Newspapers, Stupidity and Shackleford


The price of paper is up, the stocks of newspaper holding companies are down.

The saying”All the News that is fit to Print” has become an anachronism. It reflects a time when newsprint was a marginal cost, not a debilitating one. It reflects a time when the newspaper was a unique source of news, not the last source after the internet, TV and radio.

IMHO, todays newspapers better give me information that is unique. Things that I havent read four stories about online, or figured out from the Sportscenter highlights or seen scroll 463 times an hour across the bottom of a cable news feed.

If a newspaper is going to covera story that has already been reported, then they should leverage their medium and give it some depth Its a whole lot easier to read an extended report or story in a newspaper, coffee or soda in hand, kicking back in a favorite chair, than it is on a PDA, laptop or PC. IF, you have given me a reason to read you and not what i find in my RSS newsreader

What led me to this post was a small story in the NY Times. It wasnt more than 50 words.

Now I dont know how much 50 words costs in newsprint across a million papers that were distributed. Imguessing its more than a dollar.

Im also guessing that there were other stories in the paper that could have benefited from those 50 words. A reporter who could have added a 2nd point or opposing opinion to make an article fair. An editor who wouldnt have to tell a reporter that his story was getting cut because there wasnt enough room. Who knows, maybe those 50 words could have earned some lucky writer a Pulitzer.

What was the story ?

It was a story about Charles shackleford.

If you have to ask, you have made my point.

The NYTimes wasnt the only paper to carry this story. The stupidity crosses the industry. Why in the world would they cover anything that happens to this person as news ?

Newspapers have a product that has the ability to be differentiated.

Digital media is about realtime first: find it, report it. Digital media is looking to social networks to assist in publishing news and information. Digital media isnt conducive to long, extended articles. Where digital media is mobile, its small and hard to read. Where its easy to read on a big screen, its stationary in a home or office.

The newspaper offers mobility, ease of reading and the opportunity for depth of coverage. I dont have any research, but im willing to bet that more people will read a 3 page or longer story in a newspaper far moreoften than they willonline. When we encounter multi-page stories online, weprepare ourselves to avoid an onslaught of ads, popups and intrusions. When we encounter a multiplage story in the newspaper, we have been conditioned to getcomfortable, grab a cup of cofee or soda ,and focus ourattention.

If the newspaper industry doesnt recognize these differences, then they are going to find themselves falling further and further out of the continuous infostream that we all are becoming increasingly addicted to every day.

Charles Shackleford ? What a joke.

37 thoughts on “Newspapers, Stupidity and Shackleford

  1. shackleford. not shackelford. did the nyt at least get the spelling right? 🙂

    Comment by dell ac adapters -

  2. If the guy that sweeps the sweat off the floor under the basket got nailed for taking change from the coin returns of pay phones, there would be a week long series.

    Comment by runescape money -

  3. It’s not a great paper by any stretch, but there are national, international, and local articles in it, and it covers sports and entertainment.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  4. In the most recent issue of “The New Yorker,” James Surowiecki wrote a piece on the current economics of the newspaper industry–

    Comment by JohnD -

  5. very good.

    Comment by IT中国 -

  6. I just added Smartest Guys and War Within to my Netflix queue! I can’t wait! But I too am surprised that Mr. Direct-to-Consumer is suggesting Amazon instead of some downloadable method… ~M

    Comment by qqtn -

  7. Mark,

    You know the problem with the newspapers now is that they have become more driven by profits instead of focusing on the content. I think these newspapers have to have become consumed with stockholder value and forgotten that a newspapers first job is to report the news…

    Comment by Dave Wakeman -

  8. Marc,
    Check out today’s (Feb 2) Wall Street Journal front page. An article on shopping cart races in NYC!!! What a joke.

    Comment by mike -

  9. Um . . . what happened to Charles Shackleford? I loved that guy at NC State, mostly because he admitted that he never brushed his teeth. That takes courage.

    Comment by Chad -

  10. I don’t even know what the news or story is about Charles Shackleford. I do recall that he has one of the best malapropisms ever, or at least it was always attributed to him. He played hoops for the wolfpack, and once Mr. Shackleford was asked about a particularly good game that he had or perhaps something more specific. His response, “I can shoot with my left hand. I can shoot with my right hand. I’m amphibious.”

    Comment by jjr -

  11. A previous poster said:
    “I think it is time you buy a newspaper company.”

    I second this emotion. Hey, Knight Ridder is on the block right now …

    Comment by Michelle -

  12. Let’s not forget some of Charles Shackleford’s other great contributions.

    “Left hand, right hand, it doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious.”
    CHARLOTTE (Court TV) — Former NBA player Charles Shackleford acknowledged that his memory of events at issue in Rae Carruth’s capital murder trial is “fuzzy” and at least partly based on what his frequently deceptive former mistress told him.

