Kristen Hare

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The Hartford Courant is 250 years old today

Subscribers of The Hartford Courant will find their copies of Wednesday’s newspaper looks old. Really, really old. For the official anniversary of the 250-year-old newspaper, the Courant’s Wednesday edition comes wrapped in a copy of the original.


October 29th is the official anniversary of the 1764 printing of the once-weekly Connecticut Courant, but the newspaper started celebrations in January and will continue them throughout the year. Those celebrations include monthly themes and a reproduction of the original paper, but also a big digital push to share the Courant’s past and include readers in the conversation about what the Courant was, is and is becoming.

“I feel it’s almost an opportunity to reengage and relaunch everything we’ve done digitally,” said Nancy Meyer, the Courant’s publisher and CEO, in a phone interview. “It’s a celebration, certainly, of the history, but at the same point, where are we going? People have begun to understand the evolution of where we were.”


Courant 250 is a marriage between old stories and new technology, Andrew Julien, editor of the Courant, said in a phone interview. Some of that means sharing photos, stories and pages from the archives, and some of it means gathering old stories online.

“When we began rolling out our 250th content in January, we started hearing from people in the community about how they used to be Courant carriers and what that meant to them,” said Christine Taylor, digital platform manager, in an email. “We realized the opportunity to engage with our audience and have them participate in the telling of our history. We used Facebook to solicit stories from our readers, and the response was tremendous.”

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“Between Facebook, email and phone calls,” Taylor said, “we heard from close to 200 former Courant Carriers.”

This story is from Richard Templeton:

When the Japanese surrendered it was called V-J Day and the Courant put out an extra edition to celebrate the day. My district manager called me to see if I would be willing to deliver the extra on Main Street in Middletown. I was only 11 years old, so I had to ask my mother for approval. She said OK, so I went to the Courant office to get the Extra paper. It was a wild scene on Main Street. People were singing and dancing in the street. I don’t remember how much the Courant was charging for the Extra — maybe a few cents or a nickel. But people were giving me a lot of quarters, halves and dollar bills. I was going up the street shouting “Extra, Extra, read all about it. Japan surrenders. The war is over. Get your Extra here.” It was late when I got home. My mother was not too happy with me. But when I put all the money on the table that I got for selling the Extra she kinda settled down.

‘Biased media’

The Courant, and really all American newspapers, have changed a lot recently, but the Courant changed dramatically since it began, too.

“When you look at the first century of the Courant’s history, the newspaper is very political,” Julien said. It made an enemy of Thomas Jefferson and later aligned with xenophobic groups opposing immigration. But by the late 1850s, the newspaper “became a strong voice for abolition and against slavery,” he said. “You really see the political tide of the nation ebbing and flowing in the Courant.”

News and opinions began dividing into their own sections, he said, and news became more obviously straightforward.

“When people accuse us of being biased media, you should look at the paper from 1832,” Julien said.

To celebrate the paper’s 250th anniversary, people from around the Courant have contributed and the newspaper partnered with local institutions, including the Connecticut Historical Society. Monthly themes have included weather, the arts, crime and sports.

A documentary about the newspaper’s photojournalists, produced with Connecticut Public Broadcasting, airs next month.

The Courant has also tried to reach people through public forums tied to the monthly themes, including conversations on race and inequality and recovery.


In September, the Courant launched on a new, fully-responsive platform.

Since then, “our Facebook referral traffic has increased 119 percent to our baseline. We think a lot of this comes from the addition of sharelines in our template, and our increasing understanding of what content is resonating with our audience on social platforms,” Taylor said.

The paper is thinking about what matters to readers, and as part of their big anniversary content, the Courant also looked to the future. Marie Shanahan, a former staffer and now an assistant journalism professor at the University of Connecticut, wrote about the new ways people are getting and gathering news.

Fears aside, journalism is headed into an exciting and complicated age when part of the job will be finding the right balance between innovation, ethics and economics.

Throughout the year, the Courant has tried to use its 250th as a way to reach new people through social media and in person, and to share the history the paper has been around to tell.

