Plastiki Reports from the Middle of the Ocean

March 30, 2010

Dear Diary,

It has been 11 days since Plastiki, the 60-foot sea voyager made of recycled plastic bottles, sailed through the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to Australia. Before the crew left, it was visited on deck by Robin Williams, who performed a queen of England riff that was captured on video.

I write that because I have no idea how to write a lede or nut graf or organize facts in a remotely logical way.

There are no messages sent in a bottle. Whatever that means. But for Plastiki and the New York Times’ utterly amateurish West Coast outpost, there is Twitter.

Loyal followers of our ‘what we did on our summer vacations’ blog know that NYT reporters in California have no idea how to conduct interviews. But boy, can we ever talk about Twitter and use its most basic functions!

Read the exact to-and-fro that I had in a Twitter conversation with the Plastiki crew


Oakland Rallies for Runners and Itself

March 29, 2010

Dear Diary,

On the weekend I ran in a half marathon! Yippee! I am sure that a news audience would love to hear all about the marathon, but I’ll do even better and just write about my experiences and I’ll be sure to list some other marathons that I ran in the past.

At some point during the half marathon, I can’t remember which part because the details are as irrelevant as this entire blog post, I realized that people were yelling “Go Oakland” at me and other runners as well as the usual “Good Job” and “Way to Go.” That’s right – they were yelling at me. Me! I love to write about me, so that worked out nicely.

I have also run marathons in Wilmington, San Francisco and Brighton. Brighton is in England! I hadn’t heard anybody in those cities chant the name of the cities, so I’m assuming that it didn’t happen.

I don’t know why they were chanting Oakland because I didn’t bother interviewing anybody during or after the race. I figure everybody just cares about my life and about my assumptions about the audience’s behavior.

Read more…

Tesla Motors Executives Are Believed Dead in Plane Crash

February 17, 2010

Dear Diary,

Today, after a competitor reported that there had been a plane crash, I thought I would try “breaking news.” I remember hearing all about it in my overpriced grad-school classes from somebody who stopped being a journalist so they could work in academia.

I thought about hitting the phones, calling up all the sources I could think of, while listening with one ear to the scanner. I considered heading out to the scene of the accident or perhaps to the headquarters of the company that reportedly employed the victims.

But then I thought, fuck it. Other reporters are already doing that, so why don’t I go ahead and just rip off their work and put my name on it.

Three executives of Tesla Motors, the electric car company, are believed to be dead after the small plane they were in crashed in East Palo Alto, Calif., shortly after taking off in thick fog Wednesday morning, according to the car Web site Jalopnik, which said it received confirmation from a Tesla representative.

That’s right, from the car Web site Jalopnik.

At about 7:55 a.m., the twin-engine Cessna 310, which took off from Palo Alto Airport heading for Los Angeles County’s Hawthorne Municipal Airport, crashed into a residential neighborhood in East Palo Alto and might have caused widespread power outages. The plane was believed to be owned by Doug Bourn, a senior electrical engineer for Tesla Motors, a spokesperson with the company told a newspaper against which I was hired to compete.

Read more unconscionably fake journalism …

Zero-Trash Movement’s Success Hurts Berkeley’s Bottom Line

February 10, 2010

Dear diary,

You know my favorite way to start anything that I write? I write about me. “I’m” is awesome. So here goes:

I’m proud of my trash can. Maybe that makes me retarded. It holds just 20 gallons. But I keep wondering if I can do better. I could go down another 10 gallons. I would do it if I knew I’d get another break on my refuse collection bill from Waste Management of Alameda County. Because I’m nothing but a cheap slut masquerading as environmentally conscious.

I could be part of a problem – a problem that I won’t bother to define since even I don’t understand the nonsensical gibberish that I puke through my keyboard.

In Berkeley, one of the few cities that still does its own garbage pickup, a parallel push to smaller trash cans has led to an 8 percent revenue decline, which in turn contributes to the city’s $10 million revenue shortfall, reports Matthai Kuruvila in an article in the newspaper against which I was hired to compete. But lacking any skills, I’ll just plagiarize said competitor. It doesn’t seem like anybody in New York is paying attention, so who gives a shit. Is this the price of progress? Or a signal that it’s time to rethink the economic incentives that work too well?

