February 27, 2018

It’s part photo gallery, part video snippet — and shaped like your smartphone.

The Washington Post has a new storytelling vehicle that combines text, photos and video — and reporter Jason Rezaian, for one, loves it. Rezaian scripted and spoke on one of the Post’s first “AMP Stories” late last week — on journalists who have been imprisoned.

On this social storytelling experiment, Rezaian, himself imprisoned by Iran in 2014 on phony espionage charges and freed 544 days later, looks right into the camera and says these cases “are more common than you may think.”

His story intersperses brief video clips by Rezaian with data and maps from Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders and images of journalists who have been imprisoned in Myanmar, Turkey, Egypt and yes, the United States. Take a look, listen and read.

Rezaian, who had written previous stories about these journalists, came to the design team with the suggestion, says Greg Manifold, the Post’s design director. He wrote the script, did the short video snippets and was able to use the photography and maps from his previous stories.

“He came to us, excited about that platform. We need people in the newsroom coming to us,” says Manifold, leading a team of two video journalists, a photographer and a reporter on the Google-coordinated experience. Other social storytelling efforts have included pieces on cold-brewing coffee, the week in editorial cartoons, Curling 101 — a balance between evergreen stories and developing lines of coverage, as Manifold puts it. The Post is one of eight news outlets, including Vox Media and Hearst, doing early experimentation with the Google product, Manifold says.

To Rezaian, if social storytelling can get a casual crowd interested in freedom of the press worldwide, “that would be a great victory. No everyone is going to read 1,000-word stories on these topics.”

His social story from Friday already has been used again, Rezaian noted sadly, as an accompaniment to his story on Monday — on the fatal shooting of a journalist in Slovakia who reported on tax evasion among that European nation’s elite.

The latest on the Parkland shooting

MEDIA SUES FOR VIDEO: CNN, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald want to see the video showing security camera footage outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School from the day of the shooting.

SCHOOL DEPUTY RESPONDS: In a statement issued by his lawyer, former school resource officer Scot Peterson said he wasn’t afraid to go into the school. He was doing what he had been trained to.

ALL TOO FAMILIAR: The Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times found front page after front page documenting mass shootings over the past two decades. Some are more familiar than others, but it’s still sobering to scroll through.

THREE WORDS: Quartz deconstructs the term “well-regulated militia” and argues that the words of George Mason, one of the country’s founding fathers, are often not presented in their full context. You’ll feel better informed after reading it.

WHAT HE MEANT TO SAY: Sarah Huckabee Sanders had a big job on Monday. She had to explain, in her words, what President Trump really meant when he said he would have run into a school with an active shooter, even if he didn’t have a weapon. Hours later, the press spokesman tried to frame Trump’s words as saying that he merely indicated that he would have been “a leader.” Oh.

Quick hits

BREWING DISCONTENT AT THE NYT: James Bennet was brought in to shake up the editorial pages at The New York Times. But his hires and ideas have set off explosions of criticism both inside and outside the building. A senior newsroom leader told Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “Now people are worried. The newsroom feels embarrassed.” It’s an intriguing inside look at the complexities of editing one of the world’s most discussed and powerful op-ed pages.

SUN SENTINEL CHIEF IS OUT: As the newspaper covers what is arguably one of its biggest stories ever, the staff received an email Monday announcing that editor and publisher Howard Saltz was leaving as of Wednesday. Saltz had a reputation among the local media for “censoring sensitive stories.”

READING US TO DEATH: Editorial cartooning has rarely been more important, as we’ve written, but the economics are awful, writes Nick Anderson, who was laid off last year from the Houston Chronicle and now contributes to The Washington Post Writers Group. “The reason a cartoon is effective is that it engages very quickly — it’s a five-second investment in your time,” Anderson writes. “But that’s the rub. What makes a cartoon so effective on social media also makes it nearly impossible to monetize.” Here’s Anderson’s cartoon (with his permission); read how he hopes to make it as a full-time cartoonist again:


GROWING UP: The maturation of America’s marijuana journalism, from Maureen Dowd’s infamous Rocky Mountain High to today, by Kieran Delamont for The Outline.

ALL SPORTS: CBS launched a 24/7 digital sports outlet called CBS Sports HQ, Variety reports. Monday’s launch comes a few weeks before ESPN is slated to introduce a new subscription-based service centered around live events.

GAWKER’S REVENGE?: Billionaire Peter Thiel may have destroyed the gossip website through his Hulk Hogan lawsuit, but it might come back to bite him, reports the Daily Beast. In an upcoming book, his “openness about the extreme avenues he was considering going down to destroy Gawker could come back to haunt him should he face a ‘tortious interference’ lawsuit,” writes Lloyd Grove.

NAMED: Ford Foundation president Darren Walker to the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “Another strong leader joining the press freedom fight,” tweets board chair Kathleen Carroll, former Editor of the Associated Press. CPJ works to protect freedom for journalists worldwide.  

ARC GROWS: The Washington Post’s Arc Publishing signed Bonnier Corp. to use its platform and technology for more than 30 magazine brands, including Popular Science, Field & Stream and Saveur. Here’s the press release.

WHAT WENT WRONG AT NEWSWEEK: At last, someone has written a big-picture look at how the once respected magazine had fallen into such disreputable journalism and business practices. It stands accused of shady ties to a religious institution and its staff is in disarray. Slate’s Will Oremus gives us the inside story of the magazine’s huge growth and its “spectacular downfall.”

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