Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Newsworthiness of Clinton-Obama dogfight

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in one of the greatest political dogfights in recent history, so every aspect of their campaigns is highly scrutinized. Even things that would perhaps not be news in virtually every other situation make big headlines (such as Obama's ex-pastor's famewhoring comments on race--I'm looking at EVERYONE who thought that didn't belong on the front page today). Newsworthy indeed is Clinton's stance on Iran and her threat to obliterate one-time-Persia if said nation takes missile-related action against Israel, a nation to which the U.S. seems to have an unassailable alliance.

This lends more credence to the theory of the continuous Bush-Clinton political dynasty in the White House if Clinton should be elected, since her stance on Israel v Iran is remarkably similar to that of President Bush Part Deux (boy, he'll hate it if he found out I put a French word next to his name). Obama has accused Clinton of emulating the Republican president to very non-committal rebuttals from the New York Senatrix. -- Justin

The impacts of this continuous battle between the historically-important candidates (pigmentation and chromosomes go a long way toward rewriting certain encyclopedia entries) are various, but one thing is for certain: Conflict breeds interest. An Associated Press survey found that over 3.4 million new voters have registered for the 2008 election, including (per the AP story on the survey) noteworthy spikes among women and blacks. Theoretically, this would be a boon for Clinton or Obama in at least some estimation, but if the candidates continue to fight in such vitriolic fashion, voters could become disenchanted and either not vote or begin supporting another candidate. -- Justin

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bolles' killer to stay in prison

Not sure how many of you saw this, but one of the three people tied to the murder of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles applied, and then was denied, clemency.
Max Dunlap's plea on the grounds of poor health was denied Friday morning by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency. He is 78 years old and won't be eligible for parole for another six years.

While hearing about an old guy rotting away in jail make me feel bad, reading the detailed stories about Bolles and the thoughts of his daughters today make me quickly lose all sympathy. Also seeing how much the whole thing means to people at the Republic (they ran a big B1 package the day before the hearing) makes me feel even less sorry. I knew the story of Bolles, and like many of you, walk by the posters of the Cronkite School's in-depth on his murder several times a week. Yet, I didn't know the gruesome detail of him remaining alive 11 days after his car exploded as he had three limbs removed. And though it's not a situation any of us would ever want to encounter, I must say that it's admirable that Bolles did such good work that people would want to take his life.

Republic story

Sportswriting showdown

Last week on sportscaster Bob Costas' HBO show, "Costas Now," there was a heated debate about the affect of blogs on sportswriting between Pulizter-Prize winning writer Buzz Bissinger and Will Leitch, the editor of deadspin.com, the Internet's top sports blog. Thought sports blog have often been credited with being obnoxious annoying, on this show it was Bissinger who came across as the angry, classless person. And even though he also wrote "Friday Night Lights," I have to say Bissinger is out of touch and wrong. Blogs in a certain way are becoming part of the fabric that makes up a writer.

Enjoy the footage...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Getting Personal

Upon finishing JMC 366: Ethics and Diversity, our final assignment was to write our own codes of ethics. I thought this was kind of a cheesy assignment at first. Everyone knows the ethics. I recommend checking SPJ.org or RTNDA.org, if you haven’t already, for a couple of solid codes of ethics.
But, because I want to graduate this week, I went ahead with the task of writing my own personal code of ethics. I drew mostly from the standard codes of ethics and philosophers we had studied throughout the semester.
I had a really good time with it because it allowed me to explore and accentuate what I deem to be most important of the conventional wisdom and to expand on my own observations. I think it was a valuable reflection. I would correct some parts of it already, but I still think it was interesting.
I think, as editors ourselves (and reporters are the most important editors of their stories), we are the gatekeepers of ethics. Below I’ve pasted my code of ethics. I encourage everyone to try it as a drill.




Preamble
The Quigley Society of Journalists (QSJ) believes that an informed, educated society is the true path to social justice, the revival of democracy and the avoidance of tyranny.


***Aggressively and Courageously Pursue Truth and Report it as Aggressively and Courageously as It Is Sought
* Never omit information that is relevant to the understanding of the facts.
* Seek new areas of truth, such as new sources or angles that others may have missed.
* Never lie or accept a lie as truth. Check sources’ statements for accuracy, as well as your own.
* Do not be afraid to alienate sources with tough questions.
* Report all information relevant to a story no matter how disgusting or disheartening the information may be to the public.
* Never withhold information because it may insight a negative reaction, such as alienating the public or motivating criminal acts. The public chooses how it reacts to stories. The truth is always the truth. It is not our duties to be protectors or law enforcers.
* Always provide context to stories that helps the public understand the relevance and importance of information that could be repulsive or confusing.
* Be transparent to sources and the public. Anonymous sources and undercover work should only be used when it provides the public with vital knowledge not otherwise attainable. All methods, reasoning and products of such practices should be divulged to the public when such information is no longer a detriment to the story. All information acquired in these manners should be provably true.

***Be Completely Independent
* Do not let editors, managers or other bosses dictate a message if accuracy would be sacrificed.
* Do not let the public’s emotions guide a story if it does not increase accuracy.
* Do not be afraid to quit an outlet that does not uphold your values.
* Never heed threats or take bribes or gifts of any sort unless there is an immediate danger of the loss of life.
* Never look at a source, such as a law enforcement officer, government or military officer or any other person, as someone to whom you owe allegiance or subordination. Journalists are observers.

***Be Part of a Diverse Community
* Keep an open mind. An independent journalist is not afraid to change his/her own – or accept others’ – perceptions. Cooperation, negotiation and argument that uphold or enhance accuracy of stories or the codes in this document are essential to our field.
* Treat everybody with honesty and respect.
* Find the humanity in every story.
* Include diverse views of the meanings of information from experts and other members of the community.
* Cover diverse ethnic and cultural issues and use diverse sources in ordinary contexts where diversity is not the issue.
* Include all stakeholders in decision-making.
* Avoid using sources who are trying to block members of the community from accessing others. For example, call the company president rather than a crafty PR officer or other gatekeeper hired to stonewall or deceive.

Breaking the Rhythm

I was reading a very good story in this morning’s paper about two families brought together by an organ transplant. I don’t usually read too many of the long, mushy features, but I built a rhythm with this one. It was a touchy subject, and I enjoy reading how reporters handle those. This one was handled very well. However, about midway through the second column of a four-column by 8-inch jump, I stumbled. The sentence read: “He had been in three comas and, without a transplant, had only months to live without a transplant.”
As reader, this is just the kind of trip-up that usually makes me to stop reading. It doesn’t nullify the effort by the reporter, but it’s almost like I need that rhythm to keep my attention, so I move on. This time I finished the story because it was that good. The point, however, is that everyone agrees that lying or other dishonest practices are the worst that someone can do in our field, but bad editing is also a prominent threat to credibility. Luckily, most reputable newspapers and reporters build credibility over time that makes these slip-ups tolerable. After all, one paper can publish hundreds of stories in a week. As Billy Joel says, “You’re only human,” (He actually messed up in the studio recording of the song and kept the fumble in).
But such editing mistakes are something to think about in a world where formats and audiences are rapidly changing, and it will be up to us to build those new senses of credibility.

Where in the World is Janet Cooke?

Well, I don’t have much more than Christopher on the search for old “Cook-it-up” Janet Cooke. I decided to check on some background-check Web-sites, and though I was too poor to buy the reports, supposedly there are recent records of her in Toledo, Ohio, which is promising because it’s her home town. There is also a record in Ann Arbor, Mich. I am pretty sure it is the correct Janet Cooke because of an eerily detailed profile of her background that I have pasted below as a quote, since it’s so short. I had read, however, that she made up going to Vassar, so I don't know how accurate all of the information is. However, I was able to confirm that my Janet Cooke did have the relatives listed.
I tried to call the Washington Post to see if they have kept tabs on her, but no one called me back.
If you want to check your friends' (or sources') Arizona criminal records, check out the Arizona Supreme Court Web site: http://www.supreme.state.az.us/publicaccess/notification/search.asp

If they do produce the Cooke movie, will you all watch it?

