This afternoon gives new meaning to the term “news dump,” as six boxes containing 24,199 printed pages of emails — weighing 250 pounds — from Sarah Palin’s half-term as governor of Alaska become part of the public record. For each publication that filed the necessary open law records paperwork, the load came in six big boxes that looked something like big boxes of paperwork in every office ever. At this point, Palin is a television and Internet star with about as much of a chance at the presidency as a Kardashian, and yet, doubtlessly in part because it’s Friday, the entire media decided to pay attention and start digging, even enlisting the help of others, nonprofessionals even — any old bored soul, really, who wants to contribute some eye power. The results have been staggering! (They’re not.) More in Press Clips, our daily media column, plus the plight of an iPad freelancer and a fancy new cafeteria for Condé Nast.
The Palin Papers: “PRESS HUNTS MAMA GRIZZLY,” Matt Drudge declared in his headline. Additionally, the sarcastic header at the Drudge Report includes, “Media seeks urgent help trawling through Palin emails,” and “Liveblogging the ‘investigation,'” and “GOTCHA! Palin wrote ‘sheesh’ in an email,” and so on. But while all of this eye-rolling coming from the Drudge Report is enough for an eye-rolling overdose right back at him, it does cover a little bit of our own frustration about this odd treasure hunt.
Yes, trudging through piles of documents is part of journalism, but the attention being paid to Palin is, as usual, a little much: The Huffington Post and New York Times, for example, have liveblogs of the findings, which are largely recycled and superficial tidbits so far.
Then there’s Palin on Barack Obama’s speech about energy in the summer of 2008, just before she was selected as John McCain’s vice presidential candidate: “He did say ‘yay’ to our gasoline. Pretty cool. Wrong candidate.”
Trivia and hypocrisy abound, of course, and there are jokes to be made here, sure, but then why aren’t Letterman’s writers the ones doing the work?
If any real news comes from this labor, guaranteed to bleed on into the weekend and maybe beyond, expect it to be announced by blimps flying over every major American city.
New Technology, Same Headaches: Unfortunately the future of news does not come with any breaks for freelance writers, as the writer Barbara Correa comes to Romenesko with complaints about an assignment she completed for Rupert Murdoch’s iPad newspaper The Daily.
Correa was offered what is these days a perfectly respectable rate of 75 cents per word for a piece on Oraph’s last show, turned it in and was told when it would run. It never did and then her editor disappeared. Correa writes:
“I understand that in the current environment of media chaos, editors are often left on their own to somehow deliver brilliant, cheap content in the blink of an eye. That means writers sometimes get shuffled around or ignored. I get that. But for an editor of a much-publicized magazine backed byRupert Murdoch, it seems a bit extreme to make a work for hire assignment and then completely blow off the other party.”
Thanks to Romenesko, she has now been informed that she will earn a kill fee for the piece. For the kids out there, “kill fee” means shut up, here you go! pity money. But it’s only fair.
Lobster Not Included: Keith Kelly reports that Condé Nast, whose current cafeteria was designed by Frank Gehry, will spend $1 million on a new ventilation shaft in their new building at 1 World Trade Center. Condé’s food center will “have its own exhaust outlet, rather than tie in to the central flue used by the rest of the tenants that will run up the center of the building.” Now that’s exclusivity.