Tag Archives: journalism

Finding Value in Identity: Your Identity

Readers find our work across the disaggregated web. Those who want to learn more about the newsroom that produced the content or the reporter who wrote it have a hard time. That is often true on a newspaper’s website. It’s more true across the web, but Google is doing something about it. So are two very different aggregation sites: newstransparency.com and muckrack.com.

Example: Alan Rusbridger (Guardian editor) on News Transparency.
Example: Alan Rusbridger on MuckRack.

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Wanted: Managing Editor to Build 35-Person Westchester Team

A year ago, I posted a note about the need for Swiss-Army-Knife Journalists, multi-media reporters and editors who can use a range of skills to collect, process and distribute high-value information.

In 2011, more candidates than ever are walking into newsrooms with digital experience. Even more crucial, they are arriving with a digital attitude — the knowledge that they will use a variety of tools and platforms to gather and disseminate news and other information. Two foundations of that attitude: continuous innovation and continuous improvement.

Two months ago, I joined a digital startup company, Main Street Connect, that has developed a proven model for local coverage. We are ready to expand from our base in Fairfield County, CT, into Westchester County, NY.

In the next few days we will be posting an opening for the editor who will lead that expansion: A Westchester Managing Editor who will build a 35-person news team and use our demonstrated success to start dozens of new local news sites. The posting:

We're Main Street Connect – the leading innovator of hyper-local online news. This dynamic online local news team seeks an energetic Westchester County Managing Editor to lead the company's expansion into one of the most vibrant local news environments in the U.S.

Successful applicant will:

* Have a strong journalistic background
* Demonstrate deep experience with online news, social media, and SEO
* Report directly to the national managing editor, Carl Lavin.
* Receive generous benefits and equity

To apply:

Send resume, cover letter, and clips to editorial.careers@mainstreetconnect.us, subject line: Managing Editor.

Our company

Main Street Connect (www.MainStreetConnect.us) is a fast-growing, web-based, start-up media company with 10 online news sites already up in Fairfield County, CT. This is an opportunity to be a part of building the next great American digital media company.

Visit our sites:

*www.TheDailyNorwalk.com

*www.TheDailyWestport.com

*www.TheDailyFairfield.com

*www.TheDailyNewCanaan.com

*www.TheDailyDarien.com

*www.TheDailyWilton.com

*www.TheDailyWeston.com

*www.TheDailyEaston.com

*www.TheDailyGreenwich.com

*www.TheDailyStamford.com

Learn about our company online at www.MainStreetConnect.us.

 

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Shining A Light On Government

Anthony Dixon grew up in Montclair, N.J., the town where my wife and I raised our children. Anthony later joined the military and was in a transport vehicle in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded. Shrapnel pierced the floorboards, killing the 20-year-old soldier. When I was deputy managing editor for news at the Philadelphia Inquirer, we published an investigation showing that too little armor protected military vehicles in those years. Our reporters tracked down proof that steel companies in Pennsylvania and vehicle assembly lines in Ohio operated as directed by the military on a normal schedule, with weekends off, even while Pentagon officials were saying they were doing everything they could to safeguard the troops.

One order from Washington, one more shift at the assembly plant, one more armored vehicle in Baghdad, and Anthony would be alive today. Lawmakers, families and military officials read our articles and changed policies. Today, troops in the field are better protected.

Nothing can bring about positive change more quickly than quality journalism. Journalism is also the sector of our economy undergoing the most profound disruption. While others may lament the uncertainty and the erosion of incumbent business models, the same technologies that have been so disruptive also provide new opportunities —  opportunities for more people than ever before to use more powerful tools to create and distribute quality journalism.

A friend and neighbor, Steve Engelberg, spoke recently about his work as managing editor of Pro Publica, the non-profit newsroom based in New York that produces powerful investigations that serve the public. Steve talked about the intense data crunching that produced Dollars for Docs, a single database that lists doctors who received a total of $258 million from drug companies promoting pharmaceutical sales. Is your doctor on the list? Now you can find out with one click

Steve noted a stark example of what happens when news organizations are not providing scrutiny. He discussed the case of city employees in Bell, Calif., who were each paid many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in salaries. Eventually, two reporters at the Los Angeles Times, Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives, uncovered the sky-high payments and a web of corruption in the town. No community newspaper revealed the story for the simple reason that there was no community newspaper in Bell.

Terry Francke, an open government consultant, described the long decline in his article, Why the Bell Scandal Happened and What Can Be Done:

These multi-community publications attempted to be the same watchdogs over local councils and school boards that their individual predecessors had been but were spread far more thin.

The former Industrial Post (last known as the Community News) went through several chain companies' hands until disappearing as even an independent name. And whatever close coverage of local news it had into the 1990s has been gone for the past decade.

Some newsrooms are taking an important step and developing ambitious goals for local coverage, with rollouts planned nationally by Patch and MainStreetConnect, state efforts from Oregon to Texas, and more focused efforts dotted across the nation, from Philadelphia to San Diego

Then there are the tools, new software that citizens can use to pinpoint problems in their own communities. Companies that offer such tools include CitySourced and SeeClickFix. Outside the United States, I Paid A Bribe is just one website that puts similar tools in the hands of people who want better government. President Obama praised that site during his trip to India this month. 

