Increasingly, what counts as a fact is merely a view that someone feels to be true. Many newsrooms are in danger of losing what matters most about journalism: the valuable, civic, pounding-the-streets, sifting-the-database, asking-challenging-questions hard graft of uncovering things that someone doesn’t want you to know. Serious, public-interest journalism is demanding, and there is more of a need for it than ever. It helps keep the powerful honest; it helps people make sense of the world and their place in it. Facts and reliable information are essential for the functioning of democracy – and the digital era has made that even more obvious.
RBC recently became the latest of many independent news organization in Russia to face resignations, restrictions and closures due to mounting pressure from authorities. In May, the editor-in-chief was dismissed, reportedly due to political pressure resulting from stories about Putin's inner circle. Two other chief editors and numerous editorial staff left in protest. The replacement chief editors, brought in from state-controlled media outlet TASS, wanted to introduce themselves to the remaining RBC staff. The Q&A with the new bosses started with a simple request: “Everything we discuss here … doesn't go beyond this room and doesn't end up on social media.” Naturally, the whole thing was recorded, and the transcript was posted online. [more inside]
Minnesota's nickname is the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." But for local reporter Boyd Huppert and photojournalist Jonathan Malat of KARE-11, Minneapolis, it's also the Land of 10,000 Stories. Their long-running news segment highlights touching, local, human interest pieces, and has won multiple awards for excellence in journalism. A special hour-long compilation of eight popular stories aired last year.
"I think now is the perfect time to start (or restart) a local digital news operation. There are few greater gifts in journalism than a blank sheet of paper." In CJR, editor and entrepreneur Jim Brady (@jimbrady) on why and how now might finally be the time for local journalism in the USA to find a business model that works. [more inside]
Publishing giant Tribune is changing its name to... tronc. Originally incorporated in 1847 with the founding of the Chicago Tribune, Tribune owns both the Chicago Tribune as well as the LA Times and numerous newspapers across the US.
“The rise of the misinformed is now the largest obstacle for success for journalists today (outside the concerns that relate to publishing). If people don't trust the news, you don't have a news business.” Thomas Baekdal writes a strategic analysis for media companies to earn their readers’ trust, looking at data from PolitiFact to understand how misinformation spreads and what journalists can do to stop it.
As newsrooms disappear, veteran reporters are being forced from the profession. They dedicated their lives to telling other people’s stories. What happens when no one wants to print their words anymore?
When an NBC producer fell for celebrated surgeon Paolo Macchiarini while filming a Dateline documentary special about him, she thought her biggest problem was a breach of journalistic ethics. Then things got really interesting.
Fresh from The Intercept (that fearless vanguard of journalism helmed by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras): disturbing documents exposing the unfathomable reach of the United Kingdom's GCHQ in its quest for total awareness of global internet traffic. A hundred billion user actions logged per day. A "Black Hole" database of 1.1 trillion logs. Frightening programs like KARMA POLICE, MEMORY HOLE, and MUTANT BROTH that correlate the kilo-crore corpus -- IP addresses, cookies, forum posts, search histories, emails, and passwords all compiled and cross-referenced into a real-time "diary" that gives penetrating insight into the relationships, beliefs, and desires of every web user on the planet. Internal documents suggest only widespread encryption can threaten the regime -- a movement the UK is determined to subdue (previously). [more inside]
Marlene Sanders’ Feminist Legacy [Slate obit] - "She wrote of her accomplishments: 'As I look back on my career, the women's movement provided an exceptional point when time, place and position all came together to give me the power and focus to contribute to the country’s awareness of the status of women.'" [more inside]
Today, Gawker editorial staff vote on whether to unionize with Writers Guild of America, East, saying that transparency in compensation and fair health benefits are among the issues that have led them to organize. [more inside]
The Onion Is Not a Joke [The Atlantic] How a fake newspaper is turning into a real media empire.
We believe the awful truth is out there, it’s just not at background briefings by the National Security Council.
If the effort is successful, Gawker Media would be the first major online media company to unionise.
