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NewsFeed - Media

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How freelance journalists can (mostly) avoid working for free

Imagine punching in and out for time spent on researching, interviews, and writing. Now imagine making nothing or next to nothing for that time. Welcome to the minefield of freelance journalism in the age of the Internet.

Most journalism outlets use some combination of salaried, contract, freelance, intern, and sometimes what is called a “citizen journalist”, “user-generated content” or some other term that means unpaid work.
“Like many modern media outlets, we’re not completely exploiting everyone, but we are exploiting someone,” wrote Cord Jefferson in 2013 for Gawker of that publication’s practices.

How-To-Submit-A-Guest-Post---ForbesAt Forbes, some contributors are not paid, while others get a flat monthly fee and bonuses for good traffic. One of those contributors, Susannah Breslin, opines that her flat-fee-incentive-based work for Forbes is normal. Read more

Posted: November 27, 2015, 12:41 pm

Reader’s Digest parent company bets its life on hearth-and-home, wholesome audience

trustedmedia-740Bonnie Kintzer has had plenty of experience as a publishing consultant and executive as well as earning a Harvard MBA degree. Still, when she signed on as CEO in April 2014 to turn around the twice-bankrupt Reader’s Digest Association, it may have looked from the outside like Mission Impossible.

“I came in with my eyes fully open,” Kintzer said, beginning a progress-report phone interview earlier this month. While not yet achieving fabulous financials, Kintzer now has in place a new executive team, new digital strategies and a much expanded digital audience.

In late September, after more than a year’s preparation, the company took a plunge and rebranded. Reader’s Digest, the magazine, is still Reader’s Digest.  But the venerable Reader’s Digest Association has been rechristened Trusted Media Brands Inc. Read more

Posted: November 26, 2015, 12:30 pm

How Chicago newsrooms decided how to handle the Laquan McDonald video

On Tuesday, in the hours before Chicago officials released video of a city police officer shooting a teenager 16 times, news directors and editors around the city were wrestling with how much of the footage they might show. In October 2014, veteran police officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot Laquan McDonald, 17. Police tried to withhold dash-cam footage of the...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:38 pm

Romenesko is retired, but still tweeting

Tweets by @romenesko Now retired, but still online. Thank you for checking my latest tweets and occasional retirement-era posts. (I’m still posting to Facebook, too.) Please continue to send your news tips and memos to Sorry, but I’m no longer accepting sponsored posts or job ads. * Check below for new posts
Posted: November 25, 2015, 8:33 pm

Christian Science Monitor: We’ll cover fewer topics, but do so with authority and insight

At an all-hands meeting last Friday, Christian Science Monitor staffers were told that the paper is restructuring and will cut about two dozen jobs over the next 18 months. “We will retain the capacity to cover the most important stories of the day,” says a memo to staff, “but a significant share of our resources …

Read More

Posted: November 25, 2015, 8:00 pm

How a little-known, Uber-driving freelancer brought the lawsuit that forced Chicago to release a police shooting video

It was the moment Brandon Smith and legions of media had been waiting for: the city of Chicago’s release of a damning video that showed a white police officer shooting a black teen 16 times as the young man walked away. By any account, Smith, a 29-year-old, little-known independent journalist, deserved a front row seat to the city’s hastily called...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 7:00 pm

America’s Test Kitchen, “the Consumer Reports of cooking,” wants to grow to new platforms

Many home cooks, when they think of Cook’s Illustrated, think of the bow-tied, bespectacled Christopher Kimball, who founded the magazine in its current form in 1993 and went on to help build it into America’s Test Kitchen, a cooking empire with a public television show, a radio show, spinoff magazines, and hundreds of print cookbooks....
Posted: November 25, 2015, 4:03 pm

A program from Poynter and ONA is helping foster a community of female leaders in digital media

“I don’t think there’s enough support for women in media from others within the industry,” Mandy Velez told me. Velez, who was an editor at Ashton Kutcher’s digital media company A Plus and who will next week become the editorial director for news and culture at a forthcoming mobile-focused site for millennial women, is certainly...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 4:02 pm

Why are the insurance co-ops failing? This article provides the best answer yet

As a media critic and healthcare reporter, I read a lot about health policy in general and the Affordable Care Act in particular, from plenty of different sources. But earlier this month, I came across one of the best Obamacare stories I’ve seen since the debate on the law began—and it was in a trade publication that I have to...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 3:55 pm

How the media blew reporting the Chicago cop’s shooting of a teen

Jamie Kalven, who led the way on disclosures in the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Jamie Kalven, who led the way on disclosures in the police shooting of Laquan McDonald. (Screenshot via YouTube)

The video has now been seen around the world, sparking outrage and a rare first-degree murder charge against a Chicago police officer.

