Monday, April 30, 2007

Must have been a slow news day...

Well my title to this entry says it all. If you look at today's front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, you obviously see and enormous centerpiece that spans the entire length of the page. The purpose behind the centerpiece? It's not a story. It's a giant and colorful quiz that asks the reader to match each presidential candidate with each of their alternate career choices. It's different and there is supposedly a story to go with the centerpiece on the inside pages, but did it really need that much space on the front page? The concept feels much more like something that would randomly appear on the inside pages of a magazine, but not on the front page of a newspaper. Just some quick thoughts.

Thought this was pretty funny

The Demographics of American Newspapers:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.
2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.
3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.
4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.
5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.
6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.
7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.
8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.
9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.
10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country . . . or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.
11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

Playoff Fever

The news I took in this weekend, and primarily yesteday, was focused entirely on the NBA playoffs. For those sports fans in the class, you have some idea of the circus that has become of the series between the Dallas Mavericks/Golden State Warriors series. This short entry has to do with a column that was written about Golden State's victory last night that gave them a 3-1 lead in the series.

"The first sign, though, that the Mavs had escaped whatever San Francisco fog enveloped them in Game 3? Nowitzki breaking out his air guitar courtside.
The Warriors, trying to keep the raucous pregame vibe going, played AC/DC's "Thunderstruck," as the players waited for someone in the TNT truck to radio the game ops director to notify the referees to motion the players out to midcourt. (Over-production, thy name is NBA playoffs.)
Nowitzki, who can rock the real six-string deal, folded down his socks and then abruptly struck an imaginary chord with a force that would've made Pete Townshend proud. The same morose German who unnecessarily painted his team into a corner by declaring Game 4 akin to "a Game 7," was, for a moment, as loose as Jack Black.
(Here's my point on the do-or-die reference: you can play as if it is, you just don't say it -- because, if you're the No. 1 seed playing No. 8, you should believe you can still come back from 3-1 down, as Phoenix did last year.)"

I see where Ric Bucher, the writer of this column, was trying to go with this, but he made a pretty bad comparison with his reference to "making Pete Townshend proud." After all, Townshend was the guitar player for The Who, and not AC/DC. Some editor should have switched in Angus Young, the actual player behind the song mentioned.

And on one more note, the passage in paranthesis is misleading as well. He references that last year Phoenix overcame this exact deficit that the Mavs face now, but it reads that Phoenix was the No. 1 seed and the Lakers were the No. 8 sead last year. Phoenix was actually the No. 2 seed and the Lakers were the No. 7.

We all make mistakes

It's good to know that even reporters at The New York Times are human and make errors from time to time. In fact, they make a lot more errors than I'd bet most people expect. So below is a link to the online corrections page for the Times. It's kind of interesting to look at and see that even Times can publish a misspelling of Boris Yeltsin's wife's name. Another interesting thing, the publish date on this particular page is today, but some of the mistakes corrected are nearly 2 weeks old. It kind of proves that in this profession, we are alotted occasional mistakes but there is no excuse for not owning up to and apologizing for those mistakes.

Kinda fresh

This was just a layout that caught my eye when I was browsing through newseum. The paper is the Sunday Telegram out of Massachusetts and the actual story is about the renovations that are being made to movie theaters around the state. I just liked the idea of adding a curtain as a border to the right and top of the story.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Two Days Later

Two days after the Va. Tech shooting, The Virginian-Pilot decided to dedicate their entire front page to the names of the victims and (in most cases) one or two details about each. The page is very well done, and I'm certain the community appreciated it. In any case, on one message board the design started a bit of a conversation about whether the paper would sell well on the racks and whether it really advances the story. Generally, I'd say it's a wonderful service to the community, and if the paper's newsstand sale were a bit sluggish, so be it. Still, I think the page is pretty eye-catching, so I'm sure that wasn't a problem. The title of the post is linked to a discussion board where one VP designer explained how the page came together. It's an interesting little bit of extra insight.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The final exam is ready for you!

Well, part 1, anyway. It's in our 413thor folder on the J-server.

