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Career Beat: Clark Gilbert leaves Deseret News

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Clark Gilbert will be president of BYU-Idaho. Previously, he was CEO of Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media. (Poynter)
  • Peter Kendall will be managing editor at the Chicago Tribune. Previously, he was deputy managing editor there. Colin McMahon will be associate editor at the Chicago Tribune. Previously, he was cross media editor there. Joycelyn Winnecke will be president of Tribune Content Agency. Previously, she was associate editor of the Chicago Tribune. (Poynter)
  • Tanzina Vega will be the Bronx courthouse reporter at The New York Times. Previously, she was a race reporter there. (Poynter)
  • John Reiss is now executive producer at “Meet the Press.” Previously, he was acting executive producer there. (Politico)
  • Darcie Conway is now an editor at Previously, she was a content curator at Upworthy. (PR Newswire)
  • Tim O’Connor will be publisher of Shape. Previously, he was a managing director for Meredith’s corporate sales group. Eric Schwarzkopf will be associate publisher at Shape. Previously, he was publisher at Fitness. Betty Wong will be vice president of brand development for Shape and Fitness. Previously, she was editor-in-chief of Fitness. (Email)

Job of the day: The New England Center for Investigative Reporting is looking for an investigative reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: Read more

P-1936 Baseball

Today in Media History: Reporting on the first Baseball Hall of Fame inductees in 1936

On January 29, 1936, the first players were elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The inductees included Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.

The Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun published the following photo illustration and story a few weeks later.

Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun, February 10, 1936

Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun, February 10, 1936

“Players and sportswriters voting in the poll to select players meriting places in baseball’s hall of fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., could agree on only five men — although scheduled to pick ten — to represent the period from 1900 to the present day.

Top choice was Ty Cobb (foreground), the ‘Georgia Peach,’ who set a staggering assortment of records in his stormy playing career with the Detroit Tigers. He received 222 votes, only four short of unanimous.

The others chosen, left to right, were Babe Ruth and Hans Wagner, who polled 215 votes each; Christy Mathewson, next with 206, and Walter Johnson, fireball king, who qualified with 189.

In the background is the memorial hall in Cooperstown where baseball’s centennial will be celebrated in 1939.”

Here are some links to newsreel or other film footage about the first Baseball Hall of Fame inductees:

Ty Cobb
Babe Ruth
Honus Wagner
Christy Mathewson
Walter Johnson

Image-1936 Sedalia

“The names of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Hans Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson will be perpetuated in baseball’s hall of fame, but fandom will have to wait another year to learn who their five mates of the modern era will be.

….There were no doubts in the minds of players and sportswriters who cast 226 votes in the poll, that these five merited places in the Memorial Hall to be erected at Cooperstown, N.Y.

….A poll to name five pre-1900 stars for the hall of fame was completely futile, none receiving the 75 per cent minimum necessary to elect.”

— “Cobb, Ruth, Wagner, Mathewson and Johnson
Voted Places in Baseball’s Hall of Fame”
Excerpt from AP story published
in the Sedalia (Missouri) Democrat, February 3, 1936

This video was produced for the 75th anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Read more


Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015

Tribune Publishing makes senior leadership changes

Chicago Tribune | Capital New York | Tribune Publishing

Tribune Publishing announced several high-level job moves Wednesday, shaking up the leadership ranks of The Chicago Tribune and Tribune Content Agency.

Joycelyn Winnecke, who was previously associate editor of The Tribune, will become president of Tribune Content Agency, the content syndication business that absorbed McClatchy-Tribune Information Services in May.

The Tribune, which lost managing editor Jane Hirt in November, made a series of appointments to fill out the masthead:

  • Peter Kendall, formerly deputy managing editor at The Tribune, will be managing editor there.
  • Colin McMahon, formerly cross media editor at The Tribune, will be associate editor there.
  • Marcia Lythcott has been named commentary editor at The Tribune.
  • Margaret Holt has joined the masthead to “recognize her role as standards editor for the newspaper,” according to The Tribune.

The elevations of Kendall and McMahon, who will lead The Tribune’s audience development efforts, reflect an industry-wide push to be more proactive on the fronts of social media and digital platforms, Capital New York’s Joe Pompeo writes:

The moves suggest the same digital and audience-development push that many newspapers are embarking on as they grapple with a new generation of online competitors and the flight of readers and advertisers from print platforms to laptops and mobile devices.

More appointments are forthcoming, according to The Tribune. Read more


AP corrects: We got the wrong lawmaker

The Associated Press has apologized and issued a correction after misattributing a quote to Hawaii state Sen. Laura Thielen.