Father: Stratman Cooke

Mother: Loretta Cooke
Sister: Nancy (younger)
Boyfriend: Mike Sager (ex)
Husband: Joe Phillips (div.)
High School: Maumee Valley Country Day School, Toledo, OH (1972)
University: Vassar College
University: BA, University of Toledo

The Washington Post 1979-81
The Toledo Blade
Bloomingdale's counter clerk
Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for "Jimmy's World" (1981), voluntarily returned
Risk Factors: Asthma, Dyslexia

as written on http://www.nndb.com/people/679/000115334/

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Are we a bunch of 'incognizant racists?'

I recently read a book called, White News: Why Local News Program Don’t Cover People of Color by Don Heider. In the context of two local, state-coverage news stations – one in Albuquerque, N.M. and the other in Honolulu ¬– Heider explains that news programs often fall into a cycle of “incognizant racism” when covering non-white races and ethnicities. That is to say, they are not openly racist, but still perpetuate stereotypes, sometimes without even realizing it. For his study Heider goes to the local news stations were he observes and interviews many different levels and races of newsroom employees and non-white viewers and community members. In Honolulu, Heider observes coverage of native Hawiians, Samoans and Asian-Americans, and in Albuquerque, he does the same for mostly Native Americans, but also Hispanics.
Heider finds is that the coverage of these “people of color” is almost always in the contexts of crime and ethnic festivals. Heider also finds that when coverage of important issues to these ethnicities does occur, it is usually from the points of view of the most eccentric and vocal activists.
Geography, Heider says, also isolates the coverage of ethnicities because, though their communities are within reasonable distances from the news outlets, they are often perceived as being far away, due to their isolation and exclusively ethnic populations. The perceptions that crimes occur unchecked in a lot of those areas add to the problem..
History – and reporters’ lack of knowledge of it – join into Heider’s theory. When covering ethnic communities, such as Indian reservations, reporters often know nothing about the history, culture or customs of the people they are covering. How can they portray anything essential to a culture, if they know nothing about its historical context or overall significance?
Heider writes that research and building relationships with these communities are the first steps toward solving this issue.
Another of Heider’s observations is that decision-makers are almost all white, if not male. All of the news, no matter how diverse the writing staff or anchor desk might be, funnels through less than a handful of people with their own agendas.
I have been taking a look around, and I have seen relatively few people darker than I (not counting my legs). How many do see?
How do Heider’s scenarios play out in coverage of ethnic groups in our state?
If you get a chance, the book is a good read. It has a lot to offer, even if you consider yourself culturally aware. A lot of us know it’s happening, Heider tells the how and why. And because of the places Heider chooses to observe, it a refreshing break from the same-old black/white, Latino/white examples. But it’s also clear to how it applies to any people of color.
It’s also only about a hundred pages long. I read it in a day, and I’m a slug.

Heider, Don. White News: Why Local Programs Don’t Cover People of Color. Lawrence
Erlbaum and Associates, Inc., 2000.

Monday, April 28, 2008

New York Newspaper's Circulation Drops

According to an article published on Newday's website, Newsday, The Post, The Daily News and The New York Times are experiencing print circulation declines.

In an article released yesterday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, circulation for Newsday's weekday paper declined another 4.7 percent in the last six months in comparison to last years circulation numbers. Similarly, the Sunday edition is down 4.8 percent.

However, in spite of these numbers, Newsday's publisher and chief executive Timothy P. Knight says Newsday's audience remains strong. According to Knight, Newsday reaches 72 percent of Long Island adults every week and the website receives 66 million monthly page views.

On the flip side, sources say New York Post owner Rupert Murdoch and Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman have both made $580 million offers for Newsday and Murdoch is said to have a hand-shake agreement to buy Newsday in an expected deal.

By the way, it is not just New York papers that saw a circulation decline. For the nation's 530 daily papers, weekly circulations dropped 3.57 percent and 601 Sunday papers dropped 4.59 percent.

To read more, click the headline to connect to the link or visit Newsday.com.

headine writing for the Web

Just this past week at my copy editing internship at The Arizona Republic, we had to go through some video training for a new video software that azcentral.com has just started using. Among the gist of the training was the pounding-into-our-heads of the idea of "label" heads.
In case you aren't familiar with this jargon, a label head is one that doesn't necessarily require a verb; it is simply what it sounds like, a label. For example, "Tour through the city" or "Horseback riding lessons" are both label heads. They are pretty bland, but straight to the point, not giving much else detail but for the few key words that a user needs to know to associate with the story.
The reason for this is because when users search through azcentral.com, they may only type in those particular key words to find the video they are searching for, not necessarily some fancy verb that the copy editor wants to use.
That got me thinking... is this the new future of headlines? Since everything is gravitating toward the Web, is the art of the fancifully done headline soon becoming extinct? Headlines should just state the point of the story anyway, but the flowery, fancy, artsy ones for things like feature stories aren't going to cut it when the story goes up on a Web site.

Just some food for thought ...

Advanced editing in the real world

I figured I would talk a bit about my application of some of the things I've learned in this course in the real world. While I am a print student, I am angling my career for sports communications and have worked for the Arizona Cardinals and currently the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.

What I've learned with these positions is that a lot of organizations have no concept of style whatsoever. I can't tell you how much it drives me nuts to see the poorly styled products they put out.

But, thankfully enough, the Suns are not one of these offenders.

For about two months I worked closely with one of my bosses to prepare the Suns' postseason guide -- a 100+ page comprehensive guide to all the statistics and information you could ever want to know about the team. And the entire thing was laid out in Quark.

Since I had experience with Quark from class, I became essentially the primary designer of the guide (though a lot was template) and threw together the literature my boss wrote.

I got a couple of pats on the back for my attention to detail... things like margin sizes, consistency and so on... the same things Professor Thornton drilled into our heads this semester.

And while it was a bit of a change of pace from newspaper layouts, the experience I gained from this project I count as no less valuable. I also hope that the work I put into the guide will help others pay a bit more attention to their own work (the San Antonio Spurs' postseason guide would best be used as toilet paper... not just because it's the Spurs).

Draft Coverage

Watching the NFL draft really makes you appreciate how much work researchers and reporters do, and how well-prepared they are to talk about their findings. I watched the NFL draft Saturday and Sunday, and it was amazing how much information was given out. 252 players were drafted, and the reporters had information on all of them and were able to break them down. In an era were reporters are being questioned about how extensive their research is, I found this to be very impressive.

The draft was also a good example of how powerful a network ESPN has become. They had different reporters in different cities to talk to coaches and players from certain teams about the players they drafted. They also had as many as 10 reporters set up to talk about everything that was going on the past two days.

A lot of people can't stand the draft, but I really enjoy it. Obviously, I love football, but I also love to watch how so many hectic things are going on, but everyone keeps it together and the broadcast moves along smoothly. There are errors made, of course, but they are always corrected promptly and the proper information ends up being delivered.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pentagon blocks press from funeral

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/23/AR2008042303244.html

"The family of 38-year-old Hall, who leaves behind two young daughters and two stepsons, gave their permission for the media to cover his Arlington burial -- a decision many grieving families make so that the nation will learn about their loved ones' sacrifice. But the military had other ideas, and they arranged the Marine's burial yesterday so that no sound, and few images, would make it into the public domain."

What the heck? Isn't this a breach of the first amendment? What acceptable reason did the military have for blocking the media? This is censorship to keep America's attention off the Iraq war. If the public loses interests, that spares the government a lot of anti-war protests and the kind of pressure it was under during the Vietnam war.

A lot of people say the media lost us Vietnam because the intense coverage spurred so much anti-war sentiment that the military was forced to show restraint and the government eventually cracked under the pressure and pulled out. I highly doubt that because Nixon escalated the war in its final years, using every military option at his disposal to crack North Vietnam. It failed. There is little evidence that the U.S. pulled out prematurely costing it victory.

But I can understand the media rules being a little different in war time, especially when the news could directly undermine military efforts. However the line is going to have to be drawn somewhere. This was a funeral on U.S. soil, and the family gave the media permission to cover it. It's hardly a threat to national security.

And now, motion editing?