Even the most ordinary acts of government have an extraordinary impact on the lives of ordinary people. With the right vision and tools, journalists can continue to shine a light on these actions. One way to pay tribute to Anthony Dixon is to make sure that light shines brightly.

 

 

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Don Lemon: Not Left or Right, but a Human Point of View

TV ratings trends and even a job switch or two have fueled the argument that audiences are more attracted to news delivered with a point of view. News from the left has helped Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. News from the right has helped Fox News. That's the argument.

Don Lemon on CNN showed another dimension on Saturday evening. Lemon hews closely to the CNN down-the-middle, politically nonpartial approach to the news. Politics, though, do not drive every news consumer. In the middle of a live report on allegations that an Atlanta pastor sexually abused young men in his congregation, Lemon admitted that as a youth he was a victim of a pedophile.

I have never admitted this on television. I’m a victim of a pedophile when I was a kid. Someone who was much older than me.

TVNewser was quick on the beat, reporting CNN Anchor Don Lemon's On-Ar Revelation:

Lemon’s admission led to an audible gasp from one of his guests. “I’ve never admitted that on television and I never told my mom until I was 30 years old,” Lemon said later in the segment. “Especially African-American men don’t want to talk about those things.”

The supportive reaction on Twitter and Facebook showed that Lemon had touched his audience:

You are an exceptionally brave man.God Bless You,Sir.

–and:

I am proud of you for talking about your abuse. I respect you as a reporter and a man.

–and:

 @donlemoncnn You have no idea how many people you helped to get free tonight.

These are just a quick sampling. At the end of his program, Lemon thanked his audience for the tweets. Others will have to judge how much it means for a reporter to share his all-too-human story and how many ways there may be to escape what Jay Rosen has derided as the view from nowhere.

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Filed under Current Affairs, Television

More Spoofs Than Ever: An Annual Warning To Newsrooms

There is no off season for spoofs. Remember the film team that exposed the low standards of a lot of the reporting about celebrities

If the stories seemed far-fetched, it was because they were part of a series of fabrications about celebrities ‑ made up and fed to tabloid newspapers by a documentary team that wanted to prove that journalists don't check facts.

That was from October.

As March draws to a close, it's worth repeating this warning, a warning I send around the newsroom every year at this time:

The silly season is upon us. Many publications will be running corrections on April 3 for items they fail to see as pranks on April 1. Don’t let that happen to you – or to your readers.

One editor reminded me about a 1998 prank announcement that fooled the FT:

Guinness brewery issued a press release announcing that it had reached an agreement with the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England to be the official beer sponsor of the Observatory's millennium celebration. 

According to this agreement, Greenwich Mean Time would be renamed Guinness Mean Time until the end of 1999. In addition, the famous observatory would refer to seconds as "pint drips." 

The Financial Times, not realizing that the release was a joke, broke the news in an article in which it discussed how some companies were exploiting the millennium excitement in order to promote their own brand names.

There are sure to be more examples this year. Have you seen any? Comment below.

Update: The UK started the day early, and in style. Some top 2010 spoofs, from a friend's list:

*Ferrets to deliver broadband to rural areas, Telegraph

*AA to use rocketman to rescue stranded motorists, Daily Mail

*Google launches translate for animals, Google

Funny to read. Not so funny when they are re-told as real news.

 

 

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The 2009 Newspaper War: Where Are The Generals?

Edison Plant
The newspaper war in 2009 is not among  competing newsrooms and it's not a squabble over scoops. It's a war against declining revenue.

Total ad sales reached almost $50 billion a year as recently as 2006. Last year the figure dropped to $38 billion. This year, with another 17 percent drop expected, at least one estimate forecasts total 2009 sales at $31 billion.

Total newspaper employment is down, but the drop is not keeping pace. New numbers, which should be available in April, are likely to show 5,000 fewer jobs for reporters, editors and other journalists — for a new total of around 47,000 remaining news jobs at newspaper companies.

But with circulation declines and rising newsprint prices, the falling ad revenue means executives of newspaper companies will have to make more cost-cutting moves, and make them soon.

For several years, these top executives have made modest course corrections. For example, The New York Times, after spending $1 billion for a new printing plant in Edison, N.J., closed the plant last year. The photo above, though, shows the Times company has not had much luck getting a tenant. (Photo by Lauren Shay Lavin.)

In Philadelphia, the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News haven't sold the headquarters building in Center City. If they had done a sale-leaseback, the bankruptcy filing for the holding company might have been delayed.

Profits are so low, that a US Senator, Benjamin Cardin, has proposed legislation allowing publishers to reorganize as nonprofits.  Any income they can earn would be free from taxes. 

All the noise about the end of newspapers ignores one fact, though. With $30 billion in ad sales, it is possible to make a profit. It's not possible to make a profit while paying for big empty printing plants or offices, while continuing to employ 50,000 journalists, or while moving slowly to take other needed steps.

Some companies will move fast enough to find a cost structure that works at the new revenue levels. Some companies will move fast enough to innovate new product lines, on and off line. A very few companies will do both. Those will be the companies that will start to collect larger and larger shares of that $30 billion.

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