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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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NPR updates ethics policy after ombud raises political advocacy questions

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NPR has revised its ethics code to describe which staffers it covers after network ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen raised questions about host Diane Rehm’s attendance at fundraising dinners for the right-to-die movement. Jensen explained the update in a new post:

The changes follow the debate sparked when The Washington Post reported that Diane Rehm, the host of the NPR-distributed The Diane Rehm Show, was taking part in fundraising dinners for Compassion & Choices. That non-profit organization’s activities include lobbying for states to permit medically-assisted death.

At heart the heart of the issue was whether NPR’s stricture preventing journalists from engaging in political advocacy should apply to Rehm, who hosts “The Diane Rehm Show” at WAMU in Washington, D.C., an NPR member station. The new guidelines make clear that the prohibition applies to “those who work for shows, podcasts and programming that are not part of the News division,” Jensen writes. Read more

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Career Beat: Kevin Krolicki named Washington bureau chief at Reuters

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

  • Kevin Krolicki has been named Washington bureau chief at Reuters. Previously, he was Japan bureau chief there. (Poynter)
  • Michael Oreskes is now senior vice president of news and editorial director at NPR. Previously, he was vice president and senior managing editor of The Associated Press. (Poynter)
  • Amy Gardner is now senior local politics editor at The Washington Post. Previously, she covered the White House there. (Washington Post)
  • Dakarai Turner is now a reporter and multimedia journalist at WMAR in Baltimore. Previously, he was a reporter at WLTX. (TV Spy)
  • Julie Shapiro is now news editor on the global continuous publishing desk at Time. Previously, she was news editor at DNAinfo.
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Michael Oreskes named senior vice president of news at NPR

NPR CEO Jarl Mohn on Thursday appointed Michael Oreskes to senior vice president of news and editorial director, according to a press release from NPR.

Oreskes, currently vice president and senior managing editor of The Associated Press, will begin at NPR in late April, according to the release. Oreskes replaces Chris Turpin, who was named interim senior vice president of news after Margaret Low Smith departed for The Atlantic.

Turpin, who was previously the executive producer of “All Things Considered,” will become vice president of news at NPR in charge of news programs, newscasts, news operations and collaborative coverage, among other things, according to the release.

Oreskes, who joined The Associated Press in 2008, also did stints at The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times, where he was deputy managing editor, assistant managing editor and Washington bureau chief. Read more

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Karen Everhart discusses recent changes at NPR

Karen Everhart, Managing editor of Current, the newspaper and website about public and nonprofit media in the U.S., was recently at the Poynter Institute for the Effective Editor seminar and we talked about the state of public media.

In this clip, Everhart talks about recent changes at NPR that including the hiring of a new President and CEO Jarl Mohn.

Here is a recent Q&A that Current did with Jarl Mohn. Read more

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