Columbia Journalism Review

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Headlines editors probably wish they could take back

6 hours 33 min ago
In this week's Lower case...   Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 4/2/79   San Francisco Chronicle, 12/15/82   The Toronto Star, 1/6/86  

Why candidates' social media use may tell us more than polls

May 25, 2016 - 12:39pm
The 2016 election cycle has been one of the costliest so far, and one of the most unpredictable. Roller-coaster shifts in voter poll data, a cobweb of campaign money, and the reportedly disproportionate attention media outlets have given—or refused to give—to populist and independent candidates have stymied pollsters and pundits. Social media data—a forever-changing landscape of opinions and content, much...

A local startup with an emphasis on uplift looks to grow

May 25, 2016 - 10:41am
What’s the right formula for a for-profit, local online news startup in a smaller market? There’s probably no single answer to that question. But in north-central Ohio, the people behind Richland Source say they have a recipe that’s working for them. It includes original content that’s free to read, a diversifying revenue base anchored by digital ads, engagement with live...

Fact or fiction? Some favorite newsroom myths.

May 24, 2016 - 4:23pm
When you work for The New York Times, you become immersed in its history and its fabled writing and writers. You connect to the Pulitzer Prizes, to the war correspondents, to the drama critics. And, of course, to the urban legends.  In my 44 years at the Times, I discovered a host of newsroom myths, virtually all of them riffing...

When will courts realize that leaks are vital to the American public?

May 24, 2016 - 2:43pm
WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning filed her long-awaited appeal to a 35-year jail sentence last week, and her case brings up an important question for journalists: When will courts finally rule the Espionage Act unconstitutional for leakers and whistleblowers?  Manning, who admitted to leaking thousands of classified Pentagon documents and State Department cables to WikiLeaks in 2010, was convicted for something...

Garner's presents inclusive approach to English in new edition

May 23, 2016 - 12:54pm
Someone looking to see what the “usage authorities” think doesn’t have a lot of places to turn, especially if they’re looking for something that is in the process of changing, such as the way we just used the indefinite (singular) pronoun “someone” with a plural pronoun, “they.” Many usage guides are available, but few can be considered both definitive and...

Why one local paper launched an online section for older readers

May 23, 2016 - 11:29am
Figuring out how to reach younger readers online is one of the perpetual concerns of the newspaper business. But a new effort from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this spring is a little unusual: It’s aimed directly at older audiences.  In April, the paper launched Aging Edge, a section of its website dedicated to the interests and concerns of the area’s “older...

Scoring the 2016 candidates on press freedom

May 20, 2016 - 12:51pm
When it comes to political campaigns, journalists traditionally serve as the referees, covering the action but not taking sides. There is one issue, however, on which journalists might be forgiven for showing preference--choosing who among the candidates is best for the media. For anyone trying to see how the candidates measure up, here’s a scorecard to help them  decide. Up...

How one open data advocate is influencing the discussion about Chicago Public Schools

May 19, 2016 - 4:08pm
Jeanne Marie Olson is not a journalist. She will be the first to tell you that. And she will repeat it several times in a single conversation to make sure you understand. But Olson is a Chicago-based researcher and a fierce open data advocate, one who’s committed to making information about the city school system more accessible and holding government...

Headlines editors probably wish they could take back

May 19, 2016 - 2:20pm
In this week’s Lower case …   Today in headlines in need of commas: cc @CJR— Alan Neuhauser (@alneuhauser) May 16, 2016 The Jersey Journal (Hudson County, New Jersey), 5/16/2016  

The voiceless have a voice. A journalist's job is to amplify it.

May 18, 2016 - 11:45am
One of the first things I noticed about Bridget Hegarty was her voice. It was a strong voice, but a pained one. Three years earlier, as a 17-year-old student at a Catholic high school, she’d been raped and decided to have an abortion. “My understanding was that I was going to kill my child,” she told me. I was...

How a newspaper veteran returned to journalism with a public radio station

May 18, 2016 - 11:39am
One day last week, Nancy Klingener updated her Facebook profile to feature a picture of herself, in sunhat and sandals, biking down a street in Key West, Florida. It might be an image of sun-drenched contentment, but for Klingener, it’s also something of a professional milestone. The bike sports the logo of WLRN, a Miami-based public radio station that opened...

CJR's Elizabeth Spayd named New York Times public editor

May 18, 2016 - 7:00am
Elizabeth Spayd, editor and publisher of CJR, has been named public editor of The New York Times, according to a news release. She’ll start in the new role this summer.  Spayd's experience "will serve us well as she assumes this critical position serving as a reliable and engaged representative of our readers," Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. said in a statement....

Knight, Columbia commit $60 million to launch digital-era First Amendment center

May 17, 2016 - 6:28am
The Knight Foundation and Columbia University today announced the creation of a new center that will use research, education, and litigation to advance First Amendment rights in the digital age. An independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University is backed by $60 million in funding—and it is launching at a time of growing concern about...

ProPublica finds a side effect of transparency—and is transparent about what it found

May 16, 2016 - 2:02pm
From the possibility of terrorists using encrypted apps to file-sharing software co-opted for pirated media, the gatekeepers of new technology are constantly confronted with what to do when users approach their tools in unexpected or suspect ways. Last week, this issue landed closer to home in the journalism field, when ProPublica published “An Unintended Side Effect of Transparency,” an editorial...

The double-punctuation solution

May 16, 2016 - 11:03am
Last week, we discussed the various ways of punctuating the following sentence: His question “How do I get enough to eat?” does not have a simple answer. We introduced the concept of omitting a comma as a second punctuation mark in attributive tags, as in “Will this plan cause our taxes to go up?” he asked, but including it if...

Marketing firms make dubious judges of campaign coverage

May 13, 2016 - 1:51pm
A gift of $3 billion in free media coverage helped propel Donald Trump to becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, claims one popular theory. Calculating the equivalent advertising rate for cumulative news coverage is a provocative way to depict the media’s undeniable obsession with Trump. But this understanding of “earned media” also reflects an alarmingly cynical view of journalism. The New...

How one reporter’s scoop helped change Kansas’ open-records law

May 13, 2016 - 11:49am
One day in late January 2015, Bryan Lowry of the Wichita Eagle was at a Mexican restaurant in Topeka, Kansas, when he received an email forwarded from a source.* He immediately knew he was onto something big. “I said, ‘Wow, this is a story,’” says Lowry, the Eagle's statehouse correspondent. He was right: Lowry’s article, published by the Eagle the...

Why the undercover Planned Parenthood videos aren't journalism

May 12, 2016 - 4:51pm
This past January, a Texas grand jury investigating whether Planned Parenthood had illegally profited from selling baby parts not only cleared the organization of any misconduct but also pointed the finger back at its main accuser, indicting him on a felony charge. David Daleiden, a 27-year-old anti-abortion advocate from Davis, California, tried to incriminate Planned Parenthood through hidden-camera videos. In...