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NewsFeed - Media

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ProPublica’s mistake was inevitable in age of CIA secrecy over torture

ProPublica last year published a widely cited article linking Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haskel directly to the waterboarding and torture of Abu Zubaydah when she was in charge of a CIA black site prison in Thailand in 2002. Yesterday, ProPublica was forced to retract and apologize for a significant part of the article’s content. There’s no doubt […]
Posted: March 16, 2018, 8:41 pm

BuzzFeed increases female leadership, according to latest report

BuzzFeed’s 2017 diversity numbers for its newsroom show an overall increase in women and people of color, especially in leadership and managerial roles. Its latest data also shows significantly more women and people of color on staff at all levels than many other American newsrooms, including online-only outlets. “In the past year, diversity in our […]
Posted: March 16, 2018, 8:01 pm

Facebook admits connecting the world isn’t always a good thing

One of the defining tenets of Facebook’s corporate philosophy is to connect people around the world, both to each other and to issues that matter to them. Co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the social network’s mission is “to give people the power to share and to make the world more open and connected.” […]
Posted: March 16, 2018, 5:34 pm

‘It doesn’t even feel real’: NJ reporter recounts highway confrontation

IN MID-DECEMBER, NJ Advance Media reporters Stephen Stirling and SP Sullivan published a groundbreaking look at the state’s dysfunctional medical examiner offices in which they described, in grisly detail, the mistreatment of New Jersey’s dead. They recently followed up on that piece with an exposé on Joseph Fantasia, a belligerent funeral director with a reputation […]
Posted: March 16, 2018, 5:32 pm

Why do people go to Wikipedia? A survey suggests it’s their desire to go down that random rabbithole

What’s motivated people to visit the Wikipedia pages they’re reading? Wikipedia recently tried to answer that question at scale by asking a sample of Wikipedia readers last June, “Why are you reading this article today?” It seems a lot of people go to Wikipedia for earnest, serious, information-seeking reasons. The study collected 215,000 responses from...
Posted: March 16, 2018, 3:30 pm

The News Lens in Taiwan is doing what media startups in the region hesitate to do — acquiring other sites

Just three months into the year, The News Lens, itself a news startup, had already acquired two separate Chinese-language sites: a tech site, Inside, and a site for sports fans, Sports Vision. “By 2017, we were hitting our peak in terms of traffic. If you do the math, we were close to the ceiling. When...
Posted: March 16, 2018, 2:06 pm

Could students’ media literacy be compared across countries, like math scores?

Heads up Wikipedia, YouTube’s coming. YouTube will add “information cues” — i.e., Wikipedia article links — to some of its videos, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said at SXSW this week. Wired’s Louise Matsakis explains: “If you search and click on a conspiracy theory video about, say, chemtrails, YouTube will now link to a Wikipedia page that debunks...
Posted: March 16, 2018, 12:59 pm

The media today: Denver Post cuts fit a disturbing pattern at hedge-fund owned papers

News of impending cuts at The Denver Post came first from Twitter. “In a staff meeting, the @DenverPost editor just told us that we are cutting 30 positions in the newsroom,” wrote City Hall reporter Jon Murray. “There are some sobs in the room.” The paper soon confirmed that its newsroom of around 100 would be reduced by almost a third, slashing its capacity to cover one of the nation’s booming cities. (Its newsroom had already been cut by two thirds, from 300 at its peak.)

The cuts at the Post, which has already seen several rounds of layoffs, will leave the region’s preeminent paper with fewer resources to provide the sort of accountability journalism that has won it several Pulitzer Prizes. “I’m sure some commenters will cheer what they believe is the eventual demise of the mainstream media, but there is nothing to celebrate when a city has fewer journalists working in it,” Editor Lee Ann Colacioppo wrote in a memo to staff on Wednesday. But the story isn’t just a local one; it’s part of a pattern playing out around the country at newspapers controlled by one company.

ICYMI: While ABC, CBS, and NBC all had special reports on student walkout, Fox went a different direction.

