How To’s

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Enough dieting: Try this midyear resolution to improve your leadership

It's time for a check up on your New Year's resolutions. (Flickr photo by Jeff Golden)

It’s time for a check up on your New Year’s resolutions. (Flickr photo by Jeff Golden)

Hard to believe, but this week marks the beginning of the second half of 2015. Six months have passed since many of us resolved to improve ourselves in some way—eat smarter, exercise regularly, spend more time with the family, stop reading email 24/7.

How are you doing with all that?

Yeah, me too. Well, our intentions were good.

So let’s try again. And while it might not be traditional to add resolutions at the halfway mark, let me suggest one that could help you be a better manager, almost overnight.

Make fewer assumptions.

It’s ironic, I know, but journalists (whose work seeks to challenge assumptions with facts) are no different from other professionals when it comes to making assumptions about all manner of things. Read more

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

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When deciding to run an open-casket photo, picture editors matter

As news organizations debated their lead image options yesterday during the first of a two-day public viewing for slain Senator and pastor Clementa C. Pinckney, a key voice was silent in many newsrooms: The picture editor.

Given the magnitude of this story and the historical significance, many publications and news sites presented the open casket public viewing prominently.

This is one of the powerful images of the funeral that several newspapers chose to feature prominently. (Getty Images)

This is one of the powerful images of the funeral that several newspapers chose to feature prominently. (Getty Images)

Sadly, many news organizations have eliminated or consolidated the role of picture editors and worse yet, lots of online companies never think to integrate the role of visual advocates.

In this era of fierce competition for web traffic and single copy sales — visuals are key.

The sensitive and impactful decisions involving visual presentation have never been more demanding for media companies. Read more

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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Making partnerships work: How a team of 50+ international reporters investigated and exposed the World Bank

Michael Hudson, a senior editor with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was project editor for ICIJ’s World Bank investigation.

At a military camp in a violence-stained region of Central America, a Honduran Army officer informed Sasha Chavkin that he knew the reporter’s itinerary – where Chavkin was going and the people he planned to interview. When Chavkin asked how he had acquired this information, the colonel said simply: “Yo soy un militar.” (“I am a military man.”)

Justin Kipkorir displays some household items destroyed along with his home. Kipkorir said Kenyan forest rangers raided and destroyed the house weeks earlier. (Photo by Tony Karumba /  GroundTruth)

Justin Kipkorir displays some household items destroyed along with his home. Kipkorir said Kenyan forest rangers raided and destroyed the house weeks earlier.
(Photo by Tony Karumba / GroundTruth)

In Kenya’s western highlands, rifle-toting officers from the Kenya Forest Service confronted Anthony Langat and Jacob Kushner as the Nairobi-based reporters tried to interview indigenous peoples who claimed forest rangers had burned them out of their homes. Read more

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Monday, June 22, 2015

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When the President uses the n-word, please quote him without those dashes

This is a file photo of Barack Obama from 2006. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

This is a file photo of Barack Obama from 2006. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

When judging whether or not to use taboo language, editors wisely consider the identity of the speaker and the context of the speech. So I hope that the use of the n-word by the President of the United States in a podcast interview about racism will allow editors to quote him fully by spelling the word out.

The BBC got it just right, I think, in this report:

US President Barack Obama has used the “n-word” during an interview to argue that the United States has yet to overcome its issues with racism.

“Racism, we are not cured of it,” the president said. “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public.”

Here is the rest of that paragraph, as told to WTF podcast host Marc Maron: “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. Read more

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

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Church shooting: Choose your words carefully

This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department.(Charleston Police Department via AP)

This image has been provided by the Charleston Police Department.(Charleston Police Department via AP)

I wanted to share some thoughts prompted by an email I got this morning by Matt Jaworowski, a Media General Digital Content Producer.