“It really has allowed us to remind ourselves and our readers that for 250 years, we’ve been the storytellers of Connecticut,” Julien said. “The platform is changing, but our role isn’t changing.” Read more

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Students stole 700 papers for a prank, not because they hated content

Student Press Law Center

Earlier this month, 710 copies of Pepperdine Graphic were found in a dorm room at Pepperdine University, Anna Schiffbauer reported Monday for the Student Press Law Center. Schiffbauer reported that three students admitted to stealing the papers, and they were planning to “wad them up and fill a friend’s dorm room as a prank.”

The first theft of the papers was reported in September and thought to be because of what was on the front page.

At the time, the staff and adviser believed the thefts could be an attempt to censor a front-page article about an alcohol-related car accident involving a Pepperdine student.

“When you take free newspapers with the intention of just wadding them for a prank, it’s really inconsiderate of the hard work that goes into it,” (Adviser Elizabeth) Smith said. “I don’t want them to just see us as physical paper on a stand.”

The students haven’t been named, Schiffbauer reported.

In April, I wrote about a fraternity in Michigan that did trash the paper because of the content. Then they tweeted about it.

Photo illustration from Deposit Photos.

Photo illustration from Deposit Photos.

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Journalists, don’t drink 140 cups of coffee in one day or you’ll die

Wall Street Journal

On Monday, Heidi Mitchell wrote “How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?” for the Wall Street Journal.

Mitchell got a pretty simple answer — 140 cups of coffee.

It is possible for a person to die from too much caffeine, “but that would mean about 14,000 milligrams, or around 140 8-ounce cups of coffee in one day,” Dr. (Matthew) Johnson says. Consuming that much would be difficult because of coffee’s self-limiting nature. “One cup makes you feel good and alert, but five cups may make you feel like your stomach is cramping,” he says. “You feel wired and you wouldn’t typically be able to go overboard.”


I know a lot of you all drink/love coffee. On Sept. 29, we celebrated National Coffee Day with a series of mug shots (I’m sorry.)

On Sept. 12, I wrote “Journalists drink more coffee than cops,” based on a study from the United Kingdom. On a sad note, on Oct. 2, Michael Barajas wrote for HoustonPress that staff at the Houston Chronicle no longer get free coffee. This summer, I also wrote about an odd PR stunt in France that put pop-up Nescafe coffee cups inside a newspaper and then encouraged readers to put that paper down and share a cup of coffee because reading a newspaper is such a lonely activity.

Nescafe clearly knows nothing of coffee or people who read newspapers. But Mitchell does. And “How Much Caffeine Too Much?” makes me feel like that third or fourth cup by 3 p.m. is not such a bad thing. Also, Mitchell reports, “caffeine intoxication” is a real thing. Read more

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CPJ: In almost all cases, journalists are still being killed with no consequences

On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists released a report entitled “The Road to Justice: Breaking the Cycle of Impunity In the Killing of Journalists.”

Toward the end of the report there’s an index. It comprises seven pages with the names of journalists killed with full or partial impunity. Those first two lists contain 361 names.

The third list, with the names of those whose killers were prosecuted, has just nine names.

CPJ started its Impunity Index in 2008, according to the report. It started counting and investigating the murder of journalists in 1992.

The numbers paint a shocking picture. In the decade from 2004 through 2013, 370 journalists have been murdered in direct retaliation for their work. The vast majority were local journalists reporting on corruption, crime, human rights, politics and war, among other issues of vital importance to their societies. In 90 percent of all these cases there has been total impunity—no arrests, no prosecutions, no convictions. In some cases, the assassin or an accomplice has been convicted; in only a handful is the mastermind of the crime brought to justice.

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Iraq, Somalia, Russia, Mexico, and the Philippines are among the countries highlighted in the report, according to a press release about the report from CPJ.