I have been watching the NFL Draft over the last two
days and could not help but be annoyed with the
obnoxious amount of information then have flashing on
the screen. The left side of the screen includes the
next six teams that are going to draft. Across the
bottom of the screen there are two bars of information
including the current round's selections and team
reviews of the players they have selected. On the
right side of the screen there is a section that
changes team information based on what team the
analysts are discussing. It reminds me of a SNL sketch
that I have seen where the anchors are completely
covered up by advertisements, information bars,
breaking news and other saturating information. I find
it hard any one viewer could possibly benefit from all
of the things moving across their screen.

-- Scott

The hippest name in news?

Just less than a week ago, CNN added a new feature to its Web site, cnn.com. Next to the headlines listed under "Latest News" there is a new icon: a T-shirt. It seems "The most trusted name in news" has entered the retail industry, producing T-shirts that bare the headlines of stories. Check it out:

Bush auditions of conductor in chief job

Why CNN bothered to start this new feature, I haven't a clue. It's weird. And if CNN was really interested in producing funny T-shirts, it should have started a site like bustedtees.com, not mixed it in with the news. One has to wonder what will happen the first time one of those little logos accidently appears next to a story about a tragic incident or Iraq. Not to mention, I'm worried about CNN's online producers now being more concerned with writing snappy headlines that will appear on T-shirts, not that will correctly inform readers of what the story is about.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Deadmen Don’t Give Names: Editing a Killer’s Identity

Well, I got through my last post without writing his name once, but the name of Virginia Tech mass murder, Seung-Hui Cho, brings up an interesting diversity and editing issue.
There are two helpful articles that cronicle the struggle to give the killer’s name properly. One is on Slate, and the other is on Gawker.com, a media gossip site. I will include links to all of the sources in this entry below.
In the initial coverage of the killer, several publications, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, identified him as Cho Seung-Hui. On the “Times Topics” entry on Virginia Tech, there are articles from April 17 and 18, 2007 that put the killer’s surname in front. According to Slate, it was the form given out by the police. It is also traditional in Cho’s native South Korea to list the surname first. However, in Times articles starting from April 21, the surname goes to the back. The Washington Post wrote a long editor’s note acknowledging their switching of the order, putting “Cho” last. They changed the order after learning Cho had signed forms using the Americanized version. The Slate article also stated that it was an ethnic issue. “Some Korean-Americans felt media groups were playing up Cho's foreign-ness, according to the Asian American Journalists Association, which advised reporters to use the American order.”
The Post also wrote in their editor’s note that they would not be using the hyphen in his name because it was against their style.
The AP Stylebook differentiates use of the hyphens among North and South Korean names: “North Korean names are generally three separate words, each starting with a capital letter: Kim Jong Il. South Korean names are three words with the second two names hyphenated and a lowercase letter after the hyphen: Kim Young-sam.”
Usually, the best policy is to ask the person how their name should be written, but this is an example of how difficult it can be to name a dead person.

Gawker.com article
http://gawker.com/news/cho-seung_hui/nations-papers-react-to-getting-everything-about-va-tech-shooter-completely-backwards-254262.php

Slate article
http://www.slate.com/id/2164659/

Times Topics on Virginia Tech
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/v/virginia_polytechnic_institute_and_state_university/index.html.

Washington Post editor’s note
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/20/AR2007042002288.html?nav=hcmodule

Ethics Disgust

I have been researching the Virginia Tech massacre lately as to the ethics of the media coverage of the killer’s videoed, photographed and written manifesto. My conclusion there was that they did not show enough. Most major networks and cable outlets shortened their coverage of the killer’s declaration to less than 10 percent the following day after the fallout of angry viewers. Likewise, newspaper’s received a lot of flak for publishing photos of the killer and drastically reduced their visual coverage of the murderer.
Unfortunately, by cutting the coverage and still having it in miniscule form, these outlets lost the context of a killer needing to be understood completely, so those like him can be spotted, and twisted folks, too, learn that they are accountable for their own actions. Furthermore, it is important to see that the killer is showed in some pictures with guns and others with hammers, knives and other instruments because each state of mind is different. For example, posing with a hammer reflects a much more violent state than with a gun because of the physical force, the proximity and the messiness involved in the former.
When a man known as the Unabomber mailed his manifesto to the New York Times and the Washington Post, they were not going to publish it until the FBI asked them to. The language of the manifesto struck a chord with a reader who turned out to be Theodore Kaczynski’s brother and led authorities to the arrest. The Virginia Tech shooter materials could also produce the same results, spotting other would-be killers by their use of language and demeanor, or by producing materials, similar to the murderer. Ironically, there were a bunch of law enforcement officers and psychiatrists who said that publicizing the profile of the killer would produce copycats (and a lot more who said that was ludicrous). Remember, as journalists, we are not law enforcers, and these people are just there for us as sources, not policy-makers. Law enforcement may mean well, but they are more concerned about manipulating the media than our best interests or what’s ethical for us. It is the nature of their job, wearing a badge that gives them power over people and a gun that enforces that power. They are also people who lie, deceive others and sometimes even commit crimes, so they can catch the “bad guys.” We, as journalists, have much stronger ethical responsibilities and are not to be switched on or off at their requests.
I will instead fall back on leaders in our field. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute stated, “The job of a journalist is not to protect us from the truth; it’s to tell us the truth, now matter how repugnant it is.” I think we can all agree that the videos, picture, etc. of the killer were repugnant, but we cannot let even our audience’s disgust hinder us from telling the truth. Thompkins also interviewed several other ethics experts who echoed his statement. There are podcasts of these interviews at http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=101&aid=121760.
Despite the incredible tragedy of losing 32 innocent lives, their deaths are not the story. The story is that a man murdered them. The killer’s manifesto gives the who, what and why of the story. By the end, NBC had only shown only about 10-15 total minutes of the 28-minute video throughout their entire coverage. Even the newspapers that had the insight to publish the photos right in our faces on the front page could only publish a couple at a time (because of space, presumably, but they could have had special sections to publish the manifesto in near-entirety). Answering to public outrage killed the major elements of the story and lost meaningful context, when, all along, people should have outraged and disgusted because society failed the shooter and his 32 victims. They knew this guy was mental since he was in junior high and they unleashed him on these victims. That is the only truth to this story.
And understanding the murderer to prevent future tragedies would not have been the only benefit. It would have also have cut down on the hysteria that accompanies such tragedies, and there wouldn’t be stories like the imaginative 13-year-old child at Fountain Hills Middle School who was just charged with a class 6 felony for compiling a “death wish list,” though he had no weapons, other means or intentions of carrying out the slaughter, and he was just being a 13-year-old boy.

Even the AP makes mistakes

While reading the news this morning, I stumbled on this snafu from the AP's website. 

Hmmm....after all the times I have gone to Southern California, I have apparently missed "Sand Diego." Even the all-knowing Associated Press makes occasional mistakes, and I for one feel better knowing that grammatical errors can happen to anyone. To err is human, to edit is divine...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Photoshop Extremes

As discussed in class, Photoshop has made it very easy to edit photos. This not only distorts the original image to something that is not real, but is unethical to use, particularly when portraying news. Having attended a lecture on beauty and self-esteem for another class last semester, I was exposed to many transformations that Photoshop is capable of. Here are two that really stood out to me.



object width="425" height="355">

How to lose your job as a photographer

After looking at a bunch of altered photos in class, it made me think about how easy it is to touch up images. Thanks to Photoshop and other programs, even relative novices can manipulate their photos into whatever they want.

I'm an offender myself, generally only doing it for comical usage though. But others who would like to clean up a person can easily find guides like the one the post is linked to.

And with these guides, you too can become a professional photo alterer.


Achieving a natural looking smooth flesh tone is one of the many Holy Grail’s of commercial retouchers. -- Flawless Flesh Tutorial

Thursday, April 24, 2008

CNN being sued for 1.3 billion dollars

I was looking through Reuters today and stumbled upon this article: http://www.reuters.com/article/televisionNews/idUSPEK30866720080424

CNN is being sued $1.3 billion – one dollar for every person in China – for allegedly making remarks that offended the Chinese people.

A Chinese primary school teacher and a beautician have filed the suit against the big Turner Broadcasting-owned media company stemming from Jack Cafferty’s comments made regarding the Chinese government.

