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1 November 2013 Comments Off

How I became the dullest part of the health reform story

As a longtime journalist, I’ve always wanted to be on the front of The New York Times. It finally happened Friday, but it wasn’t a report I edited or wrote. I was a subject in a story about Americans whose health insurance policies were being discontinued as a result of the Affordable Care Act and [...]

17 April 2013 Comments Off

Balancing speed and editorial judgment

There’s a great piece by Cory Bergman, general manager of Breaking, on how his organization balances speed and editorial judgment. Like many, I use Twitter as my “wire service” when news breaks–and it’s much faster than the wire services I’ve worked for, Reuters and The Associated Press. However, as was clear in the Boston [...]

30 November 2012 Comments Off

Leveson: Right diagnosis, wrong prescription

The long-awaited report by Lord Leveson into the unethical and illegal behavior by some of the British press does a good job of diagnosing the problem, but the prescription is dangerous. The report rightly concludes that “there has been a recklessness in prioritising sensational stories,” with little or no regard for the damage such journalism [...]

27 August 2012 Comments Off

Some birthday musings

Another birthday. Another year. Another opportunity to reflect on a career in journalism. At the risk of self-indulgence (OK, this is self-indulgent), some high points and a low point. Let’s get the low point out of the way. Being a working journalist has essentially been one big high for me and regrets are mainly trivial. [...]

25 June 2012 Comments Off

Digital media: Fertile ground for community newspapers

At a time when daily newspapers in North America are struggling, the  importance and vitality of community journalism was stunningly clear after the recent arrest at a U.S.-Canada border crossing of a man sought in a triple murder. Travis Baumgartner, accused of killing three Edmonton, Alberta, armored-car co-workers and fleeing with $330,000, was apprehended by [...]

27 May 2012 1 Comment

10 principles a social media policy should have

There may still be some mainstream media journalists out there who don’t see the value of social media,  but Steve Buttry of Digital First Media is not one of them. Buttry consistently writes in a level-headed, well-informed way about the ways journalism can transform itself and flourish in the digital age. The copy desk is a [...]

30 April 2012 Comments Off

Why I’m uneasy about the WHCA dinner

I have a confession: Since the early 1990s I have attended — and enjoyed–several White House Correspondents Association dinners. But I’ve come to believe they’ve done more harm than good. This annual media spectacle has certainly done me some good over the years. I’ve recruited some fine journalists at various before- and after-parties–and I’ve been [...]

19 April 2012 2 Comments

Levon Helm, a great American voice

The death  of Levon Helm has stilled the last of the great singers of The Band. Yes, Robbie Robertson did vocals–thankfully, he still does–and The Band (Helm, Robertson, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel) was very much a team effort, at least for the first two albums, “Music From Big Pink” and “The Band.” Of [...]

28 March 2012 1 Comment

Is the basic unit of journalism changing?

Could the basic unit of journalism be changing? Is the “story,” that basic device that every J-school student is taught to write in Journalism 101,  being supplanted by something less defined–and something less in control of reporters? You could make a strong case that it is after reading a fascinating interview with Mohamed Nanabhay, the [...]

10 March 2012 Comments Off

Eight ways social media have been good for journalism

Defending social media is a bit like defending the sunrise. It’s going to happen no matter what and the only way to avoid it is to keep sleeping. Nevertheless, Dorian Benkoil at MediaShift does a fine job of taking on the anti-social media whiners. As he puts it,  ”to rail that social media destroy our social [...]