The Final Rhapsody of Charles Bowden by Scott Carrier [Mother Jones] [warning, descriptions of graphic violence] [more inside]
David Carr, journalist and media columnist for the New York Times passed away suddenly earlier tonight. [more inside]
Seasoned news photographer John Harte is telling stories, naming names, and even sharing unpublished pictures from his 28-year stint at The Bakersfield Californian at a new blog, You can't have my job, but I'll tell you a story: My three decades of photojournalism in one hell of a news town. Be warned that some of these photos may be disturbing. (They include images of dead children — notably the famous, award-winning, and highly controversial Hart Park drowning photo, which generated 500 calls of protest and a bomb threat against the newspaper.) Less-upsetting highlights include the stories in these individual entries: Meet the sheriff! My first arrest, We can't upset our readers!, and The greatest sports photo in history.
Ebola and the Construction of Fear by Karen Sternheimer (Everyday Sociology)
"Sociologist Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things, explains how misguided panics are not just benign opportunities to prevent something horrible, but can divert attention and public funds away from more likely threats. He notes:[more inside]Panic-driven public spending generates over the long term a pathology akin to one found in drug addicts. The money and attention we fritter away on our compulsions, the less we have available for our real needs, which consequently grow larger (p. xvii).
Westerners are so convinced China is a dystopian hellscape they’ll share anything that confirms it. [more inside]
The Racism Beat - Cord Jefferson writes about the repetitive mental strain of being a writer on racism.
Newspaper company Digital First Media is expected to announce today that it is shuttering Project Thunderdome, its three-year old experiment in news content creation and sharing. [more inside]
"On Monday, veteran Washington Post editor and New Yorker contributor Marc Fisher published a deeply reported, scrupulous Columbia Journalism Review cover story on how the Internet’s metabolism and economy [including instant-headline video start-up NowThisNews], which places a premium on being first to a story and on attracting clicks, has led to compromises when it comes to the whole accuracy thing. As if on cue, a fun news story has been making the rounds in the past few days: A survey found that 11 percent of Americans believe that "HTML" is a sexually transmitted disease. Other findings included that 20 percent believe a "motherboard" is a cruise-ship deck and 15 percent believe "software" is a type of clothing. The survey itself... may not exist." -- TNR on the Circular Fact Checking ecosystem of online news reporting.
A few years back, Fox News head Roger Ailes moved to Garrison, NY, built a house, bought the local newspaper, and got involved in local politics. New York Magazine has the story of Ailes' efforts to remake the small town in his own image, and the rage, paranoia, and narcissism those who've interacted with him have come to expect.
MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
Ron Burgundy did the News last week in Bismark North Dakota. Some thought it made a mockery of the news, but the station is pretty happy with how it turned out. This week, Ron dropped in on Emerson College to give some advice to the journalism grads, starting with "Of course you have to report the facts. Unless it’s too hard to find the facts — then, just make something up."
The Saudi Arabian government has been tight-lipped about the spread of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a disease first discovered in 2012 that has "killed more than half of those who contracted it", "responding slowly to requests for information and preventing outside researchers from publishing their findings about the syndrome. [more inside]
The Washington Post will be sold to Jeff Bezos for $250 million, ending four decades of the Graham family. Amazon will have no role in the purchase.
Claire Messud: “A woman’s rant” [National Post] "Over the last week, discussion surrounding Claire Messud’s new novel, The Woman Upstairs, has shifted from the book to an interview its author recently gave to Publishers Weekly, in which Messud took issue with the following question: “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” [more inside]
Women enjoy video games, to the astonishment of local TV newsreaders. Women enjoy science, to the astonishment of Facebook users.
The First Rough Draft of History: A Behind-the-Scenes History of Newsweek Magazine
The times of The Times of India - world's largest broadsheet English daily
The Daily, much-lauded iPad-only news operation is "ceasing standalone publication" on December 15. The News Corp publication launched Feb. 2, 2011 with cooperation from Apple and its nascent Newsstand app. Previously.
In 1962, fifty years ago this month, striking union printers shut down four New York City newspapers in resistance to computerized, automated technologies that were being introduced in newsrooms across the country. Five other area papers shut down voluntarily. The strike lasted 114 days and sounded the death knell for four newspapers. For a brief period, New York was a laboratory that demonstrated what can happen when newspapers vanish. Today, new technology is again shaking American newspapers as the Internet drains away more and more advertising revenue. Is this The Long Good Bye? [more inside]
The 4th Estate corrects its numbers - "That journalism struggles with racial diversity is old news, but a study released on Thursday by The 4th Estate tried to quantify the magnitude of the problem. The organization released an infographic showing that, among the 38 most influential newspapers in the country, 93 percent of front-page articles about the 2012 election were written by white reporters. The infographic received a host of coverage." [more inside]
In the wake of its $1 sale and subsequent restructuring, merger with The Daily Beast, and some increasingly criticized covers and stories, Newsweek announces that it will cease print publication at the end of the year.
