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Washington Post to cut some non-newsroom staff

The Washington Post

The Washington Post has “decided to internally transfer or eliminate certain non-Newsroom positions,” publisher Fred Ryan said in a memo to staffers Monday.

Ryan did not specify how many positions will be eliminated, but said the cuts come after “much careful deliberation” for the employees affected. Staffers who will be laid off have already been notified, he wrote.

As of October 2014, The Washington Post had added about 100 employees since the paper was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Erik Wemple reported.

Earlier in 2015, Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon reported that The Washington Post was taking steps to trim staff. A Post spokesperson told Washingtonian that net editorial staff would continue to grow in 2015.

Here’s Ryan’s memo to employees:

Washington Post Publisher Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. sent the following note to staff today:

Dear Washington Post Colleagues,

This week will mark six months since you welcomed me to this extraordinary publication. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the warm reception I have received and to give you an update on several new initiatives underway.

We have taken on an ambitious goal of vastly expanding our readership to a broader national and global audience. The results are impressive with our total digital audience expanding to over 48 million unique visitors last month, a record that marks 63% growth over last year. Our mobile audience grew to an all-time high exceeding 31 million unique visitors—an 80% increase over last year. This exceptional growth exceeds that of any of our key competitors.

User engagement is high with our total page views nearing 500 million for the first time, which is 109% growth year over year. We are attracting one of the largest and fastest growing millennial audiences among major media outlets, an impressive sign that Washington Post journalism is becoming essential to a new generation of readers.

These past few months, we have added to the strong Washington Post team with some incredibly talented new members. Steve Gibson, a highly respected media executive, has joined us as Chief Financial Officer and Jed Hartman, one of the most innovative and admired people in advertising today has signed on as Chief Revenue Officer. Recognizing internal excellence, Tracy Grant has been promoted to Deputy Managing Editor, Beth Diaz to Vice President of Audience Development & Analytics and Kris Coratti to Vice President of Communications – all terrific additions to the leadership team. Leili Boroumand joined us earlier this month as Director of Business Development and she has hit the ground running.

To lead an expanded offering to the “leadership audience” of decision makers and influentials, the Newsroom has added to its ranks with well-regarded journalist Rachel Van Dongen. As leader of the business side of this important initiative, we are today announcing the hiring of Alex Treadway for the newly created position of Vice President of Leadership Market Sales.

The excellence of Washington Post journalism has won many important accolades these past few months, with Carol Leonnig receiving the Polk Award for her outstanding reporting on weaknesses in Secret Service protection of the President; our late colleague, Michel du Cille, being honored by both the White House News Photographers Association and Photographer of the Year International award for his work on Ebola; our headline writers just received the top award from the American Copy Editors Society; and our design teams picked up an unprecedented 150 awards from the Society for News Design. Just last week Dan Balz was honored with the Toner Award for political reporting, and the American Society of News Editors Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity went to Sari Horwitz.

The Washington Post was named this month by Fast Company Magazine as the “Number One Most Innovative Media Company in the World.” We can all take pride in this great recognition of the culture of innovation and transformation underway at The Post.

We are laser-focused on operating as a nimble, forward-looking company with a culture of innovation and swift implementation.

As part of this transformation, we have undertaken a thoughtful analysis of our staff structure in non-Newsroom positions, to be certain that we are deploying our resources in ways consistent with today’s rapidly changing media model and our bold vision for the future. As a result, we have decided to internally transfer or eliminate certain non-Newsroom positions, where appropriate. That process has been concluded and most of those directly affected by these structural changes have already been notified. Decisions that eliminate or restructure positions are difficult to make and even harder to receive. We came to these decisions after much careful deliberation and with great appreciation for the colleagues who feel the impact of this realignment.

The media world is changing at an even faster pace than ever before. To continue on our trajectory of growth and expansion, we must be in a constant state of transformation with the nimbleness and speed of execution to lead and innovate in this rapidly evolving space.

As we pursue our ambitious expansion strategy, we will continue our investment in the Newsroom. Seventeen journalists have been hired in the first three months of the year and more to come. Among these new additions is Lois Romano, returning to lead an expanded Washington Post Live program. Later this week, we will be announcing the hiring of a new leader of PostTV, our major investment in video news production. The PostTV team has achieved dramatic growth this past year and is positioned for tremendous success going forward.

