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Archive for March, 2014

This continues my analysis of a draft of a revision to Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. I commented Friday on the changes to the “Seek Truth” section of the code. Here I’ll address the next three sections: Minimize Harm, Act Independently and Be Accountable.

I remain disappointed in the revisions and hopeful that SPJ members will insist on a more thorough update. My primary criticisms from Friday’s post still stand: The Ethics Committee went into this process with most members having already decided that the current Code of Ethics, adopted in 1996, just needed a little tweaking. I argued in 2010 and on various occasions since that the code needs an overhaul. I don’t know if we’re in a majority of journalists, but lots of people have told me privately that they agree (a poll on that 2010 post showed a vote of 138-22 in favor of updating, but I’m under no illusion that my blog readers are a cross-section of journalists.

The committee’s draft just tweaked and didn’t sufficiently address the needs of journalists today or the recommendations of a digital “subcommittee” on which I served (only one member of the subcommittee was an actual member of the Ethics Committee). (more…)

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Ethics codes should guide journalists in the world where we live and work, not the world where we wish we worked.

At a discussion at the Excellence in Journalism conference last August, several members of the Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Committee indicated they thought the SPJ Code of Ethics just needed “tweaking,” if it needed anything.

Here’s a surprise: They decided just to tweak it.

The code needs an overhaul and it got a touch-up.

Journalism is changing and journalists make ethical decisions in unfamiliar situations. Journalism ethics codes need to provide helpful guidance for journalists. The SPJ Code of Ethics, last revised in 1996, is perhaps the most-cited code and for many years was the most helpful. Now it’s terribly outdated and needs to reflect the world where journalists work.

The first draft at an update feels more like an effort to resist change than an effort to guide journalists in a time of change. (more…)

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mmm smooth buttry goodnessI struggled to come up with a name for my blog and I’ve changed it several times. But I’ll keep this one for at least a month.

First this blog was “Puttin’ on the Gaz,” back when I was editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Not sure why I settled on that, but I never liked it much. Before long, when I was trying to lead some big changes there, the blog became “Transforming the Gaz.”

When I left Cedar Rapids, I sort of needed to get “Gaz” out of the name, so it became “Pursuing the Complete Community Connection,” a nod to my vision for transforming news organizations but a cumbersome title for a blog.

With the 2010 launch of TBD, I decided on “The Buttry Diary,” working my name into the title as well as the initials of my new organization. Well, Allbritton Communications decided to kill TBD in the cradle, but I kept the name. After all, my name hadn’t changed. And I thought most people wouldn’t notice the initials. And, if they did, I was happy to honor a great news team and a vision that, I’m certain, would have succeeded if we had been given a chance.

I was figuring it would be “The Buttry Diary” indefinitely. Until Gene Weingarten suggested a change:

Well, people with my surname don’t make it through junior high without a thick skin. I was Butthead before anyone thought of Beavis. And I was Buttface and Assbush and any number to plays on the part of my name that reminds people of their rear ends. I played along. In my fantasy baseball days, my team was the Kissmy Buttrys (league champions two out of four years before I decided to take my money and run). Posterior plays on my name are so easy to make that few have thought of playing on the dairy sound to my name.

So I decided to turn Gene’s suggestion into a challenge: If people would donate $500 or more to the American Copy Editors Society Education Fund, which provides scholarships for editing students, I would change the name one month for every $1,000 raised.

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mmm smooth buttry goodnessFor the right price (donated to a worthy cause), I will rename my blog.

Gene Weingarten initially raised the issue:

I quickly (but only briefly) complied, but Gene wanted more:

I replied with a facetious invitation to bribes:

While I knew no one would pay me to change my blog name, right after I posted that, it occurred to me that maybe I could make this a charity fund-raiser. See whether Gene really has enough sway with his followers to generate some meaningful “entreaties.”

Well, it so happens that I was already feeling a little bad that in my downsized condo life I couldn’t think of anything of value I have (and am willing to part with) to contribute to the silent auction at the American Copy Editors Society silent auction tonight to raise money for the ACES Education Fund. So …

I’ve started a Crowdrise campaign to change the name of my blog to “Mmm. Smooth Buttry Goodness.” (In reading the rules, I learned that Kickstarter isn’t for fundraising for causes.) Update: When I first posted this, I didn’t yet have the fund’s taxpayer ID number, so the campaign wasn’t live yet. It is live now. Grab your credit card and donate.

I’ll change the name for one full month for every $1,000 raised with a starting threshold of $500. If we raise at least $500 in the next week, I’ll change the name for a month. If we raise one dollar more than $1,000, then I change for two months. If you give $2,001 I change the title for three months, etc.

I need a suitable blog header. If someone will design a blog header incorporating the title, my photo (contact me for some possibilities you could use) and some sort of butter imagery, I’ll contribute $100 in your name. Update: we have blog header (Ivan has adjusted it slightly from what you see here to fit the dimensions of the header):

And, if I can’t even raise $500 to change the name of my blog, that might be a little humbling. And that would probably be OK with Gene, too.

So go ahead. Get your credit card and click the link above. I welcome your “entreaties.”

Smooth Buttry Goodness

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Just for one quick screenshot for Gene Weingarten, I have renamed my blog:

In case you missed it:

Smooth Buttry GoodnessEarly reaction is mostly positive:

 

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I led a workshop at the American Copy Editors Society on how Twitter can be useful for copy editors. (No, I did not ask them to stand and sing, contrary to the appearance of the photo above.)

I made points covered in these previous #twutorial posts:

Step one for using Twitter as a reporter: Master advanced search

Hashtags help journalists find relevant tweets and reach more people

Hashtags considered #harmful by Daniel Victor

@bydanielvictor challenges the overuse of #hashtags

Use lists, TweetDeck, HootSuite, saved searches, alerts to organize Twitter’s chaos

How to verify information from tweets: Check it out

Ben Garvin’s advice: Illustrate your tweets

Updated Twitter time management tips

If a tweet looks too good to be true, grab a screenshot NOW

I probably make other points used elsewhere in my #twutorial series.

I also discussed curation.

Here are the slides for my workshop, followed by some tweets from workshop attendees (I may update later with more tweets):

That’s a tip from Andy Carvin, by the way.

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I led a workshop Wednesday on presentation skills for board members of the American Copy Editors Society.

Many of the workshop’s tips are reflected in my 2010 post on preparing and delivering workshops and presentations.

These were slides for the workshop:

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