Thielen pointed out the error on her Facebook page Monday. She says she was quoted in a story by Associated Press reporter Audrey McAvoy but never gave an interview for the article.

When Thielen called to ask about the quote, the reporter told her she actually spoke to her mother, Hawaii Rep. Cynthia Thielen, according to her Facebook post. Thielen says her mother denies talking to the reporter for the story and says an Associated Press editor “got irritated with me for being upset” and hung up on her in mid-sentence.

A call to Laura Thielen’s office was not returned Wednesday.

The error was the result of miscommunication between reporters, said Paul Colford, director of media relations for The Associated Press. In calling in a quote, which actually came from Hawaii Rep. Cindy Evans, the reporter accidentally misattributed it:

We issued a corrective after a communication error between two reporters accidentally resulted in misidentifying a lawmaker. We took the additional step of calling the Honolulu Star-Advertiser to make sure its story was corrected. And we apologized to the lawmaker, Sen. Laura Thielen.

In addition to McAvoy, Cathy Bussewitz is listed as a contributor to the article. The corrected story does not include a quote from Laura Thielen, Cynthia Thielen or Evans. It carries the following correction:

An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote to state Sen. Laura Thielen. That quote has been removed from this version.

Read more
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Clark Gilbert is leaving Deseret News

Clark Gilbert, one of the most influential thinkers and practitioners in the digital transformation of newspapers, is leaving his job as CEO of Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media

In April, he will become president of BYU-Idaho, where he had worked for several years before joining Deseret in 2009. He succeeds Kim Clark, also formerly dean of the Harvard Business School, where Gilbert started his career as a professor.

A successor at Deseret was not immediately named.

Gilbert (a close professional friend, I should disclose) was a ready-made story as he took the reins at Deseret. Academic-puts-theory-to-practice was my take after visiting Salt Lake City and interviewing Gilbert as he was starting out.

In the years following, Gilbert made a series of big changes in rapid order:

  • He brought in non-newspaper executives with backgrounds in other digital ventures to manage that side of the company and created a digital ad sales force.
  • He reduced print staff and hired and transferred reporters and editors to digital (before that was standard strategy).
  • He directed both the newspaper and its various websites to give special focus to a few areas and try to be best in that field. That included coverage of faith and family values targeting not just Utah readers but Mormons around the country and worldwide.
  • He has syndicated some of that content to non-Mormon publications and done collaborations on special projects with other news organizations including The Atlantic.

Most recently, he started an  “innovation wire” and in December contributed a detailed summary of lessons learned in five years at Deseret. It wasn’t labeled as a valedictory but that’s what it was.

The piece opens with an answer to two things skeptics have said about the transferability of Deseret’s experience across the industry — that it had unusual access to a valued target audience and the advantage of backing from the fabulously wealthy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Deseret Digital Media (DDM) launched five years ago this January. Over those years I have seen many observers dismiss the transformation at Deseret Digital Media with claims that we are “different.” The comments range from “They must be subsidized” to “Their religious orientation somehow compels their markets to buy their products or subscribe to their websites.” If only either of these misperceptions where true!

The reality is we operate in competitive markets and are very much a for-profit entity. And while we are different, it is not on the dimensions many imagine. As Harvard scholar Michael Porter has described: “Strategy is about making choices, tradeoffs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.” But even as we swim against that current, there are a host of other companies we admire, benchmark, and even share innovation practices with quite regularly.

Gilbert did not have the combative edge of fellow digital innovator John Paton, CEO of Digital First Media.  But he was blunt in criticism of the legacy newspaper business model and the industry’s sluggish pace of digital change.  More than once I’ve seen his message greeted with folded arms and skeptical eye-rolls from newspaper professionals.  (He is on the program, for a second time, of the Newspaper Association of America’s annual Media x Change conference in March).

Gilbert’s doctoral thesis was on disruptive innovation in media. He and mentor Clayton Christensen at Harvard also had heavy input on the Newspaper Next report, an influential future-gazing project of the American Press Institute published in 2005.

His tenure at Deseret, despite many well-documented successes, has not been without controversy. In 2013 he renegotiated a joint operating agreement with the Salt Lake Tribune effectively buying out the controlling share and making Deseret the dominant partner — a move viewed with some suspicion by Tribune journalists.

I was never a Mormon bigot, but I have learned a lot about the religion from Clark and his colleagues, who helped with a Poynter conference on faith and politics in Washington we produced on the eve of Mitt Romney’s candidacy.