The Post is just the most recent outlet owned by “vulture” hedge fund Alden Global Capital to face the ax. Alden controls Digital First Media, the country’s second largest newspaper chain, which has a pattern of gutting newsrooms and selling off valuable office space to squeeze profit from the industry. In the Bay Area, it has decimated the San Jose Mercury News, cutting a newsroom of more than 400 down to about 40 staffers. Writing last month on the purchase of the Boston Herald by Digital First, Joshua Benton argued, “just short of setting the place on fire, being bought by Digital First is about the worst outcome possible.”

The man behind Alden Global Capital is Randall Smith, a press-shy billionaire who Julie Reynolds profiled in The Nation last fall. “He has no experience with actually managing a newspaper, and his professional history reflects no interest in journalism beyond profiteering,” Reynolds wrote.

ICYMI: How hacked emails and a yacht in Monaco ended my career at The Wall Street Journal

The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan likened Digital First’s approach to strip-mining. Cataloguing the stunned reactions from Denver, she notes that “Digital First is wreaking similar havoc all over the country.” That result of that havoc is fewer journalists working in dozens of cities. As Denver Post Broncos beat reporter Nicki Jhabvala tweeted in response to the news, “This is why hedge funds shouldn’t own newspapers.”

Below, more on the coverage of cutbacks in Denver and elsewhere.

  • A depressing decade: Denver Business Journal’s Caitlin Hendee and Greg Avery write on the recent history of cuts at the Post and its former sister paper, The Rocky Mountain News, which ceased publication in 2009. “There were about 450 journalists at the newsrooms of Denver’s competing daily newspapers just a decade ago,” they note.
  • An ongoing issue: In 2016, CJR’s Corey Hutchins reported on problems at the Denver Post, where byline counts, union talks, and “a lot of anxiety” dominated the newsroom.
  • Not just Denver: Robert Feder reports on another round of layoffs at the Chicago Tribune. Feder notes that “Thursday’s layoffs and the uncertainty surrounding them may help fortify an effort to unionize Tribune editorial employees.” Last week, NPR’s David Folkenflik examined Tronc’s reorganization plans.


Other notable stories

  • Time’s Daniel D’Addario profiles Shep Smith, the man with “the hardest job on Fox News.” An old-fashioned anchorman, Smith delivers straight reporting that often contradicts the outlandish conspiracy-mongering and pro-Trump cheerleading of his network’s opinion shows. “We serve different masters,” Smith says of the divide between news and opinion. “We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules. They don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want.”
  • ProPublica issued a correction to its year-old story on newly nominated CIA chief Gina Haspel. “The story also said she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation. Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them,” wrote Editor in Chief Stephen Engelberg. “It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.” This is a major screw-up on an important story, but ProPublica’s transparency about its error is admirable. “We at ProPublica hold government officials responsible for their missteps, and we must be equally accountable,” Engelberg acknowledged.
  • The movement sparked by the Parkland shooting has thrust teenage voices onto the national stage. CJR’s Alexandria Neason, a former education reporter, offers do’s and don’ts for reporting on children.
  • Former ESPN President John Skipper spoke with The Hollywood Reporter’s James Andrew Miller about his abrupt exit from the network in December. The cause, Skipper says, was an extortion plot connected to his purchase of cocaine, the substance referenced in the announcement of his departure.
  • Current’s April Simpson raises a good question in her piece on a shelved NPR investigation into the Peace Corps prescribing of a controversial anti-malaria drug: What should news organizations do with reporting by individuals found to have committed sexual harassment?
  • Michael Getler, a legendary ombudsman for The Washington Post and PBS, died Thursday. “Mr. Getler became known for sharp observations that became the talk of the newsroom—and other newsrooms,” wrote Bart Barnes in the Post’s obituary of Getler, who also served as a foreign correspondent and editor at the paper.