Cafferty said the United States imported Chinese-made "junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food" and added: "They're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years".

I can only say, “Wow!” Have we not learned anything from attacking a group of people over the years. CNN is backing up Cafferty’s comments, pulling out the “opinion card” and saying that the comments were about the government and not the people. But if this was the case, then at the time he should have made that clear. What’s even worse is that these comments comes amid the Olympic and Tibet controversies. Bad timing right?

This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about these critical issues, but it also doesn’t give somebody the ability to rant on about a subject without facing the heat. Make sure you know what you are saying and who you are saying it too.

The Chinese Ministry is asking for an apology, and whether CNN chooses too take that route is still undetermined. But this could potentially end up blowing in CNN’s face

Comparisons



After Clinton's win of the Pennsylvania primaries, papers around the country stuck the same AP photo on their front pages and ran the story as main for the page. Here are three papers' front-page interpretations of the same story and photo.

From left: The Tribune-Democrat from Johnstown, Pa., The Erie Times-News from Erie, Pa., and The Oregonian from Portland, Ore.

Adding in or editing out references to immigration status

http://poynter.org/column.asp?id=58&aid=140153

Browsing around on Poynter today, I stumbled across this column that raises the issue of whether reporters should include immigration status along with articles, especially in the southwest when a lot of stories may include names with foreign last names. I thought this column, linked above, may be of particular interest, especially after today's discussion/reading of the St. Pete Times' article.
The answer to the question is all about relevancy. However, this relevancy can be hard to determine. According to the article, for example, if an immigrant was found to have been involved in a car accident due to DUI, and killed or seriously injured the other driver, it seems to not be necessary to mention the legal status of the driver since legal status and a horrific accident don't seem to have anything in common. But in the article, the writer says that legal status actually IS relevant because an illegal immigrant would in fact not be able to get a driver's license, which means the accident supposedly wouldn't have happened if that person weren't driving.
These two viewpoints create a challenge for editors too, in particular, since they are the ones having to double check and triple check for validity and relevancy when mentioning legal status. Especially in Arizona, with azcentral.com, where every story about immigrants brings rise to racist comments, it's important for editors to know when to go digging for this aspect of the story.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cooked

After a little searching of the Internets - thank you Google - I've come up with the following on Janet Cooke, who infamously fabricated "Jimmy's World" and won a Pulitzer.

- After she resigned from the Washington Post in 1981, Cooke appeared on the Phil Donahue show, claiming that people told her there was a person like Jimmy but that she was unable to actually find him.

- Staying in the Washington area, she worked as a salesclerk until marrying a D.C. lawyer and moving to Paris.

- She returned to the U.S. in 1996, moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to work for $6 an hour at Liz Claiborne.

- In June 1996, she was interviewed for a GQ article, which led to her life story being purchased by Columbia TriStar Pictures for a cool $1.6 million. But the movie has yet to be produced, which is important to Cooke and the author of the article because they only get half of the money until principle filming begins.

- According the LA Times, Cooke hoped to use some of the money she did collect to jump start a freelance career, which I personally don't believe she'll ever have an opportunity to do.

- According to the author of the GQ article, Mike Sager, who spoke to Romenesko in 2000, he last talked to Cooke during 1999 when she was studying for a fine-arts degree at the University of Michigan.

Links:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_/ai_62024141

http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/janet-cooke/

http://archive.southcoasttoday.com/daily/06-96/06-05-96/c04li109.htm

http://www.observer.com/term/28668


-

Glamann Award

On the web site for the American Copy Editors Society, there is a story about an award that was given out to recognize people or organizations who have contributed a lot to ACES and to copy editing. The award was given to the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund. The night before the award was given out, a co-founder of the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund gave a speech talking about the "power of copy editors and their enduring presence, and future, no matter how the industry changes."

Obviously, this is what everyone hopes for, but things aren't looking good right now. You have to wonder about that statement, especially after seeing Shannon's post about the Los Angeles Daily Journal getting rid of their copy desk and all their copy editors. So many papers are having financial troubles, it is beginning to look like a better possibility that more copy editors will go. It is a very important job, but like they are doing at the L.A. Daily Journal, the reporters can edit their stories and come up with headlines.

No one wants to get rid of copy editors, but at a certain point, it's the only option these paper's have.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Journalists are not heroes

http://www.newsweek.com/id/132698/output/print

"The Newseum's message seems to be that journalists are heroes, newsgathering is sexy, and media matters. In the Comcast 9/11 gallery, for instance, visitors learn from a giant quote on the wall that journalists are "people who run toward disaster," like cops and firefighters."

This Newseum is supposed to be highlighting the high points of journalism to steer back an increasingly skeptical public. Now I'm all for helping the industry, but to compare journalists to cops and firefighters seems a little extreme. Yes, we run to disasters. But we do it to get something out of it - a story. Firefighters run to burning buildings to save people's lives. We run to burning buildings to ask those people how it felt to almost be killed. I'm not saying it's wrong, but it's certainly not heroic.

The only way to promote professional journalism is to do the job well. Let the reporting speak for itself.

Journalism-based Reality TV

I was looking at Mr. Rewrite earlier, and noticed his post about a new reality show on MTV called "The Paper." It's about a high school newspaper and the students who put it together. Despite the fact that I hate admitting it, I like reality TV, so I went on mtv.com and checked the show out. I know I shouldn't have expected much, but I was really disappointed with what I saw.

Now obviously, MTV doesn't care about showing what really goes on with that newspaper; they simply want to show a ton of drama so they get good ratings. However, this show is so far off base that I'm not even sure they should be able to call it "The Paper." The first episode was about the teacher naming the Editor-in-chief of the paper, and all of the drama circulating the girl who was chosen (who by the way was probably a horrible choice because everyone is refusing to listen to her because they hate her). Now, as far as high school newspapers, all we did at mine was sit around and eat and talk and then throw everything together at the last minute, so I don't think this show will be a good example for aspiring journalists.

However, this did get me thinking: they should have a reality show about journalism, but make it about a professional newspaper, preferably one that is struggling a little bit. I think there are a lot of people out there who would be interested in what goes on behind the scenes of a newspaper and how stories are picked and the angles the reporters take. If Flavor of Love can be on its third season, I'm pretty sure this show could at least be picked up for a trial run.

Also, it could help the newspaper. If the paper is struggling, being on a TV show could garner interest and therefore improve readership. I'm not saying it will increase dramatically, but the publicity the paper would get would at least help a little. With the way newspapers are struggling across the country, maybe one of them will have this same idea. I know I would definitely watch the show to see what things are really like.

No copy desk at the Los Angeles Daily Journal

On April 9, 2008, the Los Angeles Daily Journal had no choice but to lay-off its entire copy desk. Amazing I know, but the Daily Journal no longer has any copy editors working there. While all would have liked to keep the copy desk, financially it was impossible.

So, now reports are asked to suggest headlines for their stories and line editors will be responsible for all editing.

According to one of the women still working there, all are concerned how they are going to keep doing their jobs with the copy desk. As she said in an email, "Honestly, how do you put out a paper without a copy desk? We're all very shell-shocked."

However, the editor, Martin Berg, is more optimistic. Admitting that the day the copy desk was disbanded was the toughest he's seen during his time in the newspaper industry, he also added, "We're still committed to producing high-quality, ambitious journalism."

As we expected, the newspaper industry will continue to change. However, I hope, as I'm sure you are, that newspapers will still do their best to produce quality work and keep essential players, like the copy desk.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kill the Cliche

I happened upon a site today called Kill the Cliche. It's a pretty cool concept as it...
aims to illustrate how smart data analysis can help us improve media. Every hour our tracker queries sites of major newspapers for new content and searches for cliches in it. At the moment, we have about 175 cliches in our database; this is by no means exhaustive and we hope to expand it overtime.
The site tracks from papers like the NY Times, The Washington Post and USA Today, finding All Time Cliches, Today's Cliches and This Week's Cliches. It also points out the major offenders, with All Time, Today's and This Week's journalists.

More and more of these tracking sites seem to pop up every day, but this one actually seems like it could be useful, especially for younger journalists.

