Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

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America’s crankiest, twangiest voice has silenced by a breast cancer that was first diagnosed in 1999. Columnist Molly Ivins, shown above, was born in California but raised in “the tony River Oaks section of Houston” according to a profile that Austin American Statesman reporter W. Gardner Selby wrote shortly before her death.

Mike Blackman, a former editor with the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram, reveals something about her personality and professional habits in a retrospective about his decision to hire her in the early 1990s, by which time she already had a big enough name in Texas to make editors fear they might not be able to handle her 10-gallon ego.

Blackman, who now teaches journalism, writes about editing out what I infer to be the word “dildo” from her first column for what was then his paper. Here is a sanitized snippet of Ivins’ first coumn for Fort Worth:

“…Should you happen to contravene a law made by the only politicians we’ve got, this too will become a matter of some moment to you. For example, if you happen to possess six or more phallic sex toys, you are a felon under Texas law. In their boundless wisdom, our solons decided that five or fewer of the devices make you a mere hobbyist.”

Slackman tells how he gradually introduced her to local political leaders including Richard Greene, who he describes as: “Mr. Republican himself — think really tight underwear. As conservative as the political assembly line ever produced. But a straight shooter and good guy.” But despite the difference in their politics, he writes, Ivins charmed Greene who told the former editor that he never forgot his 20-minute meeting with her. Said Greene:  “She helped the whole country understand Texans.”

Oh say can you see? “The Eiffel Tower’s 20,000 flashing lights will go dark for five minutes Thursday evening, hours before scientists and officials unveil a long-awaited report on global warming,” the Associated Press reports. It’s a remarkable monument and its darkening will surely dramatize the Parisian skyline. But will this gesture be visible in the United States and Australia which stand out as “the two major countries (which) have signed the (Kyoto) Protocol but are not intending to ratify it.”

Size matters: Billboard Magazine reports that independent music labels think they got the stiffed by YouTube. “Anyone who is not a major is not happy with the terms,” a source at a British indie told the magazine. The article also quoted Peter Gordon, Thirsty Ear founder and VP of WIN as saying: “The indies represent 30% of the worldwide marketplace.” So can the indies of the world unite? Writers take note. By the way, thanks to Paid Content for pointing to this item.

WillPay4News: This from Poynter: Dow Jones reported a 5.6 percent year-over-year increase in paid subscriptions to WSJ.com, a brand that continues to buck the free content trend.

Back to the future? Agence France Presse’s Nicholas Chipperfield writes the charming tale out of Stockholm, about what purports to have been the world’s oldest newspaper giving up print to go to an all online presentation. Looking back, Chipperfield writes:

“(Swedish) Queen Christina and her chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, started the paper in 1645 . . . (and) eventually broadened (its) international and domestic news coverage, publishing weather observations, poetry and serialized novels as well, but never photographs or advertisements. As the number of newspapers multiplied, (it) reduced its news content and by the early 1900s was no longer the newspaper of reference in Sweden. In 1978, the paper adopted the booklet format, and the final print version had a circulation of only 1,500 subscribers.”

Now hold that thought and if you haven’t already seen this, go back and view the EPIC video that purports to be a documentary about how the Internet colossus Googlezon crushes the New York Times and forces it to become a high-priced, paid newsletter.