Time for a new adventure

Posted: October 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism, Personal | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

In this case, adventure is at Duke!

Over the course of a week last summer, I made a few huge, rapid-fire life changes. I left my job as a Web producer with News 14 Carolina, married the love of my life and started (essentially) a brand new career as one of the editorial advisers at N.C. State Student Media.

While the timing was mild insanity, the decisions themselves weren’t difficult. Two great years at the station transformed me from a print guy clueless about the TV news business to a specialist in Web editing, breaking news and social media. I had managed to find a beautiful, intelligent woman who puts up with (nay, encourages) my love of video games, sci-fi movies and fantasy novels. And the new production assistant gig gave me the opportunity to return to my alma mater and work with the very publications that made me the journalist I am today.

I figured the new job would be a four-year investment, minimum. I wanted to see the students I advised graduate and move on. I wanted to see young writers, photographers and designers work their way up to editors. I wanted to see these publications grow.

Then I got a phone call. Read the rest of this entry »


Overzealous sergeant at arms boots pressman

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Press corps represent!

Ruh roh.

Looks like a North Carolina House of Representatives official got a little uppity today with seasoned News & Record political reporter Mark Binker. A member of the sergeant at arms’ staff had the courtesy to provide Binker with an armed escort straight out of the room Tuesday after the reporter refused to sign in.

As Binker points out in his post, there’s no law that says he, or any member of the public, has to sign in at all.

He was only kept out of the room for about 10 minutes and the sergeant at arms apologized, but Binker denounced the “thuggish behavior” not on the basis that it harmed his ability to report, but because of the potential repercussions on the public’s right to transparency in government.

Residents of this state should feel that they can come and watch their government in action without being coerced to sign in. What if some little old lady from the hinter lands wanted to come and hear about a bill that might affect her, but didn’t want to subject her name to the public record?

Hopefully this will turn into a teachable moment for the staffers at the General Assembly, which should understand their responsibility to the public they serve. But just in case, I’ll keep the T-shirt screen printer at the ready.


Paying homage to great design

Posted: March 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Student Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

I’m just too excited not to share this, however shameless the promotion.

Check out the front page design from the Technician, the daily student newspaper I advise at North Carolina State University. Look familiar? Check out its inspiration.

Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 9

We had a great discussion over the summer (shortly after I was hired as a production assistant) about the wonderfully designed front by The Plain Dealer‘s Emmet Smith and Michael Tribble on the departure of LeBron James. When news broke at about 3 p.m. that the vice chancellor for Student Affairs, a 40-year employee of the university, announced his retirement, the Technician staff sprung into action, eliciting help from the Agromeck yearbook and the student-run radio station WKNC.

Read the rest of this entry »


Krispy Kreme Challenge roundup

Posted: February 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | No Comments »


Headlines and innuendo always need 2nd look

Posted: January 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

South Carolina's "Gamecock" mascot is fit for ribbing.

Three days after Florida State won the Chick-fil-A Bowl, it’s twice-weekly student newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau, published a front page headlined with bold innuendo.

Dan Reimold at College Media Matters has a nice roundup of reactions from Twitter, including one from ESPN Radio out of Tallahassee, Fla. They’re mostly positive. But he also asks a serious question about the headline’s journalistic value.

Is it hilarious or cringe-inducing, creative or beyond cliché, journalistic or just-plain vulgar?

Journalists love puns — probably way more than they should. Throw in a little sexual innuendo, and you’ve got newsroom gold. You don’t have to look far to prove it either. As visual journalist Charles Apple points out, sex puns aren’t rare for tabloids like the Daily News, but even The Wall Street Journal’s copy desk gets in on the fun with their A1 heds.

I’m not a huge fan of most “punny” headlines, simply because they’re rarely as clever as their creators think. They can also get you into trouble if you’re not careful, as the Sun learned the hard way in 1982. But when they’re good, they’re often really good, and they can engage the reader in an incredibly effective way. Read the rest of this entry »


Did WRAL anchor cross a line with comment?

Posted: September 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Blogs are abuzz with a new moniker for Carolina. But is it fair?

The N.C. State sports blog StateFans Nation pointed out an interesting post by the controversial CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel this morning — one that seems to reveal the opinion of one of the Triangle’s most popular anchors.

From: Bill Leslie, WRAL, Raleigh

I’m a journalist like you — and I am offended by your reckless article on UNC football. They are doing their best to clean things up. It’s the first black eye in recent history. You should cut them a little slack.

