Monthly Archives: June 2007

YouTube and the iPhone

I thought Jesse Noyes might have fallen into Steve Jobs’ famed reality-distortion zone when he reported in today’s Herald that the Apple iPhone will be able to play YouTube videos. After all, the iPhone is already supposed to come equipped with a full-featured version of the Web browser Safari. How could this be news?

Turns out that Noyes is on to something. Here’s what Apple says:

iPhone has a special YouTube player that you can launch right from the home screen. So now you can access and browse YouTube videos wherever you go. And when you find a video you want to send your friends, iPhone can even create an email with the link in it for you.

But what does this mean? Is Apple saying that YouTube will work better with the “special YouTube player”? Or is it saying that YouTube won’t work at all without it? If the latter, how can Safari for the iPhone be billed as a fully functional browser? Again, here’s what Apple says:

With its advanced Safari browser, iPhone lets you see any web page the way it was designed to be seen, then easily zoom in by simply tapping on the multi-touch display with your finger.

I’m scratching my head.

Update: Geoff gets to the bottom of this. Safari for the iPhone won’t support Adobe Flash, at least not in its first incarnation. (So much for its being a full-featured Web browser.) YouTube and a slew of other sites — including NYTimes.com, featured in iPhone ads — use Flash video. So there you go.

Megadittos on Leibovich

Just a brief note on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s denial that one of his goons — uh, aides — tried to intimidate New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich as Leibovich trailed the Mittmobile in his car.

Like Jon Keller, who provides the relevant links, I worked with Leibovich at the Boston Phoenix in the early 1990s. And I endorse this Keller observation: “If Mark Leibovich says it happened that way, it happened exactly that way.”

This isn’t a big deal. Why can’t Romney tell the truth?

Bush, Hitler and political contributions

MSNBC.com’s Bill Dedman, a former Globe reporter and the creator of this gift to journalism, has weighed in with a piece identifying 144 journalists who’ve made political contributions since 2004. Here’s the most amazing paragraph:

“Probably there should be a rule against it,” said New Yorker writer Mark Singer, who wrote the magazine’s profile of Howard Dean during the 2004 campaign, then gave $250 to America Coming Together and its get-out-the-vote campaign to defeat President Bush. “But there’s a rule against murder. If someone had murdered Hitler — a journalist interviewing him had murdered him — the world would be a better place. I only feel good, as a citizen, about getting rid of George Bush, who has been the most destructive president in my lifetime. I certainly don’t regret it.”

Wow.

In case you’re wondering, there’s not much exciting to report locally. The biggest name is Liz Walker, a former anchor for WBZ-TV (Channel 4), who donated to Hillary Clinton and a couple of other Democratic women.

Though most observers will probably focus on the fact that the vast majority of the contributions tilted liberal/ Democratic (or, in Singer’s imagination, anti-Nazi), what amazes me is that journalists would make political contributions to anyone. There are two reasons not to do this: (1) you shouldn’t; (2) therefore you can always tell people that you can’t.

For my, uh, money, Rule #2 is one of the few perks we enjoy.

Best wishes to Paul Sullivan

WBZ Radio (AM 1030) program director Peter Casey has sent along this letter from talk-show host Paul Sullivan:

To my friends and colleagues at WBZ News Radio 1030:

After a two and one half year personal battle against cancer, including four brain surgeries, it’s become clear to me that it’s unfair of me to ask my support group, my wife Mary-Jo, my family, my friends, my WBZ colleagues, to continue to bear this burden. The toll my surgeries and treatments have taken on me makes it unlikely that I will ever have the energy to return to a four-hour daily talk radio program. This decision is not based on any one medical fact or the latest update of my condition. The fact is that WBZ deserves the best team on the field and as of this moment with my condition I would not be the best teammate to take the field. However, I’d like to contribute to WBZ in some fashion with either commentaries, or writing for the station’s web site, or take part in the station’s political coverage.

I will always remain a part of the WBZ family and am honored to have followed David Brudnoy doing a night time talk show on WBZ. But for the time being my health is going to be my focus, my full time job. I will still be keeping any eye on politics, on Beacon Hill, the fifth congressional district in Lowell, and elsewhere.

On a day to day basis I feel fine. I am up and alert and going out for lunches and walks when I can. I don’t need constant care but what my illness and treatments have taken from me is the energy needed to do my show five nights a week. I’m not sure if I can let local or national events pass by without some commentary from me. So with that in mind I look forward to doing one last regular show on WBZ next week to get a chance to remark on the world that has been uncommented on by me during the last seven weeks.

My best regards,
Paul H. Sullivan

Casey adds that Sullivan’s final program will be broadcast on Thursday, June 28, at 8 p.m., and that the station is not ready to announce its plans for Sullivan’s 8 p.m.-to-midnight time slot.

