Journalists called into question; Apple’s big news; why the Times won’t play

March 26, 2019

Judging the media

The word of the day: reckoning.

That’s what the media is facing now in the wake of William Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report. The media is under attack for how it covered the two-year investigation that looked into whether or not President Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to rig the 2016 election.

As I wrote in a column for Poynter.org, there is no question that the media needs to re-examine how it covered this story. Was the coverage fair? Was it too much? Was the audience misled? What about the use of anonymous sources? All are questions that must be examined. Others outside (and even inside) the media have already begun that examination.

This so-called reckoning has only just begun.

Apple’s big announcement

Oprah Winfrey speaks at the Steve Jobs Theater on Monday, March 25, 2019, in Cupertino, California. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

You know it’s a big deal when Oprah shows up. Oprah Winfrey was on hand Monday when Apple announced several new projects, including a streaming video service, its own credit card and, what might be of most interest to those who read this newsletter, a $9.99 tier of the Apple News app called Apple News+. The Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal will be included, although it’s unknown if all of their content will be available.

Apple News+ subscribers can access current and past issues and individual articles from magazines such as The Atlantic, Better Homes & Gardens, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, ELLE, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN The Magazine, Esquire, Food & Wine, Good Housekeeping, GQ, Health, InStyle, Martha Stewart Living, National Geographic, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parents, People, Real Simple, Rolling Stone, Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Travel + Leisure, Vanity Fair, Vogue, WIRED and Woman’s Day.

Aside from The Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times, Apple News+ also includes the Toronto Star. In addition, Apple News+ provides access to premium online publications such as theSkimm, The Highlight by Vox, New York Magazine’s sites Vulture, The Cut and Grub Street, and Extra Crunch from Verizon Media’s TechCrunch.

Variety reported that some of the details of Apple News+ service remain unknown. For example, it’s still unclear if subscribers will have full access to all of the sites listed.

Variety reported The Wall Street Journal suggests the paper might contribute politics and general news coverage, but keep business stories behind its own paywall.

WSJ publisher William Lewis told AppleInsider, “Is all our content going on Apple News? No. We’re going to make sure the Apple News product is a wonderful product people feel comfortable investing in.”

In a statement, Los Angeles Times owner and executive chairman Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong said, “We have every confidence the Apple affiliation will spur the growth of our digital subscriptions.”

The WSJ is hiring

Another piece of news coming out of Monday’s Apple announcement: The Wall Street Journal is upping its staff. In a memo obtained by Talking Biz News, Wall Street Journal editor Matt Murray wrote:

“We will be hiring. As our journalism needs increase, so will our staff. We plan to hire several dozen people in the coming week, including reporters in politics, US News and features, as well as editors. Success will mean more to come. I expect that more platforms, and more audiences, will mean a greater need to deepen coverage to serve all types of readers.”

NYT won’t play ball with Apple

One big name missing from the Apple News+ announcement was The New York Times. Mark Thompson, the Times’ CEO, told Reuters that relying on third parties to distribute news products could be dangerous for publishers who risk losing control over their  product.

Thompson told Reuters, “We tend to be quite leery about the idea of almost habituating people to find our journalism somewhere else. We’re also generically worried about our journalism being scrambled in a kind of Magimix (blender) with everyone else’s journalism.”

The play’s the thing

Journalism can take many forms: articles, videos, podcasts, even tweets. Now the Center for Media Engagement (CME) at the University of Texas, in partnership with The Center for Investigative Reporting and Storyworks, are examining how theater and journalism can be combined. And the results were interesting: In a study of responses analyzing three plays based on investigative reporting, the group found that audiences viewed news organizations more favorably. They also found the plays to be “highly informative, believable, credible, accurate, fair, interesting, and enjoyable.”

“This study shows that using journalistic storytelling through theater can help change perceptions of the news media,” said CME researcher Ori Tenenboim.

Jennifer Welch, StoryWorks creator and artistic director added in a statement, “We’ve learned that changing the way we experience journalism through investigative documentary theater motivates people to become engaged with newsrooms, building trust between the media and communities.”

Poynter’s Kristen Hare wrote about StoryWorks in 2015, as did David Beard for Poynter last year.

PolitiFact’s new asociación

Poynter has announced a partnership with its own fact-checking news organization, PolitiFact, and Noticias Telemundo. PolitiFact reporters and editors will be made available to Telemundo for on-air interviews, and Noticias Telemundo will send statements to PolitiFact to fact-check for Spanish-language audiences.

“Hispanic issues are at the center of the political conversation, which is becoming increasingly polarized,” said Luis Fernández, executive vice president of Noticias Telemundo. “Offering PolitiFact’s unique form of accountability journalism to our audience helps strengthen political discourse by centering it on the facts and adding context for the decisions people make every day. The stakes are incredibly high going into the next electoral cycle and we want to make sure our audience has the right information.”

Check it out

The Miami Herald’s Colleen Wright’s three-month investigation on how a middle-school teacher kept his job despite allegations of being a predator.

Poynter’s Ren LaForme is out with his latest Try This digital tools newsletter.

Longtime New York Times editor Susan Chira has been named editor of The Marshall Project, the non-profit newsroom covering the criminal justice system in America. She replaces the retiring Bill Keller, another former Times editor.

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

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