July 19, 2019

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July 19, 2019

Good Friday morning. I urge you to check out today as we look back at how the media covered the moon landing 50 years ago this week. That includes the best headline ever.

If you believed they put a man on the moon…

…Then you’ll enjoy Poynter’s roundup of lunar landing stories. And if you don’t? Better read the hoax takedowns from PolitiFact and IFCN.

The best headline of all-time about the moon landing? It’s not even close:

“Holy S*** — Man Walks on F***ing Moon”

OK, it didn’t come from an actual newspaper. It was the headline from the satirical news site, The Onion. But, come on, nothing beats The Onion headline that described one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind. And even though it originally appeared in a 1999 book of satirical front pages about the greatest events of the 20th century, it still might be the most memorable headline ever about the moon landing.

Poynter managing editor Barbara Allen talked to Scott Dikkers, one of The Onion’s founders, who told her, “That was the first headline idea that we had for the book. I don’t remember who thought of it because it was just so obvious — the moon landing.”

That conversation and behind-the-scenes look at The Onion’s headline is just one item in a sensational package called “Man on Moon”  up right now on That package celebrates the media’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, including:

Be sure to carve out some time to remember one of the greatest events in the history of the world.

The Post’s deep dive on the opioid crisis

This Aug. 15, 2017, photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

The opioid crisis is one of the worst epidemics we have faced as a nation in the past 20 years. According to an amazing piece in The Washington Post, America’s largest drug companies “saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 to 2012.” Just think about those numbers.

The Post has fought for years to have this information made public. It comes from a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which tracks every single pain pill sold in the United States over that time. The Post’s package also includes an explainer on how to download and use the database. The Post said the data provides an “unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 to 2012.”

In a statement, The Post’s executive editor Marty Baron said, “The Post has invested tremendous legal and journalistic resources in obtaining, analyzing and presenting this database. But there is more work to be done — by us, by other journalists and by individuals seeking to learn what has transpired in their own communities. With this database on our site, many others can now contribute to a full understanding of the causes and impact of a devastating opioid epidemic.”

A moment of perspective: This is a remarkable display of public service reporting performed by The Post. The information, available to every journalist in every corner of the country, can be used to impact, literally, every person in America.

Gannett/GateHouse merger seems likely

On Thursday, several outlets reported that Gannett and GateHouse, the nation’s two biggest newspaper chains, were close to a merger.

The Wall Street JournalNieman Lab, The New York Post and Gannett flagship USA Today are all reporting that GateHouse is in the final process of taking over ownership of Gannett. Media analyst Ken Doctor writes for Nieman that the merger, which could be complete by summer’s end, would mean that one out of every six daily newspapers in America would come from one chain:  “The merged company would control 265 dailies with a combined daily print circulation of about 8.7 million.”

No one official from either company has commented publicly.

In the interest of full disclosure …

CNN is catching some flak for an interview that aired Tuesday night featuring a panel of eight women who defended President Donald Trump’s tweets, which many considered racist, about four congresswomen of color. The problem is that CNN made it sound as if the women were just random Republicans when, in fact, they are members of something called the “Trumpettes of America 2019 Palm Beach Team” — which calls itself a grass-roots organization that promotes Trump’s agenda.

Making it even more problematic is that some of the women have appeared before on CNN as supposedly random women. In the other appearances, they also supported Trump.

The Washington Post’s media reporter Paul Farhi wrote, “As a result, the segment left the impression that CNN had assembled a panel reflecting a cross-section of opinion from Republican women about the crossfire between Trump and four freshmen Democratic congresswomen of color.”

While there’s nothing wrong with interviewing the women, the fact that they belong to a pro-Trump group should have been revealed. CNN has not commented.

‘What about the debt of gratitude?’

“CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell, talking with Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan near the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. (Photo courtesy of CBS News)

New “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell has come out strong in her first week. She was the first nightly news anchor to call President Trump’s tweets “racist,” she has reported live from the Kennedy Space Center as well as the U.S.-Mexico border. And on Thursday, she called out Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.), who has blocked the fast-tracking of a bill that would extend compensation for victims of 9/11, citing the country’s $22 trillion debt.

While reporting on two firefighters who died of cancer that could have been related to 9/11, O’Donnell mentioned Paul and said, “What about the debt of gratitude America owes first responders and their families? That is a debt the country can never repay.”

Don’t call me, I’ll call you

What’s the best way to pitch a story to a journalist? Send him or her an email between 9 and 11 in the morning. That’s one of the takeaways from a new Muck Rack survey of more than 700 journalists that tracks how they find their news, use social media and work with PR teams.

When it comes to pitching stories, the least preferred method is to call a journalist on the phone. If journalists do receive an email, 61% prefer the email to be fewer than three paragraphs. About 76% of journalists are more likely to cover a story if offers an exclusive and 0% (not a typo) said they would be less likely.

In terms of social media, 83% of journalists said Twitter was most valuable.

About 63% of journalists said they view their relationships with PR professionals as mutually beneficial.

A deep breath of ‘Fresh Air’

“Fresh Air” host Terry Gross receives the 2015 National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in September of 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

If you’re a big fan of the NPR interview show “Fresh Air” (and who isn’t?), this is huge: You can now search the entire “Fresh Air” archive. That’s more than 40 years and 22,000 segments.

Isn’t it hard to believe that it has been that long? The show debuted on WHYY in Philadelphia in 1975 with Judy Blank as host. Later that year, Terry Gross took over as host and producer. In 1985, NPR started carrying a half-hour version of the show and then in 1987, the show went to its current format of an hour long, Monday through Friday.

Hot type

Members of the B-52’s, from left, Cindy Wilson, Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson performing in 2012. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

  • You could blow a half day (I did) sifting through this really fun interactive piece by The New York Times’ Christopher R. Weingarten as he looks back at the debut album from The B-52’s, including what influenced it and what it later influenced. Trust me, you’ll lose a good chunk of time getting lost in this.
  • The Ringer with a fun list: the 40 best Disney songs of all-time.
  • “Hi. Here is an outline for my obit. Don’t screw it up too badly.” — That’s what Dave Condren, a reporter for The Buffalo News, wrote in 2013. That obit was published Thursday.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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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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