Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jailed in Zimbabwe: A Reporter’s Ordeal

Associated Press
Election posters in Zimbabwe on April 3, the day Barry Bearak was arrested.

New York Times

I had never been arrested before and the prospect of prison in Zimbabwe, one of the poorest, most repressive places on earth, seemed especially forbidding: the squalor, the teeming cells, the possibility of beatings. But I told myself what I’d repeatedly taught my two children: Life is a collection of experiences. You savor the good, you learn from the bad.

I was being charged with the crime of “committing journalism.” One of my captors, Detective Inspector Dani Rangwani, described the offense to me as something despicable, almost hissing the words: “You’ve been gathering, processing and disseminating the news.”

And I’d been caught at it red-handed, my notes spread across my desk, my text messages readable on my cellphone, my stories preserved by Microsoft Word in an open laptop. [Click for MORE]

Barry Bearak on His Imprisonment in Zimbabwe (mp3)

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The Worst of Times

The New York Times' news room is bracing for a bloodbath in the next 10 days.

The word from inside is that approximately 50 unionized journalists have accepted the buyout proposal, and only another 20 non-union editorial employees have gotten on board.

That means the ax could fall on as many as 30 editorial people in the company's first-ever mass firing of journalists in its 156-year history.

Executive Editor William Keller had said originally that he was looking to cut 100 people from the Times staff in response to the dismal newspaper advertising environment.

But then a week ago Assistant Managing Editor William Schmidt issued a memo saying it was almost certain that the company would be forced to make involuntary cuts, and he urged more volunteers to come forward.

The plea apparently fell on deaf ears.

With just 70 people stepping forward for buyouts, it is very likely that 30 newsroom staffers will be forced out in coming days.

"We're bracing for it," said one insider with some knowledge of the developments. "There's a lot of anxiety." [Click for MORE]

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Zuckerman Matches Murdoch’s Bid for Newsday

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the owner of The Daily News, believes he can snatch Newsday from Rupert Murdoch without offering a dime more than the $580 million already on the table.

Late Friday afternoon Mr. Zuckerman submitted a bid of $580 million for the Long Island-based newspaper, according to a person briefed on the matter. The bid sets up a potential bargaining battle by the owners of New York’s two tabloids: The Daily News and The New York Post.

Mr. Zuckerman opted not to submit a higher bid. Instead, he will make the argument to the Tribune Company, the debt-laden parent company of Newsday, that his bid is more attractive because it does not have the potential to fall into regulatory limbo.

Mr. Murdoch’s offer would almost certainly be scrutinized by the Federal Communications Commission under its new media ownership rule. [Click for MORE]

> Will Murdoch start having fun when he picks a WSJ editor?

> You might as well replace WSJ committee with Mr. Bill dolls

> Former analyst Fine questions Murdoch's 'addiction to newspapers'

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Newspapers Are the New Rock 'n Roll

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Can a Reporter Trade Newswriting for a Song?

So what are you going to do?" my colleagues asked me when I took a buyout from the Los Angeles Times.

I'm going to become a songwriter," I said to several of them -- the ones I knew would be sympathetic enough to answer with a nod of encouragement and without a roll of their eyes.

"That's a pretty big stretch from newswriting," one of them said.

Not really.

My experience (from which I have yet to earn a dime) has been that most of the structural values reporters bring to newswriting apply to songwriting, too. You have to (1) grab the listener's attention immediately, (2) establish context, (3) develop your thesis and (4) construct an ending that resonates back to your lead. [Click for MORE]

  • Bob Baker sings Handicapped
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    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Sad Day for Journalism
    if Murdoch Swallows Newsday

    By Ruth Hochberger
    Columnist, Huffington Post

    Be afraid... be very afraid.

    Remember Charles Foster Kane? The fictional newspaper publisher/editor in Citizen Kane who ran his publications on whim, punishing his enemies and rewarding his friends?