ICYMI: Student walkout keeps media attention on gun violence

Posted: March 16, 2018, 11:45 am

As China abolishes two-term limit, a siege on digital free speech

The word “disagree” (不同意 in Mandarin) disappeared from Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, in late February. The change came shortly after China’s Communist Party (CCP) announced its proposal to amend the constitution, which would allow President Xi Jinping to hold his position for longer than two terms. On March 11, the proposal was approved at […]
Posted: March 16, 2018, 10:55 am

After US journalist killed in South Sudan, a quest for answers

The call came just before noon on August 26, minutes after we had crossed a hilly range that separates northern Uganda from South Sudan. Earlier that morning, I had embarked on a four-day embed with South Sudan’s main opposition movement, the SPLM-IO, traveling on foot through rebel-held parts of the country to shed light on […]
Posted: March 15, 2018, 6:10 pm

Anti-terrorism and hate-speech law catches musicians and students instead

One of the risks when governments try to curb what they see as offensive speech is that other kinds of speech are caught in the same net. One of the most recent examples comes from Spain, where a vague anti-terrorism law has been used to charge and even imprison musicians and other artists. In a new […]
Posted: March 15, 2018, 5:48 pm

Conducting interviews with kids: Do’s and don’ts

The surge of student-led activism that was born in the wake of last month’s devastating school shooting in Parkland, Florida, has brought the powerful voices of teenagers and children to cable news reports, newspapers, and digital and magazine outlets across the country in a major way. Theirs are voices that have traditionally been discounted and […]
Posted: March 15, 2018, 5:11 pm

Podcast: Paul Ford on the intersection of blockchain and journalism

This week on The Kicker, we dive into something we’ve all been hearing about but don’t quite understand—blockchain technology. CJR Digital Editor Nausicaa Renner spoke to author and technologist Paul Ford about the confusing world of blockchain and how it’s being used in journalism. Then Pete sits down with CJR colleagues Alexandria Neason and Jon […]
Posted: March 15, 2018, 4:01 pm

Here’s how to make VR content that actually helps users empathize and take action

Sure, virtual reality can help news organizations tell stories that their audiences wouldn’t be able to imagine or relate to in other ways. But are the efforts actually resulting in greater empathy? A report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism shares findings from three different types of storytelling — immersive VR (via a head-mounted...
Posted: March 15, 2018, 3:55 pm

The Join the Beat project wants to tease out better ways of working with an audience directly and regularly on stories

Think of the reporting done by David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post around Donald Trump’s charitable giving (or lack thereof) — done in public, in direct engagement with readers and sources, in a way that made thousands of people feel involved in the fact-finding process. What if we could translate that kind of journalism to...
Posted: March 15, 2018, 2:29 pm

Soft power — not government censorship — is the key to fighting disinformation and “fake news”

In many countries over the past few years, the political process — and social cohesion — have been threatened by various forms of disinformation, sometimes misleadingly and inadequately called “fake news.” Politically-motivated and for-profit disinformation is blamed, among other things, for the U.K.’s decision to vote to leave the EU and the election of Donald...
Posted: March 15, 2018, 1:41 pm

The New York Times has shut down its customizable keyword email alerts feature ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The New York Times has sunset those custom email alerts to Times stories, that users could tailor based on keywords of their interests. The feature, which met its unceremonious end Tuesday, March 13, was being used by less than half a percent of users, according to a Times spokesperson. From the outside, it didn’t seem...
Posted: March 14, 2018, 4:09 pm

It’s mostly older people who watch TV news. Can Netflix and Facebook change that?

If they build it, will the young viewers come? 2018 is likely to finally be the year that more Americans get news online than from TV (we were almost there last year). Right now, it’s primarily an older crowd that watches TV news: 58 percent of those over 65 often get news from cable, for...
Posted: March 14, 2018, 2:04 pm

The WikiTribune Way: What it’s like to run a news site with a “neutral point of view”

“Is anyone watching the money in our government coffers?” “I am still hoping we can get some in-depth analysis of Brazil’s Lula conviction and electoral campaign.” “I’d like to see a story about the bill passed in Iowa that forces stores to offer eggs that are caged rather than cage free.” Each morning at 10...
Posted: March 14, 2018, 12:33 pm

Enough with the “round-robin hot takes”: Techmeme tries a new kind of aggregation show

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 155, published March 13, 2018. Infinite Dial 2018. In the run-up to every Infinite Dial  — the annual report from Edison Research and Triton Digital presenting what is, in my opinion, the definitive sizing on podcast listenership due to its assiduousness and the simple...
Posted: March 13, 2018, 7:07 pm

The New York Times will experiment with giving subscribers early access to its first documentary podcast series

Caliphate, a new podcast from The New York Times, marks a few firsts for the newspaper. For one, the mini-series, announced at SXSW this weekend, is the Times’ first foray into narrative documentary storytelling, following in the footsteps of shows like Serial and S-Town. Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, who focuses on terrorism, will go...
Posted: March 12, 2018, 6:01 pm

This site explains local issues to people who feel guilty they don’t know them well

The down-ballot got you down? Keeping up with local news is important. Participating in local politics is important. Bay Area engineer and designer Jimmy Chion felt these pressures of civic duty, but wrestled with what he felt was a shallowness to his understanding of the city he lived in, and the policies that would define it....
Posted: March 12, 2018, 11:44 am

The ❤️ of the matter: Here are too many words about Farhad Manjoo’s Twitter habits (and some cool charts)

Over the weekend, I was chatting on Twitter about last week’s media flare-up, l’affaire Manjoo. That’s the debate prompted by New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo writing this piece, headlined: “For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned.” It was only the latest in the overstuffed genre of...
Posted: March 12, 2018, 11:43 am

Reuters’ new automation tool wants to help reporters spot the hidden stories in their data (but won’t take their jobs)

For the news industry, the promise — or perhaps threat — of automation is that technology will be able to handle more of the monotonous reporting, freeing up human reporters to do the enterprising, high-value work. Reuters, however, sees another path: cybernetic reporters. At NICAR on Friday, Padraic Cassidy, Reuters’ editor of news production systems,...
Posted: March 12, 2018, 11:42 am

Newsonomics: Is Tronc due for a crash? And a few other questions about this busy week in the news business

Is it really only the beginning of March? The news business’ gyrations seem to be moving at warp speed this year, and particularly this week, as two newspaper companies long in the news make new big moves. As Tronc reckons with the crash of its stock price and oh-so-private Alden Global Capital gets publicly accused...
Posted: March 9, 2018, 4:06 pm

What do Xi Jinping and Winnie the Pooh have in common? They’re both flagged by Chinese censors

Xi Jinping and Winnie the Pooh; the letter “n,” and Pu Yi, too. A hodgepodge of text and images have been deleted by Chinese censors as thousands of delegates gather in Beijing for the National People’s Congress this month to officially vote to abolish the two-term limit for Chinese presidents, paving the way for Xi Jinping...
Posted: March 9, 2018, 4:00 pm

Fear, surprise, disgust: Fake news spreads faster than some real news on Twitter

“It’s easier to be novel and surprising when you’re not bound by reality.” It’s not bots. It’s us. A paper published on Thursday in Science (it’s the cover story) by MIT’s Soroush Vosoughi, Deb Roy, and Sinan Aral tracks the spread of fake and real news tweets and finds that fake news both reached more...
Posted: March 9, 2018, 2:01 pm

With Lab 351, The Globe and Mail is creating both new products and a culture of “bottom-up” innovation

Sean Stanleigh is proud of the work that has come out of Lab 351, the innovation unit that The Globe and Mail’s launched in 2015. But he’s also looking forward to the day when the division no longer needs to exist. Closing the doors on Lab 351 is “the absolute end goal,” albeit a longterm...
Posted: March 8, 2018, 7:36 pm

Quartz launches a Facebook Messenger bot (because why not, because experimentation, because people like messaging)

I feel like I’m back in 2016, because Quartz on Thursday announced the launch of its Facebook Messenger chat bot, which delivers news stories and introduces users to select Quartz Obsessions, but will also include a more participatory element (mindfulness challenges, for instance). The bot will learn and “will shape the experience to you and...
Posted: March 8, 2018, 4:09 pm

Living in a sea of false signals: Are we being pushed from “trust, but verify” to “verify, then trust”?

