African journalist not upset university canceled on his visit

The Poynter Institute Friday hosted a group of African journalists visiting the U.S. for training as part of the State Department’s Edward R. Murrow Program.

The visit, which will continue next week, was originally scheduled to take place at the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg, which backed out of hosting the journalists due to concerns about spread of the Ebola virus.

One of the visiting journalists, Bernard Avle, said he wasn’t upset by the university’s decision. I asked Avle, who’s director of news programming at Ghanian radio outlet CITI, about his reaction to the sudden change of plans and his observations of U.S. media’s coverage of the Ebola outbreak.

Avle, director of news programming at at CITI, a broadcast outlet in Ghana.

Avle, director of news programming at at CITI, a broadcast outlet in Ghana.

Poynter: Coming from Ghana, what have you noticed about the perception of the epidemic here?

Avle: I got an email from a student — this was like a week before we came here — saying that USF St. Pete had canceled because of parents’ fears that there was Ebola, and they weren’t really sure if we’d pass that onto their wards.

I was a bit surprised — but then again, coming to the U.S. and watching U.S. media, I understood where the apprehension came from. I think the media is a very powerful tool for information and misinformation — and regrettably, I think, on this particular point — there’s been a lot of hysterical reporting, for whatever reason.

I think there’s a lot of ignorance of Ebola, of public health issues, and that has contributed to the public concern. So I have no problems with the parents who requested USF St. Pete to cancel. Because if I were a parent and I saw the reports I did on TV, I would be very concerned for my ward.

Poynter: What advice would you give to United States media organizations that are trying to cover this thing compassionately and accurately?

Avle: I can’t pretend to give advice. What I can say is they know their audience better than I do. And so the interest of your audience can sometimes drive the way you cover a story, because news must be contextualized.

So the concern for people is whether Africans are bringing Ebola to the U.S, so that tends to become the angle from which you frame the story. Having said that, you need to get more information about what happens on the ground so that you can give your listeners, your readers, your viewers the information. I’m not going to advise anybody on how to cover Ebola, but I’ll just say there’s a lot you can learn from journalists who are closer to the situation.

Poynter: How is your news organization covering the epidemic?

Avle: We are physically close (to an Ebola-affected country, Liberia). There has been research done that says Ghana is susceptible to getting Ebola because we seem to be the center for West Africa — lots of movement in and out. But the government has put into place — I wouldn’t say extremely stringent — but reasonably stringent checks for people coming into the country.

There’s an Ebola isolation center, there’s videos of what to do if you see somebody with Ebola. Everybody’s weighing in to try to inform people better. So on my show, for example, we had a whole hashtag we used for many weeks called “#EbolaFacts.” And people were sort of following along and getting more information.

Poynter: Given the mediums that you work with primarily, radio and online, what are some other things you do?

Avle: We do video, for example, if you interview health officials, talk through how you simulate an Ebola case if somebody presents with Ebola. We have videos we put online that are quite educative. We do interviews and make the audio available on soundcloud, people listen. We translate into the local language — our show is in English, by the way. And then you have phone-ins. People send messages.

We have a WhatsApp number, people send lots of information to us. In my country, people like to report things to the media before it even gets to the police. So if somebody sees something odd, they’d be more likely to send the information to a radio station then they would a police station. And there are historical reasons for that. So we almost become this conduit between the public and the government.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Read more


Why the Toronto Star unpublished an article about race

On Thursday, the Toronto Star published an article by Natasha Grzincic called “5 other labels for people of colour er… non-whites uh… racialized people.” Later that day, it took the article down.

The article, still available at partner sites like this one, notes that the Ontario Human Rights Commission has settled on the term “racialized” to describe people instead of using what it calls “more outdated and inaccurate terms” like “racial minority” or “non-white.”

The Star doesn’t have a style on using the term “racialized,” Public Editor Kathy English says in an email. Its style guide currently says to use the term “visible minority” rather than “nonwhite.” (The Star urges journalists to not refer to “colour or ethnicity unless it is relevant to the story.”)

Grzincic’s article looks at how “visible minority” and other terms are deployed. For example:

Ethnic minorities

Like “visible minority,” there’s the problem with “minority,” which could have a subordinate meaning. Same goes for “marginalized groups.”


Non-preferred, because it defines people by what they are not. Used by StatCan to define visible minorities.

English says her office began to receive complaints that the article “made light of a sensitive, serious subject” not long after it was published. English said she discussed the article with Star Managing Editor Jane Davenport, who she said had not seen the piece before it went up.

Davenport thought the story should come down, so the Star doinked it and appended a note “In line with the Star’s transparency goals,” English said.

“Davenport’s view of the piece – which I agree with — is that a discussion of how visible minorities should be ‘labeled’ is inappropriate material for a listicle,” she writes. She continues:

The piece was flippant and commented on instead of reporting on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s arguments. The writer of the piece is not a columnist with latitude to make such comment.

