.com: MoffettNathanson: Net Neutrality Ruling….

 

 

Posted June 16, 2016 by henrymowry in Media

Tagged with , , , ,

Sportsmanship   Leave a comment

Sportsmanship 02I seem to have lost my way. Perhaps I no longer understand what sportsmanship is in today’s culture, as we approach Superbowl XLVIII.

Robert Sherman’s postgame interview after his team won the NFC Championship became something as a sensation, as this amped-up, child of the inner city and Stanford graduate became a cause celebre. Here’s his confusing interview that made him one of the top stories heading into the Superbowl.

Want more? He’ll have another interview with Erin Andrews, airing in the “5-6 hour” of pre-game Superbowl coverage. When is that? No idea, but that’s what ESPN told me last night in a pre-game promo interview.

Sportsmanship 01

Sportsmanship is considered old fashioned in some circles … but is there anything wrong with shaking hands with a competitor after the game?

The second strike against my believing I understand today’s media is from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This bastion of old school journalism has hired a hater … called The Hater … whose job is to hate for his readers. Just in case they can’t find enough things to hate in the sports world without him. Here is what  they say:

In the city that’s too busy to hate, but where our most-cherished rivalry is considered “clean, old-fashioned hate,” let The Hater find the latest in sports that just needed to be hated on.

The Hater Blog

I never knew that I needed people to hate for me. Thank goodness old media is leaping into that breach.

Finally, I subscribe to the RSS feed of Bruins Nation. This week, I was banned from commenting on the board because I disagreed with the opinion of one of their authors. This author was incessantly attacking the UCLA basketball coach – incessantly. This coach, new to UCLA, came in with a regrettable past, but he’s contracted to be the coach for 7 years. The author takes total exception to this situation, and blogs about his  lack of desire to even watch UCLA basketball games. Remember how he’s a blogger on a sports blog? Here’s what I said:

When a sports journalist blogger thinks that not watching games qualifies him to comment on the game, it’s time for a re-evaluation. As much as I agree with some … SOME … of what you write, this is the last column of yours that I will read.

Endless whining is not effective commentary. I suggest you get a new hobby, since you don’t like watching basketball anymore.

I was immediately banned from the blog, insulted publicly and repeatedly, and thrown under the bus for not hating the coach like the author does.

Apparently I don’t always understand sports reporters.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

More

TeensHealth.com: Sportsmanship

CBSNews.com: “Unbelievable” Act Of Sportsmanship

ESPN: Fans Behaving Badly

Posted January 27, 2014 by henrymowry in Media, Sports

Tagged with , ,

Flaks Growing, Pubs Shrinking   Leave a comment

The Chicago Sun Times famously called the 1948 Presidential election ... and got it wrong. In print.

The Chicago Daily Tribune famously called the 1948 Presidential election … and got it wrong. In print.

The quality of journalism is declining in our society. Or is it?

That’s precisely the question that the Pew Research Center’s annual report on News Media tries to answer … and pundits have had a strikingly divergent reaction to this year’s report. I’ve linked a couple, below, along with Pew’s report. Slate says that journalism has never been better; Newspaper Death Watch has a slightly less optimistic view.  Here’s what Pew said:

“News organizations are less equipped to question what is coming to them or to uncover the stories themselves, and interest groups are better equipped and have more technological tools than ever.”

The reality is that employment in journalism is down below 40,000 now, lower than it was in 1978.  However, the growth of citizen journalists and, of course, the internet, has resulted in an EXPLOSION in the amount of coverage generated daily, and a veritable tsunami of information has resulted from the daily deluge being supplemented by the easy accessibility of seemingly all written thought on the ‘net.

It is fascinating to me that corporations have found it easier to control their message through public relations (PR) and “new media” than they have found ways to effectively advertise it. The result is spectacular growth in PR jobs, even as the number of journalists who can properly interpret the corporate speak has been dropping. Publishers have an increasing pressure on their bottom line, and this has resulted in an increase in sponsored news, or advertorials. The lack of journalistic resources apparently even impacted the Presidential campaign, as Pew said:

“Only about a quarter of statements in the media about the character and records of the presidential candidates originated with journalists, while twice that many came from political partisans.”

Do you really trust political partisans – even if they are YOUR political partisans – to tell you the truth all of the time? I’ve explored that before; read about the lying liars here.

These days, everybody has a blog, it seems (HA. Humor. Coming at you.). I don’t do this to make money (note the lack of advertising and subscription cost). And, ultimately, that’s the problem with journalism these days. I can do this blog easily. And cheaply, believe me. And when you’re reading this, you’re not reading the thoughts of some smart journalist working for the LA Times. Or St Louis Post Dispatch. Or even your local community newspaper.

