A few minutes with Andy Rooney

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

A version of this story first appeared on Google Plus.

Like most journalists, I was saddened to hear of the passing of CBS legend Andy Rooney.

To most young people, Andy was simply that cranky old guy who read a short essay at the end of the news magazine your parents watched every Sunday night.

But he was so much more.

First and foremost a writer, Andy was never comfortable in the medium that made him so famous. But he was transparent about that, before ‘transparency’ was cool.

Andy didn’t like being recognized and he never signed autographs—except in his books, of course.

I never met Andy but like millions of Americans I knew him from his writing and television work. I know what he represented to American mass communications at a key time of change.

Aside from the fact that he was classy, smart and a great writer, what really made Andy special to me was that he was one of the last of the people who were part of the beginning of television. He was part of that group of journalists and writers who had to figure out how to take their long-form radio programs and perform them under a camera and lights.

In a lot of ways, those of us in internet programming are going through the same transition.

Leo Laporte’s TWiT network started out as a group of former Tech TV hosts sitting around a few microphones and chatting about technology news.

People listened and the show became a hit. Then Leo added cameras and some lights and recently a million dollar studio. But it is still largely an audio show that happens to be available on video.

Many decades ago, when radio was king, a young writer for CBS named Andy Rooney went through the same technology shift. He spoke about it during a lengthy 1999 interview with Don Carleton for the Archive of American Television.

This was a period during which television was born. I wake up some mornings and I say I am old enough to have been in on the beginning of television…

At CBS, [Arthur] Godfrey was radio, an hour and a half of radio five days a week. And then CBS started fooling with television, and quite early on color television too.

But it was black and white [then] so they talked Godfrey into letting cameras into the radio studio. It was nothing. It was [a money] loss. They figured, ‘Well we might as well broadcast this radio show.’

Well gradually, of course, television crept in and the income from it rose and they put lights in the studio specifically designed for television and gradually the radio disappeared and the television came to the fore and the first thing you know it was Arthur Godfrey’s television show.

Enjoy a few minutes with the late, great Andy Rooney:

Published in: on November 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Video: Thoughts on the late great Steve Jobs

An impromptu discussion on the legacy that is Steve Jobs and the company that he built. And rebuilt. Dan McDermott is joined by former Apple senior advisor Glen Jones and long-time Apple observer Mike Phillips.

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Alleged White House Gate Crashers Talk Dr. Drew, Release Iphone App

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

This story has been updated.

I’m not making this up.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi released a statement Monday that says two things: a) Michaele is seeking help from Dr. Drew Pinsky for “private pains and personal struggles she endured” following her alleged crashing of President Barack Obama’s first White House state dinner and b) she has released a new Iphone app that lets users “Crash any party with Michaele.”

The statement almost, semi, sort of confirms that Michaele is set to appear on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab. After stating “we are unable to discuss any Television Shows/projects in development” it proceeds to do just that:

“Whatever new show she is participating in, it will be a focus for her on the private pains and personal struggles she endured that resulted from the White House issues, Congress and how these life changing events affected her Multiple Sclerosis. Michaele Salahi is consulting with Dr. Drew and she hopes he will be able to assist her about everything she has endured over the last year.”

Hubby Tareq Salahi told TMZ that he is crashing at Michael Lohan’s place while the show is being taped and said his wife isn’t addicted to anything except perhaps “love and chocolate” and claims Michaele has never even had a drink.

Speaking of love, the title of the couple’s new all-things-Michaele app is “LoveYou!” It promises “Cutting-Edge Technology to Provide Exclusive New Features and Closer Interaction With Fans.”

In addition to offering Michaele quizzes, personal photos and even a playlist of her favorite songs, the app allows users to “Crash a Party with Michaele: Fans can easily insert Michaele into any of their photos, which can be saved, e-mailed and shared with friends on Twitter and Facebook. Now you can crash any party with Michaele.”

The first review of their new app on iTunes is not kind.

In a critique entitled “Rehab needed for this app for reals” VeganisAwesome writes:

“I’m an absolute Real Housewives fan, but this app is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. A complete copy of Paris Hilton’s app produced by the same company. If you want to know where to find tanning salons or have the words HOT and FUN relentlessly and repeatedly annoy you from you iphone then by all means go for it. No wonder it was free.”

Fear not Android fans, the Salahis promise a version of the app just for you is in the works.

A version of this story first appeared on The Huffington Post.

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm  Comments (2)  

AT&T sorry for threatening man who emailed CEO

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

AT&T says they apologize for threatening a man with legal action because he emailed their CEO.

Iphone user Giorgio Galante told Engadget that after he sent two emails in two weeks to CEO Randall Stephenson an AT&T Executive Response team representative threatened to send him a ‘cease and desist’ letter.