In the wake of the venerable Boston Phoenix changing to a glossy magazine format and rebranding itself as simply The Phoenix (as well as the ongoing turmoil at the Village Voice), Salon's Will Doig writes the obituary for the age of the alt-weeklies. The Phoenix responds.
Breaking: There Is No News A supercut of awkward silences in news reports.
"I want to encourage mainstream journalists to speak up when they discover their companies are misleading the people, doing PR for corporations and governments and disguising it as journalism."
Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon is speaking out against the network after it decided for "editorial reasons" not to air its documentary iRevolution on CNN International. Lyon worked on a 13-minute segment interviewing democratic activists in Bahrain, who risked their own safety to be heard. Glenn Greenwald reveals that at the same time, CNN was being paid by the Bahrain Economic Development Board to produce pro-state coverage as part of its "Eye On" series. A senior producer complained to Lyon about the nature of her coverage: "We are dealing with blowback from Bahrain govt on how we violated our mission, etc."
Spin Cycles is a radio series by CBC producer Ira Basen about how those in power can manipulate facts in order to make their case for the rest of us. [more inside]
The Hemingway Papers: The legendary writer’s reporting from the Toronto Star archives, featuring historical annotations by William McGeary, a former editor who researched Hemingway’s columns extensively for the newspaper, along with new insight and analysis from the Star’s team of Hemingway experts.
Fungible: A treatise on fungibility, or, a framework for understanding the mess the news industry is in and the opportunities that lie ahead. The younger the person you ask, the less likely it is you’ll find that link between wanting to know what’s going on and grabbing a paper or opening up a news website. They use Pinterest to figure out what’s fashionable and Facebook to see if there’s anything fun going on next weekend. They use Facebook just the same to figure out whether there’s anything they need to be upset about and need to protest against.
Every World Press Photo Award Winner From 1955-2011. Many photos not safe for work and/or not safe for life, due to images of violence.
Richard Dawkins on the surreal experience of being the subject of a Sunday Telegraph "gotcha" article.
Grierson believed strongly that the filmmaker had a social responsibility, and that film could help a society realize democratic ideals. His absolute faith in the value of capturing the drama of everyday life was to influence generations of filmmakers all over the world. In fact, he coined the term "documentary film." [more inside]
"...we still can’t tell whether we are all about to die or whether we are being sold a bill of goods."
'The stories about epidemics that are told in the American press—their plots and tropes—date to the 1920's, when modern research science, science journalism, and science fiction were born.' This is the story of how the media back then (January, 1930) helped fuel fears about a parrot-fever pandemic, and the subsequent public backlash. (Via) [more inside]
Gawker's John Cook yesterday published an exclusive report on a trove of documents from the Nixon Presidential Library tracing the development of Fox News to a 1970 internal memo annotated by then-consultant Roger Ailes. Part of a 318-page cache of similar documents, the memo -- "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News" -- called for the creation of a strongly pro-Nixon news outlet operated from the White House which would disseminate partisan news packages free of charge to local affiliates across the country. By coordinating release of these targeted reports with allied politicians and duping opponents into hostile interviews, Ailes hoped to bypass the "prejudices of network news" -- a desire which led him to advocate for some unexpected political policies at the time, from campaign finance reform to anti-poverty efforts. The report comes as Fox is waging an aggressive two-front PR war with perceived ideological enemies -- calling on viewers to file IRS complaints against Media Matters' tax-exempt status for their dogged fact-checking of the network, while on-air hosts launched a campaign to label Jon Stewart "racist" after he called out their record of falsehoods following a critical interview with Chris Wallace (previously).
Religion Dispatches: progressive, LGBT-and-atheist friendly, interfaith, non-academic journalism on faith and religious culture. Also of note: Good magazine has limited print distribution but a rich website.