Matt noticed a barrage of social media comments wondering why journalists are not using the word “terrorist” to describe the man who shot up a Charleston, South Carolina church. Matt pointed me toward tweets like this one:

The shooter, who police say is  21-year-old Dylann Roof, killed 9 people including the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

These hours, after such an event, are the times when journalists should be using subjective adjectives sparingly. Read more

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

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Leaders, want to increase the impact of your decisions? Shoot for ‘two-fers’

(Image created by Deposit Photo)

(Image created by Deposit Photo)

The other day I was in the supermarket, critiquing the blueberries, when I noticed the price: buy 1 pint, get 1 pint free.

That’s what I call a “two-fer” — two for the price of one. (I bought two pints.)

Later I stopped by the local convenience store for coffee and another sign caught my eye: buy any breakfast sandwich and get the second free.

Another two-fer. (In an unusual show of restraint, I paid for the coffee and fled.)

The whole “two-fer” thing got me thinking about some of the best leaders I’ve known and how they regularly turn the fruits of one good decision into something more – often something even more important.

They know how to get two-fers. Read more

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Monday, June 15, 2015

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5 things John Carroll taught me about great investigative projects

John Carroll speaking in this 2003 file photo. At middle is Todd Merriman, who was the senior editor/news of The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Kathleen Carroll, right, executive editor of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

John Carroll speaking in this 2003 file photo. At middle is Todd Merriman, who was the senior editor/news of The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Kathleen Carroll, right, executive editor of The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

When John Carroll visited me and Poynter in January 2013, he was a trim, vigorous retiree in his early 70s. So the news Sunday morning that he had died of a degenerative brain disease, diagnosed earlier this year, hit me hard.

On reflection, among many generous mentors, John may have been the most important to me. As the obituaries noted, he had uncanny skill at commissioning and editing big investigative projects, which won multiple Pulitzers for four different newspapers.

I don’t know that John ever gave a full “how-to” account of his approach, but here are five principles that stuck with me gleaned from the time I worked for him at the Philadelphia Inquirer and conversations later in our careers. Read more

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Friday, June 12, 2015

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The dismal double standard of World Cup coverage

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Team USA’s Alex Morgan, top, celebrates her goal with teammate Lauren Cheney and Megan Rapinoe during the semifinal match between France and the United States at the 2011 Women’s World Cup. (Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

“Siri, when is the next Women’s World Cup game?”

“Sorry, I don’t know about Women’s World Cup.”

Her matter-of-fact response would have been funny if it wasn’t so sad. Finding information about the Women’s World Cup has been exceedingly difficult, at least compared to the onslaught of readily accessible coverage that the World Cup (not the Men’s World Cup, mind you), typically receives.

There are no auto-populated Google results for the match schedule. No CNN breaking news alerts for game results. Fox Sports, which is providing coverage of the tournament, didn’t create a bracket for fans. Read more

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

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What I learned about writing from Dusty Rhodes, the American Dream

Dusty Rhodes gives his Hard Times speech.

Dusty Rhodes gives his Hard Times speech.

One of the most popular professional wrestlers of all time has died at the age of 69.  His real name was Virgil Runnels, but his wrestling name was Dusty Rhodes, a Texas plumber’s son who became known as the American Dream.

He wasn’t much of a ring performer compared to, say, the acrobatic masked wrestlers of Mexican fame.  He had bleached blond hair and the body that, to borrow a phrase, looked like a burlap bag full of doorknobs. His signature move in the ring was the “million-dollar” elbow, which he pounded on the bloody foreheads of wrestlers such as Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Tully Blanchard, and countless others.

But as the television sport evolved, talking became as important as fighting.  Read more

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Not to be ‘hokey,’ but writers need to put their whole selves in

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My parents never made home movies so it was a delight when my cousin Steve Dumont discovered some that his dad, my uncle Paul, took during a 1958 visit to our Long Island home.  It is a precious artifact.  I am about 10 years old, and the movie captures me playing the piano.  There is no sound, but you can tell that I’ve memorized a piece and that my fingers are working the keyboard.

In another scene, all the kids are dancing in a circle with my mom as choreographer.  At first it’s not exactly clear what we are doing but then, despite the lack of sound, the signs are unmistakable.  We are doing the Hokey Pokey.  We are putting various parts of ourselves in the circle and then we turn ourselves around. Read more

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