Benjamin Mullin


I write, edit, report and produce media for as one of the institute's first Google Journalism Fellows. Before that, I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper, The Orion, a freelancer for USA Today and an intern at a variety of publications throughout Northern California. I love to talk media and journalism! Tweet me @benmullin or email at

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Indy Star editor: Front-page editorial ‘wasn’t a snap decision’

Although The Indianapolis Star suddenly made national news Tuesday with its bold front-page stand calling for a fix to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the newspaper had been talking over the decision since Sunday, Star editor Jeff Taylor tells Poynter.

The decision to take over the front page involved several higher-ups at the newspaper, including opinion editor Tim Swarens, publisher Karen Ferguson and Taylor himself. They knew they wanted to make a big statement on an issue that was important for the state and city, he said.

So, they discussed publishing a front-page editorial — and the decision to take over the front page — by phone and email Sunday afternoon. On Monday, they met one final time to confirm their choice.

“It wasn’t a snap decision,” he said. Read more


Newspaper carrier honored for saving fellow newspaper carrier

KGMI | Bellingham Herald

On a frigid November day last year, Gary Spurling, a newspaper carrier for the Bellingham (Washington) Herald, delivered his co-worker from danger.

Tuesday night, Spurling will receive the Distinguished Citizenship Award for saving his colleague, KGMI reported Monday.

The award recognizes a predawn rescue on Nov. 29, when fellow newspaper carrier Dennis Depraw was “swept off the road” while searching for a delivery address, Robert Mittendorf writes for the Bellingham Herald:

Desperate, Depraw phoned the Herald circulation office, whose employees called 911 and told him to stay with his car. Gresham and Herald carrier Gary Spurling ran to their cars and sped north on Interstate 5 toward where Depraw was trapped.

Spurling, 40, who was an Army medic in the 1990s, said he arrived first and waded through waist-deep water to Depraw’s car.

Read more

Career Beat: Alex Treadway named vice president of leadership sales at The Washington Post

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Alex Treadway is now vice president of leadership sales at The Washington Post. Previously, he was chief operating officer and senior vice president of sales at The Daily Caller. (Email)
  • Paula Goldstein Di Principe is now fashion director at Refinery29. Previously, she was site director at Connie Wang is now fashion features director at Refinery29. Previously, she was style director there. (Email)
  • Bruce Auster will be collaborative coverage senior editor at NPR. He is national security editor there. (Email)
  • Kim Martin is now chief strategy officer at Meredith. Previously, she was president and general manager of WE TV. (Email)
  • Mike Schmidt is now director of editorial video at Mashable. He is co-founder of Morel.
Read more

Washington Post to cut some non-newsroom staff

The Washington Post

The Washington Post has “decided to internally transfer or eliminate certain non-Newsroom positions,” publisher Fred Ryan said in a memo to staffers Monday.

Ryan did not specify how many positions will be eliminated, but said the cuts come after “much careful deliberation” for the employees affected. Staffers who will be laid off have already been notified, he wrote.

As of October 2014, The Washington Post had added about 100 employees since the paper was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Erik Wemple reported.

Earlier in 2015, Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon reported that The Washington Post was taking steps to trim staff. A Post spokesperson told Washingtonian that net editorial staff would continue to grow in 2015.

Here’s Ryan’s memo to employees:

Washington Post Publisher Frederick J.

Read more
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Minimum wage worker fired after talking to The Washington Post

The Washington Post

Shanna Tippen, a Days Inn employee who was featured prominently in a Washington Post story about an increase of the minimum wage, was fired from her job by the hotel manager soon after the story ran. Chico Harlan, the author of the original story and a follow-up, explains:

Tippen says she was fired by her boss, hotel manager Herry Patel. Earlier that day, Patel had called the Post to express frustration that he had been quoted giving his opinion about the minimum wage hike. (He objected to it.) It was soon after, Tippen says, that Patel found her in the lobby and fired her.