In private conversations Gilbert, a self-described devout Mormon, he spoke enthusiastically about his time at BYU-Idaho and changes he was able to make at the newer spinoff of Brigham Young University. I didn’t see it coming but am not surprised that Gilbert made the change and is exiting media — at least for now. Read more


Al Jazeera memo illustrates the importance of word choice

I’ve spent a lot of time and space over the last decade thinking and writing about political language, propaganda, censorship, and banned and taboo words. Every time the language wars begin heating up (illegal alien vs. undocumented worker), I find myself reverting to a set of first principles:

  1. What is the literal meaning of the questionable word or phrase?
  2. Does that word or phrase have any connotations, that is, associations that are positive or negative?
  3. How does the word correspond to what is actually happening on the ground?
  4. What group (sometimes called a “discourse community”) favors one locution over another, and why?
  5. Is the word or phrase “loaded”?  How far does it steer us from neutral?
  6. Does the word or phrase help me see, or does it prevent me from seeing?

This list of questions is inspired by an internal document leaked from Al Jazeera English and published by the conservative magazine National Review Online, The memo was written by news executive Carlos Van Meek and attends to the usages of words such as extremist, terrorist, Islamist, and jihad.

Here is the full text of the email by Van Meek as published on, a site whose stated mission is to expose liberal bias in the media:

From: Carlos Van Meek
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 10:06 AM
To: AJE-Newsdesk; AJE-Output; AJE-DC-Newsroom
Subject: Terrorists, Militants, Fighters and then some…

All: We manage our words carefully around here. So I’d like to bring to your attention some key words that have a tendency of tripping us up. This is straight out of our Style Guide. All media outlets have one of those. So do we. If you’d like to amend, change, tweak.. pls write to Dan Hawaleshka direct who is compiling the updates to the Style Guide and they will be considered based on merit. No mass replies to this email, pls.

EXTREMIST – Do not use. Avoid characterizing people. Often their actions do the work for the viewer. Could write ‘violent group’ if we’re reporting on Boko Haram agreeing to negotiate with the government. In other words, reporting on a violent group that’s in the news for a non-violent reason.

TERRORISM/TERRORISTS – One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. We will not use these terms unless attributed to a source/person.

ISLAMIST – Do not use. We will continue to describe groups and individuals, by talking about their previous actions and current aims to give viewers the context they require, rather than use a simplistic label.

NOTE: Naturally many of our guests will use the word Islamist in the course of their answers. It is absolutely fine to include these answers in our output. There is no blanket ban on the word.
JIHAD – Do not use the Arabic term. Strictly speaking, jihad means an inner spiritual struggle, not a holy war. It is not by tradition a negative term. It also means the struggle to defend Islam against things challenging it. Again, an Arabic term that we do not use.
FIGHTERS – We do not use words such as militants, radicals, insurgents. We will stick with fighters. However, these terms are allowed when quoting other people using them.

MILITANT – We can use this term to describe individuals who favour confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause. For example, we can use the term to describe Norwegian mass-killer Andres Behring Breivik or Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. But please note: we will not use it to describe a group of people, as in ‘militants’ or ‘militant groups’ etc.

So how should we interpret this advice from Al Jazeera’s Style Guide?  It will depend, in part, upon which language club you belong to. If you identify with Rush Limbaugh and use terms like Islamo-Fascist, then you are likely to see attempts to limit use of “jihad” as a form of Arabic political correctness, even propaganda.

What if you consider yourself a politically moderate Muslim Arab-American? Perhaps from your perspective you see the language policies of Al-Jazeera as a necessary step to creating, dare I say it, a more fair and balanced approach to reporting. It was S.I. Hayakawa in his famous book Language in Thought and Action who stipulates that any true report depends upon the avoidance of “loaded words.”  All the words highlighted in the memo – with the possible exception of “fighters” – are loaded. Their use over time has led to an inevitable set of associations. Use words like Islam, jihad, terrorist in a cluster, and I am, involuntarily, imagining the rubble of 9/11.

Here is a key obstacle to writing responsibly in our political culture: We seem to be losing neutrality as a value. What if I reject both “illegal alien” AND “undocumented worker”?  What if I see the first as dysphemism and the second as euphemism?  What if I offer an alternative, such as “illegal immigrant”? I will be attacked from the right as politically correct, and from the left as insensitive for categorizing a person as illegal.

Consider this range of language:

Al Jazeera also put out this video to explain their rationale for this style.


As the style book argues: One person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. But another set of questions must follow for the journalist: Should these two persons be treated as if their claims are equally legitimate? What is the evidence of terrorism or heroism? Is the arrival at a neutral word like “fighter” creating a false and unworthy balance?

