Al Tompkins


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Florida newspaper runs photo of ‘two-headed alligator’

TBT, the tabloid publication of the Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times, may have been duped by a prankster. It ran a photo of a two-headed alligator on its front page Monday.

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The image comes from Justin Arnold, who wrote on his Facebook page that he “was walking my dog yesterday and noticed a few people gathered by the Hillsborough river in Seminole Heights. When I went closer I was amazed to see this two headed alligator. According to Florida Fish and Game it has been reported by several people and they explained it as a failed separation of monozygotic twins and that it is common in reptiles. Please share this picture so others can keep their eyes out for it.”

Others in the region have picked up the story. WTSP posted a story about the gator, though it notes “the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tells us they’ve received no reports of a two-headed alligator in the area.” First Coast News is also running what appears to be an earlier version of WTSP’s story. Read more

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on cell phones on planes. As one part of the federal government looks to remove restrictions on making phone calls from airplanes, another agency is apparently considering its own prohibition. Wheeler told members of Congress that while his agency sees no technical reason to ban calls on planes, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told him Thursday morning that the DOT will be moving forward with its own restrictions.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

What the FCC’s net neutrality ruling means for journalism

The battle over regulation of the Internet moves to Congress this week. Until now, the question of whether the Federal Communications Commission should have the power to force Internet service providers to treat all customers equally has been a legal matter, tied up in federal courts.

But on Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler heads to Capitol Hill to face the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who is openly critical of the FCC’s “net neutrality” rules — the commission’s attempt at ensuring a level playing field on the Internet.

Last week, the FCC, on a split decision, voted to open public discussion on the rules. More than 22,000 public responses have already poured into the commission’s comment site.

This story is boiling up.

Journalists have largely played net neutrality as a battle among three players: the Internet providers delivering data to your home or business, consumer groups wanting to keep the providers from cutting deals with companies seeking a fast lane into homes, and businesses operating online and relying solely on the Internet for their survival — Amazon, for instance. Read more

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Newsrooms pay for scoops: will it escalate the practice?

We start a new week with a sobering journalistic reality. Last week, two newsrooms paid sources for exclusive content that broke big stories, and those who would not or did not pay were left quoting those who did.

A year ago, Canadian journalists said they had seen video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack but they didn’t buy the video and, despite Ford’s bizarre behavior, no images equaled no proof.  So when a new video emerged showing the mayor holding a crack pipe, The Globe and Mail forked over $10,000 to an admitted drug dealer for still frames from the video.

TMZ will not say if it paid for audio of NBA team owner Donald Sterling’s ranting about his associate/girlfriend’s posting photos of herself and black men on social media, but Deadspin said it paid for another version of the audio tape.

Shocking photos and audio have a real street value, and now we know the going price. Read more

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In this Wednesday, March 26, 2014 photo, Chet Kanojia, the founder and CEO of Aereo, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in New York. The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court in late April 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Aereo Supreme Court case: what’s at stake — local news included

Chet Kanojia, the founder and CEO of Aereo, speaks during a March 2014 interview with The Associated Press in New York. The future of the online service hinges on a legal battle with broadcasters that goes before the Supreme Court Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The cast of characters fighting Aereo gives you a hint of how important the case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET is to the future of broadcasting.

It is as big as the 1984 Betamax case, which seems like a silly notion now, but wasn’t back then. In that case, the court allowed you to tape record what you see on TV, despite dire warnings from broadcasters that it would ruin them. Now, the court has to consider technology that can deliver live TV programs to your phone, laptop or tablet. And the company that wants to deliver the programs also wants to avoid paying the broadcasters anything for the rights. Read more

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Despite ABC News/CPI blowup, here’s how news partnerships can work

Journalism organizations might get discouraged about joining partnerships after the public meltdown of the partnership between ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity this week.