Doyel filed Leslie’s response among his “hate mail” sent in response to two recent columns on the ongoing NCAA investigation into the UNC-Chapel Hill football program. The investigation has since expanded to allegations of academic misconduct.

To understand why Leslie’s note would be particularly controversial in the Triangle of North Carolina, you have to understand not only the heated rivalry between UNC-CH and NCSU (my alma mater), but the widespread perception among State fans that the local news is in the tank for the Tar Heels. Read the rest of this entry »


AEJMC probes gap between j-school ed, practice

Posted: August 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | No Comments »
View more webinars from ryan.thornburg.

Thought I’d share this fantastic presentation delivered by Ryan Thornburg, an online journalism professor from UNC-Chapel Hill, at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication convention. Good stuff!


Stolen from ProPublica: Beware of bad ads

Posted: August 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I've wanted to test out ProPublica's "Steal our stories" feature ever since Ryan Sholin tried it last month. I found this story especially interesting, since I've discussed bad ads (and how to make them more valuable) on the blog before. It's interesting to note that several local news orgs use these types of ads on their sites (although they're often randomly generated).]

Bogus ‘Obama Mom’ Grants Lure Students

by Sharona Coutts ProPublica, July 23, 10:34 a.m.

July 26: This story has been corrected.

Listen to Marketplace’s version of this story.

After being laid off from her job as a high school teacher in Dayton, Ohio, Nicole Massey decided to go back to college. For months, she scoured the Web for ways to fund her tuition, while supporting her 10-year-old son, Tyler. So when ads turned up in Massey’s inbox claiming that President Barack Obama had created special college grants and scholarships for single mothers, her hopes soared.

“You see his picture,” Massey said, “so I clicked on it.” The link took her to a new window, where she was asked to enter her name, age and other information about the degree she wanted. The site then produced a list of schools that lined up with Massey’s choices.

Almost immediately, recruiters from for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, Grand Canyon University and a couple of local schools, bombarded Massey with e-mails and calls. Read the rest of this entry »


The Joe Rogan Rule of online unpublishing

Posted: July 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Internet, journalism | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

The caller on the other end of the line is angry, to put it mildly.

After months on the job hunt, he’s finally found something to fit his skillset. But after a few promising e-mails and a great phone interview, his potential employer suddenly informed him he was no longer in the running.

And he’s sure it’s your fault. Well, it’s really Google fault. Actually, it’s the fault of the guy who rear-ended him back in 2002, triggering a rage so intense the whole incident ended in an aggravated assault charge that was eventually dropped because it was all just a big misunderstanding.

Anyway, the point is you should take down that online story on the whole thing, because searching his name gives the impression that he deals with stress and confrontation by applying a tire iron to a windshield — which is totally not the case. And nobody wants to get lawyers involved, right?

Conversations like these are familiar to Web producers and online editors, who are working to develop new strategies for dealing with very real concerns from the subjects of old stories.

It’s a complicated issue that’s typically determined on a case-by-case basis. But editors from a variety of media do share some common techniques, from unpublishing to follow-ups. Poynter’s NewsU even has a whole Webinar on the subject taught by Toronto Star Public Editor Kathy English.

Then’s there’s the quality advice we get from NewsRadio’s Joe Rogan, circa 1996 (hat tip to @grapechick for the quote and @bluestraggler for the ID):

“You can’t take something off the Internet. It’s like trying to take pee out of a swimming pool. Once it’s in there, it’s in there.”

Good discussion of your unpublishing policy is essential, and writing it explicitly in your ethics policy is even better. The better your staff understands how to apply the policy, the more consistently they will apply it when the issue comes up, and that’s a crucial part to your news org’s credibility.

What policies do you have in place for unpublishing requests? Is it ever discussed in your newsroom? Do you think it should have a place in your ethics policy?


Can we harness the cognitive surplus?

Posted: May 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

People do all sorts of things for free.

They learn to play the guitar and restore old cars. They collect sports memorabilia or brew beer in their kitchens (my personal favorite).

But aside from regular hobbies, they also do things for which professionals are often paid a lot of money: like edit encyclopedias or develop operating systems.

This got Wired contributor Daniel Pink and NYU Professor Clay Shirky thinking. The magazine published a really great conversation in its latest issue between the two about what they’re calling the “cognitive surplus,” or what happens when people stop worrying about television and learn to love the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »