Bellum Furit: One X, Two Slants

Regarding this civil rights lawsuit against St Slammany Parish DA Walter Reed which Slabbed broke the Plaintiff’s Ex-Wife has spoken and despite having spoken to both the areas major newspapers it is not clear what she said:

Woman says she was behind arrest of man who claims he was targeted by DA Walter Reed ~ Gordon Russell

Here is the salient snippet:

Crystal Magee’s version of events doesn’t necessarily contradict what her ex-husband claims in his suit. But her account suggests that it was a phone call from her to Washington Parish Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal’s office that led deputies to arrest her ex-husband in the first place.

Next up:

DA Walter Reed did not have man arrested for talking to FBI, woman says ~ Heather Nolan

The ex-wife of an Arkansas man who claimed in a federal lawsuit that District Attorney Walter Reed and others had him arrested in Washington Parish as retaliation for providing information to the FBI says her ex-husband’s story is not true.

Meantime on Twitter the news war rages: Continue reading “Bellum Furit: One X, Two Slants”

Nagin……

The comments I’m receiving via email about Ray Nagin’s lawyer Robert Jenkins entering Federal court to try a major criminal case tomorrow are pretty amusing, especially since Jenkins, when he isn’t doing the legal pundit thing for WDSU is known mainly for his practice in New Orleans state courts. The consensus of the emails is the guy is in over his head but that Judge Berrigan will cut him some slack to compensate.

It is against that backdrop of private thoughts being shared with Slabbed about tomorrow’s criminal trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin that I viewed the media stories building up to the trial. One, by NOLA.com’s Rich Rainey and Juliet Linderman relied on interviews with ol’ reliables like the BGR’s Janet Howard along with legal pundits Dane Ciolino and Grey Sexton, who both ran on at the mouth spouting tired legal cliches that bore absolutely no resemblance to what the highly accomplished, successful lawyers that I speak with were sharing with me.

Meantime over at the Advocate Gordon Russell, who covered and helped expose major facets of the public corruption at the heart of the Nagin Indictment, wrote a great piece on the topic. Gordon didn’t have to rely on any interviews since he literally lived the events from a front row seat so there are no interviews or tired cliches in his piece no sir, just Joe Friday which is exactly how old school guys like me appreciate it.

All that said there is something tangentially related to the two stories that I was immediately drawn to in the number of people commenting to each. As I write this Gordon’s piece, at the Facebook only Advocate, has one Facebook comment while Rainey and Linderman’s piece has sixty, including mainstays like Muspench and company who are folks that I term ‘high quality’ commenters. This situation is part traffic but is is also undeniably part commenting platform. Large swaths of the media runs in herds folks which is why business statisticians have the bottom 2 quartiles (or 3 quintiles) when quantifying business sector financial analysis. The following video explains:

In any event like everyone else we’ll be following the Nagin trial. Besides Gordon I’ll be looking to Jason over at AZ for context. This week ought to fun for the muckraking community down here.

History will record Advocate Owner John Georges as either a Media Visionary or Complete Buffoon

I’m intrigued by John George’s business plan of going head to head with the Times Picayune in New Orleans, a business strategy that literally bucks 30 years of industry consolidation trends. The talent Georges has poached from NOLA Media Group to beef up the New Orleans edition of the Advocate did not come on the cheap. Since the Newhouse pay scale is reputed to be the industry’s most generous, even in these austere days for the print media business, the employee morale impacts of that fact regarding the newbies in NOLA on the staff in Baton Rouge is undeniable as journalists are only human too:

Baton Rouge Advocate to reduce workforce through buyouts of veteran employees ~ AP Story via NOLA Media Group

Maybe we’re the Buffoons here at Slabbed for failing to see the wisdom of making a major investment in a declining industry in a declining advertising market.  In the construction market, when this type of thing happens it is usually a strategic play where one of the two competitors ends up buying the other out.  History tells us that the Newhouse clan will not sell the Times Picayune.

The winner is usually the one with the most net worth to throw away in the competition. Using that metric alone indicates Georges is pissing in the wind since assets in a declining industry can usually be bought on the super cheap via auction.  We’ll see.

Are we ready to talk about the NOLA area media landscape again?

I think I’m getting close. To kick start things I’ll confess to watching Errol and the Noisemakers every Friday night at 7:00PM on WYES (or later on my DVR). Those of you on the coast from the Pass east are likely scratching your heads but rest assured Erroll and gang are the NOLA equivalent of WLOX This Week except better. Stephanie Grace has been on the past few weeks with Errol and she is positively beaming with enthusiasm about the new NOLA media landscape. Hammerman back in early May, not so much.  And then there is Perlstein.  😉

Just to prepare everyone I’m likely to have a unique viewpoint as is my wont. Meantime the people poaching continues:

Veteran T-P reporter will spearhead Advocate’s push into St. John, St. Charles parishes ~ The Advocate

Stay tuned.

Chaos theoria adhiberetur: Vehuntur Ursus

“Primus homo per parietem semper est cruentatus … semper”

The above is a rough translation of the subject header on a congratulatory email I received on December 19, 2012 from a successful, highly respected trial lawyer. I think most everyone reading this recalls the events of that day. For the lawyer that wrote me, making US legal history prevailing in the first decision of its kind in the Nation was meaningful. The decision under the US Speech Act even made the news on several new media outlets in two countries along with a Canadian newspaper but nary was heard any word from the local main stream media.

But this trial lawyer was talking about more than just my court victory because the guy is a consummate thinker/technology visionary. By harnessing the power of this medium called the internet I’ve lost track of how many high achieving high quality individuals I’ve met, first on the Yahoo Fiance Boards and later through my 5 years plus doing Slabbed.  Occasionally, we’re even blessed such people stop in with us and comment, sharing their rich life experiences with the community.  There is a magic here that is undeniable, in large part due to a diverse community of sincere commenters that are mostly what Sly termed “everyday people” back in the day.  Somehow, in today’s day and age when media outlets are branded as conservative or liberal, Slabbed manages to attract (and occasionally piss off) both demographics but since we’re equal opportunity muckrakers no one seems to hold it against us for long.

I mention all this because my post yesterday discussing attribution got a response from Gordon Russell.  We agreed that it was worth sharing since some of ya’ll may make like The boy named Sue and come away with a different point of view since we were hard on NOLA Media Group yesterday.  It also gives me a chance to remind everyone commenting here that people are paying attention and by people I mean the high end demographic that forms the majority of the readership, along with various and sundry Goatherders.  As I told Nowdy back in 2007 the key to difference making wasn’t the quantity of readers, rather their quality. Yesterday’s email chat with Gordon, in light of a few links that were left on the post I did make it a good time to tackle the general subject of the secular change occurring in the media industry, which has been an occasional topic here since since the advent of the “Sometimes Picayune”.

Yesterday Steve and Whitmergate nailed it in comments and understood the connection I was making involving what most people would consider obscure applied mathematics. Let’s start with ‘Gate:

Power, sex, politics, money, corruption, death … fractals all– complex, universal and chaotic

And what do fractals have to do with Chaos Theory? The link ‘Gate left explains it far better than Wiki:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite complexity of nature. Many natural objects exhibit fractal properties, including landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc, and many of the systems in which we live exhibit complex, chaotic behavior. Recognizing the chaotic, fractal nature of our world can give us new insight, power, and wisdom. For example, by understanding the complex, chaotic dynamics of the atmosphere, a balloon pilot can “steer” a balloon to a desired location. By understanding that our ecosystems, our social systems, and our economic systems are interconnected, we can hope to avoid actions which may end up being detrimental to our long-term well-being.

Do these concepts apply to Slabbed? How about other blogs and forums? Do they apply to the media as a whole? Absolutely. In fact during our days covering the post Katrina wind-water insurance litigation we applied those and other concepts to organizations like insurance companies, which in turn attracted a group of high quality nationally known trial lawyers along with the creme of the local bar both here on the coast and Louisiana to this blog. There is a method to the madness publishing Slabbed. So with all this in mind here is the story behind the story: Continue reading “Chaos theoria adhiberetur: Vehuntur Ursus”

Dispiciendum chaos: Mulier involvamini in FBI specillum in priores sancti Caroli DA mortuum esse inventum

Chaotic dynamics

The map defined by x → 4 x (1 – x) and y → x + y if x + y < 1 (x + y – 1 otherwise) displays sensitivity to initial conditions. Here two series of x and y values diverge markedly over time from a tiny initial difference.

The map defined by x → 4 x (1 – x) and y → x + y if x + y < 1 (x + y – 1 otherwise) displays sensitivity to initial conditions. Here two series of x and yvalues diverge markedly over time from a tiny initial difference.

In common usage, “chaos” means “a state of disorder”.[7] However, in chaos theory, the term is defined more precisely. Although there is no universally accepted mathematical definition of chaos, a commonly used definition says that, for a dynamical system to be classified as chaotic, it must have the following properties:[8]

  1. it must be sensitive to initial conditions;
  2. it must be topologically mixing; and
  3. its periodic orbits must be dense.

The requirement for sensitive dependence on initial conditions implies that there is a set of initial conditions of positive measure which do not converge to a cycle of any length.