Through the innovations of our world-class team of engineers, Washington Post content will expand to reach an even larger audience. Our new “Rainbow” national app that launched late last year on Fire tablet devices has been a tremendous success, with a large loyal audience coming to The Post through this new offering. The users on this new platform are sharing our exceptional journalism with others at unprecedented rates. We will be launching this new Rainbow national app on all other devices later this year, and expanding the experience to phones and beyond. For Post advertisers, this new Rainbow platform is becoming a “game changer,” with reader engagement at levels vastly exceeding traditional click through rates.

We have taken internal ownership of our technology future and are rapidly building our own platforms, which has enabled us to innovate faster and provide higher-quality service to readers, advertisers, and the Newsroom. As you have observed over the past year, our technology team has made our site and apps faster, improved stability and reliability, and significantly enhanced our Newsroom’s storytelling capabilities. The Content Management System design initiative has been a huge success and we are offering this proprietary new CMS to select universities across the country with the intention to eventually license it to other publishers across the globe.

This transformational thinking and spirit of innovation is reflected across all departments at The Post. Having recently spent time with the Production Facility and Delivery Teams, it is clear that innovation is at the center of everything they do. Our loyal print readership is an important priority to The Post and we will continue to serve them with a top-quality product on their doorstep each morning.

From a financial standpoint, I am pleased to report that the company finished 2014 strong and, with the end of the first quarter upon us, 2015 is off to an excellent start.

With so many wins in the first quarter alone, we have every reason to feel excited about what the rest of the year holds. But we cannot take our foot off the accelerator—we must continue to be unrelenting in our focus on the innovation and dedication to excellence that is leading to these achievements.

I’d like to thank all of you for your hard work, dedication and focus on the future. Our next Town Hall is set for Wednesday, April 8, where we can discuss these and other initiatives in more detail. I hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there.

Best regards,

Fred.

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Minimum wage worker fired after talking to The Washington Post

The Washington Post

Shanna Tippen, a Days Inn employee who was featured prominently in a Washington Post story about an increase of the minimum wage, was fired from her job by the hotel manager soon after the story ran. Chico Harlan, the author of the original story and a follow-up, explains:

Tippen says she was fired by her boss, hotel manager Herry Patel. Earlier that day, Patel had called the Post to express frustration that he had been quoted giving his opinion about the minimum wage hike. (He objected to it.) It was soon after, Tippen says, that Patel found her in the lobby and fired her.

Tippen’s boss berated her for talking to The Washington Post, calling the decision “stupid and dumb,” and asked why Harlan decided to write the story. Harlan writes that Tippen’s boss was the one who suggested he speak to her, and even talked to him for “several minutes”:

Several days later, after I’d spent additional time with Tippen, Patel called me and threatened to sue if an article was published. Tippen, though, felt it was important to tell her story; she said many people shared her experience earning the minimum, and she had nothing negative to say about her employer.​

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Kinsey Wilson named executive vice president of product and technology at The New York Times

The New York Times

The New York Times on Monday announced that Kinsey Wilson, who was previously The Times’ editor for strategy and innovation, will be executive vice president of product and technology.

The New York Times announced in November Wilson would join the paper’s masthead. Before arriving at The Times, he was chief content officer at NPR, a post he left late last year.

Wilson is a member of The Poynter Institute’s board of trustees and a former chairman of its national advisory board.

Here’s the announcement:

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The New York Times Company announced today that Kinsey Wilson, currently The Times’s editor for strategy and innovation, has also been named executive vice president, product and technology. Mr. Wilson will join the company’s executive committee and expand his present role to assume leadership of all company-wide digital product and technology operations. He will report jointly to President and CEO Mark Thompson and Executive Editor Dean Baquet.

In making the announcement, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Baquet said, “The company’s initial plan was to appoint an executive vice president who would work as a partner to Kinsey in his newsroom role. Since early February, though, as Kinsey has become a key contributor and grasped the challenges and opportunities of our digital transformation, we have become convinced that unifying these responsibilities under his leadership makes better sense and offers us an opportunity to accelerate the progress that is already underway. Kinsey is the ideal person for this role. He is a digital visionary with deep roots in journalism and he’s a dynamic leader with a keen understanding of digital products and technology.”

Mr. Wilson said, “I’m thrilled to be taking on a broader role at The Times and grateful to Mark and Dean for their confidence in me. This is a very special place filled with immensely talented people. We all have a common goal, to make sure that people’s experience of The Times, wherever they find us, continues to match the brilliance of our journalism.”

