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Dean Baquet still unsure about future of national race beat

New York Times

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet hasn’t yet decided what will become of The New York Times’ national race beat now that Tanzina Vega has been reassigned to cover the Bronx courthouse, public editor Margaret Sullivan reported Thursday:

At this point, he said, “I haven’t decided what to do about the beat, but I know that it has to be covered paper-wide.

Baquet told Sullivan that although the future of Vega’s beat is uncertain, The New York Times will provide “paper-wide” coverage of race. Deputy Executive Editor Susan Chira told Sullivan that because issues of race are of critical importance, covering them shouldn’t be confined “to one reporter or beat.”

Sullivan also called the timing of Vega’s reassignment “odd” in light of the recent news surrounding the death of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice. Read more


Al Jazeera English news director tells employees to continue leaking memos

Al Jazeera English has a plan to deal with the recent leaks that have aired the organization’s preferences regarding style and usage: invite its employees to keep leaking.

Salah Negm, director of news at Al Jazeera English, sent a memo to employees Thursday with the subject line “TO BE LEAKED.” In it, Negm thanks the employee or employees who have leaked memos about the news organization’s attitude toward events such as the Charlie Hebdo shooting and decisions not to use the words “terrorist” and “Islamist”:

Whoever forwarded these emails on to their friends, I personally thank you for offering a huge service to our channel. I have always been in favour of being transparent and open we have nothing to hide.

In the future we will put all our style guide and editorial guidelines online for public consumption, because there is nothing that we hide and nothing that we are afraid of.

Read more

Indiana governor cancels controversial news site

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has told the Indiana press corps that he plans to cancel “Just IN,” a proposed state-run news source that some feared would be used as an end-around the press.

Maureen Hayden, Indiana statehouse bureau chief for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., tweeted that Pence ordered the website shut down.

News of the proposed site, which was reported by The Indianapolis Star earlier this week, sparked controversy among journalism organizations including the Society of Professional Journalists, which said it would be following the development of the proposed site.

In place of the site, Pence will “update the current public calendar website” run by the state of Indiana, Tim Swarens reports for the Indianapolis Star. Read more


HuffPost’s Ferguson Fellow is working out of the St. Louis American



Before last week, Mariah Stewart didn’t have much of a commute.

Stewart, the crowdfunded scribe who was catapulted to national prominence when she became The Huffington Post’s Ferguson Fellow, would work from anywhere with Internet access: her home, the local library, a café. But starting last week, Stewart became a part of the newsroom at the St. Louis American, St. Louis’ historically black newspaper.

There, she has an office and will receive assignments, instruction and guidance from editors. The new digs are a welcome change for Stewart, who says she missed the chit-chat and camaraderie that permeates newsrooms every day.

“I have a lot more help now,” she said.

Now, Stewart’s commute consists of a 35-minute drive from her residence in Florissant to St. Louis, where the American’s offices are. She works there during the day and arrives home around the same time her 6-year-old daughter gets back from school. Read more


Robot-writing increased AP’s earnings stories by tenfold

Since The Associated Press adopted automation technology to write its earnings reports, the news cooperative has generated 3,000 stories per quarter, ten times its previous output, according to a press release from Automated Insights, the company behind the automation. Those stories also contained “far fewer errors” than stories written by actual journalists.

The Associated Press began publishing earnings reports using automation technology in July for companies including Hasbro Inc., Honeywell International Inc. and GE. Appended to those stories is a note that reads “This story was generated automatically by Automated Insights ( using data from Zacks Investment Research. Full GE report:”

The stories include descriptions of each business and contain “forward-looking guidance provided by the companies,” according to the release.

AP managing editor Lou Ferrara told Automated Insights that the news cooperative’s customers are happy to be receiving more stories, and that automation has freed up reporters to work on more difficult stories, according to the release. Read more


NPR is launching a new innovation lab

NPR is hiring for a new initiative called Storytelling Lab, a sort of skunkworks to test out ideas for creative audio projects, Chris Turpin, acting senior vice president for news, and Loren Mayor, chief operating officer, announced in a staff memo Wednesday.

Also in the same announcement, John Stefany was named director of strategic projects, in charge of developing and managing “a range of projects across the newsroom.” Stefany, who is currently manager of new content projects, will coordinate with NPR’s digital divisions to improve coordination around the organization’s biggest initiatives.