    “My mind is a little vague,” the retired center acknowledged telling investigators. “Things were really fuzzy, man.”

    Shackleford made the admission during a tough cross-examination by the former football player’s lawyer Tuesday morning. The defense’s attempt to undermine Shackleford’s testimony is part of its continuing effort to discredit Candace Smith, a former stripper who had affairs with both Shackleford and Carruth. She testified last week that Carruth confessed to murdering yet another former stripper, Cherica Adams, a 24-year-old pregnant with his child.

    Shackleford corroborated Smith’s account Monday, telling jurors that she had recounted the confession to him and included many of the details to which she later testified. But on the stand Tuesday, Shackleford could not recall or did not know times, dates and other specifics. He also offered — albeit grudgingly — an unflattering portrait of Smith as a two-timing gold digger jealous of Adams’ relationship with Carruth. According to Shackleford, Smith hid from him her relationship with Carruth even as she accepted thousands of dollars of his money for rent, car payments and other expenses.

    “She was able during this whole time period to keep you uninformed about what she was doing with Mr. Carruth?” defense attorney David Rudolf asked.

    “I guess, I mean I wasn’t really watching her like that. I have a life,” Shackleford said.

    Dressed in a lapel-less black suit and black shirt, Shackleford appeared uncomfortable throughout his testimony, facing away from Rudolf and repeatedly shifting his 6-foot-11-inch frame in the witness chair. The married father of three seemed especially irritated when Rudolf brought up the player’s family and the dishonesty of infidelity.

    “You feel like you’re an honest person?” Rudolf asked.

    “Yeah,” Shackleford replied.

    “How long have you been married?”

    Glaring at the attorney, Shackleford shot back, “What’s that got to do with anything?”

    He rejected Rudolf’s claim that he had lied to his wife, saying, “I didn’t lie. I just didn’t say anything.”

    Shackleford acknowledged having trouble remembering specifics about what Smith said and did after the shooting. He admitted that the account he gave investigators was a combination of what he recalled himself and what Smith told him.

    “I sort of took one and one and put it together,” he said.

    Comment by Greg -

  13. Mark

    You think that Charles Shackleford is irrelevant. My goodness, the newspapers waste whole pages on a group of people that are far more irrelevant than Charles Shackleford, Chris Washburn, or even William Bedford. How could that be? It’s because they are DEAD!!! The obituary is printed EVERY DAY and these people are not even alive. There are no pages in the paper that I skip over more quickly. I figure that when I meet death, I’ll learn more than enough about it. Now by the way, was Shack found urinating behind the Jack n the Box in Dallas or holding up the couple for their cell phone in the alley behind a bar in Columbus?

    Comment by Greg -

  14. I agree with you to a certain extend that the Newspaper should have longer content as compared to those on the web, when one has the leisure and time to read news in detail. However, I believe that most of us don’t.

    Looking close to the other perspective, in this fast pace world, how many of us really have the comfort to sit down and read the long page of story in detail?

    Digital media is doing us a favour to have the main points stated out, why not newspaper?

    In Singapore, ‘Today’ is a Mediacorp Press Newspaper given out free to people with lots of news, summarised in short paragraphs.

    I find that this type of newspapers is beneficial to the people. During the rush hours, while on the train or bus journey to work or to school, people can read the main points from the summarized news.

    Thus, I feel that it is alright for short news, else you may always choose to read online if you carry a laptop with you to work where wireless connection is available on the bus/train.

    Comment by simple* -

  15. A quote from Rupert Murdoch, “find me anybody under the age of 30 that has ever read a want ad”.

    I think that says it all.

    Comment by Eric Engen -

  16. I think that the current problem with newspapers is that they are charging too little for advertising.

    Basically, you have papers using the same or similar ad rates (perhaps increasing them over time) for the same sized advertising.

    However, I do not think that the price they are charging for a full page ad adequately reflects the price of using up an entire 1/4 of a sheet of paper.

    Most of the traditional papers that you buy now are 50% or more filled with ads. Useless classifieds, shiny smooth circulars that fill trash cans near newsstands to overfilling, public notices in unreadable type, huge full page paeons to the corporate gods of our modern oligarchic plutocrat culture.

    I say, just say no. Charge the same amount for a half page ad as you would for a full page ad. Don’t do full page ads at all, and put some more news in the newspaper.

    Or keep the amount of news the same and reduce the number of pages. More and more that is what seems to be happening with the “commuter” papers that are now in most large US cities.

    People are rejecting the 50 and 75 cent (or more) newspapers because they don’t deliver what they want in the quantities that they expect. People want a brief article that covers the salient points of current events, and they turn to other sources for issues that concern them as individuals.