Aplin-Brownlee Obit

I found an obituary on washingtonpost.com dated Friday, October 26, 2007, titled, "Aplin-Brownlee, 61; Former Post Editor Had Smelled Scandal."

The title is an accurate reflection of the meat of the article, which focuses on the fact that Vivian Aplin-Brownlee, who died at the age of 61 from leukemia, had suspicions about Janet Cooke's Pulitzer Prize-winning story from the start.

Aplin-Brownlee edited The Post's District Weekly section. She described Cooke as a middle-class woman who was a "masterful" writer and "consumed by blind and raw ambition." Aplin-Brownlee told her husband, Milton, that she never believed Cooke's initial report of seeing an 8-year-old shoot up heroin in the presence of a drug dealer. "In her eagerness to make a name she would write farther than the truth would allow," Aplin-Brownlee said.

As the story developed, Aplin-Brownlee sent Cooke to confer with Milton Coleman, the District editor at the time. According to the article, "Out of town on vacation while the story developed, Ms. Aplin-Brownlee returned to find the story on the front page of the edition of Sunday, Sept. 28, 1980." Her reaction to the story's front-page run was to turn to her husband and say, "'I don't believe a word of this.'"

Aplin-Brownlee did not tell her concerns only to her husband. According to the article, "She tried several times to alert higher-level editors that the story didn't sound right and that Cooke was not capable of doing the reporting she said she had done. But the other editors dismissed her concerns, and Bob Woodward, the Metro section's assistant managing editor at the time, promoted Cooke to the city staff."

She remained skeptical even after Cooke won the Pulitzer. The day Cooke's Pulitzer Prize was announced, Aplin-Brownlee said, "'I hope she has committed the perfect crime.'"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Know your states and capitols yet?

A training session/ competition broke out in the State Press newsroom Wednesday afternoon to see who knew their states and capitols. A classmate of ours, who shall remain nameless, was having difficulty at first remembering everything. The song below came up as a method to help prepare for the quiz. Good luck and enjoy.

Newspaper jobs being cut

This is nothing new for journalists, but newsrooms jobs across the nation are being cut. 2,400 jobs were cut within newsrooms last year – the biggest cut in 30 years, according to a 2007 census report distributed by the American Society of Newspaper Edtiors.

As far as the media goes, there will always be something to report on, therefore there will always be reporters. But how the information reaches the general public is still up in the air.

Circulation numbers for newspapers have been down in past years and seem to be dropping by the day. But online news employment at newspapers, reported for the first time last year, held roughly steady at 1,700.

Since 1990, the newsroom total has fallen by 4,300 full-time professionals. It had gone up and down throughout the 90s but hit a downfall at the turn of the century.

On the upside, minority numbers within newsrooms have been up – now at 13.5% compared to just 7.02% 20 years ago.

Cliches in headlines, stories

It was the time of my life, but it's a good thing I didn't hop on the bandwagon to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break the bank and charge up a storm.

I didn't realize how important it was to avoid cliches in both headlines and stories until my magazine writing class this year. The man I was interviewing, who actually had a very interesting story to tell, liked to speak in cliches. Before long, I realized I was actually putting his cliched phrases into my own words, instead of just using the cliches in the quote. Tight, straight-to-the-point quotes are important in a story, but too much is too much. Cliches only make a quote longer and harder to understand, because the reader is required to not only understand the point of the quote, but also the double meaning behind the cliche.

when the job gets tough

I was reading an article on The Enquirer, a paper from Cincinnati. The author writes about how difficult it is to cover a tragedy. Growing up in a small town, I can only imagine that a small-town journalist has a very tough time covering something this sad. This picture is from a serious fire that killed two fighters, including Don Patterson's (pictured) fiancee.

"Seeing Don led away from the scene is surreal. His smile is gone, replaced by a look of grief and sadness that pierces me to the core. I shoot video. It's hard"

In this article, the author writes about how sick he feels as he is called to cover this story that involves many of his friends, who happen to be firefighters. In a Journalism 301 class, we discussed how to handle awkward situations (i.e. how to talk to a parent/guardian who has just found out their child has died). And a reporter from the Republic told us the way to start is to ask how they would like their loved one to be remembered, and that will inevitably lead to a heartfelt description.

I'm just not sure I could objectively cover a story like this without emotion. 

Editing blogs

http://poynter.org/column.asp?id=101&aid=140459

I was reading an interesting article on Poynter today about blogging live and the upsides (quick, up-t0-the-minute), and the downsides (not much time to make it interactive or multimedia-friendly). This got me thinking... what sort of editing standards are there for blogging?
I know that before an article gets up online at a news Web site, the article must be read at least once (hopefully by the wire editor, or if it's a story produced by a reporter at that company, then by the news editor), but what about blogs? Are they subjected to the same sort of editing criticisms that are given to all other things posted online?
And what if something posted on the blog went too far? Would that then be the blogger's fault for even typing it in the first place, or the editor's fault for letting it go up unnoticed? I think there's a lot of potential ethical dilemmas waiting to surface as blogging becomes even MORE popular than it is now.

Amanda,

You're right that blogs are not getting the editing they need right now. Writers have director control (at least at The Republic) in writing their blogs in blog software and uploading them directly to the site without having to go through copy or desk editors. The only time a blog entry is closely looked at is when it is a column appearing in the paper. The Republic has chosen not to differentiate between regular columns in the paper and casual blog comments. They all go into the same blog which I think can be a problem in itself because if the reader associates blogs with casual, spur of the moment thoughts that get thrown up online, they may pass up reading a well thought out column that got thrown into the mix.

As far as finding fault when a blogger messes up, I think it would fall on both parties: the blogger for not bringing a potentially controversial aspect of his or her piece to a copy editor's attention (a degree of self-edit is required here) and on the editors who are knowingly taking the risk when they allow bloggers to bypass them and post directly to the site.

The solution is complicated because it's hard to advocate forcing all blogs to go through the normal editing process, which would of course be ideal. There are too many staffers blogging every day now for the copy desk to have to go through all of them. And it would take away the great thing about blogs, which is the speed in which they can be posted. A reader can log on two or three times a day and find a new thought from their favorite blogger.

I would say to put more responsibility on the online producers. Even they can't catch everything, but they are in the best position to check up on the most popular bloggers and make sure any new content is not questionable. If there is a problem they could temporarily remove the post and pass it over to a copy editor for review.

Checking a Word's Google Weight

A few weeks ago, I wrote a story where a quote had the word "trash can." I originally wrote the word as "trashcan." My boss consulted a dictionary and did not find the word. Both the AP Stylebook and the online version failed to cover the word. Several online dictionaries accepted both forms as correct.
My boss, a copy ace, turned to Google News. He entered the word in both forms. A search of “trashcan” produced just less than 100 results. A search of “trash can” turned up more than 1,000 hits. Due to the results, we chose the two-word form. I have deemed the practice "checking a word's Google weight."
I would never trust Google as a sole fact checker for anything, but I believe this was a righteous call for two reasons.
One, “trashcan” was not in the original dictionary consulted. To me, this implies the possibility that it is actually the two words, “trash” and “can,” and they would have been defined separately. Two, since English news writers from around generally use the same styles (though there are some exceptions), a ninety-plus-percent consensus is a pretty safe bet when considered with the first reason.
Is anyone troubled with the call?

Bad introduction

In the morning paper today, and there was an article that caught my wife’s attention. It was about a man, who having been arrested on suspicion of murder for shooting another, allegedly filed false IRS papers with the court. About halfway through the story it gives the background of the shooting case. The article introduces the victim by only his last name. It appears he was mentioned earlier in the article but that the name got cut during some point in the editing process. At least, that’s how I picture it.
Sometimes we cut for length, but we must be careful not to cut vital information. Another thing that always bothers me is missing articles of which I have also been guilty. Bu these seemingly small mistakes can be alienating to the reader.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crossing Borders

Here’s an example of where word choice can get you into big – as in international – trouble.

According to The Lede blog on The New York Times’ Web site, China is demanding an apology from CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, who referred to the Chinese government as “the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the last 50 years.”

Cafferty also was critical of Americans buying Chinese products, calling their products “junk with the lead paint.” This reminded me of our class discussion about how economic ties between the two countries affect environmentalism.