The Star is trying to find other outlets that published the piece and inform them it has removed it, English said. Further, “The newsroom is also looking further into the circumstances of the article being published.” Read more


This weekend, one last get-together at the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The cover of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's homecoming publication. This image is courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The cover of the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s homecoming publication. This image is courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, current and former employees of the Minneapolis Star Tribune can walk through most of the building that has been the home of the newspaper since 1920.

By next summer, the Star Tribune will be in a new space, and the building at 425 Portland Ave. will be gone, or close to it.

“There’s certainly some nostalgia,” said Steve Yaeger, the Star Tribune’s vice president of marketing and public relations, in a phone interview. “I would say overall — this is not the PR spin — we really are more excited about getting to the new place. Our building is very old and it was built for a very different news organization than what we have.”

There are people who work there today, though, who’ve spent their whole careers in that building, Yaeger said. Many are attached to the space, and not just people who work there now, but people who once did.

So on Saturday, the Star Tribune is having a homecoming. So far, about 700 people have RSVP’d, but Yaeger expects around 1,000.

“Some people will want to hug the building,” Yaeger said, “some people will just want to see the press operators they used to work the same shift with.”

A postcard from the Star-Tribune in 1950. This image is courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

A postcard from the Star Tribune in 1950. This image is courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

People can walk through three of the four floors of the building — to see where the presses and the mailroom once were. They’ll see images along the way of how the building has changed. In one hallway, there’s a 30-foot-long timeline that shows things that have happened at 425 Portland Ave. There’s food, of course, and speeches and the chance to catch up with old friends.

“It’s not just about the building,” Yaeger said. “It’s about the interactions in this building. A building is just a building in the end.”

The Star Tribune no longer owns that building, they’ve leased it through June 30 of next year, when they’ll be out for good and the building will come down as part of a redevelopment plan.

“The challenge for all of us, as we move, is to remain places of character,” Yaeger said. “We don’t want it to be bland. If it’s bland, we’ve lost something.”

Here are some other newsrooms that no longer live in their original buildings. I know there’s a lot to add here, and I will try and update this, so please send me suggestions at or @kristenhare.

Minneapolis Star Tribune


Built: 1920

Sold: 2013. The building will be torn down in 2015. Some demolition has begun.

Now: The Star Tribune still operates out of the building, which it is currently leasing. They’ll move to 650 Third Ave. S by the end of June 2015 at the latest.

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Boston Herald

Built: 1957

Sold: 1998, then leased back. It was torn down in 2013. Herald photographer John Wilcox photographed a ceremony with Ink Block, which took over the space.

Now: Condos.

Miami Herald

The Miami Herald building is seen Wednesday, April 23, 2008 in Miami.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Miami Herald building is seen Wednesday, April 23, 2008 in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Built: 1963

Sold: 2011, moved in 2013

Now: Demolition started this year. In May, Selima Hussain wrote “9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Old Miami Herald Building,” for WLRN.

7. The materials used to build it

1HP boasted mahogany paneling, two kinds of granite (gray on the facade, red-veined on certain interior walls) chattahoochee rock and yellow ceramic tiles, according to Ibby Vores, Miami Herald human resources manager.

“It was impressive… there was all of this lifted space and a terrazzo floor, marble on the walls,” she says. “At the time it was built, it was an icon of the future.”

In April of last year, Erik Bojnansky wrote “Farewell, My Lovely Miami Herald,” for the Biscayne Times.

Now: Demolition has been slow and is still happening. The new development is supposed to include a hotel and casino.

Work continues on the former headquarters of the Miami Herald building on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 in Miami.  Demolition on the south wing of the former headquarters began last Monday.  Genting, a Malaysian casino company, purchased the waterfront property in May, 2011, for $236 million, and plans to build a condo and hotel resort on the 14-acre site. The Miami Herald moved to Doral, Fla., in 2013. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Work continues on the former headquarters of the Miami Herald building on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 in Miami. Demolition on the south wing of the former headquarters began last Monday. Genting, a Malaysian casino company, purchased the waterfront property in May, 2011, for $236 million, and plans to build a condo and hotel resort on the 14-acre site. The Miami Herald moved to Doral, Fla., in 2013. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Built: 1924

Sold: 2011

Now: It’s supposed to be redeveloped into a casino, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Photographer Will Steacy successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $26,000 from a $15,000 goal. Steacy spent five years photographing the Inquirer newsroom and is now writing a book with the help of the Kickstarter funds.

There’s also a Facebook page with images from the Inquirer’s last days in the building.