Please allow me to disgracefully recap the reporting of my competitor for you, with plenty of narrative about my irrelevant life to entertain my relatives and any other losers who assumed that this blog site would contain new news. Oh, and if you think that I have the nous needed to answer the odd hypothetical question, ‘Is falling trash collection revenue a signal that it’s time to rethink the economic incentives that work too well?’ Then you’d be wrong. Any thinking person knows that the city could just start charging more for trash collection, but I’m no thinking person. Just a plagiarist.

Read more…

The University of California to Play the Waiting-List Game

February 1, 2010

Dear Diary,

Since I was born into money and never knew about the stress of getting into the UC system, I felt sorry for the poor kids my competitor  wrote about that might have to depend on a waiting list when they apply. They said more than 1,000 people I’d like to pretend I have empathy for, but don’t, because it’s too easy to steal their work and use it as my own might be affected.

I’m dwelling over the brilliance because it just means they’ll have to work harder and pay more to produce the same copy that I can just claim as my own.

The only problem is, these same fools who actually worked hard to get where they are also reported that Gov . Schwarzamacallit could restore some of their funds and ruin how easy this is for me.

But then I took a load off because similar schmucks that I’m ripping off made it clear it’s still going to be harder to get into the UC system even with more money enrollment’s going to be cut back.

So just for you guys, I entertained the idea of being a real journalist and picked up the phone for a little Q&A with someone who actually gives a crap and might relate to you.

please, read more…

The Pacifica Geological Drama: Man, With Equipment vs. Nature, With Power

January 26, 2010

Dear Diary,

At the Chit-Chat Cafe in Pacifica, tables were rearranged Sunday so that cafe patrons could watch boulders being unloaded from trucks. That gave me the idea of just rearranging all the information in my competition’s article and writing it up like it’s a real journalistic blog.

This entire entry will consist of quotes and paraphrases I’m directly lifting from my competition’s story, but don’t worry, I’m totally advancing the story by changing el boring-o sentences like this: “In 1998, seven homes on Esplanade were demolished before they crashed into the ocean” into unparalleled masterpieces like THIS: “Seven homes on the street were demolished in 1998 before they could plummet into the ocean.”

Some might call such blatant copy and pasting of someone else’s labor some variation on plagiarism, but unfortunately that long P word is not in my vocabulary so I don’t know what they mean. Come to think of it, I think plagiarism might be some sort of new social networking site that I don’t know how to use or something. Oh well.

Now, I do know that every day we do roundups endearingly called Sampler, linking to stories we think our New York readers will find exotic or cute, and since I didn’t actually pick up a telephone for this story it might have been a wee bit more appropriate for me to put this link there. But I needed to produce a blog this week and I just really miss my Chihuahua-free family right now, and I’ve gotta go home and just double check it hasn’t snowed lately though even if it did, I’d make fun of the pathetic Bay Area media for mentioning it. Besides, Carolyn Jones already did all this work – there’s no sense in TWO people doing journalism in a single day, is there!


What Kind of Weather Makes News?

January 20, 2010

Dear Diary,

While taking a break from the quasi-plagiaristic practice of ripping off my competitors’ reporting instead of doing my own, I decided that a sardonic attack on the news judgment of the region’s journalists whose work I routinely steal would make me feel good about myself.

So I did it.

Growing up in Chicago, I knew that a “partly sunny” forecast meant gray skies. And a “partly cloudy” forecast meant gray skies. That might have been because I never paid enough attention to anything around me to notice the months of oppressively hot, sunny days or the passing thunderstorms that painted fat bolts of lightning on a canvas of clouds as dark as night.

On rare occasions, there were days so cold that school was canceled, but there were no snow days because the city began salting the streets faster than a flurry could make its way to the pavement. I assume that you give a shit about that, Bay Area folks. The only one in my life who howled about lightning and thunderstorms was my family’s golden retriever. We thought of it as a peculiar personality disorder.