    Heck, in Boston, you can get a Herald for free any day of the week in the afternoon, they give it away because no one will buy it for a quarter in the morning (why pay for what you can get for free in 8 hours?). The Globe is frequently free as well. Meanwhile, the Metro, which is free in the morning in all the subway stations and has perhaps 20 pages, is outcirculating them both. It’s not a great paper by any stretch, but there are national, international, and local articles in it, and it covers sports and entertainment. Anything more doesn’t fit into people’s daily schedules at the moment, and those topics that are of substantial interest people newsgoogle in the morning or through the day (or use an RSS feed from googlenews to monitor) instead.

    Host banning advertisers is possibly unethical, but it certainly saves my retinas. And if you’ve got popup problems, you may want to look into a spyware removal tool.

    Sooner or later, all these newspapers are going to go out of business. You’ll have monthly or weekly news magazines, half a dozen actual papers with pricetags to match, and a large number of free or very low priced commuter papers that spit out the latest wire service articles on a daily basis.

    We might actually miss the newspapers, if any of them were still independently reporting national and international stories, but sadly they aren’t, and no one will give a crap when they are gone.

    Comment by Jeremy G -

  17. I think the reason it is more comfortable to read a newspaper than text on the screen is because it takes 25% longer to read words on a monitor than on the printed page.

    Interestingly, short words and short paragraphs are also much easier to view on screen than large blocks of text. So, maybe we should all write online as tabloid journalists!

    Comment by Rodford Barrat -

  18. I don’t care if it’s Charles Shackleford or Prince Charles of England…the media is WAAAAY over saturated and has WAAAAAAAY too much reporting or tedius, trivial and meaningless between stories about gratuitous violence and misfortune. It unforunate that Bad News sells, but the way it gets beaten to death makes even the most serious and interesting stories seem boring and repetitive…

    Comment by Jeff Eskow -

  19. i have to disagree with mark on one thing. if i see a 3 page or multi page article online, on any website or news site, i will read it. and i can read an article online with my feet kicked up and a dr. pepper near by with no problem. the ads and pop ups dont bother me. 99.9% of ads i see, either on top or the side of the webpages now a days, i just ignore, i think that is what i have grown to do. maybe thats just me, i dont look at ads unless i have some time on my hands. i never read print anymore, partly because i’m always in front of a PC. about the newspaper being accurate, that is true. but when a major story breaks, TV & online is the first to report, so they are as accurate as they can be at the time. what does the print reporter do? watch tv, read online? then he sorts thru all the “accurate” information and prints it almost 24 hours after the story breaks…just my thoughts….

    Comment by Luis -

  20. It’s called generalism. It’s something for everybody. Unfortunately, in our world today, people only want niche news, things they’re interested in and none of the other stuff. We want confirmation, not learning. We don’t want to be sidetracked by information about things that aren’t “important” to us.

    I do agree that a 3-inch story on Mr. Shackelford’s misdeeds is a bit silly. Using it as a starting point for a larger story on NBA players who can’t handle fame, money, or their aftermath might be a better idea.

    But newspapers will still survive for some key reasons:
    1. Locality. TV stations won’t go in depth on local government, which is what really affects you – property taxes, garbage pickup, snowplowing, downtown renewal, roads and bridges. All of which affects us more from day to day than the presidential campaign or missing white women. TV won’t go into depth on that, but someone should.
    2. Convenience. The Internet is gaining, but you don’t have a computer with you at all times (well, maybe YOU do). And you can’t cut out a computer and paste it in a scrapbook.
    3. Detailed advertising. That’s one area where flashing web ads or short radio-TV commercials can’t compete.

    One area where newspapers need to pick up the pace is localism. I don’t care if I see a Dallas Mavericks score, but I do care how my local colleges, high schools and pro teams do. I don’t care about a nuclear plant in New York, but I do care about the one 20 miles down the road.

    Comment by Ray Barrington -

  21. Oddly enough I remembered Shackleford played for NC State when I saw his name. Chalk that 50 words up to a slow news day at the Times.

    One of NYT’s reporters just did a story about MySpace banning and then allowing YouTube video embeds. It was a mildly interesting story when it actually happened two weeks ago.

    At least they finally got around to covering it.

    Comment by David Utter -

  22. Mark,

    You make a good point, but I don’t think that newspaper companies can get more readers by having more in depth coverage of stories. They just have to adjust to their target audience, which nowadays is probably people 50 or older. I’m in the Computer Info Sys field and it’s the users that don’t want to learn how to use all these “high tech” gidgets and gadgets that always bring up the newspaper. Plus there is still a large population that is more prone to automatically believe things that are in print. I’m the exact opposite of people that love to read a lengthy newspaper article. If I can bookmark a story, email it to myself, or view it on my phone while I’m stuck in line somewhere, I’m much more likely to finish it.

