P-War of the Worlds

Today in Media History: Martians attack Earth in Orson Welles’ 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast

On October 30, 1938, 23-year-old Orson Welles and his radio program, Mercury Theatre on the Air, broadcast “War of the Worlds.” Their fictional radio news bulletins about a Martian invasion panicked many and made Welles famous.

(Click here to watch the entire PBS American Experience documentary about the “War of the Worlds” broadcast.)

“It was the day before Halloween, October 30, 1938. Henry Brylawski was on his way to pick up his girlfriend at her Adams Morgan apartment in Washington, D.C.

As he turned on his car radio, the 25-year-old law student heard some startling news. A huge meteorite had smashed into a New Jersey farm. New York was under attack by Martians.

‘I knew it was a hoax,’ said Brylawski, now 92.

Others were not so sure. When he reached the apartment, Brylawski found his girlfriend’s sister, who was living there, ‘quaking in her boots,’ as he puts it. ‘She thought the news was real,’ he said.

It was not. What radio listeners heard that night was an adaptation, by Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater group, of a science fiction novel written 40 years earlier: The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells.

However, the radio play, narrated by Orson Welles, had been written and performed to sound like a real news broadcast about an invasion from Mars.”

– “‘War of the Worlds’: Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic
National Geographic News, June 17, 2005

The day after the program reporters interviewed Orson Welles about his radio broadcast.

Many Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper readers lived near the radio drama’s Martian landing spot at Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. Here is an excerpt from the Inquirer’s report:

“Terror struck at the hearts of hundreds of thousands of persons in the length and breadth of the United States last night as crisp words of what they believed to be a news broadcast leaped from their radio sets — telling of catastrophe from the skies visited on this country.

Out of the heavens, they learned, objects at first believed to be meteors crashed down near Trenton, killing many.

Then out of the meteors came monsters, spreading destruction with torch and poison gas. It was all just a radio dramatization, but the result, in all actuality, was nationwide hysteria.

….In reality there was no danger. The broadcast was merely a Halloween program in which Orson Welles, actor-director of the Mercury Theater on the Air, related, as though he were one of the few human survivors of the catastrophe, an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.”

And here is what you would have heard the evening of October 30, 1938. It took the Martians about 57 minutes to invade Earth.

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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014

NPR to open Seoul bureau

NPR | Fishbowl NY

National Public Radio Wednesday revealed plans to open a bureau in Seoul, South Korea, naming culture and technology reporter Elise Hu its Asia correspondent there.

In addition to being at the heart of a technological and economic force, the bureau is strategically placed near multiple countries of interest to NPR, including Japan and China, Hu said. From there, she’ll be able to coordinate with NPR bureaus in other cities, including New Delhi, Islamabad and Beijing.

The opportunity to report overseas is a huge privilege, she said. Her family — including her husband, Wall Street Journal data journalist Matt Stiles — will make the move with her.

“I obviously had to talk it over with my family,” Hu said. “This is indeed a cross-planet move, but my husband is on board. He’s an incredibly talented journalist in his own right, so I’m confident that something will work out for him.”

The bureau, which will open in 2015, will consist of Hu and a translator-assistant, who she’ll hire.

Hu came to NPR in 2011 to help develop StateImpact network, a government reporting project, according to the announcement. Before that, she was a founding reporter at The Texas Tribune, a journalism non-profit based in Austin, Texas.

Hu wrote about the move on her blog:

I don’t know what to do with our house yet. I am panicked about getting to see the final episodes of Mad Men without too much time delay. I worry about my 16-year-old dog surviving a cross-planet move. I am unsure of my own abilities to cover a place where I am illiterate.

But I’m also filled with excitement and wonder and gratitude for the chance to do this. I know how rare a privilege it is these days to get a chance to work overseas, supported by a large, well-funded news organization. As my friend and mentor Kinsey said, it’s invaluable experience that will change and shape our lives.

She also tweeted about it:

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guardianfeatured

At The Guardian, the homepage is far from dead

You’ve probably heard rumors of “the death of the homepage,” but The Guardian isn’t having it.

During a demo of the newly redesigned U.S. website in New York this week, Wolfgang Blau, The Guardian’s director of digital strategy, said the homepage was The Guardian’s “single strongest lever to direct attention.” He and other digital leaders at The Guardian surprised me by focusing so much on the homepage when talking about the new site, which went live today.