Them headlines are tricky, pt. 2

Um, yeah. None of this either. It always helps to make sure your teammates are on task. Here is someone explaining how it all happened. Blast those tricky drop systems!

"Well, I need to lead with this, friends.

I am currently on vacation and already feel like I had left my colleagues to battle this volleyball beast without one of their front-line soldiers. ... But more importantly, I want to be careful in this post so as to respect the circumstances surrounding this mistake, and not jump to conclusions.

With that setup, here's the story.

We have four editions per night, and we are paginated in Harris. And for archiving purposes, each page must be unique to its edition.

In other words, when the first edition is finished, all its pages are copied over and given second edition names. You make a change on a first edition page after that deadline, and it just sits there.

That's the context, so here's now the mistake happened:

The design on this page, with dummy text, wrapped up at roughly 5 p.m.

The page was sent for the first edition with the mistake, at roughly 6:45 p.m. The dummy text had not been replaced with the actual headlines/cutlines.

The first editions came off the presses, the mistakes were caught and fixed for the second edition. A correct page was proofed and sent for second edition at 11:10 p.m. The desk breathed a collective sigh of relief. Not great to have such a glaring error in the first edition, but that's 10,000 papers and we circulate 200,000.

* But here's where it went from bad-but-ok to bad-to-worse:

SOME TIME BEFORE THE FIXES HAD BEEN MADE TO THE SECOND EDITION, the incorrect page from earlier was copied over to the third edition in our Harris Newsmaker pagination system.

The third edition deadline (12:35) came, and the mistake page got sent blindly. Then the fourth and final/metro edition deadline (1:45) came, and the mistake page was sent blindly.

If you're keeping score, that's an amazing chain of mistakes:

* Dummy text typed into story.
* Headlines not updated for first edition
* Mistake page copied to later editions too soon; corrections negated for all but one edition (second).
* Third and fourth editions not proofed, and earlies off the presses weren't proofed, as the assumption was the mistake had been taken care of by 11:10.

On our desk (designers design pages with dummy text; editors write headlines and cutlines separately; paginators -- not designers -- flow in the correct text, headlines and cutlines; proofers check pages) it's impossible to point this to one person. A lot had to happen.

Cast tritely, it's a lesson in proofing.

Cast with humanity in the equation, it's a lesson in communication, in fallibility, in understanding how a system works and a reminder that everyone has a role in preserving accuracy."

Them headlines are tricky

We've been talking about heds a lot lately, especially the bad ones. The following circled around the copy desk at the Republic a while ago. Here's a prime example of what not to write. In this instance, the hed was so bad it didn't just merit a correction, it needed a full-blown apology from the big kahuna editor.

Here's an apology from the Managing Editor of the Daily Tribune in Cartersville, Georgia:


" I apologize for shoddy journalism

Joe Hiett
Managing Editor
Published March 27, 2007 10:58 PM CDT

It is inexcusable.

The headline on the lead article in Tuesday's issue of The Daily Tribune news is a poor example of journalism, and the fault is entirely mine.

I have been in this business for almost 35 years and written thousands of headlines, but that is almost certainly the one that embarrasses me the most. I could try to offer excuses but won't because I cannot.

I do appreciate the phone calls and e-mails we have received, those who were indignant and angry and those who think the incident laughable. I'm glad you expect better from us and thankful you want to hold us to a higher standard. We want to be held to a high standard.

We want our articles to be timely, accurate, fair and well-written. Two or three out of four in our estimation isn't good enough. We want to meet all four criteria whenever we possibly can. At times, we will sacrifice timeliness to try to ensure we are accurate, but certainly we want to be something a grammar teacher can use.

We are missing that mark too often, and I tell you we are striving to do better, much better.

We do have problems at times with information given to us that should be/must be rewritten to conform to good writing standards. It is our responsibility to retain the accuracy of that information and provide it to you in good quality writing.

Headlines, especially front page headlines, are obviously the first thing people read. We try to make them a "hook" to get people to read the stories, offering enough to be interesting but not telling the entire story.

