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Must-reads of the week

November 26, 2014 - 9:50am
Culled from CJR’s own stories, plus the frequently updated “Must-reads from around the Web,” our staff recommendations for the best pieces of journalism (and other miscellany) on the internet, here are your can’t-miss must-reads of the past week: "Ferguson: How can you blame McCulloch for blaming the media?" (The Washington Post) - St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch bashed nonstop...

How the media gets the price of Thanksgiving dinner wrong

November 26, 2014 - 9:20am
It's Thanksgiving, which means it's time for the American Farm Bureau Federation's report on the cost of the average Thanksgiving dinner, an annual tradition celebrated by press release rewriters (and media critics) across the land. This year the "news" is that the cost of Thanksgiving dinner will be essentially flat, rising just 0.8 percent. Which means it should be extra...

Statehouse staffing is down, but it's not all doom and gloom in Springfield

November 26, 2014 - 5:50am
SPRINGFIELD, IL — Fresh off of his successful run for the Illinois governor’s office, Bruce Rauner took a victory lap of sorts in the state capital last week. The governor-elect made the rounds with state lawmakers and, at one point mid-morning, stepped in front of a scrum of reporters to take a few questions. He must have spotted some familiar...

What we can learn from Robert McCulloch's media condemnation

November 25, 2014 - 3:35pm
When Steve Fox's undergraduate news literacy students attended class Tuesday morning at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, they wanted to talk about how much time St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch spent blaming the media the previous night for difficulties in the investigation of the shooting of Michael Brown. McCulloch spoke for nine minutes and 27 seconds before delivering...

Why Serial is important for journalism

November 25, 2014 - 1:50pm
The hit podcast Serial, a journalist's exploration of whether a young man was wrongly convicted of murder, breaks new ground for our field. There are reams of articles and TV "newsmagazines" that expose the killers of the famous--and not so famous--in gruesome detail. What makes Serial so special and so meaningful for journalism is reporter Sarah Koenig's transparency. She takes...

In Rehtaeh Parsons' case, it's press vs. Canadian law

November 25, 2014 - 11:20am
Leah Parsons was only 13 years old when she invented the name that would echo across Canada years later. Her niece Heather had come over to play, and Parsons started to toy with her name, arranging and rearranging the syllables. Heather. Parsons mused over the word, then repeated it backwards. Rehtaeh. "I thought, 'Oh, that's kind of neat. I think...

How to report the narrow-network story

November 25, 2014 - 10:00am
Before the second season of open enrollment on the health insurance exchanges began, I suggested six angles for reporters covering the story. As enrollment moves on through the holiday season, it’s time to take a closer look at one of those angles: narrow networks. Insurers used to keep costs down in part by denying coverage to sick people with costly...

Eric Holder's lasting damage to press freedom

November 25, 2014 - 5:50am
The fact that outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder has prosecuted more people under the Espionage Act than all previous attorneys general combined is an inescapable legacy of his time in office. All of those cases were brought against government workers or contractors accused of leaking classified information to the media, which led Trevor Timm, co-founder of the Freedom of the...

How to use the colon

November 24, 2014 - 1:50pm
The colon is one of the most versatile punctuation marks (and organs). We use it to mark time (he arrived at 3:15 pm), identify the source of biblical passages (Psalms 23:4), in mathematical ratios (the horse is running at 12:1), and, of course, in Web addresses (http://www.cjr.org), among many other places. It's in ordinary writing that the colon gets a...

Press subpoenas are a bigger problem than you'd think

November 24, 2014 - 9:55am
By now, everyone knows the feds have been handing out record numbers of subpoenas to journalists hoping to scare them into giving up their sources. The troubles of New York Times reporter James Risen, the most well-known of these besieged journalists, remain unresolved almost seven years after the Bush administration first knocked on his door with a subpoena to...

Is this the golden age of podcasts?

November 24, 2014 - 5:50am
The meteoric rise of podcast phenomenon Serial has placed podcasting firmly in the center of internet chatter and media attention, at a time when the media has announced a podcast renaissance and paid increased attention to the medium over the past year. While the show illustrates podcasts’ potential to develop deep audience engagement, some have pointed out that podcasting never...

Must-reads of the week

November 21, 2014 - 1:45pm
Culled from CJR’s own stories, plus the frequently updated “Must-reads from around the Web,” our staff recommendations for the best pieces of journalism (and other miscellany) on the internet, here are your can’t-miss must-reads of the past week: Virtual reality is journalism’s next frontier (CJR) - Why newsrooms need to consider telling stories in a different way. Jack Shafer on...

The Boston Globe finally digs in to a big story

November 21, 2014 - 11:16am
The Boston Globe has, at last, dug into the big business-of-healthcare story in its state. In an important article earlier this month, the paper did a fine job probing deeply into the deal between Partners HealthCare and Attorney General Martha Coakley and unpacking an agreement that allowed Partners, the state’s giant hospital system, to acquire three community hospitals in Eastern...

My take: The end of an era in Tampa

November 21, 2014 - 9:55am
MIAMI — The sad news out of Tampa just keeps trickling across my Facebook page. This week it was the fact that Tampa Bay Times’ Bill Duryea and Michael Kruse were leaving for Politico. Last week, it was long-time sports columnist Gary Shelton penning his last goodbye to the Times while the crosstown Tampa Tribune laid off a political columnist,...

Engaging News Project works to identify audience behavior

November 21, 2014 - 5:50am
Industry conversation over the best ways to quantify reader engagement on news sites may be reaching fever pitch, with a possible shift afoot from clicks and pageviews to more complex measures of time and attention spent online. News organizations are interested, presumably, in gathering metrics to see whether their stories are reaching intended audiences, as well as who is reading...

A timeline of the #pointergate TV station's defense (Updated)

November 21, 2014 - 5:50am
You’ve heard all about #pointergate. And you’ve probably read or watched a few of the many, many, many pieces exploring what was wrong with a Nov. 6 local TV news segment that reported the mayor of Minneapolis had been photographed “flashing a known gang sign” with a convicted felon, and supposedly endangering her community in the process. So at this...

The press is responsible for ignoring Bill Cosby rape allegations

November 20, 2014 - 3:10pm
Photo credit: Associated Press It is a remarkable thing to see: The collapsing reputation of a star who has been part of American life for more than half a century. A month ago, Bill Cosby was a comedic and sociological icon; now his career is in shambles. A Netflix special on him will not be shown; NBC won't move...

Texas reporters fight for access to fracking facts

November 20, 2014 - 1:50pm
AUSTIN -- Earlier this month, the residents of Denton, Texas--located on one of the country's largest natural gas reserves and home to some 275 gas wells--voted to ban fracking. The ban was a first for a city in Texas, where fracking has enabled an oil and gas boom; the state now accounts for one-third of the United States' natural gas...

Approach ISIS tweets with caution

November 20, 2014 - 10:45am
CAIRO--When it seized huge parts of Syria and Iraq this year, the self-proclaimed Islamic State--and the geopolitical chaos surrounding it--became one of the biggest news stories on the planet. But journalists have little means of directly reporting on the group, its activities on the ground, or the havoc it has sown in the region. A physical meeting with the group's...

Mathias Döpfner, digital counterrevolutionary

November 20, 2014 - 5:50am
The digital counterrevolution is underway in Europe, where national governments and bureaucrats in Brussels are enacting measures to curtail the power of American tech giants, such as the controversial "right to be forgotten," and challenging the fairness of Google's search-engine criteria. In May 2014, a coalition of European telecoms, media companies, and other businesses formed an anti-Google lobbying group called...

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