The homepage consists of new responsive “containers” of content. Anyone who has edited a newspaper site’s homepage with a CMS constraining presentation to one or two above-the-fold templates will be jealous of The Guardian’s seemingly infinite array of options for arranging content in a four-column grid. Stories can go as wide as necessary — with an image or without! — and can include various combinations of headlines, kickers, and byline photos.

The result: a modular design that translates well to mobile but doesn’t resort to the sameness plaguing other news site redesigns.

(Erin Kissane takes a closer look at the backend at Source.)

The previous Guardian homepage, top, and the new one, bottom.

The previous Guardian homepage, top, and the new one, bottom.

More choices for how content is presented throughout the day offers more opportunities to exercise editorial judgment, and that’s where The Guardian thinks it has a competitive advantage. “People go to edited sources because they trust to be told what really is important,” said Alex Breuer, The Guardian’s creative director. Throughout the day, some stories get louder and others get quieter; now, the homepage reflects those nuances, Breuer said.

“We want to be world’s most influential news organization,” Blau said. That means continuing to grow in the U.S. (it topped The New York Times in unique visitors in September). American readers don’t know and trust the brand thanks to a print newspaper like UK readers do, said Cecilia Dobbs, VP of product for the U.S., so a redesign of its online presence is even more important in the U.S. (The beta site was rolled out to 5 percent of U.S. users earlier this year, allowing The Guardian to gather feedback, and the new design will go live for other Guardian sites soon.)

When the Guardian looked at its competitors, Blau said, it saw homepages that generally become repetitive farther down the page. The various ways homepage editors can arrange stories now — along with a new color scheme — gives readers visual cues that are especially useful given The Guardian’s mix of quick-hit news updates and in-depth features across many different subject areas, Dobbs said.

Globally, 31 percent of sessions at The Guardian’s sites include a trip to the homepage, and direct visitors to news sites are generally much more loyal, according to Pew. Still, the fact that 59 percent of visits to the site originated on article pages in September makes the homepage emphasis a fascinating choice. Will new U.S. readers — likely acquired through social media — decide to explore the homepage? It’ll be interesting to see if The Guardian does more to direct these visitors to the homepage to get a comprehensive view of what else the site has to offer.

Despite the way newspaper sites are often derided for looking too much like newspapers, I noticed that elements of the site’s design felt newspaper-like. Blau said the careful crafting that goes into a well-designed newspaper or magazine is often missing online. The Guardian’s new grid — guides that provide a rhythm and structure without sacrificing flexibility — make The Guardian’s new site more of a pleasure to browse.

Article pages revamped too

Of course, The Guardian recognizes that more and more readers are entering the site through article pages (and about half are arriving via mobile, where social media is even more important), so articles pages are better now, too, with more prominent social sharing buttons. Stories are wider and contain more white space. Article pages — not unlike the ones debuted by The New York Times this year — feel less cluttered.

The typography is now consistent across all Guardian platforms, including print. On the Web, it’s bigger, too, with more line spacing, and that’s one very obvious change that rankles long-time readers. But to those who say the text is too big, The Guardian can ask, “well, do you like Medium?”

The Guardian didn’t adopt continuous scroll on article pages like many other recent news sites have, but those containers from the homepage can be placed beneath articles, too, to lead visitors elsewhere. In the future, The Guardian hopes to better customize these “journeys” through the site based on referral sources and other reader behavior.


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Mitra Kalita is Quartz’ executive editor-at-large

Quartz Editor-in-Chief Kevin Delaney announced Wednesday that ideas editor Mitra Kalita will become executive editor-at-large for Quartz, charged with “spearheading projects” that “build up our readership and journalism globally.”

In a memo to Quartz staff (below), Delaney noted Kalita — who was recently named an adjunct faculty member at Poynter — played a “central role” in the creation of the business vertical’s Ideas section and the launch of Quartz India.

In an interview with World News Publishing Focus, Kalita said Quartz is considering expanding to cover other subjects:

We are looking at other markets and other niches but a part of our ethos is driven by this idea that you and I have a lot in common, and might be harried by some of the same factors of life and work. Does that story need to come from a place of geography? Probably not. In some cases geography will be where we expand but in others it’s going to be by obsession or theme areas.

Kalita will be replaced by Paul Smalera, editor of The New York Times opinion app, which is slated to be discontinued at the end of the month. Smalera was also the founding editor of the Times’ Op-Talk site, according to a memo from Delaney announcing his hire (also below).

