Adam Hochberg


usatoday-small

Case Study: Gannett’s monumental task — A content management system for all

(This case study, the fifth in an occasional series, was underwritten by a grant from the Stibo-Foundation.) Note: CCI Europe is a subsidiary of Stibo, whose foundation made a grant for this series. The funder had no editorial input on the study.

In 2011, Gannett Co. owned more than a hundred newspapers and television stations – each with its own website. To publish its online material, the company was supporting about a half dozen content management systems.

Journalists in most of the company’s broadcast newsrooms wrote and published their digital stories through a homegrown CMS called Newsmaker, while almost all of Gannett’s newspaper websites were powered with Saxotech. But the Arizona Republic had its own system known as Enigma, and the Des Moines Register posted some of its content through WordPress.… Read more

Tools:
20 Comments
Conan O'Brien discusses his life and the art of comedy during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Thursday, May 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Conan’s comedy bit hints at serious issues for local TV news

Just before the holidays, late-night comedian Conan O’Brien poked a little fun at local TV newscasts. In doing so, he illustrated some serious issues about the compromises journalists make in understaffed newsrooms.

O’Brien strung together clips of two dozen local news anchors reading an identical story – a consumer report about the supposed trend of holiday “self gifting.” The newscasts were broadcast in different cities – from Boise to Ft. Wayne to Dothan, Ala., but each of the anchors introduced the story with the exact same words: “It’s okay; you can admit it if you bought an item or two or ten for yourself.”

O’Brien has aired similar montages in the past, capturing repetition in local stories about such topics as Cyber Monday shopping, restaurants that serve political-themed food, and the news that actor Mike Myers and his wife were expecting a baby.… Read more

Tools:
8 Comments
The gloves come off as journalists increasingly fact-check other journalists. (Depositphotos)

‘Gloves come off’ as journalists debunk each other’s Obamacare horror stories

When Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik saw Deborah Cavallaro tell her story on television, something about it didn’t add up.

Cavallaro is a real-estate agent and investor in Westchester, Calif. She’s also become a minor media celebrity in the past few weeks, repeatedly sharing her story of how the Affordable Care Act will raise her medical costs. Since October 23, Cavallaro has been interviewed on the NBC Nightly News, CNBC, the public radio show “Marketplace,” two local Los Angeles TV newscasts, and in Hiltzik’s own newspaper.

As all the news reports have noted, Cavallaro’s insurer informed her that it’s canceling her policy and instead offering a new plan with a higher premium. “Her only option is to be forced into a policy she doesn’t want and can’t afford,” reported KCBS-TV.… Read more

Tools:
6 Comments
Editinganddesign3

The challenges, benefits of consolidated editing & design centers

(This case study, the second in an occasional series, was underwritten by a grant from the Stibo Foundation.)

In a sprawling, windowless office in Hickory, N.C., more than a dozen small-town and metro newspapers come together each night.

Seated in front of rows of computers, about 45 journalists edit copy and lay out pages for World Media Enterprises, a conglomerate that owns newspapers throughout the southeast. At one desk, a recent college graduate edits the crime blotter for the next day’s Dothan (Al.) Eagle. Nearby, his colleagues lay out the comics page for the Hickory Daily Record, proofread the “bridge” column for the Jackson County Floridan, and arrange front page photographs for the McDowell (N.C.) News.

These editing and design tasks used to be done locally in each paper’s newsroom.… Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
crimemap2

Disputes over crime maps highlight challenge of outsourcing public data

Colin Drane is an unlikely warrior in the fight for open government.

An inventor and TV infomercial producer, Drane spent much of his career marketing products like the Trunkanizer  for organizing car trunks, a toy called Bendaroos, and Invisi-lift self-adhesive breast enhancement pads.

Six years ago, Drane started a different kind of business – a company called ReportSee, which operates the website SpotCrime.com. The site obtains publicly available crime records from police agencies and graphically displays them on colorful maps.

Drane says the site attracts a million views a month from people curious about the burglaries, shootings, and other bedlam in their towns. The site makes money through advertising and from partnerships with television stations and other media organizations.

“Its primary appeal is folks involved in neighborhood watches and people who want to know what’s going on their communities,” Drane said in a phone interview.… Read more

Tools:
1 Comment
job satisfaction napkin doodle

‘Journalist’ or ‘illustrator’? How self-identification affects designers’ job satisfaction

When veteran newspaper artist and designer Charles Apple worked at the (Raleigh) News & Observer in the 1990’s, he and his colleagues had an ongoing discussion about how they viewed their own jobs.

