N.C. news outlets sue UNC for records in cheating case

News & Record

The (Greensboro) News & Record, The Charlotte Observer and WRAL-TV are among news organizations that have filed suit against the University of North Carolina asking for employee records in a cheating scandal.

More than 3,000 students benefited from bogus classes and inflated grades for nearly two decades at UNC Chapel Hill’s African and Afro-American Studies department, an investigation found last month.

The news organizations are seeking records for 21 employees, nine of whom “were terminated or have faced disciplinary action,” Sarah Newell Williamson reports for the News & Record. State law requires that information about state employees, including “dismissal, suspension or demotion for disciplinary reasons,” be made public.

“They are withholding access to public records,” N&R Publisher Jeff Gauger told Williamson. “Someone has to stand up to them and make them follow the law. No one’s better situated to look after public records than news organizations.” Read more

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Ferguson

Heading back to Ferguson? Know your rights

A man who declined to be identified stands outside a boarded up business Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

A man who declined to be identified stands outside a boarded up business Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

This August in Ferguson, Missouri, there was a lot of confusion between police officers about rules and rights about the press, said Tony Rothert, legal director, ACLU of Missouri “and it became very arbitrary where people where told they could and couldn’t be.”

“The constitution does protect the right of a member of the media to stand on a public street or sidewalk, to talk to people and to photograph,” he said. “I think those rights were violated frequently in the last set of protests and we’ll have to be vigilant to assure that that does not occur again.”

On Saturday, journalist Trey Yingst was arrested in Ferguson, Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly reported.

In a statement, the ACLU of Missouri said “Mr. Yingst was arrested for allegedly standing in the street and failing to disperse after being asked by law enforcement to do so. Read more

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time-renewal

Deception? Price gouging? Subscription scam? Top magazine titles won’t say a thing

In mid-October, I wrote about the New York Times offer to refund overpayments to customers who fell for an unauthorized third-party renewal solicitation. The Times also warned subscribers in print and via e-mail not to fall for the scam.

I noted that the same company had been blanketing magazine subscribers with these notices for years before broadening to newspapers as well in 2013 and 2014. I couldn’t immediately get a comment from magazines.

Three inquiries later, spokespersons for top publishers Time Inc. and Conde Nast are still stonewalling me. It’s the full Bill Cosby  — they won’t say a thing, not even what they charge for a renewal of Time or Vanity Fair.

From which I infer that they wink and take the money from the scammers (operating under various names but identifiable by a distinctive format and a White City, Oregon return address). Renewals or new subs are fulfilled, and unless a customer complains, it’s caveat emptor about being overcharged 15 percent or more. Read more

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Anchors met in secret with Darren Wilson

Good morning. Welcome to a short week! Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Anchors negotiated in secret with Darren Wilson

    Matt Lauer, George Stephanopoulos, Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon are among the television personalities who've met with Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson, Brian Stelter reports. There is some potential money for subjects of these bidding wars, Jim Moret explains -- in licensing photos. But mostly it's about comfort and timing. (CNN) | "When 'off the record' is used to protect not only what’s said in a particular meeting, but also the meeting itself, it becomes a tool not so much for journalists but for the sources seeking to own them." (WP)

  2. Meanwhile, in Ferguson

    Police said journalist Trey Yingst was standing in the road, but "as this reporter and a multitude of other witnesses saw firsthand -- and as was captured on video -- Yingst was not in the street." (HuffPost) | Judge: Police in Missouri can't stop reporters from recording them.

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P-AOL and Netscape

Today in Media History: Do you remember these old AOL commercials?

On November 24, 1998, America Online (AOL) announced that it would be acquiring Netscape Communications Corporation for $4.2 billion in stock.

In the late 1990s AOL was one of the largest online companies in the world. On January 10, 2000, America Online and Steve Case announced plans to acquire Time Warner for roughly $182 billion in stock and debt.

But what do many people remember about AOL from this period? The TV commercials.

Here are a few:

This 1996 video says, “The future. Now available on America Online.” (I believe the music is also from the future: “The Jetsons theme song.”)

“Can you believe what’s possible these days….Your own personalized newspaper.” (1996)

And then there were all those disks AOL used to send through the mail.

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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

New York Times column used quote from fake news site ‘without attribution’

A late entry for 2014′s Correction of the Year comes from The New York Times. It features an early version of a column published in error; a quote taken from ludicrous article in a fake news website that was treated as real and used without attribution; and a reference to a non-existent Chicago radio station with the call letters WGYN.

The offending article was the latest edition of Joyce Wadler’s humor column, “I Was Misinformed.” Here is what has been added (as an Editor’s Note):

An earlier version of this column was published in error. That version included what purported to be an interview that Kanye West gave to a Chicago radio station in which he compared his own derrière to that of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Mr. West’s quotes were taken, without attribution, from the satirical website The Daily Currant. There is no radio station WGYN in Chicago; the interview was fictitious, and should not have been included in the column.

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Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

Andrew Beaujon heading for Washingtonian

Poynter’s news editor, Andrew Beaujon, announced to staff Friday that he’s leaving for Washingtonian, where he’ll be a senior editor.

“I’m grateful that Poynter gave me a shot as a media blogger,” Beaujon said. “I’ve loved my time here and care deeply about my coworkers. I have grown a lot in this job and learned so much.”

Beaujon came to Poynter in 2012 and he has most proudly worked as media blogger in that time. At the Washingtonian, Beaujon will return to local news.

“Anyone who knows me knows I love doing local news, especially news about the D.C. area,” he said. “And I’m very excited to finally work with Mike Schaffer, who I’ve admired for a long time, at a publication I grew up reading.”

At Washingtonian, he’ll work on the magazine’s digital strategy, he said, and still write about the media.

“I look forward to working in an office with other humans and relearning how to dress myself before I begin work,” he said. Read more

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In St. Louis, high school journalists are telling their own stories about Ferguson

Jennifer Fowler watched news as it flowed out of Ferguson, Missouri, in August. She felt scared. She wanted to know what was real. And she wanted to tell the story herself.

When her senior year finally started at McCluer North High School in neighboring Florissant, Missouri, she got the chance. Along with her staff, Fowler, the editor-in-chief of McCluer’s newspaper, focused on the stories they could tell — about Parents for Peace, a group that set up a makeshift school when the Ferguson-Florissant schools were delayed, about students who went to the protests, about what it meant to wait for school to start.

#Ferguson slants across McCluer North’s yearbook’s cover, too. It’s faint gray on a black background, near the top. The hashtag, the place and what has happened since August is a part of their year now.

Screenshot from the opening spread of McCluer North's yearbook.

Screenshot from the opening spread of McCluer North’s yearbook. “I didn’t think we were ever going to come back.”

Six days

Yearbook Editor-in-Chief Melissa Moore’s story on Ferguson begins with this introduction:

Six days.

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3 lessons from the G20 Summit ‘Factcheckathon’

G20factcheckathon460
Earlier this week, nine fact-checking websites joined forces to fact-check the statements made by world leaders during the G20 summit in Australia. Glenn Kessler wrote about the results in The Washington Post. I coordinated this first factcheckathon with Cristina Tardàguila from O Globo and took home three important lessons.

  1. Global fact-checking experiments can yield useful results for comparative politics
    Our fact-checking network caught three of the eight world leaders we were monitoring saying essentially the same thing: Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, Barack Obama of the USA and Matteo Renzi of Italy all said something along the lines of “large amounts of jobs were created under my government” – and then proceeded to inflate their records. What was interesting was not so much that politicians chose to dabble with figures, but that they did so in such a similar manner. While the rhetoric and imagery deployed by politicians may vary greatly across countries, facts are facts everywhere.
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I’m dreaming of a Christmas without holiday clichés

It’s beginning to look a lot like laziness from headline writers across America:

It'sBeginningtoLookALotLikeCliche

The result is the same no matter which holiday standard you plug into Google.

'Tistheseason

Here’s “Deck the Halls”:

DecktheHalls

If you’re looking to shake off the Christmas clichés, NPR standards editor Mark Memmot has a few banned phrases.

Have you spotted any holiday ledes or headlines that make you cringe? Send them to me at bmullin@poynter.org. Read more

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As the media waits in Ferguson, it begins covering itself

WJBK-TV

In August, when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor-in-Chief Gilbert Bailon spoke with Poynter about Ferguson coverage, he said “Ferguson is an inner-ring suburb of 21,000 that has never seen such glare of the national media.”

Three months later, Ferguson has seen a lot of glare, (including from Poynter. We reported from Ferguson in August.) Members of the national media are back now, and they’re waiting. Sometimes together.

Here’s Charlie LeDuff’s video about the media in Ferguson, from WJBK-TV.

On Twitter, St. Louis journalists are doing a good job showing who’s in town. From my former colleague Jason Rosenbaum at St. Louis Public Radio:

And the St. Louis American’s managing editor, Chris King:

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New York magazine creates ‘pop-up blogs’

Since May, New York magazine has launched an irregular series of “pop-up blogs” to expand its coverage on a variety of topics including relationships, the arts and travel.

The blogs focus on a specific theme — exploring Paris, untangling love lives or navigating New York’s art scene, said Ben Williams, digital editor of New York Media (which owns New York and its associated properties). They run for a month, and they have bolstered the magazine’s traffic and its bottom line, he said.

Each “pop-up” is basically a Web version of a traditional magazine insert, Williams said. The editorial team comes up with a series of topics they think would be a good fit for New York, and the advertising staff tries to sell those concepts to advertisers. If the sales team finds a sponsor, the editorial side creates the blog and fleshes out plans for coverage.

“Advertisers like them because they’re kind of a TV miniseries, so you have a beginning, middle and end,” Williams said. Read more

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‘Desperation can be your best ally’ and other lessons from Mario Garcia’s master class

Visual staffs are usually the first to get cut from the budget, Mario Garcia said Thursday at Poynter, but in journalism, sometimes it’s good to feel desperate.

“Desperation can be your best ally,” he said.

In the 1980s, no one was desperate because ads brought in so much money. So change came slow. Now, change is rapid and the opportunity for experimentation is everywhere.

“I’m not going to say that it’s as bad as the Titanic, but you see the violin playing up there and you say ‘Is he going to be the last to go?’”

On Thursday during Poynter’s Master Class featuring Garcia and hosted by Poynter’s Kenny Irby, Garcia shared lessons learned over his long career and hundreds of projects. The course of the three-hour conversation began in Cuba, where Garcia was born, and wound through his work as a designer and re-design consultant, a design thinker and an educator. Read more

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Want to cover Will and Kate? Fill out an application, and don’t wear jeans

Prince William and Kate Middleton will visit the U.S. Dec. 7-9. U.S. journalists who wish to cover the event have till 11:59 Friday to submit an application for credentials.

The royal visit will mostly be confined to New York, though the Duke of Cambridge will spend a little time in D.C. at the World Bank.

Look how nicely these people are dressed. Now look at yourself. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Look how nicely these people are dressed. Now look at yourself. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Hadas Gold reported Thursday that Buckingham Palace requires aspiring royal-watcher journalists to dress up:

“Smart attire for men includes the wearing of a jacket and tie, and for women a trouser or skirt suit. Those wearing jeans or trainers will not be admitted and casually dressed members of the media will be turned away. This also applies to technicians.”

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Scotland gets a pro-independence newspaper

The Guardian

The National, Scotland’s first explicitly pro-indepence newspaper, will launch Monday, Mark Sweney reports in The Guardian. Gannett subsidiary Newsquest will publish the paper, which Glasgow Sunday Herald Editor Richard Walker will also edit.

The Sunday Herald was the only Scottish paper to support independence, and it saw sales go up dramatically in the runup to the country’s ultimately doomed referendum.

Sweney says a “source with knowledge of the launch said the title sounded ‘very i-like’, a reference to the Independent’s cut-price spinoff, which has a skeleton staff and relies on its stablemate for most resources and content.” Read more

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