    Lost in the flurry of the Pennsylvania primary and who's more elite than whom, the visit to America by the Pope, and $120-a-barrel crude oil was a story that should bring a tear to the eye of any journalist worth his salt, or any lover of independent journalism in this country.

    Rupert Murdoch, chairman and managing director of News Corporation, owner of British tabloids, the Star supermarket tabloid, Sky Television, the Fox Network, the New York Post, and, most recently, Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, appears ready to gobble up Long Island's Newsday.

    Newsday, founded by Alicia Patterson in 1940 and part of the ill-fated Tribune Company stable, is a jewel among suburban newspapers. Winner of 19 Pulitzer Prizes and countless other journalistic awards, it is probably a blessing that Bob Greene, the renowned Newsday investigative reporter, who assembled and ran an investigative team that became a model for such endeavors at countless other papers and led the paper to two public service Pulitzers, died two weeks ago. [Click for MORE]

    > Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em at Tribune

    > Tribune Co. sells Connecticut real estate for $30 million

    > Tribune Co. ready to 'relaunch' WGN

    > Analyst: What is Murdoch's long-term newspaper strategy?

    > LAT business editor Maharaj promoted to managing editor

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    Assignment for April 28

    1) Read and view the two "Dancing Rocks" emails sent to you separately.

    2) Review Chapters 13 and 14.

    3) Review and pay special attention to appendix pages 501 - 513.

    4) Review the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics at

    5) Keep up with the media current events postings on the class blog,

    6) Turn in any extra credit assignments you may have written. Remember that rewrites of any assignment will be accepted if you wish to try to raise a grade. Sphere: Related Content

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Murdoch Taking on F.C.C. Media Rule

    As he nears completion of a deal to acquire Newsday from the Tribune Company, Rupert Murdoch appears likely to pose the first significant challenge to the media ownership rule that the Federal Communications Commission recently adopted.

    Even without Newsday, Mr. Murdoch was in the process of seeking waivers to continue to control two newspapers (The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post) and two television stations (WNYW and WWOR) in the New York area.

    With those waiver requests pending at the F.C.C., the Newsday deal means that Mr. Murdoch must now apply for a waiver to own the two television stations and three newspapers in the same market.

    The new rule, approved by a deeply divided commission in December, permits a company to own just one paper and one television station in the same city in the top 20 markets so long as there are at least eight other independent sources of news and the station is not in the top four. (The stations controlled by News Corporation are the fourth- and sixth-largest in the New York market.) [Click for MORE]

    > Expert: amNewYork may be part of Newsday deal
    > Newspapers feel the Murdoch Effect
    Chariman: NY Times Co. isn't for sale Sphere: Related Content

    Flip-Flop Front

    Newspaper editor: Why we flopped the front page in Chicago from Robb montgomery on Vimeo. Sphere: Related Content

    Would You Publish This Photo?

    U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller gives middle finger salute. Sphere: Related Content

    News Corp. Nears Deal to Buy Newsday

    Tribune Would Receive Up to $560 Million Cash And Keep a Small Stake

    Tribune Co. is closing in on an agreement to sell its Long Island newspaper Newsday to News Corp. for about $580 million, according to individuals familiar with the situation.

    Final details are being hammered out and a deal could yet fall apart, but Tribune and News Corp. have informally agreed on key aspects, including the price, structure and governance, these people said

    Under the terms being discussed, Newsday would be part of a joint venture with News Corp.'s New York Post and various non-newspaper assets owned by News Corp., people familiar with the matter said. News Corp. would own the bulk of the combination, with Tribune retaining a stake of less than 5%.

    If a deal is struck, it would be Tribune's first major newspaper sale since Chicago real-estate magnate Sam Zell took effective control of the company in December. Mr. Zell has been exploring ways to pare the company's heavy debt load, which piled up after it was taken private in an $8.2 billion buyout. [Click for MORE]

    > Murdoch on way to acquiring Newsday

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    Oh, No! Papers Are Sharing Stories with OHNO

    Attentive readers no doubt have noticed that over the last month, some unusual bylines have been showing up in the pages and on the Web site of The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer.