Sensitivity to initial conditions

Sensitivity to initial conditions means that each point in such a system is arbitrarily closely approximated by other points with significantly different future trajectories. Thus, an arbitrarily small perturbation of the current trajectory may lead to significantly different future behaviour. However, it has been shown that the last two properties in the list above actually imply sensitivity to initial conditions[9][10] and if attention is restricted to intervals, the second property implies the other two[11] (an alternative, and in general weaker, definition of chaos uses only the first two properties in the above list).[12] It is interesting that the most practically significant condition, that of sensitivity to initial conditions, is actually redundant in the definition, being implied by two (or for intervals, one) purely topological conditions, which are therefore of greater interest to mathematicians. Continue reading “Dispiciendum chaos: Mulier involvamini in FBI specillum in priores sancti Caroli DA mortuum esse inventum”

Absolutely Allen Powell II is a fantastic journalist…..Oh SI can you see

And for a long while I wondered how Jim Amoss could let him go, especially to a new competitor in the Advocate. Didn’t take me too long to figure out the answer though because the gang at NOLA Media Group can still highlight Powell’s great work and no longer have to pay his salary. I personally think there is a method to the madness and leveraging copywrite, fair use and the DMCA is smart.

I’m tickled because the lone commenter to the above on NOLA has figured it out. Steve Newhouse may be a trust fund baby but there is a method to the madness.

Oh Si can you see Part Deux: Errol and the noisemakers.

Well folks I’m not quite sure where to start as Slabbed chips in another 2 cents worth on the remaking of the Times Picayune. By now I hope you guys have “Sometimes Picayune” fatigue but I know that is not the case with some of ya so here goes for those of you that want to get the deep down low on this topic.  I haven’t had more to say on this since late July because Slabbed has been out on assignment doing high quality investigative journalism such as blowing open Aaron Broussard’s use of oversea business ventures as a conduit for graft and bribery and  uncovering a specious real estate transaction involving a small school district. You lifers well know these are far from the only skins hanging on the wall here at the worldwide headquarters of Slabbed New Media as we’ve become a powerful voice in the local media landscape in our own right.

People are naturally resistant to change, to the point where it is to their detriment.  It is a well-studied topic and one in which I am familiar via my interest in behavioral economics. Throw in competing financial interests and it made for an interesting summer as Errol Laborde and the noisemakers made sure their newly disenfranchised voices would be heard loud and clear via sheer mass and repetition. Occasionally something highly insightful would be written, mostly in the new media on websites like American Zombie and Library Chronicles along with certain trade journals.  Since the news broke in May media alliances have been made, broken and remade.  As a long time blogger on stock message boards the business implications of the spectacle were both informative and amusing to me as I often thought of the following while watching the gyrations:

Graph courtesy of The AtlanticNow don’t get me wrong, when the 500 pound gorilla in the room decides it is time to go on a diet the local inhabitants of the forest are going to be impacted especially since local food sources have been on a drastic decline.  My problem is that even when it is shown that the numbers in the new Newhouse business model make sense, old line cognitive biases cause the noisemakers to ignore the “newsonomics” those numbers present. Leaky pay-walls are a joke and are easily defeated.  The concept that the readers will make up for the drastic declines in advertising are a pipe dream along with the notion “the news”, whatever that is, has intrinsic value to the general public. Continue reading “Oh Si can you see Part Deux: Errol and the noisemakers.”

Oh SI can you see? Slabbed examines the New Orleans media landscape after the T-P cutbacks.

Actually folks we are going back in time first to set things up as we examine the economic changes wrought by the late May news leak the T-P would be scaling out of the dead tree biz so let’s start with this American Journalism review article from November 1994 “A New Era at Newhouse“: (H/T Mark Schleifstein via Anita Lee via twitter)

Donald Newhouse leaves Manhattan for his office in Newark before dawn. Most mornings, he is at his desk at the Star-Ledger building by 5:30 – the best time to reach him, his secretary says. She is right. He answers his own phone.

His father, the late S.I. Newhouse, built a media empire during the first two-thirds of this century, beginning with a part-ownership of a nondescript daily in Bayonne, New Jersey. Sons Donald and Si command one of the world’s largest family fortunes, recently estimated at $8 billion between them by Forbes magazine. They control what an editor who once worked for them terms “the largest journalistic concern in the English language.” The properties are familiar names to anyone who takes reading seriously: Random House. Conde Nast. Vanity Fair. The New Yorker.

Donald Newhouse, 65, has ultimate authority for newspapers in 22 cities across America. But on a midsummer day as the sun is just bleaching the sky, he has no desire to talk about the dramatic improvement of several of those papers. Nor does he wish to arrange a later interview.

If the Newhouse papers are doing better journalism, he tells me, “it’s coincidental. If there’s improvement in the papers, it’s as a result of improvements being made locally. Our publishers have autonomy.”

Indeed it was a coincidence IMHO folks as former Newhouse employees indicated to me early on in the T-P chop shop debacle the results of the decentralized management structure was very uneven quality across the company. But the mid 1990s evidently witnessed some sort renaissance at the publishing empire S.I. Sr built as I continue: Continue reading “Oh SI can you see? Slabbed examines the New Orleans media landscape after the T-P cutbacks.”