Kelly McBride

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Kelly spent 14 years covering saints and sinners in Spokane, Wash. Now she's at Poynter, searching for the soul of American journalism.


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How can Rolling Stone recover?

No one was fired. The Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus” disappears from their site, replaced by the Columbia Journalism School’s report. But how will the magazine recover from this massive, public failure?

Even people who don’t regularly read Rolling Stone are aware that the magazine’s story about a 2012 gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity was false.

Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana vowed to adopt the policy recommendations at the end of Columbia’s report. But Rolling Stone’s executives have rejected a major overhaul of the reporting, editing and fact-checking process, suggesting that this debacle was unique and not the result of a pattern.

That leaves the culture and news magazine with two pathways to redemption both slow and arduous.

First, in implementing the mild policy reforms, the magazine can do a close examination of the internal culture that created these two critical scenarios documented by the CJR report:

  • The story editor, Sean Woods, inexplicably let go of his demands that Sabrina Rubin Erdely track down the three friends who advised Jackie the night of the alleged attack, or verify that the man Jackie claimed orchestrated the attack actually existed.
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Here’s what Facebook knows about ethnic minorities on social media

There were a few relevant insights for journalists in a SXSW session Friday that was primarily designed to motivate advertisers and marketers to target Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians on Facebook.

If you want to get relevant content in front of a diverse audience on social media, you have to understand the nuances of how that audience is different from the general population, the presenters argued.

Christian Martinez, head of U.S. multicultural sales for Facebook, described a study that Facebook and Ipsos MediaCT performed last August on 1,600 Facebook users.

Where ethnic minorities used to see their physical neighborhood as the primary way they connect to their culture and heritage, now it’s through social media, said Virginia Lennon, senior vice president of partnerships for Ipsos. Where minorities used to connect in person and on the telephone, now social media provides a constant connection to their family and friends, especially for those who are separated by physical distance and even national borders. Read more

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Journalism and public shaming: Some guidelines

Public shaming has been in style for a while and journalism plays a significant role. It’s time to examine the ethics of this.

Public shaming, or openly humiliating someone as punishment for a certain behavior, is inherently a form of intimidation. It’s a strategy where we shine a light so hot and bright on a subject that he or she suffers, or at the very least shuts up and goes away.

It’s often perceived as positive because it exposes what many people consider bad behavior such as when BuzzFeed aggregated a bunch of racist tweets after an Indian-American woman won the Miss America crown.

To be sure, there is a certain nobility in shaming public officials who try to keep public documents from the public, or in exposing a greedy corporation that abuses its lowest paid workers. Read more

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Why editors shouldn’t call readers a**holes

New York Times Editor Dean Baquet called a college professor an asshole on Facebook and some people cheered.

It’s possible that those who recognize how hard it is to create great journalism every single day of the year were animated by the idea of the polite and prestigious editor of the country’s biggest newspaper swinging back in response to a cheap shot.

I wish he wouldn’t have.

Creating dialogue in the face of hostility is a challenge in social media – and in real life, too – but it can be done. And it should be done. And it’s in the best interest of journalism that the editor of the New York Times set that example.

Baquet’s comment under University of Southern California’s Marc Cooper’s Facebook post had 53 likes as of this morning. Read more

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The ethics of hacked email and otherwise ill-gotten information

Sony and Aaron Sorkin both got it wrong. There are journalism ethics to mining emails hacked by someone else. But the question is not whether or not to mine them, but rather how.

Journalists generally agree that it’s appropriate to use ill-gotten information in the public interest, whether it’s the Pentagon Papers or a massive email hack.

But good intentions and execution are two different things. The latter involves a solid process rooted in journalistic values — because public interest is a moving target. Some newsrooms claim public interest when information is merely interesting, funny or salacious. The article about Channing Tatum’s goofy email might fall into that category.

BuzzFeed’s look at Maureen Dowd’s practice of allowing prior review, which Dowd denied, could be in the public interest because Dowd is a powerful columnist at a powerful newspaper that influences public opinion. Read more

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We need more women in leadership, but won’t get there ‘solely by looking at the roadblocks’

The pathway to women’s leadership in journalism is filled with barriers from the moment women enter the profession. Women leave journalism at a greater rate, get promoted more slowly and as a result they rarely rise to the executive suite. Yet we won’t solve this problem solely by looking at the roadblocks.

Today Poynter begins the Push for Parity Essay series, in which we hear the stories and advice of successful female media leaders, along with male leaders with a track record for promoting women. In doing so, we believe we can identify more pathways to success than there are locked doors. These essays are part of an ongoing series of programs, conversations and initiatives from Poynter for female leaders.

In these five introductory essays we hear from leaders with different backgrounds and experiences. Read more

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Jill Abramson startup to advance writers up to $100k for longform work

Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson shed light this weekend on her plans with Steven Brill to grow a start up.

Writers will be paid advances around $100,000 to produce stories that will be longer than long magazine articles but shorter than books, she said. There will be “one perfect whale of a story” each month and it will be available by subscription.

She discussed her plans during an hour-long keynote interview at Journalism & Women Symposium’s annual Conference and Mentoring Project. She declined to name any funders. She and Brill haven’t settled on a name yet.

She first talked about this venture two weeks ago during a WBUR event with David Carr. Read more

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How to build a news apps team (Hint: if you don’t have a lot of money, settle for scrappy)

It isn’t really a question of whether you need a news apps team or not. The question for most newsrooms is what kind of news apps team can you afford? And then, how can you keep them as long as possible, given your scarce resources?

Programmers and developers with journalistic inclinations are in high demand. They command good salaries and they tend to want to live in places where there is a vibrant tech industry.

That means big newsrooms with big budgets in big cities have a distinct advantage. So smaller newsrooms with smaller budgets must be realistic and strategic.

Emily Ramshaw, editor of the Texas Tribune, and Jonathan Keegan, director of interactive graphics at the Wall Street Journal, offered up tips and strategies this past weekend at ONA14 for building the best news apps team possible. Read more

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Bill Simmons’ ESPN suspension and the challenges of editing star talent

Whether you think Bill Simmons is the latest sacrificial lamb at ESPN, or that his suspension is really theater in the vein of professional wrestling, there are important issues behind the suspension that we could all pay some attention to.

  • Too much content, too little editing: From podcasts to blogs to social media posts, there is a fair amount of content that goes straight to the audience with very little editing. With small changes (see word choice, below) to his rant, Simmons could have stayed within the boundaries of ESPN’s acceptable journalistic standards. In broadcast, that’s the producer’s role. In writing it’s the editor’s role. There is editing and production that takes place. But do those people do their work with an ear toward editorial standards?
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If you must unpublish, here’s how to maintain credibility

Gawker

Gawker notes that BuzzFeed has unpublished more than 4,000 articles recently, disappearing posts on the 8-year-old company’s website. Editors at news websites usually take articles down with great reluctance, because doing so undermines public confidence in your newsroom’s work. Why would anyone trust what you say today if you routinely take down pages that you can no longer stand behind?

RELATED: Fairness and credibility guidelines for unpublishing online content

Still, there are rare occasions when taking down a post is the best option. Here are some best practices:

  • Keep a blank page up, rather than making the entire URL disappear or redirecting to a homepage without note.
  • Leave the tags and searchable information, so folks can find what’s left behind and know for certain the information is no longer valid.
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