Since I can't figure out how to post a video, you can watch it on The Lede.

I have mixed feelings about this incident. Calling the Chinese “goons and thugs” might be going a little bit over the top, but everyone has a right to an opinion. I think it’s almost a bit silly for China to demand an apology for something as minor as this, in light of recent worldwide protests against the Olympics in Beijing. For this to harm relations between our countries would be ridiculous.

Also, according to the article on CNN.com, China said Cafferty "seriously violated professional ethics of journalism."

I find it funny that China comments on our journalism, since their government is so tolerant of people voicing their opinions, especially if they're dissenting.

I guess it’s somewhat comforting to know that even as American interest in news drops, someone is still watching.

The Speed of News

Piggybacking off of Shannon’s post about how news disseminated too fast can lead to embarrassing errors, I found an amusing cartoon from this Web site:



On the other hand, sometimes news doesn’t travel fast enough. I sat in traffic on the highway this morning for an hour. None of the news stations I scanned – not even the AM ones – had any traffic information. I figured it was a crash, and I was right, as I found out when I came to one of those electronic billboards. It would have been nice to know that two lanes of traffic were blocked on my route to work. I don’t have OnStar or any other newfangled technology to tell me the traffic. I ended up turning around and working from home.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fast isn't always better

While looking at the blog "A Capital Idea," I found a great example on why the speed of the Internet is not always good. It is great to get stories out to the public as soon as they happen, but sometimes this quick paced technology increases avoidable errors.

According to a post titled "Woops," Politico.com broke the news that John Edwards was going to suspend his campaign because his wife's cancer returned. This headline read: Edwards to suspend campaign.

However, later that same day during a press conference, Edwards confirmed the return of his wife's cancer and announced that it would not affect his campaign. So, politico.com then changed the headline to read: Edwards to continue campaign.

While it is great that headlines can be altered easily, because of the desire to deliver information first and most quickly, politico.com engaged in an error that would not have occurred in print.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ad Space on My Back

When ads started appearing on front pages the journalism world gasped. Now it's common to see advertisements not only on the front page, but above the flag on the front page. Yikes. Well, here's a new one: advertising actually on the reporters and photographers. Newspapers haven't started doing this — yet — thus making them way behind the times compared to NASCAR and the NFL. For the Super Bowl last February, word on the street is (I didn't shoot the Super Bowl) that the NFL required all credentialed photographers to wear neon vests to identify them on the field. Makes sense: color code everyone so its easier to see when someone doesn't belong. Here's the catch, though, the vests had room for advertising space … from Canon, makers of fine camera and copier equipment. Keep in mind, every photographer in the entire universe is either shooting Canon or Nikon. They're like Pepsi and Coke: you love one and the other you hate. So wearing Canon for a Nikon guy/gal is hard to deal with.

Fast forward to this weekend: NASCAR is at Phoenix International Raceway. To get the credentials that allow photographers to shoot from the best positions they have to wear a special vest, which Kodak is endorsing. (Kodak made its bones with camera film. Since most photogs have now gone digital, Kodak represents a neutral party.) I didn't mind the vest so much, but the advertising felt very cheap. Really, how much money does NASCAR need? This comes on the heels of a New York Times story I read several days ago that suggested the racing company is thumbing its nose at loyal fans, who may be in the cellar because of the economy, with record-high ticket prices. Everyone else in the country is dropping prices to keep business flowing, but NASCAR refuses to budge even as empty spots in the stands grow larger and larger each week.

I would love to hear some thoughts on this photographer-as-billboard issue.

Editing blogs

http://poynter.org/column.asp?id=101&aid=140459

I was reading an interesting article on Poynter today about blogging live and the upsides (quick, up-t0-the-minute), and the downsides (not much time to make it interactive or multimedia-friendly). This got me thinking... what sort of editing standards are there for blogging?
I know that before an article gets up online at a news Web site, the article must be read at least once (hopefully by the wire editor, or if it's a story produced by a reporter at that company, then by the news editor), but what about blogs? Are they subjected to the same sort of editing criticisms that are given to all other things posted online?
And what if something posted on the blog went too far? Would that then be the blogger's fault for even typing it in the first place, or the editor's fault for letting it go up unnoticed? I think there's a lot of potential ethical dilemmas waiting to surface as blogging becomes even MORE popular than it is now.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When neither old or new media are good enough


Just happened to find this cartoon as I was looking around online one night. I thought it was pretty funny and fairly accurate for a lot of people who aren't endeared to old media, but aren't necessarily buying into citizen journalism and new media either.

Straight from Zell

Like many of my previous posts, this one comes with inspiration from the New York Times. On the front page of the Times' business section Monday was this photo:




That's Sam Zell, the biggest name in newspapers at the moment. The real estate mogul recently bought the Tribune Co., which owns many of the nation's top papers like The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Orlando Sentinel and Newsday. For fun, the deal also included the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. Well, once the transaction was completed, Zell went on a tour of his new properties, though he only stirred up controversey by cussing at meetings and being outspoken on how newspapers should be ran. See below and watch until the very last second.



According the Times' article, Zell may be forced to sell one or two of his newly accquired newspapers because of debt owed from the buyout. Newsday has been mentioned and I've also heard that The Baltimore Sun may be up for grabs.

While Zell obviously comes off not being very professional at times, I believe you have to give credit to the man. He didn't become a billion by accident and for better, or worse, newspapers need people like him. They need his money and his drive to turn things around. And though some people may not like them, it's encouraging to me to see people like Zell with the Tribune Co. and Murdoch with the Wall Street Journal still believing in newspapers as a business and as a quality investment.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/business/media/07zell.html?_r=2&ref=media&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Prize season is upon us

It's not just the Pulitzers. Some of the other Big Awards announced recently include:
Best of Gannett,
Payne awards for ethics in journalism, and
Editor & Publisher's Publisher of the Year.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Digging up the Past

The Los Angeles Times recently retracted an article that linked the 1994 shooting of famous L.A.-based rapper Tupac Shakur to rapper Sean Puffy Combs, saying it “relied heavily on information that The Times no longer believes to be credible.” The paper’s report initially cited FBI documents that turned out to be forgeries made by James Sabatino, a con man with no real connection to the East Coast-West Coast rap feud.

The LA Times made its decision in response to an investigation prompted about two weeks ago by The Smoking Gun, a collection of public documents on crimes, celebrities, politicians and the FBI.

“The Times appears to have been hoaxed by an imprisoned con man and accomplished document forger, an audacious swindler who has created a fantasy world,” The Smoking Gun said.

The NY Times article listed some dubious characteristics of the documents:

-The documents cannot be located in the FBI’s own database, but they have been traced to Mr. Sabatino on other occasions.

– Mr. Sabatino says that the FBI gave him the files during a 2002 case, but a source told The Smoking Gun that “the FBI had no role whatsoever in the case.”

-The documents appear to be typewritten, complete with overstrikes and other telltale signs of a piece of office equipment not used regularly by the FBI for decades. The documents are riddled with abbreviations that were unknown to FBI veterans who reviewed them, and with misspellings that are also seen in other documents Mr. Sabatino has filed in court.

The funny thing is that the author of the original article, Chuck Philips, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. I guess even the best of us make mistakes. Still, especially with an event as prominent and contentious as the shooting of Tupac, someone should have given those documents an in-depth analysis to ensure they were valid. At least the LA Times made an effort to correct the story, even though it is years after the fact.

The war over the war

The war over the war

I saw this on Rimrats a while ago and have kind of been putting off posting on it.

The first question in this transcript from the Washington Post was: How is it that eight U.S. soldiers killed in one day in Iraq doesn't warrant front-page treatment in The Washington Post? Is the paper that out of touch with how much we, as Americans, care about our troops?

It's interesting how the war has slowly gone from front page material to small stories buried in the paper. If a bomb blows up in Baghdad, how many people does it have to kill to warrant a news story? How many deaths does it take to get on the front page? Do we need to wait until it's a nice round number like 4,000 before we make it a front page centerpiece?

