On World Press Freedom Day, Lester Holt says he’s having a ball, plus a talk veteran’s illness and big NOLA news

Your Friday news roundup

May 3, 2019

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May 3, 2019

Happy World Press Freedom Day. Be sure to check out Poynter.org for our coverage of this important day.

Al Tompkins has an exhaustive list of American public records that journalists should consider exploring on this day of press freedoms. Daniel Funke and the International Fact Checking Network look at misinformation actions around the world. Mel Grau writes how Poynter supports world press freedom — and lists 27 organizations that do, too.

And I had a chance to speak with “NBC Nightly News” host Lester Holt on Thursday about press freedoms. Read on.

‘I’m having a ball’

Lester Holt of ‘NBC Nightly News’ said he thinks now is a great time to be a journalist.

In my conversation with Lester Holt, he talked not only about the vicious physical attacks against journalists all over the world, but the “subtle jabs” taking place in America that undermine the credibility of journalists and threatens our democracy.

Holt said, “I think it’s truth that is under threat. Now, by extension, we’ve become the symbol of that truth. And those who are enemies of an informed public, those who are enemies of the truth look at us as enemies.”

Holt said the best way journalists can combat this narrative of “fake news” and “evil media” is to continue doing good work, be as transparent as possible and to help citizens understand the difference between news and opinion shows.

Regardless of the threats against journalism here and abroad, Holt said he remains optimistic about its future.

“This is an amazing time to be a journalist right now,” Holt said. “I’m having a ball. I think my colleagues are, too. We’re energized. Those voices that try and talk us down only make us more determined to carry out our mission as journalists.”

Getting vulnerable

Popular sports talk host Dan Patrick makes a health revelation on the air.

Dan Patrick. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Sports radio and TV host Dan Patrick started the second hour of his Thursday morning program by saying “I’m going to put on the left turn signal here.” Wow, did he ever, as he took the program into a serious personal matter.

Patrick told his audience that he has been battling polymyalgia rheumatica, which causes severe joint pain, for the past seven years. That, along with treatment of it, has caused occasional memory loss, depression and even suicidal thoughts. He gave examples, like not remembering famous athletes’ names while on the air, forgetting that he had dinner and swings in emotion.

He said he has improved since going off prednisone, a drug he called “wonderful, but it’s horrible.” Instead, for the past 10 months, has since been receiving light chemotherapy once a month. One of the side effects is occasional memory loss. Patrick thanked his staff for its support and asked listeners for their patience. He said the chemo treatments would last through September.

O’Donnell to leave morning show

CBS News is reportedly close to finalizing its morning show shuffle.

Journalist Norah O’Donnell in 2018. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

Norah O’Donnell is expected to leave “CBS This Morning.” The Hollywood Reporter writes that Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil will join Gayle King on the anchor desk. John Dickerson will move from “CBS This Morning” to “60 Minutes.” THR reports the deals aren’t finalized, but the expected moves will complete the overhaul of the morning show — one of the first orders of business since Susan Zirinsky took over as CBS News president in January.

As for O’Donnell, there are some reports that she’ll land in one of the top chairs at the network as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.”


Sticking around

An advisory firm made recommendations regarding MNG’s efforts to join the Gannett board.

Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds has this:

A bid by Media News Group for representation on Gannett’s board got a boost Thursday. Institutional Shareholder Services, an influential advisory firm to investment groups, recommended that shareholders vote for one of three MNG nominees for a position on Gannett’s eight-member board. That would give a voice to critics of current management, the report said.

MNG has a takeover bid on the table. It recently scaled back its slate from six to three. All are associated with Alden Global Capital, MNG’s parent. Voting will be completed and results announced at Gannett’s annual meeting May 16.

A big deal in the Big Easy

Times-Picayune readers are about to go back to a seven-days-a-week print schedule.

The owners of Louisiana’s The Advocate newspaper have purchased The Times-Picayune in New Orleans from Advance Local Media.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Owners of the New Orleans Advocate have purchased the Times-Picayune and its NOLA.com website from Advance Local Media. The new Advocate will debut in June and publish seven days a week using the brands and features of both publications. The papers’ websites will combine and stay NOLA.com.

What isn’t clear is what this means for the staffs of the papers. In a story on its website, The Advocate wrote:

The Advocate will be expanding its New Orleans news, advertising and circulation staff by hiring from current NOLA.com and Times-Picayune employees, and will increase its coverage of suburban communities, sports and entertainment, and also improve its opinion pages.


Remembering their work

Three notable journalists died this week.

Three notable journalists died this week: former South Florida Sun Sentinel metro columnist Gary Stein, former Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Fleischmanand Vancouver hockey writer Jason Botchford.

Stein spent 36 years at the Sun Sentinel. For 15 of those years, he wrote some 3,500 columns. He died Wednesday of pneumonia. He was 72.

Fleischman covered a bit of everything at the Inquirer from NASCAR to Wimbledon to college basketball. But he was best known for covering the famed Philadelphia Flyers “Broad Street Bullies,” who won back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 1970s. Fleischman also wrote about sports media. He was 80 and died Wednesday of complications from cancer.

Botchford died unexpectedly Wednesday at the age of 48 of apparent heart failure. He was covering the Vancouver Canucks for The Athletic after covering the Canucks from 2005 to 2018 for The Province. He also appeared regularly on radio and television in Canada.

Hot type

A curated list of great journalism and intriguing media.

  • Powerful stuff from ABC News: Israel came to a standstill Thursday with a two-minute siren wailing across the country in remembrance of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
  • Nightlight anchor Juju Chang talks about the trailblazers who helped paved the way for her and why representation in media is important in the “Good Morning America” celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
  • IndyStar sports columnist Gregg Doyel thanks his favorite teacher.
  • The Washington Post revamped its Super Bowl spot with narrator Tom Hanks for this ad to commemorate World Press Freedom Day. The commercial is scheduled to air on CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

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

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