The tale of Laquan McDonald, the dead teenager, is one that operates on many important social, cultural and political levels. But it also provides a window onto a frequent staple of dreary daily journalism across the country: uncritical reporting on shootings and killings that can verge on lapdog journalism.

It’s thus important to know that quite apart from the editorial indignation now being expressed, key disclosures in the case did not come from mainstream media outlets. Yes, they reported on the original shooting, but in a mostly skimpy, pro forma way that proved a bulletin board for the initial claims of police. Read more

Posted: November 25, 2015, 3:22 pm

10 tips for organizing the pieces of your story

Use paper and pixels. (Deposit photos)

Use paper and pixels. (Deposit photos)

Over the next few months, Poynter will publish shortened versions of 21 chapters of the book “Help! for Writers,” by Roy Peter Clark. Published by Little, Brown, the book lists common problems writers face and offers 10 solutions for each of the problems.

Problem #5: I can never find what I need when I need it.

1. Set up an organizational plan as early as possible.
The bigger the project, the more detailed the plan. No other equation works, especially for the writer who is disorganized by disposition. If you don’t know how to draft a plan, ask for some advice, as if you were bringing in a professional to help you organize your closets. Your subject area, no matter how focused, has parts. Read more

Posted: November 25, 2015, 3:03 pm

For The New York Times’ Sarah Maslin Nir, covering the Macy’s Parade is a life-affirming tradition

The night before she was supposed to cover the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a freelancer for The New York Times, Sarah Maslin Nir set the alarm on her phone for 5:30 a.m. She wasn’t nervous or worried. She’d gone to the parade every year growing up. But this was her first chance to get inside it.

On the morning of Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010, Maslin Nir woke in her West Village apartment before her alarm clock went off. It was perfectly still and pitch black. In her foggy morning thoughts, she wondered who was in her apartment, who had a key, who was she fighting with? When she fully woke, Maslin Nir realized a man had broken in, and he was attacking her. She quickly stopped fighting back. Read more

Posted: November 25, 2015, 2:07 pm

Death in Chicago

Good morning.

  1. The video that made the media’s day

    Blanket coverage of a cop pumping bullets into a teenager had less to do with his belated, curiously timed indictment than the video's judicially forced release. No surprise, national and local Chicago coverage reflected a certain homogeneity: the video, ministers, local activists, former cops, more video and going live to surprisingly modest demonstrations while insisting on chyrons about protests “erupting,” as Fox News Channel did. For sure, some coverage was a bit better than others and some was a lot worse (Chicago's Fox station clunkily interspersed its late-evening newscast with multiple happy talk Thanksgiving weather segments). MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell was worth catching if only because he beckoned thoughtful freelance writer Jamie Kalven, the son of a late and legendary University of Chicago law professor, who has been way out ahead on the whole story for months.

Read more
Posted: November 25, 2015, 12:50 pm

Goss Announces Omnicolor II Upgrade for 16-Page Web Press

Goss has launched an upgrade for the M-600 press to support the press model’s competitive edge in color control and eliminate potential obsolescence issues. Now the standard on all new M-600 press installations, the benefits of Omnicolor II ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 11:57 am

Headlines editors probably wish they could take back

Happy pre-Thanksgiving! To celebrate the short week, we bring you an extra-long Lower case filled with favorites from our archives. Lewiston (Me.) Daily Sun, 4/2/79   San Francisco Chronicle, 12/15/82   The Buffalo News, 4/6/83   Morning News and Evening Journal (Wilmington, Del.), 9/29/83   Hamilton, Ont., Spectator, 6/8/85  
Posted: November 25, 2015, 11:50 am

Career Beat: Michael Kranish joins The Washington Post

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Michael Kranish will be an investigative political reporter at The Washington Post. Previously, he was deputy Washington bureau chief for The Boston Globe. (The Washington Post)
  • John Geddes is now U.S. politics editor at Bloomberg. Previously, he was a managing editor at The New York Times. (Poynter)
  • Patrick Appel is creating a magazine for Piano Media. Previously, he was digital editor for POLITICO Magazine. (POLITICO Media)

