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Tech press runs like a predictable clock, says Silicon Valley flak

Backchannel

Aaron Zamost, the head of communications at Square, has articulated an interesting theory about the forces that govern the tech press. Basically, it boils down to this: Coverage of all tech companies follows a pre-existing narrative arc that waxes and wanes with the fortunes of the businesses.

Here’s how he puts it:

A company’s narrative moves like a clock: it starts at midnight, ticking off the hours. The tone and sentiment about how a business is doing move from positive (sunrise, midday) to negative (dusk, darkness). And often the story returns to midnight, rebirth and a new day.

By way of example, he cites media coverage from a variety of different organizations, from Meerkat to Facebook to Uber. If the company’s any good, the tech press begins to heap attention onto the industry’s latest “shiny new toy,” (think Reserve) but that praise eventually curdles as the company gains traction. Read more

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Iowa student journalists wanted to raise $500 for an independent publication. Now, they’re up to $5,000.

Student Press Law Center

After filing a lawsuit against their school, student journalists at Muscatine Community College in Muscatine, Iowa, have raised $5,171 as of Tuesday in a GoFundMe campaign to create an independent publication. Trisha LeBoeuf wrote about the new publication for Student Press Law Center.

LeBoeuf reports that several of the stories from the school’s newspaper, The Calumet, caused a big pushback from school faculty and administrators. That led to the lawsuit and the new publication, The Spotlight.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal district court on May 5, 12 current and former members of the Calumet allege that the college’s response to these articles included removing the faculty adviser, Jim Compton, and replacing him with a part-time adjunct, modifying the fall 2015 schedule to marginalize the journalism program, and reducing funding for the program.

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Buyouts hit the Dallas Morning News

D Magazine

The Dallas Morning News will grant buyouts to about 30 newsroom employees as part of an effort to create a more digital newsroom, according to a staff memo from editor Mike Wilson obtained by D Magazine:

In the weeks and months after this buyout, we will add positions back to the newsroom, with a focus on hiring outstanding digital journalists. Adding new digital skills will make us more competitive in a fast-changing journalism marketplace now and in the future.

Wilson joined the Dallas Morning News early this year from ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight. In an interview with Keranews, Wilson said the newspaper needed to jettison “old notions of what our readers need”:

I think what we need to throw out are some old notions of what our readers need.

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Reddit executive weathers user revolt

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Embattled CEO apologizes…again

    The popular online message board Reddit has convulsed with controversy in recent days, leading chief executive Ellen Pao to issue two apologies addressing the dismissal of a well-liked administrator on the site. "Large sections of the site were temporarily taken offline by users last week. The action was a protest by users after they discovered last Thursday that Victoria Taylor, a well-liked and publicly visible Reddit employee, was dismissed with no warning to the community at large." (The New York Times)

  2. CNN scores Hillary Clinton interview

    Hillary Clinton's plan to thaw relations with the press will officially begin today when she appears on CNN for the first nationally televised interview of her campaign. The interview with senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar will air at 5 p.m.

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cyberporn-cover-100

‘Cyberporn’ scare of 1995 demonstates the early Web’s corrective power

This article was republished with permission from the 1995 blog.

The demotion last month of Brian Williams, the former NBC News lead anchor, was testimony, at least in part, to the power of social media to expose and debunk.

The New York Times made that point last week, saying the storm over Williams’ falsehoods — among other tall tales, he was accused of lying about his presence on an Army helicopter in 2003 that took fire in Iraq — “began with … Facebook comments, was amplified by Twitter and reached a crescendo as amateur sleuths took to YouTube to fact-check Mr. Williams’ reporting.”

Such unmaskings, the Times suggested, were far more difficult “before the Internet became ubiquitous.”

Well, maybe.

But memorable unmaskings there were in the mid-1990s, the time of the early Web, when just a fraction of the American adult population was online. Read more

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Monday, July 06, 2015

Pension agency puts liens on property owned by Tampa Bay Times parent company

Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Times announced Monday that a federal pension agency has placed multi-million dollar liens on property owned by Times Publishing Company, the parent company of that newspaper. The liens also affect property owned by Poynter, which owns the Times Publishing Company.

The liens, which amount to more than $30 million, were placed on the organizations by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, a federal agency created to ensure the viability of benefit plans, reports Times senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin. Collectively, they constitute “the difference between the pension plan’s current assets and the calculation of all future benefits,” she writes.

Jana Jones, the vice president and CFO of Times Publishing Company, is quoted by Martin as saying the liens figure into the company’s strategy to defer contributions to its pension plans:

As we have previously acknowledged, the Times received approval to delay some of its contributions to the pension plan during the economic recession and recovery,” said Jana Jones, vice president and CFO of Times Publishing, which publishes the Tampa Bay Times.

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Eric Zuckerman named news partnerships manager at Twitter

Eric Zuckerman, formerly director of video and broadcast sites at NBC News, has joined Twitter as the social media service’s partnerships manager for broadcast news, he announced Monday.

At Twitter, Zuckerman joins Niketa Patel, who was recently hired from Women in the World to manage news partnerships for the social media organization. Together, they fill a void left by Mark Luckie, who left his job as manager of journalism and news at Twitter in May.

Both hires come as Twitter is raising its editorial ambitions. In June, the social media service previewed Project Lightning, a tool that will showcase curated news feeds in real-time. Those feeds will be culled by a team of individuals with “newsroom experience,” according to BuzzFeed. Read more

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Want to get clicks? Write about Hillary Clinton as if she’s ‘the purest form of evil’

Vox

Here’s why one reason why Hillary Clinton might have ducked questions from the press until recently: Clinton chroniclers are tough, unforgiving and they don’t let admittedly outlandish stories die.

In a listicle for the explainer site Vox, Clinton scribe Jonathan Allen explained that the press’ default posture toward the former Secretary of State is one of suspicion and intense scrutiny, where nearly every nugget of news is worthy of a story.

Among the rules governing Clinton coverage, per Allen: Every allegation is believable until proven untrue, every ludicrous story merits further reporting and Clinton is perceived as acting in bad faith until she demonstrates otherwise. From the article:

As an author, I felt that I owed it to myself and the reader to report, investigate, and write with the same mix of curiosity, skepticism, rigor, and compassion that I would use with any other subject.

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The Verge temporarily cans comments for ‘a super chill summer’

The Verge

Add another outlet to the list of media organizations fed up with commenters.

Citing a desire to curb the onset of troll-y messages from Verge readers, Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel said Monday that the technology and culture site will “call timeout for a while” and turn comments off by default over the next few weeks:

And sometimes it gets too intense. What we’ve found lately is that the tone of our comments (and some of our commenters) is getting a little too aggressive and negative — a change that feels like it started with GamerGate and has steadily gotten worse ever since. It’s hard for us to do our best work in that environment, and it’s even harder for our staff to hang out with our audience and build the relationships that led to us having a great community in the first place.

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Los Angeles Times has added a reporter to cover Black Twitter

Los Angeles Times Managing Editor S. Mitra Kalita announced in a memo to staff on Monday that the Times has added a reporter to cover Black Twitter.

Dexter Thomas joins us today to cover Black Twitter (which really is so much more complicated than that). He will work closely with the newsroom and #EmergingUS to find communities online (Black Medium to Latino Tumblr to Line in Japan) and both create stories with and pull stories from those worlds. Dexter is from San Bernardino and is a doctoral candidate in East Asian studies at Cornell University. He has taught media studies and Japanese and is writing a book about Japanese hip-hop. He began working in digital media at UC Riverside as a student director of programming at KUCR-FM (88.3), independently producing podcasts, music and news programs.

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Hulk Hogan sex tape case against Gawker Media put off for several months

A multi-million dollar legal rumble between Gawker Media and former professional wrestling star Hulk Hogan — real name Terry Bollea — has likely been delayed through the summer after a superior court granted the media company a last-minute stay.