AT&T spokesperson Alexa Kaufman tells us that her company has “reached out to Mr. Galante to offer a deserved apology.” Kaufman says it is not their usual policy to threaten customers who send them emails. “This is obviously something we need to apologize for,” she said.

Galante told Engadget that he is switching to Sprint.

editor@warrencountyreport.com
twitter.com/danielpmcdermot
mcdermottreport.com

Published in: on June 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm  Comments (1)  

An open letter to Yahoo Small Business

Dear Yahoo,

Why have you forsaken me?

On Nov. 12, 2002 I signed up for a free email account with your service. The web interface was (and is) great. It’s easy to use, fairly fast and free.

I recommended to my staff, friends and family that they get accounts and many did.

I was so impressed that I decided to buy my first domain and web hosting/email package from you on Aug. 3, 2003.

Things went well and I bought three more packages in 2004, 2008 and 2009.

Currently we use our commercial Yahoo services to host a web TV show, a local calendar of events and sites for our two popular Northern Virginia newspapers, Warren County Report and The Sherando Times.

A few years ago my account was having technical issues and it took days for you to fix. I stuck with you.

Last year you were having problems with your email search. It took months for you to fix. I stuck with you.

Then our current nightmare began.

We have a main news editor account for our newspapers. Editor@warrencountyreport.com.

With this account we get press releases from everyone from the local police department and the United Way to the Smithsonian and the White House.

People might inquire as to where to go to buy an ad or get a back issue.

We use this account to communicate with our 27,000 readers. We get complaints, praise, tips, you name it. Sometimes people just want to talk.

This account is our main method of staying in touch with the people we report on and those who read our work.

On Friday this email account was incorrectly “temporarily suspended” by you and no one could send us email. If they sent us a message it was bounced back. We have no idea who may have sent us email these past four days but it is not unusual for us to get hundreds in a day.

I didn’t discover this until Sunday because no at Yahoo bothered to tell us. You just shut it down.

I spent hours on the phone with your customer service representatives. They agreed that my account should not have been suspended but said that it should be cut back on within 48 hours.

I explained that since you agreed it shouldn’t have been cut off it should be cut back on right away or within a reasonable period, say 30 minutes. They said that the technical people didn’t work on weekends and that they would be busy on Monday but that I would probably be cut back on then.

Probably.

It is now day four and I am still waiting.

We think the problem was caused when a salesperson at one of my papers got a phishing email asking for her username and password. She forwarded the email to me to ask if it was real. I forwarded it to one of my tech/design staff.

We believe that when I forwarded the email it triggered an alert that we might be sending out spam.

My mistake.

Even though I had innocently forwarded it to a tech at my paper (all within our domain) I can see that your filter might have been wary.

No problem. I don’t like spam or phishing emails any more than anyone else and I applaud you for trying to prevent it.

But after 6 years of paying you, shouldn’t you tell me if there is a problem?

Shouldn’t you alert me that you are cutting off my account and returning all of our email?

And should this occur on a Friday is it fair to make a newspaper–or any business–wait until Monday or Tuesday to get the service restored?

Do you have any idea how many days it will take to try and straighten out all of the things we missed? How many wasted days? How many angry people we will have to deal with? How many important emails we will never know were sent? Events we didn’t cover?

You call your service “Yahoo Small Business.” What business can go four days without email because your tech people don’t work weekends?

Nobody is perfect. And for the fifty bucks I send you every month I don’t feel I am entitled to my own tech support substation in my office.

But you cut us off, didn’t tell us and then left for the weekend.

I hope when you return you figure out a better way to handle this.

I hope you work harder to treat your small business customers like their business matters.

Until then I am disappointed in an old friend.

It is day 4.

Sincerely,

Dan McDermott
Newspaper publisher and loyal Yahoo customer since 2003.

[For publication in the print and online versions of Warren County Report and The Sherando Times. ]

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm  Comments (2)  

Dan McDermott: Just another tech show (VIDEO)

– Google has a new look.
– FCC push to ‘softly regulate’ broadband: http://www.pcworld.com/article/195773/
– Virgin: $25 text/data plan: http://tinyurl.com/26ty59s
– Nowmov.com is cool: http://nowmov.com
– Justin.TV CEO on live video: http://tinyurl.com/34nojx7
– Check out Larry Sabato on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrysabato
– Dan McDermott: http://twitter.com/danielpmcdermothttp://live.warrencountyreport.comhttp://youtube.com/wcrnewshttp://warrencountyreport.comhttp://sherandotimes.com
Recorded on 5/8/2010 – Captured Live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/warrencountyreport-com-live

The early May edition of Warren County Report

Left-click to open. Right-click to download.