Hello Quartz -

I’m happy to announce the appointment of Mitra Kalita as Quartz’s executive editor at large, with special responsibility for global expansion and Ideas.

This move reflects Mitra’s central role from Quartz’s beginning through the present, including building up Ideas and launching Quartz India. As many of you know, her contributions extend far beyond that to touch pretty much all aspects of Quartz, including identifying and bringing on many of our talented colleagues.

Since the beginning, Mitra has focused on the people and “the story.” She’s helped us deliver on being a news organization that truly covers the world, while tackling some of the most intimate and challenging issues in our lives and workplaces. Mitra’s wide range of interests is partly what makes her so effective—she knows international news for us to pursue ambitiously when she sees it, such as Modi’s appearance in NYC, and hot button issues that hit home on Facebook, such as the ubiquity of one company’s baby blankets. It goes without saying that Mitra specializes in keeping all of us on our toes.

In her new role, she will spearhead projects that stretch Quartz further and build up our readership and journalism globally. These include new initiatives focused outside of the US. She’ll also continue to work with the Ideas team as we build on its success.

Mitra will continue to work part-time for Quartz and report her (fourth) book through the end of this school year, and return full-time after that.

Please join me in congratulating her.

Best,
Kevin

Hello Quartz –

I’m happy to announce that Paul Smalera will join us as Quartz’s Ideas editor as of November 5.

Paul comes from the New York Times, where he was the founding editor of its Op-Talk site and led the editorial team for the NYT Opinion iPhone app.

Paul is an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy journalist with hands-on experience editing the sort of global commentary that is the core fare of Quartz’s Ideas section. One former colleague describes him as “the real deal” and “very astute about reader platforms and social media, very curious about the world, very savvy as to what readers want.” Since before the launch of Quartz, I’ve hoped for an opening to bring him on to join us.

Paul earlier worked at Reuters, where he was technology editor, product manager for a new content management system, and deputy opinion editor. He also was a senior editor for technology coverage at Fortune and spent seven years as a professional web developer.

Paul’s mandate is to be bold and creative in approaching Ideas, experimenting with the form, approach, and outside contributors we work with. His efforts will build on the work that Mitra, Lauren, and Annalisa have done to make Ideas pieces among the most lively, impactful, and well-read content that we publish.

Please join me in welcoming Paul.

Best,
Kevin

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What is going on at First Look Media?

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are nine media stories.

  1. What’s going on at First Look Media?

    Matt Taibbi has left the company, Pierre Omidyar announced Wednesday. "Our differences were never about editorial independence," Omidyar writes. (First Look Media) | Andrew Rice reported earlier in the day that Taibbi "has been absent from the office for several weeks." "I don’t comment about internal matters," First Look executive John Temple told Rice. (New York) | "First Look exec on its radical culture of transparency: "I don’t comment...we’re a private company, so why would we?" (@tomgara) | "what has happened is bad and dumb and needless and not matt taibbi’s fault" (@johnjcook) | Omidyar gadfly Paul Carr published his half of an off-the-record conversation with Taibbi. (Pando) | "Off the record does not mean you can publish your half of a conversation with a source." (@mtaibbi) | Michael Calderone, this time last year: "What exactly they’re building is unclear -– even to those directly involved." (HuffPost)

  2. Denise Warren leaves NYT Co.

    "A memo written by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the Times Company, and Mark Thompson, the company’s chief executive, said that they had decided to split Ms. Warren’s position into two jobs: an executive vice president for marketing and an executive vice president for digital. Ms. Warren declined to take either job and decided to leave the company, according to the memo." (NYT) | "After Robinson was ousted in 2011, Warren was the No. 2 candidate for the C.E.O. slot that ended up going to Thompson, a former BBC bigwig, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Capital." (Capital)

  3. Ben Bradlee's funeral will be on TV

    C-SPAN will broadcast the event today at 11 a.m. | An appreciation by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. (WP) | Howard Simons, Bradlee's managing editor, is a "forgotten man, without whom Bradlee might never have been seen as so great." (Politico Magazine)

  4. Sun-Times owner launches national network of aggregated sites

    Wrapports LLC has launched these things, whatever the heck they are, in 70 cities, including New York, D.C. and L.A. (Crain's Chicago Business) | Ken Doctor: "The odds of major success seem long." (Nieman Lab)

