am journal express dies

Talk about sour grapes. A few months ago, two new free daily “newspapers” launched in Dallas: the awkwardly named A.M. Journal Express (founded by an ex-Dallas Morning News exec) and Quick (published by the DMN itself).
They were pretty similar: Both were attempts to attract rushed non-readers with a speedy summary of the day’s news. Quick was more targeted at younger (18-34) readers, was flashier, and did a better job on pop culture and entertainment. It also had one big edge: It could repurpose DMN stories, which made up most of Quick’s content and gave it much better local coverage.
The A.M. Journal Express wasn’t as attractive (although it did feel more like a newspaper than Quick’s magaziney style). It had next to zero local reporting; what little it did came from the AP wire or from its staff of a couple reporters. (On the Google cache of Friday’s AMJE, there are 20 stories listed. Only one is written by an AMJE reporter — the rest are all wire. Even the Dallas Mavericks playoff stories are wire.)
Plus, Quick had the financial resources of a major media corporation behind it. A.M. Journal Express was launched by American Consolidated Media, which owns a few small community papers.
Anyway, you can see why Quick might have a few advantages in the marketplace. And it’s questionable whether a city like Dallas could support one of these minipapers — much less two of them. (It’s primarily a distribution question — without home delivery, free papers really only work in markets with lots of people using public transit, whose stations can serve as distribution points and whose buses/trains can serve as reading time. Dallas is a freeway town all the way.)
So it’s not surprising to anyone that A.M. Journal Express was apparently shut down today. (Their web site is already dead.)
I had a lengthy post written here about the absurdity of what AMJE CEO Jeremy Halbreich claimed were the causes of his publication’s demise. (He seems to blame a brutal, brown-shirted phalanx of Belo thugs roaming the streets of Dallas, dealing ink-stained injustice to anyone who dares to cross its path.) But then I realized it would be linked by the D Magazine blog, and I don’t want the Dallas media pub. So I think I’ll stick to my general policy of avoiding DMN commentary here.
All I’ll say is this: Dallasites, did you know any devoted A.M. Journal Express readers? I’d guess no. There’s your reason, Jeremy.
(Full disclosure: I led the initial concept design team for what would become Quick over a year ago.)

the hempstead conspiracy

Anil points to this list, which claims to rank the 100 largest cities in the United States by population.
Scanning the list brings up all the cities you’d expect, in roughly the order you’d expect (New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston, etc.), until you get to No. 14: Hempstead, New York, population 755,924.
Hempstead, New York?
I’ve never heard of Hempstead. Growing up, I was a geography geek. (Aside: Growing up, I was every kind of geek. But I was, nonetheless, a geography geek.) I used to read the population tables in the World Almanac for fun. I remember that New Orleans was just a hair ahead of Jacksonville in the 1980 census, and I remember thinking it was unfair that Jacksonville was 759.7 square miles in size, versus only 199.4 square miles for New Orleans. It was like Jacksonville was cheating or something. But the point is that I paid attention to city population counts. I knew my Rochester from my Raleigh and Richmond, my St. Paul from my St. Petersburg and St. Louis.
And I’ve never heard of Hempstead. Google tells me it’s a Long Island suburb, home of Hofstra. How could I have missed it all these years?
But…here’s a World Almanac list of the 10 largest cities in New York according to the 2000 census. NYC, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers — all represented. But Hempstead is nowhere to be found! The 10th-biggest city on the list is wussy Utica, population 60,651 — less than a tenth of what Hempstead claims. And yet the big H is unrepresented.
And…here’s a list of the largest 243 cities in the country, direct from the U.S. Census Bureau. Again, no Hempstead!
My keen journalistic spidey sense is tingling! Perhaps Hempstead doesn’t exist! Perhaps it is a figment of some warped census-taker’s imagination! Perhaps Hempstead is where Osama is hiding!
Further evidence: this site, which claims Hempstead has only 56,000 residents.
Sadly, this PDF clears it up somewhat. Apparently, NYC, Buffalo, Rochester, etc. are counted as cities by the census bureau, while Hempstead is just a “town.” A 755,000-person “town.” (Brookhaven, Islip, Oyster Bay, and North Hempstead are all also alleged “towns” with 200,000-plus people.) So I guess, for some reason, towns like Hempstead don’t count for census ranking purposes. Why that is I couldn’t guess. I mean, it’s not unincorporated — it has a town government and everything.
In any event, I think al-Qaeda is involved.

white picket fence, 2.x children

The inflation of the American dream:
“I don’t want kids. I don’t want 2.1 children and a white picket fence and a mini-van. I like my life how it is. Still…”
“But then they managed to do it anyway, and they got married in a big, gay church and then they all lived happily ever after in a house with a white picket fence, a minivan, and 2.2 children…god please just let it end now please please please… WHY???”
“Asian Man: You will grow up to have 2.3 children, live behind a white picket fence and drive two domestic cars that get bad gas mileage. Twinkie Boy: Yes. I will.”
“We usually remember the 50s as the movies present it, America

katc does french weather

Elise,’s official ambassador to the wild and woolly world of TV news, points out this tale of Cajun revitalization:
LAFAYETTE, La. — It’s not unusual to hear Cajun French spoken in restaurants and shops, or at local gatherings. But now, residents can hear the language on their nightly news, too.
KATC-TV has begun airing a summary of its weather forecast in Cajun French at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. each weeknight…
“People still aren’t using it as much as they should be, but if we want our children to speak French, this is what we have to do,” [Lucille Briscoe, who reads the French weather] said. “We have to keep speaking it and practicing.”

It’s a nice blow for the language, but it’s also a response to market forces — there are still a lot of old folks around who don’t speak English. (My great-grandmother died in 1988 and didn’t speak a word of it.)
One thing the article doesn’t mention: KATC isn’t the first local station to pursue French-speaking viewers. For over 40 years, most early-bird Cajuns have started the day with Passe Partout, the morning show on KLFY. While I doubt there’s as much French content as there used to be, they do still broadcast a Catholic rosary in French at 5 a.m. and do the news in French at 5:30.
When I was younger, Passe Partout used to feature a lot of live Cajun music — no idea if they still do. Jim Olivier became a minor local legend for his long stint on Passe Partout; Bob Moore, who also runs Acadian Village, handles the Francophone duties now.
Bonus KATC knowledge: The station is generally credited with inventing the term “Acadiana” to describe Cajun country.

txcn preview

FYI, I’ll be on TXCN all evening talking about testing. Should be on the front page tomorrow morning, too. (Actually, all day. We haven’t put out an afternoon edition in a looong, long time.)