Andrew Beaujon

Andrew Beaujon reports on the media for Poynter Online. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture. He lives in Alexandria, Va., with his family. His email is, his phone number is 703-594-1103, and he tweets @abeaujon.

Deseret News’ Ten Commandments series: ‘Not just preaching’

The Deseret News inaugurated its launch of a national website Sunday with a series on the Ten Commandments. The series is "emblematic of the type of coverage you're likely to find" on the new site, Allison Pond told me in a phone call Friday. It follows CEO Clark Gilbert's imperative that the news organization be not "the best in our market, but the best in the world" at covering certain topics, including family, faith, culture and money.

Pond is editor of the Deseret News' national edition and was lead editor on the Ten Commandments series. The goal was to show how they related to everyday life, she said. Mark Kellner looks at how terms like "OMG" relate to the prohibition on taking the Lord's name in vain; Lane Anderson writes about how social media drives consumerism and covetousness.
Former Pope Benedict XVI on Jordan's Mount Nebo in 2009, where the Bible says Moses saw the Promised Land. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Jennifer Conlin writes about independent student publication The Michigan Daily, which beat local daily The Ann Arbor News on a major story. Since the News underwent several repositionings in the local market, the Daily has been “the only Monday-through-Friday print publication in town”:

The constant changes have muddled The Ann Arbor News’s identity and, according to some residents, eroded its standing as the go-to source of news in the community. That sense was reinforced by the football article, on which The Ann Arbor News played catch-up after student reporters broke the story.

“I feel The Michigan Daily fills an important niche in Ann Arbor and a need that is unmet by our regional newspapers in an era of constrained resources,” said the student paper’s editor in chief, Peter Shahin, sitting with the two reporters who broke the football scandal story, Adam Rubenfire and Matt Slovin, in the Daily’s conference room. …

“We have 200 to 250 staff, and though we are a trade publication first covering the university, we are also trying to fill a void in other areas here, like the arts,” Mr. Shahin said. “I think we truly have the pulse of the town.”

Jennifer Conlin, The New York Times

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‘Just make something great,’ Boston Globe told journalists about marathon documentary

Every time Boston Globe arts reporter Geoff Edgers worried about the cost of "5 Runners," a documentary he and his colleague Darren Durlach made for the paper, Globe Editor Brian McGrory told him not to stress. He "just said go for it," Edgers said in a phone call. "He always delivered the directive, Don't worry about that, just make something great."

The documentary airs Monday night on a channel owned by John Henry, who bought the Globe last year. It looks at the lives of five people who crossed the finish line at last year's Boston Marathon just as the first bomb went off. Edgers said that after the bombings, "Frankly, I was doing what most newspaper people do, which is desperately trying to deal with an emotional and upsetting situation by finding how I could play a role."
The documentary's five subjects, just before the bombings, in a still from "5 Runners."
Edgers wrote a story last year about the five, who all finished at 4:09:49 by the race clock. "In most cases that would be end of story, but I kept in touch with them," he said. (more...)

Henry Waxman asks Tribune CEO to reconsider newspaper spinoff

U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman has sent a letter to Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori saying interviews with experts "raised serious concerns about the future of the Los Angeles Times" should the company go ahead with its plan to spin off its newspaper division.

Poynter's Rick Edmonds is among the experts Waxman consulted.

Waxman is concerned about Tribune Co.'s plans to saddle the newspapers with debt and keep their real estate, but he also says the company's plan to consolidate some newsgathering functions "raises concerns about the ability of the papers to continue putting resources into local coverage." The plans, he says, "will place the long-term viability of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune papers at risk."

In a statement to Poynter, Los Angeles Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein said that, "From our ongoing discussions, Congressman Waxman should by now be fully aware that the structure of the spin-off of Tribune Publishing is based on sound financial principles and a deep commitment to providing Tribune's newspapers with a strong, long-term future." He continues:
The assertions of the academics consulted by the Congressman provide no new insight and in many cases are simply wrong. As publisher of the Los Angeles Times for the last six years and soon-to-be Chairman of the Board of Tribune Publishing, I am extremely confident that the plan put forth by Tribune Company is sound, reasonable and will help protect and build a strong future for the Los Angeles Times and Tribune's other newspapers for years to come.
Waxman has raised concerns about the plan before. He plans to retire this year.

Here's the letter:

Letter to Tribune Co. CEO from Henry Waxman by Andrew Beaujon

Related: Buzz off, Waxman — Congress can’t tell a newspaper how to do business (Reuters)
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Digital First names David J. Butler its editor-in-chief

Digital First Media
David J. Butler is the new editor-in-chief of Digital First Media, the company announced Friday. In 2011 MediaNews (which later placed its newspapers under DFM's management) put Butler in charge of its Bay Area News Group properties, including the San Jose Mercury News, which he still edits.

