A news leader’s serious talk about saving local journalism, why a Yemeni journalist didn’t get his Pulitzer, and the latest TV news rankings

Your Thursday news roundup

May 30, 2019
Category: Newsletters

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May 30, 2019

Good Thursday morning. We have media coverage of the Mueller news conference, but today’s newsletter starts with interesting comments with McClatchy’s new head of news, Kristin Roberts.

‘Transforming … (is) a delicate process’

McClatchy’s new head of news said she’s committed to local journalism and expects the company’s newsrooms to experiment.


Kristin Roberts, McClatchy’s new vice president of news. (Courtesy of McClatchy)

When Kristin Roberts took over as vice president of news for McClatchy earlier this week, she became the first woman in the 162-year history of the company to lead the news division. It’s a big deal and not a big deal at the same time.

When I asked her about that during a phone interview Wednesday, Roberts said she didn’t think about being a woman when she applied for the job. And when she got it, she didn’t think, “Wow, I’m the first woman to take over McClatchy news.” However, she said her reaction to getting the post was “so overwhelming” — that’s when she allowed herself to take a moment to recognize the history of it.

“This is a real moment,” Roberts said. “I guess it’s a moment for me, but it’s also a moment for the company and it’s definitely a moment for women in journalism.”

Roberts — who has worked at Reuters, Politico and most recently was McClatchy’s executive editor for politics and the regional editor for East Coast newsrooms — is all about getting to work and trying to salvage local journalism when it’s at a crossroads. Chains such as GateHouseGannett, and, yes, McClatchy have had major layoffs in recent times. Just this month, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said he thinks most local newspapers won’t last five more years.

“Let me say something about layoffs: It’s devastating to journalists and those affected,” Roberts said. “It’s devastating to local news and it’s damaging to our democracy. … At McClatchy, we are transforming and it’s a delicate process. We have to approach it carefully. It’s hard to do local, and stabilization of local news right now is the key for us  — and we’re right in the middle of difficult times.”

But?

“But we’re delivering,” Roberts said. “For people who make blanket statements about the state of our industry, they are simply not looking closely at what we’re doing and the changes we’re making. Because if you’re paying attention, you would come to a different conclusion. We know it’s hard. We’re living it every day. But I’m optimistic because I know what we’re doing.”

And what are they doing?

“Everyone at McClatchy has been focusing intently on journalism that is so powerful and so important that our local readers and viewers consider us essential in their lives,” Roberts said. “Part of the way we’re doing that and part of the way we’re going to keep doing that is by experimenting with new coverage lanes, with new platforms, with new ways of reaching audiences. I want to see this kind of experimentation in every newsroom.”

 

No surprises here

Coverage of Robert Mueller’s press conference landed predictably from major networks and newspapers.

Special counsel Robert Muller speaks at the Department of Justice on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

How did major news organizations react to Robert Mueller’s news conference? Most played it pretty straight.

CNN’s Oliver Darcy compiled the headlines in one tweet:

  • CNN: Mueller: If we had confidence Trump didn’t commit a crime, we would have said so.

  • The New York Times: Mueller, in First Comments on Russian Inquiry, Declines to Clear Trump.

  • The Washington Post: Mueller: Accusing Trump of a crime ‘not an option’ under justice guidelines.

  • Fox News: Special counsel: Charging Trump never an option, but can’t say president didn’t commit a crime.

Later, the Post changed its main headline to “Mueller reiterates that his probe could not clear Trump of obstruction.” And Fox News changed its main headline to “Mueller makes rare appearance to resign, and fuels more Dem impeachment talk.”

 

Entry: denied.

A Yemeni photojournalist missed a potentially once-in-a-lifetime chance to receive journalism’s biggest prize.

Associated Press Middle East editor Lee Keath, from left, joins AP’s 2019 Pulitzer Prize winners for International Reporting: Nariman El-Mofty, Maggie Michael and Maad al-Zikry, who joins by El-Mofty’s cellphone video, after they received Pulitzers Tuesday. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

During Tuesday’s Pulitzer Prize luncheon at Columbia University in New York City, one journalist was notably absent.

Maad al-Zikry, a Yemeni photojournalist who was on the AP team that won the Pulitzer for International Reporting for its coverage of civil war in Yemen, was denied a visa to travel and therefore missed the ceremony.