Mr. Wilson joined The Times in February 2015. Previously, he oversaw NPR’s global news-gathering, programming and digital operations as executive vice president and chief content officer. He drove the development of the NPR One mobile app, which pioneered a new personalized digital listening experience, championed initiatives such as Planet Money, NPR Music, and the Race Card Project and is widely credited with positioning NPR as a digital leader.

Previously, Mr. Wilson was executive editor of USA Today, where he oversaw digital strategy and daily news operations. He also led Congressional Quarterly’s early web strategy and served as a reporter at Newsday for 7 years.

David Perpich has been named senior vice president, product, reporting to Mr. Wilson. Since 2013, Mr. Perpich has been general manager of new digital products, leading the business side team charged with the creation of new digital products. He joined the company in 2010 as executive director of paid products and played a key part in the rollout of The Times’s digital subscription plan in 2011.

Mr. Perpich came to The Times from the management consulting firm Booz & Company, where he was a member of their consumer, media and digital industries practice, focusing on growth strategy. He previously founded and ran two companies, both in the music industry, and he held roles in product management and business development at About.com, a former New York Times Company property. Mr. Perpich received a B.A. in economics from Duke University and an M.B.A. from Harvard University.

The company also announced that Paul Smurl, who has been a central player in the growth of The Times’s digital business, is leaving to become COO and President of Some Spider LLC, a startup just launched by Diapers.com co-founder Vinit Bharara.

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Second blogger murdered in Bangladesh

Yahoo News | The Associated Press | BBC News | The Guardian

Within hours of Associated Press Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt’s call for an international effort to stop the killing of journalists, a blogger was murdered in the streets of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

According to Yahoo News writer Shafiqul Alam, three men set upon blogger Washiqur Rahman and hacked him to death with knives on Monday. Police reportedly have two men, both of whom are students at nearby madrassas, in custody; both men were armed with meat cleavers, according to BBC News. A third man escaped the scene of the crime.

Rahman was not a full-time blogger or professional journalist, but rather worked as IT manager at a travel agency, according to The Guardian. He did not use his blog to focus on Islam, but he often used a separate Facebook page to post stories by other writers that were critical of Islamic fundamentalism.

This is the second murder of a secular blogger in Bangladesh over the last two months. In February, Avijit Roy, an American blogger whose family came from Bangladesh and who was a prominent atheist writer and supporter of an independent press, was also hacked to death in Dhaka. Police described the main suspect in Roy’s murder as a “fundamentalist blogger.” According to the Committee to Project Journalists, Roy became the 15th journalist murdered in Bangladesh since 1992.

Imran Sarker, the leader of a Bangladeshi network of bloggers, claimed that the assailants were encouraged to kill Rahman because “we have a culture of impunity here.” This remark echoed Pruitt’s speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, in which he declared, “The single most treacherous threat to journalists is killing with impunity.” Read more

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NPR Headquarters

Inside NPR’s podcasting strategy

NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.


In January, months after “Serial” rocketed to the top of the iTunes podcasting charts and ignited a conversation about the “Golden Age of Audio,” NPR was preparing to answer with a hit of its own.

The show had spent more than a year in development. For its launch, staffers used every bit of experience they’d gained about how to engineer a popular program: They cross-promoted previews of the show on podcasting staples like “This American Life” and “Radiolab,” coordinated a media campaign, even set aside a modest sum — about $1,500 — to buy Facebook ads promoting the show.

It paid off.

Since “Invisibilia” launched on Jan. 6, its episodes have been downloaded more than 33 million times, briefly eclipsing “Serial” on the iTunes charts. When NPR staffers saw the attention the show was getting from cross-promotion and other media mentions, they cancelled the ad campaign after spending about $400.

“It’s just been a huge force of nature and it’s been a tremendous validator for us of all these things we’ve learned,” said Eric Nuzum, vice president of programming at NPR.

The program’s popularity comes at a heady time for podcasters, when listeners, advertisers and technology have converged to create fertile ground for the medium to grow. Before and after “Serial” saw runaway success, two podcasting networks launched, Slate’s Panoply and Gimlet Media, the latter a project of former “This American Life” producer Alex Blumberg. Since then, BuzzFeed, The Associated Press and many others have gotten on board.

But for NPR, which has been in the podcasting game since 2005, the sudden attention was another indicator that its offerings had been gaining steam with listeners and advertisers for some time. The public radio network doubled its podcasting revenue in 2014, and is on track to double it again in 2015, said Bryan Moffett, interim president and CEO of National Public Media. The network has also seen monthly downloads for its podcast portfolio take off in recent years, increasing from 37.5 million in October 2013 to more than 90 million in March 2015, Nuzum said.

