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Posts Tagged ‘Melissa Bell’

Ezra Klein Vox on the Wild Side

Ezra KleinEzra Klein has finally found a new home. He announced yesterday a plan to strike out into the wild frontier of digital media and establish a news outpost aimed at revolutionizing journalism as we know it. Ambitious, no?

The new website, ominously named “Project X,” will be housed within the fast growing Vox Media empire. Vox, best known as the parent of The Verge, SB Nation, and Eater, is a small but potent little web company that clearly hopes to make a play for mainstream appeal with the addition of Klein to its roster.

“Early last year, Melissa Bell, Matt Yglesias and I began wrestling with a question that had bugged all of us for a long time,” Klein wrote in a post at The Verge yesterday, “Why hadn’t the Internet made the news better at delivering crucial context alongside new information? This year, we’re founding a new publication at Vox Media in order to do something about it.”

Klein says he intends to pursue a new form of journalism that better leverages communications technology and prioritizes contextual explanations over newness of information. And he will not be alone in his endeavor. Along with Bell, Dylan Matthews is coming on-board from WaPo, and Yglesias is joining from Slate. They are also currently looking to hire “writers who are obsessively knowledgeable about their subjects,” if you’re interested.

It now falls on Klein and his merry band of journalistic rebels to realize their vision for Project X, and to prove that it can be made into a sustainable -and profitable -model for reporting the news. And they better be ready to do it under the full glare of the public spotlight. After a high-profile courtship with the Post to fund the project that ultimately failed, and with such lofty stated ambitious, you can be sure this will be one of the most scrutinized media adventures of the year.


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WaPo Rips Off Two Stories; Media Writer Says it Doesn’t Matter

This weekend WaPo ripped off two media stories from other media outlets without crediting those sources. One was the MSNBC Keith Olbermann suspension story, which was broken by Politico‘s Simmi Aujla on Friday morning. Mother Jones, the Christian Science Monitor were among a variety of publications to cite Politico. The second WaPo steal was our story breaking the news that General Manager Jim Brady was leaving TBD. WaPo‘s Melissa Bell posted online about Olbermann’s suspension Friday without citing Politico. WaPo ran both the Olbermann and TBD stories in Saturday’s print edition with first-day ledes a day after the stories broke.

FishbowlDC asked Paul Farhi, who wrote WaPo‘s Saturday TBD story: Does the Post have a policy of not citing the actual publications that break the stories?

Farhi’s reply: I saw the news on Fishbowl and wrote in my story that Fishbowl had broken the story (because I assumed you had). The credit, however, was removed at the desk; my editor wasn’t sure that you HAD broken the news, and I couldn’t really say I knew for sure. Since there was no time on deadline to investigate the matter, we decided to take the mention of Fishbowl out. Sorry.

Personally, I believe it’s a courtesy to credit the original news source of a story, but I don’t think it’s a requirement or even important. All news originates from somewhere (a neighbor, a whistleblower, a government official, a press release, a wire service, whatever) and it’s a reporter’s obligation to check and verify the original information (which in this case it certainly was). Unless one is taking someone else’s work without attribution (that is, plagiarizing it) any news story should stand on its own and speaks for itself as an original piece of work. I’d also say that while reporters surely like to see their work credited (I know I do, but no longer really expect it after the past 10,000 instances), I would guess that it’s entirely irrelevant to readers who reported what first. They just want accurate, fair and comprehensive reporting. The egos and tender feelings of other reporters are probably just another thing that causes them to roll their eyes about our profession.

In response to Farhi: It’s easy to cry “tender egos” when you’ve rewritten another publication’s story as your own and tried to excuse it. FBDC has clear time stamps on the site. Even TBD had the grace to confirm over Twitter that FBDC had broken the news. This is not about the ego of being first to break a story. Farhi is a media reporter. He and his editors had an obligation to say where the story originated whether it was the NYT, the GW Hatchet or There are times when a publication unintentionally fails in this area and doesn’t realize another has broken a story. In this case, they just didn’t bother. This is about maintaining integrity in the profession and having readers be able to trust your words and reporting. This extends well beyond the basic courtesy that all publications desire and deserve when they break a story. For the sake of everyone in Washington to whom this happens on a regular basis, it matters.

When asked why crediting is important, a longtime Washington editor told me,  “Because that’s why they keep score in sports. That’s why they count votes. Competition to be first. No matter how journalism changes, one facet won’t: the race for the exclusive. Giving credit is not always essential for every little thing but in certain cases, a must.”

The Two Funniest Journos in Washington Are…

web.jpg What passes for funny amongst journalists? Nipples. The word f–k. Ann Coulter’s boobs. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) being the hue of burnt sienna. And the National Press Club turning the Edward R. Murrow room into an RNC bondage bar.

Journalists performing stand-up in the National Press Club ballroom for the Commedia del Media charity journo comedy competition Thursday night did imitations of British accented broadcasters and one wondered why CNN didn’t allow one of its own to participate in the competition. Few knew that Sue Bennett, a producer for HBO “Real Time With Bill Maher,” was in the audience scouting the talent. NBC, CBS and FOX were also there filming the performances.

