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The lesson from the dress color debate that every journalist needs to know

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Yesterday’s insane Internet debate over the color of a dress offers a critical lesson that every journalist must incorporate into their daily work.

This lesson has nothing to do with viral content, fashion, BuzzFeed, social media, the future of media, Tumblr, or audience engagement.

Many of us looked at a very simple photo of a dress and saw something different. This had nothing to do with intelligence, experience, fashion sense or any other personal characteristic.

We are all at the mercy of our brains and its cognitive processes. Our eyes took in the information in front of us, our brains processed it, and in many cases it gave us the wrong answer. But the fact that it was coming from our brain meant that it seemed like exactly the right answer. Read more

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Career Beat: John Paczkowski hired by BuzzFeed

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

  • John Paczkowski is joining BuzzFeed’s San Francisco bureau. Previously, he was deputy managing editor at Re/code. William Alden is joining BuzzFeed’s San Francisco bureau. Previously, he was a reporter for The New York Times. Caroline O’Donovan is joining BuzzFeed’s San Francisco bureau. Previously, she was a staff writer for Nieman Lab. Nicole Nguyen is joining BuzzFeed’s San Francisco bureau. Previously, she was assistant tech editor at Popsugar. (VentureBeat)
  • Shira Toeplitz Center will be a political editor at The Boston Globe. Previously, she was politics editor for Roll Call. (Email)
  • Tim Molloy will be editor at Boston.com. Previously, he was digital engagement editor at “Frontline.” Kaitlyn Johnston will be deputy editor at Boston.com. Previously, she was executive digital editor at Boston Magazine.
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Bill O’Reilly to NYT reporter: ‘I am coming after you with everything I have’

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Bill O’Reilly threatens jounalist

    In an interview with The New York Times Monday, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly warned reporter Emily Steel there could be consequences for inappropriate coverage surrounding disputed claims about his reportage of the Falklands War. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “You can take it as a threat.” (The New York Times) | Politico's Dylan Byers followed up with Steel, who told him "the story speaks for itself." (Politico) | Here's Steel's tweet. (@emilysteel) | O'Reilly continued defending his coverage Monday and sought to end the controversy. (CNN Money) | Meanwhile, the author of a New York Times story that O'Reilly cited in his defense said the anchor "cut out an important phrase" while reading it on air.

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Career Beat: Ky Harlin named vice president of growth and data science at Condé Nast

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

  • Ky Harlin is now vice president of growth and data science at Condé Nast. Previously, he was director of data science at BuzzFeed (Re/code)
  • Kevin Daniels is now news director for WGHP in Greensboro/High Point, North Carolina. Previously, he was interim news director there. Scott Lawrence is now news director at KFDM in Beaumont, Texas. Previously, he was executive producer there. Tom Tefertiller is now news director for KWES in Midland, Texas. He is chief meteorologist there. (Rick Gevers)
  • Julie Wernau will be a soft commodities reporter at The Wall Street Journal. She is a business reporter for the Chicago Tribune. (Robert Feder)
  • Jeffrey Rosen is now a contributing editor at The Atlantic.
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Barack Obama interview ‘early test case’ for BuzzFeed News translation

Last Tuesday, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith sat down with President Barack Obama in BuzzFeed’s first-ever interview with a sitting president. And as soon as Smith filed his story, BuzzFeed staffers got to work translating it.

The English version of the story, which was published on Feb. 10 just before midnight, was followed hours later by four separate versions of the story, each in different languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese and German.

The translation effort, which was led by international news coordinator Mariana Marcaletti, represents an “early test case” in a burgeoning push to adapt BuzzFeed News content for international editions, said Scott Lamb, vice president of international for BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith's interview with President Barack Obama was translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese and German.

BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith’s interview with President Barack Obama was translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese and German.

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Which news organizations let their reporters swear?

NPR standards editor Mark Memmott issued a terse reminder this morning — packaged with a wry headline — to bleep out swear words in their entirety:

If a word needs to be bleeped, no part of it should be heard. We don’t try to give listeners a hint by including a bit of the word’s start or end.

The post, titled “Bleep The Whole @#$%&*! Word,” links out to NPR’s profanity standards, which state that “language that depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities or organs is indecent or profane.” There are some exceptions: If the profanity is newsworthy or aired after 10 p.m., it might be permitted.

With his post, Memmott becomes the third standards referee to raise the issue of profanity in recent weeks. Read more

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How long will Brian Williams be out of the anchor chair?

Good morning. I’m subbing for Kristen today. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Brian Williams cancels Letterman appearance

    Over the weekend, "a source close to Williams" said the NBC anchor will not keep his scheduled appearance on "Late Show with David Letterman," the same show where he erroneously claimed he was aboard a helicopter that took enemy fire. (CNN) | On Sunday, Politico's Mike Allen suggested that appearing on the talk show might be a "high-profile, controlled way for Williams to clear the air." (Politico) | On Saturday, the embattled "NBC Nightly News" anchor announced he would take a hiatus from the show for "several days," adding that he planned to return and "be worthy of the trust" of his audience. (Poynter) | Meanwhile, media reporters and critics are contemplating the scandal's affect on Williams' career.

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BuzzFeed style guide: Avoid ‘listicle’

Early last year, BuzzFeed released its style bible for public use.

Since then, BuzzFeed editors have added more than 100 entries to the guide as they work out how best to refer to the Internet’s growing lexicon. Here’s a list of my favorite additions:

  1. listicle: avoid, use “list” instead
    This entry appeared within days of the style guide’s public release, according to the Internet Archive. One of the words most often associated with BuzzFeed content by writers outside the company is discouraged by those within it.
  2. Disney Princess
    All caps, both words. This appears to be a more recent entry, added sometime in late December. If you’re going to tell readers which Disney Princess they are, you better keep your style consistent.
  3. celebricat (for a celebrity feline)
    celebridog (for a celebrity canine)
    If you have no idea what these famous Internet animals are, BuzzFeed will explain the phenomena, and tell you which one you most represent.
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What platishers, like Medium, mean for unknown writers

Early in November, Lauren Cusick, a former defense attorney, was listening to Serial. In one episode, a juror explained that a defendant’s choice not to testify contributed to a guilty verdict. In response, Cusick wrote a thoughtful, persuasive essay about a defendant’s invocation of Fifth Amendment rights and posted it on Medium.

Cusick, who now lives in Japan, has a personal blog, a Twitter account, and a Facebook page. She chose Medium, she said, because she had friends who used it to write about their areas of expertise and it seemed more professional than emotional outbursts on Facebook or Twitter’s noise. Plus, the barrier to entry was nil.

“I used their formatting tools, which were super easy,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to be able to able to use pull-quotes. Read more

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Career Beat: Audrey Cooper named EIC of San Francisco Chronicle

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

  • Audrey Cooper is now editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle. Previously, she was managing editor there. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Ann Curry will develop a media startup funded by NBC Universal. Previously, she was a national and international correspondent at NBC News. (New York Times)
  • Steven Komarow has been named news director for Roll Call. Previously, he was an editor at Bloomberg. (PR Newswire)
  • Jason Zengerle is now a political correspondent at GQ. Previously, he was a senior editor at The New Republic. (Email)
  • Jennifer Henrichsen is a technology fellow at Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press. Previously, she was a research fellow at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism.
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