Tag Archives: New York Times

Interviewing the interviewers

Last night I had a healthy debate on Facebook with the former chair of SPJ’s Ethics Committee, as well as a couple of other SPJ members, though they may be former members, now.

It all stemmed from an article in The New York Times about NBC News’ and ESPN’s recent interview with Janay Rice, the wife of NFL player Ray Rice. (In case you missed it, there is video of Ray Rice hitting his then fiance, now wife, Janay Rice, while they were in an elevator in a hotel in Las Vegas. Ray Rice was then let go from the Baltimore Ravens, and Roger Goddell, the NFL’s commissioner, suspended Ray Rice indefinitely from the NFL. An arbitrator ruled last week that Ray Rice be reinstated to the NFL, overturning.)

Kevin Smith, the former ethics chair, posted this on Facebook, with a link to the NYT story:

This is a disturbing trend that is greatly undermining the credibility of broadcast new — buying exclusive interviews and allowing sources to audition the outlets that will interview them.

This isn’t about truth. It’s about spin and managing the message and the TV media is buying into it and putting millions in the pockets of these celebrity sources for the privilege of skewing the story.

The news has always been about competition and getting the exclusive interview, but today, network deep pockets and public relations managers are controlling news content and the public is expected to accept this as honest and fair reporting.

Ethical journalists need to rebel. Refuse to audition for a scripted interview that does nothing more than serve as a PR statement from the source. Stop paying for news. Period. How can the public place any trust in a story when they know a network paid hundred of thousands to the person for the “truth”?

The following is posted with permission from the commenters.

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NYT Election Day Data

photo courtesy Dwight Burdette on Wikimedia Commons

photo courtesy Dwight Burdette on Wikimedia Commons

Election day is a wonderful day for data. There are so many numbers. How many people are voting. How many Republicans are voting. How many Democrats are voting. How many young people are voting. How many old people are voting. You get the picture. And that’s before you even get to the results.

It’s a great day for media outlets to showcase their tools and data specialists. In preparation for Tuesday, November 4, The New York Times has pulled together a national list of races and referenda. It is a lengthy list, but it has anchor tags and a drop down list to allow you to jump to specific states.

The promise has been made that on election day – and more likely, election night – this page will update continuously. It’s unclear presently how those results will be displayed, but the template has been built. It will be fun to see how it plays out – the data, not the races. Though there are plenty of exciting races, too.

Should NYT execs be on Twitter?

Fellow classmate Tory Starr took to Twitter this morning saying Charlie Warzel’s BuzzFeed piece was getting a lot of attention. If you missed it, Warzel assessed the Twitter accounts of several executives at The New York Times. It wasn’t pretty. He called his results a Twitter Graveyard.

Starr asked whether it matters that these top-level editors do not tweet. I responded. Storify isn’t currently supported by WordPress, so here’s a link.

Looking ahead – will journalism survive?

At the age of 12 I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I watched the Today Show as I was eating breakfast and getting ready for school. I watched the evening news as my mother got dinner ready. I was in awe of the reporters telling stories from all over the world. That’s what I wanted to do.

I did it. I went to school. I got a degree in broadcast journalism. I studied newspaper journalism. I wrote for our university’s student-run, independent daily newspaper. I had multiple internships. I was ready.

I graduated from college 14 years ago. In the time between deciding what I “wanted to be when I grew up” and then, the journalism industry has changed drastically. It has changed even more since graduating.

Fourteen years ago there was no such thing as a smartphone, but now it’s being credited with saving journalism. Frank Rose writes in his piece, “How the Smartphone Ushered In a Golden Age of Journalism,” “Statistics from The (New York) Times say roughly half of the people who read it now do so with their mobile devices, and that jibes with figures from the latest Pew report on the news media broadly.” In fact, the Pew report indicates that people with smartphones are reading more news than ever before.

Additionally, reporters are using smartphones to help them tell a story. They can take pictures and video to place into their pieces. They can look up data and information while on the road – and even place a call using the same phone. Once the story is written – which can be done on that same smartphone – the reporter can share the story using social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Clay Shirky suggests current journalists “get good with numbers” – in other words, focus on data journalism. “Learning to code is the gold standard, but even taking an online class in statistics and getting good at Google spreadsheets will help,” Shirky writes. He adds journalists should learn to use social media not just to share their stories, but to help cultivate them. Use the platforms to gather story ideas and sources. They can also be used to crowdsource photos and multimedia that can be used in their reports.

But with more businesses foregoing the traditional newspaper and television ads in exchange for far less expensive online advertising and even building their own apps, the funding to support these endeavors is falling by the wayside.

Gannett announced this summer it is spinning off its print business, separating it from its broadcast business. This has free-fall written all over it. The New York Times quotes Craig Huber, an independent research analyst as saying, “It makes it a more risky portfolio because they don’t have a digital segment to fall back on or TV stations to fall back on. They are probably going to feel more pressure as a stand-alone newspaper company.”

So newspapers fall apart and leave us looking at all of our news online. Is that bad? Shirky suggests in his piece  “Newspapers and the Unthinkable” from 2009,

“Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.”

How do you do that? How do you strengthen journalism? Outlets need to look at and change their funding mechanisms. They need to give their reporters and editors the support they need. And they need to be aware that the audience they have had will likely be further splintered. But people still want to read good reporting, and that is why this industry will survive. Will it be as robust as it was 20 or 30 years ago? No. Andrew Leonard writes in Salon, “In her book “The People’s Platform,” Astra Taylor reported that one 2011 study found ‘44.7 percent fewer reporters working in the [San Francisco] Bay area than a decade ago.'”

But will journalism survive? Of course it will. Will it look even more different than when I was a 12-year-old eating cereal watching the Today Show? You betcha.

Never say never – going back to school

Not me, but a really cute kid I know, standing in front of my new school.

Not me, but a really cute kid I know, standing in front of my new school.

Never say never as they say. (Who is “they,” by the way?)

Well, even I am learning this. After saying it for years, I am eating my words now. Because, yes, I am going back to school. And not just for anything. For a master’s degree in journalism. That’s right, journalism. The same thing I studied in undergrad.

I said I would never get a master’s degree in journalism since I studied at one of the best journalism schools in the country, graduating with high grades, working in my chosen field for many years, and doing pretty well.

But then Northeastern – my employer – had to go ahead and approve a pretty awesome program. The College of Art, Media, and Design is home to the School of Journalism and its new program “Media Innovation.”

This program, headed up by Wired writer, Jeff Howe, is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foun­da­tion. There are five students, including myself; two who recently graduated from undergrad and three who have been in the field for 10-plus years.

The program focuses on web design and development and data visualization. Things that I would have loved to learn when I was in school the first time, but that was a long time ago and not “needed” for journalists. It’s going to be pretty awesome.

Instead of a thesis, we will be working on a major multimedia project for 18-to-24 months. In the end, the hope is that the project will be published in a major media outlet. (Think NPR, New York Times, Boston Globe, the regulars.)

It’s going to be a lot of work – especially considering my twins just started pre-school and we’re all adjusting to new schedules – but in the end, it’s going to be so worth it. I have always loved journalism and I like the idea of being able to keep my toe in it – and get another degree!