Sunday, December 12, 2004

Jayson Blair spikes blog

Looks like disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair has stopped blogging.

Blair's blog, once found on his Web site at, launched last summer, apparently after his publisher New Millennium Press went under after taking a bath on his book about his tenure at the New York Times, Burning Down My Masters' House. (Between the Times and his publisher, that makes two houses burned down.)

The blog's death is unfortunate since it made for some interesting reading between his thinking on later allegations of plagiarism and other journalistic sins by other reporters, columnists and editors, and his musings on mental illness.

The new site -- the third version since it was launched -- seems to obscure more than it explains, and states:

Blair is now president of Azure Entertainment and vice president and senior editor of a small California publishing house. "Burning Down My Masters' House," Blair's chronicle of his short-lived journalism career and his spectacular fall from grace, was published in the Spring of 2004. A paperback edition, with new information and clarifications, is now in the works.

The new site's About section says "Jayson has made it through the fire and now runs a company, Azure Entertainment Corporation, is the vice president of another company and has founded the Azure Mental Health Project."

Presumably, "another company" is the same unnamed corporation where he holds the post of senior editor, and is the firm preparing the new paperback edition of his book.

The secrecy is odd. One would think that in the wake of the secrets and lies that ended his career, he would be open -- or at least try to appear to be open -- about basic facts.

One other interesting item found on Blair's revamped site:

“Burning down My Masters' House,” has been published in the United States and in Israel, where a Hebrew edition is sold by Glory Publishing.

A quick search turned up the following item from the Sept. 17, 2004 edition of the New York Daily News:

Six months after publication of Jayson Blair's "Burning Down My Masters' House," the memoir of the disgraced former New York Times reporter is being released overseas - in Israel. Glory Publishers is bringing out a Hebrew translation.

"It is appropriate that the book is published in Israel in time for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement," Blair said. "For the past year and a half, and for the foreseeable future, my life is a process of atonement."


Meanwhile, assets of New Millennium Press, his bankrupt U.S. publisher, are being liquidated. Stuart Koenig, a lawyer for the court-appointed trustee, said of the company, "Their inventory is in a warehouse in Tennessee."

Anyone want a copy of Jayson Blair's book, cheap? I didn't think so.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Dan Gillmor to leave SJ Mercury for blog venture

Technology reporter and leading blogger Dan Gillmor will be leaving the San Jose Mercury News next month to launch some sort of blog journalism project whose details are to be made public later:

I'll be leaving the San Jose Mercury Newsnext month to work on a citizen-journalism project.


I'm not ready to discuss the specifics yet, mainly because I have many more ideas than I could possibly try to put into practice at this point -- and we're early in the process of working out the venture's actual form.

The news instantly took me back to the dotcom days that saw journalists jumping to the other side of their beats, often to find that the benefits were short-lived, if they existed at all. But I doubt Gillmor's experience will be the same.

Gillmor recognizes that this move may sound just as crazy, but says it's something he has to do... whatever "this" is.

My guess is that Gillmor's new venture will attempt to take the best from blogs, OhMyNews and traditional journalism to create something like The Northwest Voice, a successful news outlet that relies on contributions from readers for articles.

But we'll have to just wait and see.

More on Gillmor's departure at his blog.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Toronto's eye weekly starts blog

Toronto alternative weekly (where I was once news editor) eye started a blog about a week ago.

It seems that after about two years of blogging and discussion of the topic by a small core of journalists (initially just David Akin and me -- both without realizing the other was doing it), 2004 is the year that the Toronto media establishment has finally started to catch on that blogs have a lot of currency with young, educated urbanites, and can also be great tools for journalists.

I recall that at the Canadian Association of Journalists 25th anniversary conference's blogging panel, there were several senior editors and managers from Toronto media outlets busily scribbling notes... but there's still a long way to go between then, now and what could be achieved if the news media take advantage of the tools at hand.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Phone recycling about to get easier

Last year I wrote an article about mobile phone makers' efforts to recycle old phones.

One of the companies I spoke to for the article, Motorola, has teamed up with the University of Warwick and PVAXX Research & Development Ltd. to create a mobile phone casing that can be composted and sprout a flower.

According to environmental research organization INFORM, in the U.S. alone, 130 million phones are expected to end up in landfills next year.

Faced with a statistic like that, let's hope these kinds of recyclable materials find their way into phones sooner rather than later.