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


Why NYT avoids quoting climate-change skeptics

The New York Times

In a Times Insider interview, Adam Bryant, The New York Times’ new environment editor, answers the question “To what extent should we feel obligated to include the views of climate change skeptics?”

“Claims that the entire field of climate science is some kind of giant hoax do not hold water, and we have made a conscious decision that we are not going to take that point of view seriously,” Bryant replies. He continues:

At the same time, there is a huge amount of legitimate debate and uncertainty within mainstream science. Scientists are pretty open about not being sure how bad things will get, or how quickly. These are the valid scientific issues and uncertainties that we want to cover.

Bryant also says a recent Justin Gillis story “provides a good example of providing informed second opinions on a topic.”

In his piece, Justin quoted an expert who has often been skeptical of claimed links between weather events and global warming in the past. But in this new study we were reporting on, he said the evidence was strong. That insight is more useful to readers than quoting someone who believes the entire field of study is built on a pillar of sand.

In 2013, the Times merged its environment pod with its science desk and shuttered its Green blog. Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote last November that she found the Times had subsequently covered climate issues less, but she recently called the Times’ new enviro team “very good news.” Read more


Journalists, don’t drink 140 cups of coffee in one day or you’ll die

Wall Street Journal

On Monday, Heidi Mitchell wrote “How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?” for the Wall Street Journal.

Mitchell got a pretty simple answer — 140 cups of coffee.

It is possible for a person to die from too much caffeine, “but that would mean about 14,000 milligrams, or around 140 8-ounce cups of coffee in one day,” Dr. (Matthew) Johnson says. Consuming that much would be difficult because of coffee’s self-limiting nature. “One cup makes you feel good and alert, but five cups may make you feel like your stomach is cramping,” he says. “You feel wired and you wouldn’t typically be able to go overboard.”


I know a lot of you all drink/love coffee. On Sept. 29, we celebrated National Coffee Day with a series of mug shots (I’m sorry.)

On Sept. 12, I wrote “Journalists drink more coffee than cops,” based on a study from the United Kingdom. On a sad note, on Oct. 2, Michael Barajas wrote for HoustonPress that staff at the Houston Chronicle no longer get free coffee. This summer, I also wrote about an odd PR stunt in France that put pop-up Nescafe coffee cups inside a newspaper and then encouraged readers to put that paper down and share a cup of coffee because reading a newspaper is such a lonely activity.

Nescafe clearly knows nothing of coffee or people who read newspapers. But Mitchell does. And “How Much Caffeine Too Much?” makes me feel like that third or fourth cup by 3 p.m. is not such a bad thing. Also, Mitchell reports, “caffeine intoxication” is a real thing. Read more

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Sun-Times owner says it’s imitating BuzzFeed, Deadspin with national network of news sites

Chicago Sun-Times | Robert Feder

Are you ready for The Chicago paper’s owner, Wrapports LLC, announced a “mobile-first app network” Tuesday with local editions rolling out in 70 U.S. cities and, eventually, international editions.

How looks on my phone.

How looks on my phone.

The sites will offer aggregated content from local news sources as well as from some Sun-Times writers (the Chicago edition includes links to content from the rival Chicago Tribune). It’s part of an effort to “offer content in a manner similar to websites such as Deadspin and Buzzfeed,” Wrapports’ release says.

The sites are in beta and will officially launch on Friday. The Sun-Times Network takes the place of Aggrego, the local-content initiative Wrapports launched last year, Sun-Times spokesperson Dennis Culloton tells Poynter. Tim Landon, who cofounded Classified Ventures and led Aggrego, will run the Sun-Times Network.

Wrapports chair Michael Ferro will be board chair. The launch coincides with plans “for the company to sell all of its suburban publications — including six dailies and 32 Pioneer Press weeklies — to Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Chicago Tribune,” Robert Feder writes. “That will leave the much smaller Wrapports with only the daily Sun-Times and the free weekly [Chicago] Reader.” Read more

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Washington Post announces award named for legendary editor

The Washington Post

The Washington Post announced Tuesday the creation of the “Ben Bradlee Award for Courage in Journalism,” honoring the “courageous pursuit of truth by an individual or team of Washington Post journalists,” according to an announcement from Post editor Marty Baron and publisher Fred Ryan.

The award, named for the Post editor who oversaw the expansion of the newsroom and the coverage of the paper’s famous Watergate reporting, will first be awarded in 2015, according to the announcement. It will include a cash prize.

Bradlee died last week at 93. Read more


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

Alliance for Audited Media

The Alliance for Audited Media issued its last-ever six-month circulation report today. Here are the top newspapers in the U.S., by total average circulation in September 2014:

  1. USA Today (4,139,380)
  2. The Wall Street Journal (2,276,207)
  3. The New York Times (2,134,150)

AAM is discontinuing the print report in favor of more detailed, more frequent reports on individual titles. This edition doesn’t include comparisons to previous totals, which is kind, in a way, as rule changes have made comparisons to past performance, or other publications, increasingly difficult.