Stefany will also help develop Storytelling Lab, a forthcoming innovation incubator for experimental content, Turpin told Poynter. The lab, which is currently looking for a senior producer, will be a place for NPR employees to test out ideas for new podcasts, newsmagazine segments or better ways to use the outlet’s digital presence. Employees will pitch their their ideas to a panel, which will determine whether it gets sent to the lab for two weeks of tinkering to develop a proof-of-concept. Read more


What does one do after blogging?

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. A good dish

    ICYMI, Andrew Sullivan is retiring from blogging. He wants to have a real life. (The Dish) | Lots of people blogged about the news, and Twitter was wild with it. "That seems an appropriate send-off for a blogger whose work defined much of what we have come to see as normal in the age of social media." (Mashable) | BuzzFeed's Ben Smith writes, partly, about Sullivan's place and influence in blogging. (BuzzFeed) | Blogging isn't dead. "...a 'blog' is simply a publishing medium. It's a way to put content on the Internet — usually a fast and, relatively, user-friendly way. But, the conflating a publishing medium with a sort of online writing — opinionated, snarky — that tends to be the preferred approach of many of its users is a mistake. (The Washington Post)

  2. The New Republic on itself

    The cover story of the February issue of The New Republic looks at "A Liberal Magazine's Legacy on Race." Politico's Dylan Byers wrote Thursday about what's inside Jeet Heer's piece.

Read more

Career Beat: Clark Gilbert leaves Deseret News

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

  • Clark Gilbert will be president of BYU-Idaho. Previously, he was CEO of Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media. (Poynter)
  • Peter Kendall will be managing editor at the Chicago Tribune. Previously, he was deputy managing editor there. Colin McMahon will be associate editor at the Chicago Tribune. Previously, he was cross media editor there. Joycelyn Winnecke will be president of Tribune Content Agency. Previously, she was associate editor of the Chicago Tribune. (Poynter)
  • Tanzina Vega will be the Bronx courthouse reporter at The New York Times. Previously, she was a race reporter there. (Poynter)
  • John Reiss is now executive producer at “Meet the Press.” Previously, he was acting executive producer there. (Politico)
  • Darcie Conway is now an editor at Previously, she was a content curator at Upworthy. (PR Newswire)
  • Tim O’Connor will be publisher of Shape.
Read more
P-1936 Baseball

Today in Media History: Reporting on the first Baseball Hall of Fame inductees in 1936

On January 29, 1936, the first players were elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The inductees included Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.

The Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun published the following photo illustration and story a few weeks later.

Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun, February 10, 1936

Corsicana (Texas) Daily Sun, February 10, 1936

“Players and sportswriters voting in the poll to select players meriting places in baseball’s hall of fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., could agree on only five men — although scheduled to pick ten — to represent the period from 1900 to the present day.

Top choice was Ty Cobb (foreground), the ‘Georgia Peach,’ who set a staggering assortment of records in his stormy playing career with the Detroit Tigers. He received 222 votes, only four short of unanimous.

The others chosen, left to right, were Babe Ruth and Hans Wagner, who polled 215 votes each; Christy Mathewson, next with 206, and Walter Johnson, fireball king, who qualified with 189.

Read more

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015

Tribune Publishing makes senior leadership changes

Chicago Tribune | Capital New York | Tribune Publishing

Tribune Publishing announced several high-level job moves Wednesday, shaking up the leadership ranks of The Chicago Tribune and Tribune Content Agency.

Joycelyn Winnecke, who was previously associate editor of The Tribune, will become president of Tribune Content Agency, the content syndication business that absorbed McClatchy-Tribune Information Services in May.

The Tribune, which lost managing editor Jane Hirt in November, made a series of appointments to fill out the masthead:

  • Peter Kendall, formerly deputy managing editor at The Tribune, will be managing editor there.
  • Colin McMahon, formerly cross media editor at The Tribune, will be associate editor there.
  • Marcia Lythcott has been named commentary editor at The Tribune.
  • Margaret Holt has joined the masthead to “recognize her role as standards editor for the newspaper,” according to The Tribune.

The elevations of Kendall and McMahon, who will lead The Tribune’s audience development efforts, reflect an industry-wide push to be more proactive on the fronts of social media and digital platforms, Capital New York’s Joe Pompeo writes:

The moves suggest the same digital and audience-development push that many newspapers are embarking on as they grapple with a new generation of online competitors and the flight of readers and advertisers from print platforms to laptops and mobile devices.