Sullivan’s other professional home, the Lowell Sun, reports on his departure here. You can also listen to Sullivan talking about his decision here.

The 50-year-old Sullivan is a class act and a rare voice of civility in Boston talk radio. It would be wonderful if he recovers to the point where he can resume a regular shift. But, regardless, Media Nation sends along its best wishes.

Hidden in plain sight

While we wait to hear whether Christopher Lydon’s radio show, “Open Source,” can survive being dropped by WGBH Radio (89.7 FM), have a look at Mark Glaser’s MediaShift column on how “Open Source” uses its Web site to develop program ideas.

“Open Source” producer/co-creator Mary McGrath writes: “Alas, we never stopped running into people who didn’t know we were on the air in Boston at all.” I’ve heard the same thing, and I’m not sure why. “Open Source” has been on the air Monday through Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. for about two years, and people still occasionally ask me if I know whether Lydon is up to anything these days. A shame.

Two smart choices

As you’ve probably already heard, Globe editor Marty Baron announced this morning that Kevin Cullen and Yvonne Abraham will take over the metro columns recently vacated by Brian McGrory, the new metro editor, and Pulitzer Prize winner Eileen McNamara, who’s decamped to Brandeis.

This strikes me as smart on two levels, both macro and micro.

Macro is the mere fact that Baron decided to fill the slots — something he’d already said he was committed to doing, but which he might have been tempted to back away from on the theory that scarce resources could better be devoted to local reporting rather than pontificating. Fortunately, Baron realized those columns are popular with readers, and that jettisoning them might save a few pennies now but cost more than a few dollars down the line.

Micro is that Cullen and Abraham are reporters first and foremost, and can be reliably expected to use their new positions to contribute to local coverage. That’s what McGrory and McNamara did when they were on, but I suspect Cullen and Abraham will push even farther in that direction. Along with the incumbent metro columnist, Adrian Walker, who also brings a reporter’s mindset to the job, we can expect the left-hand side of the City & Region front to consistently tell us stuff we didn’t already know.

It’s easy to picture Cullen as a columnist. In fact, some years ago, he wrote a column-like feature for a while. Abraham — a former Phoenix colleague — is harder to peg. But she writes with a strong, distinctive voice, and has handled news and feature stories with equal aplomb. Give her a little time and she’ll be terrific.

Seth Gitell also approves the picks, though I’ve got to disagree with his assessment that Cullen is the “logical successor” to Mike Barnicle. Cullen’s specialty is original non-fiction.

Update: Adam Reilly of the Phoenix has some interesting things to say about the move, and offers a first-rate bit of Abraham prose from her Phoenix days. The Weekly Dig snarks predictably, but does make one good point: Peter Gelzinis of the Herald would have been an inspired choice — although, in my view, no more inspired than Cullen or Abraham.

Drawing the line on Herald comments

If you have some thoughtful — even caustic — criticism you’d like to offer about the Herald’s State Employee Payroll database, have at it. But if you’ve come here to bash Herald employees and to publicize their private information, you’ve come to the wrong place. You know who you are.

The salaries paid to public employees is public information. You might like it. You might not. But making public information public is not illegal, immoral nor, as best as I can tell, fattening.

Toward a Globe-al community

Beth Israel Deaconess president Paul Levy has posted an interesting item on his blog about the future of the Globe. His suggestion: Use the Web to transform the Globe into an online community, with blogger contributions running alongside the paper’s journalism. He even proposes paying bloggers with some sort of Globe scrip to buy goodies or make charitable donations. He writes:

All of sudden, regardless of actual ownership, this is now our newspaper. You have given me a reason to check in, to participate, to feel pride, and to feel a sense that you are relevant to our community in a variety of ways.

For the CEO of a major institution to embrace the “news as a conversation” model espoused by citizen-journalism advocates is an important step. Levy gets it. I also think Globe editors get it more than he gives them credit for, but he’s right to argue that they need to turn the battleship around faster than they’ve managed so far.

Update: Adam Reilly thinks we disagree. I’m not so sure. I take Levy’s suggestion as an “in addition to” sort of idea, not an “instead of.” Ideally, the Globe would foster a community around its journalism, not sacrifice the journalism for the sake of community.

Yes to marriage equality

I hadn’t planned to post at all — I’m in the business center of a Best Western in Arlington, Va., helping to chaperone my daughter’s eighth-grade class trip to Washington — but I had to pause for a moment to celebrate the Legislature’s standing up for marriage equality.

Here is Bay Windows’ account. This is great news for the state, and, I hope, the end for the anti-marriage forces.