Wednesday, January 31, 2018


As the Pulitzer Prizes inch closer for 2018 (the deadline for entries just passed and awards will be announced April 6), speculation is growing as to who is likely to take home the coveted honors.

Odds on favorites have to include coverage of the Trump-Russia story and the sexual assault and harassment scandals.

One of the hints of potential winners each year are the finalists for The Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism given annually by the Harvard University Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

Those finalists were released today. See them below:

The six finalists for the 2018 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting are:

Asbury Park Press
Shannon Mullen and Payton Guion
Renter Hell
This investigation exposed the hazardous living conditions of thousands of tenants in New Jersey’s government-supported housing. As a result, the state issued more than 1,800 violations, and two state senators introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at fixing many of the issues brought to light in the series.

BuzzFeed News
Melissa Segura
Broken Justice In Chicago
BuzzFeed News investigated a Chicago detective accused by the community of framing more than 50 people for murder. The findings from the series led to the freeing of an innocent man from prison after 23 years, and authorities reviewed the cases of other prisoners.

Miami Herald
Carol Marbin Miller, Audra D.S. Burch, Emily Michot, and the Miami Herald digital team
Fight Club: An Investigation into Florida Juvenile Justice
This investigation found widespread beatings and brutality, sexual exploitation, and medical neglect in Florida’s juvenile detention centers. As a result, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice overhauled its hiring practices and created an Office of Youth and Family Advocacy to investigate complaints.

NPR and ProPublica
Nina Martin and Renee Montagne
Lost Mothers
The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world; NPR and ProPublica found at least half could be prevented with better care. This series tracked maternal deaths, saved lives by raising public awareness of complications, and prompted legislation in New Jersey and Texas.

STAT and The Boston Globe
David Armstrong and Evan Allen
The Addiction Trade
STAT and The Boston Globe exposed treatment centers, middlemen, and consultants that exploited people seeking addiction treatment, and has led to criminal and congressional probes. Stories ranged from insurance fraud schemes, to poor care at Recovery Centers of America, to patient health put at risk on the TV program Dr. Phil.

The Washington Post
The Washington Post staff
The Washington Post examined Russian interference in the 2016 election, possible links between the Trump campaign and Kremlin agents, and the United States’ response throughout 2017. The Post’s reporting contributed to the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Special citation:
The New York Times
Emily Steel, Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey, Michael S. Schmidt, and New York Times staff
The Harassment Files: Enough Is Enough
By revealing secret settlements, persuading victims to speak, and bringing powerful men across industries to account, such as Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, and Louis C.K, New York Times reporters spurred a worldwide reckoning about sexual harassment and abuse.

The winners will be announced March 6.

Monday, January 29, 2018


It is interesting what is and isn't being covered about the turmoil at the Los Angeles Times in recent weeks.

With a unionization vote and changes in both publisher and editor, the Times itself has been on top of the story, along with The New York Times, which ran a lengthy account this morning.

But few other national outlets have appeared to weigh in on the doings out west. It would seem to be of interest with claims of union-busting attempts, a "shadow newsroom" in the works, several sexual harassment allegations and the recently dismissed former publisher's "frat house behavior."

See the L.A. Times coverage HERE and The New York Times HERE. Ken Doctor, meanwhile, has a good account at

The Wall Street Journal had a more limited story, while The Washington Post used an AP report.

C'mon CNN, MSNBC and Fox. Not to mention the networks and news magazines. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, January 18, 2018


The New York Times made an interesting move today on its letters page, turning over the newspaper real estate to Donald Trump supporters and posting only letters from those who support the president and continue to do so.

The paper plans to publish a similar page on Friday, but with letters from those who voted for Trump, but now object to his work.

The paper posted this explanation:

The Times editorial board has been sharply critical of the Trump presidency, on grounds of policy and personal conduct. Not all readers have been persuaded. In the spirit of open debate, and in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand the views of those who don’t, we wanted to let Mr. Trump’s supporters make their best case for him as the first year of his presidency approaches its close. Tomorrow we’ll present some letters from readers who voted for Mr. Trump but are now disillusioned, and from those reacting to today’s letters and our decision to provide Trump voters this platform.

See all the letters HERE.