The Sixth Judicial Court of Florida announced Monday that representatives for Hogan and Gawker Media will meet on Oct. 20 to determine the next steps in a legal battle that has been raging now for several years.

The hearing comes after an eleventh-hour reprieve granted late last week by a Florida appellate court, which ruled that a lower court overlooked rules governing the scheduling of trials. The contest, which would have kicked off today, will now likely wait until months after the proposed October court date. Read more

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In this May 16, 2015, photo, former slave fisherman Myint Naing, left, is embraced by his mother Khin Than, second left, as his sister Mawli Than, right, is overcome with emotion after they were reunited after 22 years in their village in Mon State, Myanmar. Myint, 40, is among hundreds of former slave fishermen who returned to Myanmar following an Associated Press investigation into the use of forced labor in Southeast Asia’s seafood industry. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

AP editor: ‘It’s not every day that we help get hundreds of slaves freed.’

In this May 16, 2015, photo, former slave fisherman Myint Naing, left, is embraced by his mother Khin Than, second left, as his sister Mawli Than, right, is overcome with emotion after they were reunited after 22 years in their village in Mon State, Myanmar. Myint, 40, is among hundreds of former slave fishermen who returned to Myanmar following an Associated Press investigation into the use of forced labor in Southeast Asia’s seafood industry. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

In this May 16, 2015, photo, former slave fisherman Myint Naing, left, is embraced by his mother Khin Than, second left, as his sister Mawli Than, right, is overcome with emotion after they were reunited after 22 years in their village in Mon State, Myanmar. Myint, 40, is among hundreds of former slave fishermen who returned to Myanmar following an Associated Press investigation into the use of forced labor in Southeast Asia’s seafood industry. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Last week, Associated Press reporter Margie Mason told the next chapter in a dramatic story the AP started telling in March. Mason wrote about a Burmese man who had once been enslaved on a fishing ship in Indonesia.

One day in April, a friend came to him with news: An AP report linking slavery in the seafood industry to some of the biggest American grocery stores and pet food companies had spurred the Indonesian government to start rescuing current and former slaves on the islands.

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Washington Post reporter’s fate still in the dark

Winston Churchill said that Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

The Tehran “espionage” trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian is now something of the sort.

It’s nearly a month since the most recent, closed court proceeding in his trial. That’s all anybody knows. So goes Iran’s Revolutionary Court. Silence and ambiguity prevail.

Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron and New York-based Iranian expert Hooman Majd both said Monday that they have no news on Rezaian.

Majd is in Vienna monitoring the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s disputed nuclear program. Several deadlines have come and gone in those closely-watched talks, which are now expected to reach some conclusion later this week as Secretary of State John Kerry leads the U.S. bargaining team. Read more

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Hillary Clinton will grant national media interviews

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. ‘America will see more of her’

    Months into her campaign for the presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has decided to adopt a more open posture toward the media and will grant national television interviews soon, Howard Kurtz reports. Clinton has ducked the press for much of her nascent campaign — as of mid-May, she had only taken nine questions from reporters since she declared her candidacy. So why the change? By granting more interviews, Clinton hopes to diminish the relative importance of each interview she gives, making her less open to "gotcha" questions from the press, says campaign spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri. "'The more media interviews you do, the less any one interaction matters,' Palmieri says." (Fox News) | Not everyone is buying this logic.

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Career Beat: Jessica Davies named Digiday’s UK editor

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

  • Jessica Davies will be UK editor at Digiday. Previously, she was news editor at The Drum. (Digiday)
  • Charles Apple is now deputy design director for the Houston Chronicle. Previously, he was managing editor for visuals of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate. (@charlesapple)
  • Maria Rozman is now news director for WZDC in Washington, D.C. Previously, she was working for CNN en Espanol. (Rick Gevers)

Job of the day: Bloomberg is looking for a senior editor. Get your résumés in! (Bloomberg)

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

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