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This week on Medium: 6 media stories you may have missed

Links shared in Poynter’s internal Slack channel are quite frequently from Medium and almost always about journalism and media (although sometimes not.) So this week, we’re trying something new and gathering them up here. Throughout the week, let me know what you’re reading on Medium and we’ll try to include it next Friday, if we try this again. Here are six things about journalism from Medium this week (with thanks to Ren LaForme and Vidisha Priyanka for helping curate.)

Lessons on using WhatsApp for publishing — an election experience

On May 18, Paul Bradshaw wrote about how students at Birmingham City University used WhatsApp for election updates during the U.K.’s recent election.

Frankly… they nailed it. In the process they learned a lot, so I thought I’d share some of the things that came up throughout the process — as well as the experiences of the person responsible for the Mirror‘s political WhatsApp account in the week leading up to the election.

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NPR: Before you write a correction — or correct that correction — notify the author

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On Thursday, we pointed out a variety of correction rarely glimpsed in the wild: a correction-correction-clarification.

Clarification

May 21, 2015

In a previous correction on this post, we corrected something that was actually correct. So we have corrected that correction. It had to do with Celsius temperatures.

NPR deserves plaudits for the abundance of transparency demonstrated above. But the correction itself might have been avoided if the corrector got in touch with the correctee, NPR Standards and Practices Editor Mark Memmott writes:

This note is a reminder that when we think an error has been made, the people who did the work need to be notified immediately so that they can help determine if it really was a mistake.

He notes that obviously wrong and serious errors sometimes have to be fixed before the responsible party can be reached, “but they should still be notified immediately.” Read more

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NPR publishes Holy Grail of corrections

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Since I started on this beat nearly a year ago, I’ve seen a lot of corrections. Some are funny, some are morbid and some seem obvious in retrospect. But NPR on Thursday published something I’ve never witnessed before — the seldom-seen correction-correction-clarification.

Clarification

May 21, 2015

In a previous correction on this post, we corrected something that was actually correct. So we have corrected that correction. It had to do with Celsius temperatures.

RELATED: NPR: Before you write a correction — or correct that correction — notify the author. Read more

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NPR ombud: Hosts shouldn’t plug their own books on air

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The long-standing routine of NPR employees using the network’s airtime to discuss their own books has got to stop, NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen wrote Thursday.

NPR hosts, correspondents, producers and contributors write an awful lot of books, many of them eagerly anticipated by listeners who turn them into bestsellers. But I believe NPR should not routinely help their cause by featuring the books on air and online. NPR’s new top news executive concurs, in part, particularly when it comes to show hosts discussing their own outside projects on their own shows.

By way of example, she cited a recent appearance by “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep, who discussed his new book “Jacksonland” on the show.

This sort of thing is unacceptable, Jensen writes:

Nonetheless, NPR should not be featuring a host’s book on his or her own program (and no longer will be; see below.) Overall, it also ought to be much more stingy when handing out these features to fellow staff members, particularly when it comes to the main newsmagazines, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and their weekend counterparts.

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‘The audience is going to demand it’: Why good visuals matter

Kainaz Amaria and Imaeyen Ibanga are the type of extroverted, vibrant people who can win over a room within minutes. But they find it frustrating when they and their visual colleagues aren’t included in the room at all, especially as editorial decisions are being made.

Amaria, NPR’s picture editor, and Ibanga, a multi-platform producer at NBC News, were both part of the ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Like their counterparts, they had never met before their week at Poynter, but had no shortage of topics to relate on.

Partway through the leadership week, the women sat together for a short conversation about why good visuals are so important for news coverage.

The transcript has been edited for length and clarity; a video of a portion of their conversation is at the bottom of the page. Read more

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NPR editor: Don’t call looters ‘protesters’

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When referring to individuals who have committed crimes in Baltimore, don’t describe them as “protesters,” NPR Standards and Practices Editor Mark Memmott wrote Tuesday.

