Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2016

If you were a journalist and you stayed up to the end of the Oscars ceremony, you had to feel uplifted by the Best-Picture Oscar for “Spotlight.” After seeing the film in November, I wrote two posts on the movie about the Boston Globe’s investigative reporting on sexual abuse by priests. Those links are at the end of this post, but first a few fresh thoughts on the “Spotlight” win:

    • As I noted on Twitter after the win, many East Coast newspapers (and probably even some in Central Time) have deadlines too early to get the newspaper movie’s win into their morning editions today. (The Advocate, our local paper here, did get the Best-Picture results in a story on Page 5A and a page-one reefer.) I sure hope the Globe was able to hold its print edition long enough to trumpet the news to its print readers.advocate spotlight
    • While the much-deserved praise for the Globe’s journalism is welcome balm to a weary profession and industry, equally big news for the Globe the past few months has been its difficulty delivering the print edition to subscribers. Cost-cutting at many newspaper companies has prompted outsourcing of functions such as delivery and customer service. And often that goes badly. The Globe’s delivery issues have drawn the most attention, but I know dozens of newspapers that have dealt with similar problems, alienating loyal print readers while still struggling to make money with weak digital products.
    • However much disruption the media business endures, we need to maintain our commitment to investigative journalism. Like the Globe, news organizations need to tell untold stories and hold the powerful accountable.
    • Sunday night was a great night of recognition for sexual abuse survivors, who usually struggle privately and silently. Joe Biden’s introduction and Lady Gaga’s stirring rendition of “Til It Happens to You” were probably the highlight of the show, even though the song didn’t win an Oscar.

Here are my two posts from last year after I watched “Spotlight”:

‘Spotlight’: a generation-later echo of ‘All the President’s Men’

Responding to ‘Spotlight’: Advice for investigating sexual abuse by clergy

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I presented a webinar Wednesday for the Society of Professional Journalists on using (and reducing the use of unnamed sources).

I discussed points made in previous posts about using unnamed sources, including one on persuading people to talk for the record about difficult topics and another on using information from unnamed sources to persuade other sources to talk for the record. I also talked about the importance of power and eagerness in granting confidentiality, and suggested we should not quote spokespeople for powerful people and organizations without using their names.

I encourage using the Online News Association’s Build Your Own Ethics Code tool, which has a section to guide decisions on how to use unnamed sources.

Here are slides for the webinar:

Interested in a workshop?

If you’d like a workshop or webinar for your organization, on unnamed sources or one of the many other topics I teach, contact me at stephenbuttry (at) gmail (dot) com.

Read Full Post »

I wish journalists weren’t learning so many important lessons from losing their jobs. But, as long as so many journalists are losing their jobs, I’m glad some of them are sharing the lessons they’re learning.

I blogged recently about the turmoil in Canadian media, which resembles what U.S. media have also faced, including various companies I’ve worked for.

I’ve shared lessons here before (links below) from my job losses and job searches, but in this post, I want to call attention to posts by two Canadian friends who have blogged their own lessons.

Melanie Coulson, whom I met in a visit to the Ottawa Citizen in 2010, lost her job there a couple years ago. This week more Citizen journalists have lost their jobs*, and Mel blogged about four lessons she learned since losing hers. I recommend reading her entire post, but here’s a passage that stood out to me:

Stop thinking of yourself as a journalist with specialized skills that won’t transfer to other jobs. I’m telling you — they are so, so in demand.

Words are your super power — but to others they are kryptonite.

You have other amazing superhero skills: You ask the right questions, ones that others are afraid to ask.

This is something you’ve done that your whole career.

Update: And now Mel has a new gig:

Earlier this month, Kim Fox shared nine lessons from her own job-loss experience, including this one:

Say yes to every meeting  –  even when you’re feeling low, or aren’t sure about fit. IMHO any interview is good practice; it’s just as important to learn what you DON’T want.

*Update: Drew Gragg notes in the comments that the most recent departures at the Citizen were voluntary buyouts. I don’t know the particulars of the Ottawa situation, but I do know that every round of buyouts in the news business includes some pressure to accept a buyout before some people may want to end their careers. Sometimes the pressure is an attractive package, sometimes the pressure is an explicit or implicit recognition that the company may cut jobs (with a less attractive severance package) if it doesn’t succeed in reducing the newsroom enough with buyouts. And some people are fed up and ready for retirement or another career and jump at the package. I know some happy journalists who have moved on with not problems after a buyout. I know others who have dealt with and still deal with many of the issues discussed in Kim’s and Mel’s posts, though the dynamic is definitely different if you had a choice in the matter, even a choice under pressure.

My links on losing jobs and looking for the next one

I should note here that you don’t always start looking for a job because you just lost one. I’ve lost two jobs in my 45-year journalism career. Other times, I moved on because a great opportunity arose while I was enjoying a job. Sometimes I started looking for work because I could see the current job situation deteriorating for reasons varying from personal relationships to economic turmoil to changing strategy. Along the way, I learned a lot.