Tippen’s boss berated her for talking to The Washington Post, calling the decision “stupid and dumb,” and asked why Harlan decided to write the story. Read more


Kinsey Wilson named executive vice president of product and technology at The New York Times

The New York Times

The New York Times on Monday announced that Kinsey Wilson, who was previously The Times’ editor for strategy and innovation, will be executive vice president of product and technology.

The New York Times announced in November Wilson would join the paper’s masthead. Before arriving at The Times, he was chief content officer at NPR, a post he left late last year.

Wilson is a member of The Poynter Institute’s board of trustees and a former chairman of its national advisory board.

Here’s the announcement:

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The New York Times Company announced today that Kinsey Wilson, currently The Times’s editor for strategy and innovation, has also been named executive vice president, product and technology. Mr. Wilson will join the company’s executive committee and expand his present role to assume leadership of all company-wide digital product and technology operations.

Read more
NPR Headquarters

Inside NPR’s podcasting strategy

NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In January, months after “Serial” rocketed to the top of the iTunes podcasting charts and ignited a conversation about the “Golden Age of Audio,” NPR was preparing to answer with a hit of its own.

The show had spent more than a year in development. For its launch, staffers used every bit of experience they’d gained about how to engineer a popular program: They cross-promoted previews of the show on podcasting staples like “This American Life” and “Radiolab,” coordinated a media campaign, even set aside a modest sum — about $1,500 — to buy Facebook ads promoting the show.

It paid off.

Since “Invisibilia” launched on Jan. 6, its episodes have been downloaded more than 33 million times, briefly eclipsing “Serial” on the iTunes charts. Read more

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AP CEO says murdering journalists should be a war crime

Good morning. Here are 11 media stories.

  1. Protecting the free press

    Associated Press Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt called for an international legal standard of punishment for people who kill and kidnap journalists Monday during a speech at Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club. "The single most treacherous threat to journalists is killing with impunity. Impunity for those who kill journalists only empowers them." (AP) | "Last year was a particularly deadly year for the AP — four of the news cooperative's journalists were killed on assignment." (AP) | Related: The man who fatally shot AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus in Afghanistan was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week. AP correspondent Kathy Gannon, who was injured in the shooting, reaffirmed her resolution to go back to Afghanistan.

Read more

Career Beat: Gregg Birnbaum named senior news editor at CNN Money

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Marc Weiner has been named news director at FIOS1 News in New York. Previously, he was an executive producer for Al Jazeera America. (Rick Gevers)
  • Gregg Birnbaum will be a senior news editor at CNN Money. He is managing editor and head of political content at the New York Daily News. (Capital New York)
  • Tanzina Vega will be a digital correspondent at CNN Politics. She is a reporter at The New York Times. (Poynter)
  • Nikki-Dee Ray has joined the weather team at WTVR. Previously, she was chief meteorologist at KLBK. (TV Spy)

Job of the day: The Boston Globe is looking for a digital reporter. Get your résumés in! Read more


NPR editor: be careful using ‘suicide’ in Germanwings case


Mark Memmott, standards and practices editor at NPR, gave journalists there two reasons to be cautious of the word “suicide” to describe the death of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight who may have purposefully forced the plane down:

— His motivation and state of mind aren’t known (and may never be).

– The investigation into what happened is still in the early stages.

Memmott also writes that the word “suicide” may not be adequate given that Lubitz might have deliberately crashed the plane. He also addressed the use of other formulations that incorporate “suicide,” including “suicide bomber” and “committed suicide.” In both cases, better alternatives exist, he says.

The AP Stylebook on Friday previewed a new entry for its forthcoming 2015 edition, recommending journalists should avoid using “committed suicide,” preferring instead “killed himself, took her own life or died by suicide.”

Committed, the new entry notes, “suggests possibly an illegal act” that is inconsistent with laws in certain U.S. Read more


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