Old artblog from 2012/13 on tumblr, Sabbatical Year. This year I will post here. 

UpStart, an occasional column covering the business side of Mission Local

First published on Mission Local

Upstart # 1 Sales!


January 12, 2015 2:34 pm

I’ve just survived my first week as a saleswoman—urging local businesses to buy memberships in Mission Local and promoting ML with readers, too.

It hasn’t been pretty.

All my life I’ve avoided my family’s business. And now, here I am, in business and, of all things, selling. If my dad were alive, he’d be having a good laugh.

Quick background: I started Mission Local as a project at the UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism where I am a full professor, where I hold an endowed chair. But my real passion for the past six years has been this site. So when the school announced last year that it would stop year-round funding Mission Local (as well as the other hyper-local news sites), I decided to spin it off.  READ MORE

Upstart # 2, Feeling the Love (or Not)

Posted  January 19, 2015 10:45 am

There was big news last week: Mission Local is getting a hotdog named after it next month! If customers order the Mission Local hotdog only 360 times, Los Shucos, the Guatemalan hot dog café on 22nd Street will buy a $360 Mission Local business membership.

I’m now calling this marketing maneuver the Shucos move because it’s so damn clever – not an out-and-out rejection of my sales pitch, but a way to keep the conversation going and, not incidentally, boost its own sales. (For those of you...Read more

Asking Questions about Axing Questions

Just digging into the May 31-June 1 New York Magazine and Gabriel Sherman's “Axing Questions,” on the firing of NYT Editor Jill Abramson.


It starts with the theory of Abramson’s media footprint putting Arthur Sulzberger Jr. into a bit of a tizzy. “… her personal brand-building seemed to rankle her boss,” writes Sherman and adds that former CEO Janet Robinson was dismissed, in part, “owing to her own media footprint.”


What?  Is Sherman saying that they weren’t demure enough for Sulzberger? 


And Howell Raines, Judith Miller and Bill Keller were?  Please.


If Sulzberger was bothered by the self-promotion of Times editors he would have abandoned all of them and would not have walked to the edge of the cliff with Miller and Keller.


More interesting is Sherman’s theory about two angry men: Sulzberger and the new CEO Mark Thompson.


Thompson had just been hired and Abramson “made a journalist decision that complicated Sulzberger’s choice.”


Sherman goes on to describe Abramson sending Matthew Purdy to London to investigate “Thompson’s role in the Jimmy Saville scandal.“


Her relationship with the two men never recovered, writes Sherman.


Thompson, Sherman quotes a source, was “fucking pissed,” and Sulzberger was “livid.”


Two angry men.  One woman editor with integrity.  That sounds more like it.  In the end, they had the power to do her in. Read more

Buried Alive!

       I've now tried three times to make it all the way through the NYT's Snow Fall, the impressive multimedia/longform extravaganza about the avalanche at Tunnel Creek, but I keep getting distracted by all the moving parts  - overwhelmed by what's ahead of me and what I might be missing if I just skip some of them. As I tire, I wonder, do I need/want to know this much about Tunnel Creek? The reviews have been laudatory and I have no doubt they are accurate, but I'm now wondering how many viewers have stayed with the text and clicked through all of the eye-candy. Is it like A Brief History of Time? Brilliant, reviewers wrote, even a bestseller, but one of those books that you buy and never get to the end of. What I like about what I've seen/read? It shows possibilities. What I hate? It is too much. 

   Read more

The NHS, the Royals, Letting and Local News

Settling into London and getting a quick education on the NHS, the Royals, the proliferation of letting agencies and the lack of local news.  (If I am missing something in the latter, please send links.)

The NHS: It's hard not to have low expectations after reading the American press on the NHS, but when our 70-year-old friend visiting from Berkeley falls scarily ill,  we are forced to face what the NHS has to offer. It's full of surprises. Everyone from the triage nurse to the docs has a sense of humor and appears to know their medicine. By the time we get to the acute care window, Tony can barely stand. 

"He's deteriorating by the minute, " I say in panic after hearing the gentleman in front of me say that he is bleeding to death.  (I decide that emergency rooms are like jails except that here everyone is dying and there everyone is innocent.) At any rate, the doc sees Tony in five minutes and reads the assessment of the clinic doctor who quickly discounted the dizziness and our diagnosis of an ear imbalance/infection (you can take care of that in the states, she says) and focuses in on what appears to her to be acute anemia. 

She's right. A few tests later (it's amazing how few tests later) the docs believe that Tony probably has at least one bleeding ulcer, causing him to lose an alarming amount of blood (hence the deterioration and the increasing dizziness).  A day's worth of transfusions later he's ready for a procedure where they go in, confirm two bleeding ulcers, treat the devils and put Tony out the door the following day.  No one asks him about insurance. No one presents a bill. No one talks money. They talk health. It's impressive. 

The Royals: Recently in a snit about photographs of the topless Duchess, which the American newspapers pick up on day two or three. It seems an especially boring story because Europeans have just spent the summer watching old, young and everyone between baring...Read more