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.

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

Rolling Stone explains John Hancock mistake

John Hancock's signature appears on Julia-Louis Dreyfus' back on the cover of Rolling Stone, under the Constitution. Only one problem: In Politico, Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold offered the magazine free PR advice: "It was on purpose," they suggest it could say. "On 'Veep,' Dreyfus plays a bumbling Vice President -- of course she'd get her tattoo of the constitution wrong!"

"Here’s the explanation from our Editors: The Declaration of the Independence is on the other side but we couldn’t fit in all the signatures," a spokesperson for the magazine tells Poynter.

Joel Achenbach writes about a revelation he had when interviewing a source:

But now I’m wondering if what I consider “reporting” is just a form of aggregating, of skimming, of lifting the best parts of a scientist’s work and repurposing it for my own interests. These scientists have spent many, many years doing research, much of it at the very edge of the knowable, where finding a new piece of solid data is a laborious process that may require long nights at the computer or the laboratory bench, or mulling a bust of Galileo, and this work has to be slotted among other obligations, including grant applications, peer-reviewing papers, teaching, advising graduate students, holding office hours, serving on faculty committees and schmoozing at the faculty club. And here I am calling up and saying: “Give me the fruit of your mental labors.” Asking for the ripest fruit, as it were. Asking not just for information but for wisdom. Give it to me! For free. And they did, because they always do, because we have a system of sorts.

Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post


‘Heartbleed’ bug raises concerns for journalists, too

Krebs on Security | The New York Times | TechCrunch | PCWorld
A bug in some versions of OpenSSL, nicknamed "Heartbleed," is "extremely critical," Brian Krebs writes:
Complicating matters further is the release of a simple exploit that can be used to steal usernames and passwords from vulnerable sites, as well as private keys that sites use to encrypt and decrypt sensitive data.
( "doesn't appear to be vulnerable," Krebs says in an email. Phew!)

But companies -- including publishers -- should upgrade OpenSSL immediately, and the rest of us Internet users (including perhaps journalists who use Web-based email) should "change their passwords this week," Krebs writes.

Emphasis on "this week": "Immediately changing passwords could feed a new password into a website that has not fixed the flaw," Steve Lohr writes in The New York Times.
Users will largely need to depend on individual sites to notify them about whether the flaw has been addressed. Many major web services, like Yahoo, have already released such notices.
"Even if you’ve never heard of OpenSSL, it’s probably a part of your life in one way or another," Greg Kumparak writes in TechCrunch.
The apps you use, the sites you visit; if they encrypt the data they send back and forth, there’s a good chance they use OpenSSL to do it. The Apache web server that powers something like 50% of the Internet’s web sites, for example, utilizes OpenSSL.
"It’s unclear if attackers have been exploiting the flaw over the last two years, which was just publicly revealed on Monday," Jeremy Kirk writes in PCWorld. "But attacks using the flaw 'leaves no traces of anything abnormal happening to the logs,' the researchers wrote." Related: Here’s everything you need to know about the Heartbleed web security flaw (Gigaom) | Tech reporter Brian Krebs hacks it on his own, one scoop at a time (Poynter)
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Online publication buys McClatchy’s Anchorage paper

Alaska Dispatch | Anchorage Daily News
The online news publication Alaska Dispatch has reached an agreement to purchase the Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy, the companies announced Tuesday.

The purchase price was $34 million, Alex DeMarban reports for Alaska Dispatch, calling the deal a "stunning media shakeup in the 49th state."

Alaska Dispatch "plans no changes to the Anchorage Daily News’ staff, content or distribution," DeMarban reports.

The purchase "includes the newspaper, and the Daily News' building on Northway Drive in East Anchorage," the Daily News reports. "After the purchase is finalized, the building will be sold to a private local buyer, according to a statement from Alaska Dispatch, and the Daily News will continue operations as a tenant."

According to figures filed with the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Anchorage Daily News' average Sunday circulation was 45,783 in September 2013, and its average Monday through Saturday circulation was 51,539.

Here's the press release: (more...)
In this 1993 file photo, lead singer of Nirvana Kurt Cobain is photographed. Seattle police in April 2014, plan to release new photographs discovered during a re-examination of the death of Nirvana's Cobain. Cobain, who was 27 when he died. (AP Photo/Mark J.Terrill, file)

What it was like to report on Kurt Cobain: Talk about music. Don’t mention drugs

Craig Marks does not remember who was supposed to be on the cover of Spin's June 1994 cover -- probably not Pearl Jam ("that would be too ironic," he said when reached by phone). But he does remember the extraordinary circumstances under which Spin staffers put together the magazine issue referred to internally for years as "Dead Kurt."

Marks was the magazine's music editor at the time and was in Indiana when he heard that Cobain's body had been found on Friday, April 8, 1994. He flew back to New York to help crunch out a tribute issue. "There was no doubt we were going to put Kurt on the cover," he said. But as the magazine (for which I later worked) mustered its forces, one of its employees, Research Editor Daniel Fidler, died of a heroin overdose.
Nirvana in 1991. (AP Photo/Chris Cuffaro, File)
"These two things were at the very least cosmically related," Marks said, "and so while we were trying to put out this issue we were dealing with the death of a friend and a co-worker, so it was a very emotionally rough time period." The magazine dedicated the June 1994 issue to Fidler. Marks also remembers that Spin had someone on the ground in Seattle at the time -- Jim Greer, then a senior contributing writer, who Marks recalled begged off writing something. "He kind of choked," Marks said. "I remember having a lot of animated conversations with Jim Greer about why he couldn't file a story."

Reached by email, Greer said, "Kurt was a friend and I never had any intention of writing about his death for Spin. I didn't talk to Craig until several days afterwards, at which point we had a conversation that could be characterized as animated." (more...)

How ThinkProgress became ‘real competition for scoops’

One morning in late February, ThinkProgress‘ climate reporting team met in a narrow conference room with the thermostat set to 72 degrees and a selection of Bigelow teas in one corner.

There were eight people around the table and … Read more


Chuck Stone dies at 89: Journalist, UNC professor, NABJ cofounder

The Washington Post | The News & Observer | Philadelphia Daily News | NABJ | Solomon Jones
Chuck Stone, whose career spanned journalism, academia and politics, died Sunday. He was 89 and had congestive heart failure, his daughter Krishna told The Washington Post.

Until 2004, Stone was a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Andrea Weigl reports he "became known around campus for his stylish attire, his morning commute on a bicycle and his popular class on censorship that he called 'dirty books and dirty pictures,' one that always had a waiting list."

Before academia beckoned, Stone was a journalist at black newspapers and a towering columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, "the most influential journalist in Philadelphia," former Editor Zack Stalberg said. On several occasions, John F. Morrison writes, police called Stone into dicey situations: An armed robbery where the suspects requested his presence at a standoff, and a prison incident in 1981, during which he helped negotiate the release of several hostages. (more...)