This is the Poynter Institute’s daily newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, click here.
Good Thursday morning. I’m going to take a break today from all the hubbub surrounding The New York Times and its most recent reporting on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But if you’re still looking for more, here’s a conversation between Fox News’ Harris Faulkner and former Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who defends the Times. I’m going to start with another televised interview that just has to be seen to be believed.
He said what?
It was an interview so outlandish that you almost can’t believe it was real. In fact, I don’t even know where to start with some of the things former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said while being interviewed by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” Wednesday.
But perhaps the most jaw-dropping exchange was when Lewandowski said the Mueller Report was very clear. “There was no collusion,” he said. “There was no obstruction.”
Camerota said, “That’s not what the Mueller report said, Corey.”
Lewandowski: “It absolutely says that.”
Then came the wait-what moment. Camerota asked Lewandowski if he read the report, and Lewandowski said, “No, I never did.”
Then Lewandowski stepped in it even more when he asked Camerota if she read the report.
Camerota rolled her eyes and said, “Corey, of course I had to read the entire report.”
The rest of the interview wasn’t much better. The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona described it as a “frustrating and headache-inducing 16 minutes going round and round.”
In the meantime, why is Lewandowski even on TV after he told the House Judiciary Committee that he has “no obligation” to be honest with the media? Any network who invites such a guest onto its airwaves is not only condoning that kind of attitude toward the media, but damaging its own credibility.
Work that matters
The divisiveness of the nation is often reflected in how people view the media. Terms such as “fake news” and “enemy of the people” might be an attack on certain national publications and networks, but such attitudes filter down to all media. That can lead to some believing that journalism no longer matters — at any level.
Well, here’s an example of why journalism matters: There’s a mental health facility in Florida that is making millions by taking advantage of its patients. The patients are cut off from their families and then the hospital finds loopholes in a state statute to keep them hospitalized so they can run up bills.
It’s outrageous. Read this paragraph:
“Priya Sarran-Persad had a psychologist threaten to commit her a second time if she didn’t volunteer to stay longer. Michael Jenkins hired a lawyer to help him get out but couldn’t for a week because the hospital never sent his paperwork to a judge. Robert Allen was held an extra three days for not participating in group therapy. His family was stunned. Allen is deaf and wasn’t given his hearing aids.”
How do we know all this? Because the (Poynter-owned) Tampa Bay Times’ Neil Bedi spent six months investigating and delivered a story that only journalism can deliver.
This impacts a community. This impacts real people like you and me. This is journalism that makes a difference.
This is why journalism still matters.
Because sports are so ripe for hot takes, occasionally you’re going to get TV personalities from the same news outlet who disagree with one another. When that plays out publicly, it can get awkward. Some shows, such as ESPN’s “First Take,” are built around such contentious debates.
But a recent dustup that played out on Twitter turned ugly with a TV star not only taking shots at a colleague, but at his own network.
It all started when Fox Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb, who also is an analyst for Fox Sports 1, criticized the early retirement of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as the “most millennial thing ever.”
That led Troy Aikman, a Hall of Fame quarterback who serves as Fox Sports’ lead NFL analyst, to post a blistering response:
“That’s total (expletive) Doug. What qualifies you to decide how someone should live their life? So you’re now the authority on what motivates Andrew Luck? And if his decisions don’t fit into what you think is best for him then you rip him? Guess that keeps you employed on FS1. Nice.”
Aikman’s tweet received more than 491,000 likes and more than 68,000 retweets. In an interview with Jimmy Traina on the “Sports Illustrated Media Podcast,” Aikman said the bigwigs at Fox weren’t happy.
“I received a couple of phone calls, yes, from some of my bosses,” Aikman said.
Aikman added he likes Gottlieb and didn’t mean to get personal with him, but that Gottlieb’s tweet “struck a nerve” with him. Yet Fox apparently wasn’t upset that Aikman went after Gottlieb, but that he took a shot at FS1.
“They respected the fact that I was honest,” Aikman said. “They did not like that I would say something about the company. I understand that, and I appreciate the way that they discussed it with me.”
When asked if he got into any trouble, Aikman cracked, “I’m still working!”
What we learned from Cokie Roberts
Tributes are continuing to flow for veteran political analyst Cokie Roberts, who passed away this week at the age of 75. The Radio Television Digital News Association has a thoughtful piece about how Roberts changed newsrooms and how you can change yours. (Actually, these things apply to all workplaces, not just newsrooms.)
Among the points:
- Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do something.
- Look into good ideas and solutions, not just problems.
- Be a mentor to and advocate for those less powerful.
- Work matters, but family comes first.
- Be kind. Be human.
The RTDNA wrote, “Remember her by living these lessons from her life in your own newsroom.”
The New York Times is shuttering NYT en Español, the Spanish language site it launched in 2016. In a statement, The Times wrote, in part, “while the Español site did attract a new audience for our journalism and consistently produced coverage we are very proud of, it did not prove financially successful.”
The site was based in Mexico City and, according to Nieman Lab, published about 10 stories each day. A Times spokesperson told Nieman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen, “While the Español audience grew, readers were less engaged than they were with our core site, and we did not see a path to converting them as subscribers. Also, advertising revenue was also not able to support the site.”
Paulina Chavira, who worked on the platform, posted a Twitter thread that said, in part, “For the (New York Times) it’s a ‘corporate’ decision, but for us … it was a project that we put our whole hearts into.”
The Times said nine positions were being eliminated.
The Big Lead is one of the more entertaining sports websites out there even though it laid off several writers, including founder Jason McIntyre, after Gannett sold it to Minute Media in March. On Wednesday, it launched a new design — a sharper and updated look after years of looking the same.
Senior writer Kyle Koster wrote, “So what does it all mean? Well, hopefully, a better user experience. A Guy Fieri inspired fresh new take on a bold classic.”
An important hire
Reuters announced Wednesday that Joyce Adeluwoye-Adams has been named Editor, Newsroom Diversity. She will be tasked with building a more diverse newsroom through recruitment and hiring, as well as working with editors on training, mentoring and career development.
“We believe a newsroom that embraces diversity and inclusiveness will make for a better place to work and improve the stories and photos and video we produce for our customers,” said Simon Robinson, Global Managing Editor, Newsroom.
Adeluwoye-Adams said, “The future of the newsroom depends on being able to reflect the diversity of the modern world, and those who consume our content in an authentic way.”
Adeluwoye-Adams’ resume includes working at the BBC and King, a Swedish gaming company.
Sign her up
Maria Bartiromo isn’t going anywhere. Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott announced Wednesday that Bartiromo has agreed to a multiyear deal to remain at Fox Business Network and the Fox News Channel.
- The best Q&A you’ll read this month because of Brian Hiatt’s questions and because of Taylor Swift’s answers. A must-read from Rolling Stone.
- Did you know that Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and James Gandolfini all almost ended up in “The Shawshank Redemption?” USA Today’s Bryan Alexander has the details.
- “What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max?” A superb piece by The New York Times Magazine’s William Langewiesche.
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming Poynter training:
- Covering the 2020 Census – South Florida (workshop). Deadline: Sept. 23.
- Essential Skills for Rising Newsroom Leaders (seminar). Apply by Oct. 28.
Want to get this briefing in your inbox? Sign up here.