Job of the day: The Information is seeking a Facebook reporter. Get your resumes in! (Mediagazer Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: Read more

Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:59 am

Daily Mail Accused of Paying €50,000 for CCTV Video of Paris Attack

The Daily Mail has been accused of paying €50,000 (£35,000) to obtain video of one of the terrorist attacks in Paris that had been encrypted by French police to prevent it being made public.   Representatives of the ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:16 am

How The New Yorker Grew Its Digital Audience by Focusing on Quality

It has been more than a year sinceThe New Yorker took down its paywall and triggered a frenzied run on its archives. Slate and others compiled lists of The New Yorker’s greatest hits, encouraging readers to tak ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:15 am

World Press Photo Introduces New Ethics Guidelines for Contest

The World Press Photo Foundation on Wednesday announced major changes to its photo contest for 2016, including a code of ethics for entrants and detailed guidelines regarding digital manipulation of images. The new rules also include an independ ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:12 am

The Tawdry Fall of the Postmedia Newspaper Empire

“I’m not going to lose my job over a fart joke,” Dan Murphy recalls Wayne Moriarty, editor-in-chief ofThe Province newspaper, saying.   It was the morning of Friday, June 22, 2012. Murphy, The Province ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:11 am

Jeff Bezos Says The Washington Post’s Goal is to Become the “New Paper of Record”

Jeff Bezos did something with a rocket Tuesday morning, tweeted for the first time ever, and, more importantly for our purposes, spoke briefly on CBS This Morning about his vision for The Washington Post, which he bought in 2013.
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:08 am

Google’s Answer to Facebook Instant Articles — The AMP Project — is Coming Early Next Year

Google introduced its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) program to allow publishers and advertisers to create good-looking mobile content that loads very quickly.   The company launched the program in early October with a select set of pa ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:06 am

The Ad Blockers Debate: What's At Stake For Consumers and Web Publishers

The ad blocker battle pitting consumers and privacy advocates against big media companies heated up last week when Yahoo issued an ultimatum to some customers: Stop using software that limits ads or forget about using Yahoo Mail.   Yahoo entered ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:04 am

What Improv Could Teach Newsrooms

The critical success of Spotlight, the new film about theBoston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic sex abuse scandal, has prompted a lot of discussion about cinematic portrayals of journalism.   But there& ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:02 am

This App is Changing the Way Tanzania Reads the News

Tanzanians, like other Africans on the continent, are doing almost everything via their phones these days—from paying bills, depositing and transferring cash, to accessing loans.   And now an app has introduced a new way for ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 9:01 am

Native Advertising the Next Banner Ad?

In general, brands approach advertising agencies to create content, which is then distributed through the media networks of thousands of publications via advertising space. As publishers begin creating customized native advertising for brands, the co ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 8:58 am

The Changing Sports Beat

On a recent Tuesday evening, in the Riggs Alumni Center at the University of Maryland, ESPN’s Mike Wilbon addressed a changing journalistic landscape:   What bugs me now is that people sit in their mother’s basements and writ ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 8:56 am

NRS: Telegraph is the Latest UK Newspaper to Record Most of National Readership as Mobile-Only

More than half of those who readThe Daily Telegraph in the UK now do so from mobile devices only, according to the latest National Readership Survey (NRS) figures released today.   Some 12.1 million people read The Telegraph on their smartphones ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 8:55 am

Facebook Is Bringing Instant Articles To More Emerging Markets In Asia As Internet.Org Effort Is Criticized

Facebook is looking to connect the billions of people still without Internet access, by using satellites, drones and lasers as well as its philanthropic efforts, and as part of that push is now set to include Instant Artic ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 8:53 am

Syria’s Media War

The driver stops on a crowded, dusty road lined with cars. Used SUVs and sedans are parked two deep in front of tired warehouses bearing sun-bleached signs for a shipping company and a tire store. “Is it here?” I credulously ask t ...
Posted: November 25, 2015, 7:47 am

The talk of the Web: How The New Yorker grew its digital audience by focusing on quality

The New Yorker's mascot, Eustace Tilley, rendered in emoji by Fred Benenson. (via Flickr)

The New Yorker’s mascot, Eustace Tilley, rendered in emoji by Fred Benenson. (via Flickr)

It has been more than a year since The New Yorker took down its paywall and triggered a frenzied run on its archives. Slate and others compiled lists of The New Yorker’s greatest hits, encouraging readers to take in the magazine’s ruminative nonfiction before the paywall came back up. The whole enterprise savored of an everything-must-go fire sale and less like a bid to build a broad subscriber base.