(Video) Small Virginia town poised to host nations’s 2nd biggest solar farm

[blip.tv ?posts_id=3422132&dest=-1]

EDA approves pending solar field lease at Avtex

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

Is a small, rural Virginia town poised to take a lead position in a U.S. move toward increased reliance on solar power – and bring the troubled 70-year story of what was the nation’s largest environmental disaster Superfund site to a happy and green ending?

On March 26, the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development unanimously approved the terms of lease and purchase agreement on approximately 40 acres of what is envisioned as a 150-acre business park on reclaimed land at the Royal Phoenix site in the Town of Front Royal, some 67 miles west of Washington, D.C. The lease is tentative pending approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and FMC Corporation.

EPA is the overseer of over $26 million in federally-funded cleanup of the site, which covers a total of some 467 acres, or about 10-percent of the land in the small, rural, northwestern Virginia town of about 13,000. FMC is a federally-mandated cleanup partner and the lone surviving of three owners of the former rayon and synthetic fibers manufacturing plant opened in 1940 by American Viscose Corporation.

After 49 years as its community’s major employer and economic engine, and a major materials contributor to the Allied war effort in World War II, the then Avtex Fibers plant was closed down in 1989 by Virginia Attorney General Mary Sue Terry for ongoing violations of the state’s water-control standards.

In June of 2009 principals of SolAVerde Inc. proposed development of what could eventually be a 100 to 150-megawatt solar field on one or more sites in Front Royal. But negotiations stalled as an initially envisioned $211 private sector start-up investment morphed into a request by SolAVerde partners for an up-front $18-million investment on a 14-year pre-purchase of solar power from the project by the town.

But with other investment options being explored, including a potential, private sector partnership between SolAVerde/Standard Energy and AMP-Ohio (American Municipal Power), things appear to be regaining momentum. AMP-Ohio is a municipal energy consortium Front Royal joined three years ago.

Former Front Royal Mayor James Eastham, now a town appointee to the EDA board of directors, made the March 26 motion to approve a lease-purchase agreement on 40.6 acres of the 150-acres Royal Phoenix business park site.

Afterwards he said, “The EDA doesn’t want to be an impediment in the process of this proposed use of the entire 150-acre business park side of Royal Phoenix. The EDA is about creating jobs and this is a step in that direction.”

While the remaining acreage at the business park has yet to be released, the EDA and 10th Virginia District U.S. representative Frank Wolf are poised to seek a fast track and eased restrictions on uses at the site at a planned March 29 meeting at EDA headquarters at Royal Phoenix adjacent to the involved 40 acres.

Several hours after the EDA vote approving a pending lease-purchase of the property, this reporter sat down with Front Royal Vice-Mayor Bret Hrbek to discuss the implications of that vote and the status of the solar proposal for Front Royal.

Free complete print edition: Mid January, 2009

Click here to open

Inside this issue:

  • Front Royal, VA woman loses finger in domestic dispute
  • Browntown Road shooting
  • Additional charges filed in Warren County, VA house ramming incident
  • Two arrested in Papa John’s Pizza robbery
  • Be on the lookout for Daniel Eli of Bethlehem, PA
  • Driveway scams
  • Openings for Citizens Police Academy
  • R-MA teacher honored
  • State River Park attendance down
  • New Linden, VA trash site opens
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approaches liaison: Let’s talk – just not about ‘that’
  • Warren County, VA approves 5-pronged January liaison agenda
  • Capt. Richard H. Furr makes it official – applying for Front Royal, VA police chief’s job
  • Del. Clay Athey’s Report from Richmond, VA
  • Neighbors point fingers (not guns) during shooting debate
  • ‘Pawsitive Pup’ makes dog grooming more convenient
  • NFL playoffs – Still Cheering Purple Pride
  • Activities & events in Front Royal and Warren County, VA
  • Opinion: The Gaza Holocaust
  • Letter: History’s Revenge
  • Front Royal/Warren County, VA Chamber of Commerce news
  • Entire issue is free here.