The key to this audience growth? A lot of pruning. Listeners who checked NPR’s podcast directory in October 2013 would have found a disorganized list of more than 100 different offerings there, Nuzum said. Even as the audience for the podcasts grew, there was no one in charge of the shows and little in the way of strategic direction.

“It was really hard to find things you were actually there to look for,” he said.

So, the network gradually trimmed its portfolio of podcasts down to 30, cutting out shows that didn’t fit in with a series of new guidelines. Podcasts that consisted primarily of excerpts from other shows were out. They ditched a lot of shows featuring roundups of stories about movies, or science, or international news. With a few exceptions, anything that wasn’t a “full experience” — a standalone podcast that didn’t need to borrow from other NPR offerings — was cut.

The next step was to bring a wider audience to this leaner list of shows. The network’s directory, which remains one of the top Google search results for “podcasts,” used to be a bad experience for listeners, who initially had to scroll through page after page to find what they were looking for, Nuzum said. The revised directory displays the slimmed-down list of podcasts prominently, with a simple category search replacing a “mix your own podcast” function on the old podcast landing page.

The other audience-building strategy that NPR learned is one that was used to great effect in the case of “Serial” and “Invisibilia.” Cross-promotion, the engineering of the so-called “Ira Glass bump,” has brought the network “millions and millions” of additional downloads, Nuzum said. “Invisibilia” is the most telling case. But there are other success stories, too. For several months, NPR had “Pop Culture Happy Hour,” “Ask Me Another,” “How to Do Everything,” “Snap Judgement,” and “Intelligence Squared” take turns having their respective hosts telling listeners to go check out the other podcasts, one at a time. The result? In all but one case, the podcasts saw a spike in downloads the week after they were promoted on the other shows.

The network repeated the experiment again, this time with eight or nine podcasts. After that, staffers divided NPR’s podcasts into four or five small groups with shows that relate to one another and instructed the hosts of those shows to promote the other podcasts in the group. Eventually, the plan is to move those groups around and try another round of cross-promotion.

“It’s a great case study in the power of focus,” Nuzum said.

Although advertisers have followed listeners to NPR’s podcasts, the shows won’t eclipse NPR’s larger streams of revenue anytime soon. While podcasting is among the network’s fastest-growing revenue sources, it is still nowhere close to the largest, Moffett said. He was reluctant to break down the dollar amounts specifically, but he did say that podcasting is currently a seven-figure business that the network is trying to grow into the mid-seven figures. Compared with NPR’s total corporate sponsorship revenue, which is a mid-eight figure business, that’s relatively small.

NPR is still interested in stoking advertiser interest, however. In late April, the network will hold a podcasting upfront in conjunction with WNYC and Chicago Public Media featuring the stars from their respective podcasts. The idea, Moffett says, is to pitch the larger advertising and marketing community on different podcasting offerings from public media outlets.

“When you look at the iTunes year recap for 2014 in podcasting, six of the top 10 most downloaded podcasts were from the three of us,” Moffett said. “I think that we at least feel that public radio, and particularly those three entities, have been a driving factor in podcasts for a very long time.” Read more

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AP CEO says murdering journalists should be a war crime

Good morning. Here are 11 media stories.

  1. Protecting the free press

    Associated Press Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt called for an international legal standard of punishment for people who kill and kidnap journalists Monday during a speech at Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club. "The single most treacherous threat to journalists is killing with impunity. Impunity for those who kill journalists only empowers them." (AP) | "Last year was a particularly deadly year for the AP — four of the news cooperative's journalists were killed on assignment." (AP) | Related: The man who fatally shot AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus in Afghanistan was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week. AP correspondent Kathy Gannon, who was injured in the shooting, reaffirmed her resolution to go back to Afghanistan. "I will return for both of us." (AP)

  2. The next most trusted name in fake news

    Comedy Central has named a successor for longtime "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart: Trevor Noah, who joined the show in December. Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless discussed the selection process. "You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart – there is no next Jon Stewart. So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different." (The New York Times)

