Opinion/editorial writing


Opinion network State launches with goal of democratizing online conversations

Today marks the public launch of State, the “global opinion network” from Jawbone founder Alexander Asseily.

Sounds like just what the Internet needs, right? Another place for people you don’t know to opine about anything and everything.

But it’s what State does with those opinions that Asseily hopes will set the platform apart.

Asseily explained to Poynter via phone that the goal of his new service — on browsers at State.com and on iOS starting today — is to connect users to people and content in meaningful, deep ways. “You can think about State as elevating the structure of the network from people to opinions and points of view,” he said.

Users “state” about a topic by choose from among 25 million topics already in the system (they can also add their own). Read more

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Pew: Opinion gets less and less space in print


Print newspapers are allocating less space to opinion content, Jodi Enda writes:

There is no formal tally of reductions in editorials and commentary, but Pew Research Center interviews with editors across the country have confirmed a gradual shift both in the amount of space given over to opinion and in the missions of editorial and op-ed pages. Some papers have tried to compensate by running more editorials and columns online and launching more opinion-driven blogs. Some have shifted away from one of the historic missions of newspapers—influencing public opinion—and instead seek to foment community conversations online.

One thing that can be more easily measured is membership in the Association of Opinion Journalists:

Related: Inquirer editor protests cuts to opinion pages | Robert Vickers: ‘The wall of opinion and hard news’ fell long before he endorsed Romney Read more


New York Times editorial defends Rolling Stone cover

The New York Times | The Huffington Post

The New York Times has published an editorial defending Rolling Stone’s controversial cover featuring alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The editorial, published Friday morning, says:

Singling out one magazine issue for shunning is over the top, especially since the photo has already appeared in a lot of prominent places, including the front page of this newspaper, without an outcry. As any seasoned reader should know, magazine covers are not endorsements.

Time magazine, for example, had quite a few covers featuring Adolf Hitler during the war years. Less than a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Time featured a less-than-demonic photo of Osama bin Laden. Charles Manson appeared on Rolling Stone’s cover 40-some years ago for a jailhouse interview that was as chilling as it was revealing.

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George Zimmerman, Shellie Zimmerman

Can stories like the Zimmerman trial point to a better journalism?

The verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and juror B-37’s interview with CNN reveal what may be the greatest challenge to modern newsrooms on socially divisive issues: how best to get different communities to engage with each other.

Since Trayvon Martin’s death became a flashpoint in early 2012, news organizations have excelled at highlighting poignant, diverse voices offering up their analysis and personal experience. Fabulous writers penned passionate arguments. Social media gave rise to creative commentary. We all participated in the debate — the most committed of us by demonstrating, the rest of us by talking with each other face-to-face and sharing and commenting on social media. Now, the revelations about one juror’s point of view are sparking even more conversations about how our individual experiences inform our views. Read more

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Robert Vickers: ‘The wall of opinion and hard news’ fell long before he endorsed Romney

Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News politics writer Robert Vickers published a column Friday about why he’s voting for Mitt Romney. In a chat with readers, he talked about the decision, still unusual for a newspaper reporter, to publicly disclose his vote. It wasn’t a suicide mission, apparently: In the chat, a reader asked whether he would remain with the paper after it reduces staff and print frequency next year. “I’ve been asked to stay on and have agreed to do so,” Vickers wrote. Some more excerpts: Read more


One month in, Margaret Sullivan talks about the changing role of New York Times Public Editor

A little over a month into her job, Margaret Sullivan has been transforming the traditional role of The New York Times public editor — by blogging almost every weekday and using social media to add a mix of voices and viewpoints to her posts.

Her new role, she says, has reminded her how much she enjoys writing on a regular basis and responding to the news of the day.

“Almost every day I come in and I say, ‘I’m not going to blog today,’ … But I always find something that seems compelling and then I end up writing something,” Sullivan said in a phone interview. “That’s how I feel the most engaged and the most satisfied — if I’m working on something that’s immediate and if I can get it out there on a daily basis, which is certainly something that was true of me when I was a reporter.”

Sullivan said she’s been approaching her coverage of The New York Times as if she were a beat reporter with an opinion to share. Read more


Kristof: ‘The U.S. is losing interest’ in foreign reporting

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof answered readers’ questions on Reddit Monday. Here are some highlights:

• Kristof tries to produce as much copy as he can from his trips abroad: “[G]iven how long it takes to get to the places I go, I need to be sure that if I get there, I can do several different columns from that destination.” And he thinks the appetite for foreign reporting is waning:

The big challenge for foreign reporting is that I think the U.S. is losing interest. For a decade or so after 9/11, the U.S. was quite interested in the world, an aberration in our history of insularity. Now I think we’re reverting the more normal situation where we’re quite inward looking.

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Seattle Times’ editorial board launches social media campaign to support same-sex marriage

The Seattle Times | Association of Opinion Journalists | The New York Times | On the Media
A Seattle Times editorial published Monday asks for help from readers who approve of the editorial board’s support of a Washington state referendum that will enshrine same-sex marriage in state law.

The editorial directs readers to a photo of a sign published in the Sunday print paper and a link to the photo. It then asks them to:

Take a photo of you, your partner or your family holding this sign and share it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #IDo74. You can also email the photo to ido@seattletimes.com.

The paper has a photo gallery of people holding the sign. The Seattle Times’ editorial section, which is a finalist for 2012 the Online News Association awards, has been experimenting with new ways of approaching editorials. Read more


The Goldman Sachs op-ed: Journalism loves a burnt bridge

Goldman Sachs executive director Greg Smith proved Wednesday morning that few things send up a stronger smoke signal on the Internet than the flames of a burning bridge. Storify follows: Read more


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