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

Director Richard Brooks, center, discusses a scene with actors John Saxon, left, and Ryan O'Neal, right, on the set of the motion picture "The Fever," in the city room of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, on December 11, 1984, in Los Angeles, California. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing)

Director Richard Brooks, center, discusses a scene with actors John Saxon, left, and Ryan O’Neal, right, on the set of the motion picture “The Fever,” in the city room of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, on December 11, 1984, in Los Angeles, California. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing)

Built: 1913

Closed: 1989

Now: You can film movies on sets there.

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Here are more buildings and moves I heard about today. I’m just listing them for now but will add more.

– Detroit Free Press and Detroit News
Kalamazoo Gazette
Grand Rapids Press
Ann Arbor News
Muskegon Chronicle
Indianapolis Star
Seattle Times
Seattle P-I
New York Daily News
The New York Times
The (Syracuse) Post-Standard
The Marion Star
The Daily Oklahoman
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Santa Cruz Sentinel Read more

1 Comment

How news orgs plan digital coverage of midterms

Tuesday’s midterm elections will determine which party controls of the U.S. Senate. There are also 36 gubernatorial races, and the biennial U.S. House elections. Here’s how some news organizations plan digital coverage of the races. (This is by no means comprehensive; please email me your plans.)

ABC News will feature a live stream on its site, on its mobile app and on Apple TV. It plans some killer mobile alerts: One every time it calls one of the 507 races it’s covering Tuesday. Don’t worry, you won’t get 507 alerts: You can tell your app what your interest is overall (low, medium, or high), or pick individual races, or let it know your location and it will tell you the winners and losers near you. You’ll also be able to watch live video via iPhone and iPad apps.

The Associated Press says it “has reporters working in every statehouse throughout the year, and more than 5,000 stringers will be deployed across the country on election night to help AP Election Services gather local vote counts.” Its mobile app will feature coverage from member newspapers in hot-race states as well as “a dynamic feed of race calls, photos and videos.” Here’s a Twitter list of AP reporters on election duty.

The Boston Globe plans a “A homepage takeover with results for key races” as well as “A second-screen experience where reporters will file dispatches from the field on election night,” Editor Jason Tuohey tells Poynter. Plus, of course, stories, results, analysis.

CBS News will offer a livestream of network coverage and “will provide a variety of tools to help users navigate the voting results, including interactive maps and exit poll data as it becomes available,” it says in a press release. CBS News’ site will also “feature original reports from CBS News correspondents in the field.”

CNN plans a live “Hambycast,” which will start streaming at 8 p.m. on The site will also feature a “digital version of John King’s infamous Magic Wall, where users can drill into the districts and data for themselves,” CNN says in a release. Plus: Short animated videos, like this one, that CNN has been posting on Facebook, and an experiment with the gaming platform Pivit, where you can play games like “Will Florida Governor Scott (R) win re-election?” PLUS: A chat on Facebook at 1 p.m. with Peter Hamby, Chris Moody and Stephen Collinson.

The Denver Post will feature live video from its video initiative DPTV, Post news director Kevin Dale said. New anchor Molly Hughes will speak with Post reporters through the night. The Post will replace its homepage “with a larger Elections presentation that will help us highlight our video, stories and results,” Dale said.

Visitors to Fox Newssite can look at a dashboard that shows balance of power graphics, links to predictions and news stories. Fox News’ coverage will be available to people using the FoxNewsGo app as well. Fox News will stream two video entities online from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET: FOX News Latino, and a revival of its old online show “The Strategy Room.”

The Huffington Post‘s politics crew will run a live blog, and HuffPost Live will “stream special coverage of midterm election night 2014, hosted by Marc Lamont Hill, Alyona Minkovski and Howard Fineman” from 6 p.m. until midnight Tuesday, HuffPost spokesperson Sujata Mitra said.

Hotline’s Race tracker will power National Journal‘s election-night dashboard. will also feature a live blog featuring “instant updates, reporting, video, photos, and commentary on the races as they are called,” the publication says in a press release.

NBC News will roll out a new look for online and on-screen graphics,’s product and operations director, Rachel Rique, said. “We designed it for mobile so it’s a lighter weight and a lighter feel,” she said. Visitors to NBC’s homepage will see a status bar that shows balance of power in the Senate and House, and prominent links to a redesigned elections page, which will host live video coverage, stories and links to “cards” for individual races. When NBC’s decision desk makes a call, the anchors will announce the result, and a new API will push a green check mark next to the winner’s name on a card. Those cards can easily be shared on social media.

The New York Times will have correspondents on the ground in 10 states with competitive races, and it will feature “Real-time election results across all of our platforms and devices, including our web site, mobile web site and phone and tablet apps,” Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades-Ha said in an email. Times data-y vertical The Upshot “will be applying its usual analytical, graphic-heavy methods to Election Night, on, Twitter and elsewhere.” Plus interactive maps, detailed results pages and photo essays “that tell the story of the election in a way that only the Times’s photojournalists can.”

