USA Yesterday

Over the years, I’ve written a few scathing observations about Gannett (owner of the daily newspaper in my hometown of Nashville, The Tennessean) and the lawyers and corporate finance people who ruined lots of independent newspapers by buying them, calling them Gannett, slashing budgets, and then killing them in various ways. Employees and customers got screwed in all of these deals, but lawyers and corporate finance people did just fine. Here some examples of those posts:

Gonenett

Final thoughts on the whole newspaper thing

Stop blaming me for killing your newspaper

And, with irony that Nashville’s NHL Predators are today sold-out every game, this response to learning, several years ago, that the Tennessean no longer sent reporters to road games in 2009:

Observing the Tennessean die is like watching the Titanic sink in super slo-mo

Fast forward to today.

It has taken me several weeks to realize “The Tennessean” newspaper has been rebranded online as, merely, Tennessean. (Or, Tennessean.com or Tennessean Dot.) Yet another strange decision by one of the nation’s stranger media companies.

The re-branding is part of a nationwide re-branding of Gannett newspapers as the “USA Today Network. While they say in the article (below) that online, the brand is simply “Tennessean,” every reference to the publication I’ve read in an article, including the announcement article, calls it “The Tennessean.”

It’s kind of funny, if you think about it.

Like the way Facebook would never call itself, “The Facebook,” new media and old have different ways of defining what and who they are by the nuanced references they use to define themselves.

The corporate marketers at Gannett are pushing out the brands “USA Today Network” and Tennessean.com, while the creators of the content on that network and web news-service are still referring to the digital version with the print-focused “The” in front of the corporate marketer’s brand.

I would never suggest this is a conspiracy on the part of the reporters, but I’d like to think it is.

The Doodle is the Message

A Google Doodle today commemorates the 106th anniversary of the birth of Marshall McLuhan.

A few years ago, I submitted an article to an editor describing Osmo Wiio as the Marshall McLuhan of Finland.

“Our readers will have to google Marshall McLuhan and Osmo Wiio to figure out what you mean,” the editor emailed me back.

“That’s okay, I responded, Google is merely an extension of their central nervous systems,” I responded.

“?” emailed the editor.

“You know. The medium is the message,” I responded.

“The message is not a medium, it’s a large. Here it is.: You can’t reference two communications theorists in one sentence.”

Bonus: A review by the late David Carr (RIP) of a biography titled Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work.

The title of the book comes from one of the greatest movie scenes of all time (if you can use google).

 

Malcolm Gladwell Just Provided the Tipping Point to My Understanding of Country Music

Now I know the ingredients of a tear jerking country song.

I’ve lived in Nashville for almost 40 years, but I’ve learned more about country music in the past 40 minutes than I had in all those years.

The current episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, Revisionist History, is titled “King of Tears.” It centers on a talk Gladwell had in Nashville recently with legendary songwriter Bobby Braddock, now in his 70s. (Minor spoiler: He’s the person being referenced to in the title of the episode.

You may not know who Braddock is, but you’ll be tracking down all of the songs he wrote by the time the podcast episode ends.

While the short version of what Kings of Tears is about is this: Gladwell seeks and finds out, “What it is about some kinds of that makes us cry.”

I finally have an answer to those questions.

Just listen.

Here is a link to “King of Tears.”

(Sidenote: The Revisionist History website includes links to a couple of books Gladwell refers to in the episode and provides links to the various ways you can subscribe to future episodes.)

When Searching for a Satirical Legal Document, Don’t Use the Words Satirical and Legal

Turns out, funny legal documents are a thing.

Until I read this funny parody of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) on NewYorker.com, I had never considered the possibility that satirical legal document humor could be a thing. Perhaps that’s because while jokes about lawyers are funny, legal documents aren’t — except to lawyers or people forced to sign documents written by them.

Quote from parody NDA:

FINALLY, Contractor agrees never to disclose to anybody, including and ESPECIALLY himself/herself, that he/she has only taken this job because signing an N.D.A. made it seem more important than it probably is, and deep down he/she is a little disappointed about where he/she is at this point in his/her life.

Wondering if there were other examples of this kind of legal document humor, I did a Google search and found that Google was incapable of finding anything that has “legal” and “satire” in the same sentence that was legal satire. Despite spending billions on artificial intelligence, Google couldn’t guess that I was using legal and parody in the same sentence to see if I could find parodies about legal documents.

So I stopped looking.

Then, a few days later, just like when you wake up in the morning after not being able to solve a crossword puzzle word the night before and suddenly you know the word, I thought to myself, just use the word “funny” instead of parody. It worked.

Turns out, funny legal documents are a thing.