A peek behind those great numbers shows why. Let’s start with USA Today, whose Monday-Friday total average circulation rocketed 43 percent, from 2,876,586 to 4,139,380. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation dropped 17 percent over September 2013, from 1,316,865 to 1,083,200. But USA Today has used AAM rule changes to post astonishing circulation increases since this time last year: a 67 percent rise in September 2013, a 94 percent rise in March of this year. It counts digital editions and the “butterfly” editions that run in other Gannett-owned newspapers, for instance, which is part of the reason it now avers a Sunday circulation of 3,686,797 even though it doesn’t run a traditional edition that day.

The Journal actually saw a tiny increase in average Monday-Friday print circulation over September 2013 — a rise of 3,680 copies, or .27 percent. Its total average Monday-Friday circulation centimetered up to 2,276,207 from 2,273,767.

And the Times’ average Sunday print circulation fell 3.5 percent, to 1,181,160 from 1,224,069 in September 2013. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation fell 5.4 percent over the same period, to 639,887 from 676,633.

AAM cautions against making comparisons to past numbers while describing its rule changes this year. It previously allowed newspapers to count branded editions (which could be a lawn-delivered total market coverage product, or a Spanish-language edition, or in the case of The New York Times, the International New York Times) and digital nonreplica editions, which can include apps.

Just for the heck of it, here are a few more newspaper numbers:

The Washington Post’s average Sunday print circulation fell 5.7 percent, to 568,365 from 602,830 in September 2013. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation fell nearly 7 percent, to 377,466 from 405,035 over the same period. Its total average circulation on Sundays fell 3 percent, to 776,806 from 800,643.

The Los Angeles Times’ average Sunday print circulation fell 6.5 percent, to 685,473 from 733,101 in September 2013. Its average Monday-Friday print circulation fell nearly 7 percent over the same period, to 370,990 from 398,202. Its total average circulation on Sundays was very slightly up, to 965,598 from 963,751.

The Orange County Register, which has pursued a print-first strategy, saw its average Sunday print circulation rise 24 percent, 333,661 from 267,121 in September 2013. Read more


Reporter declines to reapply for her job, gets laid off

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Reporter declines to reapply for her job, gets laid off Burlington Free Press reporter Lynn Monty decided not to consummate the process of reapplying for her job last week. The Free Press, like many other Gannett papers, has asked staffers to reapply for jobs in reimagined “newsrooms of the future.” “I loved my job, but I don’t love Gannett,” Monty tells Paul Heintz. “I will make a new way for myself that doesn’t compromise my integrity.” (Seven Days)
  2. The last circulation report The Alliance for Audited Media will release its final print Snapshot report today. Because of more rule changes, “we advise against comparing year-over-year data,” AAM cautions. (AAM) | I wrote last October about how some other recent rules made comparisons difficult. (Poynter)
  3. Two attempts to explain why your friend Gordon is blue over the Jian Ghomeshi mess Canadians have an ” intrinsic and profound” relationship with the CBC, and the scandal further diminishes the institution, Adam Sternbergh writes. (Vulture) | “[T]here was once a hope that people in powerful positions were trying their best to do well by the country,” Michelle Dean writes. “That is gone, and people are, I think, sad to see that they now must extend the cynicism and bad feelings to cultural figures as well.” (Gawker)
  4. John Cantlie “reports” for Islamic State The captured British journalist appears in a package purporting to be from Kobani. (The Telegraph)
  5. The dream of an iTunes for news will never die The New York Times Co. and Axel Springer led a funding round for Blendle, a Dutch startup that sells a la carte access to articles. (Gigaom) | Blendle cofounder Alexander Klöpping “says he’s in talks with U.S. publishers (he declined to name any), which tend to have few foreign subscribers and sell ads at junk rates in countries where they don’t have a sales force.” (Bloomberg Businessweek)
  6. Reporting under duress The International Women’s Media Foundation gave Solange Lusiku Nsimire, editor-in-chief of Congo’s Le Souverain, a Courage in Journalism award last week. “I want to find shelter for my children, who are very much at risk,” she tells Eleanor Klibanoff. “But as long as democracy is not established and human rights are not respected, I feel that I need to continue reporting.” (NPR) | Related: New CPJ report shows journalists are still being killed with impunity in most parts of the world. (Poynter) | Also related: At a White House Correspondents’ Association seminar Saturday, Susan Page called the Obama administration “‘more dangerous’ to the press than any other in history.” (WP) | Also related: An Israeli border policeman shot AP photographer Majdi Mohammed with rubber bullets. (AP)
  7. FBI made a fake newspaper article “The FBI in Seattle created a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times Web page to plant software in the computer of a suspect in a series of bomb threats to Lacey’s Timberline High School in 2007.” (Seattle Times)
  8. Papa’s peepin’ peeps The annual Spy Prom in D.C. honored Ernest Hemingway. (HuffPost) | Related: Hemingway got a Nobel on this day in 1954. (Poynter)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare The New York Daily News uses wordplay to challenge Obama’s Ebola czar.


  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Sarah Lumbard is now senior digital curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Institute of Holocaust Education. Previously, she was vice president of content strategy and operations at NPR. (Poynter) | Fred Santarpia will be executive vice president and chief digital officer at Condé Nast. Previously, he was executive vice president at Condé Nast Entertainment. (Poynter) | Hassan Hamdani is editor-in-chief at HuffPost Morocco. Previously, he was editor-in-chief of TelQuel’s multimedia division. (HuffPost) | Bernardo Chévez is now vice president of technology at Hearst Magazines International. Previously, he was director of engineering at Condé Nast. (Fishbowl NY) | Job of the day: The Washington Post is looking for an editorial copy editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves:

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: Read more


Poynter offers free training from Google

News University

The Poynter Institute Tuesday is offering a day of training on tools from Google, taught by the company’s own experts.

The training, which will be offered for free courtesy the Google for Media team, consists of six 60-minute presentations on tools including search, mapping, data and Hangouts. The sessions are designed for journalists from varied backgrounds, including video and photojournalists, writers, bloggers and producers.

Here’s the schedule:

  • 9 a.m. Google research tools (search, trends, correlate and Public Data Explorer)
  • 10:15 a.m. General mapping overview (Google Maps Engine, Maps API, Google Fusion Tables)
  • 11:15 a.m. Customs maps training (More with Google Maps Engine and Fusion Tables)
  • 1:15 p.m. Learn how to use Google Earth to supplement stories on newscasts or websites
  • 2:15 p.m. Discover how to use Google+ and Hangouts on Air to interact with audiences and create live video broadcasts
  • 3:30 p.m. Learn about best practices for using YouTube

If you’re interested, you can sign up here. Read more


Today in Media History: In 1954, a former journalist named Ernest Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for literature

“I love to write. But it has never gotten any easier to do and you can’t expect it to if you keep trying for something better than you can do.”

Ernest Hemingway, 1959

Author and journalist Ernest Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for literature on October 28, 1954.

Listen to his acceptance speech:

Ernest Hemingway was a reporter for the Kansas City Star from October 1917 to April 1918.

In 1999, the newspaper’s website created a special section in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. This included old stories, various links, anecdotes, and a story titled, “Of ‘Star Style’ and a reporter named Hemingway.”

“And into the midst of The Star staff, in late 1917, came a youth who, when he could get away with it, wore a red and black checkered hunting shirt to work. Old timers frowned on such dress.

But the young reporter worked outside the office most of the time. His name was Ernest Hemingway.

….Ernest Hemingway came to The Star as a big, round-faced boy of 18 with limitless energy, and a desire to be in the thick of the action whether a shooting scrape or chasing ambulances. Hemingway worked at the paper for seven months. In late April 1918, he and Ted Brumback, another Star reporter, joined an ambulance unit in Italy.”

“After returning from World War I, Ernest Hemingway moved to Toronto and began writing for the Toronto Star. He worked there from 1920 to 1924 and some 70 of his articles have been archived online in an attractive new website, the Hemingway Papers. At first Hemingway was a stringer and later he wrote as a staff writer, under the byline Ernest M. Hemingway.

….He went on to write for the Star about boxing and trout fishing and organized crime in Chicago. By 1922 Hemingway had moved to Paris with his wife and sent dispatches that anticipated the themes of the novels that would make him famous.”

— “Archive of Hemingway’s Newspaper Reporting Reveals Novelist in the Making
Open Culture, May 16, 2012

“During most of the past twelve months, Ernest Hemingway has been reporting the Spanish war for the North American Newspaper Alliance. As we did in our issue of May 5, 1937, we present below selected passages from several of his recent dispatches. They have already been printed in various newspapers affiliated with the Alliance, but such publication has often been incomplete because of lack of space.”

– The Editors, The New Republic, January 12, 1938
“Hemingway Reports Spain”
(Click here for the stories)

Silent color film footage of Hemingway and photojournalist Robert Capa at Mont Saint Michel in France during World War II:

“No American writer is more associated with writing about war in the early 20th century than Ernest Hemingway. He experienced it firsthand, wrote dispatches from innumerable frontlines, and used war as a backdrop for many of his most memorable works.

….In 1944 he returned to Europe to witness key moments in World War II, including the D-day landings. He was 44 at the time and, comparing his photograph on his Certificate of Identity of Noncombatant to the portrait of the young 19-year-old who volunteered in World War I, one notices how distinguished the internationally renowned author had become in those 25 years.

Hemingway accompanied American troops as they stormed to shore on Omaha Beach — though as a civilian correspondent he was not allowed to land himself. Weeks later he returned to Normandy, attaching himself to the 22nd Regiment commanded by Col. Charles ‘Buck’ Lanham as it drove toward Paris (whose liberation he would later witness and write about).”

— “Hemingway on War and Its Aftermath
National Archives, 2006

And finally, here is a short video biography about the author and journalist Ernest Hemingway.

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