That's one thing that made the headline in Tuesday's issue so bad. It was our lead headline so it was the one that "carried" that issue. It was a crime story so a higher percentage of you would be reading it. We know that from tests and surveys. It was the one seen in the news racks or when picked up by subscribers.

We do have Associated Press style manuals, we do have spell check on our computers (albeit not very advanced programs), but we do not have a grammar check in our programs. We do usually proof our articles by at least two people prior to print. From now on, we'll also try to have people looking at headlines for accuracy and form.

Our business puts its product in print and our thousands of subscribers and single-copy purchasers can hold it, look at it, analyze it and come back to it hours later, days later, even years later. That makes the print media unique. It also makes it even more mandatory that accuracy be maintained.

Keep holding us to account. By doing that, you will help make us better.

Joe Hiett is managing editor of The Daily Tribune News."

Monday, April 23, 2007

David Halberstam

Very sad to hear that one of my favorite people in the world, author David Halberstam died today. Halberstam's interests -- baseball, politics and history -- seemed to mirror my own, and I was very much looking forward to his upcoming book about the Korean War due this fall. He was a correspondent for the NY Times during the Vietnam War, alienating the Pentagon with his skeptical reports that called into question overly rosy U.S. assessments of ground conditions there. His work for the Times laid the groundwork for perhaps his best known book, "The Best and the Brightest," a comprehensive tale of failed leadership as American involvement in southeast Asia deepened. He wrote over 20 books, and each one seemed to be better than the one preceding it.

What? Prom is expensive?

The Bakersfield Californian ususally has some interesting design, which is why I was disappointed to see this centerpiece about the prom. There are so many reasons why I think this centerpiece is ridiculous. First, as you can see there is only one paragraph and then the rest of the story is bullet points about how much different aspects of the prom costs - corsages, hair, tickets, etc. - so there's no actual story here. Second, I'm kind of glad there is no story, because don't they do this kind of thing ever year? "Wow, prom is getting more expensive!" has been a story in just about every newspaper since the beginning of's not news. It's not even lighthearted news. Parents and students (that's right, students...not pupils :) ) already know how expensive prom is, and those who are beyond high school years no longer care.

Next, the paragraph in this story actually says: ..."Some students drive themselves, dine on fast food and borrow dresses to save cash. Others empty their designer wallets and purses to make sure they have the hottest dresses, rides and accessories. Here's a look at what some Kern County students are spending this prom season."

Don't even get me started...first off, it makes it seem like only the rich, snobby kids, those with "designer wallets and purses" spend a lot on prom, so there's definitely a class bias here. Second, this plays on what we talked about in class today about generalizations..."some" students do this, while "some" do this, here's what "some" do. So we don't actually get an idea of how many students are spending this much, less than this, or more.

Last but not least, look at the story below this centerpiece, "School throws first integrated prom." Now that's a story! I didn't even realize some schools didn't have integrated proms. There's an opportunity for some great photos and a controversial story that is far newsier than this nonsensical fluff about how much prom costs. I sound too bitter? Maybe it's because I'm jealous of all the frilly dresses...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Assignment Zero

Assignment Zero, a new collaborative reporting Web site, takes citizen journalism/blogging to a new level. This new site encourages and allows anyone who is interested to get involved with reporting various stories. Anyone who's interested can sign up and either join a group topic, where they can input facts/quotes etc. and others do the same, or a closed topic where they can apply with a site editor to do a specific interview.

I think the end goal is for the editors to at some point put all the info and interviews together and write a collaborative story. But because the site itself is EXTREMELY confusing - not user friendly at all - I'm not quite sure how they expect all these stories to come together. After all, since they can't rely on the credibility of any of their sources, won't editors have to do extensive fact-checking on every piece of information? Although the idea of taking citizen journalism to this level is intriguing, it doesn't seem practical.

Not to mention, how many people do you know who would voluntarily report stories without pay or credit for their work? It seems like a stretch to me...
Anyway, it should be interesting to see where this project goes.

