June 16, 2022

There have been several stories out this week about Joe Kahn, who took over Tuesday as executive editor of The New York Times. One of the more interesting ones was a Q&A that Kahn did with Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo.

The two talked about a variety of topics — all of them worth reading — but Pompeo did touch on the recent social media controversy involving The Washington Post, and that led to Kahn’s noteworthy thoughts on the use of Twitter.

Kahn told Pompeo, “I don’t wanna try to second guess exactly what happened at the Post. Obviously we all paid close attention to that, but I don’t know all the details and I don’t know all the individuals. What we’ve done is, a few weeks ago we put out our own sort of restatement on our approach to Twitter, which many of us spent quite a bit of time thinking through. And I’m glad we did it. I think it’s time for people to put that particular platform into a bit more perspective, and frankly, to take a step back from an overreliance on Twitter as a place to vet grievances with your own news organization.”

Kahn is not anti-Twitter. He sees the value, and told Pompeo that it’s a good place for journalists to get ideas, create a following, develop sources and “help drive some audience and conversation around the good journalism that you do.”

But, it becomes problematic when journalists fight with trolls, battle sources and “air grievances with your colleagues or other pieces of journalism.”

This is just a small portion of the interview. The entire conversation is worth your time.

In case you missed my newsletter Wednesday, I wrote about some of the social media issues facing newsrooms, as well as advice from my Poynter colleague Kelly McBride on how newsrooms can begin addressing those problems.

And speaking of the Post situation, here’s a column for Nieman Reports by Issac J. Bailey: “Felicia Sonmez’s Firing Highlights the Limits of Progress For Women In Newsrooms.”

Watch your language

New CNN president Chris Licht isn’t forbidding it, but he would really like his staff to stop using the term “The Big Lie” when talking about false election claims made by former President Donald Trump. Mediaite’s Aidan McLaughlin was the first to report this.

Instead of calling it “The Big Lie,” Licht told staff he prefers “Trump election lie” or “election lies,” according to McLaughlin’s story.

The phrase “The Big Lie” is believed to have first been used by Adolf Hitler and then was later used to describe the propaganda used by the Nazis. It has reappeared in the past couple of years to describe Trump’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.

According to TVEyes, which monitors such things, the phrase “The Big Lie” has been mentioned 168 times on CNN this month. One unnamed CNN “insider” told McLaughlin, “It’s worrisome that we’re being told how to talk about one of the worst things that ever happened to American democracy. We have to call lies lies, whether they’re small lies or big lies. Is there any lie bigger than that lie?”

McLaughlin wrote, “They speculated that the directive could be coming from Warner Bros. Discovery board member John Malone, who has criticized CNN’s approach to news under former boss (Jeff) Zucker.”

Again, McLaughlin pointed out that Licht is not handing down a mandate as much as a preference. But when the boss has a preference, you get the feeling that the staff will treat it as a mandate.

Double features

I wanted to take a moment to direct you to two pieces from ProPublica. The first is a column from Stephen Engelberg: “Will the Jan. 6 Hearings Change Anyone’s Mind?” Engelberg pointed out how the Watergate hearings nearly 50 years ago did change public opinion about President Richard Nixon, who was ultimately forced to resign.

But what about now?

Engelberg writes, “The question that hangs over the Jan. 6 hearings is whether the emergence of similarly damning facts or documents would move either the Republican base or its leaders in Congress. The prevailing wisdom says no, and there are plenty of reasons to argue that a strikingly large portion of former President Donald Trump’s base will dismiss any disclosures by the media or members of Congress as ‘fake news.’”

Then again, maybe not.

Engelberg writes, “… one should be cautious in predicting the effect congressional investigations will have on public opinion. Learning that Trump’s advisers were divided between Team Crazy and Team Normal, and that Team Crazy clearly had the upper hand, might disturb a fair number of voters. I’ve seen congressional hearings change minds, including my own.”

Meanwhile, also check out this ProPublica story: Craig Silverman and Ruth Talbot with “Google Says It Bans Gun Ads. It Actually Makes Money From Them.”

Reinventing Anna

Anna Sorokin, left, being interviewed by NBC News’ Savannah Sellers. (Courtesy: NBC News)

If you’re like me, you can’t get enough stories about Anna Sorokin, also known as the faux-German heiress Anna Delvey. Her story was the centerpiece of Netflix’s captivating series “Inventing Anna” starring Julia Garner as Delvey and Anna Chlumsky as Vivian Kent — the character based on New York magazine’s Jessica Pressler, whose piece in New York inspired “Inventing Anna.” Sorokin scammed many of New York’s movers and shakers, as well as hotels and restaurants and friends, to fund her extravagant lifestyle.

NBC News’ Savannah Sellers now has an exclusive interview with Sorokin, who is in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. Sorokin is launching a new NFT project and tells Sellers, “Hopefully I’ll be given a chance to focus all my energy into something legal.” Sorokin added, “I’d love to be given an opportunity for people not to just dismiss me as a quote-unquote scammer, and just see what I’m going to do next.”

The interview will air during “Morning News NOW” on NBC News NOW today from 7 to 9 a.m. Eastern, with additional airings on TODAY and NBC Stay Tuned in the coming days.

Going local

The Marshall Project, the Pulitzer-winning nonprofit media organization that covers criminal justice, is launching its first local news operation. The first city: Cleveland. And it has a heavyweight team of journalists to get going, including former Plain Dealer reporters Stan Donaldson Jr., Cid Standifer and Mark Puente, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist who also has worked at The Baltimore Sun, Tampa Bay Times and Los Angeles Times.

Veteran journalists Jim Crutchfield will be editor-in-chief and Marlon A. Walker will be managing editor for local.

“Cleveland is one of our country’s richest cities in terms of history and culture, but also a city where the criminal justice system clearly needs to be further examined,” Walker said in a statement. “We have assembled a team of talented, dedicated journalists who will report rigorously on local issues.”

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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