I'm not sure that there is a right answer to any of those questions, but I do think newspapers are too caught up in what people want to know instead of what people should know. Working at Azcentral, everything is about clicks. It's the barometer that we use to determine success. If a certain number of clicks is reached in a given month, we get a pat on the back. If the clicks fall short of the benchmark, we're told there's room for improvement. This of course results in so much fluff being published on the site. Spring break coverage was unbelievable. There were live bloggers, a bunch of photographers, a series of slide shows with 40+ photos in each of them, and many video clips that are still being rotated around the site - because they get clicks.

Meanwhile there's still a war going on in Iraq, and you may be able to find a recent headline on it every now and then if you search the archives. Now I realize a news organization needs eyeballs to lure advertisers and stay in business. But it also has to find a balance between reporting need-to-know information and flashy stuff that is going to catch people's eye. I think at some point Azcentral needs to stop worrying about clicks and start worrying about whether it really wants college girls in bikinis on its homepage for a week.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mr. Rewrite offers complimentary help

Mr. Rewrite, aka Steve Elliott of Cronkite News Service fame, has produced a video on a subject dear to our hearts -- right?

The economic ripple

I was delighted to see a financial story that illustrated how the housing crisis affected other parts of the economy. It's in the Washington Post today. Here's an excerpt:
The report shows how the problems in the housing and financial markets are rippling through other sectors, reflecting the deep connections between seemingly separate parts of the economy.

The number of construction jobs, which has declined steadily for 18 months, continued to fall. That sector shed 51,000 positions, as fewer homes are being built.

Fewer houses mean less construction and building materials; the number of manufacturing jobs fell 48,000, with some of the steepest losses among makers of lumber, drywall, and other materials. Automakers also cut jobs.

With their homes less valuable, U.S. consumers seem to be spending less, which means stores need fewer workers. The number of retail jobs fell 12,400, with the steepest losses in sellers of building materials and appliances, which are strongly tied to the housing business.

Financial firms cut 5,000 jobs, with the biggest losses in "credit intermediation" companies, which includes banks and mortgage brokers.

This has caused businesses that have little to do with housing to become less confident about the future. Professional and business services, a sector that had been keeping the economy afloat, trimmed 35,000 jobs.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

As suspected, Oprah interviewed the "pregnant man."

As suspected, Oprah is the one with the exclusive contract to be the first to interview 34-year-old Thomas Beatie. On my drive to school this morning a radio station announced that the interview would take place on today's show. Then, later I confirmed this report on Oprah's official website.

Though I will not have the opportunity, like many of you, to watch the episode, on the website Oprah has twelve pictures include a picture of the happy couple, one of the ultrasound, and pictures of Thomas as Tracey. She also has two links titled, "How is this possible?" and "Go inside the ultrasound!"

From these links one can learn exclusive information such as, Thomas lived for 24 years as Tracey, when he was 12 years old his mother committed suicide, he was a Miss Hawaii Teen USA finalist, and he is now 24 weeks and 5 days pregnant. There is also a 2 minute, 15 second video of the doctor visit to see the ultrasound.

To find out more and to see the pictures and video, clink on the link.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Watch the movies, get a pink slip

The New York Times today added movie critics to its endangered newspaper jobs list. As a movie critic for eight years and member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society, I must admit this is very frightening. The article goes on to mention that many reviewers, along with other staff from newspapers around the country, are accepting buy-out packages or just being canned outright. The main culprit: movie reviewers are expendable in a time when revenues at print publications are in the decline. The article goes on to suggest that the Internet plays a major character in this movie critic drama. After all, it says, many readers aren't tuning in to printed movie reviews, preferring instead to go online and read a vast array of movie blogs which offer the same thing … and with swear words. "No one would argue that fewer critics and the adjectives they hurl would imperil the opening of Iron Man in May," but, it goes on, what about smaller movies that are made by the constant chatter of the movie critics who love them? No Country For Old Men, it suggests along with the film's Oscar-winning producer, would not be a best picture winner if it weren't for the critics who studied its themes, rallied around its villain or devoured its gritty story.

I agree that the content on the Internet is easier to get to, and features a wide variety of writers, but online blogsters are too frequently reviewers — not critics; there's a difference — who rehash plot points and dish on the star's red-carpet appearance, nip-slip or not. Too little attention is paid to film theory or deeper analysis of the film's messages.

Sadly, though, if this subject were ever put to a vote to the American public, they would have every movie critic fired on the spot, before the reporters even. Moviegoers tend to hate us because we dislike the movies they cherish, whether it's something that's been misunderstood or maybe it's truly wretched. Regardless, it's sad that the situation has become so bad that newspapers are beginning to trim from the edges.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

For fun: why reporting is dangerous

I happened to StumbleUpon this page that had videos of eight reporters who were "pwned" on the job. They're all humorous and remind me why I'm not in broadcast -- your more embarrassing moments aren't caught on tape.

In all actuality, I'm not sure whether most people realize exactly how dangerous journalism can be depending on what kind of work you're doing or where you're doing it.

Poynter goes through redesign

Redesign in newspapers has taken what some people call a “new shape,” transforming the look of them to keep up with the changing world. And with that, Poynter’s online web site, which is a portal for learning on how to become a better journalist, is also going through the redesign process. The only thing left to be done for the new site is the coding behind the webpage.

I for one can’t wait for the new look. I’m always interested in finding out what a news organization is doing to improve anything that it thinks might help. Will it be more helpful or will it hurt its cause? The web site took the feedback generated from its users and colleagues in helping shape the alterations created for its new look. While some things will be erased, the essentials will remain the same, just as does in most newspapers that go through the process. The content is what makes any news organization remain consistent.

The main focus was put on the overall presentation for the new look: headlines are clearer, social networking, and recent articles to remain at the top, are just a few essentials in the new look. Managing editor Jeremy Gilbert lays out his new plan for the re-design in his recent column in Poynter found at http://poynter.org/column.asp?id=122&aid=140456. And feedback is welcome from users to help make this web site better.

Postpartisan explains "dead cat bounce" and "postpartisan" in political dictionary

Okay, so William Safire is plugging his latest book, but the video is interesting nonetheless.

Monday, March 31, 2008

This post has nothing to do with editing, but rather, being a journalist.

There are some days that I just get so frustrated with journalism. Whether it's the intense deadline pressure, the hours spent waiting for sources to call back or the editing stories from not-so-great reporters, I think journalists need a place to vent to other journalists about the frustrations in the industry.
Enter angryjournalist.com. In the Web site's "About" section, it seems that the creator made the site for up-and-coming journalists to vent about the bleak job market. Here's an excerpt from the section:

"I created this site for several reasons. In private conversations with friends I sensed that there is a growing angst among the upcoming crop of journalists entering the field right now. Journalism-school graduates have the odds stacked against them."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Facebook Sticker Errors

The growing communication device we call Facebook has created yet another application: stickers. While these stickers that one shares with friends or gives to oneself are often witty, cute, or artsy, some of the most popular ones are also grammatically incorrect.

While it probably does not matter to most that others are posting grammatically incorrect stickers on one anothers virtual walls, as a fan of words and an individual taking advanced editing, it really does bother me.

I know I don't always use correct grammar in Facebook conversations or those I have on a daily basis with friends or family, but why thousands of people are willingly participating in the sharing of grammatically incorrect stickers is beyond me.

Here are some examples that are most annoying:

1. Im not your ordinary girl - (672,757 shares) Why didn't the person just add the dang apostrophe?

2. friends is what completes my life - (583,613 shares) I don't even care that 'friends' is not capitalized because the overall sentence is just so incorrect.

3. those with bad grammar should be shooted - (150,357 shares) If one really does want to shoot those with bad grammar, they would definitely not share this sticker.

4. me and you is friends . . . - (129,310 shares) Why do people find this use of grammar acceptable? Please, I really want to know.

5. Well be the old ladies causing trouble in the nursing home - (75,802 shares) Again, add the apostrophe. It's important.

6. Your only as strong as the tables you dance on, the drinks you mix, & the friends you roll with. - (? shares) Why would one use the wrong 'your,' but take the time to insert the period? I just don't know.