NPR is throwing an “election party,” and guess what: You’re invited! (Sorry, getting a little punchy here.) will stream the news org’s live coverage, from 8 p.m. ET to 1 a.m., and the NPR politics desk’s Tumblr will feature “live blogging, photos and more,” according to a release. There will also be an “expanded version [of NPR's coverage] built for television and optimized for Google Chromecast.” Also I’d like to salute NPR’s PR squad for including the sentence “Party on, Melissa. Party on, Robert” in a press release.

USA Today will livestream “segments from the USA TODAY newsroom featuring political pundits and USA TODAY experts,” Gannett spokesperson Steve Kidera said. “In partnership with Gannett’s Video Production Center and Gannett Broadcasting, all the key races across the country will be covered, including live reports from many Gannett Broadcasting stations and campaign headquarters. Beginning at 8 p.m. (ET) and running throughout the night, coverage will be viewable across mobile, tablet and desktop devices on, all Gannett Broadcasting websites and many of Gannett’s USCP sites.” USA Today’s elections forecast tool “will turn into a results page” on election night.

The Wall Street Journal will launch “a special election hub that will track the key races in real-time with live headline feeds and data galore,” U.S. news editor Glenn Hall said. “A key feature of the data hub will be a comprehensive map that allows users to drill down into voting results in each Congressional district of every state.” The Journal’s homepage will have “a live election scorecard, an interactive map, streaming video analysis, a live blog, real-time headlines and scores of analytical articles updated throughout the night.” Its relaunched politics section, Capitol Journal, “will serve as the content hub for our election news and analysis.”

The Washington Post plans a “takeover display” of its Election Live Stream — maps, graphics, stories, etc. on its homepage. “Users will also have an option to switch to the original homepage to access a variety of non-election stories,” the company says, and the stream will work on mobile. Post reporters will be covering hot races on the ground in 10 states beyond the three in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Pregame coverage:
CNN plans a Twitter chat with Jake Tapper Friday and a Facebook chat with SE Cupp Monday.

The New York TimesUpshot Senate model “is being updated at least twice a day as new polls come in to help readers assess the state of the most competitive races,” Rhoades-Ha said. The Times also plans a readers’ guide to important races, a “voters’ voices video with a distinctly 2014 midterm feel that focuses on the national mood” and state pages that “give a closer look at the most interesting races and ballot initiatives in all 50 states.”

Twitter‘s election dashboard lets you drill down to individual states or look at national trends and issues being discussed.

USA Today and Twitter have partnered on a political issues list that breaks down tweeters on various issues by their age, gender and state. The index “makes no attempt to analyze the sentiment expressed in tweets — only the subject area,” Paul Singer writes. USA Today has also decided “not to compare tweet volume around various candidate names, because in the last days of the campaign swing so much of the Twitter traffic around candidates is driven by campaigns, consultants and other professional partisans.” USA Today also has an iOS app that tracks political ads. Read more


Sun-Times confirms sale of suburban papers to Tribune

Chicago Sun-Times | Tribune Publishing

Chicago Sun-Times parent Wrapports LLC will sell 38 suburban newspapers — six dailies and 32 weeklies — to Tribune Publishing, confirming a report by Robert Feder earlier this month.

Wrapports boss Michael Ferro says the move out of the burbs will allow the company to “focus on our international digital strategy.” Wrapports announced earlier this week that it was launching a national network of sites that will ““offer content in a manner similar to websites such as Deadspin and Buzzfeed.”

Employees at the suburban papers will become Tribune Publishing employees at some point and will leave the Sun-Times’ newsroom. The Sun-Times said in 2012 it would close its suburban offices and move most employees into Chicago digs. Terms of the deal aren’t public yet, according to a Wrapports press release. Bob Fleck will be publisher and GM of the papers, Tribune Publishing says in a press release.

The Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune Media Group have also reached an agreement for CTMG to keep printing the Sun-Times.

Since splitting from the rest of Tribune’s properties, Tribune Publishing has pursued a strategy of increasing its footprint in markets where it has large dailies. In Maryland it’s purchased the Baltimore City Paper and two other papers; in Connecticut it has purchased 15 weeklies once published by Reminder Media. Read more

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.16.41 AM

AP: Don’t use ‘horse race’ and other election cliches

Associated Press

The Associated Press published a mid-term election style guide on Friday, and it includes a list of election cliches with suggested alternatives.

For instance, instead of messaging, use “candidate’s pitch to voters.” Instead of horse race, use “a closely contested political contest.” And instead of war chest or coffers use “campaign bank account or stockpile of money.”

There are more cliches to avoid, plus style tips on common terms you may be using next week. Conservative and liberal, for instance, don’t get capped unless you’re talking about a formal name.