Also, 2008: The Year in Review

  • 2008 – It wasn’t that great: From bad weather to a lousy economy – good riddance
  • Inventor John Kovak: Childhood machine could be key to clean energy production in Front Royal, VA
  • CPV, Dominion Power make it official – the ‘buy’ is on
  • Paying for our own noose? Front Royal, VA debates the true price of power – 50 years of coal
  • Loss of father, two young children mourned at Candlelight Vigil
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approves corridor, EDA resolutions  – Threat of litigation by Riverton Commons restaurants hovers over passage
  • First Crooked Run Center tax revenue estimates in
  • Town, FDR Services settle water-sewer rate war – Two years of litigation ends with compromise, 15-year service contract
  • Should the Dow be at 3,000? Up a grand, down a grand – Great Depression 2.0?
  • Show me the money – Brooks calls out EDA financing – EDA’s reduced municipal funding request opens a fiscal can of worms
  • Town move on EDA assets likely futile – Virginia state law protects autonomy of economic development authorities
  • Town to EDA – ‘Pretty please with sugar on top’ – Town rephrases effort to gain control of millions in EDA assets
  • Abusive driver fees’ hit the dustbin of legislative history – Refunds included in ‘civil remedial fee’ repeal signed into law by Virginia governor
  • Virginia Governor Tim Kaine cites importance of dialogue in state government
  • Va. Supreme Court rules against NVTA road taxing – Local plaintiff, delegate weigh in on decision, state funding responsibilities
  • Questions remain about Virginia state trooper collision – Public’s right to know at issue as accident investigation continues
  • Humane Society board recalled under contentious circumstances – Accusations fly over membership voting eligibility, animal care priorities
  • Wagner Shelter two weeks later – ‘a remarkable change’; In the wake of contentious board recall, humans & animals move on
  • Monk murder mystery – A personal remembrance of a soul in wonder
  • Entire issue is free here.

Op-Ed: Should Google buy The New York Times?

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Veteran PC Magazine columnist and “Cranky Geek” John C. Dvorak recently started a discussion on his blog about rumors reported by Dealscape that Google should or might purchase the New York Times. John said that this might be a good idea. I think he is right.

A newspaper is simply one means of delivering news content.

But there is more.

Ten or twenty years ago I would have said:

The difference between print and broadcast is often the depth and length of stories–and usually the quality. When the TV news covers something at 6 or 11 it is often a 30 second version of the basic facts. Then its on to the “Wednesday’s Child” segment featuring the cute kid of the week. The longer version of the same story that appears in the next day’s paper usually has a much stronger and more lasting impact.

Today there is the Internet–which is bringing far more readers around the world to newspapers’ content but in an unprofitable way–and many cable news outlets which sometimes offer long-form in-depth coverage and analysis which traditional broadcast media outlets–CBS’ 60 minutes aside–would never have the resources or viewers’ attention span to cover. The problem is that these same cable news outfits often give undue attention to a story because it is “breaking” than it really deserves. A helicopter following a car chase that will never be mentioned again after its conclusion is an obvious example.

Print media is very, very expensive to produce and distribute. This newspaper has a circulation of over 9,000 and about 20,000 readers. It costs about $2,000 per issue just to print and distribute. This website has every issue we have ever produced available–so it has all the same content. It costs about $100 per year.

Here is the problem.

All of the past competition newspapers have historically faced and weather offered arguably lower quality content. Radio, TV & early cable news outlets by their nature offered less time per story and thus lower quality for the end user who wanted all the facts. You can print as many pages in a paper as budget and content allow. You can’t add more minutes into an hour. So the newspapers stayed strong and profitable.

The Internet is completely different. It has all the advantages of print publications (and now even their content) and is portable, usually free and allows for random access to any article rather than having to leaf through a paper or wait through a radio or TV program. It’s an increasingly ADHD consumer’s dream.

So the risk for us all is that if all of the papers go down, who will have the money to pay for the Woodwards and Bernsteins of the future? Who will have the resources to pay a reporter or team of reporters to study and investigate the Walter Reed scandal? That story was around since 2004 but never hit traction until a series of front page stories were printed in the Washington Post after an expensive years-long investigation by their permanent investigations unit–ironically started by Bob Woodward who has the luxury of being able to stay on at the Post for $1 per year.

I’m not arguing that we bail out the industry or that dinosaurs should be kept on life support in perpetutity. I do think that someone will figure this whole mess out and find away to allow the high quality content that some of the big papers have produced to survive in this new age–and help protect democracy in the process.

If there is any outfit that has shown the creativity, intelligence and innovative skills to reform the New York Times–and show the rest of us in the industry the way, it might well be Google.

It certainly won’t be “Wednesday’s Child.”

As for the arguments of the editorial slants of various media outlets, it is nothing new. People on the right see Fox News as “mainstream” and hate the New York Times and MSNBC. People on the left see the inverse. Good. Our diversity makes us stronger. That’s what the first amendment is all about. It’s all about equal access to the system. If Matt Drudge can start the most influential news website in the world single-handedly while sitting in his pajamas in his living room with no advertising then so can you.

Dan McDermott is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Warren County Report Newspaper in Front Royal, VA: editor [at] warrencountyreport [dot] com

Published in: on December 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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