Some excerpts are below:

....Donald Trump has succeeded where Barack Obama failed. The economy is up, foreign tyrants are afraid, ISIS has lost most of its territory, our embassy will be moved to Jerusalem and tax reform is accomplished. More than that, Mr. Trump is learning, adapting and getting savvier every day. Entitlement reform is next! Lastly, the entrenched interests in Washington, which have done nothing but glad-hand one another, and both political parties are angry and afraid....

....I voted for Donald Trump and, considering the alternative, I would do so again. Newsflash: Not all Trump voters are Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables.” Many of us are well-informed and highly educated, and we are weary of the Democrats’ tiresome focus on identity politics, class warfare, and disparagement of corporations and the “wealthy.”....

.....By any measure President Trump’s first year has shown prodigious progress. As a child of the ’60s I admire his iconoclastic nature, optimism and unapologetic humanity. When asked during the campaign about his truthfulness, he replied that maybe he is too truthful. He does ruffle feathers, but seems to end up being right about most important things. I think Mr. Trump is doing a terrific job against all odds, and is getting better. I am proud when I see the First Couple representing us on the world stage. Tens of millions of thoughtful, compassionate Americans agree with me.....

Friday, January 12, 2018


In the ongoing coverage of Donald Trump nearly every journalistic question and media ethics challenge has arisen.

The latest is, well, a sh--hole.

That's the phrase the president reportedly uttered (sans dashes) during a recent White House meeting when he supposedly told the assembled participants that the U.S. should limit immigrants from countries such as El Salvador, Haiti and several African nations. 

Reports indicate he was reacting to a possible bipartisan agreement to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Act and ensure border security funding.

Some in attendance say Trump stated, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"

As you would expect, the profane and offensive language drew strong coverage, and harsh rebukes.

But it also raised the question of using such specific wording to quote the president.

Most news outlets, from CNN to The Washington Post, used the profanity in their web stories and even headlines, marking a rare occurrence. In many cases when such language is cited, dashes are often placed to break it up.

In print today, The New York Times and the Post used the entire phrase in their Page One stories, but not in print headlines. The New York Post, never one to shy away from a vulgar head, went with a local subway story on its front page, while the rival Daily News, not a Trump fan, declared "SH** FOR BRAINS" on the cover with a cartoonish image that depicted the president as such.

Cable news went with the full verbiage in on-screen graphics for much of the evening Thursday night. MSNBC backed off slightly this morning, while CNN kept with the full wording.

Trump is not the first president to use profanity in a private meeting. But such a direct attack on other nations' citizens, with a racist tinge as well, gives the incident more news value, especially when it relates to the hot-button issue of immigration.

How to report it, however, is clearly a mixed question. As we are seeing, different outlets are handling it in different ways.

The AP Stylebook, long the bible for such usage, states in its latest edition:

obscenities, profanities, vulgarities

Do not use them 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. For example, an anti-gay or sexist slur.

If a profanity, obscenity or vulgarity must be used, flag the story at the top for editors, being specific about what the issue is:

Eds: Note use of vulgarity "f---" [or "s---"] in story. However, online readers receiving direct feeds of the stories will not see that warning, so consider whether the word in question truly needs to be in the story at all.

When possible, confine the offending language, in quotation marks, to a separate paragraph that can be deleted easily by editors.
In reporting profanity that normally would use the words damn or god, lowercase god and use the following forms: damn, damn it, goddamn it.
If the obscenity involved is particularly offensive but the story requires making clear what the word was, replace the letters of the offensive word with hyphens, using only an initial letter: f---, s---.
In some stories or scripts, it may be better to replace the offensive word with a generic descriptive in parentheses, e.g., (vulgarity) or (obscenity).

When the subject matter of a story may be considered offensive or disturbing, but the story does not contain quoted profanity, obscenities or vulgarities, flag the story at the top:

The New York Times, in its own story about the issue, quoted its associate managing editor for standards, Phil Corbett, as saying, "It seemed pretty clear to all of us that we should quote the language directly, not paraphrase it. We wanted to be sure readers would fully understand what the story was about." It added that, "The Times, unlike some papers, omitted the obscenity from its headline and push alert, using the term 'vulgar language' instead."

"We are still inclined to be somewhat restrained -- for instance, by avoiding the actual vulgarities in the headline," Corbett added.

Asked for his policy, Post Executive Editor Martin Baron emailed: 
“When the president says it, we’ll use it verbatim. That’s our policy. We discussed it, quickly, but there was no debate.”