Here are a few things we’ve done on cliches at Poynter:

Why newspaper photo cliches make for great Tumblrs

And now for some really bad ledes

Avoid Cliches Like the Plague Read more


NYT ends partnership with Texas Tribune

mediawiremorningHappy Halloween! Here are 10 scaaaaary media stories.

  1. NYT ends partnership with Texas Tribune

    The Times told the news nonprofit that at the end of this year it will no longer produce a two-page section for the paper's Texas edition. "We hate to see the whole thing come to an end, but it's like that line from The Godfather: It’s business, not personal," Trib EIC Evan Smith writes. (Texas Tribune) | Interesting inversion: The Dallas Morning News' Sunday edition will include an insert produced by the New York Times. (NYTCo) | Related: CEO Mark Thompson wants the Times to be “unashamedly experimental.” (Nieman Lab) | 9 takeways from the New York Times Co. 3rd quarter earnings call (Poynter) | Only slightly related to that last related item: Rick Edmonds notes that Denise Warren is the third woman Times exec to leave in the past three years; Erik Wemple reported yesterday that the last woman on The Washington Post's masthead is leaving. (WP)

  2. So it should be an interesting day at First Look Media

    Four reporters at First Look's The Intercept -- Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and John Cook -- published an unsparing examination of why Matt Taibbi left the company. "Those conflicts were rooted in a larger and more fundamental culture clash that has plagued the project from the start: A collision between the First Look executives, who by and large come from a highly structured Silicon Valley corporate environment, and the fiercely independent journalists who view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain," they write. (The Intercept) | "With the publishing of their post, Greenwald et al confirm some of the worst fears about the company and contradict others. They claim that Omidyar has not interfered with the editorial work of journalists, but was clearly unprepared for the cultural differences between executives and rabble-rousing journalists." (Mashable) | "if Hunter S. Thompson was still alive, FL would have hired him to turn him into a middle manager" (@jbenton) | "From all the details of Taibbi’s allegedly terrible management practices and the details of First Look’s struggles against the IRON FIST of First Look Media emerges a picture of utter ungovernability and an unwillingness to concede that the person bankrolling a venture might just have a say in how things get done." (WP)

  3. The odds of new news orgs surviving

    BuzzFeed: "High." Vice: "Medium-hiiiiigh." Vox "is also doing better traffic and growing more quickly than Gawker, and is extremely popular with 'Millennials.' Euthanize Vox immediately." (Gawker)

  4. Arkansans don't think much of journalists

    "Of those polled, only 14 percent believe that journalists have high or very high standards. Another 39 percent would rate the honesty and ethical standards of journalists as average, and 36 percent responded with low or very low. The remainder, about 12 percent, did not know or refused to answer." (University of Arkansas)

  5. Another Jian Ghomeshi story

    "I feel that while it is exceedingly difficult to publicly put your name forward and open yourself up to all of the accompanying criticism, if you are in the position that you can do so without fearing the ramifications in terms of your family, marriage, personal or professional trauma, then you should do it," Reva Seth writes. (HuffPost)

  6. The Newspaper Guild is not especially cool with the FBI right now

    In an emailed statement, it says it's "disgusted and outraged by the revelation this week that the FBI posed as The Associated Press in planting an online story to catch a teenage bomb threat suspect in 2007. ... Any hint that a journalist or news organization is aiding law enforcement damages their reputation as an objective, trustworthy source of news." | U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy sent a letter to the attorney general expressing concern about the sting. (The Seattle Times) | Sort-of related: Akron Beacon Journal asks campaign to stop using doctored front page in ads. (Jim Romenesko)

  7. Spain passses aggregation tax

    New laws will "allow news publishers to charge aggregators each time they display news content in search results." (AP) | Google statement: "We are disappointed with the new law because we believe that services like Google News help publishers bring traffic to their sites." (THR)

  8. Depressing British media news roundup

    The Telegraph lays off 55 staffers. (The Business of Fashion) | The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News will combine operations, leading to a loss of 45 jobs. (The Guardian) | The Hull Daily Mail apologizes for wrongly identifying a man as a sex offender. (Hold the Front Page)

  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare

    A spoooooooky front from the Asbury Park Press! (Courtesy the Newseum)



  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Shane Harris will be an intelligence and national security reporter at The Daily Beast. He's a senior writer at Foreign Policy. (The Huffington Post) | Azmat Khan will be an investigative reporter at BuzzFeed. She's a senior digital producer at Al Jazeera America. (Azmat Khan) | Usha Chaudhary will be chief financial officer at Pew Charitable Trusts. She's the chief financial officer at The Washington Post. (The Washingoton Post) | Eli Lake will be a columnist at Bloomberg View. He’s a national security correspondent at The Daily Beast. Josh Rogin will be a columnist at Bloomberg View. He’s a senior correspondent at The Daily Beast. (Politico) | Krista Larson is West Africa bureau chief for The Associated Press. Previously, she was a correspondent there. (AP) | Nona Willis Aronowitz is an editor at TPM. Previously, she was an education and poverty reporter at NBC News Digital. (TPM) | Om Malik is looking for a designer. Get your résumés in! (Om Malik) | Send Ben your job moves:

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


Today in Media History: Remembering one of the 20th century’s great interviewers and listeners, Studs Terkel

On October 31, 2008, the media reported on the death of author and broadcaster Studs Terkel, one of the great interviewers and listeners of 20th century America.

