News for the Minecraft generation: Gannett experiments with virtual reality

Screenshot from a video about Gannett’s experiment with virtual reality journalism in the Des Moines Register’s story Harvest of Change.

One of America’s largest media companies is hoping that young readers want to get their news the same way that video gamers play World of Warcraft and Doom.

Gannett Company this week previewed its first project that allows readers to experience a news story in virtual reality. The project – produced by Gannett’s digital division and the Des Moines Register — requires users to wear a futuristic headset called the Oculus Rift, a small goggles-style video device that responds to the wearer’s head movements.

While the Rift is primarily marketed for gaming – allowing users to flee blood-thirsty aliens or control a 250-story fighting robot, Gannett’s project is significantly less harrowing.… Read more

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Friday, Sep. 19, 2014

Lou Grant, Murphy Brown and Perd Hapley: Readers share their favorite TV show journalists

Earlier on Friday I asked about favorite journalists from TV sitcoms and dramas. Here’s collection of some of the characters people suggested on Twitter and Facebook:… Read more

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Al Jazeera America journalist: Being in the military and being a journalist aren’t that different

The life of a journalist covering conflict and that of someone in the military aren’t that different, said Al Jazeera America’s Josh Rushing in a phone interview.

“My family knows that I have a backpack ready to go,” he said. “I’m gone all the time. Where am I going? Really dangerous places, so there’s that same fear.”

Journalists and people in the military even have similar motivations, he said.

“I served in the Marines because I believed I was serving a greater cause. I’m a journalist because I believe it’s serving a greater cause.”

Part of that greater cause for him is helping people understand what’s happening in a place he knows well. On Friday night, Al Jazeera America will run “Flashpoint: Fighting ISIL,” at 8 p.m.… Read more


FT’s new U.S. boss: Journalists should ‘turn the microscope’ on themselves

Last July, Gillian Tett, who started her job as the Financial Times’ U.S. managing editor Sept. 1, wrote about the influence Pierre Bourdieu had on her work. Bourdieu, a French sociologist and intellectual, identified the “social silences” that can perpetuate the status quo if they’re allowed to fester.

“I think it’s beholden on journalists to turn the microscope around and look at themselves more than they actually do,” Tett said in a phone interview.


This is not just theory for Tett, who has a Ph.D. in social anthropology. When she covered London’s financial world for the FT, she identified collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps as areas swaddled in silence. Tett and her team “very much warned of the dangers” these instruments presented to the world economy, she told Laura Barton in 2008, warnings that you may have heard went mostly unheeded.… Read more

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Who are your favorite TV show journalists?

Today is the anniversary of the first episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which debuted in 1970. Poynter’s David Shedden wrote about the show and the recognition it received for today’s media history post. In February, Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark wrote about how journalists are shown in House of Cards. And on Wednesday, Lloyd Grove wrote about a new pack of TV and movie journalists for The Daily Beast.

There’s a lot to choose from, so who are your favorite journalists from sitcoms or dramas?

I have three.

Paris Geller (from The Gilmore Girls. Rory Gilmore is also a favorite, but Paris was a super-journo.) There are a lot of great moments from Paris and Rory’s time at The Yale Daily News, but they started in high school:

Betty Suarez (from Ugly Betty.) Betty starts as a secretary at a New York fashion mag, but works her way up and into the magazine’s masthead:

And Les Nessman (from WKRP in Cincinnati.… Read more

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Can iPhone widgets make news apps cool again?

The Financial Times notably embraces HTML5 web apps — and print! — over mobile apps. Quartz, perhaps the most widely praised new media site of the last year or so, is similarly app-less. Vox and FiveThirtyEight launched this year without native apps, and the Gawker network gets by without them just fine, too, thank you very much. The tech-savvy folks at The Verge just killed theirs.

A native app can be expensive to develop and maintain, and unless your push notification strategy manages to provide real utility rather than sporadic annoyances, the only way a reader ever enters it is by deliberately searching for the icon — perhaps buried on the third page of a home screen or inside the dreaded Newsstand on iPhones — with no idea what content awaits.… Read more


3 Journalists killed while covering Ebola crisis

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Journalists killed while covering Ebola crisis: A delegation including government officials, doctors and journalists was attacked in a Guinean village Tuesday. Eight people were killed. (LAT) | Three journalists are among the dead. (Reuters) | “Many residents of rural villages have reacted with fear and panic when outsiders have come to conduct awareness campaigns and have even attacked health clinics.” (AP) | “How journalists covering the Ebola outbreak try to stay safe” (Poynter) | “While reporting on Ebola, the smell of chlorine ‘is one of the most comforting smells in the world’” (Poynter) | Kristen Hare‘s Twitter list of reporters covering the Ebola outbreak.
  2. Turkey tussles with the Times: The NYT published a correction on a Sept.
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Today in media history: The Mary Tyler Moore Show begins in 1970

If you turned on your television to CBS at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, 1970, you would have watched the first episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The series centered around TV news producer Mary Richards and the staff at WJM-TV in Minneapolis.

The program ended in 1977, but there are probably thousands of people who can still sing the following theme song:

In 2009, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) awarded Mary Tyler Moore with their Distinguished Service Award.

“Perhaps best known for The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977), Moore starred as Mary Richards, a single thirty-something woman who worked as a news producer at WJM-TV in Minneapolis….’Mary Tyler Moore is a television icon who not only entertained millions of Americans week after week with her quick humor and amazing talent, but inspired many women of her generation to pursue careers in broadcasting, journalism and related fields,’ said NAB President and CEO David Rehr.

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‘Keep calm and carry on’: Newspapers on the no vote in Scotland


On Thursday, newspapers around the world led with a question. On Friday, they led with the answer. Voters in Scotland turned out in record numbers and voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Here’s a collection of front pages, from Kiosko, with the results of Scotland’s no vote. (Dave Johnson of The Guardian also has a good collection of front pages here.)… Read more


Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014

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

Center for Public Integrity

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

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

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

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

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


The Washington Post has good news.

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

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

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

Huffpost Good News

Today Good News!:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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

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


AFP will no longer use work from freelancers in Syria


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

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

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

IS videos are widely available online.

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Facebook: More timely News Feed on the way


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

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

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

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

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

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


Tampa Bay Times cuts staff pay, hints at layoffs

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

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

He continues:

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

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