Butler succeeds Jim Brady, who announced he would leave DFM after it cut its Thunderdome project. The company's papers "have informally been shopped around since the start of this year," Rick Edmonds wrote earlier this month.

Butler will remain editor of the BANG newspapers, the company says in a release.

I've worked with Brady in the past, and he's on Poynter's National Advisory Board.

Salt Lake Tribune lays off employees, cuts print features

The Salt Lake Tribune
The Salt Lake Tribune laid off eight employees Thursday and announced it would reduce some of its print offerings, including its standalone religion section.

Seven full-time employees and one part-time employee lost their jobs, Tony Semerad reports. The cuts "come after the paper lost four other newsroom positions through attrition in the past six weeks and let 19 staffers go in September."

It will also stop publishing its Faith section as a standalone section, and "Ensuing weeks may bring smaller Tribune offerings of outdoors and business coverage, as well as weather data, comics, TV schedules and puzzles." Religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack will stay with the paper and Robert Kirby's column "will also find a new home," Semerad writes.

Digital First Media exempted the Tribune from its plans to install paywalls at newspapers. It competes in Salt Lake City with the Deseret News. DFM is said to be shopping its newspapers.

Brad Wieners writes about Matthew Power’s life, and the day last month when he died in Uganda. One of his companions on that day said Power didn’t take enough time to get used to Uganda’s climate. Weiners understands why:

Matt may have been a free spirit, but he paid a New York mortgage and worked hard to afford it. Reviewing Matt’s itinerary—red-eye, trans-Atlantic flight followed by a seven-hour drive to the trailhead the day of his arrival, then joining the expedition on his second day in country—I got a shiver of recognition. I’d have made the same mistake. Not just failing to give heat the respect I do altitude. Failing to give it more time. Departing from New York, where there is never a moment to lose, there’s no way I’d think to schedule an extra couple of days—much less a week—to let my body adjust. No one has that kind of time.

Brad Wieners, Bloomberg Businessweek

Yellow What the Barrier Tape

AP: ‘Damn’ and ‘hell’ OK, but not most other profanity

Associated Press | The Economist "I’m not sure everyone’s OK with news media keeping up with the latest vulgarities," AP standards editor Tom Kent writes in a post on the suddenly kind of hot topic of whether news organizations should publish profanity. "For instance, if our stories were as laced with things 'sucking' as common speech is, readers might find it very tedious very fast." AP now prints "damn" and "hell" without occasioning any pearl-clutching, Kent notes. And it will usually hyphenate or bleep newsworthy profanity, like when Vice President Biden called the health-care law "a big fucking deal" (a word Kent reproduces in all its glory). So why worry so much, AP?
We believe most AP subscribers — web and mobile news sites, broadcasters and newspapers — still want certain obscenities obscured. It’s also our own opinion that loading up our services with gratuitous obscenities cheapens our work and is of service to no one.
A "newspaper’s job is not to report tasteful news," The Economist's language blog, Johnson, writes in a call for The New York Times to loosen its standards.
True slurs, such as those concerning race, sex and disability, can sear the victim. Yet reporting on the damage done no more repeats the damage than publishing a photograph of a victim of physical harm repeats that harm. It’s called journalism, and it is the New York Times’s sole reason for existence.

Murdoch: Fox News has ‘absolutely saved’ Republican Party

In a rollicking interview with Fortune's Patricia Sellers, Rupert Murdoch says an all-digital New York Post "might be quite likely in 10 years,” claims Mike Bloomberg told him "nobody reads" Bloomberg View and says of Twitter: "My family are horrified that I’m on it."

There's also this exchange with Sellers:
Does it bother you at all, Rupert, that there is a view that Fox News has contributed in a big way to the political discontent in the U.S., degraded the political process, and maybe, in spotlighting the Tea Party, even hurt the Republican Party? I think it has absolutely saved it. It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn’t like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN. By the way, we don’t promote the Tea Party. That’s bullshit. We recognize their existence.
The full article is behind a paywall. It's worth it.

Knight gives money for POV to become more digital

The Knight Foundation Thursday announced a $250,000 grant to American Documentary, Inc.'s POV series. The money will go toward moving POV further "beyond television into the digital space," a press release says. Some of the money will go to collaborations with other organizations, as well as its "POV Hackathon."

Another chunk of the money will go to hiring a technology fellow in Brooklyn. The yearlong position pays $80,000/year to its recipient, who will be expected to build something:
What could you build in a year? A mobile video app for documentary filmmakers? An on-the-ground collection tool for journalists? A web framework for nonfiction storytellers?
Here's "The Men of Atalissa," a documentary that accompanied Dan Barry's New York Times story about exploited men in Iowa. POV showed the film on its website in collaboration with the Times. Related: Current and former Knight fellows launch project to help make sense of events in Venezuela | Knight Fellow wants to increase number of female journalists in Afghanistan