Archive for October, 2009

Thanks to Anthony Capps, entertainment editor at the Iowa State Daily, who found an eight-year-old training handout that apparently I never posted online. It was for a 2001 workshop I did for interns at the Omaha World-Herald on horrible mistakes and the lessons from them.

I asked colleagues at the World-Herald and elsewhere to share their stories, which they did quite eagerly. I sorted them by lessons learned. This was the forerunner to my workshops on accuracy for editors and reporters, for which the handouts are already online at No Train, No Gain (along with most of my other training handouts).

Anthony was kind enough to send me a pdf of the handout, which I have cut and pasted (with a little editing to fix mistakes that snuck past me then or to make it more appropriate for today). I promised confidentiality, so that I wouldn’t need to verify the third-person stories and so that people would feel free sharing the embarrassing first-person stories. A few people gave me permission to use their names in 2001. I have removed their names now, rather than track them down now and ask if it’s still OK to name them.

The stories and lessons are more print-centric than they would be if I were to collect stories today. But I think they still contain some valuable lessons for journalists: (more…)

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Update: Michael Schudson has responded to this post.

Whatever else it is, The Reconstruction of American Journalism is not comprehensive.

Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, and Michael Schudson, authors of the Columbia University report, described their work in the Post today as a “comprehensive report.” They recommend federal subsidies for news organizations and changes in federal law to allow more philanthropic support for journalism. More on those topics later.

Here’s what the report does not address in any meaningful way:

  • The role of social media in the future of journalism.
  • The failure of media companies to develop new business models.
  • The possibility of developing new business models that rely on the free market, rather than charity or taxpayers. (more…)

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This post is now out of date: I just posted my response to this report: American media need innovation, not subsidy.

I will be blogging later today on a report released by Columbia University titled The Reconstruction of American Journalism.

From a summary in the Washington Post by the report’s authors, former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie and Columbia Professor Michael Schudson, the report seems to focus on steps the government can take to prop up traditional news reporting models.

David Carr of the New York Times seems to indicate the same thing in his column on the same report.

I have serious doubts about the approach as summarized. But I won’t comment further until later (it’s printing out now and I will read it right away). Jeff Jarvis shares my doubts. I’d like to hear what you think.

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When I read Philip Lee’s ignorant anti-Twitter rant, Notes on the triviality of Twitter, my first reaction was that I needed to write another anti-anti-Twitter-rant rant.

But I’m getting tired of those rants (maybe you are, too). I previously noted how Leonard Pitts, Edward Wasserman and Paul Farhi wrote foolish things about Twitter without bothering to learn what they were talking about. Do I repeat myself just because Lee has echoed their whining, or could I find something new to say?

Lee did say lots of ignorant things about Twitter, but they are things I’ve addressed before, so I won’t dwell on them here. He has tried Twitter out (barely, 34 tweets in nearly a year), which the others noted above had not.

I want to address Lee’s concern about Twitter and storytelling: (more…)

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Journalists pride ourselves in being accurate and on being current with the latest news. So let’s update our inaccurate views of Wikipedia.

A 10,000 Words post by Mark S. Luckie today offers lots of good advice for reporters on pleasing their editors, including this piece:

Fact-check your stories. Any editor worth their salt will inevitably ask where certain information came from. Be ready for this with explicit answers and a list of your sources. And for the love of all things holy, don’t say Wikipedia.

I heartily endorse the advice to fact-check stories, and I agree that Wikipedia alone is not a sufficient source. But it’s way past time for journalists (and academics, for that matter) to get beyond our arrogant dismissal of Wikipedia and include it in our box of imperfect tools for verifying facts. In fact, if Wikipedia has an entry on a topic you’re writing about, it would be an excellent first place for a journalist to start checking facts. (more…)

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I don’t engage in a lot of Twitter memes. But I gladly joined the #beatcancer meme today.

As a two-time cancer survivor (colon in 1999, basal cell in 2005), I know that cancer is not a sure death sentence. But I also visited my father three weeks before his death from prostate cancer in 1978 and visited my nephew, Patrick Devlin, four days before his death from leukemia last month. The enduring memory of Dad’s death and the fresh memory of Patrick’s underscore for me that every time someone can #beatcancer, I should join the celebration. (more…)

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After settling for the default WordPress blog theme for way too long, I have (with help from Jamie Kelly) mastered the rather simple steps of personalizing the blog and customizing some things I didn’t like about the appearance. I welcome your feedback on the appearance and ease of use.

I chose the photo of me at Bryce Canyon not just because it’s a beautiful place (though it is). As I wrote when I was at the American Press Institute, the newspaper business is not just experiencing a business cycle or erosion of readership. We are facing the kind of tectonic upheaval that created Bryce Canyon. I am hoping C3 can help us make something beautiful out of this change.

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The video of my explanation of the Complete Community Connection was just shown on the National Summit on Arts Journalism. Excellent production by Anastasia Shepherd and Gabriel Peters-Lazaro:

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I’ll be watching and joining the National Center for Arts Journalism today. It will feature a video interview of me about C3:

Live Video streaming by Ustream

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