Here’s what happened.

Al-Zikry wrote: “… (T)he U.S. administration is that it has to rethink its policies against Yemen and Yemenis. One of the key reasons why this land is so impoverished in the tragic condition it has reached to today is the U.S. administration’s mass punishment on Yemen. They must rethink that.”

Taken for granted?

The Associated Press’ president extolled the virtues of his company’s outstanding and long-standing work.


The Associated Press won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for its coverage of the civil war in Yemen. From its coverage: A 25-year-old Yemeni woman holds her son on a scale at a hospital. The woman, who was nearly into the second trimester of her pregnancy, weighed 84 pounds, while her 7-month-old weighed 12.8 pounds, around half the normal weight for his age. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

You could argue that no news organization has a greater impact than The Associated Press. Yet the AP’s president and CEO Gary Pruitt said that “few know exactly what AP is.” That’s what he wrote in an editorial that appeared last weekend in such newspapers as The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, The Tennessean and the Palm Beach (Florida) Post.

Pruitt laid out the AP’s prolific daily output: 2,000 stories, 3,000 photos and 200 news videos. A more sobering number: 35 AP journalists have been killed while working — the first was Mark Kellogg at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

You could argue that no news organization has a greater impact than The Associated Press. Yet the AP’s president and CEO Gary Pruitt said that “few know exactly what AP is.” That’s what he wrote in an editorial that appeared last weekend in such newspapers as The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, The Tennessean and the Palm Beach (Florida) Post.

Pruitt laid out the AP’s prolific daily output: 2,000 stories, 3,000 photos and 200 news videos. A more sobering number: 35 AP journalists have been killed while working — the first was Mark Kellogg at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

Pruitt called breaking news AP’s “bread and butter,” but touted the outlet’s investigative work that freed 2,000 slaves in Southeast Asia in 2015, that unsealed court documents in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case and, most recently, that won the AP a 53rd Pulitzer Prize for its civil war coverage in Yemen.

“While times may have changed,” Pruitt wrote, “one thing remains the same: AP’s commitment to advancing the power of facts.”

 

Getting into the game

NBC News joins the streaming service industry.

NBC News is joining the streaming news game. On Wednesday, it launched a new streaming service — NBC News Now — that will run from 3 to11 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Fridays at NBCNews.com/now, as well as on the NBC News mobile app and apps on such platforms as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV. NBC hopes to eventually take the service to 24 hours a day. CBS News, ABC News and Fox News already have streaming news services.

NBC’s service will offer original news content, breaking news, features, interviews and hourly live updates called “Briefly’s.”

 

190 years covering Philly

An Inquirer anniversary called for something special this year.


Courtesy Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Philadelphia Inquirer turns 190 years old on Saturday. On Wednesday, it published a 40-page commemorative special section with some of its most historic front pages from 1829 to today. It also published a digital version.

 

Who’s on top?

The Sunday morning news shows remain tightly competitive, while Fox News continues to dominate viewership at night.


“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd in 2018. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

NBC’s “Meet The Press” remains the most-watched Sunday morning news show. According to Nielsen, “Meet The Press” had 2.994 million total viewers in May, which was 3,000 more than CBS’s “Face The Nation” and 411,000 more than ABC’s “This Week.”

Meanwhile, Fox News’ Sean Hannity continues to rule primetime cable news networks. He averaged 3.1 million viewers in May, ahead of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who had 2.6 million viewers per night.

 

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and intriguing media.


Some journalists run or walk to help them deal with stressful and traumatic situations at work. (Shutterstock)

  • Covering trauma isn’t easy for journalists. Kari Cobham, senior associate director for The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism at The Carter Center, tackles this delicate subject for Poynter.
  • Washington Post technology columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler writes, “It’s 3 a.m. Do you know what your iPhone is doing?”
  • Imagine if basketball star Steph Curry said something interesting after a game and sportswriters all agreed to wait a day to print it. That’s kind of what happens in England sometimes. The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis has the strange details of sports coverage and asks if it could happen in the U.S. someday.
  • Poytner’s Ren LaForme is out with his latest Try This! newsletter about digital tools. This one looks at how Jigsaw is trying to fix the problems with comments sections of websites.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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