Here is a story from the Associated Press:

“Louis Terkel arrived here as a child from New York City and in Chicago found not only a new name but a place that perfectly matched — in its energy, its swagger, its charms, its heart — his own personality. They made a perfect and enduring pair.

Author-radio host-actor-activist and Chicago symbol Louis ‘Studs’ Terkel died Friday afternoon in his home on the North Side. At his bedside was a copy of his latest book, ‘P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening,’ scheduled for release this month. He was 96 years old.

‘Studs Terkel was part of a great Chicago literary tradition that stretched from Theodore Dreiser to Richard Wright to Nelson Algren to Mike Royko,’ Mayor Richard M. Daley said Friday. ‘In his many books, Studs captured the eloquence of the common men and women whose hard work and strong values built the America we enjoy today. He was also an excellent interviewer, and his WFMT radio show was an important part of Chicago’s cultural landscape for more than 40 years.’”

– “Studs Terkel dies
Chicago Tribune, October 31, 2008

In 2001 C-SPAN interviewed Studs Terkel for its Book TV channel.

(Click here to watch the 2009 documentary film, “Studs Terkel: Listening To America”)

“Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the voluble host of a popular radio show in Chicago, died Friday at his home there. He was 96.

….In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Mr. Terkel relied on his enthusiastic but gentle interviewing style to elicit, in rich detail, the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. Over the decades, he developed a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.

….Mr. Terkel succeeded as an interviewer in part because he believed most people had something to say worth hearing. ‘The average American has an indigenous intelligence, a native wit,’ he said. ‘It’s only a question of piquing that intelligence.’”

— “Studs Terkel, Listener to Americans, Dies at 96
New York Times, October 31, 2008

The following StoryCorps video is called, “The Human Voice.”

“The great oral historian Studs Terkel was an inspiration to StoryCorps, and he was also an early participant in the project. In this animated short, he speaks out on what has been lost in modern life and where he sees hope for our future.”

Read more


Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014

Tonawanda News to fold in January

The Buffalo News | The Tonawanda News

Twenty employees at the Tonawanda News will lose their jobs in January after the paper closes, the Buffalo News reported Thursday.

The Tonawanda News, a 134-year-old newspaper serving north suburban Buffalo, is closing after revenue from advertising and circulation failed to keep pace with expenses, the paper reports.

The paper belongs to the Greater Niagara Newspapers group, which includes two other papers in the region: the Niagara Gazette and the Lockport Union-Sun and Journal, according to The Tonawanda News. Neither paper is closing. Read more


Only 1 in 5 college newspapers updates its website daily

College Media Matters | Student Media Map

Just 21 percent of student newspapers at public, four-year universities update their websites five days a week, according to an interactive tool launched Thursday.

Student Media Map, a project by University of Texas senior Bobby Blanchard, compares rates of online publishing at student newspapers nationwide, Dan Reimold writes for College Media Matters.

The map works by mining RSS feeds at 485 student newspapers throughout the United States and representing each with a colored dot based on their publishing frequency. A green dot means the site is updated at least five times per week, purple means the site is updated less frequently and red indicates the university does not have a newspaper. Private universities and some colleges in New York are missing from the map.

The project shows that publishing frequency tends to skew in favor of larger schools — only 4 percent of newspapers at universities with fewer than 10,000 students enrolled published content five-days a week, compared to 81 percent of student newspapers at universities with between 40,000 and 50,000 students.

The idea for the project came from a conversation that arose when the student newspaper at The University of Texas, The Daily Texan, was faced with reductions to its print frequency, Blanchard told Reimold. The newspaper vowed to maintain a steady flow of copy to its website, which made Blanchard wonder: how many papers did the same?

You can check the map out for yourself here. Read more


9 takeways from the New York Times Co. 3rd quarter earnings call

The New York Times building in this 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The New York Times building in this 2009 file photo. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The New York Times Co. joined McClatchy yesterday in booking a rare operating loss for the third quarter, $9 million or about 2.5 percent on revenues of $364.7 million.