Here’s what I like about Van Meek’s memo:

*He makes a distinction between avoidance of a word by a reporting staff and its overall banishment. If sources are using some of these words, so be it, they can appear in sound bytes.

*He expresses a preference for describing the specific actions of a person or group and their consequences. A decade ago, when we were arguing whether Iraq was experiencing a “civil war” or “sectarian violence,” my response was something like: “Who cares. Show me what these people are doing. Let me categorize it based on my experience.” If you show me a person wearing a mask cutting off the head of another man whose supposed crime is that he is a journalist or health worker, you don’t have to label him as an extremist. I get it.

*The standards and practices described in the guidebook are not fixed.  They can be revised based upon a process established to improve them. Read more

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The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger on the way to the shuttle. Image by Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

Challenger photographer: ‘I knew there was something terribly wrong’

The moment it happened, when the boosters separated from Space Shuttle Challenger, Red Huber knew something was wrong.

Huber, a photographer for the Orlando Sentinel who covered the space program, stood on Astronaut Road in Cape Canaveral, surrounded by out-of-town photographers there to capture images of the first teacher heading into space. At that moment, they oohhhed and ahhhed around him.

“It’s still a very, very vivid image in my mind of that moment,” said Huber, who is still a photographer with the Sentinel. “When I saw the boosters separate and go in different directions, I knew there was something terribly wrong, but they didn’t know that.”

Images or video of the Challenger exploding 29 years ago might be what most of us remember. Huber remembers another moment.

Photographing Challenger’s liftoff was Huber’s first assignment back after taking time off to be with his newborn daughter. The day before, the launch was scrubbed because of the weather. Huber remembers the bitter cold and listening to technicians on a scanner.

“It was like an ice palace out there,” he said. “People even said on the radio, there’s no way we could try to launch tomorrow, everything’s frozen out here.”

He was surprised the next day when he learned the launch would go ahead. When the shuttle exploded, everyone was shocked.

“We were in a new technology with the space shuttle, and we had 50 launches before this one that went flawless. So I think it’s a monumental moment in modern human space flight. Everybody knows where they were…I think there are certain moments in history, and that sure was one of them.”

Huber covered the space program for 30 years, from STS-1 to STS-35. Before the Challenger explosion, “everyone treated this thing as a space truck, because everything worked so perfectly,” Huber said. “And then something went wrong.”

Every year around this time, Huber remembers Challenger and the Columbia disaster, which happened Feb. 1, 2003. He was there, as well.

That January day 29 years ago, he wasn’t just there to see Christa McAuliffe head into space. He was covering his beat.

“You get to know these people personally,” he said. “That’s the toughest part.”

He still shares the images he shot from that day. The Sentinel has done a retrospective and a video with other staff who also covered the story. The images he shot of the shuttle exploding are part of history. But when he thinks of Challenger, he thinks of the people on board.

“I think of the astronauts and their families and what those astronauts sacrificed for human space flight,” Huber said. “When we get around this time, I think about the astronauts joking with us in the media, smiling, laughing, looking serious when they were doing something. I think of them. It was so exciting back then.”

The moment he remembers, one he photographed, happened before the explosion.

“I picture them walking together in unison as they entered the astronaut van, which I was there for. That’s the image that I think about during that time. They were smiling. They were happy. We had the first teacher on board. That was huge.”

The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger on the way to the shuttle. Image by Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger on the way to the shuttle. Image by Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

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After 6 months in prison, Jason Rezaian will go on trial ‘soon’ in Iran

The Washington Post | Al Jazeera America | Committee to Protect Journalists

The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian will face trial “soon” in Iran, Brian Murphy reported for the Post. Murphy writes that this news was first reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency, a state-run news outlet in Iran.

“We have yet to hear any accounting of any charges against Jason, who after six months in custody has still not been provided access to a lawyer,” said a statement from Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor. “It is appalling and outrageous that Jason remains behind bars. A fair and just approach by Iran’s judiciary could only result in his immediate release.”

On Jan. 23, Stephen Kinzer wrote for Al Jazeera America about Rezaian and other cases of attacks on journalists around the world. “The first month of 2015 suggests that this will be a bad year for free expression,” Kinzer wrote.

This month my friend Jason, the Washington Post correspondent in Tehran, was finally charged with a crime after half a year at the ill-reputed Evin prison. He has not been told what the charge is or whether there will be a trial. Like Al Jazeera’s journalists jailed in Egypt, Jason is innocent of any crime — collateral damage in a larger power struggle. Those who have seized him probably know this. Yet journalists make tempting targets.