I have read some of the other testimony before the commission and was pleased to see people speak about media literacy, the alarming ease with which technology will enable us to create compelling audio and video fakes, so-called “information disorder” brought on by massive changes in communications technology, and the shift in trust from institutions...
Posted: March 8, 2018, 2:00 pm

Women of color are still underrepresented in media. A new report explains why (and how news orgs can turn it around)

For those invested in making news organizations more diverse, inclusive places, particularly for women, the past few years haven’t offered much in the way of good news. ASNE’s latest newsroom diversity survey, published last fall, found that women made up 39.1 percent of all newsroom employees in 2017 — up only slightly from 37.35 percent...
Posted: March 7, 2018, 6:25 pm

Getting The Boston Globe delivered will soon cost almost $1,350 a year

For the past decade, one of the very few (relative?) bright spots in newspaper earnings reports has been circulation revenue, which has either held steady or dropped only slightly for many. (Compared to the complete collapse of print advertising revenue, “only down a little” is an offer you’d take.) The reason for that stability isn’t...
Posted: March 7, 2018, 3:29 pm

The Better India will show you all the positive news, on all the channels you might want it

The Better India wants to show you the good stuff. Anuradha Kedia, cofounder of The Better India with her husband Dhimant Parekh — both have engineering backgrounds — started the effort in 2009 as a side-project blog. They spent their weekends writing posts about people doing good work that reflected a side of Indian communities...
Posted: March 7, 2018, 2:21 pm

Newsonomics: GateHouse goes bigger, buying Austin’s daily and eyeing the Palm Beach Post

GateHouse Media, though suffering through all the same revenue woes as its peers, is about to get significantly bigger. Earlier today, GateHouse officially became the winner in the auction of the Austin American-Statesman; the newsroom of a little more than 100 staffers was told in mid-afternoon. I had reported that was the highly likely outcome...
Posted: March 7, 2018, 1:10 am

The New York Times put ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ in a headline

Look, it’s no New York Times’ first tweet, but what follows is the oral history of how The New York Times got shruggie into a headline. I asked the story’s author, Jonah Bromwich, how this was able to happen. Sure, here is the process! (Cc: @mccanner @palafo) — Jonah Bromwich 👾 (@Jonesieman) March 6,...
Posted: March 6, 2018, 7:07 pm

Advertisers no longer need publishers. Should publishers give up on them?

“What is the future of the relationship between publishers and advertisers? And how can platforms, news publishers, and advertisers ensure a robust future for news publishers by shaping the quality of advertising?” These questions are addressed in “The Future of Advertising and Publishing,” a report released Monday by Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the...
Posted: March 6, 2018, 4:11 pm

Alexa, can you get my kid to brush his teeth? (Oh, and Alexa? How exactly can I make money with you?)

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 154, published March 6, 2018. Chomping at the bit. “Gimlet is a multimedia storytelling brand, not just a podcast network,” declared Jenny Wall, the company’s newly hired chief marketing officer, in a Fast Company piece in January. That identity refashioning is mostly tethered to...
Posted: March 6, 2018, 2:41 pm

This new initiative deploys humans to review, research, and rate U.S. news sites

The Denver Post? GREEN. The fake news site the Denver Guardian? RED. A site that’s not putting out deliberately fake news, but is overwhelmingly influenced in its coverage by a funder that it’s not eager to disclose? Maybe a YELLOW. That’s the proposed ratings system underlying NewsGuard, an initiative launched by Steven Brill (The American...
Posted: March 5, 2018, 8:11 pm

Could local news driven by residents who pay fees in a special service district…work?