It also highlights countries that are starting to show improvements — Colombia and Brazil, for example — and the challenges they continue to face. The report explores the reasons behind impunity—conflict, corruption, weak institutions — but makes the case that a lack of political will is the most prevalent impediment to justice. This is particularly apparent in the high number of cases in which suspects are political or military officials or other powerful figures who wield economic or political power in their communities — and in the fact that those who commissioned the murders of journalists are rarely brought to justice.

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The report includes several group-specific recommendations on how to protect journalists, what works and what doesn’t work in making change, and a few recommendations for journalists themselves.

To local and international journalists

• Monitor and report on implementation of key international commitments to combat impunity, particularly the U.N. Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity and the UNGA resolution on the safety of journalists.

• Investigate and report on issues of anti-press violence, including individual attacks, threats, and harassment, regardless of the victim’s media affiliation.

You can find the full report here. Read more

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‘Attacked’: Newspapers in Canada on the Ottawa shooting

Newspapers in Canada led with big images and headlines about Wednesday’s shooting in Ottawa. Here’s are a few of them, via Newseum.

Ottawa Citizen, in Ottawa:


The Globe and Mail, in Toronto:


Montreal Gazette, in Montreal:


The Hamilton Spectator, in Hamilton:


The Calgary Sun, in Calgary:

CAN_CS Read more

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‘It ain’t necessarily so’: 7 quotes from Ben Bradlee in 1986

In 1986, Poynter’s Newsleaders series filmed an interview with Ben Bradlee, then editor of The Washington Post. Bradlee died on Tuesday, October 21, at the age of 93.

You can see the full interview, in which Bradlee talks about Watergate, the Pentagon Papers and his partnership with Katharine Graham.

Here are seven things he said from that interview in 1986. Let’s begin with the introduction, because, well, you’ll see.

1. “It ain’t necessarily so.”

2. “… A better informed world is a better world.”

3. “The power of The Washington Post lies first and above all in the fact that it is published in the capital of the free world. It’s a geographic power. I mean, if we were in Omaha, we would not be as powerful as we are.”

4. “If I meet someone new, it’s odds on that they’ll say, ‘well you don’t look like Jason Robards.’”

5. “I’m more worried about the relationship of the press and government, to working that out, rather than I am worried about the relationship of the press and the public. I think the public eventually works that out pretty well, it seems to me.”

6. “We’ve got a lot of jobs to do but one of them is not be loved. We don’t have to be loved. We have to be respected, I think.”

7. “I hope people will be sorry that I’ve gone, will be appreciative of what I’ve tried to do, but I think it will be a blip.”

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Ben Bradlee dead at 93

FILE - In this June 21, 1971 file photo, Washington Post Executive Director Ben Bradlee and Post Publisher Katharine Graham leave U.S. District Court in Washington. Bradlee died Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, according to the Washington Post. (AP Photo, File)

FILE – In this June 21, 1971 file photo, Washington Post Executive Director Ben Bradlee and Post Publisher Katharine Graham leave U.S. District Court in Washington. Bradlee died Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, according to the Washington Post. (AP Photo, File)

The Washington Post | The New Yorker | Time

Ben Bradlee, editor of The Washington Post from 1965 to 1991, died on Tuesday at 93 of natural causes, former managing editor Robert G. Kaiser wrote for the Post.

Bradlee’s time as editor of the Post included coverage of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers — still some of journalism’s biggest stories.

During his tenure, a paper that had previously won just four Pulitzer Prizes, only one of which was for reporting, won 17 more, including the Public Service award for the Watergate coverage.

“Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” said Donald E. Graham, who succeeded his mother as publisher of The Post and Mr. Bradlee’s boss.

“So much of The Post is Ben,” Mrs. Graham said in 1994, three years after Bradlee retired as editor. “He created it as we know it today.”

David Remnick wrote about Bradlee’s death for The New Yorker.