Last year, 221 journalists were imprisoned around the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That’s not as high as 2012, when 232 journalists were imprisoned. CPJ’s timeline shows a steady rise since 2008. In Iran, 2012 was also a record year, with 45 journalists imprisoned. Last year, Iran put 30 journalists in jail. Read more


New York Times moves reporter from national race beat

Fishbowl NY | Maynard Institute

Tanzina Vega, the New York Times reporter on the paper’s national race beat, has been reassigned to the newly created position of Bronx courthouse reporter, according to a staff memo from New York Times metro editor Wendell Jamieson and metro print editor Dean Chang:

So we’re excited to announce that Tanzina, who first worked for The Times as a Metro stringer and graduated next door at CUNY, will return and open up our first full-time Bronx courthouse beat. Dean Chang and I have wanted to do this forever, and feel deeply lucky that Tanzina came our way. Here is the borough that is home to the congressional district with the lowest income level in the nation, where the bad old days are still alive in some neighborhoods while residents in others welcome improvements but fear gentrification, where a police ticket-fixing scandal exploded, and where all cases involving Rikers Island are heard.

The news was first reported Monday by the Maynard Institute.

Vega began reporting on The Times’ new race beat in 2014 and tackled subjects including infertility among women of color and “conflicted feelings of minority gun owners,” according to a question-and-answer session on Times Insider.

Commentators on Twitter speculated about the fate of race coverage at The New York Times and elsewhere:

In a statement to another news outlet shared with Poynter, New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet said that The Times generally doesn’t discuss coverage plans.

“Suffice it to say we believe race is a big story and we will cover it aggressively,” he said.

In May, NPR canceled “Tell Me More,” a program “expressly designed to have a primary appeal for African-American listeners.” The cut resulted in a loss of 28 positions.

Here’s the memo:

In recent months Tanzina Vega showed how varied and powerful a national beat focusing on race could be: She explored the psyches of minority gun owners, looked at school discipline and how it varies by ethnicity, and was tear-gassed in Ferguson while covering the events there. But as we’ve told many a Foreign correspondent, you don’t need to travel abroad to find adventure: The Metro desk can accommodate you right here in New York. So too is it true that all the issues of justice, race and inequality play out in the five boroughs just as they do elsewhere, perhaps even more so. And nowhere are they more evident, and in technicolor, than in our teeming courtrooms.

So we’re excited to announce that Tanzina, who first worked for The Times as a Metro stringer and graduated next door at CUNY, will return and open up our first full-time Bronx courthouse beat. Dean Chang and I have wanted to do this forever, and feel deeply lucky that Tanzina came our way. Here is the borough that is home to the congressional district with the lowest income level in the nation, where the bad old days are still alive in some neighborhoods while residents in others welcome improvements but fear gentrification, where a police ticket-fixing scandal exploded, and where all cases involving Rikers Island are heard. There is also an inscrutable district attorney who has been at it long before Tanzina went to CUNY.

Just to fill her plate, Tanzina will also keep an eye on the federal court in Westchester County, where other kinds of issues tend to play out.

Tanzina is a native New Yorker, born and raised on the Lower East Side. Before she started at The Times, she lived in Barcelona, Spain, and was a translator and English teacher. She has also worked at United Business Media, where she was a research editor and pioneered a weekly podcast. After her time as a clerk and Metro stringer, she moved on to an internship on the website and then a producer job in Bizday, where her multimedia work was recognized by the National Press Photographers Association. Before joining National on the race beat, she spent three years in Media covering advertising.

Please join us in welcoming here to Metro, and the Bronx.

Wendell and Dean

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Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 3.33.44 PM

‘What #@!% blizzard?’ Front pages from the storm that missed New York and hit New England

Newseum’s collection of front pages had a lot of white on Wednesday, at least on the New England pages. In parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the front pages from the day after dodging winter storm Juno seemed a bit disappointed.

The Trentonian, Trenton, New Jersey:

Metro – New York Edition, New York, New York:
NY_MET (1)

Staten Island Advance, Staten Island, New York:
NY_SIA (1)

Metro – Philadelphia Edition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Juno did, of course, deliver in New England.

