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

I’m dreaming of a Christmas without holiday clichés

It’s beginning to look a lot like laziness from headline writers across America:


The result is the same no matter which holiday standard you plug into Google.


Here’s “Deck the Halls”:


If you’re looking to shake off the Christmas clichés, NPR standards editor Mark Memmot has a few banned phrases.

Have you spotted any holiday ledes or headlines that make you cringe? Send them to me at Read more


New York magazine creates ‘pop-up blogs’

Since May, New York magazine has launched an irregular series of “pop-up blogs” to expand its coverage on a variety of topics including relationships, the arts and travel.

The blogs focus on a specific theme — exploring Paris, untangling love lives or navigating New York’s art scene, said Ben Williams, digital editor of New York Media (which owns New York and its associated properties). They run for a month, and they have bolstered the magazine’s traffic and its bottom line, he said.

Each “pop-up” is basically a Web version of a traditional magazine insert, Williams said. The editorial team comes up with a series of topics they think would be a good fit for New York, and the advertising staff tries to sell those concepts to advertisers. If the sales team finds a sponsor, the editorial side creates the blog and fleshes out plans for coverage.

“Advertisers like them because they’re kind of a TV miniseries, so you have a beginning, middle and end,” Williams said. Read more


Career Beat: Dan Lyons named editor-in-chief at Valleywag

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

  • Dan Lyons is now editor-in-chief at Valleywag. Previously, he was a marketing fellow at HubSpot. (Re/code)
  • Rachel Racusen will be vice president of communications at MSNBC. Previously, she was associate communications director for the White House. (Playbook)
  • Jeff Fager will be an executive producer at “60 Minutes”. Previously, he was chairman of CBS News. (Politico)
  • Nitasha Tiku is now a west coast senior writer at The Verge. Previously, she was editor-in-chief of Valleywag. (Business Insider)
  • Jason Kravarik is now a producer at CNN. Previously, he was assistant news director at KOIN in Portland, Oregon. (TV Spy)

Job of the day: The Rockford (Illinois) Register Star is looking for an editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: Read more


Halifax Media Group will be bought for $280 million

Herald Tribune

New Media Investment Group Inc. will purchase Halifax Media Group for $280 million, according to a report in the Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune.

The purchase will include the 24 dailies owned by Halifax Media Group, which “have total daily circulation of approximately 635,000 and 752,000 on Sundays,” according to the Herald Tribune. It is scheduled to close in early 2015.

Halifax Media Group formed in 2010 and soon acquired the Daytona Beach News-Journal in addition to motor trade insurance nearly 15 newspapers in The New York Times Regional Media Group, according to the Herald-Tribune. It then added 19 papers from Freedom Communications. Read more


‘Profanity dramatically increases engagement’ says NPR health blogger


NPR health blogger Scott Hensley has a strategy to generate buzz on social media: start cussing.

He told NPR’s Social Media Desk that quoting a little profanity from a recent Jack Shafer interview in a tweet bumped his engagement up to 5 percent:

Posting dog photos, Hensley said, also helps. This pooch picture bumped Hensley’s engagement rate up to 4 percent.

Meanwhile, NPR’s social media guidelines advise reporters to “consider how your conduct in a community will affect your reporting”:

As you adjust behaviors such as language and dress in different situations, think about what might be most helpful or harmful to effective reporting.

Read more

CPI has a wall of shame for no-commenters

Public officials and flaks who stonewall reporters, beware: Your face might be the next added to this website.

“____ couldn’t be reached,” a new Tumblr from the Center for Public Integrity, puts a spotlight on prominent officials and institutions that refuse to talk to news organizations for important stories. Since it went live earlier today, the Tumblr has highlighted reticence from the Obama administration, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the IRS and, to name a few.



The Tumblr was founded by CPI media specialist William Gray and engagement editor Sarah Whitmire, who were trying to expand the nonprofit’s social media footprint onto some new platforms, Gray said. They noticed public officials had slowly become decreasingly responsive over the years and wanted a way to show that trend.

“When you finally see this lined up, it becomes obvious how many news organizations aren’t getting a response,” Gray said. He’s also the founder of Floor Charts, a Tumblr dedicated to cataloguing the wide array of props used by public representatives on the House and Senate floors. Read more


Nitasha Tiku joins The Verge

Business Insider

The Verge has hired Valleywag editor Nitasha Tiku to be its West Coast senior editor, Business Insider’s Alyson Shontell writes.

Tiku recently took over as sole editor of Gawker Media’s tech publication after Sam Biddle departed for Gawker.

Tiku will work alongside Casey Newton, who was recently appointed The Verge’s Silicon Valley editor.

Verge Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel told Poynter he wanted its West Coast operation to be more than a “trade publication,” citing competitors like Re/code and TechCrunch. Instead, he said, he wanted to examine “the culture and the companies” of Silicon Valley. Read more

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Career Beat: Anthony DeMaio named publisher of Slate

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

  • Anthony DeMaio is now publisher of Slate. Previously, he was president of national sales there. (Politico)
  • Chelsea Janes will cover the Washington Nationals for The Washington Post. She covers high school sports there. (Washington Post)
  • Sophia Papaioannou is now editorial director at HuffPost Greece. She hosts “360 Degrees”. Nikos Agouros is now editor-in-chief of HuffPost Greece. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of VimaMen. (Huffington Post)
  • Steve Unger will be interim CEO at Ofcom. He is director of strategy, international technology and economy there. (The Guardian)

The Associated Press is looking for a supervisory correspondent in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: Read more


Pop Up Archive releases new audio transcription features

New podcasting initiatives, including “Serial”, “StartUp” and “Radiotopia” have lately attracted a lot of attention from reporters and investors.

But with all this new audio being gathered and posted to the Web, how can journalists and their audiences parse it? Do listeners need to dig through hours of audio to find what they’re looking for? And is there a quicker way for reporters to transcribe all the audio they’ve gathered?

Enter Pop Up Archive. The startup, created by former journalists Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith, aims to accelerate the reporting process by letting journalists feed their audio into a program that automatically generates a transcript. It also allows them to index those transcripts to make them searchable.

“We built Pop Up Archive to make it possible for journalists to do their jobs better and faster, particularly when it comes to sound,” Wootton said. “And whether they’re trying to make sense of many hours of tape logged in the field or trying to make sure Google indexes their content, we wanted to be the people behind the scenes giving them the ability and technology to do that.”

On Wednesday, the company debuted a tiered subscription plan offering premium transcripts that differentiate between speakers and add punctuation. Read more


Snowstorm stalls delivery of Buffalo student newspaper

A snowstorm affecting the Buffalo, New York, area has prevented many students at the University at Buffalo from getting the holiday preview edition of their newspaper.

Credit: The Spectrum

Credit: The Spectrum

The newspaper is usually delivered from The Buffalo News to the University at Buffalo campus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays by around 8 a.m., said Sara DiNatale, the paper’s editor-in-chief. But Wednesday morning a driving ban has prevented the paper’s usual delivery service from distributing the paper. She’s optimistic the paper will be delivered soon, but said she didn’t want anyone to chance driving in dangerous conditions.

“I’m hoping tonight, but we’re not expecting anybody to risk their lives,” DiNatale said. She’s currently snowed in at her Lancaster home and has been unable to get to the Spectrum newsroom in the nearby suburb of Amherst. Last night she edited stories from home.

“We just got snow off my car in the last hour,” she said. Read more