BuzzFeed fires Benny Johnson for plagiarism

Buzzfeed

BuzzFeed fired viral politics editor Benny Johnson after an investigation revealed “41 instances of sentences or phrases copied word for word from other sites“, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith wrote in a note to readers Friday night.

“Benny is a friend, colleague and, at his best, a creative force, but we had no choice other than letting him go,” Smith wrote.… Read more

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What writers can un-learn from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

The release of a hot trailer for the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey has stirred up renewed attention to the book trilogy that spawned it, the work of a very lucky British woman named E.L. James.  I very much like the arc of her personal story: from self-publishing the first book to sales of more than 90 million copies worldwide, with translations into more than 50 languages.  So perhaps I should make this a very short essay with this advice to writers everywhere: Sex sells.

But just as there is good food writing and bad food writing; good sports writing and bad sports writing; there is also good sex writing and bad sex writing. To illustrate this, I have chosen a scene – almost at random – from one of James’s book to analyze. … Read more

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California media look into the case of some creepy dolls

KCAL9 | Los Angeles Times | San Clemente Patch | KTLA 5 | Newsy

On Thursday, a story caught the attention of the media in California. Many reported that some dolls were left on the door steps of families in San Clemente. The reports said that the dolls kind of looked like the little girls who lived there.

Here’s a link to the story from KTLA 5. It’s on autoplay.

The news spread.… Read more

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NYT’s use of ‘anonymity’ nearly doubled since 2007

There have been some clever applications of The New York Times’ new Chronicle tool since it was released for public use Wednesday. The tool, which allows users to examine how frequently words have appeared in the Times over the years, has been used to compare instances of the word “opera” and “hip-hop” and show when the Times’ style ruling on “illegal immigrant” changed.

But what happens when you plug terms that indicate anonymous sourcing, like “anonymity,” “anonymous” and “said a source” into the tool?

Even though “anonymity” only shows up in a small fraction of articles — about 2 percent in 2013 — use of the word has nearly doubled since 2007, the tool shows:

Plug in the phrase “sources said” and you get a similar spike after 2010:

The Times’ use of anonymous sources is a perennial topic among media critics.… Read more

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Indian Township in Downeast Maine

Maine newspaper connects the present to the past in 29 parts

(Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald)

The whole thing started with a question — what was happening with the Passamaquoddy in Maine?

Sources had reached out to Colin Woodard, a state and national affairs reporter with the Portland Press Herald, about rule of law problems on the Passamaquoddy reservation. There was no constitution and no way to hold elected officials accountable. There was corruption.

Woodard wanted to know where those problems began.

“And I eventually found myself in the early 1960s in a Maine that I did not recognize and one that was shocking and frankly horrifying,” Woodard said.

He discovered the brutal murder of an Indian man; a young, progressive attorney from out of town; a tribal chief who wanted justice. The dominos started falling. They led back to the present.… Read more

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The Guardian runs an excerpt from Nick Davies’ forthcoming book “Hack Attack,” in which he discusses the practice of “monstering” among media properties owned by Ruper Murdoch: “a savage and prolonged public attack on a target’s life.”

The punishment was equally harsh for the American writer Michael Wolff. In March 2009 he found himself on the receiving end of a thorough monstering by the New York Post when he was working on a biography of Murdoch. By some unexplained means, the mogul’s people had laid hands on an unpublished typescript and started to send clear warnings that the boss was not happy with some its contents. Wolff recalls a senior executive calling to ask him to make changes before the book was published.

“What will you do if I don’t?” Wolff asked.

“Then we will not support the book.”

“How bad is that?”

“It could be bad.”

And it was bad. The New York Post discovered that Wolff had been having an affair, and ran stories on 2, 3, 6, 25 and 30 March, and 3 and 9 April, publishing along the way a secondary story that accused Wolff of evicting his mother-in-law from her apartment, as well as a cartoon of Wolff in bed with his lover, portraying the Jewish writer in a style which might reasonably be described as antisemitic.

Nick Davies, The Guardian

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The Wall Street Journal fails ‘Monsters of Greek Mythology 101′

Someone at the Wall Street Journal can’t tell a Minotaur from a Cyclopes. As a result, the paper published a monstrous correction this week:

The Minotaur is a monster in Greek mythology that is part bull, part human. A travel article in Saturday’s Off Duty section mistakenly called it a one-eyed monster.

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BuzzFeed is reviewing Benny Johnson’s work

Our Bad Media

BuzzFeed is reviewing the work of viral politics editor Benny Johnson, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tells Poynter.

Two Twitter users who go by @blippoblappo and @crushingbort have published what they call “more plagiarism” from Johnson, who Smith told Gawker’s J.K. Trotter is “one of the web’s deeply original writers.”

Some of what @blippoblappo and @crushingbort uncovered is patchwriting, but Smith says, “There are three serious instances of plagiarism in this post.” He told Poynter yesterday that he planned to keep Johnson on staff.… Read more

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Nescafe thinks reading the newspaper is ‘a rather lonely’ thing to do

Industry Tap | Business Insider | AdWeek

The company known around the world for instant coffee launched an ad campaign aimed at, it appears, getting people to share a cup of coffee with strangers instead of reading the news. Marshall Smith wrote about a Nescafé ad campaign that includes pop-up mugs in newspapers for Industry Tap on Thursday. “Called the “pop-up café”, the ad was a huge hit,” he wrote. Here’s a little from the ad:

In the morning, reading the newspaper can be a rather lonely moment. But what if we could turn that lonely moment into a conversation starter?

So people pass out free newspapers in France (it’s Metronews) wrapped in red folders, and when the newspaper readers get to their offices with the Eiffel Tower in the background, they discover the mugs, stop reading the news and go have a conversation.… Read more

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Iran confirms: Post correspondent has been arrested

Washington Post

Iran acknowledged the arrest of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, Ernesto Londoño and William Branigi reported in The Post Friday:

“Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, director general of the Tehran Province Justice Department, told reporters that the “Washington Post journalist has been detained for some questions and after technical investigations, the judiciary will provide details on the issue,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.”

U.S. officials told The Post that Rezaian, 38, was detained with his wife Yeganeh Salehi and two other U.S. citizens this week. Poynter’s Kristen Hare noted that Rezaian has not tweeted since July 21 and his wife has not tweeted since July 20.

Iran has thrown many journalists in jail in recent years for various charges relating to spreading “anti-state” information.… Read more

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