February 3rd, 2023 • Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Wrestling with trust vs. attention when breaking news
In June 2022, new CNN CEO Chris Licht issued a memo to staffers to reduce the network’s usage of the “breaking news” graphic on air. “Something I have heard from both people inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner,” Licht wrote in a copy of the memo obtained by Variety.
Just a few weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, photojournalist Lynsey Addario captured a photo of a civilian casualty that spoke to the atrocity of the war. While located at an evacuation route in Irpin, she witnessed the death of a family killed by a mortar.
If there’s a line from a song that sums up MediaFest22, it’s got to be this one from the 1979 hit by R&B duo Peaches & Herb: Reunited and it feels so good … After two virtual conferences, more than 700 SPJ members gathered in the nation’s capital for three days of camaraderie, connections and collaboration.
After interviewing U.S. Sen. Rick Scott about the challenges of rebuilding areas of Florida decimated by deadly Hurricane Ian, Margaret Brennan, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” attempted to wrap up with an unrelated question about recent “disturbing rhetoric” from former President Donald Trump and U.S.
In addition to the important news itself, a good Sunday paper is a combination of the smart, the useful and the fun. We employed that same trio as our mantra in seeking out items for this year’s holiday gift guide for journalists.
A staple in broadcast media, Emmy-winning journalist Bill Whitaker has graced American televisions since 1979. Stints in San Francisco, Charlotte and Atlanta led to CBS News, where he served as correspondent in Tokyo and, later, Los Angeles, where he was frequently seen reporting for “CBS Evening News.”
CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward often cites her “peripatetic upbringing” as the spark for her wanderlust. Born in London, the only child of an American mother and British father, she moved to Manhattan, then back again to London, with a rotating cast of nannies (11 by the time she was 8) along the way.
For over five decades, ABC news veteran John Quiñones has shared stories of those who have experienced abuse, injustice or hardship at the hands of the powerful people or institutions whose actions disproportionately impact the lives of others. As a reporter for “World News Tonight” and “20/20,” anchor on “Primetime” and host of the wildly popular “What Would You Do?”
A little more than a century ago, the U.S. government passed a law designed, on its face, to protect national secrets. In their book, Ralph Engelman and Carey Shenkman outline how the Espionage Act of 1917 actually was created to control the flow of information and inhibit the practice of journalism.
SPJ launched the Fellows of the Society program in 1948 and has named three or more Fellows every year since. Roland Martin is among the 2022 recipients of this, the organization’s highest honor. When Roland Martin decided at age 14 that he would establish a career in journalism, he also decided he wouldn’t limit himself to just one medium.
October 11th, 2022 • Quill Archives
LA judge rules against media over arbitrary records fees
A Louisiana state judge has upheld the authority of the chief executive of the city and parish of Lafayette to begin charging $1 per page for digital copies of public records, even though the fees apply only to three media outlets.
SPJ launched the Fellows of the Society program in 1948 and has named three or more Fellows every year since. Jerry Green is among the 2022 recipients of this, the organization’s highest honor. When he began his newspaper career, he wrote his stories on a heavy old portable typewriter, but these days he’s as apt to use his iPhone as anything else.
Newspapers face existential threats these days, but none have it tougher than small town papers. Like their big-city brethren, they’re fighting everything from plummeting advertising revenue to readership declines to the onslaught of fake news — all on shoestring budgets and with minuscule staffs.
The last three to four decades have seen a surge in restrictions in public agencies, businesses and others banning employees from contact with reporters without the authorities’ oversight. To better understand where we are and how we got to this point, Kathryn Foxhall, vice chair of the SPJ Freedom of Information Committee, spoke with Glen Nowak, a former media relations head at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and now associate dean for research and graduate studies, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia.
With the Society of Professional Journalists holding its annual convention in the nation’s capital in October, it’s a good time to take a look at what that town has to offer the working journalists. After all, news is the lifeblood of D.C.
The new host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” as of March, Ayesha Rascoe set out to become a journalist at an early age. Her first writing experience was as a columnist for the teen section of her hometown newspaper, the Durham Herald-Sun.
