Days after the worst killing spree in U.S. history, ask yourself where you learned about the Virgina Tech rampage. Last on the list would be the newspaper. In my case, a co-worker told me from a Yahoo news update. I checked in with the Drudge Report and Wikipedia. Yes, Wikipedia is more than an encyclopedia now. Fox News and CNN went 48 hours with wall-to-wall coverage. Not even the major TV networks can keep up with today’s non-stop news.
Cho Seung Hui wrote “Ishmael Ax” on his arm, signed his package to NBC “A. Ishmael,” and criticized Christianity in his video message. Do these things make him a jihadist?
The Meaning of Ismail Axe:
CNN is reporting that the words were “Ax Ishmael”
Cho Seung-Hui allegedly mailed a package to NBC News containing “rambling, manifesto-like” written statement as well as several QuickTime video clips of himself talking to the camera, and photographs, such as the above.
The return address of the Express Mail package was from A. Ishmael reported by Michael Savage tonight.
Why did Cho send the package to NBC News? The answer seems simple: Seung wanted a mass news outlet, and NBC News has the most memorable address: 30 Rockefellar Plaza, New York City.
The Washington Post is reporting that the words Ismale Ax were tattooed on Cho’s arm, not written in pen. Further, the Post contends that the spelling was actually Ismale Ax.
For those of you still searching for meaning in this phrase “Ismail Ax,” written in red* ink on Cho Seung-Hui’s arm and also how he signed his infamous note, it starts with the story of Ibrahim’s Ax (Ibrahim = Abraham):
After making sure that nobody was left in town, Ibrahim went towards the temple armed with an axe. Statues of all shapes and sizes were sitting there adorned with decorations. Plates of food were offered to them, but the food was untouched. “Well, why do you not eat? The food is getting cold.” He said to the statues, joking. Then, with his axe, Ibrahim destroyed all the statues except one, the biggest of them all. He hung the axe around its neck and left.
Believing his people were guilty of idoltry, Ibrahim smashed their statues with an ax. Ismail (alternate spelling, Ishmael) was Ibrahim’s son. It was Ismail that Ibrahim wanted to sacrifice for Yahweh (with an ax or knife), and is a prophet in Islam. . .
All at once, the world went searching for the meaning of “Ismail Ax.”
Those two words, written in red ink on one arm of Cho Seung-Hui, the 23-year-old Virginia Tech student suspected of the campus shooting spree, set off a massive Internet hunt by the public Tuesday for clues to what might have motivated the nation’s worst mass killings.
Almost as soon as the Chicago Tribune’s Web site reported that detail, which then was picked up by news organizations around the world, the blogosphere filled with theories about the possible meaning of “Ismail Ax.” Hundreds of bloggers speculated on a link to Islam or to literature; thousands offered their opinions and millions read the commentaries, according to Technorati.com.
And the newspaper business continues to print yesterday’s news, edited by gatekeepters to filter out any PC, offensive items.
Newspaper readers complained about the front page photo of Cho. About 30 to 40 readers complained to the Plain Dealer about its Page One frames of an armed Cho Seung-Hui acting menacingly. “If there’s a pattern to (the reaction) it’s principally women who are repulsed by” the images, says editor Doug Clifton. A Las Vegas Review-Journal reader says: “Shame on the Review-Journal. The media as a whole always displays murderers as heroes, just as they’ve always done. … No wonder the Columbine killers were (Cho’s) heroes.”
But there was a firstorm over the 24/7 endless loop of Cho on NBC News which received the tapes.
The problem is that NBC didn’t play the whole tape. What didnt’ the show? The Ishmael Axe connection? The pure hate of America?
Their editiing of the whole tape in fact polishes Cho’s image!
(Hey, potential mass murderers, NBC News is the place that will make you a hero!)
Lucky for the sick newspaper industry, the blood bath at Virginia Tech covered up the quarterly report of the newspaper industry blood bath.
Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine left this month after 19 years covering the newspaper industry. Last month, Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Christa Sober Quarles dropped coverage of newspaper stocks. John Morton has stopped writing his industry newsletter after 30 years, saying readers were sick of the bad news.
Financial nalysts who cover Gannett Co., Tribune Co. and New York Times Co. are having trouble attracting investors’ attention. U.S. newspapers’ daily circulation fell 30 percent to 43.7 million in September from 62.3 million in 1985, the Audit Bureau says, and the Standard and Poor’s 500 Publishing and Printing Index has dropped 14 percent since April 2004, while the S and P 500 Index gained 29 percent.
The companies probably will post an average 18 percent decline in per-share earnings, said Karl Choi, Fine’s New York- based replacement at Merrill Lynch. Some may tell analysts to reduce their estimates for the second quarter, John Janedis, an analyst at Wachovia Capital Markets LLC, wrote in a note to clients today.
Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher and owner of USA Today, will probably report a 1 percent drop in revenue, according to the average of 11 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Chicago-based Tribune, the second-largest publisher, will report a 5 percent drop. New York Times will probably post a 14 percent decline, according to Bloomberg estimates.
Thomas Weisel’s Sober Quarles, who is based in San Francisco, dropped newspapers to focus on Internet and advertising companies.
Morton and his partner Miles Grove produced their final newsletter on March 15. The issue, titled “Passing the Inflection Point,” said publishers had failed to adapt to the new demands of readers and advertisers.
“It’s pretty clear earnings will be under pressure for a time, probably two to five years,” Morton, who ran the publication out of Silver Spring, Maryland, said in an interview.
Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal
Dow Jones kicks off earnings season today and is likely to be among the few to generate sales growth. The New York-based publisher of the Wall Street Journal will post a 13 percent increase in revenue, according to Bloomberg estimates. The company benefited from the purchase of the remaining 50 percent of the Factiva database business, according to UBS AG analyst Brian Shipman, who is based in New York.
Tribune, publisher of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, reports April 19, a day later than first planned. Earlier this month, Tribune announced plans to go private by selling itself for $8.2 billion to billionaire Zell and the company’s employees. Spokesman Gary Weitman declined to comment on earnings. He said analyst coverage of the company had been “fairly steady” since 2000.
Falling Giant, Gannett
Gannett, based in McLean, Virginia, is expected to report a 12 percent drop in profit to $208 million, or 89 cents a share, based on the Bloomberg estimates. Publishing revenue will likely drop 2.3 percent, Shipman said.
Gannett reports April 19, the same day as Tribune and New York Times, publisher of the namesake newspaper and the Boston Globe. New York Times Co. profit probably fell 17 percent to $28.9 million, according to Bloomberg estimates.
McClatchy, which added 20 Knight Ridder Inc. newspapers in June, will probably report April 24 that revenue doubled. Profit probably fell 18 percent to $22.7 million, or 30 cents a share. Sacramento, California-based McClatchy publishes the Miami Herald and Charlotte Observer.
—By Leon Lazaroff of Bloomberg