The Day, New London, Connecticut:

Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine:

Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine:

The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts:
MA_BG (1)

Boston Herald, Boston, Massachusetts:
MA_BH (1)

Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Massachusetts:

Sentinel & Enterprise, Fitchburg, Massachusetts:
MA_SE Read more


Indiana’s governor will hold a briefing today on that state-run news outlet

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Time for some gov-splaining

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence plans to clear up all this confusion about whether he's starting a state-run news agency or they're just doing PR. Pence will hold a media briefing Wednesday morning. "Reports that this was intended to be a news agency, I think just represent an understandable misunderstanding based on some internal communications that I read about in the press." (Indianapolis Star) | The Society of Professional Journalists will be watching. "It’s the Society’s position that the press is not free when elected officials serve as editor and publisher. SPJ will be monitoring Just IN moving forward." (SPJ)

  2. It has been 29 years since Challenger exploded

    David Shedden writes about the news coverage of the space shuttle explosion from this day in 1986, with footage from CNN, CBS and NBC, as well as stories from major newspapers at the time. (Poynter) | Last week, Melody Kramer asked people on Twitter what news event they first remember. For many people who tweeted back, it was the Challenger explosion. (Storify)

  3. Tech moments from Juno

    In addition to lots of snow in New England, Juno offered an opportunity that many journalists and news outlets took -- using some tools to tell stories. AdAge looked at how Snapchat's new Discover partners covered the storm. (AdAge) | Bloomberg has a timelapse video from "The Snow Storm That Wasn't". (Bloomberg) | used the blizzard as the theme for an Instagram contest. ( | That Yeti from Boston is on Twitter, btw. (@BostonYeti2015)

  4. 5 journalists have been killed in South Sudan

    Five journalists are among 11 dead in an ambush in South Sudan. Musa Mohamed, Adam Juma, Dalia Marko, Randa George and Boutros Martin worked for radio and TV outlets. They were returning from reporting on the families of another attack in South Sudan that happened the week before. (Committee to Protect Journalists)

  5. 'You got it wrong, boy — uh, son.'

    Augusta County Supervisor Tracy Pyles complained to (Staunton, Virginia) News Leader reporter Calvin Trice about an article and called him "boy," then "son." Trice is black and 43 years old. "'It came in the middle of a tirade against my report ... that was expected,' Trice said. 'But when that word came up, that's the only thing about that whole scenario that surprised me. That one word. It's the first time it got uncomfortably personal.'" (News Leader)

  6. Leaking 101

    The Intercept has a handy guide on how to leak to The Intercept, with tips on what to do ("Go to a public WiFi network") and what not to do ("Don’t contact us from work.") (The Intercept) | Previously: "Ed Snowden taught me to smuggle secrets past incredible danger. Now I teach you." (The Intercept)

  7. Does anyone actually say 'following' or 'prior to?'

    Merrill Perlman writes about the words we often write in place of after and before. "'Following dinner, he went hunting' could mean he had gone hunting once he had finished his dinner, or he had gone hunting to look for his dinner." (Columbia Journalism Review) | Related: "Words journalists write that no one ever says." (Poynter)

  8. The BBC is now predicting the future

    In a timeline with notable moments in news, the BBC predicts that robots will start writing the news in 2021 and astronauts will set up a colony on Mars in 2027. (BBC)

  9. Front page of the day, selected by Seth Liss

    From the Portland Press Herald, where Juno actually delivered. (Courtesy the Newseum)


  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Amy Argetsinger will be an assignment editor in The Washington Post's features section. Previously, she was a writer and editor on The Post's pop-culture team. (Washington Post) | Tessa Muggeridge is now digital editor at The Washington Post's universal desk. Previously, she was a morning producer there. (Washington Post) | Ken Doctor is now a media columnist at Capital New York. He is the Newsonomics columnist for Nieman Lab. (Email) | Job of the day: The Desert Sun is looking for an investigative coach and editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

Corrections? Tips? Know any good robot journalists? Please email me: Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here. Read more

P-1986 Shuttle

Today in Media History: Coverage of 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion

At 11:38 a.m. on a cold January 28, 1986, TV broadcast the launch of what was assumed would be a successful space shuttle mission.

At 11:39 a.m. the space shuttle Challenger exploded after take off killing all seven astronauts aboard.

The most well-known member of the crew was Christa McAuliffe, a high-school teacher from Concord, New Hampshire.

CNN viewers watched the accident live:

“Cape Canaveral, Fla. Jan. 28 — The space shuttle Challenger exploded in a ball of fire shortly after it left the launching pad today, and all seven astronauts on board were lost.

The worst accident in the history of the American space program, it was witnessed by thousands of spectators who watched in wonder, then horror, as the ship blew apart high in the air.