  3. Is the leaked Germanwings transcript fair game?

    A transcript from a recorder aboard Germanwings Flight 9525 leaked to the German newspaper Bild last week details the final moments of the plane, which went down in the French Alps on Tuesday. (CNN) | On Sunday's edition of "Reliable Sources," CNN business and aviation correspondent Richard Quest said the transcript didn't need to be leaked. "Now, there is a difference between leaking the core fact and leaking the individual document which has the detail, details that frankly the families don't need to know yet and we don't need to know." (CNN) | The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations condemned the leak. "It is vital for the investigating body to ensure all information under their control is properly handled until the completion of the investigation." (Business Wire)

  4. Apple CEO takes First Amendment stand

    In an opinion piece for The Washington Post Sunday, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke out against recent legislation that would allow business owners to refuse service to customers on the basis of their religious beliefs. "These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear." (The Washington Post) | "Supporters of the Indiana law say it prevents the government from compelling people to provide services such as wedding photography for same-sex weddings or other activities they find objectionable on religious grounds." (ABC News)

  5. Athletes leapfrog traditional reporting

    Richard Sandomir examines The Players' Tribune, a website founded by MLB star Derek Jeter that aims to "give an athlete a platform to say what is on his or her mind, serious or not, without a reporter playing the journalistic middleman." (The New York Times) | On Thursday, the site published a first-person essay from Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, who defended himself from allegations of using performance enhancing drugs. "In some people’s minds, I will always be considered a cheater. And that’s bullshit." (The Players' Tribune) | Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy responded, suggesting Ortiz may have been unwise to discuss steroid use. "Jeter failed you on this one. A good editor would have discouraged this theme." (The Boston Globe)

  6. Last week in AP Style

    There was a flurry of stories toward the end of last week that tackled one of the most pressing issues for Poynter readers: the annual revision of the AP Stylebook. Here are some highlights: You can call your sandwich a BLT on first reference. (Poynter) | The stylebook will have an updated entry on suicide that discourages going into details. (Poynter) | AP is still considering making a ruling on the term "Redskins." (Poynter) | Deadspin weighed in on the new sports style guidelines. "Getting rid of 'dingers' is a bad move. 'Dingers' is an excellent word for home runs. 'Jacks' is OK. 'Taters' is the best." (Deadspin) | Kevin Draper also laid out an incomplete styleguide for the site. (Deadspin)

  7. Blogger sentenced to flogging speaks

    Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger given 1,000 lashes for criticizing the country's clerics, called the punishment "cruel" in a letter from prison. "Badawi, 31, recalled that he was 'surrounded by a cheering crowd who cried incessantly ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest)' during the whipping, according to a pre-released article from Der Spiegel’s edition to be published on Saturday." (The Guardian) | The punishment has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders. (Reporters Without Borders)

  8. John Burns retires

    Several journalists reflected on the career of New York Times correspondent John Burns, who retired last week. "For 40 years at The Times, John Burns reported from bases in Johannesburg, Moscow, China, Bosnia, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and London — not to mention the countless other datelines he accumulated in the more than 3,000 stories he wrote." (The New York Times) | Burns will contribute to the international and sports desks. (The New York Times) | "Few contemporary foreign correspondents have worked in as many conflict zones as Burns. And fewer have his gift for telling vivid tales of ordinary lives interrupted by war." (The Atlantic) | "Two bits of journalism advice I got from John Burns: 1) Show up wherever the story is. 2) Pencils are more reliable than pens." (‏@ravisomaiya) | He now has his own about page. (The New York Times) | Burns' final story before his retirement. (The New York Times)

  9. 'A little bit of flirting' in 'Serial'

    At a Boston University conference Sunday, "Serial" host Sarah Koenig discussed her interactions with Adnan Syed, whose homicide case provided the focal point for the hit podcast. "'Sometimes, as uncomfortable as it is to admit it, there’s a little bit of flirting going on,' Koenig said, of listening back on her reporting. 'I’m a little cringe-y looking back. I’m laughing too much. It sounds like we’re friends.'" (The Boston Globe)

  10. Front page of the day, selected by Kristen Hare

    The Spokesman-Review goes big with the loss of hometown favorite Gonzaga University to the Duke University Blue Devils. (Courtesy the Newseum)
    WA_SR

     

  11. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

    Marc Weiner has been named news director at FIOS1 News in New York. Previously, he was an executive producer for Al Jazeera America. (Rick Gevers) | Gregg Birnbaum will be a senior news editor at CNN Money. He is managing editor and head of political content at the New York Daily News. (Capital New York) | Tanzina Vega will be a digital correspondent at CNN Politics. She is a reporter at The New York Times. (Poynter) | Nikki-Dee Ray has joined the weather team at WTVR. Previously, she was chief meteorologist at KLBK. (TV Spy) | Job of the day: The Boston Globe is looking for a digital reporter. Get your résumés in! (Indeed.com) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Corrections? Tips? Please email Kristen Hare: khare@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here. Read more

