Overzealous sergeant at arms boots pressman

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , | View 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.

Will pay walls make news orgs irrelevant?

Posted: June 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , | View Comments

box_kittensAs a follow up to Tuesday’s post, I contacted John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro News & Record, to get his thoughts on the fact that 75 percent of the N.C. Press Association‘s newsroom leaders are at least thinking about charging for online content.

Robinson has fully embraced social media. He sports about 800 followers on Twitter and frequently uses the microblogging service to create a dialogue with his community as well as fellow journalists. I figured that makes his opinions particularly salient, since I feel like its social media that will be impacted by a news organization’s decision to placed their content behind a pay wall.

Robinson agreed to answer a few questions via e-mail about his perception of pay walls and the future of online content for the News & Record. Read the rest of this entry »

For journalism, there's no place like home

Posted: May 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , | View Comments

Photo by Ali A under Creative Commons license

I’m going to follow up Wednesday’s gushing over Greensboro News & Record Editor John Robinson with a little more gushing.

The News & Record was one of the few papers in the country that decided not run Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court on the front page.

That was for a few reasons. First, the story broke as most people were fishing their papers out of the puddles in their front lawns Tuesday (seriously, it was rainy that day). By the time the N&R staff began, it was old news. Second, the staff had no unique angle — Robinson’s conclusion was that his paper had nothing to add.

That decision was an admirable one — a refusal to replicate what’s being said over and over again in most papers and cable news channels and a conscious choice to use that valuable real estate for unique local stories no one else had.

But recognizing the controversy, Robinson asked via Twitter whether his decision was the right one, then published the resulting conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Why don't news orgs trust their journalists?

Posted: May 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: journalism | Tags: , , , , , , | View Comments

I don’t know why, but news people seem to be largely afraid of change.

You sort of expect it at larger news organizations, where experienced newsroom leaders are set in their ways and a lot of money has been invested in the infrastructure of the existing business model. But I also saw it occasionally in college newspapers, where young staffers were often reluctant to do things differently.

An anomaly though it is, especially at a time when news organizations need to be bold to stay alive, you see perfect case studies whenever new technology enters the mix.

Most recently, of course, it’s Twitter, that oh-so-trendy microblogging service with an exponential growth rate, an usually high bounce rate and enough hype to pique the interest of Oprah herself (and apparently the cute puppy in her profile picture).

After being mostly scorned at first by management, individual journalists began realizing the true potential that Twitter could provide for their work, and they began to pick it up.

Then came the rules. Read the rest of this entry »