Susan Glaser, travel editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com, still wistfully recalls her final pre-COVID trip before the world went into lockdown and tanked her livelihood. “I went to northern Kentucky to visit a bourbon trail right before everything shut down,” Glaser said.
The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, partnered with white supremacists to intimidate black voters in the 1890s yet remains a respected newspaper today, writer Alexandria Neason noted in a story last year. “Americans have short memories; we don’t like to be reminded of our many sins, so instead we prop up lofty narratives of progress and unity that obscure the violence enacted along the way,” Neason wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review.
June 23rd, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives
Graphic depictions: Long-form comics as journalism
In December of 1991, the comics artist Art Spiegelman, author of the two-volume graphic novel “Maus,” wrote a letter to the editors of The New York Times. After thanking them for acknowledging the unexpected success of his book, which had recently made the Times’ bestseller list, he expressed a concern about “Maus” appearing on the fiction side of the list.
Although he’s considered an expert on business journalism, authored a business-journalism textbook and spent much of his career covering business, Chris Roush got his start like a lot of journalists: covering cops and courts and other basic news. It taught him a lot, he says, about covering a beat, working with people and understanding news.
The Society of Professional Journalists is a strong organization in part because of our chapters, where local journalists often turn for support when challenged, attacked or even put in danger doing their jobs. Here are just a few examples of how our chapter leaders have stepped in to defend and protect journalists.
On May 24, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its outlook for the forthcoming Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters at the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center predict that this hurricane season, which starts on June 1 and ends November 30, will have 14 to 21 named storms – with 6-10 of them becoming hurricanes and 3-5 of them becoming major hurricanes.
“How can it be that nothing has changed?” That’s how Kai Ryssdal began the May 25 edition of the public radio program “Marketplace.” The story he referred to that prompted the question was not a classic “Marketplace” story, he acknowledged. But the big story of the week could not be ignored — that of 19 students and two teachers killed by a shooter at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
One of the most important jobs of any newsroom in any city is to tell the stories of the people who shape and construct the narratives of the community. But for many years, newsrooms, reporters and leaders did not reflect those communities as well as they should.
When Gabby Petito went missing in September, her story went viral. It was difficult to avoid the constant updates, timelines, theories circulating the internet and armchair detectives swapping “clues” to try and find the 22-year-old. Social media users from old-school Facebook posters to true crime TikTok followers, and traditional news outlets, became deeply invested in this case.
Horse race. Polls. Who said what today. Who picked up what endorsement. A soundbite. A gaffe. Even an occasional gotcha, conflict or carnal impropriety story. All expected in election coverage these days. But with control of Congress at stake, media can do much more to help voters make informed choices by probing candidates’ actions, positions, financing and misstatements.
The first time Polly Irungu picked up a camera was when a guidance counselor encouraged her to get involved with the yearbook club. After a series of relocations that left Irungu feeling depressed, photography offered hope. “It was the first thing that brought me joy in those few years, so I decided to explore it more as a career opportunity,” she says.
Every 10 years since 1982, researchers for “The American Journalist” survey a representative sample of journalists throughout the United States to understand who makes up the profession and their attitudes toward it. Leading the survey this year is Lars Willnat, the John Ben Snow Endowed Research Professor in the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
A Washington Post graphic comparing Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s experience with that of current justices has been widely shared on social media, sometimes without the headline that provides important context. The chart ran online and in the newspaper with the headline, “How Ketanji Brown Jackson’s path to the Supreme Court differs from the current justices.”
Since becoming president of the Society of Professional Journalists, I’ve constantly talked about #SPJStrong. We are a strong organization in part because we have two communities that bring journalists together for a common cause. If you’re a freelancer looking to expand your network, find a job lead or join a supportive group, all you have to do is turn to the SPJ Freelance Community.
(image credit: www.epictop10.com) Many a great story has come out of Freedom of Information Act findings. At the same time, many a story doesn’t get written because the requested documents don’t arrive by deadline – if at all. And the two-year-old pandemic is worsening response times.
Racking your brain for the right word is particularly grueling on deadline. Are paramedics attempting to stanch the bleeding after a mass shooting? Or should that be staunch? And was the lawyer riffling through her notes, or rifling? Did the defense refute or rebut the arguments?