Here are previous posts I’ve written about dealing with the impact of a job loss and looking for the next one (the first one includes excellent advice from colleagues):

Job-hunting tips: Spread the word, network, be patient and persistent

Prepare for your next job hunt while you’re still working

What is your advice for job-hunting journalists?

Tips on landing your next job in digital journalism

Job-hunting advice for journalists selling skills in the digital market

Use digital tools to showcase your career and your work

Confessions (strategies) of a branded journalist (or a journalist with a reputation, if you prefer)

Your digital profile tells people a lot

Enduring lessons from being fired 20 years ago

Bitterness is like wreaking revenge on yourself

Read Full Post »

Tim McGuire coverI wonder if I’ve cited anyone in this blog more frequently (or been cited more frequently by anyone in another blog) than Tim McGuire.

Last week Dean Chris Callahan announced Tim’s plan to retire from the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, and I have to cite Tim again: To wish him well and to thank him for his contributions to journalism and journalism education. And especially to thank him for his friendship, advice and contributions to my blog. Update: Tim has written about his retirement on his own blog.

Tim was prominent in journalism when I was still obscure, and I knew of him for years before I actually met him. By the time we became friends, he had moved to the classroom from the newsroom (most notably the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he was editor). Back in my writing coach days, before we had met, I was citing his advice on tight writing in my first blog, Training Tracks, written for newsroom trainers.

Tim and I met in 2007, when I came to the Cronkite School to lead a Newspaper Next workshop for the American Press Institute. (We might have shaken hands earlier at a convention, but this was my first memorable interaction with Tim.)

He blogged about the workshop, with kind words for my presentation and some of the N2 concepts. He criticized API’s marketing, because of the light turnout at the workshop. I responded saying that API had actually probably saturated the newspaper-industry market by the time I reached the Cronkite School. I personally had done an earlier presentation in Arizona, and my colleagues and I had done several dozen more throughout the country, including others in Utah and Las Vegas.

Whether Tim was right or I was about the marketing, our conversation at the workshop and the ensuing exchange on the blog and by email started a friendship that I cherish. And, as with many close friendships, that wasn’t our last disagreement. I think we agree much more about journalism and the news biz than we disagree. But we likely both enjoy the good-natured give-and-take of our disputes more than we do our agreements (as good friends often do). (more…)

Read Full Post »

Facebook Game Day art

Facebook greeted me with the stupid drawing and proclamation above.

I presume this is a promotion for the Facebook sports venture that Fortune’s Mathew Ingram described as a “grenade” tossed at ESPN. And Facebook continues to dominate people’s time like no other medium, so maybe this will be successful, too.

But here’s where it won’t succeed with me:

  • I already knew there was a big football game today, so this post didn’t tell me anything useful.
  • Since I already knew it was “Game Day,” the breathless proclamation was annoying.
  • If I didn’t know what the game was, it would have been even more annoying because not knowing would mean I didn’t care (and, since it didn’t use the name of the actual name, not very informative).
  • Action photographs of football interest me. But not amateurish cartoons.
  • Twitter is way better than Facebook for live two-screen enjoyment of sports and other events (until it screws that up by using an algorithm to become more like Facebook).

I use Facebook as much as I do only because so many of my friends and family are there (many more than use Twitter). But I don’t think seeing all their updates about the game will enhance my enjoyment of it. And I’m guessing if I click that link at the bottom, I’m going to see lots of crap about the “Game” from people I don’t even know or care about.

I think I’ll just watch Super Bowl 50 (that’s its name, by the way) on TV.

Read Full Post »

Today I am leading a webinar for the Society of Professional Journalists, “Leading Change in Your Organization.”

I will repeat points I made in my 2014 posts about Project Unbolt.

I’ll also cover points covered in these posts for the INMA Culture Change Blog:

Here are the slides for the presentation:

Read Full Post »

Iowa Caucus Game

Iowa Caucus Game, 1983

Before the 2012 Iowa caucuses, I wrote two blog posts about them, one complaining about Iowa hogging first place in our presidential selection process and one recalling my seven election cycles covering the caucuses as a reporter and editor.

Both pieces got more attention than I had anticipated, because The Atlantic republished my piece criticizing Iowa’s sense of entitlement and did a separate post on my 1983 board game (pictured above and mentioned in my post about my caucus experience).

I don’t have much to add this year, except that every critical thing I wrote four years ago is more true than ever this year. The reality-show series of debates, especially on the Republican side, has been a debacle of posturing and sniping that underscores all that is wrong with our system.

I will make no predictions about who will win tonight, but I think there’s a better than 50 percent chance that November’s winner won’t win tonight. And I know we can find a better way to choose a president. But we won’t.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »