The Solomon Scandals
The D.C. newspaper novel, the media,the Washington area, tech and other surrealism: David Rothman at large

Ohio National Guardmen killed Bill Schroeder, an ex-Eagle Scout, 46 years ago today, at Kent State University. As a reporter for The Lorain Journal, his hometown daily, I covered the death of this ROTC cadet. Do you realize what America was like back then? People actually phoned up our factory-town newspaper and praised the guardsmen […]

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How could I have written a newspaper novel like The Solomon Scandals without a chain-smoking editor? Kamikaze levels of tobacco and booze use helped certify newsroom denizens as manly risk-takers several decades ago, the time period of Scandals. Women were part of the scene by the 1970s, but they tended not to partake with such […]

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What counts more for Web-era writers of news or opinion? Coming up with snappy, credible, well-researched articles? Or improving dialogues with readers, in the best tradition of the Internet’s interactivity? Short of cloning themselves or pulling off a Philip K. Dick android act, writers for many of the most popular news sites lack enough time for […]

Did Harry Truman really say, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”? Or maybe “buy a dog”? In The Solomon Scandals, an eloquent Afghan named Thackeray II quotes that line in a Truman act at the Cosmos Club. But he gets corrected by Prof. Rebecca Kitiona-Fenton, author of the foreword and afterword […]

Does the Washington Post want to be an opinion rag for the rich or serve Washingtonians and Americans as a whole? Never mind the old adage that newspapers should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Here’s one indication that the Post is already a right-wing house organ on certain occasions. The Post published wacky […]

Might American newspapers and journalistic Web sites be too quiet these days? Here I’m not talking about silence on Afghanistan or the budget deficit. I mean the rooms—the amount of noise or lack of it.

Late to the hyperlocal series in the Solomon Scandals blog? In reverse order, here’s a list of key parts. —How hyperlocal journalism can help big media grow closer to local communities, just posted today. —TBD D.C.-area news site not a steady riser in early Alexa stats. But let’s wait for the full story. —Crisp, lively […]

Update: Other hyperlocal-related posts here. I killed my Washington Post subscription several years ago, one of millions of Americans to give up on printed newspapers. My Reason #1 was the trash factor. But many readers have other, less friendly explanations. More than a few trust the press about as much as they do HMOs, banks […]

Here’s a question that the debut of TBD.com, the new hyperlocal site written up in Howard Kurtz’s media column today, makes all the more timely. Just when should a reputable Web site—or maybe even a paper newspaper—publish rumors? TBD’s people have expressed a strong interest in guiding readers to the truth; and the operation is […]

A Washington Post alum enjoys The Solomon Scandals blog but wonders why the devil I use “L Street” when referring to the Post. After all, isn’t the paper at 1150 15th Street, N.W.? Well, once upon a time, the Post’s official address was in fact 1515 L Street. And, maybe in tribute to Londoners’ old […]

Update, Nov. 5, 2010: I’ve disabled the iPad mode for the moment but will probably bring it back when I have more time to experiment. I still love the idea. – D.R. Own an iPad? Go to this post if you’re not reading it on your Pad already. In iPad-style splendor, you can see an overview of […]

The Patch neighborhood news network—the screenshot’s from a New Jersey site—is coming soon to some Virginia and Maryland suburbs. Yet another sign that the Washington Post needs to get more serious about hyperlocal? And how about the growth of another hyperlocal network, Examiner.com? Or the latest book on the Post, which, although a “valentine” on […]

My thoughts on hyperlocal news—prompted by the forthcoming launch of TBD, the Web and TV combo for the D.C. area—have drawn visits from some powerful news organizations. While they’re at it, perhaps they can check out A national information stimulus plan: How iPad-style tablets could help educate millions and trim bureaucracy—not just be techno toys […]

Update, July 19: This should probably be online by 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight tonight. Lots to say! – D.R. Hey, did you think I’d stop at How TBD could use hyperlocal journalism to kick the Washington Post’s butt? The strategy ideas for the Post will appear here over the weekend or on Monday. The same […]

Update, Aug. 19: TBD’s current coverage is a long way from what I propose below. The Alexa Web traffic measurement service is hardly scientific, and besides, TBD has just started up; but if the service on the mark, the new site is far from an instant success. I lack access to TBD’s internal stats. – […]

You already know if you’ve been following the Solomon Scandals blog. My name is David, I’m a newsaholic, and I’m cheering for the TBD news startup to thrive here in the Washington area. But will topics like sports and food elbow aside civic matters at times because of the personal passions of TBD’s affiliate bloggers? […]

Update, July 2: Here, including further comments from TBD. Thanks for listening. – D.R. The TBD Web startup for local news in the D.C. area has added Allergy Life in Loudoun, U Street Girl, Rockville Central and other blogs, pushing the number of network affiliates past 70. But I’m still not yet seeing enough commitment […]

I know—I’m a few days behind on the Helen Thomas controversy—but I wanted to reflect. This was a little close to home. I respected the maverick side of Ms. Thomas even if her White House questions were often activist rather than journalistic. At one point I  tried to see if she’d read Scandals for a […]

Washington is full of people telling others how to live their lives or at least wishing they could. Same for the media world. I call it the Mink Stole Ladies Syndrome, based on a party scene in The Solomon Scandals from the D.C. of several decades ago. Sally Sterling Quinn, with her judgmental dissections of […]

Mediaite has it right. Halfhearted measures like a kind-of local blog network are not enough to protect the Washington Post’s domination of D.C.-area news and opinion. The  Post’s new blogger network is just a start and merely one measure; but it’s still a far cry from what I’d do in L Street’s place. Why no […]

Update, 1:47 p.m.: Post rival’s local news strategy—a Poynter Institute item. – D.R. My online friend Beth Solomon, publisher of TheGeorgetownDish and absolutely no relative of the Sy Solomon in my newspaper novel, got robbed. A thief carried off Beth’s purse, checkbook, credit cards, wallet, car keys, iPhone, Blackberry, everything, after she left her car […]

Virginia, where the governor honored "Confederate History Month" without at first even acknowledging the evils of slavery, has another winner on its hands. She’s Marsha Garst, Commonwealth’s attorney for Rockingham County, who let police raid the newsroom of a student newspaper and carry off hundreds of unpublished photos of alleged riot participants at James Madison […]

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Face it. Human journalists have flaws, and I don’t simply mean typos and other atrocities in print and online. Pity female reporters. Just now I read on Twitter that editors should look around the office, concede the obvious and probably assign all fashion stories to freelancers (a rather unfair gibe if you factor in staff […]

Remember my optimism about Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, the play by the Engel twins, based on the life of the uppity liberal Texas columnist who fondly gave George Bush the nickname of “Shrub”? So far, the write-ups are upbeat, and I predict that R.H.P. will make it to Broadway—aided by […]