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This week on Medium: Stop putting the audience last

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another list of some posts you may have missed about journalism and the media on Medium. Thanks to Gurman Bhatia, Ren LaForme, Katie Hawkins-Gaar and Julia Haslanger for helping to curate.

Questions are the new comments

Jennifer Brandel’s post this from Saturday was adapted from a talk she gave, and it looks at the cycle news goes through and how late the audience comes into that cycle.

Screen shot, Medium

Screen shot, Medium

But what if, Brandel asks, journalists started with questions instead of ending with comments?

10 Years Later, Their Stories Live On

Ernesto Aguilar wrote about becoming the program director of Houston’s KPFT in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

The reporting effort was the work of a few determined people, who devoted many days and sleepless nights to convey the testimonies of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Read more
Mideast Syria Migrants Family Drowns

The limits of photojournalism: What those pictures of the Syrian boy didn’t tell us

When Mary Panzer saw the photos that have at least momentarily focused world attention on a long-term tragedy, she wondered about what the images didn’t make clear.

She wondered about the partial story they told.

Panzer, a New York photography expert, curator and historian, was troubled “that we don’t see pictures of the mothers. This makes it seem as if their parents have abandoned them, deliberately put them in danger, which is partly true. But why did they do it?”

“To escape unendurable conditions? Where are they coming from? What did they leave? Why have they no resources better than a boat that’s sure to sink?” asked Panzer, the former curator of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

But the photos also were consistent with a long history of gripping photos of children, she notes, especially as they attract attention to atrocities. Read more

Screen shot, Twitter

Host of ‘The Open Mind’ on leading a 59-year-old show that his grandfather started


Alexander Heffner has officially been in the family business for about a year, but really, it has been much longer. At 25, he’s the host of WNET’s weekly public affairs program “The Open Mind,” which goes into national distribution on Sept. 6. Heffner’s grandfather, Richard Heffner, created the show in 1956 and hosted it until his death in December of 2013. His grandson took over the following summer.

Via e-mail, Alexander Heffner spoke about the show, his grandfather and what has changed in 59 years.

Screen shot, Twitter

Screen shot, Twitter

So just to start with, what are your memories of “The Open Mind” from your childhood?

First, I never dared to interrupt noon on Saturdays. In time I realized this was appointment television for the public far and wide. Read more


With arrest of VICE journalists, Turkey signals forbidding posture toward foreign press

Turkey’s decision Thursday to free two VICE News correspondents jailed on charges of aiding terrorism was greeted by cautious optimism from press freedom advocates and journalists around the world. But as their colleague, Iraqi journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool, languished in detention, one press freedom advocate worried the arrests were intended to send a hostile message to the country’s foreign correspondents.

Jake Hanrahan and Philip Pendlebury, two British journalists reporting for VICE News, were arrested along with Rasool last week and charged with “knowingly and willingly” aiding a terrorist organization. After nearly a week in detention, Pendlebury and Hanrahan were freed earlier this week and are scheduled to be deported from the country. As of this morning, Rasool remained locked up.

All three were reporting on escalating tensions between authorities and the youth wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK. Read more

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Front page of the day: ‘Refugees welcome’

The front page of the day comes from the U.K.’s The Independent, which launched a petition on Thursday calling for policy changes to benefit refugees. According to the newspaper’s site, more than 250,000 people have signed.

Last week there were terrible scenes at the Macedonian border as refugees were confronted by security forces. This week hundreds have found themselves stuck in Budapest, prevented from boarding trains by police. And in Austria, 71 lifeless bodies were discovered in an unventilated lorry.

This year, more than 2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.

With each new development hands are wrung, heads are shaken, yet still there is no cogent solution in sight.

Via Kiosko:


The Independent also had yesterday’s front page of the day, with the image of toddler Aylan Kurdi, who drowned along with his mother and brother while trying to reach Greece. Read more


What Harley-Davidson can teach us about membership

Last week I attended a Membership Summit at CUNY’s Journalism School. The point of the summit was to think about membership at news organizations well beyond subscriptions and to really expand the idea of what membership programs could look like. As Jeff Jarvis said in his opening remarks, “Membership is not just about revenue — it’s about resetting the relationships we have with our public.”