But the many moving parts of the Times digital transformation effort had a number of positives mixed in as well. Here are nine takeaways:

  1. About that loss. It was driven by high costs associated with staff reductions ($20 million) and investment in new products. The first will be a one-time blip. But the Times will be launching and relaunching new digital versions for some time to come. Each is expensive to develop and market, and significant new revenues may be slow in coming.
  2. Equilibrium in ad and circulation revenues. A 17 percent year-to-year gain in digital advertising for the quarter roughly offset a 5 percent decline in print. Similarly revenue from a net gain of 44,000 digital-only subscribers offset revenue losses for print and print-digital subscriptions. That’s an achievement. On the ad side, most of the industry is not yet growing digital and other revenue fast enough to cover print ad losses — and Times execs, in a conference call with analysts, concede that they don’t expect to do so again in the fourth quarter.
  3. Room to grow digital audience. The 44,000 quarter-to-quarter gain, the largest the company has recorded in several years, CEO Mark Thompson said, came mainly from new international customers and the “consumer education” sector (i.e. discounted subs to students). Thompson said that with improved marketing abroad he expects to continue growing that group of subscribers.
  4. Too expensive? The Times has raised print subscription prices this year, but the higher revenue per customer, chief financial officer James Follo said, was “outweighed by volume declines.” Daily print circulation was off 5.2 percent year-to-year and Sunday 3.2 percent. With the cost of a seven-day print subscription outside the New York metro area inching close to $1,000 a year, the Times may find renewals, new subscriptions (and newsstand copies) a tougher sell — especially as a range of much cheaper digital options are available.
  5. About those executive changes. Thompson had little to add to the announcement earlier this week that 26-year veteran Denise Warren was leaving the company after her chief digital officer job was split in two. But he did drop a hint, saying the Times would be looking for “an injection of specialized digital expertise.” Warren was an experienced and talented generalist who moved from overseeing advertising to the successful completion of the Times paywall strategy. But deeper digital roots may be needed in the executive suite for the next round of growth.
  6. Women in leadership. Warren’s is the third high-level executive departure in three years, following the firings of Thompson’s predecessor as CEO, Janet Robinson in December 2011, and Executive Editor Jill Abramson this May. The Times did add a woman in its top advertising job, hiring Meredith Kopit Levien away from Forbes in July 2013.
  7. Mobile advertising progress. Kopit Levien said mobile advertising is finally gaining some traction, accounting for about 10 percent of digital ad revenue. On the other hand it lags mobile audience which now accounts for more than 50 percent of the digital visits to Times’ sites and apps.
  8. Newsroom hiring. Thompson said he expected a modest wave of hiring following the well-publicized downsizing by 100 jobs. But as at many publications, the newly hired will have different job duties like audience development rather than traditional reporting and editing roles.
  9. Lower revenue per customer. Several questions and answers in the earnings conference call focused on so-called ARPU, jargon for average revenue per user (or unit). With the changing product mix, ARPU is falling at the Times, though Follo said by only about 5 percent year-to-year.

That spotlights a huge financial challenge for the industry. As business moves down the price chain (both ads and circulation) from print to desktop/laptop to smartphone, a company can end up running fast just to stay even in revenues. And that’s likely to persist for years not just quarters.

New York Times shares traded down about 5 percent at market close. Read more

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Report: More than a dozen walk from Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Business Courier

Cincinnati Enquirer Managing Editor Laura Trujillo is leaving the newspaper rather than stick around for the Gannett-owned title’s reorganization, Chris Wetterich reports for the Cincinnati Business Courier.

More than a dozen people in the newsroom are also departing, Wetterich reports: “Veteran employees told the Courier they are heading for the door because they would rather take a buyout package than go through another round of upheaval and the indignity of reapplying for jobs at a company they’ve worked at for decades.”

Mark Curnutte, Bill Koch, John Erardi, Sheila McLaughlin and Jessica Brown are among those leaving, as are three photographers, Wetterich reports. “Nearly all of the Enquirer’s 11 copy editing positions are being eliminated, although staffers in that department could apply for the new jobs,” he writes. “Copy editing and design of the newspaper will be done at a regional Gannett site.”

Editors will be known as “strategists” in the new Enquirer newsroom, Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn tells Wetterich. An email from Washburn to staffers says the Enquirer has hired several strategists already, as well as a daily news coach (Meghan Wesley) and a visuals coach (Michael McCarter).

Gannett newspapers all over the country are rolling out versions of a “newsroom of the future,” a massive structural change that requires staffers who want to stay to reapply for mostly new jobs. Steve Cavendish reported for Nashville Scene last week that the Gannett-owned Tennessean has brought in reporters from corporate siblings to help it put out the paper during the transition. Read more


5 DIY journalism costumes for 2014

For Halloween this year, you could be a reporter (notebook, phone, side eye for your younger colleagues) or a reporter who could possibly get laid off (no costume necessary), or a reporter who has been laid off (just add flask.) Or you could go with one of these — here are five journalism costume ideas that you can do yourself with things you can mostly pilfer from the newsroom.