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Career Beat: Gregg Birnbaum named senior news editor at CNN Money

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

  • Marc Weiner has been named news director at FIOS1 News in New York. Previously, he was an executive producer for Al Jazeera America. (Rick Gevers)
  • Gregg Birnbaum will be a senior news editor at CNN Money. He is managing editor and head of political content at the New York Daily News. (Capital New York)
  • Tanzina Vega will be a digital correspondent at CNN Politics. She is a reporter at The New York Times. (Poynter)
  • Nikki-Dee Ray has joined the weather team at WTVR. Previously, she was chief meteorologist at KLBK. (TV Spy)

Job of the day: The Boston Globe is looking for a digital reporter. Get your résumés in! (Indeed.com)

Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org Read more

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Today in Media History: Coverage of the 1981 assassination attempt against President Reagan

On March 30, 1981, the news media reported on the assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan.

The gunman, John W. Hinckley, attacked Reagan as the president walked to his car after addressing a group at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Page one from the California afternoon newspaper, the Santa Cuz Sentinel:

Image-SCS-Reagan

Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post story by Lou Cannon:

“….He was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel through a VIP side door onto T Street. His armored limousine stood waiting for him in a driveway about 12 feet away. Secret Service agents were all around him. It was 2:25 p.m. on a typically rainy spring day, and Reagan, dressed in a blue suit with a white handkerchief in his pocket, seemed happy to be president.

Outside the hotel more than 100 persons had gathered. Reagan, as he always does, paused and waved to the crowd. The crowd cheered. Nearby, the president’s press secretary, James S. Brady, walked toward a staff car, not looking at the president. To Reagan’s left, slightly more than 10 feet away in a roped-off area, members of the crowd mixed with reporters and television cameramen who were photographing the president departure.

Michael Putzel of Associated Press, ready with the inevitable question, called out, ‘Mr. President.’

Abruptly, the scene changed. Shots rang out, six of them in quick succession, with a slight pause between the second shot and the third. The shots appeared to come from the roped-off press area to the left of and below the president. To those close to the rope restraining the press, the shots sounded like firecrackers. A woman screamed. A Secret Service agent yelled, ‘Get back, get back.’ Other agents jumped on a blond man who was facing the president and holding a handgun….”

A few years ago, Bob Schieffer, CBS News’ Chief Washington Correspondent and moderator of Face the Nation, looked back at that day:

In 2014, Louise Schiavone, who worked for AP Radio Network in 1981, prepared a story for NPR called: “Remembering The Day James Brady Was Shot.” Here is an excerpt:

“….At the hospital, an auditorium had been set up for reporters. It was filling rapidly.

No one had the technology we take for granted today — no cellphones, email, Twitter, nothing! Journalists filed from a bank of pay phone booths at the back of the auditorium. We all just had to wait our turn.

And it seemed, by the availability of at least one phone at any given time, reporters were waiting for information they could trust before they filed additional material.

Every so often, a doctor would go to the podium and brief the dozens of reporters who had gathered.

Every briefing began with the questions: Is President Reagan still alive? Is Jim Brady still alive?

Yes, to both….”

On the evening of March 30, 1981, John Chancellor introduced this special report from NBC News:

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Friday, Mar. 27, 2015

little

Caroline Little is stepping down as CEO and President of Newspaper Association of America

littleCaroline LIttle will be leaving her job as president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America at the end of August, NAA announced this afternoon.

She will have been head of the industry trade association for just over four years when she departs.

Little is a lawyer and served as publisher/CEO of Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive and then as CEO of the Guardian’s North America operations before joining NAA in 2011. Her background as a digital executive figured in her being hired to succeed John Sturm who served 16 years and was a lawyer and experienced lobbyist.

I reached Little by phone, and asked what she expects to do next. “I don’t really have any future plans right now,” she replied, except moving to Sante Fe, “where I have a husband, a child and a dog — in that order.”

As industry’s revenues have fallen, NAA has sharply downsized.  Sturm was at one time paid north of $1 million and the association had more than 100 employees.  It’s current staff directory lists only 13 professionals (with five more being added), and Little confirmed one of her tasks was to outsource functions to save money.