But when the paywall came up five months later, something strange happened. The New Yorker saw its traffic rise abruptly, with readers flocking to the site and subscribing at a fevered pace. Looking back on the readership spike in March, editor Nicholas Thompson told Nieman Lab the aftershocks of the so-called “Summer of Free” were unexpected. Read more

Posted: November 24, 2015, 8:33 pm

Why Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act is even less effective than ours

Intended as a boon for journalism in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act took more than a decade to implement. When it was finally passed in 2011, it established the right to access or request information from a public official, agency, or institution. Those institutions, in turn, were legally obliged to respond within a week; whistleblowers would...
Posted: November 24, 2015, 7:50 pm

John Geddes joins Bloomberg

Former New York Times managing editor John Geddes has been appointed Bloomberg U.S. politics editor, according to an internal memo from Megan Murphy, Washington bureau chief at Bloomberg.

Geddes, who will report to Murphy, will work alongside “Game Change” authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann to hone Bloomberg’s coverage as the newswire bears down on the 2016 presidential election:

John will also work hand in hand with Mike Nizza, who has toiled tirelessly to develop what has become one of the most influential and fastest growing political web sites of the cycle. Mike, who will continue to oversee the web site, will also focus on more closely integrating Bloomberg Politics with, as we look to maximize both the visibility and the consumption our unique mix of political content across all of our platforms.

Read more
Posted: November 24, 2015, 7:02 pm

Come talk ad blockers with Nieman Lab and a set of experts in New York

We’ve all heard a lot of talk this year about ad blockers. While they’ve been around for years, Apple’s allowing them on iPhones and iPads this fall brought home a sad reality for many publishers: that a lot of their readers aren’t seeing the ads their business model depends on. At conferences and in media...
Posted: November 24, 2015, 6:43 pm

Google’s plan to speed up mobile news is gaining traction

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. (AP photo)

Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. (AP photo)

Accelerated Mobile Pages, Google’s new initiative aimed at making the mobile Web load faster, has drawn adherents from the realms of analytics, advertising and publishing, according to an announcement from two Google executives released today.

The announcement comes more than a month after Google debuted Accelerate Mobile Pages, or AMP, a proposed Web standard that imposes constraints on the bulkier elements of Web design to ensure that pages load quickly. AMP was greeted at launch by a mixture of applause and hand-wringing from digital media experts, who alternatively hailed the measure as a much-needed remedy for sluggish mobile article pages or an effort from Google to dictate how the Web should be configured.

Now comes word via Google that AMP’s standards have been adopted by several bellwethers of Web publishing since its Oct. Read more

Posted: November 24, 2015, 6:29 pm

Syria’s media war

The driver stops on a crowded, dusty road lined with cars. Used SUVs and sedans are parked two deep in front of tired warehouses bearing sun-bleached signs for a shipping company and a tire store. “Is it here?” I credulously ask the chauffeur who was dispatched to bring me to this desolate stretch of road. “Yes, wait,” he says, pointing...
Posted: November 24, 2015, 6:20 pm

Jeff Bezos says The Washington Post’s goal is to become the “new paper of record”

Jeff Bezos did something with a rocket Tuesday morning, tweeted for the first time ever, and, more importantly for our purposes, spoke briefly on CBS This Morning about his vision for The Washington Post, which he bought in 2013. The Washington Post part starts at around 4:30, but here’s a transcript: Those who’ve been listening...
Posted: November 24, 2015, 4:13 pm

What improv could teach newsrooms

The critical success of Spotlight, the new film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic sex abuse scandal, has prompted a lot of discussion about cinematic portrayals of journalism. But there’s another way to look at the connection between theater and newsrooms, which is: What can acting teach journalists? Amanda Hirsch has some thoughts on that subject. The former...
Posted: November 24, 2015, 4:06 pm

Hot Pod: Revisiting the question: Why doesn’t audio go viral?

