Steve Myers

Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans. Before working at Poynter Online, Steve spent about six years in Mobile, Ala., as a reporter for the Press-Register, focusing on local government accountability. He was a 2006 Ohio State University Kiplinger Fellow and an Open Society Institute Katrina Media Fellow. Contact him by email at myers.news@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @myersnews.


Media spotlight takes its toll on Gabby Douglas, Lolo Jones

The Washington Post | Chicago Tribune | Today
“It took just four days to suck all the vibrancy out of Douglas,” writes the Post’s Sally Jenkins about Gabby Douglas, who went from a gold medal performance last week to slipping off the balance beam on Tuesday. The competition itself was exhausting, but so were all the questions from the media about being a black gymnast:

Douglas genuinely doesn’t see color — it’s not her first thought. Yet she was drilled incessantly with questions about being a woman of color in gymnastics. How can she get more African American children to pay attention to gymnastics, she was asked? “I can’t control that,” she said tonelessly.

But those questions aren’t going to stop anytime soon because race is part of Douglas’ marketability, as the Chicago Tribune’s Diane Pucin reports: Read more

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New York Times news apps team ventures into product development with Olympics syndication

The New York Times has built an impressive online home for its Olympics coverage, with instantly-updated results, medal counts, athlete bios, and of course stories and photos. And because the Times has joined with Reuters to syndicate that data and content, you can see it on about a dozen websites, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Australia’s Ten News.

The partnership combines the Times’ deep, feature-oriented approach to the Games with Reuters’ extensive reporting and photography. Clients can pay for just a medal count widget or they can opt for a hosted microsite that blends in with the rest of their site.

This isn’t the first syndication deal between two news outlets, but it represents a new step for the Times’ team of newsroom-based developers that built the system underlying it all. Not only is this the largest and most complicated project they’ve undertaken, it’s the first one created to fulfill a business goal as well as an editorial one. Read more

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Arrested photographer: Police ‘were violent toward the media’

New York magazine
Robert Stolarik, the freelance photographer who was arrested in New York City on Saturday night, says he was falsely charged with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest.

Stolarik, who was reporting for The New York Times about the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” practice, started to photograph police arresting a teenager. New York magazine’s Joe Coscarelli relays his account of what happened:

According to Stolarik, he was first approached by a female officer, who put her hand on his camera and told him to stop shooting. After he pointed out his media credentials and continued, Stolarik said, a second officer approached and “handled the camera more aggressively, pushed it into me.” When he asked for the officers’ names and badge numbers, he was “surrounded and taken down — dragged, kicked, and stomped on.”

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Jonah Lehrer’s publisher is reviewing all of his books

All three of Jonah Lehrer’s bestselling books are under review by publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, according to Lori Glazer, the company’s vice president and executive director of publicity. The publisher pulled copies of “Imagine” and halted e-book sales last week, after journalist Michael Moynihan revealed that Lehrer had made up and mangled some Bob Dylan quotations.

Moynihan went on to look at “How We Decide,” published in 2009, to see if there were suspicious passages in it, too. With “no more than a few hours of checking and a few emails [to] people mentioned by Lehrer … I found fake interviews, quotes that can’t be located, and plagiarism,” he wrote Friday. One example: Lehrer claimed to have interviewed the pilot of a commercial airliner that crashed in 1989, but the quotation is remarkably similar to a speech the pilot gave in 1991.

“All of Jonah’s books are under review,” Glazer told me. Read more

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Ari Fleischer: Quote approval started with good intent

CNN
Ari Fleischer, press secretary for part of President George W. Bush’s first term, writes that he “would have been laughed out of the briefing room” if he had tried to get reporters to let him approve or clean up a quotation, a practice revealed last month by The New York Times. “As a former press secretary, I’m all for trying to control the press, but quote approval goes too far.”

The practice started late in Bush’s second term, Fleischer writes, based on a conversation he had with The New York Times’ Peter Baker.

Like Prohibition, it began with good intent.

Reporters covering Bush’s second term, under pressure from editors not to use unnamed sources in their stories, started asking their sources if a background quote, attributed to a senior aide, could instead be turned into an on-the-record quote, with the aide’s name in print. I e-mailed last week with several former Bush staffers and many confirmed they engaged in that practice. 

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With convention attendance down, time to rethink purpose of Unity?

Journal-ismsOriginal Spin | OutQ News
Unity Executive Director Onica Makwakwa is leaving the organization to take a job with a consumer protection group in her native South Africa. She “bore the brunt of criticism for any administrative shortcomings, which became a factor in the pullout of the National Association of Black Journalists last year,” Richard Prince reports.

With convention attendance down at this year’s Unity convention, NABJ’s absence and little interaction among the remaining constituencies, Wall Street Journal columnist Jeff Yang wonders if Unity should be disbanded. An event-planning organization could organize the quadrennial convention more cheaply, he writes:

Meanwhile, the conference could throw participation open to all common-cause journalism organizations that speak for underrepresented communities — following the direction already taken in inviting NLGJA to the table.

Why not invite the National Center for Disability & Journalism to participate, or the International Women’s Media Foundation and the Association for Women Journalists?

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How AP photographer captured Gabby Douglas Olympics photo: Practice, practice, practice

Associated Press photojournalist Greg Bull was waiting for that moment, the point in Gabby Douglas’ balance beam routine at which she leaps the highest, spreading her arms and legs and looking straight up at the ceiling.

He had tried to capture it before, but it never quite worked — he was too late, perhaps, or she was off-center. His photo “didn’t seem to be as amazing as I thought it would be,” he said by phone.

Thursday night during Douglas’ gold-medal performance, Bull got it. “I don’t know if I’ve seen a more beautiful picture than this one of Gabby Douglas, at least in a long, long time,” tweeted The Verge’s Tim Carmody.

U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women’s individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. (Gregory Bull/AP)
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Plagiarism, more fake interviews in Jonah Lehrer’s books

Michael C. Moynihan, the journalist who discovered that Jonah Lehrer had fabricated quotations from Bob Dylan and misquoted others in his book “Imagine,” says he’s found more problems:

As I mentioned, I only looked at the Dylan chapter in Imagine, and nothing else. I’ve since had a cursory look at a few other chapters (including in his previous book, How We Decide), no more than a few hours of checking and a few emails [to] people mentioned by Lehrer–and I found fake interviews, quotes that can’t be located, and plagiarism. So while one can reasonably debate how serious a crime it is to fudge a handful of Dylan quotes (pretty serious, if you ask me), always remember: no one ever does this kind of thing once, or just in one chapter.

Moynihan later tweeted an example from “How We Decide” in which Lehrer attributed a quote to an interview he conducted with the pilot. Read more

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Unity attendance down after divorce with NABJ

The Root | The New York Times | Journal-isms
Attendance at the Unity convention in Las Vegas is down substantially after its split with the National Association of Black Journalists, reports Richard Prince: “over 2,000″ compared with 7,550 in 2008. More than one-third of the attendees in 2008 were NABJ members.

NABJ drew 2,386 registrants to its convention in New Orleans, Prince reports.

At times on Wednesday, convention speakers pretended NABJ did not exist, and they continued to call the gathering the world’s or the nation’s largest meeting of journalists. At other times, they expressed hopes that NABJ would return to Unity, which first met in 1994. Mentions of the newest partner, [the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association], drew applause from NLGJA members.

NABJ withdrew from Unity in 2011 due to financial issues. The split between the two groups deepened after Unity changed its name from “Unity: Journalists of Color” to “Unity Journalists” after a request from the NLGJA. Read more

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