Here's a New York Times article about the site from a month ago:

Pushing the limit

Sorry for the barrage of disturbing images. I was looking through Newseum today and was shocked to see the way that the news about the Virginia Tech killer's information sent to NBC was presented on the front page of three international publications. Now granted, these three publications are tabloids, so they're definitely trying to be more sensational in nature than more reputable publications. But still, I looked through all the tabloids in the U.S. as well, and not a single one of them published any pictures of the killer on the front page - all ran some sort of hommages to the victims or pictures relating to the backlash AGAINST the NBC releasing the pictures/video of the killer. So why would these three papers - The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), The West Australian (Perth, Australia), and Kleine Zeitung - Klagenfurt (Klagenfurt, Austria) - think it's OK to publish these very disturbing pictures on the front page? I understand that they're somewhat removed from the shootings, but still - isn't there a line of decency that's cleary being crossed here? I wonder if any of these publications will experience backlash, if if they're too far removed from the tragedy in the U.S. for anyone to care. To me, it just seems like journalism at its worst.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Could be nothing

No doubt everyone in this class has at least heard of the onion and I'm willing to bet that at least a few of you are regular readers of the site. The irreverent satire can be hilarious, but there are definitely times when sites like this may cross the line.

Above is a link to a column that was posted yesterday. There is likely no correlation to the shootings which took place on monday, but in the wake of that tragedy something about this column feels a little off.

It is titled, "When I die, I'm going to haunt the f--- out of you people." For people who find such titles humorous (like myself) it immediately looked like a must read. That was until I read the first line of the column which said, "As long as I can remember, my life has been a constant stream of insults, condescension, and humiliation at the hands of you people. I may be too cowardly and weak to do anything about it in this lifetime, but I promise I'll have my revenge just the same." If you read the rest of the column, it pretty much follows this premise that when this writer, Bryon Roth, dies he is going to haunt all of those who have mistreated him so badly over the years.

Now I know nothing of Roth, and I know just as much about the context in which he was inspired to write this column. But coming just 2 days after yet another troubled (to say the least) young student decides to go on a rampage, to make up for all the times he or she has felt wronged by society, this piece feels a little sour. What I drew from it was that Roth was really mocking anyone who feels they have been mistreated as badly as they claim. He wrote, "You probably won't even remember me by then. But that won't save you. I'll remember you to my dying day and beyond, and I'll spend my entire afterlife making what remains of your life a living hell."

Like I said, there may be no relation at all, but if there is I definitely think this column went a little far... even for the onion.

400 copy editors loose in Miami

The convention is offering sessions in three tracks, one of which is online editing. The pic is from my morning session (Intro), which you can read about on the conference blog. The reporter (an editor from the Washington Post) even uploaded the video I showed. I sat in on a session about blogging -- Nicole Stockdale of the Dallas Morning News (A Capital Idea) and Doug Fisher (Common Sense Journalism) led that one and whipped up a bit of fervor for keeping journalistic standards alive in blogs. Tonight there's the opening reception. Tomorrow, "Jimmy's World" comes up for analysis by the editor who wrote the New York Times Style Book (William Connelly) and I get to do another round of "online editing."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mixed emotions

I'm not sure how I feel about this cover picture and headline, which the Tampa Bay Times ran. Well, that uncertainty isn't completely true, but moving on, the red box with type on this page reads "Virginia Tech officials and police thought a gunman had fled after killing two students. He hadn't. Two hours later, 30 more people were to die."

I think it really goes beyond an objective effort to point out that the police on campus could have had a much better response to the shootings. This kind of page, to me at least, points the finger directly at the campus police and says, "Look what your ignorance has done. Everything about this shooting is your fault." Granted, this may well be an accurate claim when adequate investigation has been given to why it took the police so long, but this is not the kind of head (at least I feel) that should be run the same day the shooting took place. Plus this paper chose to pair this headline with a photo in which all of the officers faces are visible. There's no context to where these officers were actually running or what their assignments were in the area.