Read more

AP corrects: We got the wrong lawmaker

The Associated Press has apologized and issued a correction after misattributing a quote to Hawaii state Sen. Laura Thielen.

Thielen pointed out the error on her Facebook page Monday. She says she was quoted in a story by Associated Press reporter Audrey McAvoy but never gave an interview for the article.

When Thielen called to ask about the quote, the reporter told her she actually spoke to her mother, Hawaii Rep. Cynthia Thielen, according to her Facebook post. Thielen says her mother denies talking to the reporter for the story and says an Associated Press editor “got irritated with me for being upset” and hung up on her in mid-sentence.

A call to Laura Thielen’s office was not returned Wednesday.

The error was the result of miscommunication between reporters, said Paul Colford, director of media relations for The Associated Press. In calling in a quote, which actually came from Hawaii Rep. Read more

1 Comment

Clark Gilbert is leaving Deseret News

(Updated noon, Jan.28, to include comment from Gilbert)

Clark Gilbert, one of the most influential thinkers and practitioners in the digital transformation of newspapers, is leaving his job as CEO of Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media

In April, he will become president of BYU-Idaho, where he had worked for several years before joining Deseret in 2009. He succeeds Kim Clark, also formerly dean of the Harvard Business School, where Gilbert started his career as a professor.

A successor at Deseret was not immediately named.

Gilbert (a close professional friend, I should disclose) was a ready-made story as he took the reins at Deseret. Academic-puts-theory-to-practice was my take after visiting Salt Lake City and interviewing Gilbert as he was starting out.

In the years following, Gilbert made a series of big changes in rapid order:

  • He brought in non-newspaper executives with backgrounds in other digital ventures to manage that side of the company and created a digital ad sales force.
Read more

Al Jazeera memo illustrates the importance of word choice

I’ve spent a lot of time and space over the last decade thinking and writing about political language, propaganda, censorship, and banned and taboo words. Every time the language wars begin heating up (illegal alien vs. undocumented worker), I find myself reverting to a set of first principles:

  1. What is the literal meaning of the questionable word or phrase?
  2. Does that word or phrase have any connotations, that is, associations that are positive or negative?
  3. How does the word correspond to what is actually happening on the ground?
  4. What group (sometimes called a “discourse community”) favors one locution over another, and why?
  5. Is the word or phrase “loaded”?  How far does it steer us from neutral?
  6. Does the word or phrase help me see, or does it prevent me from seeing?

This list of questions is inspired by an internal document leaked from Al Jazeera English and published by the conservative magazine National Review Online, Read more

1 Comment
The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger on the way to the shuttle. Image by Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

Challenger photographer: ‘I knew there was something terribly wrong’

The moment it happened, when the boosters separated from Space Shuttle Challenger, Red Huber knew something was wrong.

Huber, a photographer for the Orlando Sentinel who covered the space program, stood on Astronaut Road in Cape Canaveral, surrounded by out-of-town photographers there to capture images of the first teacher heading into space. At that moment, they oohhhed and ahhhed around him.

“It’s still a very, very vivid image in my mind of that moment,” said Huber, who is still a photographer with the Sentinel. “When I saw the boosters separate and go in different directions, I knew there was something terribly wrong, but they didn’t know that.”

Images or video of the Challenger exploding 29 years ago might be what most of us remember. Huber remembers another moment.

Photographing Challenger’s liftoff was Huber’s first assignment back after taking time off to be with his newborn daughter. The day before, the launch was scrubbed because of the weather. Read more


After 6 months in prison, Jason Rezaian will go on trial ‘soon’ in Iran

The Washington Post | Al Jazeera America | Committee to Protect Journalists

The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian will face trial “soon” in Iran, Brian Murphy reported for the Post. Murphy writes that this news was first reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency, a state-run news outlet in Iran.

“We have yet to hear any accounting of any charges against Jason, who after six months in custody has still not been provided access to a lawyer,” said a statement from Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor. “It is appalling and outrageous that Jason remains behind bars. A fair and just approach by Iran’s judiciary could only result in his immediate release.”

On Jan. 23, Stephen Kinzer wrote for Al Jazeera America about Rezaian and other cases of attacks on journalists around the world. “The first month of 2015 suggests that this will be a bad year for free expression,” Kinzer wrote. Read more


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