February 22, 2018

Wednesday brought a new and intensely passionate level to the debate going on in the country over gun control and mass shootings.

From Miami to Tallahassee to Washington, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, parents and gun control supporters made their voices heard — often with blunt, but polite, forcefulness, but also with emotional pleas.

Here’s a quick look at what the media coverage looked like.

'HOW MANY CHILDREN HAVE TO GET SHOT?’ That was one parent’s plea at a listening session held at the White House with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. They listened for more than an hour, news cameras running, as survivors and parents took their turns at the microphone. Andrew Pollack, the father of slain student Meadow Pollack, was measured but succinct as he began: “We’re here because my daughter has no voice — she was murdered last week, and she was taken from us, shot nine times.”


President Donald Trump holds notes during his listening session. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

‘PATHETICALLY WEAK’: A cheer broke out from the crowd of 7,000 when Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed, described the reaction by Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio to the school shooting that killed 17 people. The CNN Town Hall meeting had Rubio declare his support of a ban on ownership of automatic weapons to anyone under 21. But he lectured the crowd that an overall ban on assault weapons would cause the government to “literally ban every semi-automatic rifle that’s sold in America.” The crowd cheered.

SIX NEWS-MAKING RUBIO STATEMENTS: CNN’s Daniella Diaz chronicled them in this piece. No. 3: He disagreed with President Donald Trump's proposal to arm teachers.

450 MILES AND 8 HOURS: That’s how long it took some 100 Stoneman Douglas students to get to the Florida state capital to make their case for gun control. They joined with thousands of others at a two-hour rally that was the largest in two decades. From the Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau: “The protesters, many of them not yet old enough to vote, chanted ‘Enough is enough, ‘No more guns’ and ‘Vote them out’ as lawmakers approved a bill to require that the state motto, In God We Trust, be displayed in schools across the state.”

ATTACKING YOUTH IS NOT NEW: After the killings at Kent State, too, there was this type of bitter older American who applauded the slaughter — and didn't want the next generation to lead. Pulitzer-winner Connie Schultz goes into the Kent State archive for this column.

A NATiONWIDE DEMONSTRATION: The Atlantic’s Alan Taylor compiled this collection of photos  around the U.S. of people supporting the students of Parkland and calling on American officials to protect school kids.

A REMINDER: The NRA is under FBI investigation of funneling Russian money to Trump in the 2016 campaign.

What's next after the Vox layoffs?

Layoffs at Vox Media get at two new truths in digital media these days: The pivot to social video may not be the answer, and don’t bet your franchise on Facebook.

In fact, several news publishers saw the announcement Tuesday as validation of their efforts to focus on deeper connections with readers and viewers coming to their websites, clicking on their newsletters or listening to their podcasts; what one called “our O & O (owned and operated) audience.”

Vox CEO Jim Bankoff said the 50 layoffs — about 5 percent of its workforce — would come from Racked, Curbed, SB Nation and the company’s Video Services team. The move follows layoffs last week at CNN Digital and late last year at BuzzFeed, Mashable and Refinery29 after disappointing earnings. He referred to social media’s reduced future, a reference to Facebook’s cut in the percentage of publisher content on News Feed pages.

"Today is one of the toughest days we've had as a company," Bankoff told employees.

Noting Facebook’s “unreliable monetization and promotion,” Bankoff said recently that Vox Media would likely produce less content hosted by Facebook.

Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery says the layoffs prove another point:

Quick hits

A RAY OF LIGHT: Fortified by new investment, The Atlantic plans to hire as many as 100 people over the next year, president Bob Cohn has announced. Half of those jobs will be in the newsroom, he said. “It will be a mix of writers and editors and video producers and podcast producers and live events producers,” Mr. Cohn said. “Those are areas of coverage that we want to focus on, and we’ll do it across all our platforms: digital, print, live events, video, audio, newsletters.” The ramp-up follows the acquisition of a majority stake by the Emerson Collective, an organization run by the philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs.