There will be plenty of time for that sort of finger pointing in the days and weeks to come. But for the immediate addressing of this story, I liked the pages more that showed sorrow and compassion over the tragedy that took place. I didn't like pages like this, or the large number of papers that ran sensational headlines like "MASSACRE" or "CARNAGE."

Before I get to a Va. Tech entry

My last entry talked about what the possible consequences of publishing certain quotes could be. Well today, the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern, suspended referee Joey Crawford indefinitely based on Sunday's incident, comments made by Crawford in the story and those comments made concerning Crawford by Spurs center Tim Duncan. I found it interesting.

MSN Stumbles Onto Something Good is my default homepage, so I usually browse headlines there first. They stumbled onto something really helpful in my mind by highlighting all the running updates to the Virginia Tech story. Now, frequent users like me know what we've already read and what's the fresh stuff. Making it easy on users is always a very good thing.

When Race Plays a Role

One thing that I found particularly interesting about the way the media covered the Va. Tech shootings is how quickly reporters jumped on the fact the shooter was "Asian." In several of the stories I saw online, it was explicitly stated that the shooter had been identified as an "Asian." This really confused me. I thought a lot about our conversations in class and then also Professor McGuire's other assigned readings for my Media Ethics course. Essentially, I came to the conclusion that this story was not one in which race was important, and furthermore, a descriptor such as "Asian" really tells us very little about the gunman. "Asian" can mean several things, just as "Caucasian" or "Hispanic" can. Essentially the term does nothing to clarify the situation for the reader. Also, since the shooter had committed suicide, it can't be argued the description was used to warn people. Even then there's an argument that the term is to vague to be of any real help.

With all of this in mind, it came as very little surprise to me that the Asian American Journalists Association is urging people to avoid using the racial identifier. Today, we know his identity, so it's even less essential. We have pictures, we have a name, let's use a description that doesn't involve his race. A memo (linked above) released by the association says:

"As coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting continues to unfold, AAJA urges all media to avoid using racial identifiers unless there is a compelling or germane reason. There is no evidence at this early point that the race or ethnicity of the suspected gunman has anything to do with the incident, and to include such mention serves only to unfairly portray an entire people."

There are others who disagree, obviously. The think his race should be mentioned. Clearly, I disagree, but I can see both points of view.

Designing for a Massacre

I was interested to see today how papers nationwide covered the shootings at Va. Tech. I wasn't disappointed. Pretty much everyone led with the news (an obvious choice), but the amount of play generally varied. My favorites were Bakersfield and The VP (of course).

Both of them really pushed design today, but in a very responsible and, I think, tasteful way. This tragedy is huge and their design tells you that. Their headlines ("Devastated" and "Massacre") are similar in that they don't say a whole bunch, but they really draw you in. Both pictures are well chosen, too. The BC goes with something a bit more personal: prayers; the VP, on the other hand, goes straight to the action. Either way they've caught my attention.

In terms of coverage, the most original story goes to the LA Times for their feature on how students stayed connected during the whole ordeal through networking sites and the Internet. Brilliant.

The lede stories would be interesting to examine, too. Last night, I didn't really want to print the AP story that led with "In the U.S. deadliest shooting ... " because I felt most readers would have gotten that much. Luckily late last night we got a new, better written piece that was less breaking news and better written (lots of details, personal experiences, etc.).

Also, it should be noted that the student paper at Va. Tech is doing an incredible job. Their coverage almost surpasses anything else I've seen. Even with their server down, they have this story covered from about six or seven different angles. Not to mention they have video and photos to boot. If you have the time, check them out at Right now their "Today's Front Page" link doesn't seem to be working, but I'm hoping they get it up and running soon. I'd like to see how they played it.

Misses the point

Thirty-three people died!!!!! The two hours that separated the shootings at the dorm and the classroom building are indeed a story -- and probably a big one in the coming days -- but certainly not the biggest one yesterday.