Lots of schemes to save local journalism have been suggested, and whether or not many of them will pan out is still unclear. (Blockchain, anyone?) Here’s one more to add to the mix: “community information districts,” special service districts with community-driven fees levied on a certain area to power local journalism in a continual feedback...
Posted: March 5, 2018, 3:04 pm

Apologies for the clickbait, but: Public media archives. Gamified transcription. Go ahead and click

Nothing lasts forever, in the analog tapes and physical storage systems of broadcasting, let alone the digital realm. But the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is crossing its fingers that public radio fans will be drawn to its tools to add metadata to old files — using a little gamification to give the broadcasters...
Posted: March 5, 2018, 2:50 pm

Why Facebook Was So Easily Gamed

“Research has shown that the downside of powerful, centralized networks is their susceptibility to being subverted and exploited,” writes The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims in a fascinating analysis of why social networks, which were supposed to challenge hierarchy, have reinforced it instead. Delving into network theory, Mims explains why networks that start out with […]
Posted: February 20, 2018, 4:13 pm

#FakeNews: Facebook Isn’t a Media Company

Despite a Pew Research study‘s finding last year that two-thirds of Facebook users rely on the site for news, the COO of the world’s largest social network insists that Facebook isn’t a media company. “At our heart we’re a tech company… we don’t hire journalists,” Sheryl Sandberg told Axios. Although Sandberg admitted that her company […]
Posted: October 19, 2017, 4:21 pm

Romenesko is retired, but occasionally tweets

Tweets by @romenesko I’m now retired, but still online. Thank you for checking my latest tweets and occasional Facebook posts.)
Posted: July 7, 2017, 4:15 pm

Bad News on the Doorstep

After a spate of closures and layoffs in the latter part of the last decade, the newspaper industry appeared to find its footing over the past few years. But now that oasis of stability may be drying up. Hard times are hitting some of the most resilient titles, and the trend indicates that things are […]
Posted: November 4, 2016, 12:21 am

R.I.P. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

We’re going to call a time-of-death on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, despite the fact that the newspaper says it’ll live on with a website. Everyone says that these days. The more important news is that the 24-year-old daily will shutter its print edition and lay off 106 staff members. It will maintain an online-only edition, but most […]
Posted: September 29, 2016, 12:59 am

Startup Says It’s Figured Out a Way to Make Micropayments Work

The idea of convincing readers to pay a few pennies to read a single article has been largely scoffed at over the years, but Blendle may have cracked the code, at least a little bit. Launched two years ago in Europe, Blendle says it just surpassed the one-million-member mark. It’s getting hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors […]
Posted: August 12, 2016, 1:34 pm

The Best 20 Minutes of Video You’ll Watch This Week

John Oliver’s sendup of the news industry for preposterous ideas like Tronc is both hilarious and sad. Oliver digs into the video history bag to remind us that Sam Zell really did own a newspaper company at one point and thought that stories about cats could possibly support stories about crime and corruption. He also calls […]
Posted: August 10, 2016, 4:30 pm

Leroy Black gets two obits – one placed by his wife and the other by his girlfriend

The top obit was placed by Leroy Black’s “loving wife.” The second obit was put in the Press of Atlantic City by Black’s longtime girlfriend. * Loving wife and longtime girlfriend place dueling obituaries (
Posted: August 5, 2016, 11:16 am

USA Today memo: Treat social media sourcing with great skepticism

A late July memo from USA Today Sports Media Group senior editor Steve Henson: Subject: Social Media sourcing rules Ahead of our conference call today at 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT, here are bullet points on USAT social media sourcing rules. These apply to all O&Os [all USA Today Network properties]: * Two-source rule. While …

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Posted: August 1, 2016, 11:56 am

They didn’t think Madison would notice?

Madison Magazine’s reaction: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we guess.”
Posted: July 28, 2016, 3:31 pm