Aged comedy

In case you didn’t see it, here’s Jason Jones of the Daily Show at The New York Times talking about “aged news” and challenging an editor to “find one thing in there that happened today.” Editor and Publisher sort of sniffs about why The Times would allow someone in to make fun of them. They might just have a sense of humor.

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  • Bill Keller made a good point about how HuffPost and Drudge don’t send correspondents to places like Baghdad because it’s safer and cheaper to stay home and riff on those who do.

    Of course Keller lumps in Google, seemingly clueless to the fact Google is not a news organization, but a search engine that sends visitors to the NYT’s own Website.

    But the line ‘Give me one thing in there that happened today’ will go down as a classic “aha” moment. How can anyone in the business who sees that possibly think print isn’t doomed.

    Several years ago, on the night before Thanksgiving, I was sitting in my living room looking out the window. At about 8 p.m., a truck pulled up to the corner and dropped off a bundle of newspapers for delivery by the paperboy the following morning.

    Newspaper deadlines and the editing process being what it is, I doubt there was one single word in that newspaper that was written after the average newspaper reader had finished dinner. But that was the news they would read in the morning paper.

    Yes, a lot of the newspaper industry’s problems are self inflicted. But a lot of it is that they simply cannot compete against online. It is quicker and cheaper and a vastly better way to deliver news to consumers than print.

    Google didn’t cause this. Craigslist didn’t cause this. The Internet did. Evolve to online only or die. It’s that simple.

    • If I were the NYTimes guy, I’d have responded with, “nothing in there happened today. Now show me a blog post where the author did more than eight hours of research.”

      Right tool for the job, folks. The past mission of the newspaper is not the future mission. News reporting wants to be immediate and online, and so it shall be. Investigative reporting, well-researched background pieces or profiles, long-term analyses – these can be online as well, but they can also be in print (newsprint, magazines, even books).

      Right tool for the job.

  • I can’t understand why the Timesmen didn’t play along with the Daily Show. They must know the schtick. Gail Collins probably could have gone toe to toe with Jason Jones and the Times wouldn’t have looked so, old and grey.

  • It really is inexplicable as to what the Times folks were thinking subjecting themselves to this ridicule. Does their marketing dept. thinking being belittled on national TV strengthens their case as to why they believe they’re so important? Really hard to understand what is happening inside the Times vortex of panic and defensiveness right now. This actually made me feel sorry for them, sigh.

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  • But “The Daily Show” is what all the kids are watching …

    More serious points:

    Bill Keller has made the Baghdad bureau defense many times, but it only goes so far, especially since the Times’ war coverage has been questionable at times. It doesn’t take into account the few bloggers who do report from the scene, the residents of Baghdad who can report to the world without a bureau, others such as BBC and NPR, and that McClatchy is often considered the leader in war coverage.

    About the aged news:

    Why should the print part of the Times be about what happens today, anyway? That hasn’t really been possible since P.M. editions. But now, the Times is a blogging, RSS-feeding, Twittering newsroom.

    The top story on The Huffington Post today includes this line, “On Wednesday night, The New York Times reported …”

  • Mike Manitoba

    I’ll be more than happy to help fund Perez Hilton’s Baghdad jaunt.

  • Thanks for that. You got to love The Daily show.

  • Very funny! Though most newspapers do contain things that happen today (things that are going to happen at the time of writing/printing) eg. “The President today will unveil…”

  • Just wondering why this news hasn’t been reported in the European papers.

  • that “french douchebag” is quite a remarkable fellow. i linked to his many climbs under my id above.

  • The newspapers are still in the ink on paper mindset even as they take small steps into the electronic world.

    With a Kindle-like device one could get an electronic version of a newspaper each morning that “closed” only a few minutes before it was distributed.

    This would require that the staff work at night instead of handing in their copy and repairing to their favorite watering hole when the sun goes down. In fact if the US media wasn’t so parochial they could present current news from the parts of the world that are awake when it is night here.

    The BBC Worldservice updates its stories throughout the day and night and it common to hear a live interview with someone in the mideast or Africa at 2AM EST.

    Perhaps the morning edition of a paper like the Times should be prepared in a place where it is the middle of the workday. With electronic distribution the physical location is of no importance.

    Then the US operation could prepare an afternoon edition focused on domestic news of the day. The afternoon papers used to have a wide circulation until TV and driving oneself to work killed them off. Why not again, electronically. The evening network news is not only old, but brief and superficial. There is an opportunity there for some competition.

    • Mike Manitoba

      If you work at a morning print paper, you tend to work at night anyway. I did, as a copy editor, and we didn’t send our final pages (or color plates) to press until, I believe, somewhere around 12:30-1 a.m., often with writers tweaking their stories until the very end. Admittedly, there’s still a lag between that last go-ahead and your front porch. I agree that the news should be as fresh as possible. But it’s not like everybody goes home at 5 p.m.

      As a journalist, you’re always on call. Back in the days of beepers, every reporter had one and a fresh supply of batteries. Most also had police scanners at home. The idea that you throw your coat over your shoulder at sundown and tip back a few brews at the corner hangout while the press burps first editions into the street, as far as I know, is kind of a holdover from a more romantic time. I understand that’s what they did in “Zodiac” and in a lot of colorful Mike Royko columns, but I don’t think it’s standard across the board.

  • Carson

    This video gives a different spin to “all the news that’s fit to print;” it’s like an epitaph instead of a watchword.

    If you watch this video with the sound off, the Times still comes across as a bit defensive, closed, holdouts, “the last ship afloat.” If you were a venture capitalist with your money in the Times, this video would be a clear indication there needed to be a massive change in management — these folks are out of touch with economics, let alone the news business.

  • Carson

    I think the Daily show has aged a bit, too, to be fair. Computer chip companies (and search engines) are always about the next tech breakthrough — both the technology and what people can do with it. Successful TV shows are a little more about what worked for the last ratings: the same guy behind the same desk with the same props shooting at the same targets. Most regulars can predict half of the topics Jon will “do” on his show before he does them: they are all from yesterday.

    Find one thing on the Daily Show that happened today. The Daily Show needs to take some of its own medicine — its getting a bit tired (I think — maybe it’s me).

  • Mike Manitoba

    Keller should’ve asked, “Isn’t there about a six-hour gap between the time ‘The Daily Show’ tapes and when it airs? How fresh is YOUR news?”

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  • Mark Rutledge

    I’m with Carson. (Johnny)

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  • Carson

    Hey, I”m late with this (how apropos), but I just read a short piece in Vanity Fair by Sliverman, a writer for The Daily Show — how do they do it? Well, she says, we look at the papers in the morning, then come with some ideas, write until 1 PM, refine until 5, shoot at 7, go home 45 minutes later.

    Doing the math in my head, this means they are a day later than the news in the papers. And their targets would have been cutting edge, say, a decade ago, but ragging on the Times now? They need to check on the petard joke, speaking of aged comedy.

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