Friday, June 6, 2008

'Obama On Your Shoulder'

A funny video by Mary Katharine Ham, as the Sweetheart of the Blogosphere(TM) demonstrates that her dad is the real talent in the Ham family.

See-Dubya points out that this is the last "Hamnation," since MK is leaving to become online editor of the Washington Examiner. This is a tragedy, since the Examiner is like the Bermuda Triangle for Washington journalists -- they disappear into a fog and are never heard from again.

The Examiner is an absolute non-entity in DC journalism. It's a free giveaway paper that commuters might pick up at the Metro station if they don't have change to buy a real newspaer, but nobody important reads it and it never breaks any important news. The last time I saw Bill Sammon's name in print, it was under his picture on a milk carton.

This isn't necessarily the fault of the Examiner staff, but rather of the newspaper's executives, who don't seem to know anything about journalism (a phenomenon that's surprisingly common among newspaper executives). This especially shows in the paper's design.

The Examiner is published in a tabloid format, but the paper is laid out as if it were a broadsheet. If you want to see what a tabloid is supposed to look at, pick up the New York Post or one of the British tabs: Big screaming headlines, lots of photos, a generally sensationalist approach to news. The front cover is devoted to exactly one story, with just a couple of teaser lines to other stories.

The Examiner looks nothing like that. The cover is like a jigsaw puzzle with a cluttery bunch of headlines and photos. And the interior pages of the Examiner look like a student newspaper at a Midwestern community college, with lame headlines and a general tepidity of presentation.

Nor, I think, do the news editors of the Examiner understand how to deploy their resources to maximum effect. You can compare their approach to what the Politico has done in terms of focusing on political news, and the Examiner loses badly by comparison, even though the latter is lavishly funded by the Anschutz fortune.

Anschutz is pouring out money to no good purpose, because the people running the paper don't know what they're doing. Whether or not MK will be able to make any difference in the long run, her new job at the Examiner means she'll lose a lot of visibility in the short term.


  1. As talented as her Dad is, it's her brother in the song.

  2. Really? The credits said the song was written by Jon Ham. Is this her brother, who just happens to share the same first name as her father?