But then, I understand that. You can afford me.

More

The Glory Days Of American Journalism

Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media 2013

Newspaper Death Watch

Journalism, I Mourn For Thee (part 1)   3 comments

I haven’t yet paid money for an electronic publication.  Have you?

I do pay dollars for print publications … but then, I’m old.  Older than the average reader of newspapers, come to find out.  Look at the demographics of newspaper readership, here.

But do I pay digital dimes for electronic media?  No.

Mobile pennies?  No way.

And that’s the problem with journalism today.  We as a society are reading newspapers less and less.  We are subscribing less and less.  Revenues are falling.  Quickly.

Are we paying money for electronic media as a substitute?  Not so much.  So who is paying for the journalists?

The easy answer is not enough people. That’s why newspapers are shrinking or closing all together.

We’re all quick to throw rocks at bad journalism … I was fascinated by the Manti Te’o stories over the last couple of days.  Mr. Te’o struck up an internet romance with a young lady, apparently, except it wasn’t a  real lady.  And then she died.  Or maybe she never existed, but Mr. Te’o thought she did.  It’s very confusing.  Here’s the New York Times summary, here.

In any event, there were several media critics eager to blame the other journalists that believed the story and ran it without verifying that there was an actual dead woman.  In this era of journalistic cutbacks, it’s easy to understand how sports journalists weren’t seeking out funeral homes to verify there was a body to match the alleged tragedy of a premiere football player.  But is it excusable?

Wacky times.

Bottom line is this:  we no longer have a reliable press corps that is seeking truth in every thing they report before they report it.  “Get it right, first” is no longer the slogan to live by.  Perhaps now it’s “Get it, then revise it, then update it, then apologize if you had errors.”

And by not subscribing to electronic publications, we’re not helping the big media companies pay for better journalists.

I don’t watch TV news much (meaning never outside of special coverage) … so I’m not helping the networks by watching their ads, either.

And for those journalists still fortunate enough to have a job, we have a media savvy elite that’s not cooperating. Did you know President Obama had fewer press conferences in his first term than Clinton or either of the Bushes?  He’s not talking to journalists much … and he’s hand picking those he will talk to.  At those somewhat rare press conferences, he called on ABC correspondents twice as often as he called on Fox correspondents.

I understand wanting to avoid hostile questions … but is he also avoiding discussing alternative views by not talking to journalists that don’t support him?

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

Gathering Info vs. Reading a Newspaper   2 comments

Information gathering has become a chore.  Who do you believe?  I’m fast drifting towards a simple answer:  no one.  Research shows I’m not alone, as media savvy consumers are seeking more and more sources on more and more platforms.

MORE.

As the Pew Research Center has reported, 92% of Americans now get their news from multiple platforms.

News ComsumptionOf those that get their news online, 75% get their news from emails forwarded to them, or from social networking sites.  52%, in turn, share that information even more broadly.

McKinsey found that consumers were reaching for as many as 16 different news brands each week.  Brand promiscuity has become the norm, it seems.  It’s not about one or two newspapers and your favorite network news show anymore. (Dear young people: it was that way within your lifetime!)

News is now mobile:  50% of Americans now have a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), and 2/3 of them get news there.  The evidence is also that the more devices a person has, the more sources of news they use.  More means more.

News Consumption by Device

Here’s my problem:  I don’t want more.  I don’t want an aggregator.  I want a curator.

I want a news brand that I can trust to get me the information I’m looking for.  I should be able to influence the kinds of stories I want (no more stories on abortion, gun control or the fiscal cliff part 2, please).

I’ve talked to Michael, my twenty-something news hound and talk radio listener … who has loudly proclaimed his desire to never subscribe to a printed newspaper.  He’s currently getting his news primarily on his smartphone, and he frequently uses crowdsourcing to get it.  He’s got journalists, friends and organizations that he follows on twitter, blog subscriptions, and email feeds from favorite sites.

No printed newspapers.  You won’t find him watching TV news regularly, either.  Old media isn’t part of his world.

I still cling to my daily newspaper, but I’m increasingly seeking email and online sources from a broad range of opinions.  I don’t trust either side of the political debate, so I’m reading some Huffington Post along with some Glenn Beck.  I guess I’m looking for more cringe in my news consumption.

And I’m getting it.  And I regularly cringe reading the LA Times, too.  Did you hear?  They’re not bankrupt anymore.  Too bad they had to fire so many and shrink their product to a shadow of what it was.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

Google Ad Revenue

Most of Google’s ad revenues are for sponsored search results, not traditional display advertising. Journalists used to be trusted to report the news you wanted to read … now, you have to search for what you want. That’s apparently the only revenue model that’s working, as Google has surpassed ALL AMERICAN PRINT PUBLICATIONS in advertising.