I think a lot about membership, particularly as it relates to building communities, and I thought I would share some of the most interesting takeaways from the Summit, since my head has been swirling with ideas for the past week — and most of the projects I learned about didn’t come from inside the news business.

1. From Kickstarter, I learned that experiential rewards are just as exciting to people as physical ones. Read more

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A great, embattled newsman steps down

Good morning. Enjoy and have a great holiday weekend. I’m off to kids soccer in St. Louis. See you Tuesday.

  1. Jim Amoss steps down

    He wasn't a pundit or celebrity journalist and was little known outside New Orleans and the echo chamber of newspaper editor groups. But Jim Amoss quietly and honorably helped to turn the New Orleans Times-Picayune from a good newspaper to a great one (four Pulitzer Prizes), endured Katrina, confronted a local economic catastrophe and dealt with both revolutionary industry change and aggressive and questionable downsizing strategies mandated by the Newhouse empire. He'll now retire and move to a corporate slot, replaced by editor Mark Lorando. (Poynter)

    The occasionally arrogant titans of the new digital media could do worse than copy his basic, pretty old-fashioned values.

Read more

Thursday, Sep. 03, 2015

Longtime Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss steps down


Jim Amoss, the veteran journalist who steered the New Orleans Times-Picayune through its coverage of Hurricane Katrina and confronted a dramatic downturn in the newspaper industry, is stepping down from the editor’s job after 25 years.

He will be replaced by Mark Lorando, the state and metro editor of the Times-Picayune and its associated website,, according to the Times-Picayune. Amoss will become editor at large for Advance Digital.

NOLA Media Group president Ricky Mathews praised Amoss for decades of leadership amid the transition to digital journalism, per the Times-Picayune:

“Jim has been a great newsroom leader,” Mathews said. “When confronted with revolutionary changes in the way readers consume news and information, he led the multimedia transformation of the newsroom, and in the process, carried forward a tradition of journalistic excellence into the digital era.

Read more
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Why Al Jazeera America digital workers went union

Digital workers at Al Jazeera America were moved to join a union in search of “coherence, structure and clarity” in resolving a disparate set of grievances.

“In talking about this with people in different departments, we realized that there were many very different issues of concern to people,” Gregg Levine, the digital news editor of Al Jazeera America, said Thursday after formal disclosure of the move.

The digital workers joined editorial counterparts at several other media organizations that have recently opted to go union.

In no instance has any group yet sat down with management and attempted to bargain a first contract. The NewsGuild of New York, which will now represent the AJAM workers, has not heard back from management as to whether it will voluntarily recognize the union and thus not force a formal vote overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Read more


The Slack bot trend continues, this time with Al Jazeera English

When the Virginia shooting happened last week, the staff at Al Jazeera English didn’t get the news from a wire service. It wasn’t Twitter either. Instead, they got an alert on Slack.

That’s right, Slack, the trendy real-time messaging app that has quickly become ubiquitous in so many newsrooms.

Al Jazeera has a custom bot that is constantly on the lookout for breaking news. When it finds something that’s ‘breaking’, it sends a Slack message to the team.

Reuters tweeted out the news before sending an alert on its wire, and that’s when Al Jazeera’s breaking news Slack channel received an update.

The bot was built around two weeks ago by Alaa Batayneh, producer and data analyst at Al Jazeera English’s online department.

“People aren’t always looking at email or news wires. Read more


NBC News lands Hillary Clinton interview

NBC News

Hillary Clinton will sit for her third national TV interview as a presidential candidate with Andrea Mitchell Friday, NBC News has announced.

The interview will focus on Clinton’s presidential campaign, the GOP field and the controversy surrounding her use of a private server to send and receive emails while serving as Secretary of State.