During Little’s tenure the American Press Institute was merged with NAA’s own community foundation. Both had substantial endowments but outdated missions.  API, with a separate board, hired Tom Rosenstiel as its executive director, and he has changed API from a training organization to a research and think tank mission.

At the end of Sturm’s term and beginning of Little’s, NAA also collapsed three annual conferences to one, now called mediaXchange, whose most recent edition was held in Nashville earlier this month, and typically draws more than 1,000 attendees. (Disclosure:  I have worked on the last two conference programs as a paid consultant).

Little has been at times criticized  – for instance by David Boardman, Temple journalism school dean and former Poynter National Advisory Board chairman — for painting an overly rosy picture of the industry.

On balance, I think it’s a bad rap  – part of a trade association head’s job is to identify the positives and deflect excessive pessimism.

Little told a Harvard-based oral history project in 2013 that she and the NAA board stopped reporting quarterly revenue figures, as I had suspected, to avoid being beaten up so often by negative news.  Annual industry results are due in several weeks and will almost certainly show another loss in total revenues as big print advertising declines persist.

When I asked how the industry had evolved during her time, Little said, “as the revenue mix has changed, people are much more willing to experiment  – there is a lot more transformation than before.”

And will newspapers still be around in another four years?  “No doubt…The mix of circulation (shifting to digital) will continue to change.  But the core of what newspapers do is not going away.” Read more

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The New York Times linked John Bolton’s op-ed to a story making the opposite case

The Intercept

Yesterday, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton published an op-ed in the pages of The New York Times, arguing that the United States has no choice but to bomb Iran. “Only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor … can accomplish what is required,” Bolton wrote.

But The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz noticed something odd about that sentence in the paper’s online edition. The reference to Israel’s attack on the Osirak reactor contained a link to a Washington Post op-ed that argued that far from crippling Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, Israel’s attack actually compelled Saddam Hussein to employ 7,000 scientists and spend $10 billion in pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

This is not exactly the sort of supporting link that Bolton might have hoped for. And when Schwarz called Times op-ed deputy editor Sewell Chan, he learned that an editor had inserted the link by mistake, and that Chan would see to it that the Osirak reference would link to a straight news story covering the bombing.

Now, when you click on that link in the Bolton piece, you are directed to the New York Times story that reported the incident — along with a denunciation of the attack by the Reagan administration, under which John Bolton served as an assistant attorney general.

The New York Times did not issue a correction indicating that editors had changed the link. Read more

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ACES: AP’s guidance on suicide terms shows sensitivity

ACES

On Friday at the American Copy Editors Society conference, The Associated Press revealed some of the upcoming changes to the 2015 AP Stylebook, and among them is updated guidance on suicide terms.

From our earlier story with the AP’s David Minthorn:

With stories about suicide, the AP now recommends not going into details.

“The guidance also says that we avoid using the term committed suicide except in direct quotations from authorities.”

Instead used “killed himself, took her own life or died by suicide.”

“Committed in that context suggests possibly an illegal act, but in fact, laws against suicide have been repealed in the U.S., at least in certain states, and many other places,” Minthorn said, “so we’re going to avoid using that term on our own, although it’s a term that authorities widely use and we will use it while quoting authorities.”

After those changes and others were shared at the ACES conference, ACES sent out a press release in support of the AP’s guidance on suicide terms. From that release:

For many years, the changes to the Stylebook that have caused the biggest waves have to do with long-time grammar rules being changed, but ACES is supportive of the direction the group went with sensitivity because of the direction journalism, writing and social media are moving.

“While we, as copy editors, might get more riled up about state abbreviations or making website one word, these types of changes aren’t likely to change lives,” (ACES President Teresa) Schmedding said. “But how we handle suicide and style issues on that level, will. Today’s story on the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane crash is a prime example of the need for consistency and responsible coverage when editors need to make style decisions on information of this kind quickly.”

Related – NPR editor: be careful using ‘suicide’ in Germanwings case Read more

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Ex-News of the World reporter’s conviction overturned

The Guardian | BBC News

Yesterday, the United Kingdom’s Court of Appeal threw out the conviction of a former News of the World reporter accused of paying a public official for information, BBC News reports. The decision is a setback for Operation Elveden, the controversial police investigation into the practice of journalists paying officials for leaks and confidential details about public figures.