As they drew up the artwork, maps and infographics that adorned each day’s paper, they’d talk about whether their work constituted “journalism” and whether they thought of themselves as “journalists.”

For Apple, who never hesitated to grab a sketch pad and head out to a crime scene or natural disaster, the answer was obvious. He considered himself every bit a journalist — just as the paper’s reporters and photographers did. But some of his fellow designers saw themselves differently.

“Their point was that they’re not really journalists; they’re just illustrators,” Apple told me from southern California, where he’s now at the Orange County Register.… Read more

Tools:
16 Comments
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivers his concession speech at his election night rally in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Gaffes defined and defied campaign narratives, but did they affect who won?

As Mitt Romney visited Poland this summer, Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker shouted a question to the candidate that revealed a lot about the media’s coverage of the campaign.

“What about your gaffes?” Rucker called out, as Gov. Romney walked to his car in Warsaw.

The governor didn’t answer, but the question highlighted the focus of much of the media’s day-to-day narrative. Journalists, bloggers, pundits — and sometimes the campaigns themselves — gleefully piled on after either candidate committed a perceived misstep or uttered an inelegant statement.

From President Obama’s declaration that “the private sector is doing fine” (labeled as an “economic gaffe” by ABC News) to Gov. Romney’s admission that “I’m not concerned about the very poor” (a possible “monster gaffe,” declared The Week), the campaign narrative often centered more on the candidates’ offhand ad libs than their platforms or policy records.… Read more

Tools:
0 Comments
zimmerman

George Zimmerman’s lawyers hope to win trial by social media in Trayvon Martin case

In the Trayvon Martin case, the court of public opinion has moved online.

Late last month, attorneys for George Zimmerman – the Sanford, Florida man facing second-degree murder charges in Martin’s killing – launched a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account devoted to the case. So far, they’ve used the social media platforms to comment on developments in the case, solicit money for Zimmerman’s defense, and interact with the public.

“[S]ocial media in this day and age cannot be ignored,” wrote Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara in an introductory blog post. “It is now a critical part of presidential politics, it has been part of revolutions in the Middle East, and it is going to be an unavoidable part of high-profile legal cases, just as traditional media has been and continues to be.”

O’Mara called his social media presence “new and relatively unprecedented,” and legal experts I spoke with could recall no previous case where a defense team has employed such tactics in a high-profile prosecution.… Read more

Tools:
85 Comments
tulsacnnliveshot

CNN’s unedited epithets raise questions about when to use unfiltered hate speech

When Tulsa police arrested two men Sunday in connection with a shooting spree that targeted African-Americans, much of the media drew attention to a racist Facebook post apparently written by one of the suspects. But CNN’s unusually explicit on-air description of the post raised eyebrows and renewed a debate about how journalists report on hateful speech.

The post was written by murder suspect Jake England, who along with his roommate confessed to an apparently random series of shootings that left three people dead and two wounded. On Facebook, England lamented the violent death of his own father two years ago and referred to his father’s killer with a vulgar adjective and a racial slur.

“There was a Facebook posting made just the other day,” CNN correspondent Susan Candiotti said Sunday, as she reported live from Tulsa.… Read more

Tools:
5 Comments
Caucus participants Tony Muenster, left, Bernard Michel and Donald Sieverding sit in a closet due to the large attendance at the Jackson County Iowa Democratic Precinct 2 caucus Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008 in St. Donatus, Iowa. (AP Photo/Mark Hirsch)

News orgs in four states ban or limit journalists’ participation in political party caucuses

Five states will hold presidential caucuses in the opening weeks of 2012. But while the events likely will play an important role in deciding the Republican presidential nominee, many journalists will be prohibited by their employers from participating.

Unlike in a primary election, where voters cast secret ballots, caucus participants often publicly announce their candidate preferences. While the caucus procedure differs significantly from state to state, one common model requires supporters of each candidate to form groups in separate corners of a large room, then try to recruit members of rival groups.

“In a caucus you don’t just go show up and vote,” said Editor Lyle Muller of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette, whose journalists are banned from participating in the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses.… Read more

Tools:
5 Comments