    Stories from the Columbus Dispatch, the Toledo Blade, the Cincinnati Enquirer and even the Akron Beacon Journal are popping up all over the place. What's more, if you happen to find yourself in one of those cities or visit those newspapers' Web sites, you're likely to encounter Plain Dealer stories there.

    What's going on here? Did all the newspapers in Ohio suddenly stop competing and become one big happy family?

    Well, no. But, in a way, yes.

    Competition for news is alive and well, but the eight largest papers in Ohio have finally come to an accommodation that, for my money, was long overdue.

    It's called "OHNO," an unfortunate pronunciation for an acronym that means "Ohio News Organization." [Click for MORE]

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    Ethics In The Digital Age

    The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host an in-depth panel discussion [Wednesday] on how reporters can ethically make use of the Internet in their research and reporting. The panel will discuss how reporters can best authenticate Internet sources, ethically use material from YouTube, Facebook and MySpace, and consider the legal implications of gathering, vetting and republishing material from the Internet. [Click for MORE] Sphere: Related Content

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Time Editor Defends Doctoring Iwo Jima Photo, Calls Objective Journalism 'Fantasy'

    Stengel says global warming fight just as important as World War II. On journalism rules: We're 'making it up as we go along.'

    Time magazine continued to defend its manipulation of the classic Iwo Jima flag-raising photo – calling it a “point of view.” Managing Editor Richard Stengel said the cover art was part of the publication’s global warming advocacy and a way of forcing readers to “pay attention.”

    Stengel defied the traditional notion that journalists should be unbiased. “I didn’t go to journalism school,” Stengel said. “But this notion that journalism is objective, or must be objective is something that has always bothered me – because the notion about objectivity is in some ways a fantasy. I don’t know that there is as such a thing as objectivity.”

    Stengel supported his claim by stating the role of journalists is not to ask questions, but answer them. [Click for MORE]

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    California Bill Would Protect Journalism Teachers

    The state Senate has approved a bill to protect high school and college journalism instructors from retaliation by administrators.

    The legislation by Sen. Leland Yee makes it illegal to dismiss, transfer or otherwise punish teachers for protecting students' free speech rights.

    The California Newspaper Publishers Association says faculty journalism advisers in California have been punished at least 12 times since 2001 because of stories or opinion pieces written by student reporters. [Click for MORE]

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    Assignment for April 23

    1) Write a speech story based upon the talk of guest speaker Rip Rense who addressed the class on Monday. For more on Rense, see

    2) Read Chapters 13 and 14.

    3) Read and pay special attention to appendix pages 501 - 513.

    4) Review the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics at
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    Free-Dailies Publisher Metro Feels Pinch

    One of the last bright spots in the newspaper industry -- the free daily -- is hurting, too.

    Metro International SA, the pioneer and biggest publisher of free daily papers around the world, said revenue fell 6.1% to €73.4 million, or $116 million, in the first quarter from a year earlier.

    The company, which has a daily circulation of 23 million copies in 23 countries, was hit by problems like those facing traditional newspapers: a drop in advertising revenue and competition from other free papers.

    So, like traditional newspapers, Metro is cutting jobs, shuttering some papers, and planning to boost its online operations. Last month, it launched a Metro Internet site, which it hopes will generate online advertising.

    "The U.S. market is probably the worst it has been since the 1930s for media companies," Metro Chief Executive Per Mikael Jensen said in an interview Monday. [Click for MORE]

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    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Murdoch, Ink.

    With a redesigned Wall Street Journal, mogul Rupert Murdoch is launching an old-fashioned newspaper war against The New York Times. Not since William Randolph Hearst took on Joseph Pulitzer have we seen such a fight. [Click for MORE]

    > Wall Street Journal Editor Expected to Resign
    > WSJ Managing Editor to Leave Post Sphere: Related Content