    Comment by Nicole Johnson -

  23. Charles Shackleford

    Apologies for my misspelling Shackleford earlier. It was inadvertent.

    Newspapers and magazines make mistakes and have to publish retractions.

    The NYT foray into sports has been a boon for the NYT. The NYT has truly excellent photographers, perhaps moreso than the blogosphere.

    Comment by nate -

  24. Come on Mark. He is 39 years old and played for 4 different NBA teams in his illustrious 6 year career. That makes it news. You can be sure that if a four-year Knicks season ticket holder got busted having sex with goats, it would get a similar story in The Times. Or if the guy that sweeps the sweat off the floor under the basket got nailed for taking change from the coin returns of pay phones, there would be a week long series. Or if that big dude who played with John Stockton and Karmalone in Utah (and also had a starring role in Superman II), what was his name?!? Well, if he got a ticket for double parking outside his apartment, we’d read about it in The Times.

    Comment by Brad Hutchings -

  25. Print news is reputable. It is by far the most reputable among television, radio, web, and print.

    Some people, such as Mark, want information ASAP, while others prefer to it to be accurate.

    I can see newspapers dying a slow death over the next few decades, though.

    Comment by Chris Clarke -

  26. My attention span for news has gotten much smaller lately. That, to me, makes news more costly. I need a better return if I’m going to pick up a newspaper most days.

    Comment by Scott Johnson -

  27. shackleford. not shackelford. did the nyt at least get the spelling right? 🙂

    Comment by tim g -

  28. If your arguement is that newspapers need to become more like “Nightline” is to TV news then the industry might be in deeper trouble that thought because that requires a certain type of reporter to pull off.

    Ask yourself this. In this upcoming generation what kind or person would want to become a newspaper reporter?

    Those driven by the get the story first mentality will probrably operate on the Internet. Those that are more into truely in depth analysis will be snapped up by any number of targeted magazines that can make money with advertisments because of that target audience.

    So, what will become of the medium once the “talent” feels more comfortable in the digital medium or more rewarded in newspapers competing mediums like peridocals or books.

    Lose the talent, you’ll lose the customer.

    Comment by Shawn -

  29. Cub, We live in the break of the information age with the 24hour news channels,Web news, bloggers and breaking news coming to you as you surf the net. I think u have a daughter around the same age as mine I wouldn’t be surprised when they get into adulthood if newpapers will be hanging on by a thread and will be considered old poeple news source.

    Comment by kmick -

  30. The print industry is definitely under fire from digital media. I think the battle that newspapers will fight is the fact that they have historically been the “up-to-date” stories where magazines have handled the monthly/weekly task of longer, more detailed medium.

    I think (no original thoughts here) that the daily newspaper in trouble. Why am I willing to read Barron’s (imo, a hybrid between newspaper and magazine), but I have not picked up a daily other than the free one in a hotel room in years? I think the reason is what Mark is eluding to. Most everything that a newspaper can offer me, I read on-line. But the magazines I read every month (5 counting Barron’s) offer a fresh angle to well-developed stories.

    Newspapers have fallen into the ‘tweener zone and must establish a unique niche for readers. I’m not smart enough to know what that niche will be, but if the industry is going to survive someone has to step up.

    Also, if one of the majors do step up, think outside the box, and bring a new approach to newspaper reporting, they will more than likely dominate until daily newspapers are fully eliminated.

    Comment by dawgball -

  31. You know, I never would’ve thought about this until reading your post. Now I’m going to analyze the worth of every newspaper article I read for the rest of my life. It’s a great observation.

    Comment by Brett -

  32. You know, I never would’ve thought about this until reading your post. Now I’m going to analyze the worth of every newspaper article I read for the rest of my life. It’s a great observation.

    Comment by Brett -

  33. Mark,

    I think it is time you buy a newspaper company.

    Comment by Ray Kent -

  34. 1) I can not find the name Charles Shackelford in any recent issue of the New York Times.

    2) Newspaoers use “filler material” to avoid gaps on pages. The editors may have inserted the 50 word article for that purpose.

    Comment by David -

  35. OK, I have to ask … who the heck is Charles Shackelford?

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

  36. Yeah, but the NYT has you reading it. They have you engaged. This Cuban-Shackelford-type experience may be planned by the NYT.

    Why do you apparently read the NYT on a regular basis? Why not other newspapers?

    Comment by nate -

  37. Yeah, but the NYT has you reading it. They have you engaged. This Cuban-Shackelford-type experience may be planned by the NYT.

    Why do you apparently read the NYT on a regular basis? Why not other newspapers?

    Comment by nate -

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