‘THE TWITTER PURGE IS REAL’: Call it a purge, a lockout, a bot rapture. In any case, Twitter is deleting fake automated accounts, and conservatives are complaining of bias as many have lost “followers,” Bloomberg reports. Researchers say as many as 15 percent of users could be fake, a number Twitter says is much lower. Here are two points of guidance, from a post by Twitter’s Yoel Roth:

MSM HAS A PROBLEM, TOO: Don’t get too snarky about President Trump’s estimated 18 million fake followers. Check this out, says Quartz’s Jed Gottlieb: According to Twitter Audit, 17 million of the New York Times’ 41 million followers are fake. So are 7 million of Fox News’ 17 million followers.

ONE BIG EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is just part of it, from Newsweek’s story on its own financial backing, which is under investigation. “As we were reporting this story, Newsweek Media Group fired Newsweek Editor Bob Roe, Executive Editor Ken Li and Senior Politics Reporter Celeste Katz for doing their jobs.”  Also, the Newsweek owners say they want to increase their ties with a small Christian college and a controversial Korean-American pastor.

WHEN ATHLETES TELL THEIR OWN STORIES: The best story on a blockbuster Boston Celtics trade may have come from Isaiah Thomas himself. The Celtics saw him primarily as an asset, he wrote. Yes, HE wrote. The Players Tribune allows the stars to tell their own stories, which are occasionally brilliant. But writer Amos Barshad — and your morning correspondent, who used to edit an occasionally insightful blog by Paul Pierce — ask: Is it journalism?

REDISTRICTING FOR $100: “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek will moderate a Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate. The showdown between Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf and the Republican primary winner will take place at a business event on Oct. 1. Trebek, a native Canadian, became a U.S. citizen in 1998.

3 MILLION DIGITAL SUBSCRIBERS: The Wall Street Journal is closing in on that goal, says its chief marketing officer and executive vice president. Suzi Watford lists five key areas that have been critical to that growth.

TOUGHER THAN OBAMA ON RUSSIA? President Trump has claimed he has taken tougher stands on Moscow than his predecessor. That’s “mostly false,” determined Louis Jacobson and John Kruzel of our partners at PolitiFact. Here are the details.

SPEAKING OF TRUST: That’s what a 58-year-old science writer is trying to build throughout journalism. Sally Lehrman, director of the Trust Project, has developed eight forms of content verification that news outlets should meet for publication. Ozy’s Dan Peleschuk writes that tech giants Google, Facebook, Twitter and Bing are working on how to present these indicators to the public. “There are many enormous decisions that we have to make, and there are many very small decisions we have to make,” Lehrman says. Key to making them well, she adds, “is information that we can rely on to be accurate, that we can use to have debates and discussions about the next steps.”

On poynter.org today

  • What if you wrote a story about a community business, then curated a photo show about it? Read how one station is connecting with its audience through its unique events.

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lane DeGregory’s latest podcast is particularly relevant: When an event like a mass shooting happens, how do you find a way to tell a personal narrative amid the tragedy?

  • Heads up: Today is the last day to register for the ACES In-Depth Editing Online Group Seminar.

Poynter hosts Scripps Howard judges

Today and Friday, the Institute will be hosting a veritable who’s who of journalism educators and media leaders who will be judging entries for the annual Scripps Howard awards, now in their 65th year. Finalists in the contests will be announced Feb. 27; winners on March 6. Judges and administrators include seven deans or directors of university journalism schools; a manager from Google News Lab; the heads of AEJMC and NPPA; top executives from Scripps, CBS, The Washington Post, Reveal (also known as the Center for Investigative Reporting) and ProPublica; and a number of reporters and editors from around the country. Poynter has hosted this contest for more than 10 years.

Corrections: Sometimes we get moving too fast for our own good at Morning Mediawire. In Wednesday's newsletter we had a couple of typos that several of you let us know about. It's, of course, whack-a-mole, and we do know that it's ordnance for artillery, not ordinance. Thanks for keeping us on our toes.

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