Jailed Reuters journalists are free, plus the feminist future of CBS News and wisdom from Dan Rather

Your Tuesday news roundup

May 7, 2019
Category: Newsletters

This is the Poynter Institute’s morning newsletter. To sign up to have it delivered to your inbox, click here.

May 7, 2019

Great news for press freedom broke late Monday night, plus the future of CBS News with comments from longtime CBS anchor Dan Rather.

Reuters journalists freed

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December of 2017 for reporting that was eventually awarded a Pulitzer.

Two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar since late 2017 for allegedly breaking the Official Secrets Act walked free from the prison Tuesday. Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December of 2017 while working on a story about state security forces executing 10 Muslim Rohingya during a military operation. Last September, the two were sentenced to seven years in jail. An appeal was turned down last month.

But the pair were released along with thousands of other prisoners as part of mass amnesties that take place around Myanmar’s new year.

“I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues,” Lone told the BBC. “I can’t wait to go to my newsroom.”

Their story, completed by colleagues, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Reuter editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler released a statement saying he was “enormously pleased” with the  two reporters.

“Since their arrests 511 days ago, they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom from around the world,” Adler said. “We welcome their return.”

CBS News shakeup is official

Norah O’Donnell will anchor the network’s evening news, which will move to D.C.

Gayle King, left, and Norah O’Donnell, right. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

The changes were not unexpected, but they are significant as Susan Zirinsky made her first major moves as president of CBS News. The big headline: Norah O’Donnell steps from “CBS This Morning” to anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News.”

John Dickerson moves from the morning to “60 Minutes.” And Gayle King remains the key figure of “CBS This Morning,’’ and will be joined by Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil.

“This is a start of a new era for CBS News,’’ Zirinsky said in a statement.

It will be a new era dominated by women. The big winners in Monday’s moves are O’Donnell and King, who have become the two most high-profile faces at a news division rocked by inappropriate sexual misconduct scandals. Sexual harassment claims ended the CBS careers of CEO and chairman Les Moonves, “CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose and “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager.

O’Donnell becomes just the third female ever to solo anchor a major network evening broadcast, joining Diane Sawyer (ABC from 2009-14) and Katie Couric (CBS from 2006-11). O’Donnell will take over the anchor desk this summer.

“It is incredibly humbling to accept this position,” O’Donnell said on Monday’s “CBS This Morning.” “I don’t stand on the shoulders of my colleagues — they carry me on their backs.”

Also of note, the nightly news program will shift from New York City to Washington, D.C.

King’s reputation has been bolstered in recent months, including a high-profile interview with R. Kelly. She just agreed to a new deal that pays her $11 million a year.

It also should be noted that CBS’s Sunday morning show “Face The Nation” is hosted by a woman. Margaret Brennan took over the show in 2018.

The one unknown from all the changes announced Monday is what will happen to current “CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor. Zirinsky said CBS is discussing opportunities for Glor to remain with the network.

Hold the beef, please

Gayle King noted that no one seems to start or fixate on rumors that men don’t get along.

Thanks in part to a story on Page Six, there were rumors that CBS’s Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell did not get along, and that King was behind O’Donnell leaving “CBS This Morning” and ending up on the “CBS Evening News.”

Both shot down those rumors on Monday’s morning show.

“I have no beef with you, you have no beef with me,” King said to O’Donnell on the air. (King also noted that it seems men are never the subject of such rumors.)

O’Donnell thanked King for making her better in her job and said, “I know you have Oprah, but I want to thank you for being my work BFF.”

‘A … perilous time for the country’

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather loves to watch TV news and tweet, though he thinks international news needs more attention.

Dan Rather. (Photo: John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx)

Speaking of CBS and evening news, longtime “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather talked to Vulture’s Josef Adalian about the state of TV news, media in the age of Trump, former CBS CEO Les Moonves, the time he almost joined CNN and his relationship with former co-anchor Connie Chung. Now 87, Rather hosts “The Big Interview” on AXS TV and remains very active on Twitter. (He has more than 650,000 followers.) He said he is “almost an addicted TV news watcher.” He watches all three networks, likes them all, but wishes they covered more international news.

“It’s a particularly dangerous and perilous time for the country,” Rather said, “because you have a president of the United States with clearly authoritarian leanings who has tried to indict the whole of the press, not just individuals. It does impact individuals, but his basic attack is on the whole idea of a free and independent press. If that’s not dangerous and perilous to a system of government such as ours, I don’t know what is.”

10,000 and counting

An interview with Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact-checker who’s been pretty busy the last couple of years.

President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

For this item, I turn it over to Poynter’s Daniel Funke.

Last week, The Washington Post Fact Checker’s tally of Donald Trump’s false and misleading claims hit 10,000. That’s an average of eight bogus claims per day. To learn more about how the Fact Checker’s three-person team keeps up with that barrage of misinformation, I spoke with Glenn Kessler about the project’s origins, day-to-day maintenance and the impact that it’s had. The Fact Checker has inspired other fact-checking sites worldwide to start similar falsehood trackers.


The Budget Guy dies

His easy-to-understand writing and conversational style led to a recent viral column — about the U.S. deficit, not usually the most gripping of topics.

USA Today opinion contributor Stan Collender, better known as The Budget Guy, died Friday of cancer. He was 68. Collender’s column about the federal deficit was USA Today’s fourth-most read original opinion piece of 2018. (The top three were about suicide, Brett Kavanaugh and school shootings.) Collender also was a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors.

Press freedoms celebrated

The annual Freedom of the Press Awards is set for tonight in New York City, recognizing leaders in free press and journalism.

Andrea Mitchell attends the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in 2019.  She will be honored tonight. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will hold its annual Freedom of the Press Awards tonight in New York City. “NBC Nightly News” host Lester Holt will emcee. The awards recognize leaders in journalism and press freedom.

This year’s recipients include chairman of Atlantic Media David G. Bradley; John Carreyrou, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal; NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell; and April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks and political analyst for CNN. The 2019 Rising Star Award will go to the founders of City Bureau, a Chicago-based nonprofit civic journalism lab.

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and intriguing media.

  • In her latest WriteLane podcast, Tampa Bay Times Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lane DeGregory talks about where to write and how to find you writing cave.
  • Powerful story by Marin Cogan in The Washington Post Magazine as she catches up with Tanya Selvaratnam, one year after Selvaratnam came forward with accusations that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had abused her.
  • Is Facebook a platform or a publisher? When it comes to users getting banned, the answer could make a difference. Vox’s senior politics reporter Jane Coaston explains.
  • Last month, Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds wrote about how the New York Times sells premium ads on how an article makes you feel. ESPN has joined in now, too, prompting Guardian columnist Emily Bell to ask how ethical it is for advertisers to target your mood?
  • In this sports media column for The Athletic, Richard Deitsch talks to 11 college graduates and their plans for a future in sports media. (Note: Subscription required to read.)

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

Upcoming Poynter training:

Want to get this briefing in your inbox? Sign up here.

Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.