  5. Verizon is launching a tech news site

    Just one problem with working at SugarString.com: "Other reporters, who asked not to be named, have confirmed that they have received the same recruiting pitch with the same rules: No articles about surveillance or net neutrality." (The Daily Dot)

  6. Sharyl Attkisson's loose wire

    The former CBS reporter discovered a "stray cable dangling from the FiOS box attached to the brick wall on the outside of my house," she writes in her new book, “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington." A technician removed the wire, which later vanished. (WP)

  7. Captured and tortured in Syria

    The journalist Theo Padnos recounts his nearly two years of capitivity. (NYT Magazine)

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

    The Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, leads with a spectacular photo of yesterday's rocket explosion at Wallops Island. (Courtesy the Newseum)

    dailypress-10292014 

  9. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Leigh Weingus is now trends editor at The Huffington Post. Previously, she was TV editor there. Carolyn Gregoire is now a senior writer for health and science at The Huffington Post. Previously, she was an editor at Healthy Living and Third Metric there. Lilly Workneh is now Black Voices editor at The Huffington Post. Previously, she was lifestyle editor at thegrio.com (Email) | Rich Ross is president of the Discovery Channel. Previously, he was chief executive of Shine America (The New York Times) | Monique Chenault is now executive producer of "The Insider." Previously, she was a senior producer at "Access Hollywood." (Mediabistro) | Job of the day: BuzzFeed is looking for a news fellow. Get your résumés in! (BuzzFeed) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

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The Hartford Courant is 250 years old today

Subscribers of The Hartford Courant will find their copies of Wednesday’s newspaper looks old. Really, really old. For the official anniversary of the 250-year-old newspaper, the Courant’s Wednesday edition comes wrapped in a copy of the original.

Picture1

October 29th is the official anniversary of the 1764 printing of the once-weekly Connecticut Courant, but the newspaper started celebrations in January and will continue them throughout the year. Those celebrations include monthly themes and a reproduction of the original paper, but also a big digital push to share the Courant’s past and include readers in the conversation about what the Courant was, is and is becoming.

“I feel it’s almost an opportunity to reengage and relaunch everything we’ve done digitally,” said Nancy Meyer, the Courant’s publisher and CEO, in a phone interview. “It’s a celebration, certainly, of the history, but at the same point, where are we going? People have begun to understand the evolution of where we were.”

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Courant 250 is a marriage between old stories and new technology, Andrew Julien, editor of the Courant, said in a phone interview. Some of that means sharing photos, stories and pages from the archives, and some of it means gathering old stories online.

“When we began rolling out our 250th content in January, we started hearing from people in the community about how they used to be Courant carriers and what that meant to them,” said Christine Taylor, digital platform manager, in an email. “We realized the opportunity to engage with our audience and have them participate in the telling of our history. We used Facebook to solicit stories from our readers, and the response was tremendous.”

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“Between Facebook, email and phone calls,” Taylor said, “we heard from close to 200 former Courant Carriers.”

This story is from Richard Templeton:

When the Japanese surrendered it was called V-J Day and the Courant put out an extra edition to celebrate the day. My district manager called me to see if I would be willing to deliver the extra on Main Street in Middletown. I was only 11 years old, so I had to ask my mother for approval. She said OK, so I went to the Courant office to get the Extra paper. It was a wild scene on Main Street. People were singing and dancing in the street. I don’t remember how much the Courant was charging for the Extra — maybe a few cents or a nickel. But people were giving me a lot of quarters, halves and dollar bills. I was going up the street shouting “Extra, Extra, read all about it. Japan surrenders. The war is over. Get your Extra here.” It was late when I got home. My mother was not too happy with me. But when I put all the money on the table that I got for selling the Extra she kinda settled down.

‘Biased media’

The Courant, and really all American newspapers, have changed a lot recently, but the Courant changed dramatically since it began, too.

“When you look at the first century of the Courant’s history, the newspaper is very political,” Julien said. It made an enemy of Thomas Jefferson and later aligned with xenophobic groups opposing immigration. But by the late 1850s, the newspaper “became a strong voice for abolition and against slavery,” he said. “You really see the political tide of the nation ebbing and flowing in the Courant.”

News and opinions began dividing into their own sections, he said, and news became more obviously straightforward.

“When people accuse us of being biased media, you should look at the paper from 1832,” Julien said.

To celebrate the paper’s 250th anniversary, people from around the Courant have contributed and the newspaper partnered with local institutions, including the Connecticut Historical Society. Monthly themes have included weather, the arts, crime and sports.

