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Archive for September 1st, 2011

My Journal Register Co. colleagues in Michigan are dealing with a new twist to an old journalism dilemma: publication of disturbing breaking news photos.

We’ll be discussing this issue at 3 p.m. today (just a few minutes away, but you can catch the replay if you read this later) in a live chat.

I’m not going to publish the photo here, though you can see it at the link below, where Macomb Daily Editor Rick Kelley provided an articulate defense of the decision to publish, which was made after considerable discussion and consideration by the editors. The photo shows wing walker Todd Green falling to his death in an air show accident. I’ve been involved in such discussions among editors for more than 30 years in this business.

The new twist is that with digital publishing, the photo stays online indefinitely, available in search results and so forth. So if your original reason for publishing the photo was because of its news value, should you remove it after a while, especially if you face a public outcry, as the Manchester Enterprise did.

The photo reminded me of the powerful (and controversial) Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by Stanley Forman that showed a woman and girl falling from the fire escape of a burning building (the woman died; the girl survived).

I hope you can join us for the live chat. We would love to hear what you think of the initial decision to publish and the later decision to take the photo down from the hometown paper’s site.

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Crowdsourcing is an important development of digital journalism. Friday Night Tweets is a way to bring the crowds that gather in bleachers during football season (or any sports season) into sports coverage.

I started my journalism career covering high school sports for a Monday-Friday evening newspaper. That meant games were nearly three days old by the time I wrote about them. If you cared about the game and weren’t there, you certainly heard the score on the radio Friday or Saturday or on the grapevine over the weekend or at school Monday before reading my story. I could have and should have made those stories more engaging and timely by bringing the crowd into them more. But mostly I just reported the old news.

Now journalists can cover games as they happen with liveblogs and livestreaming. Even if you’re not at a game, you can provide live coverage by encouraging and curating social media coverage by students and parents attending the games.

My boss in that first sportswriting job, Chuck Offenburger, recently suggested to our hometown audience that every school activity (including music, speech and other competitive activities, as well as sports) have a designated tweeter to provide live results of its games through social media. I heartily agree. And I’ll add the suggestion that every local sports staff should curate those results into a Friday night live prep sports feed. (Actually, you might want to make it any night that any team plays and Saturday during the day, when a lot of wrestling meets, band contests and the like happen, but Friday nights would be the peak.) I’m sharing this suggestion directly with sports editors throughout the Journal Register Co. (more…)

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Lon Seidman shows why journalists and news organizations need to take Twitter seriously.

Lon Seidman

A few years ago, Seidman might have called up a newspaper or TV station to express his anger and a reporter would have gotten a great interview with a businessman who’s frustrated with the local power company’s customer service following a disaster. But now Seidman just takes to Twitter and sounds off to his followers (188 when I checked this morning).

And Matt DeRienzo got a great story because he was paying attention. (more…)

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