Friday, April 19, 2019

TO BE "FUCKED" OR "F---ED" OR (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

The Mueller Report, which offered both new evidence that President Trump engaged in improper action, but stopped short of declaring him a criminal, drew interesting coverage on Thursday and today.

One of the most significant parts of the lengthy report -- posted verbatim on several news sites -- was the quote attributed to Trump after he was told that the investigation had been launched in May 2017.

According to Mueller's report, Trump stated, “Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

The use of such profanity in any news story or a quote has often been done in a censored manner, such as "f---ed" or noting only that it was an "expletive deleted."

But in coverage of the report, several major newspapers chose to print the entire word. The New York Times had it in two stories that began on the front page, while The Washington Post used it in 11 different stories related to the report since its release Thursday, including its lead Page One story. But the word does not appear in the Post's print story until the jump page. 

Danielle Rhodes, The New York Times Company vice-president of communications, said via email that this was not the first time that word was used on Page One, adding, "The Times has previously published that word in a quote, including on the front page. Though we rarely publish obscene or vulgar words, our stylebook guidance allows their use when editors believe readers 'need to know the exact words' to understand a newsworthy event."

Similar uses of the uncensored word were found in the Los Angeles Times. But a search online found few other major newspapers using the complete word, although several magazines and online outlets used it.

Several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, used an Associated Press story on the report that censored the word as "f---ed".

The Associated Press Stylebook, considered the bible for news writing decisions, gives editors leeway in using such profanity, especially in a quote. It states, in part:

AP Style holds that you should not use obscenities in stories unless they are part of direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them. Try to find a way to give the reader a sense of what was said without using the specific word or phrase. If a profanity, obscenity, or vulgarity must be used, flag the story at the top with a warning. 

Confine the offending language, in quotation marks, to a separate paragraph that can be deleted easily by editors who do not want to use it.

If a full quote that contains an obscenity, profanity, of vulgarity cannot be dropped but there is no compelling reason for the offensive language, replace the letter of the offensive word with hyphens, using only an initial letter. In some stories or scripts, it may be better to replace the offensive word with a generic descriptive in parenthesis, e.g. (vulgarity) or (obscenity).

Monday, April 15, 2019

N.Y. TIMES, WASHINGTON POST AND REUTERS LEAD PULITZER WINS

The New York Times, The Washington Post and Reuters were the big winners at the Pulitzer Prizes on Monday, winning two awards each in the journalism category, while the South Florida Sun-Sentinel took the coveted public service prize and three awards were given to works related to Donald Trump's questionable actions.

Other prizes went to the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, ProPublica, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Advocate of Baton Rouge, La., and cartooning freelancer Darrin Bell.

The mass shootings in Maryland, Florida and Pennsylvania also accounted for honors in three separate acknowledgements, while two awards were given in the international journalism category for atrocities oversees

The Pulitzer Board gave kudos to two publications that were affected by those horrible shootings in 2018: the student paper, The Eagle Eye, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD.

At the beginning of the announcement ceremony, Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy highlighted the work done by students at The Eagle Eye as they covered the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 students and staff dead.

She later announced that a special citation was being given to the Gazette staff for their bravery in putting out a paper and online coverage of the shooting in its newsroom on June 28 that resulted in the deaths of four staffers.

See the entire list of journalism Pulitzers below:

Journalism

Public Service

For exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials before and after the deadly shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Breaking News Reporting

For immersive, compassionate coverage of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that captured the anguish and resilience of a community thrust into grief.

Investigative Reporting

For consequential reporting on a University of Southern California gynecologist accused of violating hundreds of young women for more than a quarter-century.

Explanatory Reporting

For an exhaustive 18-month investigation of President Donald Trump’s finances that debunked his claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges. 

Local Reporting

For a damning portrayal of the state’s discriminatory conviction system, including a Jim Crow-era law, that enabled Louisiana courts to send defendants to jail without jury consensus on the accused’s guilt.

National Reporting

For uncovering President Trump’s secret payoffs to two women during his campaign who claimed to have had affairs with him, and the web of supporters who facilitated the transactions, triggering criminal inquiries and calls for impeachment.

International Reporting

For relentless reporting that exposed the brutal killing campaign behind Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

For expertly exposing the military units and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systematic expulsion and murder of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, courageous coverage that landed its reporters in prison.

Feature Writing

For a series of powerful, intimate narratives that followed Salvadorian immigrants on New York’s Long Island whose lives were shattered by a botched federal crackdown on the international criminal gang MS-13.

Commentary

For bold columns that exposed the malfeasance and injustice of forcing poor rural Missourians charged with misdemeanor crimes to pay unaffordable fines or be sent to jail.

Criticism

For trenchant and searching reviews and essays that joined warm emotion and careful analysis in examining a broad range of books addressing government and the American experience.

Editorial Writing

For editorials written with extraordinary moral clarity that charted the racial fault lines in the United States at a polarizing moment in the nation’s history.

Editorial Cartooning

For beautiful and daring editorial cartoons that took on issues affecting disenfranchised communities, calling out lies, hypocrisy and fraud in the political turmoil surrounding the Trump administration.

Breaking News Photography

For a chilling image that reflected the photographer’s reflexes and concentration in capturing the moment of impact of a car attack during a racially charged protest in Charlottesville, Va.

Feature Photography

For brilliant photo storytelling of the tragic famine in Yemen, shown through images in which beauty and composure are intertwined with devastation. (Moved by the jury from Breaking News Photography, where it was originally entered.)


PULITZER ANNOUNCEMENT LIVE

Watch the Pulitzer announcement live below:


Friday, March 29, 2019

DO NEWSROOMS NEED A MENSTRUAL BEAT REPORTER?

As Women's History Month draws to an end, one of the most important issues to women, and one that has seen a good boost in attention, should remain in media focus long after the closing of March: menstrual rights.

It's a topic most men do not even take into account, and many women remain embarrassed by, yet still something that remains under-covered and unfairly treated by society.

Most states still tax feminine products, while few public outlets provide them at no charge in restrooms that gladly stock toilet paper, paper towels and hand soap. Why not menstrual products for women whose monthly periods are as common and natural as washing ones hands?

The stigma remains in many cases because it involves something specific to women, who remain second class citizens even today, and sex, which for some reason continues to draw confusion, embarrassment and secrecy.

Our culture, especially the media culture, promotes sex in every form -- from pornography on the web to nearly-nude pictures in print. Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue has long been its best selling edition each year -- and its not because of the hockey scores.

But while we live and breath sex in the media and daily life, discussing it -- especially the somewhat sensitive nature of menstruation -- still makes some people cringe.

We have seen great strides in the news and media for gender rights. Gay and lesbian citizens have seen huge gains in acceptance, in part due to the media and public demands, as well as the Supreme Court. And recent transgender and gender-neutral rights campaigns have sparked greater acceptance.

But when it comes to monthly periods, people wince and fail to look at a true equity issue for women, and for men who still may not understand all of the ramifications.

The transgender community has their own menstrual issues as well with non-binary and gender-neutral citizens often unsure how to handle the need for such products, or places to use them. 

I applaud two recent media projects that have raised the issue to a level of debate and discussion not seen before. First, the 2017 book, Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity, by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, who happens to live in the same New Jersey town as me and has been a great advocate for women's rights.

I interviewed her when the book came out. She writes about how women are unfairly treated in areas ranging from women's prisons to schools to homeless shelters.

More recently, the Academy Awards honored the short documentary, Period. End of Sentence, with its Best Short Subject Documentary Oscar. That great film by Rayka Zehtabchi looked at how menstruation is handled in areas of India and other countries where women are not provided adequate products and men barely even understand the monthly event.

See a clip below:





But the media needs to do more. A quick search of The New York Times for 2018 found 94 mentions of menstruation, but 243 mentions of Kardashian. And the related issues are still a battle for many women.

A March 9 CNN Business story stated that even with more awareness, most working women are not provided menstrual products at their workplace: 

"It's surprisingly rare for workplaces to provide menstrual products for employees, and there's no standard as to how offices should approach the issue. Some have vending machines mounted on the bathroom wall, others provide baskets with multiple options, and still others opt out entirely, providing nothing at all. In a survey from Free the Tampons, less than half of women who were surprised by their period said they had access to a vending machine in a public bathroom"

And earlier this month, Newsweek reported on a state legislator in Maine who voted against a bill ensuring free feminine products for female prisoners. 

The bill passed the first round of approvals, but the fact one lawmaker found it unnecessary indicates more information is needed. The legislator, Richard Pickett, said, "Quite frankly, and I don’t mean this in any disrespect, the jail system and the correctional system was never meant to be a country club."

This feeds into the assumption that menstruation and periods are some kind of choice or unique occurrence when they are a natural part of life for more than half of the population, but still treated as a stigma or something to be shamed.

If news outlets want to truly honor Women's History Month, now and beyond, they should make a point of looking into all of these areas - from the unfair tax on tampons to the lack of products for women in public restrooms -- and not only report on them, but editorialize and demand change.

As the husband of one woman and the father of another, I remain astonished at the lack of such availability. It still amazes me that my daughter's high school -- and I am sure many others -- does not have feminine products in the women's restrooms -- even a machine from which to buy them. Some claim girls would steal and hoard them. Do we fear that with paper towels, toilet paper and soap? No. 

And that is just one example. With an issue that affects so many news consumers, you would think the press would want to serve that need and push for such equality.

Perhaps in some cases they should even assign a reporter to the "menstrual beat," either part time or full time.

In my many years of covering news issues I have come across newspaper beats ranging from a beer reporter to a journalist assigned specifically to Michael Jackson.  

The Salt Lake Tribune for many years has had a polygamy reporter.  

It's hard to argue that more people are affected by polygamy or beer than menstruation when so many equity issues related to this monthly event still exist.

There are dozens of menstrual blogs out there  -- from period.org/blog to thepelvicexpert.com -- with lots of a great information. But few of them have the journalistic expertise and wide-ranging reach of a mainstream news outlet.

I would think news outlets would want to tackle a subject that has a potential audience of more than 100 million affected people.

So, my fellow news people, go to it.
   

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

NEW STUDY FINDS GROWING LOCAL DIGITAL NEWS

From the Pew Research Center today:

The digital era is making its mark on local news. Nearly as many Americans today say they prefer to get their local news online as say they prefer to do so through the television set, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 34,897 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 15-Nov. 8, 2018, on the Center’s American Trends Panel and Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel. 

The 41% of Americans who say they prefer getting their local news via TV and the 37% who prefer it online far outpace those who prefer a printed newspaper or the radio (13% and 8%, respectively).
 
Charts showing that local TV stations are turned to most for local news, primarily through the TV set, and most other news providers have larger digital share.
Even as the preference for digital delivery creeps up on that for news via TV, local television stations retain a strong hold in the local news ecosystem. They top the list of nine types of local news providers, with 38% of U.S. adults saying they often get news from a local television station. That is followed by 20% who often turn to local radio stations and 17% who rely on local daily newspapers. 

Next come a range of less traditional sources such as online forums or discussion groups (12%), local organizations such as school groups or churches (8%), and community newsletters or listservs (8%). While individually these less traditional sources garner far smaller audiences than the big three (local TV, daily papers and radio stations), together they add up: 28% of the public often gets news from at least one of the six less traditional providers asked about.

See the full report HERE.


Friday, March 22, 2019

PRE-ORDER YOUR MUELLER REPORT ON AMAZON.COM THREE DIFFERENT WAYS - DOES THE JUSTICE VERSION HINT AT OBSTRUCTION?

It's interesting that as the anticipation grows for the FBI Mueller Report on Russian involvement in the 2016 election to be released, perhaps even today if you believe the MSNBC hype, that you can pre-order the report in at least three different ways online.

