July 18, 2019

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July 18, 2019

Good Thursday. The debate rages on about President Donald Trump and his tweets, and a former Poynter leader gives his thoughts later in this newsletter. But let’s start somewhere completely different today.

The most important spiel of the day

‘The Breakfast Club’ has become a valuable stop for Democratic candidates.

Once upon a time, if you were running for president, you went around the country, shook hands and kissed babies. When it came to television, you might appear on “60 Minutes” or do a sit-down with Barbara Walters.

Then came 1992 and Bill Clinton’s appearance on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” Clinton wore sunglasses and played the sax. That changed everything. Since then, presidential nominees have become regular guests on late-night talk shows and even “Saturday Night Live” skits. That trend of appearing on non-traditional news shows now includes “The View,” which The New York Times recently called “the most important political TV show in America.

Add another must-stop on the campaign trail. It’s “The Breakfast Club,” a nationally syndicated radio show out of New York that is simulcast on the Revolt TV network. The show is hosted by Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy.

The Washington Post’s Bethonie Butler wrote about the show, pointing out its “brash hosts and irate rappers” and calling it a “valued stop for Democratic candidates.”

Former Barack Obama adviser Joshua DuBois told Butler, “‘The Breakfast Club’ is like ‘Morning Joe’ for the hip-hop era. It is the place that people in the know, in the culture, go to find out what’s relevant — from what people are listening to and watching to what issues are on the minds of African American young people.”

Candidate Kamala Harris has appeared three times, and the show also has welcomed Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker. Expect more appearances in the future from all as long as they stay in the race.

Be sure to check out Butler’s excellent profile of the show and its impact.

CBS continues its must-see TV run

Gwen Carr — the mother of Eric Garner, who died in police custody five years ago — was interviewed Wednesday on “CBS This Morning.” (Photo courtesy of CBS News)

It has been an eventful week for CBS News. The network launched its new evening newscast with anchor Norah O’Donnell on Monday — to strong reviews, I might add. O’Donnell did Wednesday evening’s broadcast from McAllen, Texas — home to the country’s largest migrant processing facility. While inside the center, she said, “It’s hard to look away. No doubt there’s a crisis, and today we met those at the center of it.”

“CBS This Morning” also has had a strong week. On Wednesday, it had an exclusive interview with the four congresswomen of color who were the targets of a Twitter attack by President Trump.

Also on Wednesday, the morning show sat down with Gwen Carr — the mother of Eric Garner, who died five years ago after being put in a chokehold by a police officer while being arrested for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes in Staten Island. Federal prosecutors decided this week to not charge the officer.

Carr said she found out about the decision through social media, adding, “The whole world heard about the decision before we did. … The whole world.”

Carr blasted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and told him to “step up.”

“Closure looked like the officers, all of them that day, standing accountable for what they did to my son that day because even if he was selling cigarettes, it’s not a death sentence,” Carr said. “My son should not have died that day.”

Toast turns to roast, then to totally awkward

It’s a familiar scene: A longtime newspaper employee’s last day at the paper is celebrated in the middle of the newsroom with a few tributes, a little good-natured ribbing, a farewell speech and then cake. And that’s how columnist Stu Bykofsky’s last day was supposed to be after 47 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.

But then Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Inga Saffron stood up to speak, which was odd because she and Bykofsky had not spoken in years. You soon found out why they didn’t talk. The sendoff suddenly turned into an uncomfortable roast with Saffron questioning Byrkofsky’s journalism ethics and mentioning “his infamous column about his taste for child prostitutes in Thailand.”

That set off Bykofsky, who said, “This is a total (expletive) lie.”

And it generally went off the rails from there. No worries, there’s video, thanks to Philadelphia Magazine.

A new direction for Youngstown journalism

Downtown Youngstown, Ohio. (Photo courtesy of Mandy Jenkins and McClatchy)

Journalism is not going to die in Youngstown, Ohio. That was the fear when the paper there, The Vindicator, announced last month that it would shutter operations at the end of August. First, ProPublica announced that it was opening up a spot in its Local Reporting Network for someone to write about accountability issues in Youngstown.

Now McClatchy is stepping up. The company announced today that Youngstown has been selected as the launch city for The Compass Experiment — an initiative with Google to develop essential and substantial local digital news models. Mandy Jenkins, general manager of The Compass Experiment, will recruit a team in Youngstown to staff the startup, which hopes to collaborate with local, regional and national news outlets.

“When we heard that Youngstown’s daily newspaper, The Vindicator, would be closing, we saw an opportunity to help a community with a rich heritage and distinct identity find a path forward for local news,” Jenkins said in a statement. “We are on the ground now working with people in the community to set up a digital news outlet that will launch in the fall.”

In the next several months, McClatchy also expects to select two more communities for The Compass Experiment. The sites will be owned entirely by McClatchy, which has sole editorial control. Google will have no say in editorial decisions.

‘Leave … labeling to the people affected’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Here’s another take on whether or not journalists should use the word “racist” when talking about President Donald Trump’s tweets. This is one is from Keith Woods, NPR’s vice president for newsroom training and diversity. He also is the former dean of faculty at Poynter.

In a piece for NRP, Woods wrote, “I understand the moral outrage behind wanting to slap this particular label on this particular president and his many incendiary utterances, but I disagree. Journalism may not have come honorably to the conclusion that dispassionate distance is a virtue. But that’s the fragile line that separates the profession from the rancid, institution-debasing cesspool that is today’s politics.”

What’s notable is that NPR has been referring to the president’s tweets as racist.

But Woods wrote that journalists should: “Report. Quote people. Cite sources. Add context. Leave the moral labeling to the people affected; to the opinion writers, the editorial writers, the preachers and philosophers; and to the public we serve. We just have to do journalism.”

The Athletic flexes its muscles in Europe

A soccer match between between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London in February. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

The Athletic has already shifted the sports media landscape in the United States and Canada. The ad-free, subscription-based website has lured away high-profile newspaper and magazine writers from all across North America and has placed staffers in every city that has a team in one of the big four professional sports leagues. Plus, it covers major colleges, women’s pro basketball and other sports.

Now it’s going heavy into Europe. The Athletic recently announced plans to cover the English Premier League, and it’s using the same tactic in the United Kingdom that it used in the United States: it’s going after well-known writers.

BuzzFeed News writes that The Athletic has hired Daniel Taylor, the main soccer writer at The Guardian, as well as David Ornstein, the BBC’s top football correspondent. Taylor has been with the Guardian for nearly 20 years and Ornstein has nearly a half-million Twitter followers. Those are just two of several well-known writers joining The Athletic in England.

One senior sports editor in England describes all the hires by saying “it has set off a bomb” in England among soccer fans and media. Another source said the hires have “gutted” the sports department of The Times in London.

Hot type

Flames and smoke rise from the blaze after the spire toppled over on Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in April. (AP Photo/Thierry Mallet)

  • New York Times exclusive: “Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than people knew. This is how it was saved.”
  • Jerry Foxhoven was the head of Iowa’s Department of Human Services until he was resigned last month. But that’s not the interesting part. What is? His obsession with Tupac Shakur. Deadspin’s Giri Nathan has the entertaining details.
  • The FaceApp, which was developed by a Russian company, takes a photo of you and shows what you might look like when you’re old. If you download it, what have you done to your privacy? Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler has the answers.

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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