Monday, April 16, 2007

More basketball

It was an interesting day for NBA basketball, or at least interesting to those who follow the sport. The Dallas Mavericks played the San Antonio Spurs. At this point in the season the game meant nothing, but because of the rivalry both teams still played their stars the entire game for pride's sake.

But late in the third quarter, Spurs star Tim Duncan was ejected from the game for seemingly doing nothing wrong. All the video replays showed was Duncan laughing on the bench. He never even made eye contact with the referee, Joey Crawford, who threw him out. Crawford seemed to just react to what he felt were taunts from Duncan.

There is a journalistic/editing point to this and it has to do with yet another recap of the game that was posted on

Because it was the story of the game, it was the reporter's job to get comments from Duncan. Somehow the reporter also got comments from Crawford, which is unbelievable because I'm pretty sure referees are not supposed to give comments to the media on calls they've made. The story was entertaining because of what both Duncan and Crawford had to say, but at the same time they both made serious speculations about each other and each other's motives in the incident.

Like I said, I personally found the comments entertaining but I thought it might be different to look at some of the quoted bickering from a "pure" journalistic standpoint and whether those quotes may damage public perception of these figures. From a more honest standpoint, I can't wait for a playoff game in which Crawford, who is considered one of the NBA's best officials, is forced to interact with Duncan again. The link to the story is posted above.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

More doctored pics found at Blade

The basketball was added. The Toledo Blade ran a piece today explaining what it found when it went through its archives to see if Blade shooter Allan Detrich had altered other shots (see post below). Alas, he had. Lots.

Which score is correct?

So the Phoenix Suns destroyed the Utah Jazz last night in the final regular season meeting between the two teams. I forgot there was even a game, so I got on this morning to check the score. The only issue was that the scoreboard reads a final of 126-98, but in the third paragraph of the actual story, the score is listed as 127-98. Nothing that big, but I was amazed that such an error got by editors at AP and espn before then posted the article. Here is the link should any of you wish to check it out.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Design for Readers or Design for Designers?

Wow! Three posts back to back ... I'm lamer than Stephanie.

So I was looking for PDFs of the Republic redesign so I could talk about it in my Media Ethics Journal, and I happened across an interesting blog site: As I was reading the back posts there was a particularly interesting entry about a Sept. 11 five-year anniversary spread done by The Virginian-Pilot. The reactions on the blog were very polarized. Either the posters loved it or hated it.

Those who loved the design said the many instances of symbolism were truly intriguing. They also said such an important event deserves a page to itself. They argued readers would appreciate the special attention, and that we shouldn't dumb design down for them, or, rather, underestimate their interest in design. Those who hated the design said the page worked better as artwork to be hung on a wall. They said it did nothing to serve the reader and was an instance of a designer designing for his or herself.

I'm torn. I think the page is beautiful. The more I looked at it, the more I noticed. The vertical tally marks can bee seen as two towers and the horizontal one as a plane, for instance. (Maybe you already noticed that, haha, I'm a little slow.) I also agreed, though, that it's not super effective as a paper's front page. While the anniversary is certainly significant it doesn't necessarily affect one's life as breaking news might. As a special section front page it definitely works, but maybe not as the whole paper's front. Still, I really like it.

In any case it definitely makes me wonder whether newspapers should have fun with design or if they should push for readability. I know The State Press has received some criticism for spicing things up. It's sort of like the writing end. You don't want to get too carried away with your own descriptive prose that the reader feels alienated or uninformed. Thoughts?

Duke Rape Case

So I'm late on this post, too, but I've been saving the News and Observer's front page from the day when the charges against the Duke lacrosse players were dropped. The N&O is a paper based out of Raleigh, N.C. As I understand it, they're a very good paper with a lot of focus on enterprise and investigative reporting. They're also supposed to have a pretty good design team.

