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.
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.
Editor-in-Chief Ed Komenda said the error was a byproduct of the stressful environment and had been in the page’s template for years.
“In any newsroom situation, it’s a highly stressful situation. Jokes are made sometimes to defuse that stress and make everybody feel a little more comfortable,” said Komenda. “That byline was in the template for years before I started, and it just so happens it got printed accidentally,” according to WQAD.
Let’s be honest: This isn’t the first time a student-run newspaper’s fun has leaked onto its pages, but it’s one of the most preventable mistakes for student journalists.
I’ve never been a fan of anything other than standard filler text—and this is why. There are other ways to diffuse the natural stress of a college newsroom. The other part of the problem is this byline has been on the template for “years.” Students have to understand that the newspaper is the one thing in the newsroom that shouldn’t become subject to college playfulness.
Juvenile mistakes like the Courier’s not only affect readers’ views toward the paper’s credibility, but also — and more importantly — the staff’s view of their own publication.
If you’re going to choose personal phrases to fill space, be advised, you’re playing against the house.
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 Sunlearned 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 »
As 2010 comes to a close and the journalism industry counts losses from another year of sliding revenues, the Associated Press has decided to put its internship programs (and some other recruitment efforts) on a one-year hiatus. In the professional journalism world of late, cost-cutting matters almost as much as reporting the news. And despite controversy about the role of interns and the merits of paid versus unpaid in the industry, the program is low-hanging fruit.
Proponents of paid internship programs point to several functions they deem essential to education, training and growth in the industry: that internships grease the wheels for top journalism talent, and that without payment, positions would be available only to those wealthy enough to sustain themselves without pay for the position’s duration.
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.
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.
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 »
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!
[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).]
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.
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.
“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?