More

Newspaper Deathwatch

Young People Don’t Read Newspapers

Tablet Owners Consume More News that Non-Owners

European Tabloid Results vs. Traditional Newspapers

Understanding The Participatory News Consumer

I am an Eagle Scout   8 comments

August 1, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the first Eagle Scout Board of Review.  I am proud to be an Eagle Scout.

There are great resources to explain the Eagle award and what it represents.  One President of the United States earned the award … as did the first man on the moon, a current Supreme Court Justice and many, many more noteworthy individuals.  I celebrate their accomplishment, and ask you to consider a few facts about Eagle Scouts:

  • They are significantly more likely to have worked to solve problems in their community than non-Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are 55 percent more likely than non-Scouts to have held a leadership position at their workplace.
  • They are more likely to be active readers.
  • Eagles are 72% more likely to attend live entertainment events than non-Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are 100% more likely than non-Scouts to have a designated family meeting place in the event of an emergency.
  • Eagle Scouts are 45% more likely than non-Scouts to agree they always treat people of other religions with respect.
  • Eagle Scouts are 34% more likely than non-Scouts to have donated money to a non-religious institution or charity in the community within the last month.

Teaching my children to live a life in service to God, family, community and country was of paramount importance to this parent.  Scouting focuses on those core values in an environment of personal achievement, comradery and FUN.

About 2% of all Scouts attain the rank of Eagle. That has trended up recently, with about 5% of all Scouts earning the award in 2008.

Of course, Scouting is about outdoor activities … and Scouts are known to be strong environmentalists.  They know how to tie knots, go camping and build a fire.  Don’t think for a moment that becoming an Eagle is about those things.  Learning outdoor skills is just one of the methods used by Scouting to build knowledge and leadership in young men.  However, those skills are not the key result of the program.

My sons are both Eagle Scouts, and it’s had an important impact on their lives.  For one example, both Michael and Christopher got their first jobs as a result of their Scouting experience.

Christopher actually learned of a job opportunity with LA County while leading a Scout outing.  He got the job, and he’s been promoted by the County several times since; he’s currently a Recreation Supervisor and in charge of 12 natural areas in northern LA County.

The cloth badge is sewn on the shirt; the medal can be worn in its place on more formal occasions. Once a boy turns 18, he no longer wears the badge or medal on his uniform.

Michael didn’t know Scouting was important to his job with Rocketdyne until one day at lunch.  Some co-workers were talking about what they would do if they were washed overboard at sea (Note: rocket scientists often have odd conversations).  One of his peers calmly related that he would inflate his clothing – a technique learned by all Eagles as they complete the Swimming merit badge. All of Michael’s peers were amazed to learn that everyone at the table knew the technique … and, further, all were Eagle Scouts.  Apparently a degree in engineering from a prestigious university was only one thing recruiters were looking for!

To become an Eagle Scout, each young man must complete over 300 separate requirements.  They must earn 21 different merit badges, and complete the requirements to the satisfaction of an adult expert in that field.  They must demonstrate leadership by planning, inspiring others, and working with them to complete a service project of benefit to their community, church or school.  On six different occasions, they must stand before a board of review made up of community leaders, and demonstrate the Scouting spirit and leadership skills required to wear the different rank badges they must earn on the trail to the Eagle badge.

Eagle Scouts will know how to camp – and they’ll know what to do in a nuclear emergency, too.  They’ll have written a letter to their congressman.  They’ll know how to take care of money.  They’ll know first aid for a broken arm and a cut finger.  They’ll know the best knot to tie down a friend’s suitcase on a roof rack, too.

Once a young man has earned the award, they are an Eagle Scout for life.  I earned my Eagle in 1972 while in Troop 58, Maitland, MO.  I earned merit badges in Salesmanship and Journalism, which proved to be directly relevant to my success in my chosen career.  My Eagle Scout service project was developed in conjunction with the Graham Community Betterment Association in Graham, MO.  I actually assigned the street numbers to all of the buildings in Graham, and communicated their new street addresses to each resident and business owner in Graham (population 213!).

I know two keys to my success were my Scoutmasters, Eddie Hillman and Franklin Hardy.  Most important, however, were my Mother and Father.  Dad drove me to Scout meetings every Tuesday night.  Mom helped make sure I got the requirements done — I distinctly remember some gentle, uh, encouragement, to get my Eagle Scout service project done.  They got me there, and I am an Eagle Scout.

Here I am at the Pony Express Council Eagle Dinner in 1972. I’m wearing the Explorer uniform of the Camp Geiger Staff, which I proudly served on in 1972 and 1973.

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