The night I heard about the charges being dropped I was actually looking forward to checking out their front page the following day. Sad, I know. Anyway, I was pretty disappointed in what I saw. The coverage and play was great. They definitely "flooded the zone," but I don't think the package works from a design perspective. The dominant headline definitely gets the point across, but no doubt most people already knew what had happened the night before when they went to check out the paper. What's more, I don't think the photo they plastered across the front was really all that amazing. It's a nice moment, but it's also the same thing that ran everywhere else. Also it took me a few moments to realize that the other two stories on the page were about the case. It didn't really look like the package it was. I don't think the design turns me off by any means, but it doesn't 'Wow' me either. Considering this is really their story, that kind of surprises me.

Oh and sorry about the small size of the page. There was a password on the PDF ... which apparently meant I couldn't make it a JPEG ... which meant I couldn't upload it.

Diversity: "Gay or Asian?"

Sorry I'm posting this blog so late! In any case, I wanted to make sure everybody had a chance to check out the Poynter link referring to a "Gay or Asian" article that ran in Details magazine. I can't remember if I said this in class, but "Gay or Asian" was only one of a series. I didn't see the original spread until I looked for art for this post.

In retrospect, I think it's kind of hilarious that the author of the Poynter article talks about how offensive this is to Asians when, as far as I'm concerned, the series as a whole is (as far as I can see) intended to poke fun at gays. They all kind of made me laugh a bit. But I'm pretty surprised that some senior editor didn't even think to pull the plug on this one.

I think one could argue for having it published in a magazine like Out, something specifically for a gay readership, but I'm not sure about a magazine for men in general. It's kind of like the whole "I can make fun of my family, but you can't" paradox. Even then though, I think one should avoid the racial set up. I prefer "Gay or Socialite's Husband," for instance. Then again, it all just kind of perpetuates stereotypes and that's not something the media should try to do. What do you all think?

However you spell it, it's still an insult

Check out one of the newest posts on Bill Walsh's blogslot, titled "Ho, Ho, Ho!" While the Imus issue is no laughing matter, is it very funny to see how confused papers have been in how to spell the word "hos." Is it "hos" or "ho's"?

Walsh did a search of the top papers listed in Lexis Nexis and listed the papers that prefer "hos," the ones the go with "ho's," and the ones who just can't get it right. Hos, without the apostrophe, is definitely winning out.

And you thought the AP Stylebook had it all figured out...

Today's Golden 'DUH!' award

Bakersfield. Oops. It would be a hed if someone lived after a fatal injury...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CBS will probably fire him

I say that because they did so about an hour ago.

I said on Wednesday that I thought the marketplace would and should work this thing out. It appears that it did, as advertisers couldn't get in line fast enough to drop him. Usually, I'm a fan of the philosophy that says, "If you don't like it, don't watch it (listen to it)." But this was beyond pale, and, what's worse, this is far from the first time he has done something like this.

The Imus story continues

MSNBC dumped his show last night over the racial slurs. What will CBS do? (Pic credit: Spencer Platt, Getty Images, through AOL News)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Your opinions on joke papers

With this post, I'd like to get all of your opinions on an ethical issue in journalism that I've been thinking about for some time. Many newspapers, especially college ones, publish some sort of "joke" editions - whether they be April Fools issues where all of the stories are satricial and false, or just highly tongue-in-cheek stories or editorials published ever once in awhile that students are not meant to take seriously.

There seems to have been a backlash against these kind of joke issues lately. A simple Google search on the topic brings up dozens of examples where college papers have apologized for offending readers due to stories that they published in joke issues. Some people believe that it's problematic for journalists to publish such issues because they blur the line between reporting and editorializing.

You all probably know that the State Press puts out the Stale Mess on the first day of finals each semester. As part of the staff that puts together that paper, I've usually only heard good things from students about the Stale Mess, but I'm wondering from a journalistic prospective, what do you all think of the State Press' fake issue? Do you think it's funny and tasteful? Borderline offensive? Is it warranted on a college campus or does it totally lack in journalistic integrity? I'm curious.