The conversation will air first on “Andrea Mitchell Reports” Friday at noon, according to NBC News. Excerpts will appear on the network’s flagship news and public affairs programs, including
“NBC Nightly News,” “TODAY,” and “Meet the Press.”

The interview is part and parcel of an ongoing effort on Clinton’s part to open herself to wider media scrutiny. In July, Clinton’s team announced the candidate would begin giving a series of national television interviews in effort to seize control of the narratives surrounding her campaign. Read more


Azerbaijani journalist sentenced to 7 years in prison ‘didn’t break, and she didn’t bow’

The Washington Post | Reporters Without Borders | TIME | Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty | The Guardian

FILE - In this Sunday, March 2, 2014 file photo, Azeri Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is seen in Baku, Azerbaijan. A court in Azerbaijan has convicted investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova of several financial crimes and sentenced her to 7½ years in prison, in a case widely criticized by human rights organizations. The Baku court convicted Ismayilova on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 of embezzlement, illegal business activity, tax evasion and abuse of power, but found her not guilty of inciting a colleague to commit suicide. Ismayilova, who was jailed in December, was a contributor to U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. (AP Photo/Aziz Karimov, file)

FILE – In this Sunday, March 2, 2014 file photo, Azeri Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is seen in Baku, Azerbaijan. A court in Azerbaijan has convicted investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova of several financial crimes and sentenced her to 7½ years in prison, in a case widely criticized by human rights organizations. The Baku court convicted Ismayilova on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 of embezzlement, illegal business activity, tax evasion and abuse of power, but found her not guilty of inciting a colleague to commit suicide. Ismayilova, who was jailed in December, was a contributor to U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. (AP Photo/Aziz Karimov, file)

Azerbaijani investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on Tuesday in Azerbaijan. Read more


David Axelrod named senior commentator at CNN

Politico | CNN

The White House revolving door has brought yet another staffer into the waiting arms of the media.

David Axelrod, formerly senior adviser to President Barack Obama, is joining CNN as a senior political commentator, Tom LoBianco writes for the network:

He has long been one of Obama’s most trusted campaign gurus. He was a senior adviser during Obama’s first term, ran both his White House bids and Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate race. Prior to that, Axelrod played a role in other major campaigns, including the Senate and presidential races of Paul Simon, the mayoral campaign of Harold Washington, the gubernatorial campaign of Deval Patrick, Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2000, and the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton and John Edwards.

Read more

‘Journalism is not done by permission’ says author of Nick Saban biography

Under the heading any publicity is good publicity comes Nick Saban’s reaction to Monte Burke’s new biography on him, “Saban: The Making of a Coach.”

During a press conference in early August, the Alabama coach, without being asked, expressed his disapproval in Burke writing an unauthorized biography.

“I just want everybody to know that I’m opposed to an unauthorized biography; for anybody,” Saban said. “And I think that’s some person that you don’t even know trying to profit by your story. Or someone else’s story. And one of these days when I’m finished coaching at Alabama I’ll write an authorized book because you know there’s really only one expert on my life. And guess who that is. Me. And there won’t be any misinformation, there won’t be any false statements, there won’t be any hearsay, there won’t be any expert analysis from anybody else.”

nick-saban-bookFor most authors and publishers, Saban’s strong comments would be considered a blessing. Read more

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Front page of the day: ‘Somebody’s child’ (WARNING, DISTURBING IMAGE)

Today’s front page of the day is the heartbreaking image of the body of a Syrian boy found after drowning on the journey from Turkey to Greece. This image and another, of his body being lifted from the sand, are on front pages across Europe, Latin America and in a few major newspapers in the U.S. on Thursday. Some headlines include “The Reality: Why Europe must act now,” “Europe divided,” and “The shocking, cruel reality of Europe’s refugee crisis.” Please heed the warning in the headline. Today you’ll find the front page at the bottom of this post.

I asked Poynter’s Kelly McBride and Al Tompkins about their thoughts on use of the images.

“Sometimes it’s gratuitous for the media to show images of death,” McBride said. Read more