Adam Hochberg

IRS pledges to ‘adjust’ cut-and-paste letter writing campaign to local papers

The Internal Revenue Service says it will re-evaluate an initiative that encourages organizations and volunteer tax preparers to send canned letters to the editors of their local newspapers. An IRS Web page contains sample letters promoting the earned income tax credit and volunteer tax assistance sites. It instructs users to “just copy and paste” a letter onto their letterhead, sign their own name, and send it to a newspaper.

“I think this is going a little too far,” conceded IRS Communications Director Terry Lemons when he was alerted to the Web page.“This whole business of copy-and-pasting; we shouldn’t be doing that.”

Lemons said the agency will “make some adjustments” in the program.… Read more


News orgs take to social media to find Va. Tech witnesses, photos

News organizations from around the country are using social media to locate witnesses and obtain interviews and photos of today’s campus shooting at Virginia Tech. “Call our newsroom if you know anyone that goes to Virginia Tech,” tweeted Buffalo, New York television station WKBW.  “Hey #vatech – looking to speak & get updates from students on campus,” wrote CBS News producer Joe Danielewicz. Meanwhile, the media pounced on a Flickr page of photos from the photo editor of the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times.The images of the crime scene and of police activity attracted requests for republication rights from CNN, the New York Post, NPR, Australia’s News Limited, and other news organizations. (The newspaper eventually posted contact information for media seeking reuse rights.)… Read more

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Journalists may want to think twice about defending Oregon blogger who lost suit
Defenders of the Oregon blogger who was found guilty in a $2.5 million defamation suit “have not dug deeply enough,” writes Kashmir Hill at While the blogger, Crystal Cox, promoted herself as an “investigative journalist,” Hill notes that Cox behaved more like somebody whose goal was to destroy the reputation of her target, an investment firm called Obsidian Financial Group. Cox started several websites with names like “” and “”

Obsidian says Cox then offered it a service starting at $2,500 a month to protect its “online reputation.” (Obsidian founder Kevin Padrick forwarded a copy of the offer to Forbes.) “Most journalists would not want to include Cox in their camp,” Hill wrote. || Related: Dan Kennedy says ruling is bad because it means journalists have more constitutional rights than others (The Huffington Post) | Federal judge says Montana blogger is not a journalist (AP) | Cox “was never able to prove her accusations against Padrick were true” (Seattle Weekly)  | Who decides what is “real” journalism?Read more

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Media group calls on mayors to respect journalists’ rights at Occupy events

Free Press
Media reform organization Free Press has delivered a petition to the nation’s mayors urging them to protect the rights of journalists covering Occupy rallies. The group says 30 journalists have been arrested at rallies, and it’s tracking those arrests on a Google docs spreadsheet and a Storify page. Free Press delivered its petition with more than 40,000 signatures to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. | Related: Reporters say police kept them away from an NYC Occupy protest outside an Obama fundraiser | Occupy Wall Street protests a top story on blogsRead more

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Buffett buy spotlights Omaha’s digital potential

Warren Buffett’s purchase of the Omaha World-Herald could intensify an already heated competition among the city’s digital news providers. The World-Herald’s has aggressively been rolling out apps for news, real estate, garage sales, and Nebraska Huskers sports, and the newspaper operates several specialty websites devoted to such topics as health news and tips for moms ( Meanwhile, the website of WOWT-TV has equipped its reporters with backpack units that allow them to push live video onto the Web from almost anywhere, even moving cars. Analysts say Omaha’s economy is relatively strong, and the media consulting firm Borrell Associates predicts online advertising in the market will “take an enormous leap” next year.  ||  Related: How World-Herald staffers learned about Buffett’s purchase ( | Is Warren Buffett the new Citizen Kane?Read more


Eltahawy says security forces exacted revenge ‘through me and my body’
Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, who says Egyptian security forces beat and sexually assaulted her near Tahrir Square, says her alleged attackers were “exacting revenge on the activists in Tahrir through me and my body.” Eltahawy, who is one of several female journalists who have been targets of sexual assault and other violence in Egypt this year, told NPR’s Michel Martin that she believes police would have treated her even more brutally if she hadn’t been a journalist and American citizen. Eltahawy, who tweeted details of the attack shortly after it occurred, continues to provide Twitter updates as she receives treatment in the United States for injuries including a broken left arm and right hand. || Earlier: Reporters’ organization reverses position on whether female journalists should cover Cairo unrest | French TV correspondent allegedly assaulted | Committee to Protect Journalists reports at least 17 attacks over one recent weekend.… Read more


Mississippi TV station reverses reporting about new Penn State Paterno replacement

The Clarion-Ledger | WAPT-TV
Jackson, Miss. television station WAPT backed away from a report that Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen “is close to signing a deal to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.” Mullen — who says Penn State hasn’t contacted him — called the WAPT story, “the most irresponsible reporting that I’ve ever heard of.” In an interview with the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, WAPT sports reporter Ray Coleman said that a source told him Penn State would announce Mullen’s hiring today. The station has removed Coleman’s original report from its website and replaced it with a story that calls the “rumor” untrue. A MSU spokesman tweeted that Coleman apologized to school officials. || Earlier: No penalty for reporting on rumors about NFL draft prospectsRead more


Cooks bring crowdsourced recipes to the holiday dinner table

My wife keeps more than two dozen cookbooks in our kitchen, giving her access to the collected culinary wisdom of Martha Stewart, Molly O’Neill, the staff of Better Homes & Gardens, and a variety of other gastronomic gurus.

But the cranberry sauce recipe she chose for Thanksgiving this year comes from an anonymous online source whom she knows only as “Leeza.”

Like many amateur chefs, my wife nowadays is more likely to seek out meal ideas from her iPad than her cookbooks. And typically, she relies on popular websites like or which allow her fellow home chefs to submit recipes — as well as review, comment on, and even alter those submitted by others.

The sites — which combine elements of crowdsourcing, social media, and an old-fashioned recipe swap — are popular destinations on the Web.… Read more


Newsrooms can buy Facebook friends, but user engagement is not for sale

The WFSB-TV Eyewitness News Team really wants to be liked. So much so that the Hartford, Connecticut television station is offering a generous reward for its newfound friends.

The CBS affiliate is running a contest this month on its Facebook page. Visitors who click the page’s “like” button can enter a drawing to win a new Nissan Maxima. So far, the station says about 20,000 people have responded, driving up the total number of likes on the WFSB Facebook page to more than 75,000.

“Facebook in general is a promotion tool to get people to watch us and go to our website,” said WFSB’s Executive Producer of Digital Content, Shannon Kane. “You want as many people to like you on Facebook, just like you want as many people to watch you on TV.”

While WFSB’s giveaway features an unusually extravagant prize, many TV stations are using contests and rewards to attract likes.… Read more


Jim Romenesko’s departure sparks strong reaction, criticism

Jim Romenesko’s messy departure from Poynter sparked a flood of reactions from mainstream media and bloggers. A handful of writers agreed with Poynter Online Director Julie Moos that Romenesko had used “questionable attribution” in some of his posts. But many defended Romenesko’s practices, and several criticized Moos’ handling of the situation.

The Columbia Journalism Review – which initially raised the attribution question in an email to Moos for an upcoming story – called Romensko’s attribution practices “sloppy.” CJR’s Justin Peters wrote:

It is odd to criticize a journalism ethics institute for caring too much about journalism ethics, and it is disingenuous to say that there was no error here out of a historical respect and affinity for Jim Romenesko (and the traffic he commands) and an uncertainty about whether aggregators should be subject to the same rules as other journalists.

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