Flaming debris rained down on the Atlantic Ocean for an hour after the explosion, which occurred just after 11:39 A. M. It kept rescue teams from reaching the area where the craft would have fallen into the sea, about 18 miles offshore.”

— “The Shuttle Explodes
New York Times, January 29, 2006

The CBS Evening News:

“The launch had been delayed repeatedly, most recently because of fears that icicles on the launch pad Tuesday morning could harm the shuttle.

A crowd of teachers was on hand to watch Concord (N.H.) High School social studies teacher McAuliffe, 37, who was chosen from 11,000 candidates to be the first ‘ordinary citizen in space.’

They stood in temporary bleachers and cheered wildly at what appeared to be a perfect takeoff into a cold but clear blue sky. Then, as three bright fireballs appeared amid what sounded like muffled thunder, more than a minute before the booster rockets were supposed to be jettisoned, there was a confused hush.

‘Oh my God!’ said Debbie Hall, a NASA security guard standing near the bleachers. ‘It never did that before.’ She has witnessed numerous launches here.

Also board the Challenger were commander Francis ‘Dick’ Scobee, co-pilot Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Arnold McNair, and satellite engineer Gregory Jarvis.”

— “Space Shuttle Explodes
Chicago Tribune, January 29, 1986

NBC Nightly News:

At the end of the tragic day President Reagan delivered a speech from the Oval Office about the Challenger crew. (Video)

The Washington Post soon published a transcript. Here is an excerpt:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I planned to speak to you tonight to report on the State of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core over the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.

….We’ve grown used to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

….The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them nor the last time we saw them — this morning — as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye, and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.”

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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

Village Voice parent company will explore sale of papers

Voice Media Group | OC Weekly

Voice Media Group has hired merger-and-acquisition firm Dirks, Van Essen & Murray to help it determine what it calls “new strategies for its publishing assets,” which is the typical language used when companies put their papers up for sale.

Voice Media Group publishes The Village Voice, LA Weekly and The Riverfront Times, among other papers.

The firm will begin “immediately considering options” at the OC weekly, according to the announcement. Those options could include a sale or some sort of partnership opportunity.

Voice Media Group acquired the Village Voice and its properties in 2012, in a transaction with Village Voice Media.

Gustavo Arellano, editor of OC Weekly, writes that interested buyers stand to gain “a motivated band of misfits,” and adds that the paper takes payment in “in pho, pesos, dollars and I think Bitcoin.”

Here’s the announcement:

Santa Fe, NM – January 27, 2015 – Voice Media Group has engaged Dirks, Van Essen & Murray and its subsidiary CAL DVM to explore new strategies for its publishing assets, including the sale or acquisition of alternative publications and other digital businesses.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray will begin by immediately considering options at the OC Weekly, which could include the sale of the publication or a local partnership opportunity.

“We’re confident this will represent an extremely attractive opportunity for the right buyer or strategic partner,” said VMG chief executive officer Scott Tobias. “We’ve been proud to own the Weekly for the past eight years, and we know it will continue to punch above its weight in the future.”

Since its founding in 1995, the scrappy Weekly has won dozens of journalism awards and established itself as the leading alternative voice in Orange County and Long Beach, serving more than 225,000 young, active readers with the region’s hardest-hitting investigative reporting and cultural commentary. Its irreverent and intelligent coverage includes the syndicated “Ask a Mexican” column by editor Gustavo Arellano, as well as the popular news blog “Navel Gazing” and spirited music, food and arts reporting.

This strategic planning is part of VMG’s long-range vision to fine-tune its portfolio. This process is likely to result in the diversification of more of its holdings, which include a fast-growing digital agency business and a national sales arm that serves 56 partner sites and publications with weekly print distribution of 3 million and 95 million page views per month.

“We continue to evaluate all of our properties while at the same time looking at new opportunities,” said Tobias. “We will be making moves that fit our business plan and that set our business up for the most success today and in the future.”

In addition to its affiliated digital properties, VMG publishes the Village Voice in New York, LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Miami New Times, the Houston Press, Phoenix New Times, City Pages in Minneapolis, the Dallas Observer, the Riverfront Times in St. Louis and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

Tobias went on to say that all communications regarding potential changes to the VMG portfolio will be handled by Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, who can be reached at 505-820-2700.

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In response to missteps, tweaks its editing approach

By any editor’s standards, Jan. 14 was a difficult day for the staff of The night before, the outlet published an article which wondered whether anyone would notice had House Speaker John Boehner been poisoned by a bartender.

The piece provoked serious fallout. Boehner spokesperson Michael Steel called it “insensitive and inappropriate,” and the blunder was reported widely in the national and regional press. Mike Sheehan, CEO of’s parent company, sent Boehner’s office an apology. The writer was out of his job by Thursday.

