Reviewing the past week’s news of the world, I would have to say that a pie in the face gets top billing.

And on Change of Venue Friday, why not pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy some pie. Or, at least, as the Washington Post calls it, the “history of pieing.”

It took awhile to locate a serviceable photo of newspaper monolith Rupert Murdoch getting “pied,” as they say. Ultimately all that is available are stills pulled from the video—which was lackluster to start with.

At the State Bar of Arizona, I spoke with Rick DeBruhl, who happened to be watching Murdoch’s testimony when the sweet confection was schmooshed into Murdoch’s face. He said that at the moment it occurred, “the camera pulled away and focused immediately on the wall.”

Rupert Murdoch prefers scones.

Here are a few conclusions we may draw from this:

  • The British media do indeed take their marching orders from Murdoch.
  • The cameraman forgot his job and rushed over to see what was up.
  • The channel failed to note how much we all seem to enjoy pie-in-the-face shots.

Which takes us back to the Washington Post story and slideshow.

To insert a little culture into what is otherwise a rather low-brow blog post, I point you toward the Kennedy Center. That’s right, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Impressed yet? No? Well, this’ll do it.

The Kennedy Center appears to like casual Change of Venue Friday as much as I do, and they provide a little background on the pie-in-face phenom. As they indicate:

Fatty Arbuckle takes the first pie.

“The first pie-in-the-face is thrown on film: The practice of ‘pieing’ in film got its start in the 1913 movie A Noise from the Deep. Actress Mabel Normand hit co-star Fatty Arbuckle in the face with a pie—no word on what flavor it was.”

Read the whole story here. And down below are a few more photos of the famous meeting a baked good head-on.

Have a great weekend.

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Everett Dirksen

“A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

Illinois senator Everett Dirksen may or may not have uttered that pithy phrase. But either way, it came to mind as I read the news yesterday afternoon that a jury had returned a $10 million verdict against Taser International.

Even in today’s inflated world, I think of that as a lot of money. And so I expected pretty solid coverage of the jury’s decision.

I needed that because I wanted to link to the news on the brand-new Arizona Attorney Magazine News Center. Taser’s an Arizona company, they came up on the short end of a legal case, it all made newsy sense.

But as I searched for a solid story on it, all I came up with were … company press releases.

The first link I saw came from a respected business weekly. The headline about $10 million grabbed me. But the story sounded like Taser’s PR department had penned it. It appeared to be factual, but the entire focus was on the number of jury verdicts they have won, and on the plaintiff arguments that the jury rejected.

Hmm, I thought. There has to be something better out there.

But after about 30 minutes of searching, I’ve come across the same release about 20 times, all posted as news by multiple publishers. I really have to hand it to Taser’s web-optimization people.

This occurred the same day that news-ish mogul Rupert Murdoch was hammered with a cream pie as he testified to Parliament. We here in the States appear to take great pride in the assertion that journalists here would never engage in such phone-hacking behavior.

Rupert Murdoch's hit a bad patch.

I think they’re right. But our web-ified news regime deserves a cream pie of its own. Passing off press releases as news was considered poor form even before the Internet. But the Web has intensified the scramble for content. And corporate PR mills appear happy to fill the gap.

As for linking to the story, I’ve decided to wait 24 hours. I’m sure I’ll find something of value tomorrow. It’ll keep.