Recently, Tom Zito, a feature writer and critic at the Post during the Bradlee era, told me this story:

“One afternoon in the fall of 1971, I was summoned to Ben’s office. I was the paper’s rock critic at the time. A few minutes earlier, at the Post’s main entrance, a marshal from the Department of Justice had arrived, bearing a grand-jury subpoena in my name. As was the case ever since the Department of Justice and the Post had clashed over the Pentagon Papers, earlier that year, rules about process service dictated that the guard at the front desk call Bradlee’s office, where I was now sitting and being grilled about the business of the grand jury and its potential impact on the paper. I explained that my father was of Italian descent, lived in New Jersey, had constructed many publicly financed apartment buildings—and was now being investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York regarding income-tax evasion. ‘Your father?’ Ben exclaimed in disbelief, and then called out to his secretary, ‘Get John Mitchell on the phone.’ In less than a minute, the voice of the Attorney General could be heard on the speaker box, asking, somewhat curtly, ‘What do you want, Ben?’ In his wonderfully gruff but patrician demeanor, and flashing a broad smile to me, Ben replied, ‘What I want is for you to never again send a subpoena over here asking any of my reporters to give grand-jury testimony about their parents. And if you do, I’m going to personally come over there and shove it up your ass.’ The subpoena was quashed the next day.”

The Post has quotes on Bradlee from a number of its stars, including Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

“Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism. He forever altered our business. His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army. Ben had an intuitive understanding of the history of our profession, its formative impact on him and all of us. But he was utterly liberated from that. He was an original who charted his own course. We loved him deeply, and he will never be forgotten or replaced in our lives.”

On October 3, Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, wrote about Bradlee for Time, including how he weathered the scandal after it was revealed that Pulitzer winner Janet Cooke made up the work that won her that Pulitzer.

During that time Ben showed what he was made of. He had to return a Pulitzer Prize that Cooke had won about a made up 8-year-old heroin addict. He had to invite his boss, Donald Graham, to have breakfast at his house and tell him that he and his vaunted team of all-stars, made famous in the movie All the President’s Men, had failed the Graham family. He had to face his own crushed newsroom and, ultimately, the Post’s disappointed readers.

This would surely have brought down any other editor. So why did Ben Bradlee survive and triumph? It wasn’t simply because he was so powerful or well connected, having transformed the Post during Watergate into a national newspaper and showcase for the blazingly talented writers he hired and nurtured. Bob Woodward tried to explain Ben’s durability after the top editors at the Times lost their jobs in the Jayson Blair scandal. “Bradlee was a great editor and loved by everybody,” Woodward said. “Not just the people who knew him well, but down the ranks.”

On Tuesday night, journalists shared quotes from Bradlee on Twitter.

Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, seated during an event sponsored by The Washington Post to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate Monday, June 11, 2012 at the Watergate office building in Washington. Bradlee died on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, seated during an event sponsored by The Washington Post to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Watergate Monday, June 11, 2012 at the Watergate office building in Washington. Bradlee died on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Poynter’s News University to host a live conversation on covering Ebola

Nurse Barbara Smith practices proper hand hygiene while demonstrating the the use of personal protective equipment when dealing with Ebola during an education session in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Thousands of participants, mostly health care workers, attended the session to review basic facts about Ebola and updated guidelines for protection against its spread. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Nurse Barbara Smith practices proper hand hygiene while demonstrating the the use of personal protective equipment when dealing with Ebola during an education session in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Thousands of participants, mostly health care workers, attended the session to review basic facts about Ebola and updated guidelines for protection against its spread. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Poynter’s News University will host a live conversation at 10:30 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, October 23, on covering Ebola.

The discussion, which is free, includes Poynter’s Kelly McBride and Tom Huang with The Dallas Morning News. I’ll be hosting the conversation.

Questions we’ll take on include the following (from the conversation’s description):

How to cover the topic with context and accuracy
How to debunk myths about the Ebola virus
How to find untold stories
Ways you can localize the story for your community

What do you want to know about covering Ebola? Email me or tweet questions and I’ll try and work them in. An archived replay will be available after the session. You can follow the conversation on Twitter with #CoveringEbola. For more, visit News University’s Covering Ebola page.

And here’s a quick look at some of the ways we’ve covered Ebola so far at Poynter.