Here are a few stories about other fake or April Fools papers that have led to backlash:

Sunday, April 8, 2007


I can't give you a link to a story yet because I haven't seen one posted. Kristine No-Last-Name-Given, one of the last six candidates standing in the current season of Donald Trump's Apprentice, was canned tonight because she put the wrong phone number on a sales brochure. Ow! Now, if she had been a copy editor, she would have known to call the number before committing it to print, right?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Tim McGuire: What makes for good journalism

Professor McGuire judged the Virginia Press Association's public service award, its highest honor, this year. In this video, he explains the thinking behind the honor. A bit of a video backstory, as it were. The video was produced by Randy Jessee. (Note that while the video is uploaded to Google Video, it is unlisted and only available if you have the link. It's not included in searches. This is a relatively new feature for Google and is intended to provide more controlled privacy.)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

No legs to stand on? Pic manipulation...

A Toledo Blade photograph ended up in print with a couple of legs Photoshopped out. Here's the story. Here's the start of the story: TOLEDO, OH (April 5, 2007) – New questions about news photo manipulation have come up after a high-profile Ohio sporting event that drew multiple photojournalists from large regional daily newspapers on Friday. When pictures by several photojournalists were published prominently on Saturday’s front pages, it was clear that one of the images differed significantly from the others, raising questions about whether the photograph had been digitally altered....

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Well done

In light of the fact that Ohio State also lost to Florida earlier this year in the BCS National Title Game (football), I thought this was pretty clever. The hed and the picture basically tell the story.

Monday, April 2, 2007

About those pyramids

Bob Gray referred this morning to an incident at National Geographic when a photograph of two pyramids was digitally altered to make them look closer together (see left). Some accounts say that it was to better utilize the magazine's format -- basically, as Gray said, to "make the picture look better." That was in 1982. A magazine policy on photo manipulation followed soon after.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Emerging Media Ecosystem

This picture appeared at the end of a blog a couple of weeks ago from Mark Glaser at MediaShift ( It shows the flow of information and got my attention because of the strong prescence of community input. At the Republic, we've been including community conversations in our Monday editions in keeping with this model. Regular people doing journalism (commenting, whatever) is scary to me, but it gets more people interested in newspapers, which pleases my masters.

Swamp Thing

Check out this photo of a strange creature in the Dismal Swamp in Virginia.

Wicked graphic

I saw this on Newseum today and it really grabbed my attention. I am pitching an article about how deep our generation is falling into credit card debt, and this is similar to what I had in mind for my graphic. The oversized cards are perfect to describe the amount of debt our society is in, and seeing the guy try to keep it from falling entirely is powerful.

I also like the format of the "charticle" and how there are squares of stats that have your shaking your head instantly. I would like to think I am not a part of the problem, but my bills say differently. It make be an article that is done every few years, but the graphics and layout here really drew me in. I hope you all enjoy it too.

Pay cash. t.

A bit tacky/offensive?

I was browsing through Newseum today, and the very first cover that came up - the Anniston Star from Anniston, Ala. - gave me pause. At first glance, you would think this centerpiece was some sort of art story, with all the colorful masks. But they're actually using the masks to try to illustrate a pretty serious story about the diversity in the Hispanic population of immigrants in Alabama and the measures that are currently being debated in the legislature to keep immigrants out.

These masks don't say anything about the story, and there's not even any sort of cutline to let you know what the significance of the masks are. Some of them even look African - if they are from different Hispanic populations, you wouldn't know which ones. Besides, ceremonial masks don't very often say much about their populations - I feel like this would be like a paper in a different country putting a picture of an Uncle Sam mask on its cover to illustrate a story about American immigrants. At best, it seems like a tacky illustration for the story, and at worst, it could be taken as downright offensive.

What do you all think?

This is the best picture they came up with?

There were probably over a thousand pictures taken during the Ohio State-Georgetown game last night, but this is the one the Plain Dealer decided to run. Just seems like an odd choice.

April Fools' Day and the media

Here's a link to the top 100 April Fools' Day Hoaxes of All Time. They're fun to read to if you have some time to kill. I really don't like April Fools' Day in general, but when the media does it, I think it's kind of funny. It shows that they have a sense of humor, that they're not all business. It's also the one day the newspaper can print false information and get away with it. (Except for the Stale Mess, of course!)