Off the Media: The Human Interest Slog

eason_jordan_otm.jpgAhhhh, NOW we know what makes for a good cable news story. It has to be “human interest,” which to On the Media co-host Bob Garfield means “aberrant, ongoing and unresolved.” But when he says a story like the Mt. Hood climber search “affects nobody but the principles,” is he forgetting the taxpayer money spent on the rescue efforts? Besides, we’ve heard news people justify this kind of coverage as cautionary tales. (“Remember, when you’re mountain climbing, not to die a horrible death by getting lost …”) OK, sure, those stories push more “real” news aside. But isn’t that what the news business has been about since before the penny-paper days of the 19th Century?

Impressively for a holiday week (check out the disharmonious “Fa la la la la” at 52:46 on the podcast), they managed to put a show together with no retreads of previous stuff. Co-host Brooke Gladstone interviews Eason Jordan (pictured) about his new “Iraq Slogger” venture — essentially a newswire devoted solely to Iraq that’s already, after weeks in existence, gotten about 500,000 pageviews and some 100,000 visitors, Jordan tells FishbowlNY. OTM covered half of the new business.

Slogger is part of Praedict, a company funded by Jordan, “Dangerous Places” author Robert Young Pelton and what Jordan calls “angel investors.” Praedict’s other main product is Iraq Safety Net, a subscription service that will cost thousands of dollars per month, and be pitched to companies, NGOs and the like, which already spend millions, in aggregate, to try to keep their people in Iraq safe. Though security is often the largest single expense for organizations operating in Iraq, “There’s really not a very good supply of information about safety and security,” Jordan says.

Iraq Safety Net, when it launches in two-to-three months will provide info such as the what roads are safest, what areas are the most dicey and so-on. Jordan, with a hitch in his voice, tells of two CNN employees who were killed on the ground in Iraq when he was CNN news chief who would likely be alive today if Jordan had had better information. Authorities knew the road they were on was rife with attacks on foreigners, he says, but the journalists traveling it didn’t.