Steaks, burgers and the smell of failure

Print is dead. Or maybe it isn't.

Jack Shafer at Politico raises a question that should make every journalist squirm uncomfortably in their 20-year-old office chair: What if the newspaper industry made a colossal mistake? What if the shift from print to web was a huge business blunder and newspapers should have stayed with what they did well all along? It's a fascinating look at a paper written by H. Iris Chyi and Ori Tenenboim of the University of Texas and published this summer in Journalism Practice. Keith Griffith suggested that we focus on the steak. In an interview, Chyi serves up this analogy: She says newspapers had been running the equivalent of a very nice high-end steakhouse and then came cheap burgers. Newspaper thought, “Let’s compete with that,” and dropped the steak for hamburger, even though it had no real expertise in producing hamburgers. “What they should have done is improve the steak product.”

So basically what they're saying is we didn't do our medium well. Oh, c'mon! Rarely do opportunities like that come along. (That's it, I swear.) Ben Welsh tweeted “Congratulations @jackshafer for inventing a time machine that transported me back to print denialism of 2008.”

Speaking of time machines, maybe Doc and Marty were on to something. You'll remember in Back to the Future II, which came out in 1989, the 2015 version of USA Today was a souped up print edition.

Now, that's heavy.

With our flux capacitor fluxing back here in 2016, here are some of the other stories we’re talking about today. (Please note that Donald Trump is indeed running for president and Marty’s love of Grays Sports Almanac is not to blame.)

Journalists are showering Hillary Clinton with campaign cash, writes Michael Beckel at The Center for Public Integrity. Ben Wieder sums it up: “Journalists have contributed nearly $400K to the presidential candidates, with vast majority going to Clinton.”

This story by Michael Barbaro at The New York Times has us talking. The new protesters defying Donald Trump are his customers. "Across the country, voters alarmed by the tenor of Mr. Trump's campaign and the emerging accounts of his personal conduct are engaging in spontaneous, unorganized and inconspicuous acts of protest that take direct aim at perhaps his most prized possession: his brand name." This @nytimes tweet was spot on: “Some Americans are cutting up Trump ties, canceling stays at Trump hotels and no longer drinking Trump wines.”

Nobel panel gives up knockin’ on Dylan’s door. The Guardian reports that the Swedish Academy says it has given up trying to reach Bob Dylan, days after it awarded him the Nobel prize in literature. "Right now we are doing nothing. I have called and sent emails to his closest collaborator and received very friendly replies.” We aren't privy to any info, but his lack of communication could have something to do with his tour.

O, Canada. Sympathetic Canadians have a message for Americans: You guys are great. Liam Stack of The New York Times writes: "The presidential campaign has exposed deep divides in American society and has left many in every political party anxious about the future. During this time of political tension, our neighbors to the north have one thing to say: America is just great." Ben Gittleson tweeted: “.@liamstack brings us THE MOST CANADIAN THING EVER” while Meenal Vamburkar says “Canadians are the true heroes of this election.” Hanna Ingber tweeted “This video is brilliant. And beautiful. And, ok, I got a little teary.”

We love you too, Canada.

So what happened with that Twitter sale? Remember that Disney was a rumored suitor. Turns out, according to Alex Sherman, Chris Palmeri and Sarah Frier at Bloomberg, Disney dropped its pursuit of Twitter partly over image. More specifically, Walt Disney Co. decided not to pursue a bid for Twitter Inc. partly out of concern that bullying and other uncivil forms of communication on the social media site might soil the company's wholesome family image, according to people familiar with management's thinking. Carl Quintanilla tweeted it this way: “The trolls would've made it a Bit of A Fixer-Upper.”

Kids? Do you like Target, kids? Well, David Letterman (and his beard) shop there these days. This is a long but excellent read by Dave Itzkoff at The New York Times. "Why does David Letterman have a beard? To put it more precisely: Why did Mr. Letterman, after stepping down from CBS's "Late Show" and a 33-year career in late-night television and all but disappearing from public life, spend the past year and a half cultivating a fleecy and prodigious mound of facial hair, which, depending on your disposition, makes this 69-year-old entertainer look like either a lanky Santa Claus or an escapee from an asylum?" Journalists are certainly talking about it this morning, including Edward-Isaac Dovere, who reminded us in his tweet that Dave and Paul Shaffer still get together for dinner every few weeks.

And last today, but certainly not least, we turn to news out of Cupertino. Mark Gurman and Alex Webb at Bloomberg write about how Apple scaled back its Titanic plan to take on Detroit. Apparently the company’s direction no longer includes building its own car. This is far from the end of the road on this story. Mike Murphy sums it up in this tweet: “Making a car is a lot more difficult than making a smartphone.”

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