According to BBC News, the journalist, whose name cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, was convicted in November 2014 of supplying money to an unnamed prison official in return for information. The journalist was given a six-month suspended sentence. The prison official who allegedly accepted the money has also had his conviction and 42-month sentence overturned.

The Guardian reports that the Court of Appeal ruled that Justice William Davis did not give sufficiently clear instructions to the jury. In order to convict the defendants, the jury must find that the misconduct must be so serious “as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust.” But according to the Court of Appeal, Davis did not sufficiently stress how serious this misconduct must be in order to justify a conviction.

Operation Elveden is an investigation into allegations that tabloid journalists have systematically paid public officials for private information about public figures or victims of sensational crimes. According to The Guardian, the Crown Prosecution Service has brought 24 reporters to trial as part of the investigation. Of the 24 reporters, one has been convicted, while a second reporter has pled guilty. The remaining 22 have either been acquitted or are awaiting retrials after juries could not reach a decision. Read more

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AP hasn’t decided what to do about ‘Redskins’ yet

The Associated Press is mulling over usage of the term “Redskins” as it relates to the Washington, D.C. football team, but has not decided whether to make a ruling on the controversial word yet.

The topic is of interest to the AP Stylebook committee, which meets weekly between October and March, said AP Stylebook co-editor David Minthorn. The word’s usage is an “active topic” that the stylebook might make a ruling on.

Minthorn fielded the question at the annual American Copy Editors Society gathering in Pittsburgh, where he and Associated Press assistant business editor Philana Patterson were previewing changes to the 2015 edition of the AP Stylebook, which determines the lingua franca for English-language journalists around the world.

A couple of journalists in the audience at Minthorn and Patterson’s session tweeted out news of the AP’s possible ruling on the term:

Several news outlets and journalists (at least 20) have struck the word from their copy amid concerns that it’s offensive to Native Americans. The list includes several prominent D.C.-area news organizations, including Washington City Paper, DCist, The New Republic, Capital News Service and The Washington Post’s editorial board.

The word has also been the subject of a protracted battle between administrators at Neshaminy High School and student journalists there, who voted not to use the term in any of their content.

The word still appears in Associated Press stories. A 2014 poll conducted for ESPN showed that 71 percent of Americans believed the name was acceptable, down 8 percent from a similar poll conducted the previous year. Read more

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Forbes writer on moving newsroom to New Jersey: Food courts can really make you think

Forbes

Last December, Forbes Media left Manhattan and moved its newsroom to Jersey City, taking advantage of a $27 million tax grant in return for bringing at least 350 jobs to New Jersey. And Chief Product Officer Lewis DVorkin is doing his best to adjust.

In a piece slated to run in the magazine’s April 13 issue, DVorkin says, “We love gazing at the Manhattan skyline — and who we’ve become.” From across the Hudson, he writes, the city’s view changes with each change in the weather, while the new, less cramped newsroom lets Forbes staffers collaborate in all the ways that are remaking journalism from top to bottom.

Everyone’s connected by a central staircase, with common areas for people to gather on their way up or down. We inhabit enclaves of desks, sofas, living room tables and “huddle rooms.”

Even the second-rate food has a way of keeping DVorkin connected with the hoi polloi that, he suspects, might read Forbes more often than you suspect.

New York cuisine has been replaced with, well, something less. We now have a grab ‘n’ scan vending service to supplement the Jif peanut butter and organic milled flaxseeds brought from home.

Oh, yes. Our New Jersey office is next to a mall — anchor stores, food court and all. I consider it a good reminder that our audience includes the 99.9999% of us who aren’t billionaires.

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NPR editor: be careful using ‘suicide’ in Germanwings case

NPR

Mark Memmott, standards and practices editor at NPR, gave journalists there two reasons to be cautious of the word “suicide” to describe the death of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight who may have purposefully forced the plane down:

— His motivation and state of mind aren’t known (and may never be).

– The investigation into what happened is still in the early stages.

Memmott also writes that the word “suicide” may not be adequate given that Lubitz might have deliberately crashed the plane. He also addressed the use of other formulations that incorporate “suicide,” including “suicide bomber” and “committed suicide.” In both cases, better alternatives exist, he says.

The AP Stylebook on Friday previewed a new entry for its forthcoming 2015 edition, recommending journalists should avoid using “committed suicide,” preferring instead “killed himself, took her own life or died by suicide.”

Committed, the new entry notes, “suggests possibly an illegal act” that is inconsistent with laws in certain U.S. states. Read more

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