NYTimes slide show takes narrative approach

The pictures used in this slideshow were taken in Grand Central Station probably in the 1950s, perhaps 1953. The photographer, a student at the time, never had them printed, only developed from film and put onto contact sheets. Whoever did the cutlines borrowed from the accompanying story and, for the most part, presented a compelling series of blurbs. Unfortunately, that editor needed to take another look or let another editor have a go at it, too. You'll see what I mean.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dinner with Obama

Facebook has very much become an important way to communicate and at least one of our presidential candidates knows this. Thanks to my brother, who is a freshman at Suny New Paltz, I received a link referring me to a Barack Obama sight, that in conjunction with Facebook, Barack Obama himself says if "you" donate" any amount to his campaign, "you" will be entered into a drawing. From this drawing, four lucky people will be chosen to have dinner with the candidate himself.

The contest lasted one week and in the end, Obama flew the winners to Washington to have dinner with him so they could discuss the issues that were important to the winners.

Though the personal video message from Obama is now no longer accessible, if you go to the link you can watch a few minutes of the dinner he had with the winners.

Overall, I think this was a very successful strategy because he gave every American 16 year and older the opportunity to win a dinner with him. It didn't matter how much the person donated, for $1 they would have had the opportunity to win the contest and eat dinner with a presidential candidate.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Oh. My. God.

I don't know how it happened. Or why they did it. But a week ago today, Sports Illustrated began providing the greatest tool in sports journalism - unyielding access to its archives. That's 54 years of stories and photos that changed the way sports is covered. It's amazing to consider you can read every word that's ever been published in SI since it first issue on Aug. 16, 1954, until you remember that SI isn't the first to take this route. The New York Times a while began allowing complete access to its archives, which leads to looking up things like the first report of Lincoln's assassination:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9C00E0D91F30EE34BC4D52DFB266838E679FDE

What makes me wonder - and all the more grateful - is SI allows this entrance into history for free. Sure, it's going to raise their Internet traffic, but according to the following NY Times business article, it won't necessarily generate a whole lot of money.

"Industry executives say that although old articles attract less interest from advertisers than current ones, any increase matters at a time when many newspapers and magazines are struggling to hold onto print ad revenue."

But hey, who cares when you get to read about the greatest baseball player who never lived, Sidd Finch. See the story by the great George Plimpton: http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1119283/index.htm

SI Vault: http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/

NY Times business article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/business/media/17mags.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Citizen Journalism

When I, at the request of my friend, went to see Diary of the Dead on Easter Sunday, I hardly expected it to be as much of a comment on citizen journalism as it was on how to survive a zombie apocalypse.

The movie is filmed in hand-cam style and centers on a group of college students whose horror movie turned into a documentary. Throughout the movie, the popular media are portrayed as unreliable. They beat around the bush and give no important information about the supposed “virus.” By contrast, citizen journalists across the world are posting helpful videos online.

One of the students watches a clip on her cell phone of a girl in Tokyo who posted a video urging, “Don’t bury dead; shoot in head.” The film’s main character films the grisly deaths of his friends and finally himself in the hopes that the full truth will reach fellow survivors. After shooting the death of one of their comrades, his girlfriend, also filming, hands off the camera and says, “It’s too easy to use.” The point is that the camera is just as easy to use as the gun that was shot to spare his dead friend from turning into a full zombie. His partial post halfway through the movie receives 72,000 hits after only eight minutes, attesting to the incredible speed at which information travels today. In this era of widespread technology, people can get information from an incredible number of sources.

This movie, though far-fetched, is a testament to the power, influence and importance of raw, unfiltered content from everyday citizens capturing and discussing current events. Citizen journalism, though much of it is biased, plays a valuable role in keeping democracy strong, and is especially important when media outlets are unwilling or unable to put forth such blunt information.

Check out the blog of our own Dan Gillmor, an expert in grassroots journalism.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Denouncing and Renouncing

While perusing the New York Times, I found an opinion piece related to the role of the media in politics. This article details the game of denouncing and renouncing to which journalists subject public figures, exemplified by Obama being asked to comment on the racist remarks made by his pastor. The point is that the media make a circus out of these comments instead of focusing on more important issues.

Writer Stanley Fish says, “This denouncing and renouncing game is simply not serious. It is a media-staged theater, produced not in response to genuine concerns – no one thinks that Obama is unpatriotic or that Clinton is a racist or that McCain is a right-wing bigot – but in response to the needs of a news cycle…The odd thing is that the press that produces these distractions and the populace that consumes them really believe they are discussing issues and participating in genuine political dialogue.”

Even though candidates aren’t responsible for the remarks others make, sometimes asking for comment brings out elements of their own character and leads to a greater amount of honest discussion, such as in the case of Obama’s response to the issue of race. I heard about his pastor’s comments and was intrigued to listen to Obama’s entire speech. I found it to be an enlightening statement about a critical issue affecting our country.

On the other hand, sometimes media focus on incendiary remarks and their responses can throw more important issues to the wayside. Also, most likely not everyone will be driven to find firsthand information.

“Meanwhile, the things the candidates themselves are saying about really important matters – war, the economy, health care, the environment – are put on the back-burner until the side show is over, though the odds are that a new one will start up immediately,” Fish says.

From keeping up pretty well with the news, I still hardly know McCain’s or Clinton’s stances on most issues. I only know where Obama stands because I make an effort to receive his e-mail updates and go on his Web site. It may take more time than reading a news article, but at least I get the whole picture – what some news outlets aren’t giving me.

Director of NYT copy desks is taking questions

I always look forward to the days when Merrill Perlman, who oversees all of the copy desks at The New York Times, gets to answer reader-submitted questions for the paper. This is the week! She has some marvelous explainers already posted.

Headline? Oh, why bother

Monday, March 24, 2008

AP Beefing up Entertainment Coverage

Browsing Romenesko, I came across this article from a Hollywood blog about the Associated Press. I hope I am not the only one in the class who becomes aggravated with the amount of Hollywood coverage in the news - television news, papers, and 24-hour news networks like CNN or MSNBC. But this has disappointed me in a different way. Now, one of the largest (if not the largest) press wires is beefing up its already large entertainment coverage because, they claim, it is what their readers want and because it "makes good business sense".

Ugh.

While reading the Hollywood blog, I stumbled on a quote from the AP's Los Angeles bureau stating: "now and for the foreseeable future, virtually everything involving Britney is a big deal."

Personally, if I wanted more Britney, I would turn to TMZ or trashy magazines at the grocery checkout...

Religion and Newspapers

I was looking through Sunday's front pages earlier, and came across this one from Dolan, Alabama. Obviously, a lot of papers acknowledged the fact that it was Easter Sunday, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, I'm not sure what I think about the huge banner at the top of the page that says "Happy Easter Sunday." Easter is a huge religious holiday, but is it the newspapers job to point out only certain religious holidays. For example, I doubt this paper will have a huge banner saying "Happy Hanukkah" later this year, or even "Happy Kwanzaa." It may sound like I'm blowing this out of proportion, but it is a newspaper's job to present the news. Clearly, I don't mind them saying Happy Easter as it is a major holiday in the Christian religion, but I think that if they are going to acknowledge Christian holidays they should also acknowledge holidays of other religions. Not everyone in this country is Christian, and not everyone who reads this newspaper I'm sure. Just because a certain thing is predominant in our country, doesn't mean that everything else should be forgotten or ignored.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sunshine Week -- Is that what people really want?

Reading this information made me wonder if the
American people really put an effort forth in trying
to make sure their government is more open. We see
newspapers, magazines and news channels devote time to
celebrity news to satisfy the audience's palate. Are
these same people the one's who want the government to
be more open? With news outlets having to use more
time for other items instead of what many within the
business would feel is more important, time is spent
digging up who is staring in the next Incredible Hulk
movie. Among the access people want more of include
who lawmakers meet with and police reports from
certain neighborhoods. If a nightly news show would
attempt to show this, there is a good chance the
audience would turn it off. I wish these polls were
completely accurate but unfortunately I do not think
those taking the poll were really being honest to
themselves or with the poll.

Scott

Katie the intern punks The Sun-Times

The Chicago Sun-Times offered $1,000 to the best video urging Sam Zell NOT to rename Wrigley Field. Imagine the surprise when the winner turned out to be a team from the Chicago Tribune. This video explains the contest before launching into the winning piece.