Commedia del Media raises money for charities such as Reporters Without Borders. Of the seven competing journalists, two tied for first place: Former CNN scribe and’s Jamie McIntyre and FOX Business Network correspondent Rich Edson. Judges voted for McIntyre, but the decibel machine revealed that McIntyre and Edson tied at 105.6 decibels.

Edson performed well-practiced impressions of British broadcasters and a raspy-voiced Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). Though he said he was nervous, many thought his delivery was near-perfect.

McIntyre tweaked CNN, saying, “They told me one of those cameras is for the Fox News Channel. I’m not used to having so many people watching.” He also razzed cable news broadly. “I like to call it news whiz,” he said, comparing it to the cheese. “It’s a simulated news-like product. You could use it for news if you didn’t have any real news.”

McIntyre spilled that a CNN reporter was to perform stand-up last night, but cracked that the event wasn’t serious enough for the network. He said most networks are “thin-skinned” and prone to “hurt feelings.”

Though he never named the journalist who was to perform Thursday night, FishbowlDC learned that the would-be comedian was Capitol Hill correspondent Brianna Keilar. Keilar dropped out a few weeks ago with the CNN Speakers Bureau declaring her unavailable for the evening. Sources say she had wanted to perform.

McIntyre, the former CNN Pentagon scribe, blamed himself for the correspondent dropping out. He said in 2006 he competed in a Funniest Journalist on the Planet contest in Manhattan in which he took comedic jabs at then-CNN host Lou Dobbs. At the time, CNN was none too pleased, McIntyre said, and a network higher-up phoned to scold him as he drove home to Washington.

Mother Jones D.C. Bureau Chief David Corn was among the event’s three judges. A tough judge, he was. “Actually I don’t like comedy at all,” he said before the routines began. “It takes me a lot to laugh. I do think [RNC Chairman] Michael Steele is really funny. He is my favorite comedian. He cracks me up. He kills.”

Former Time reporter Matt Cooper was emcee for the evening. Before the event, he paced and paced, carefully studying his notes. Cooper, whose cadence resembles that of an actual comedian, spoke of horrible crowds in the Metro, saying, “I’m like, ‘Get off the f–king Metro people.’ Let me be depressed by myself.” He also took a stab at (or else, complimented) Politico saying, “As you know, this extraordinary nuclear agreement was signed. …Later they said the world still needed to come together to fight the global threat of Politico for world domination.”

He remarked on his figure, saying, “I’ve tried to lose some weight. I’ve gone from f–king fat to fat.”

Cooper imitated former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) asking aide Andrew Young to pretend Rielle Hunter’s baby was his. “I’m going to owe you a solid when this is over,” he said in an Edwards drawl. …And I think your wife is going to understand more than you think.”

Aside from McIntyre and Edson, other performers included WaPo’s Melissa Bell (who spoke of men in India pinching women’s nipples as a sign of affection), former NPR reporter Jamila Bey, Politics Daily’s Walter Shapiro, McClatchy’s Nancy Youssef and Department of Transportation public relations officer Doug Hecox.

Hecox on the census: “I’m just waiting for John Boehner where he checks the box orange. The story is not that he’s orange, it’s that he’s really burnt sienna.”

He brought up Coulter’s jugs, saying that he’s going to dress up as President Ann Coulter for Halloween, his favorite holiday. But, he said, he feared that his breasts would be too large. “I’m not saying she’s flat chested,” he said. “I’m saying they both lean too far to the right.”

Shapiro recalled watching 60 hours of cable TV for a story. “It was interesting watching the two IQ points slough off my dandruff,” he said.

Youssef described herself as “Muslimish.” She said, “I drink, I fornicate, but I don’t eat pork.”

The evening closed with Sylvia Traymore, whose imitations included The View’s Whoopie Goldberg, actress Monique, and singer Dionne Warwick. Largely with her back turned to the audience, she stripped off her long-sleeved shirt to reveal a sleeveless top to become First Lady Michelle Obama with well-sculpted arms. She then began furiously brushing her hair into an Obama coiffe. Then she turned and pursed her lips, depicting a typical FLOTUS facial expression (see picture after the jump).

Christina Davidson, the event’s organizer, took to the stage to congratulate the winners and lobby for next year’s journo comedians. “If you have the balls for this, talk to me,” she said.

Journalists in attendance included Politics Daily’s Editor-in-Chief Melinda Henneberger, her husband, WaPo education reporter Bill Turque, Politics Daily’s Editor Carl Cannon, NYT’s James Risen, Politico’s Kiki Ryan, The Hill’s Susan Crabtree, WTOP’s Bob Madigan and travel writer Carl Hoffman (boyfriend to WaPo’s Bell).

Emcee Matt Cooper keeps audience laughing between performances.

All photographs by Shauna Miller. More after the jump…

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