January 24, 2019

Hardest decade gets even harder

Just last week, Poynter reporter Kristen Hare wrote an insightful story asking if this was the hardest decade in journalism. If so, it got a whole lot harder on Wednesday.

In news that’s becoming all too familiar and depressing, scores of journalists either lost their jobs or soon will.

First, BuzzFeed confirmed that 15 percent of its staff — about 220 employees — will be leaving.

Then Verizon Media, which owns HuffPost, AOL and Yahoo, along with other media companies, confirmed it will lay off about 7 percent of its staff. HuffPost reported Wednesday that “staffers in the U.S. expected to see layoffs in their newsrooms, though it was not immediately clear how the cuts would affect the brand.’’

Then came word that journalists from newspapers and websites across the country were laid off by Gannett. The layoffs included notable names such as IndyStar columnist Tim Swarens, Arizona Republic Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson and longtime Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel sports reporter Dan Fleser.

For Tom Jones’ story on the Gannett layoffs, click here.

‘Today’ interviews controversial guest

The “Today’’ show and its co-host Savannah Guthrie took plenty of heat before and after a Wednesday morning interview with Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School student wearing a Make America Great Again hat standing face to face with a Native American elder last weekend in Washington, D.C.

Before the interview even aired, NBC was criticized by some who felt the network was giving a platform to someone whom critics thought of as racist. Then after the interview aired, Guthrie was blasted by some who thought her interview was too soft and by others who thought she was unfair to the 16-year-old.

Did “Today’’ do the right thing by interviewing Sandmann? Absolutely. It’s called broadcast journalism. Sandmann is at the center of one of the biggest news stories in the country. “Today’’ is a news show. It’s supposed to interview subjects such as Sandmann.

As far as Guthrie, if there are two sides to this story and you’re getting ripped from both sides, you’re probably doing your job well. Here’s Poynter’s Tom Jones’ full take on the interview.

Speaking up

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who has not given an official press briefing from the White House briefing room since Dec. 18, was asked about that during an interview on Wednesday’s “Fox & Friends.’’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question as she speaks with reporters outside the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders listens to a question as she speaks with reporters outside the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

“We’re in the business of getting information to the American people,’’ Sanders said, “not making stars out of people that want to become contributors on CNN.’’

Sanders pushed back on criticism that she isn’t cooperative with the media.

“I take questions from reporters every single day,’’ Sanders said. “The idea this White House is not accessible to the press is absolutely laughable. I have done over 100 briefings, answered thousands of questions from members of the press. … The president takes questions nearly every single day from reporters. We’re on call 24 hours a day.’’

To her point, Sanders did meet with reporters outside the White House on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted that he has told Sanders not to bother with news conferences from the briefing room, but Sanders did not rule out a return to the briefing room.

“We’ll see what happens,’’ she said.

For the full Sanders interview, go here. The questions about the media briefings are at the 5:18 mark.

Condé Nast to add more paywalls

Condé Nast will move all its titles behind paywalls by the end of the year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Three of Condé Nast’s properties — The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired — already are behind metered paywalls, meaning a subscription is required after a few free articles a month.

By the end of 2019, other titles including Vogue, Teen Vogue, GQ, Bon Appétit, Golf Digest and Pitchfork also will have paywalls. Details are not set just yet, but each title might have a different subscription model.

While all titles have a dedicated following, moving Pitchfork behind a paywall could throw its readers for a loop — its music reviews are practically gospel among its readers. It’s also worth noting that Pitchfork founder and former CEO and editor-in-chief Ryan Schreiber announced earlier this month that he was leaving after 22 years.

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Barbara Allen is the director of college programming for Poynter. Prior to that, she served as managing editor of Poynter.org. She spent two decades in…
Barbara Allen

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