Center for Public Integrity will hire 50 freelancers to probe statehouse corruption

Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity is launching a nationwide investigation into indicators of statehouse corruption, and it’s looking for 50 freelancers to help get it done.

The State Integrity Investigation, conducted first in 2011, is a deep-dive look at factors that cause corruption in each of America’s 50 capitols, Nicholas Kusnetz, the initiative’s project manager, told Poynter in an email.

The last project resulted in more than 1,100 stories and led to reform measures passed in seven states, according to the the Center for Public Integrity. It was a 2013 finalist for Harvard’s Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Prize.

Participants will work part-time starting in fall and through early 2016 and will be expected to answer 200-300 questions using data during the first two months of the project.… Read more


Is there a market for good news? The Washington Post wants to find out


The Washington Post has good news.

The Optimist, a new newsletter, is “a collection of stories that’s part feel-good, part success-against-all-odds,” Mike Wallberg reported for Images & Voices of Hope.

“It’s an artisanal, made-with-love weekly mix that might bear some similarities to that of a show such as ‘CBS Sunday Morning,’” said David Beard, Optimist editor and Post director of digital content. “Our hope is that it offers a reflective, inspiring experience that will help readers consider new things and gear up for the week ahead.”

Here are some other sites to go to when you need a little good news:

Huffpost Good News

Today Good News!:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

GoodNewsNetwork: A sampling of curated headlines from Thursday includes “Wedding Photo From 9/11 Rubble Now in Owner’s Hand 13 Years Later,” and “Man Pays $1,000 to Feed Drive-thru Customers at Texas Chick-Fil-A.”

And since we’re talking about things that make good news, this newsroom take on “Happy” should be included.… Read more


AFP will no longer use work from freelancers in Syria


Agence France-Presse will “no longer accept work from freelance journalists who travel to places where we ourselves would not venture,” global news director Michèle Léridon writes. AFP has a bureau in Damascus. Leridon continues:

It is a strong decision, and one that may not have been made clear enough, so I will repeat it here: if someone travels to Syria and offers us images or information when they return, we will not use it. Freelancers have paid a high price in the Syrian conflict. High enough. We will not encourage people to take that kind of risk.

Léridon also lays out a nuanced position on whether AFP will rebroadcast images that originated with the Islamic State group, saying it’s a “case by case basis.” She writes:

IS videos are widely available online.

Read more

Facebook: More timely News Feed on the way


It doesn’t refer to Ferguson, Ice Bucket Challenge videos or a solemn responsibility to bring you news that really matters, but Facebook does seem to be addressing concerns about the service’s ability to surface timely, important news stories.

Here’s what software engineer Erich Owens and engineering manager David Vickrey wrote in a post today outlining more changes to the News Feed:

Our goal with News Feed is to show everyone the right content at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them. We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show.

Read more

Will this go down (or up) as the year of the elevator story?

The year 2014 will go down as one marked by a series of troubling news events that just happened to occur on elevators, dark moments photographed on surveillance videos. Beyonce’s sister went after Jay Z in an elevator at a Met Gala party. There was a CEO of an arena concessions franchise, Desmond Hague, who lost his job when he was captured on video in an elevator repeatedly kicking a friend’s dog. And there was the most notorious and news-worthy event of all, when Ray Rice brutalized his fiancé in the elevator of a casino parking garage.

But this is not an essay about family rage, or animal abuse, or intimate partner abuse, all of which deserve public attention. No, this essay is about elevators – and the stories inside them.… Read more


Tampa Bay Times cuts staff pay, hints at layoffs

The Tampa Bay Times will cut staff pay 5 percent, Times Publishing Company CEO Paul Tash tells staffers in a letter Thursday.

The company will also cap severance payments to employees who leave voluntarily at eight weeks’ pay, unless they resign by Oct. 1, in which case the maximum severance is 13 weeks’ pay. The letter hints at layoffs: “After these voluntary departures, we will take stock of the company’s ongoing staff patterns and needs,” Tash writes.

He continues:

If you are uncertain about your standing with the Times, this is a good time for a frank conversation with your supervisor. If this long, difficult stretch has tested your commitment to the Times or the newspaper business, this is a good time to consider your options.

Read more

A good NYT review can cancel out a Washington Post pan

Emerging Arts Leaders DC

The “difference between bad reviews and great reviews over the course of a season is around $50,000 in revenue for Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company,” Woolly Mammoth marketing manager Steven Dawson writes.

One Washington Post critic, Peter Marks, has an outsized impact on ticket sales, Dawson writes: A mediocre Marks review will bring in 2 percent of the total revenue of a show, he found, while a rave will bring in 6 percent of total revenue.

Marks panned one show, “The Totalitarians,” which brought in 0 percent of revenue — 12 tickets, Dawson writes. But a Marks pan of another production, “Stupid Fucking Bird,” was offset by a theater-appropriate deus ex machina:

Charles Isherwood decided to come from the New York Times and review the play, which had already won multiple awards and had created quite the buzz.

Read more

New app from Longform allows freelancers to cultivate audiences, a website dedicated to curating excellent in-depth journalism, debuted its first iPhone app Wednesday. The app represents’s first attempt at customization, allowing readers to tweak their story feeds according to their tastes.

“We’re trying to let you create your own reading list, your own diet,” said founding editor Max Linsky in a phone interview. readers can now tailor their list of stories by following specific writers, a feature that will allow journalists to build up a following, Linsky said. This means freelancers who who are published by multiple news outlets can put all their work in one place, where their fans can see it.  The team at is also planning to offer its writers the ability to view data for their stories, including scroll depth and number of views, Linsky said.… Read more


British journalist said to be in ISIS video


British journalist John Cantlie purportedly appears in a video posted by supporters of the Islamic State group.

“I am a prisoner,” Reuters reports the man identified as Cantlie says. “That I cannot deny. But seeing as I’ve been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic State, I have nothing to lose.”

Cantlie, a photographer who has done work for the BBC and Britain’s Sunday Times, had been held hostage in Syria in 2012 and was released.

Cantlie was “anxious to get back out in the field” after the ordeal, Mike Giglio reported in August 2012. “I need to work,” Cantlie told him. “This is what I do.”… Read more


High school newspaper editor suspended for refusal to use the term ‘redskin’

Student Press Law Center

The faculty adviser and student editor of a high school newspaper in southeast Pennsylvania were suspended amid a drawn-out fight over the paper’s refusal to use the term “redskin,” Anna Schiffbauer writes for the Student Press Law Center.

Tara Huber, adviser to Neshaminy High School’s Playwickian newspaper, was suspended without pay Tuesday and Wednesday by Neshaminy School District superintendent Robert Copeland, according to the SPLC. Copeland also suspended Playwickian editor-in-chief Gillian McGoldrick from her position for a month.

The suspensions stem from the paper’s decision not to use “redskin” in its pages, despite insistence from principal Rob McGee.

The fight began in October, when the Playwickian’s editorial board voted not to use the term in any of their content. In June, after editors refused to publish the term in a student op-ed, McGee called McGoldrick into his office for a meeting to discuss her decision and confiscated copies of the newspaper.… Read more