A documentary about the newspaper’s photojournalists, produced with Connecticut Public Broadcasting, airs next month.

The Courant has also tried to reach people through public forums tied to the monthly themes, including conversations on race and inequality and recovery.

Next

In September, the Courant launched Courant.com on a new, fully-responsive platform.

Since then, “our Facebook referral traffic has increased 119 percent to our baseline. We think a lot of this comes from the addition of sharelines in our template, and our increasing understanding of what content is resonating with our audience on social platforms,” Taylor said.

The paper is thinking about what matters to readers, and as part of their big anniversary content, the Courant also looked to the future. Marie Shanahan, a former staffer and now an assistant journalism professor at the University of Connecticut, wrote about the new ways people are getting and gathering news.

Fears aside, journalism is headed into an exciting and complicated age when part of the job will be finding the right balance between innovation, ethics and economics.

Throughout the year, the Courant has tried to use its 250th as a way to reach new people through social media and in person, and to share the history the paper has been around to tell.

“It really has allowed us to remind ourselves and our readers that for 250 years, we’ve been the storytellers of Connecticut,” Julien said. “The platform is changing, but our role isn’t changing.” Read more

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P-Internet Begins

Today in Media History: The Internet began with a crash on October 29, 1969

The beginning of the Internet is the story of two large computers, miles apart, sending the message: “LO.” The world has never been the same.

In the late 1960s an experimental network of four computers called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was commissioned by the U.S. government. The computers were located at UCLA, SRI International (then known as Stanford Research Institute), UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. ARPANET evolved into the network of computer networks we know as the Internet.

On October 29, 1969, the first message was sent between two ARPANET computers. They tried to type in “LOGIN,” but the computers crashed after the first two letters.

UCLA’s Leonard Kleinrock, who was part of the team that first connected the ARPANET computers, is interviewed in this KTLA-TV story. (Here is a link to another story about the first ARPANET connection.)

“The breakthrough accomplished that night in 1969 was a decidedly down-to-earth one. The Arpanet was not, in itself, intended as some kind of secret weapon to put the Soviets in their place: it was simply a way to enable researchers to access computers remotely, because computers were still vast and expensive, and the scientists needed a way to share resources.

….One of the most intriguing things about the growth of the internet is this: to a select group of technological thinkers, the surprise wasn’t how quickly it spread across the world, remaking business, culture and politics — but that it took so long to get off the ground. Even when computers were mainly run on punch-cards and paper tape, there were whispers that it was inevitable that they would one day work collectively, in a network, rather than individually.”

— “Forty years of the internet: how the world changed for ever.”
Guardian.co.uk, October 23, 2009
(This article is part of a special section called, “The internet at 40

On January 1, 1983, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) were accepted as the standard protocols for the ARPANET and other computer networks. For some, the acceptance of TCP/IP as a common network communication language is considered the beginning of the Internet. Vint Cert talks about the history of TCP/IP:

“’The 1969 connection was not just a symbolic milestone in the project that led to the Internet, but in the whole idea of connecting computers — and eventually billions of people — to each other,’ said Marc Weber, founding curator of the Museum’s Internet History Program. ‘In the 1960s, as many as a few hundred users could have accounts on a single large computer using terminals, and exchange messages and files between them. But each of those little communities was an island, isolated from others. By reliably connecting different kinds of computers to each other, the ARPANET took a crucial step toward the online world that links nearly a third of the world’s population today.’”

— “The Computer History Museum, SRI International, and BBN Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of First ARPANET Transmission”
Computer History Museum, October 27, 2009

There are many fathers and mothers of the Internet and several have been honored in the Internet Hall of Fame.

Finally, PandoDaily and Explainer Music have helped put the Internet into perspective with their video, “PandoHouse Rock: A History of The Internet and Computing in 71 Seconds.”

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Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014

UGA decides to host some African journalists

The University of Georgia, which canceled on a Liberian journalist earlier this month for fear of spreading the Ebola virus, will host 14 journalists from Africa, the university announced Tuesday.

The journalists, who will visit the university as part of a three-week trip that will include a visit to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, are not from countries currently affected by the Ebola virus, according to an announcement from the university. During their visit, they will will discuss “media election coverage and the role of social media in the U.S. society.”

