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Posts Tagged ‘John Robinson’

Jason Plotkin's new Cover.

Jason Plotkin’s new Cover.

Journalists should go to extraordinary lengths to protect our integrity. But when a courtesy or kindness doesn’t threaten our integrity, we should say “thank you.”

Jason Plotkin, an extraordinary (Emmy-winning) visual journalist for the York Daily Record, blogged recently about a marine giving him his “Cover” (“The Army wears hats. The Marines wear Covers,” the marine explained).

Jason wrote about all the gifts he had given away over the years, or passed on to a YDR charity auction, guided by the ethical imperative to maintain independence from sources. His colleague, Buffy Andrews, called the dilemma to my attention, asking what I thought.

Here’s what I think: We should absolutely – and insistently, if necessary – politely refuse gifts of significant value that could threaten our integrity, if only by appearance. But journalists don’t have to be assholes. Our jobs too often force us to annoy – asking difficult questions, refusing pleas not to publish embarrassing information, intruding on grief and other private situations. I defend (and have practiced) all of those actions and many other unpopular things journalists need to do. But we don’t have to insult people who are being kind in ways that don’t threaten our integrity.

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I really liked John Robinson’s blog post about fixing local news, so I tweeted about it:

Since I was tweeting after midnight, I figured my tweet might go unnoticed. But 20 people retweeted it and 17 favorited it (not all the same people). And a couple people responded. Cory Bergman, general manager of Breaking News, offered a valid criticism:

Then Lisa P. White, a Digital First Media colleague who covers the communities of Martinez and Pleasant Hill, Calif., for the Contra Costa Times, responded with several tweets.

While I still think John raised some valid observations about the need to rethink how we cover local news, the questions and criticisms were also valid. So I’m going to encourage John to share some specific suggestions to improve local news. (Update: John has responded.) But I’ll also note that I shared some suggestions earlier this month, asking what newsrooms should stop doing and earlier this year, I posted about how Digital First reporters on any beat should change their work and about beat blogs.

I’ll continue here with some more thoughts on how a newsroom might change some or  all of its beats: (more…)

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I call your attention to seven recent pieces about the business of news. I don’t feel strongly enough (or have enough new to say) about any of them to comment at length, but I’ll comment briefly.

Dean Starkman of Columbia Journalism Review continues to pretend that paywalls are a panacea for the news business, saying that the Washington Post needs one immediately. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that I’m wrong and paywalls are a good idea. At best, they’re only part of a solution. If they were the path to posterity, the news organizations with paywalls wouldn’t be struggling the way they are. Even if a paywall works, we need a lot more than paywalls, and the single-minded focus on paywalls is slowing the development of other solutions.

Mathew Ingram’s response to Starkman is, not surprisingly, much more insightful: “This focus on a paywall as a magic solution misses the point about the larger risks facing both the Post and the industry as a whole.” (more…)

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With all due respect to John Robinson, he is dead wrong that it’s time for his newsroom “to have new leadership with new ideas.”

Maybe it’s time for John to enjoy something else in life. But he brought outstanding leadership and an endless flow of new ideas to the Greensboro News & Record in 13 years as editor. Whoever the new leader is will have a tough act to follow.

John announced his resignation Tuesday, with his last day scheduled for Dec. 2. (more…)

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Here are resources to help journalists using Twitter and other social media.

For the last few months, as I’ve been visiting Journal Register Co. newsrooms and blogging more tips for journalists using social media, I have been meaning to update my Twitter resources for journalists (now more than a year old). After today’s news that a new Journal Register subsidiary, Digital First Media, will start managing MediaNews Group, I suddenly got messages that I was being followed by lots of MediaNews journalists, particularly from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

I don’t know yet what my specific role will be in working with MediaNews, but I think it’s safe to say I will remain a leader in social media news for JRC, with likely roles in leading social media use for Digital First and/or MediaNews. So maybe I should introduce myself to my new colleagues with a list of resources for journalists using social media.

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I don’t have time to write a thorough analysis of the new Twitter for Newsrooms guide that Twitter published yesterday for journalists, but I’ll share some initial observations.

The guide is helpful. It promotes Twitter’s Advanced Search, and it always surprises me how many journalists don’t know how to search to find tweets about the topics they are reporting on. The guide encourages journalists to use Topsy for archival search, which I had forgotten about (Twitter Search doesn’t go back more than about a week). The guide is worth a look, especially if you aren’t using Twitter much, and probably has a few helpful tips if you’re experienced with Twitter.

But frankly, I was disappointed with Twitter’s guide. It strikes me as more promotional than helpful (when being more helpful would actually be better promotion, especially with as tough a crowd as journalists). The guide promises “more to come,” which is good, because it’s light on tips for crowdsourcing, covering breaking news, verification and discussion of ethical issues. This should become a place for sharing case studies of how journalists use Twitter. (more…)

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Update: Joe Grimm is leading a workshop on building your personal brand.

Much of last week’s discussion of journalistic “branding” focused on whether journalists should engage in something that sounds so much like marketing.

In this post, I want to address how to develop a brand as a journalist (call it a reputation, if branding makes you uncomfortable). Toward the end of this post, I will discuss whether we should call this branding, but I’d like to focus initially on how to do it. I’ll make this point now: The opposite of brand is generic. And no one looking for a job wants to be generic, unless your strategy is to land a low-paying job.

At the risk of boasting (an area in which I am not risk-averse, but more on that later), I will discuss here specifically how I built my own brand as a journalist, and through my experience, how you can build your brand.

I will deliberately avoid repeating here any discussion from last week about Gene Weingarten’s humorous branding advice to journalism student Leslie Trew Magraw or the responses to him (including mine). This is about advice, not arguing. However, Gene is continuing that discussion in his weekly Chatological Humor chat today. (more…)

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I can be a bit of a scold to colleagues, exhorting editors to move more boldly and swiftly into the future.

As an industry, newspapers have been slow and clumsy at innovation. But a lot of editors do outstanding, innovative journalism (as well as outstanding traditional journalism) and I would like to recognize some of them. I was honored today by Editor & Publisher, named Editor of the Year. As I explain in a separate post, I was surprised by the honor, not out of false humility but because I truly am no longer an editor.

While I am honored by this recognition, I do want to make the point that many editors are deserving of such recognition. Dozens, if not hundreds, of editors serve their communities honorably, elevate the journalism of their staffs and pursue innovative solutions, even in these trying times. (more…)

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I was unable last week to watch the unfolding coverage through Twitter and media web sites of the Fort Hood shooting.

I was traveling Thursday and teaching Friday, and simply couldn’t follow all the developments as the “facts” of the story kept changing. While I’d love to comment on the story and the coverage, I don’t like writing unless I am better informed. So I’ll just call your attention to some commentary I read on the the shootings and the coverage: (more…)

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