– Comment troll: This idea comes from Carlie Kollath Wells at Paint yourself green and bring along that tablet. If you’re really in character, you’ll have something to say about everything everyone around you says.

Troll of stones

– Tweetstorm: This is either when someone sends out a ton of tweets one right after the other, like Twitter diarrhea, or when you’re bombarded by tweets after doing something other Twitterers don’t like. Either way, print off a ton of tweets and tape them all over yourself and you’re done. You can bring an umbrella or galoshes if you want to be cute.

Post-it man

– Gas mask: Journalists have needed these in several places this year, including Ferguson, Missouri and Hong Kong. Plus, if you choose this option, you’ll be ready for the next big story.

(Photo by Kristen Hare)

(Photo by Kristen Hare)

– Facebook algorithm: Since no one really understands these, you can do whatever you want here.

Man standing with a question mark board

– Twitter verified symbol: Get a white shirt, print out a Twitter verified symbol and paste it on that white shirt. Everyone will know you’re really you. Partner costume idea: My colleague Ben Mullin also recommends a hashtag as a costume idea, which is basically just cutting out # in cardboard, paint it black and stick your head through the middle. If that’s not helpful, there are real tutorials on this one.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 9.53.20 AM Read more


Tim Cook files clean copy, Businessweek editor says

Bloomberg TV

Apple’s CEO acknowledged in a Bloomberg Businessweek essay today that he’s gay. How’d that article end up in Businessweek?

“The backstory is pretty simple,” Businessweek Editor Josh Tyrangiel says in an interview with Tom Keene. “He called and asked if he could come out.”

Tyrangiel says Cook’s draft “was crisp and clear, and frankly I hope he is available for more assignments going forward. He was very easy to work with on this.”

Read more


There are a lot of good illustrated journalism pieces this week

CIR | Al Jazeera America | CityLab

Three good examples of illustrated journalism arrived this week. That’s not a trend, but it’s a welcome opportunity to highlight alternative storytelling forms.

The Center for Investigative Reporting just published “Techsploitation,” a graphic novel that tells the story of an Indian man who ended up in a “guesthouse,” applying for work online after he thought he was getting a job in the States. CIR reporter Matt Smith also illustrated the book, which accompanies his much longer text-based story about shady job brokers.

A page fron "Techsploitation"

A page fron “Techsploitation”

The Guardian also ran “Techsploitation” online.

Meghann Farnsworth, CIR’s director of distribution and engagement, said she didn’t yet know the extent to which the partnership boosted the book’s reach, but said “On social media we’ve seen a lot of people excited to see it.” CIR is also trying to figure out how many print copies of the book to make — some will go to colleges and media organizations in India, Farnsworth said, and others might become premiums for CIR’s members.

A previous CIR graphic novel, “The Box,” was also produced by CIR’s Michael I. Schiller, and the news organization printed that one, too. “Digital is amazing, but there’s something about holding things in your hands,” Farnsworth said.

Al Jazeera America published “Terms of Service,” a less-than-rosy look at how big data is letting companies monetize your life — and come up with their own stories about you that you can’t control. Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld wrote and star in the book, which follows them to Colorado and New York.

A page from "Terms of Service"

A page from “Terms of Service”

Rhyne Piggott, the news organization’s head of multimedia and mobile, tells Poynter in an email that AJAM plans a print version of “Terms of Service.”

CityLab just republished “Compartment 13,” a comic by Darryl Holliday and Jamie Hibdon about the effects of anti-homeless measures in Chicago.

A detail from "Compartment 13"

A detail from “Compartment 13″

Holliday and Hidden created the piece for Symbolia Magazine, CityLab senior associate editor Shauna Miller tells Poynter in an email. (The piece was also published in partnership with Illustrated Press and the Journalism Center for Children on Families, which funded it.) “We did not commission Compartment 13, we simply connected with the writers on a tip from one of our staffers and took it on just as we would take a reported article from any freelancer,” she writes.

The story “is also part of a book that Darryl is working on that will provide a snapshot of life on Kedzie Avenue in Chicago,” Symbolia Editor Erin Polgreen tells Poynter in an email. Polgreen edited “Compartment 13″ and plans to edit Holliday’s book as well, which Holliday plans to crowd-fund.

Miller said CityLab hadn’t run a piece like this before but said she is “embarking on editing a series on homelessness for CityLab and thought this was a really good way into the human side of the issue (which is the hardest layer to get through regarding this issue with readers).”

Related: Journalists, Artists Tell Stories with Nonfiction Graphic Novels | From radio reporter to graphic novelist, how Brooke Gladstone became a character in ‘The Influencing Machine’ | California Watch tells difficult story with video, tweets (and text) Read more