A quick search of Amazon.com finds a version that will include analysis from The Washington Post, another with an introduction from attorney Alan Dershowitz -- who wrote his own book against impeaching this president -- and the official version from the Justice Department itself.

Each is available in print and on Kindle. The Justice Department Kindle version seems to be the cheapest at just $2.99. Since it's unclear when the report will be issued, or if it will be public at all, the arrival date for your order remains a moving target.

As the Post version online order site states:

April 30, 2019 is a new placeholder publication date for The Mueller Report. The actual publication date for the ebook, audio, and paperback editions of The Mueller Report will be determined when and if the Special Counsel’s findings are made public.

The only book with exclusive analysis by the Pulitzer Prize–winning staff of The Washington Post, and the most complete and authoritative available.

Meanwhile, the online pitch from the Justice Department version seems to hint at a Trump link. It states:

The ongoing Special Counsel investigation (also referred to as the Mueller Probe or Mueller Investigation) is a United States law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. This investigation includes any possible links or coordination between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government, "and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation." The scope of the investigation reportedly includes potential obstruction of justice by Trump and others. The investigation, since it began on May 17, 2017, has been conducted by the United States Department of Justice Special Counsel's Office, headed by Robert Mueller, a Republican and former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This book chronicles the legal actions Mueller has taken against Trump's associates in the 2016 Presidential Elections.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

WHY AREN'T MORE VIRGINIA NEWSPAPERS CALLING ON BLACKFACE GOVERNOR TO RESIGN?

Revelations that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apparently posed in blackface for a 1984 medical school yearbook photo has sparked calls for his resignation from three daily newspapers there, including the state's largest.

But most of the Virginia dailies, at least nine, have yet to urge his ouster following Friday's first reports that the photo depicting him in the racist image appeared in the Eastern Virginia Medical School annual.

Those that have called for him to step down include the largest circulation paper, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, as well as the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press in Newport News.

"He is by all accounts a decent and considerate man," The Times-Dispatch editorial board wrote Friday. "And yet, his poor judgment has undermined his standing with Virginians in ways that we believe will permanently impair his ability to act as an effective governor. He should resign and return to his profession as a physician, with the thanks of those he has served as a state senator, lieutenant governor, and for the past year, governor."

The co-owned Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press in a joint editorial stated: "Unfortunately, the bonds of confidence have been broken and they cannot be repaired. This Editorial Board endorsed Northam as governor to be the steady hand on the tiller, a man in whom we could trust. But we cannot anymore. Ralph Northam must resign."

But others that stopped short or have yet to editorialize on the story include The Roanoke Times, The Bristol Herald Courier, the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, The Culpeper Star Exponent, The Danville Register & Bee, The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, The News & Advance of Lynchburg, The News Leader of Staunton, and the News Virginian of Waynesboro.

Some, like the Roanoke Times, came close, opining with the question: Can Northam still represent Virginia? Then punting when it came to their view: "Realistically, can Northam now represent Virginia in the way that people expect of their governor? Northam is a genial man who is well-liked on a personal level even by many Republicans. His low-key tone has been a welcome tonic to the poisonous politics we see on a national level. He has understood the way the economy is changing in deeper ways than many politicians. Sadly, none of that really matters now."

The News Leader called it "an unforgivable stain," but would not go all the way to urge a resignation.  

The Daily Progress has yet to weigh in on Northam and the blackface. But it might have won the bad timing award for an editorial it ran a day earlier, on Jan. 31, that advocated for a change to state law that would lift the current one-term limit on governors.

As for Northam, he hasn't helped himself much during this debacle. He first admitted that the blackface photo was his, then later claimed it was not and that he had not seen that yearbook page. But he did admit that he had worn blackface at another time, but said it was part of a costume depicting Michael Jackson.

It is this kind of divisive and offensive issue that allows those who oversee news operations to use their power and influence to call for change or improvements. If no more newspapers choose to do so, it will be interesting to see the impact.

One of the Virginia daily papers I do not expect to come around is the Star Exponent. During my research I came across an editorial that paper ran on Jan. 22 titled, "In Praise of Richard Nixon."