News and views roundup (10/25/10 edition)

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It’s the “Athens or Jerusalem?” edition of the news and views roundup:

  • Newspaper circ declines lessen again (Bill Cromwell, Media Life)

    Only one top-10 weekday paper, the No. 1 Wall Street Journal, saw a year-to-year rise in circulation, and that’s likely in part due to digital subscriptions.

    Meanwhile, several big papers are still seeing double-digit year-to-year declines, including the Houston Chronicle and Newsday, off 10.53 percent and 11.84 percent on weekdays.

  • Chronicle print and online audience continue to shift (Houston Chronicle)
    The press-release-posing-as-news is always entertaining after ABC announces the latest declining Chronicle circulation figures. At least Sweeney/Cohen no longer make a reporter at the business desk stick his name on the spin. Apparently, they don’t allow reader comments either.
  • The 10 most entertaining celebrities on Twitter (Dwight Silverman,
    Dwight Silverman fiddles while Rome burns.
  • Politifact: Whose pants are on fire? (Rick Casey, Houston Chronicle)

    So I’m turning to Politifax, the Pulitzer Prize-winning service that tries diligently to distinguish the truth from the half-truths and the lies from the “pants-on-fire” outrageous lies in today’s political discourse.

    We know Rick Casey is lazy. Just how lazy? “His” opinion column is a rehash of someone else’s opinion, and he doesn’t even get the name right in the citation. He should have at least gone with PolitiFarce, which is the moniker Cory Crow righly bestowed on the farcical effort. Casey is just more dead weight at the sinking ship.

  • Battleground Houston (Corrie MacLaggan, AAS)

    “Bill White was a popular mayor, but he wasn’t as popular as we might have thought,” said Jones, a professor who is chairman of Rice’s political science department. “His popularity was sort of artificially high. Since he left office, it’s diminished as some of the problems of his administration began to emerge.”

    That, and White benefited immensely from following the colossally inept Lee P. Brown.

  • White began contentious “Safe Clear” towing program in Houston (Ben Wear, AAS)

    He pushed the initiative through the council in his first year, creating a situation where 11 towing companies were assigned portions of the city’s freeways and then agreed to respond within six minutes to any disabled car. If the car wasn’t moved within that time, it was towed and the driver had to pay $75 to get it out of hock.

    Negative reaction was instant, particularly to the fee. The towing industry also rebelled, especially those not among the 11 under contract, filing suit in an unsuccessful effort to stop Safe Clear. White and the council soon tweaked the program, providing free tows to as far as a mile off the freeway. Free to the driver, not to the city. A program expected to break even eventually added about $3 million to the city’s annual budget.

    Let’s not forget that one architect of White’s original program admitted that tow companies were willing to pay for their “portions” of the freeway with the expectation that they would generate revenue by confiscating and selling the cars of poor people who were towed and couldn’t pay the fee. One might have expected the state’s media to dig into the Houston record a little earlier (a week of early voting has passed, after all).

  • KTRH & Right-Wing Radio: Can You Predict The Results Of Their Online Polls? (Hair Balls)
    The self-parody continues over at the Village Voice Houston amateur hour.

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