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is Issue Fifty, published November 24, 2015. Why audio doesn’t go viral, revisited. Do you remember what you were doing back in January 2014? I do. I was freezing my butt off in one of the colder New York winters, working on weird projects while collecting...
Posted: November 24, 2015, 4:04 pm

A new health podcast from WNYC Studios tries to engage listeners beyond the usual call-ins

“You are a terrible listener. Has anyone ever told you that before?” host Mary Harris asked last week on WNYC’s new health-oriented podcast Only Human, one of the shows developed within the station’s shiny new podcast division WNYC Studios. “This week, we’re going to help you become a better listener.” Only Human, which is currently...
Posted: November 24, 2015, 2:48 pm

Where do science journalists draw the line?

The annual meeting for the National Association of Science Writers got off to a heated start last October in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The first session centered on the knotty issue of ethics. According to several reporters in attendance, many in the audience voiced concerns about whether it is ethical for a reporter to take money from outside interests for travel, hotel...
Posted: November 23, 2015, 8:10 pm

Why some SPJ leaders are engaging Gamergate

Michael Koretzky saw an opportunity—that’s what he would call it, anyway. It was early May, and the Society of Professional Journalists had abandoned its #SPJEthicsWeek Twitter chat after it was overrun by numerous posts tagged with #Gamergate. The hashtag drew mainstream media attention last year for reactionary trolling and mob-like harassment online, aimed mostly at feminist writers and critics. Supporters’...
Posted: November 23, 2015, 5:30 pm

Is Circa back? The mobile app might be returning via local TV stations

It appears Circa may be making a comeback — of some kind. The news app, which based around breaking down (and reassembling) news stories into atomized chunks, shut down in June after it was unable to find a working business model. The app and its corresponding site have been dormant since then. But yesterday some...
Posted: November 23, 2015, 5:05 pm

The Google-backed First Draft Coalition launches a site to help journalists verify social content

Some news startups, like Eyewitness Media Hub and Storyful, are built around social media and user-generated content, with reporters trained in verifying and reporting from it. But journalists in most newsrooms don’t receive the same training, which can make it difficult to spot and then accurately report on emerging stories. In September, Facebook announced Signal,...
Posted: November 23, 2015, 5:00 pm

Bloomberg TV’s What’d You Miss? thinks of linear TV as “a source of content for online video”

What’d You Miss? is a daily, hour-long show from Bloomberg TV that airs at the close of the U.S. markets, co-hosted now by Bloomberg’s Scarlet Fu, Alix Steel, and Joe Weisenthal. The show launched aiming to bring a little spunk and excitement to often dry financial news and data. “Don’t think German bunds, GDP revisions,...
Posted: November 23, 2015, 3:11 pm

Let's not 'talk turkey'

It’s the most clichéd time of the year. More than 100 times in the last month, readers have been urged to “talk turkey” or some variation, according to Nexis. There were nearly 1,000 occurrences of the phrase “all the trimmings” in news reports by the time Thanksgiving was a week away. The overstuffed day will trigger the mother lode of...
Posted: November 23, 2015, 11:50 am

Hacks/Hackers launches Connect events in SF, NYC and London

The series for news media entrepreneurs is a global effort by Hacks/Hackers and Google News Lab to “seed new media ventures, grow deeper connections within the community, and attract new collaborators." 

read more

Posted: November 22, 2015, 6:00 am

Is Facebook a proto-state?

As the debate about Facebook’s use of Safety Check in Paris, but not in Beirut, saturated social media this past weekend, one could not help but notice that in the past, this kind of service-- connecting victims of a terrorist attack with loved ones--might have been administered by an element of the state, specifically by those working in public health...
Posted: November 20, 2015, 8:50 pm

What are the best practices for crowdsourcing the reporting process?

In early 2013, New York Times health reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal wrote a story on the Times’ Well blog about the challenges of getting a quote for how much a hip replacement surgery would cost. In the sidebar of the story, the Times asked its readers: “Have you had a hip replacement or other procedure? Tell...
Posted: November 20, 2015, 7:36 pm

After Twitter falls for a URL trick, Gannett fixes a company-wide glitch

How long does it take a major newspaper chain to fix a very public glitch in its CMS? About a day and a half, apparently—at least, based on what we saw from the Gannett websites this week. On Wednesday, The Tennessean, a Gannett paper, published a story about a top state Republican lawmaker suggesting that the National Guard round up...
Posted: November 20, 2015, 6:10 pm