Reports from Baltimore indicate that some people are taking advantage of the situation to lash out at authorities or to grab what they can from businesses. Those are not just protesters in the sense of the word that normally comes to mind.

In lieu of using labels like “protesters” that broadly categorizes entire groups of people, Memmott recommends describing specific actions. He describes them as “people who have injured police officers, started fires, looted stores and vandalized properties.”

In this respect, Memmott’s guidance is aligned with the AP Stylebook, which suggests avoiding the term “riot” because of its legal implications.

He also admonishes NPR journalists not to use the construction “protests turned violent.”

That paints a picture of a peaceful gathering that changed into a rock-throwing, tear-gas flying confrontation between citizens and police.

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NPR standards editor voices disapproval of Affleck episode on PBS

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An episode of PBS’ “Finding Your Roots” that glossed over the slave-owning heritage of movie star Ben Affleck is not in keeping with standards at NPR, Standards and Practices Editor Mark Memmott wrote Wednesday.

Let’s keep this simple: The people we interview, the sources we use and the supporters who give us money do not shape or dictate what we report.

NPR neither produces nor distributes “Finding Your Roots,” although the two organizations are the among the most prominent public media organizations in the United States and are both represented by the same corporate sponsorship organization, National Public Media. WGBH, where much of PBS’ content is produced, is an NPR member station.

The controversy surrounding Affleck’s appearance on “Finding Your Roots” began after a cache of documents stolen from Sony Pictures Entertainment and published on Wikileaks revealed that the actor requested that the show omit the fact that one of his relatives owned slaves, according to the Los Angeles Times. Read more

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NPR editors: Chuy broadcast did not meet our standards

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An episode of the NPR-distributed program “Latino USA” that focused on the campaign of Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia did not meet standards of fairness and completeness, the public radio network’s editors said Friday.

The editors raised a number of concerns about the hourlong program, which aired four days before the runoff election between Garcia and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. They noted that unflattering charges made against Emanuel by his critics stood unchallenged in the episode while nearly no criticism was leveled at Garcia.

Earlier Friday, NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen addressed the concerns raised by listeners and NPR executives, which stemmed from the program’s decision to run the episode just before the election, focus heavily on Garcia’s side of the campaign and include unanswered criticisms of Emanuel’s camp:

The Latino USA production team clearly felt it was important to get the other side.

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Inside NPR’s podcasting strategy

NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.


In January, months after “Serial” rocketed to the top of the iTunes podcasting charts and ignited a conversation about the “Golden Age of Audio,” NPR was preparing to answer with a hit of its own.

The show had spent more than a year in development. For its launch, staffers used every bit of experience they’d gained about how to engineer a popular program: They cross-promoted previews of the show on podcasting staples like “This American Life” and “Radiolab,” coordinated a media campaign, even set aside a modest sum — about $1,500 — to buy Facebook ads promoting the show.

It paid off.

Since “Invisibilia” launched on Jan. 6, its episodes have been downloaded more than 33 million times, briefly eclipsing “Serial” on the iTunes charts. Read more

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NPR editor: be careful using ‘suicide’ in Germanwings case

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Mark Memmott, standards and practices editor at NPR, gave journalists there two reasons to be cautious of the word “suicide” to describe the death of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of a Germanwings flight who may have purposefully forced the plane down:

— His motivation and state of mind aren’t known (and may never be).

– The investigation into what happened is still in the early stages.

Memmott also writes that the word “suicide” may not be adequate given that Lubitz might have deliberately crashed the plane. He also addressed the use of other formulations that incorporate “suicide,” including “suicide bomber” and “committed suicide.” In both cases, better alternatives exist, he says.

The AP Stylebook on Friday previewed a new entry for its forthcoming 2015 edition, recommending journalists should avoid using “committed suicide,” preferring instead “killed himself, took her own life or died by suicide.”

Committed, the new entry notes, “suggests possibly an illegal act” that is inconsistent with laws in certain U.S. Read more

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