CPI’s reporter Chris Hamby won a Pulitzer Prize for stories that exposed how coal miners who were dying from black-lung disease were being unfairly denied health benefits. ABC wanted to get some of the credit for the investigation. What followed was a nasty exchange that played out here on Poynter Online all week.

But let’s not forget the upside to great investigative journalists from different organizations working together. ABC and CPI did affect lives, expose wrongdoing and reach a national audience that neither could have done alone.

Some of the most important journalism in recent years has been the product of partnerships. Look at this graphic from PBS Frontline showing all of the partners it has worked with on significant projects. The list spans from local newspapers to nonprofit investigative groups to ESPN and Univision. Read more

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Contest entries from ABC, Center for Public Integrity highlight their division

On the same day that ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity won yet another national journalism award for exposing how coal miners were being unjustly denied black-lung benefits, the spat between the two venerable newsrooms heated up. And now you can read the letters that have been flying back and forth between former colleagues who in recent months shared some of journalism’s highest honors for their work.

Wednesday, ABC and CPI won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award for online investigative reporting (affiliated category).

On March 5, ABC and CPI accepted the coveted Harvard Goldsmith Prize. The Goldsmith judges gushed about how they believed the joint investigation was a model for other newsrooms to follow.

 

The White House Correspondents’ Association also honored the joint project with its Edgar A. Read more

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ABC News says Center for Public Integrity should share Pulitzer for investigative reporting

This is the top of the letter that ABC President Ben Sherwood sent to William Buzenberg and his organization’s board members Tuesday asking The Center for Public Integrity to share Pulitzer Prize credit.

ABC News President Ben Sherwood sent a four-page letter to WIlliam Buzenberg, executive director of The Center for Public Integrity, asking CPI to share credit for the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting awarded to CPI’s Chris Hamby this week. The letter was sent to the CPI board and was obtained by Poynter.org.

“You seem to be determined that ABC was simply a megaphone for Chris Hamby’s work,” Sherwood wrote. Sherwood said ABC’s investigative reporter Brian Ross and producer Matt Mosk should “share” in the Pulitzer and Sherwood says he intends to take the matter up with the Pulitzer board.

The work at the center of this spat exposed how doctors and lawyers worked with the coal industry to deny sick miners black-lung medical benefits. Read more

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How the new Colbert show might affect local news

CBS’s decision to replace David Letterman with Stephen Colbert has local TV managers wondering how the change will affect late-night news ratings.

Graeme Newell-Researcher, speaker with 602 Communications

Marketing researcher Graeme Newell of 602 Communications explained how what follows a newscast can affect the newscast itself.

“There is an in-flow and an out-flow that happens with television,” he said. Even though we can effortlessly skip from channel to channel with the push of a remote button, viewers still tend to keep watching a channel until they are prompted to change, but it takes prompting. Read more

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Students are escorted as they leave the campus of the Franklin Regional School District after more then a dozen students were stabbed by a knife wielding suspect at nearby Franklin Regional High School on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Murrysville, Pa., near Pittsburgh. The suspect, a male student, was taken into custody and is being questioned. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

How to cover what comes next in the Pennsylvania school stabbing case

Pittsburgh-area newsrooms now must live through the reality of covering a mass casualty attack, just as journalists near Fort Hood, Texas, did last week.

They will seek answers about how a student at the Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Penn., slashed and stabbed 20 people Wednesday morning. For months, journalists will tell stories of heroism and panic, of missed signals and critiques of school security. Sadly, other journalists have been through this. I asked them to help guide us through the coverage ahead.

Lessons from Newtown

Josh Kovner-Reporter, Hartford Courant

Hartford Courant reporter Josh Kovner co-authored the paper’s reports that profiled Adam Lanza, the troubled 20-year-old who committed the second deadliest school shooting in American history. Kovner’s and Alaine Griffin’s reporting of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School was part of a partnership with PBS Frontline.

I asked Kovner what advice he had for journalists investigating the stabbings and trying to understand the mind of the young man who is accused of doing them. Read more

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