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This week on Medium: ‘Don’t focus on the big names’ and other tips for young journalists

If you checked Medium’s journalism tag this week, you may have noticed an assortment of old “Golden Girls” episodes. There were also good pieces on journalism. Here are a few, in case you missed them.

What I wish I’d known when I was starting out as a journalist

Sirena Bergman has 15 tips for aspiring journalists. Here’s No. 12:

Don’t focus on the big names. It’s awesome to work at a big publication that people have heard of and admire, but it’s much harder to evolve as a journalist and learn new skills. Don’t dismiss smaller independent sites where you’ll get the chance to broaden your scope and really understand what you enjoy and what you’re good at.

Goodbye, comments. Hello, “conversations”

Pedro Burgos has a look at two trends we’re currently seeing in the business. Read more

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After more than 40 years on air, WFAA’s Byron Harris is retiring today.


WFAA Dallas investigative reporter Byron Harris is retiring Friday after more than 40 years on the air.

While nobody I know of keeps such records, Byron may well be the most honored investigative reporter in local TV news. He won two Peabody Awards, four Edward R. Murrow Awards and six duPont-Columbia batons. For you print folks, the duPont is the Pulitzer of TV. They even judge the contest in the same room as the Pulitzers at Columbia University. I was on the duPont jury that awarded Byron the only gold baton ever awarded to a local TV station. The jury simply felt we had given him so many honors we needed to send a message we really meant – this guy is great.

WFAA’s summary of his work includes this: “During his time with WFAA, he traveled beyond the United States border to cover wars in Somalia and Iraq. Read more


Yahoo hires Business Insider’s Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker, the politics editor at Business Insider, will be a national correspondent at Yahoo News, the online outlet said Friday.

Walker, who joined Business Insider in February 2014, will focus on covering the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to a statement from Becky Auslander, director of corporate communications for Yahoo Media.

The news was first reported in Playbook, Mike Allen’s daily political news tipsheet.

Before Walker joined Business Insider, he was a national affairs reporter at TPM, a senior editor at the New York Observer and a reporter at The Daily.

He starts Monday. Read more


Career Beat: Tom Seeley named SVP of digital media at The Hollywood Reporter

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

  • Kate Glassman Bennett is leaving POLITICO. She is a gossip columnist there. (The Washington Post)
  • Saba Hamedy is now digital entertainment reporter at Mashable. Previously, she was a reporter at the Los Angeles Times. (Email)
  • Tom Seeley is now senior vice president of digital media at The Hollywood Reporter. Previously, he was vice president of editorial for NBC Sports Digital. (Email)
  • Erin McClam is now senior political editor at Fusion. Previously, she was a senior writer at NBC News. (Email)
  • Dafna Linzer is now managing editor of politics for NBC News and MSNBC. Previously, she was managing editor of (NBC News)
  • Hunter Walker will be a national correspondent at Yahoo News.
Read more

Front page of the day: Run, Chicago, run

The front page of the day for Friday comes from Chicago’s RedEye. On Sunday, runners will gather for the Chicago Marathon. According to the marathon, it started in 1977 and was then known as the Mayor Daley Marathon. 4,200 runners participated. Runners World says about 45,000 runners will take part this year. Via Newseum:


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs'); Read more


Abracadabra: How university made famous reporter’s speech disappear

Good morning.

  1. P-U-R-D-U-E spells suppression

    Bart Gellman is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who works both for a foundation and occasionally for The Washington Post, where he was both conduit for and analyst of Edward Snowden's National Security Agency revelations. He gave a 90-minute presentation at a Purdue "Dawn or Doom 2: The New Technology Explosion" conference. In a question and answer segment, he mentioned that his slides had included three with some classified information. The same information was already very public and possibly seen by millions. Purdue, which does classified government work, informed the Pentagon and then declined to give him, as promised, a videotape of the session. It also yanked the video from a university website. (Poynter).

    Gellman is justifiably outraged and yesterday realized, too, that the official program has now been doctored to expunge the fact he was even at the conference.

Read more

Thursday, Oct. 08, 2015

Tribune Tower

Tribune Tower is up for sale

The Tower (AP Photo)

Tribune Tower, photographed in 2006. (AP Photo)

Chicago Sun-Times | Chicago Tribune

Tribune Tower, the iconic headquarters of the Chicago Tribune, is on the market.

Tribune Media, the owner of the 36-story Michigan Avenue landmark “has hired real estate investment banker Eastdil Secured to explore an outright sale or partnership,” the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick reported Thursday:

Built in 1925, Tribune Tower was designed by New York architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, who won a contest held by Chicago Tribune co-publishers Robert R. McCormick and Joseph Patterson to create the newspaper’s headquarters.

Reports of the tower’s potential sale have circulated before. In 2006, a company spokesperson shot down rumors that the building was on the market amid the company’s $2 billion share buyback plan. Read more


How 3 New Jersey newsrooms are turning to their readers for story ideas

(New Brunswick at night. Photo by razordu30/Flickr)

(New Brunswick, New Jersey at night. Photo by razordu30/Flickr)

Earlier this year, during a New Jersey summer that saw a particularly nasty heat wave, readers of a local news site in New Brunswick had a question: Why couldn’t they find any public swimming pools in their community?