During the program, the journalists will attend a social media discussion and tour Grady Newsource — a student newsroom — while the staff covers Election Day, according the announcement. They will also take part in a conversation on social media hosted by several of the university’s professors.

RELATED: Hysteria or proper precaution — a conversation with Michel du Cille

The journalists are visiting as part of the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, a U.S. State Department-sponsored program separate from the one it abruptly rearranged earlier this month due to Ebola panic. In that instance, UGA canceled on FrontPageAfrica Editor Wade C. L. Williams, who was scheduled to give the university’s McGill lecture.

RELATED: Why it’s so disappointing that j-schools are panicking over Ebola

In addition to Georgia, two other universities bailed on journalists who spent time in Africa since the Ebola epidemic began. Syracuse University rescinded an invitation to Washington Post photojournalist Michel du Cille, who was slated to participate in a journalism workshop there. And the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg canceled on a group of Murrow fellows from Africa, which the Poynter Institute later agreed to host.

Here’s the announcement from the university:

Athens, Ga. – For the sixth consecutive year, the University of Georgia James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research has been selected to host traveling journalists through the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists. The visit, sponsored by the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program, will take place Oct. 30-Nov. 5.

Fourteen journalists from French-speaking countries including Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Mali, Mauritania and Togo will come to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication to discuss media election coverage and the role of social media in the U.S. society. None of the visiting journalists hail from countries currently affected by the Ebola outbreak.

“Across the years of this program, University of Georgia students have learned a lot about the media and political systems in a variety of countries,” said Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox International Center. Fellows in the past have come from Russian-speaking countries, Chinese-speaking countries, and the Middle East and North Africa. This is the second time the Murrow Program Fellows visiting UGA are from French-speaking Africa.

“We welcome the delegation from French-speaking Africa and are honored to be selected as one of only seven programs to host journalists as part of the prestigious Murrow Program,” said Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox International Center.

The Murrow Program sponsors more than 80 journalists from around the world to participate in the three-week visit. The program is designed as an exchange of best practices, an overview of free press in a democracy and the opportunity for the Murrow Fellows to gain insight into the social economic and political structures of the U.S.

While they are on UGA’s campus Nov. 3-4, the Murrow Fellows will meet with Grady College Dean Charles Davis and participate in discussions about social media led by Karen Russell, Jim Kennedy New Media Professor and associate professor of public relations, and Itai Himelboim, associate professor of telecommunications. They will observe the college’s digital and broadcast journalism majors in the newsroom of Grady Newsource as the students cover Election Day—a session coordinated by David Hazinkski, Jim Kennedy New Media Professor and associate professor of telecommunications, and lecturer Dodie Cantrell-Bickley. The visiting journalists will also discuss U.S. elections with Charles Bullock, Richard B. Russell Chair in Political Science at UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs, and attend a session at UGA’s African Studies Institute.

“This is a unique opportunity for our students, for our faculty, for faculty elsewhere in the university, and for media professionals in the state to get to talk to such a diverse group of visitors about the challenges of journalism in the countries represented,” Becker said. “The Department of State calls the Murrow Program its most important international journalism program, and we agree that it is a tremendous value to all involved.”

The traveling journalists will be visiting the U.S. for three weeks. For the first week, the group will be in Washington, D.C. On Oct. 30, the Murrow Fellows visiting Grady College will arrive in Atlanta and spend the next day meeting with editors from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and CNN. After visiting Atlanta and Athens, they will travel to New Mexico and ultimately conclude their trip in New York on Nov. 14.

For a complete list of host schools and more information about the Murrow Fellows Program, see http://eca.state.gov/highlight/edward-r-murrow-program-journalists.

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Students stole 700 papers for a prank, not because they hated content

Student Press Law Center

Earlier this month, 710 copies of Pepperdine Graphic were found in a dorm room at Pepperdine University, Anna Schiffbauer reported Monday for the Student Press Law Center. Schiffbauer reported that three students admitted to stealing the papers, and they were planning to “wad them up and fill a friend’s dorm room as a prank.”

The first theft of the papers was reported in September and thought to be because of what was on the front page.

At the time, the staff and adviser believed the thefts could be an attempt to censor a front-page article about an alcohol-related car accident involving a Pepperdine student.

“When you take free newspapers with the intention of just wadding them for a prank, it’s really inconsiderate of the hard work that goes into it,” (Adviser Elizabeth) Smith said. “I don’t want them to just see us as physical paper on a stand.”

