Kelly McBride


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


Why the columnist who writes about race in Spokane got scooped on Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal, stands in front of a mural she painted at the Human Rights Education Institute,  offices in coeur d'alene, idaho In this photo taken July 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)

Rachel Dolezal, stands in front of a mural she painted at the Human Rights Education Institute, offices in coeur d’alene, idaho In this photo taken July 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)

Shawn Vestal, a newspaper columnist in Spokane, Washington, had just cleared his decks to start checking out Rachel Dolezal’s story when he got scooped last week. But Vestal wasn’t looking into whether Dolezal was black. Instead, he was asking whether her story of being a hate crime victim was real.

While he was researching previous stories about the now notorious woman who was the head of Spokane’s NAACP, one person had in passing wondered aloud whether Dolezal was really black. But Vestal dismissed the question as irrelevant.

“I probably didn’t even give it 15 seconds of thought,” said Vestal, a columnist at The Spokesman-Review, during a phone interview this week. Read more


Advice for summer interns: Don’t screw this up

Kelly McBride and her daughter Molly in New York. (Photo courtesy of the Kelly McBride)

Kelly McBride and her daughter Molly in New York. (Photo courtesy of the Kelly McBride)

My eldest got her dream internship. She starts next week. Here’s the letter I wrote, with help from my friends.

Dear daughter,

Congrats on getting an internship at a place where you already love the journalism. I know you got called as an alternate, after someone dropped out. That’s OK. None of us are qualified for our first job. So it doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how competent you are on day one. What matters is how open you are to learning new things and how fast you can learn them. You’re going to feel stupid and incompetent. Just own that, rather than hide from it. It will give you the emotional resilience to be unassuming and spongy. Read more

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Bill Simmons and ESPN will both be fine, and so will sports fans

Bill Simmons in 2014. ESPN says that it is parting ways with Bill Simmons, one of its top personalities who created the Grantland website and was instrumental in the network's documentary series. Network president John Skipper said Friday that he decided not to renew Simmons' contract. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

ESPN says that it is parting ways with Bill Simmons, one of its top personalities who created the Grantland website and was instrumental in the network’s documentary series. Network president John Skipper said Friday that he decided not to renew Simmons’ contract. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

This breakup between ESPN and Bill Simmons was inevitable.

Fifteen years ago the two got together and it seemed like they were made for each other. Simmons was the quintessential unsports reporter. He didn’t give a damn about the locker room or the access to celebrity athletes. Instead, he cared about other fans and what their experience was like.

ESPN, the 800-pound gorilla of sports media, was intuiting the future of sports media and trying to translate it’s television dominance to the digital space. Read more


2 things newsrooms everywhere should do to cover the cops and the community

There are two very important things newsrooms should do in every community to document the relationship between the police and the community.

Analyze the data and policies of your law enforcement agencies

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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


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


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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