Under normal circumstances, that question might have fallen by the wayside, filed away with other timeless story ideas on some interminable to-do list. But staffers at New Brunswick Today are now considering answering that question thanks to Hearken, a platform for reader engagement that helps newsrooms interact with their communities.

New Brunswick Today is one of three news organizations in New Jersey that have received funding from a group of nonprofits to incorporate Hearken into their newsrooms. Read more

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What Gannett gets by getting bigger and why newspaper consolidation will continue

For three different reasons, Gannett’s surprise acquisition Wednesday of Journal Media Group (the former Scripps papers and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) makes a lot of sense:

– In the era of digital transformation, bigger is better. A larger audience translates to better prospects for digital ad sales. The combined operations will have 100 million monthly uniques, according to the press release announcing the deal.

– Any such merger brings efficiency as corporate offices combine and shrink. Gannett said that it expects $35 million in savings and may have other cost-cutting initiatives at the ready.  Smaller newsrooms are a possibility but not a certainty.

– Gannett has a suite of centralized programs — news feeds from USA Today, a common content management system, events and digital marketing services capacity — that will pay off the more markets they touch. Read more


Purdue deletes video of Bart Gellman speech, cites use of classified material

Now you see it, now you don’t.

Barton Gellman, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who’s worked mostly for The Washington Post, spoke last month at Purdue University as a “Dawn or Doom” colloquium. It involved his take on national security matters, an area of renowned expertise for somebody who was both conduit for and analyst of Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks.

He was promised a video of the presentation but then told that Purdue’s lawyers had said no to that notion or otherwise publishing the video.

Now, writing for The Century Foundation, for which he also works, he indicates that three slides used during his 90-minute presentation contained classified materials. Technically, they remain classified despite the fact that the information can be found on the Internet and has been viewed by millions worldwide. Read more

Screen shot, Players' Tribune

The Players’ Tribune is becoming an athletic community

When The Players’ Tribune issued a release it had hired Kevin Durant as its new deputy publisher last week, it prompted the usual jokes on social media and elsewhere. USA Today even did a post noting that Kobe Bryant, who holds the title of editorial director for The Players’ Tribune, can’t be happy about Durant leapfrogging him.

“Well, these are honorary titles that suggest the athletes have a place in our company,” said The Players’ Tribune editorial director Gary Hoenig. “We meant to explain them a little bit more jocularly—is that the word? We just haven’t gotten around to it. Kevin will have a role with us, but is he going to call and ask why we are spending so much on travel? I don’t think so.”

Hoenig, though, says the addition of Durant is yet another positive sign as The Players’ Tribune begins year two. Read more

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Somalia now tops CPJ’s list of countries where journalists are murdered with impunity

For the first time since 2008, Iraq isn’t at the top of Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Impunity Index. The annual report details countries where journalists are killed with no resulting convictions. This year, the top spot went to Somalia. Read more


Bill Simmons hammers ESPN (again)

Vanity Fair

Bill Simmons, the sportswriter and broadcaster who was bounced from ESPN, told a Vanity Fair gathering that the sports network avoided overt criticism of the National Football League.

“The way ESPN has covered the N.F.L. for the last year has been really shaky,” Simmons told the magazine’s “New Establishment” conference in San Francisco Wednesday during a panel in which he was joined by tennis legend John McEnroe.

He cited the domestic violence case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, saying, “You didn’t really see it on ESPN. You saw it everywhere else. You start to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is their biggest partner. Are they holding back a little?’”

He criticized other networks in a similar vein. “They’re not going to criticize them because they need the [television] rights.”

Bob Ley, an ESPN stalwart, quickly tweeted a response to Simmons and said he was entitled to his own opinions, “not his own set of facts.”

Simmons, who has moved to HBO, was ambiguous as to whether his Grantland venture on ESPN was profitable. Read more


The winner of the Nobel Prize in literature went to j-school

Belarusian journalist and writer Svetlana Alexievich the 2015 Nobel literature winner, is surrounded as she leaves a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in literature Thursday, for works that the prize judges called "a monument to suffering and courage." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Belarusian journalist and writer Svetlana Alexievich the 2015 Nobel literature winner, is surrounded as she leaves a news conference in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in literature Thursday, for works that the prize judges called “a monument to suffering and courage.” (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Want to win a Nobel Prize in literature? Just go to journalism school. In Minsk.

Case in point: Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature. The Guardian’s Marta Bausells described her as “the Belarusian writer whose oral histories have recorded thousands of individual voices to map the implosion of the Soviet Union.”

Her books, which she says take about 10 years to write, are based upon thousands of interviews with people – often they are women and children – who lived through disasters such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. Read more


Former congresswoman says she was forced to ditch journalist’s links in her PhD thesis

International Business Times

A former congresswoman took out WikiLeaks references in a doctoral dissertation due to fears she might be prosecuted, she said.

Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia said that she originally used “many of the same WikiLeaks documents” that Barrett Brown, a freelance journalist, shared on his site, Project PM, as she completed a dissertation last year at Ohio’s Antioch University.

She received her PhD, but not before a librarian at the university was moved to “completely, totally freak,” said McKinney. McKinney indicated that the librarian was anxious about being subpoenaed.

The dissertation was on leadership and prompted McKinney to initially incorporate documents shared by Brown, who was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Dallas to 63 months in prison for posting “a hyperlink in his reporting to information obtained by the Anonymous collective in a 2011 hack of intelligence contractor Stratfor,” according to U.S. Read more