The readers’ quick guide for understanding a medical crisis

When writing about Ebola, what images should you use?

Journalists struggle to balance reporting on Ebola with HIPAA

From Dallas, 5 tips on covering Ebola

How journalists covering the Ebola outbreak try to stay safe

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How a Florida reporter got Jack Kerouac’s last interviews

Tampa Bay Times

Last year, the Tampa Bay Times (which Poynter owns) reran this story by reporter Jack McClintock, who spent time with Jack Kerouac in St. Petersburg, Florida, where Kerouac was living with his mother. The article ran on Oct. 12, 1969. Kerouac died on Oct. 21, 45 years ago today. “According to Kevin Hayes, author of the book Conversations With Jack Kerouac, McClintock’s interviews were Kerouac’s last,” the story says.

McClintock returned to Kerouac’s home several times to report the story. Here’s the end of that piece:

Kerouac wanted to talk about the article he had written, which was selling rather well to Sunday magazines in major cities in the U.S.

“It’s about the Communist conspiracy,” he said. He eyed the reporter narrowly, and when satisfied with the lack of response, began to read. The article was typed on yellow legal paper. He read with broad, wild gestures, grinning and mugging and assuming various foreign accents. The voice went up high, dropped confidentially low. It sped along, it dragged portentously. And the words had an unusual eloquence, the allusions were astonishingly erudite, the sounds made a lush and rich cadence, all coming from this man with bare feet and two days’ growth of salt-and-pepper whiskers.

It was a wondrous performance, so much so that the reporter came away without the vaguest notion of what the article might have been about.

“I’m glad to see you ’cause I’m very lonesome here,” he said, and then talked for a moment about the proposed new novel.

“Stories of the past,” said Jack Kerouac. “My story is endless. I put in a teletype roll, you know, you know what they are, you have them in newspapers, and run it through there and fix the margins and just go, go – just go, go, go.”

Author Jack Kerouac laughs during a 1967 visit to the home of a friend in Lowell, Mass. (AP Photo/Stanley Twardowicz)

Author Jack Kerouac laughs during a 1967 visit to the home of a friend in Lowell, Mass. (AP Photo/Stanley Twardowicz)

In March of last year, Times’ reporter Ben Montgomery wrote about the house in St. Pete where Kerouac lived.

There’s not much left of Kerouac here, save some stories and old acquaintances and a favorite bar stool or two. And this house.

His mother died not long after Jack, and Stella passed in 1990, but the house has been mostly empty of humans since the ’70s. To walk inside is to be transported back 40 years. Tchotchkes from the era line the shelves. A ’72 Chevy Caprice sits on flats in the two-car garage. A Reader’s Digest from September 1967 sits on the record cabinet. A 1969 telephone directory for Lowell, Mass., is shelved on Kerouac’s desk in the bedroom. A Boone’s Farm box is in a closet. An official mayoral proclamation for “Jack Kerouac Day” in Lowell, Mass., hangs on one wall, near a Buddha statue and a crucifix.

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Heat mag to Jessica Biel: Sorry we made up your quotes. Also that JT ‘gets flirty’

The Guardian | Irish Times

Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake settled a defamation suit with a celebrity magazine in Ireland, The Guardian reported on Tuesday. A September edition of Heat quotes Biel and writes about Timberlake’s behavior at a nightclub in Paris. Irish Times reports that Heat is published by Bauer Consumer Media, a German company.

From The Guardian:

In the agreed statement read in the high court, a lawyer for the Bauer group admitted the article – headlined “Justin Timberlake gets flirty with another woman, “It is not his wife!” and “The flirty photos that rocked Justin and Jessica’s marriage” – was based on an unfounded report.

The article also included purported statements improperly attributed to Biel which the publishers said Heat now understands the actor never made.

Irish Times reported that the couple was satisfied with the ruling. And don’t mess with their marriage.

(Solicitor Paul Tweed) said the couple will not be making any further comment in relation to the matter. However, he added, they will “not hesitate to take similar legal action if false allegations regarding the state of their marriage are repeated”.

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