Judging by the fact that people who live in the Bay Area are interested in intense weather events that directly affect them, I can only assume that they also have peculiar personality disorders.

It’s taken me some time to adjust to the idea that meteorological commonplaces in the Midwest are big news here. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to adapt to a new culture. Perhaps it’s because I do not possess the traits of a journalist.

The Bay Area’s news outlets were consumed Wednesday morning with the most recent in the wave of storms that have rushed through the area this week. Monday and Tuesday’s weather gave the region whiplash with a succession of downpours followed by sunny skies followed by downpours and thunderstorms. That’s right. Whiplash, bitches. A potentially life-changing injury that can occur when somebody’s head is ripped violently from one side to another. That’s what the storms gave the region.

That was a preview of what has been happening Wednesday. Read more…

Are Tom Cable’s Days Numbered as Raiders Coach?

January 5, 2010

Dear Diary,

Today I thought to myself, you know what, we’re experts at stealing local news content and fluff created by other hardworking journalists and writers, but we hardly ever rip off our competitors’ sports reporting. So ripping off our competitors’ sports reporting was something that I resolved to do today.

A competitor reported that that Oakland Raiders Coach Tom Cable’s job is at serious risk after the team’s 5-11 season. So far, there’s been no public word from the team’s owner, Al Davis, and it appears from another news organization with which we compete that Mr. Cable survived the National Football League’s so-called Black Monday, when coaches of struggling teams are often dismissed after the regular season.But the first competitor that I ripped off in this blog, citing sources close to Mr. Davis, suggested that an official announcement of a coaching change could come next week. Read more…

CalTrain Ending Year With Near-Record Fatality Count

January 5, 2010

Dear Diary,

Today, I ripped off a competitor’s news story and also told my handful of readers that I found out the news through a different competitor’s Twitter feed. KGO Radio tweeted the depressing news mid-morning: the second fatality of the day happened on CalTrain’s tracks when a train hit a truck in San Jose. Earlier, a woman had been killed by a northbound train in Santa Clara. It probably amazes most people that there were only two fatalities in a day, and that they both happened on CalTrain’s tracks, but not me. I’m concentrating busily on how this affects me.

One of us rides Caltrain regularly. If you read this piece of shit blog regularly, you would know which one it is, because we can’t stop telling you about our personal lives. It’s so much easier than doing journalism. The intercom announcement that begins, “There has been an incident…” is sadly familiar. It presages a long wait. It frankly pisses most people off, but I’ll characterize everybody’s emotions as generally sorrowful. It’s nicer than being accurate.

Read more about how I feel about stuff …

A Few San Jose Police Used Force Repeatedly in Arrest Cases

December 29, 2009

Dear Diary,

When and how the police use force has been a source of great concern this year in the Bay Area, particularly after the shooting death of Oscar Grant III on New Year’s Day by a BART police officer.

The San Jose Mercury News,  a competitor to the NYT which wastes money employing local journalists that have actually been been spending their working hours reporting and writing about a local issue, has found that a small number of San Jose police officers repeatedly used force in cases where resisting arrest is the main, if not only, charge. In a report published Sunday, our competitor said its review of 321 incidents found that 10 officers had used force four times or more in a one-year period; another five had used force three times. I’m going to call 15 a “small number” without pointing out that a year is a shockingly small amount of time, because trouble with a PD that I didn’t do any independent reporting on is the last thing I need. Journalists might be good at rocking the boat, but I prefer to think of myself as a sweet, harmless, pointless blogger who doesn’t rock anything except the credibility of an entire profession.

Among the 10 officers was Steven Payne Jr., who can be seen on a video shocking a Vietnamese student at San Jose State University with his Taser gun, according to the journalists who are provided with a paycheck using advertising sold by our competitor.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the article by a competitor once again raises the question: are police using force too often in seemingly minor cases? Read me rip off the work of more working journalists…