My Take

Your take on the news and how it’s made. What’s your take?

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Same-sex marriage: Covering the battles ahead

Now that the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage has had time to sink in, journalists should wake up to the fact that a complicated and contentious debate lies ahead. Just as Brown v. The Board of Education didn’t end discrimination in schools and Roe v. Wade did not end the abortion debate, Obergefell v. Hodges will not end the opposition to same-sex marriage. The next battles may be in churches, where the Court’s decision cannot interfere.

Catholics, Baptists, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, Mormons all “officially” oppose same-sex marriage. Others, including Methodists and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, do not allow ministers to perform same-sex weddings.

Pew Research compiled a list of where churches currently stand.

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I point to these charts to say journalists have more stories to write about this issue. Read more


Thursday, Apr. 16, 2015


The Tampa Bay Times should have alerted authorities earlier

A police device rolls toward a copter device, right, that landed on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

A police device rolls toward a copter device, right, that landed on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The Tampa Bay Times was wrong.

That is my reluctant conclusion after reading the story “Ruskin flier eludes Capitol air security.”  The story, well known by now, concerns Doug Hughes, an eccentric postal worker who committed an act of civil disobedience by flying a “gyrocopter” onto the West Lawn of the nation’s Capitol.

As I studied the coverage last night and today, I imagined a different headline:  “Times coverage shows unsteady man committing dangerous act.”

Ben Montgomery, a reporter I admire, wrote the story.  I saw him on the Today Show arguing in a brief sound bite that it was not his job to blow the whistle on a stunt like this one, in which Hughes planned to deliver letters to each member of Congress complaining about the evil influence of money on American politics. Read more


Monday, Mar. 09, 2015


Opinion: Why the ‘India’s Daughter’ ban is bad for journalism

The Indian government’s decision to ban the BBC’s documentary “India’s Daughter,” about the brutal gang rape on a bus in New Delhi in 2012, has the country divided.

British filmmaker Leslee Udwin addresses a press conference on her documentary film "India's Daughter." (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

British filmmaker Leslee Udwin addresses a press conference on her documentary film “India’s Daughter.” (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

In addition to concerns about censorship, there are also questions about journalistic access. The government has said it banned the film because the it gives one of the rapist a platform for his views and could create a “law and order problem.”

In an interview showcased in the film, one of the rapists, who is now facing a death sentence, shows no remorse and blames the victim’s death on her decision to fight back. Those who support the ban worry it could lead to “copycat crimes.”

Those who support airing of the film in India – myself included – hope it will start a conversation about taboo topics, force introspection about a subculture that fosters such gender bias and, most of all, that it will raise awareness about atrocities that are committed but often not reported. Read more

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Thursday, Feb. 05, 2015


Brian Williams and the resistance of memory


Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015

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


Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014


Rape and anonymity: a fateful pairing

This column has been republished with permission from the author. To see the original post and more from her blog, go to


The Rolling Stone’s indefensible University of Virginia gang-rape story felt like a punch in the gut to anyone feeling hopeful about progress against sexual assault. But hopeful I remain. This fight is (finally) too vigorous to be stopped by flawed journalism.

News and social-media coverage over recent weeks, from the serial rape allegations against Bill Cosby to reports of sexual assault in the military and on campuses across the nation, would indicate that rape is at last being recognized — as an unacceptable reality that we have accepted for far too long. A lot of people seem to have decided no longer to acquiesce in the notion that rape and silence go hand in hand. Read more

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Tuesday, Oct. 07, 2014

no talking

Enough with the manifestos about the future of news, let your product do the talking

Nikki Usher had a great Columbia Journalism Review article “Startup site manifestos are press criticism” where she notes that startup news orgs like PandoDaily, Vox, FiveThirtyEight and more have gotten into the habit of writing manifestos (much like the New York Times did when it launched in 1851). These manifestos are essentially their critique of the press in action.

The implication is that traditional journalism simply doesn’t offer readers this kind of news in the existing environment—that it’s not doing enough to give us what we need to know, and these sites are going to offer an alternative way to give us the public information that is the perceived obligation of journalism.

I think Nikki is right in her observation. These manifestos feel like the result of an organization sitting down on a psychologist’s couch, talking about its metaphorical parents and writing how it intends to deal with feelings of abandonment. Read more


Friday, Aug. 01, 2014


NPR One app potential is huge

Public radio and podcasts have taken on an increasing role in my life. I listen while running, cleaning, cooking, driving long distances or taking public transportation, mostly times when I can afford to multitask, but can’t be looking at video or don’t want the added work of reading text.

I downloaded the NPR One app this week and listened to it twice during long morning jogs, and while I was riding public transportation and hanging out in airports. I’ll stop short of calling it a game-changer. But it’s clear that this app, or one like it, has the potential to become a content platform for news and culture audio, the way Amazon is for shopping or Netflix is for movies.

NPR One is like Pandora for public radio content. Read more


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Newspaper group CEO: We need to embrace all media including print

A longtime newspaper man who recently turned academic, Mr. David Boardman posted an essay sharing his personal lamentations about the state of the newspaper business and how the NAA chose to present its industry outlook at the 2014 World Newspaper Congress.

Mr. Boardman’s focus on print publications doesn’t adequately show the changes and growth that are taking place. The reality is that the newspaper business is comprised of multiple platforms, reaching many audiences. Read more


Friday, Oct. 17, 2008

How Change Looks in America

Back in March of 2007, I was sitting on my bedroom floor making robots out of Legos with my 6-year-old when Barack Obama took the podium at the Brown Chapel AME church in Selma, Ala. It was a significant moment in the making of the Democratic contender and, depending upon what happens on November 4th, possibly the making of a president.

I told Noah, my youngest child, that we’d have to take a break from the construction project to listen to the speech.

“We wanted to watch this because that man is running for president,” I explained.

“Cool,” Noah said, hardly looking up.

“Do you think he can win?” I asked.

He shrugged.

My little test was over. I thought, for a moment, that he’d see the profound significance of my question –- a black man running to become the 44th president of the United States; the first time it’s even looked remotely possible. Read more