The students haven’t been named, Schiffbauer reported.

In April, I wrote about a fraternity in Michigan that did trash the paper because of the content. Then they tweeted about it.

Photo illustration from Deposit Photos.

Photo illustration from Deposit Photos.

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Changes ahead daily newspaper headline

Why the newspaper industry is leaving six-month circulation reports behind

For several years now, the Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) has been reporting more and more detail on print and digital audience numbers for individual newspaper organizations while saying less and less about the industry as a whole.

That progression reaches its conclusion today with AAM’s final six-month report, to be supplanted by required quarterly updates and monthly digital numbers too if a company chooses.

Related: USA Today, WSJ, NYT top U.S. newspapers by circulation

The current six-month reporting format, now called Snapshot and previously FAS-FAX, has been in place since 1968, AAM spokeswoman Rachael Battista told me.  But audited newspapers have been compiling six-month averages, she added, since the organization (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations) was formed in 1914.

The changes aim for greater timeliness, AAM executive vice president Neal Lulofs said in a phone interview, and need regular adjustment as organizations explore varied and more complex audience strategies.

Along the way, a bottom-line of paid print circulation has give way to a measure of total circulation, including paid digital on several different platforms and some non-paid but “qualified” or “verified” print edition distribution.

The way circulation numbers had traditionally been reported in news stories was one casualty of the changes.  A total circulation projection for the industry, compared to previous years, would be highly imprecise now because of constant rule changes and some double-counting.  Similarly comparisons between newspapers or a Top 25 circulation list are close to meaningless, given different strategies and considerable leeway in what a given paper chooses to count.

Some examples:

  • USA Today now claims more than 4 million total circulation, more than double what it was reporting two years ago.  But that growth has been entirely generated by digital and Gannett’s decision to insert a section of USA Today news into its 35 largest regional papers. Digital and the insert section now account for roughly three quarters of USA Today’s circulation. Its paid print circulation in news racks and subscriptions is actually falling fast.
  • In recent years,  AAM instituted, then rescinded, a requirement that papers report a five-day weekday print average, though many still do voluntarily.  Advance’s Plain Dealer, in Cleveland, would rank in the Top 25 for the two weekdays it still home delivers a print edition — but that circulation cannot be intelligibly be compared to papers like the Boston Globe or Dallas Morning News with high-price subscriptions and seven-day a week delivery.

Some industry critics would characterize the jumble of new rules and new totals as a smoke-and-mirrors exercise to obscure newspapers’ continued losses of core paid print circulation. It is worth noting, however, that AAM’s board has a heavy representation of advertisers, who have agreed to the changes and typically care more about a detailed breakdown for a given newspaper organization than comparisons among them or industry totals.

Among the complications AAM has dealt with in recent years is the widespread adoption of Sunday Select products, bundles of inserts with little or no news content delivered to non-subscribers in certain zip codes.  These are now counted as “branded editions,” a designation that also applies to clusters of papers published under different titles owned by a single company, like Digital First’s Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay groups.

Also the majority of mid-sized and large papers have now instituted digital paywalls.  That creates a new group of digital-only subscribers and an even larger group who get digital access along with a print subscription. Some subscribers pay for and use desktop/laptop sites, tablet editions, smart-phone apps, replica digital editions and versions for Kindle or Nook devices.

Broadly AAM’s approach has been to measure each type of audience separately, accepting that some readers will be double or triple-counted.  To fix that confusion, it is currently experimenting with a Total Consumer Accounts metric, that would capture how many subscribers are paying for either a given platform or total access.

More changes in circulation practices and AAM rules are in the offing. The Washington Post has been offering free (for now) digital subscriptions to paid digital subscribers of regional papers and is reviving a national weekly print summary that papers may insert in their Sunday editions.

The New York Times counted both its new, slimmed down smartphone-targeted news product, NYT Now, and its international edition in the final AAM six-month report. Like the Post, the Times is starting a weekly print supplement for insert in regional papers.

Over time almost all papers except very small ones expect growth of digital readership while accepting continued erosion of paid print circulation.  A few — mainly papers owned by Advance publications — are trying to accelerate that movement by eliminating home delivery or print editions entirely several days a week.

John Murray, the Newspaper Association of America’s top circulation executive, has generated several studies analyzing trends that can be identified in the AAM numbers.  He may do so again, Murray wrote me in an e-mail, but had no immediate comment on what the final Snapshot report says about the industry. Read more

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