So what happened? Before the furor subsided, the staff gathered to discuss’s editorial policy.

“We had a meeting the day following the Boehner event where our editors reviewed with all of our writers what our process is from the time of conception of the story all the way through to its actually hitting the site,” said Corey Gottlieb, the outlet’s general manager.

That editorial process — how copy flows from writers to editors to the Web — has been the subject of much discussion at in the days since the Boehner story went live, Gottlieb said. The newsroom’s in-house guidelines require stories be given a first read by associate editors before they’re submitted for a final edit, usually by interim deputy editor Eleanor Cleverly. But because the Boehner article was posted while editors were hustling to get several stories online, it didn’t get a final read.

It came one month after another flub, in which published an editor’s note explaining it couldn’t verify an earlier story saying a Harvard professor sent racist emails to a Chinese restaurant. One of the authors of the story was later suspended for making a T-shirt mocking the same professor’s crusade against the restaurant for a $4 overcharge.

In light of the two mistakes,’s leadership has made some changes, Gottlieb said. First, editors have put more emphasis on taking more time to read through, proof and vet stories before they go live. And if it means publishing fewer stories at a slower pace, that’s fine.

“We’ve made a pretty strong point about the fact that it’s OK to slow down, Gottlieb said. “That we’d much rather not be first but get something right and be really thoughtful about it than rush to publish and bypass the discretion that should be required of any good content producer like ours.”

Gottlieb says the newsroom has also permanently reassigned staffers who used to be responsible for writing and layout to work on copyediting. This, he says, will add another layer of editorial discretion and prevent similar mistakes from happening again.

And lastly, Gottlieb wants a clearer distinction between the types of content published at The Boehner story, which appears under “news” at, now carries an editor’s note labeling it as opinion. A forthcoming update to the site will make plain to readers whether they’re reading an opinion piece or a straightforward news article, Gottlieb said.

Much of the content at is characterized by an informal tone, which distinguishes its stories from those at its more staid sister publication, The Boston Globe. During the fallout from the Boehner story, which was suffused with an edgy tone, Gottlieb told The Globe that the line between tongue-and-cheek and unfair writing is a fine one. But plans to maintain its brand of journalism going forward, albeit under a closer watch, Sheehan said.

“There’s a lot of gray areas,” Sheehan said. “I don’t mind being in the gray areas. But when you find yourself in the black area, then that’s when you’ve got to really step in and force things to change.”

Sheehan describes the recent missteps at as side effects of a massive transition the outlet has undergone in recent months. In March, Nieman Lab reported and The Boston Globe would no longer share content and be physically separated from one another. went through a redesign and is planning several new product launches in the coming months. The outlet has also added staff in the areas of graphic design, Web development and user experience as part of an effort to become more than the “Web arm of a newspaper company,” Gottlieb said.

Another possible contributing factor to the recent turbulence at is the lack of a permanent top editor at the helm. Former editor Matt Gross, who was hired in September, resigned in November, citing family concerns. The search for Gross’ replacement is “well underway” and remains a priority, Gottlieb said.

In the meantime, staff at will dust themselves off and do their best to learn from the experience, Gottlieb said.

“The takeaway is, this is a group that is raw and pretty young and new and learning,” Gottlieb said. “And we continue to learn not just from our mistakes, but the successes that we have, and grow as a group.” Read more


NPPA study: The most memorable pictures were taken by pros


On Tuesday, the National Press Photographers Association released the results of an eyetracking study of 200 images, half by professional photojournalists and half by amateurs. Sara Quinn, Poynter affiliate faculty, wrote that the study was conducted last May at the University of Minnesota with 52 people who fell into two demographics — 18 to 30 and 45 to 60.

Can people differentiate between professional and amateur photographs? Yes, quite definitely. Study participants were able to tell whether a photograph was made by a professional or an amateur 90 percent of the time.

Some other details from the study:

– People were twice as likely to share a pro’s photo as they were user-generated content.

– People spent more time with photos that had longer captions.

– People have noticed that news organizations are using more UGC.

Without prompt from the researchers, a number of subjects said they had noticed recent moves in the news media to incorporate user-generated content.

“I think if I was running a newspaper, it would be important for me to have photographs that were quality, as opposed to photos that are just like, ‘Yeah, everyone just kind of send stuff in,’ ” said a 21-year-old male student.

Last week, NPPA broke the news that Sports Illustrated laid off its entire photo staff. Read more


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