AP

As Sunshine Week dawns, journalists, advocates, call for transparency

Sunshine Week, an annual initiative promoting government transparency, starts Sunday. To mark the occasion, several journalists and media organizations have taken public stands in favor of better open records laws and more transparent government.

Gary Pruitt, CEO of The Associated Press
Pruitt released a statement Friday that condemned the government’s lackadaisical responses to The AP’s Freedom of Information Act requests, citing its recent lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.

Despite head-pounding frustrations in using them, the Freedom of Information Act and state open records laws are powerful reporting tools. But it’s important to remember that they don’t exist just for journalists. They are there for everyone.

Massachusetts newspapers
The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, the The Patriot Ledger and Gatehouse Media papers in Massachusetts have all agreed to publish coordinated editorials in condemnation of a recent ruling by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin that allowed Boston police to withhold the names of police officers who were driving drunk, said Ellen Clegg, interim editorial page editor at The Boston Globe. Read more

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AP will use software to write NCAA game stories

Automated Insights, a company that provides language generation software to The Associated Press and other organizations, announced Wednesday the news cooperative will use the software to produce thousands of stories about collegiate sports.

The Associated Press will begin publishing automatically generated sports stories this spring, beginning with Division I baseball, according to a press release.

This new partnership will allow AP to cover more college sports of interest to our members and their audiences,” said Barry Bedlan, AP’s deputy director of sports products. “This will mean thousands of more stories on the AP wire, which will remain unmatched in the industry. Every college sports town will have some level of coverage.

The Associated Press has been using Automated Insights software to generate earnings reports stories since July. Read more

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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 (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Full GE report: http://www.zacks.com/ap/GE.”

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

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Why NPR didn’t publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons

NPR | The Two-Way

NPR decided not to publish controversial cartoons from satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo because “posting just a few of the cover images” of the Prophet Muhammad “could be misleading,” standards editor Mark Memmott wrote Monday.

Publishing a few magazine covers, Memmott writes, might give readers the impression the magazine is “only a bit edgier” than similar publications. But a more thorough examination of the cartoons would violate “most news organizations’ standards regarding offensive material.”

At NPR, the policy on “potentially offensive language” applies to the images posted online as well. It begins by stating that “as a responsible broadcaster, NPR has always set a high bar on use of language that may be offensive to our audience.

In the aftermath of the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, news organizations have been divided over whether to publish cartoons from the magazines depicting Muhammad, whose likeness is sacrosanct among Muslims. Read more

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tribuneAP

Reuters loses Tribune but is not quitting yet

General view of a Reuters building at Canary Wharf in London, Tuesday, May 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

General view of a Reuters building at Canary Wharf in London, Tuesday, May 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Reuters attempts to build a competitive wire service to the Associated Press suffered a major setback over the holidays when the Chicago Tribune and six sister papers ended a two-year relationship and switched back to the AP.

That was a double sting. Besides being Reuters’ biggest and most prominent client, Chicago Tribune editor Gerould Kern had spent several years helping build out the substitute service before it formally launched (as I recounted in a detailed story last summer),

But Steven Schwartz, global managing director of the Reuters news agency, told me in an e-mail interview that he is not throwing in the towel. He wrote:

We are grateful for all of the Tribune’s insight and input in the early days to help make the Reuters America service exceptionally strong and we expect they will be back as a customer sometime down the road.

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Career Beat: Conn Carroll named White House correspondent for Townhall

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

  • Conn Carroll will be White House correspondent for Townhall. He has previously worked at National Journal. (Politico)
  • Jack Shafer will be a columnist and reporter for Politico. Previously, he was press critic for Reuters. (Poynter)
  • Hugo Sánchez will be a soccer analyst for ESPN Deportes. Previously, he was a guest analyst there. (Media Moves)
  • Erika Maldonado will be an anchor at Univision Chicago. Previously, she was a general assignment reporter there. (Robert Feder)
  • Laura Zelenko will be interim senior executive editor for beat reporting at Bloomberg News. Previously, she was executive editor for markets there. (Poynter)
  • Susan Montoya Bryan will be New Mexico correspondent for The Associated Press.
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AP journalist and translator killed in Gaza

Simone Camilli in Beit Lahiya on Monday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Simone Camilli in Beit Lahiya on Monday. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. AP journalist and translator killed, photographer injured in Gaza: Simone Camilli and translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash “died Wednesday when Gaza police engineers were neutralizing unexploded ordnance in the Gaza town of Beit Lahiya left over from fighting between Israel and Islamic militants.” AP photographer Hatem Moussa was seriously injured in the explosion. (AP) | Moussa got AP’s “Beat of the Week” nod last month. (APME)
  2. Is there a second Snowden? James Bamford writes that he got “unrestricted access to [Edward Snowden's] cache of documents in various locations. And going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find some of the documents that have made their way into public view, leading me to conclude that there must be a second leaker somewhere.” (Wired) | Related: What it’s like to do a photoshoot with Snowden.
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Vladimir Putin

Russian ‘law on bloggers’ takes effect today

mediawiremorningHello there. Sorry this isn’t Beaujon. Here are 10 or so media stories. Happy Friday!

  1. Russian blogger law goes into effect: It could crack down on free expression, Alec Luhn explains: “Popularly known as the ‘law on bloggers,’ the legislation requires users of any website whose posts are read by more than 3,000 people each day to publish under their real name and register with the authorities if requested.” (The Guardian) | “Registered bloggers have to disclose their true identity, avoid hate speech, ‘extremist calls’ and even obscene language.” (Gigaom) | The law also states that “social networks must maintain six months of data on its users.” (BBC News)
  2. More on David Frum non-faked photo fakery saga: Photo fakery surely occurs in places like Gaza, James Fallows writes.
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AP F IL USA EARNS TRIBUNE

Eighteen months after dropping AP, Tribune happy with Reuters

When newspaper ad revenues were in free fall in 2008, there was much angry complaining among editors about the high cost and inflexibility of the Associated Press service. At a gripe session in Washington, one editor compared the cooperative to the USSR’s politburo.  Threats to quit were common.

In the end though, AP cut its rates, offered several levels of service and has retained the great majority of its newspaper members (who also own the cooperative and hold most its board seats).

But there was an exception.

Starting in 2009, Chicago Tribune editor Gerould Kern quietly began working with Reuters to build an acceptable substitute service.  Kern told me the Chicago Tribune ran its last AP material in March 2012.  With six other Tribune papers (but not the Los Angeles Times), it dropped AP entirely at the start of 2013. Read more

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How AP moved false story about S.C. Senate candidate

Fitsnews | The Post and Courier

A misunderstanding led to an incorrect story appearing on the Associated Press wire. The story said Thomas Ravenel, a candidate for U.S. Senate in South Carolina, was dropping out of the race.

“In rewriting an AP wire story about Mr. Ravenel for AP’s broadcast wire, a writer yesterday misconstrued the original text, resulting in a broadcast wire story saying that he was dropping from the race,” AP spokesperson Paul Colford told Poynter.

WBTW News producer Anna-Marie Bast reached out to the Associated Press to confirm the story, according to an image of an email published by fitnews.com. WBTW confirmed to Poynter that Bast reached out to the AP.

The false report “had fueled speculation that Ravenel opponents were trying to disrupt his candidacy as an independent,” Schuyler Kropf reports for The (Charleston, South Carolina) Post and Courier. Read more

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