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The State of Journalism

Native Ads Beat Out Content from BuzzFeed, Mommy Blogs, Fox News

A third of the way through Contently co-founder Shane Snow‘s appearance today on Bloomberg TV’s Market Makers alongside Advertising Age‘s Michael Sebastian, details were shared about the online media world’s version of the Pepsi Challenge… from hell.

“That was the interesting thing about our study,” Snow understated. “We pit sponsored content against BuzzFeed, mommy blogs, Fox News, and it actually beat those three categories. But it was less trustworthy than the New York Times.

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Called Out by David Simon, HuffPo Amends, Corrects Post

DavidSimonBlogLogoFollowing a major Thursday assist from Capital New York associate media editor Jeremy Barr, The Wire co-creator David Simon has today updated his July 2 blog post. A post that began with this very eloquent recrimination:

The permanent churn of the Internet is such that if you allow a dishonesty to stand for more than a moment, it will be endlessly repeated as fact for as long as there are humans left to link to it.

In Simon’s case, the churn was a claim by Huffington Post blogger, author and UC Berkely prof Linda Williams that Simon was fired by the Baltimore Sun, where he worked as a crime reporter from 1982 through 1995 before taking a buyout. Simon’s noon-today blog addendum is titled UPDATED TWICE:

I am informed that the HuffPost piece has now removed the reference to my having been fired. Instead, apparently, my revenge was had upon editors who spiked one of my articles because my writing wasn’t “Dickensian” enough. They never said anything of the sort to me or anyone else, and that is not actually the reason that particular article was spiked.

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AP to Use Robots to Write Business Stories

This is the beginning of the end. The robots have finally been able to break through. The Associated Press has announced that it’s going to start using “automation technology” to write many of its corporate earnings reports.

Lou Ferrara, managing editor of the AP, said the technology will allow the AP to crank out short articles much more efficiently:

We discovered that automation technology, from a company called Automated Insights, paired with data from Zacks Investment Research, would allow us to automate short stories – 150 to 300 words — about the earnings of companies in roughly the same time that it took our reporters. And instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter.

If it seems innocuous, that’s because the machines wanted it to be this way.

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Ireland Baldwin’s Significant Other Raps Media for ‘BFF’ Coverage

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail headlined Detroit-born rapper Angel Haze as Ireland Baldwin‘s “BFF.”

AngelHazePic

According to a revealing interview given by Haze to UK’s The Independent, that’s just one of many examples of some double-standard same-sex couple coverage:

“I don’t know if there’s like some confirm or deny thing with the way relationships work in the media, but everyone just calls us best friends, best friends for life, like we’re just friends hanging out. It’s funny. It’s rad in some way, it sucks in others.”

“There are still certain limitations for women. If we were two guys, it’d be insane, negatively insane with the attention. With us, it’s all being very positive. The media are like, ‘Oh they’re so cute, they’re best friends’…

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Circa Editor Pledges to Responsibly Cover Mass Shootings

CircaLogoAs is so often the case these days, another thought-provoking bit of inside-journalism musing has been shared on Medium. The author is Circa contributing editor Evan Buxbaum; the topic: how to responsibly cover mass shootings.

Buxbaum outlines how everyone at three-year-old Circa is committed, as quickly as news-cycle possible, to covering the victims rather than the shooter(s):

After the facts are established about the event, Circa is going to focus on the victims. We’re going to shine the light on the heroes that save and comfort lives, not the disturbed people who take them.

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Felix Salmon: I Said ‘Masturbatory’, Not ‘Masturbation’

Same difference? On a freaky, spring Friday, it’s as good a question as any. It’s also the spark for one of today’s absolute must-reads.

JournalismFestLogoFrom the eighth annual International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy (April 30- May 4), the hosts tweeted that Fusion TV’s Felix Salmon had said, quote: “Breaking news is the most masturbating thing journalists do.” Salmon has followed with a minor correction (he said “masturbatory”, not “masturbating”) and a whole bunch of elaboration:

The full quote was captured by the FT’s John Burn-Murdoch: “Breaking news is the most masturbatory thing journalists do. The reader couldn’t give a flying f*ck who broke it.”

A bit of context, here… In the Q&A, I was asked about whether there was a problem with the fact that explanatory journalism doesn’t break news. In particular, I was asked about this quote, from James Ball, at The Guardian, writing about Vox and FiveThirtyEight:

‘Neither site truly aims to break news on the areas they cover, and therein lies a problem: Are readers meant to visit their favorite “regular” news sites, then hop by and see if the newcomers have anything to add (or debunk)? Neither FiveThirtyEight nor Vox has offered quite enough (yet) on any of their specialties to become the first stop.’

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Unlike Many Music Journalists, NPR’s Ann Powers Does Her Homework

AnnPowersNPRPicFive years ago, NPR music critic Ann Powers relocated from Los Angeles to, of all places, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The trigger for the move was her husband Eric Weisbard‘s acceptance of a teaching position in the American studies department at the University of Alabama.

Powers tells student newspaper The Crimson White that she did not expect her move to correspond with a musical-artists renaissance in the U.S. south. She also reveals to Francie Johnson that laziness in the music journalism business remains pervasive:

To prepare for her interviews, Powers listens to the artists’ catalogs and spends time researching online and in music archives. “You’d be shocked to know how many times I’ve talked to artists, and they’ve said journalists will come in completely unprepared,” Powers said. “That just seems ridiculous to me. You wouldn’t talk to the president without knowing the issues. Why do you think it’s okay to talk to an artist without knowing their work?”

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Kate Upton: ‘Isn’t That Lovely Whenever Media Makes Up Something’

ShutterstockKateUptonSports Illustrated subscribers the world over can breathe a sigh of relief. Supermodel Kate Upton is not looking to get a breast reduction. We repeat; the news was WRONG.

Actually, more than wrong. The news was MADE UP. For shame on British tabloid The Sun on Sunday for putting these words in Upton’s mouth. And for glory on the Daily Mail for today setting the supermodel record straight:

Speaking in an interview on Australian radio station 2DayFM on Wednesday while promoting her new movie The Other Woman, the 21-year-old denied ever saying she wanted a breast reduction.

“I actually never said that,” Upton told hosts Dan and Maz. “If someone asked me this question and actually cared to hear what I have to say about my own personal body… I would say that I feel like all women feel like they don’t have life perfect…”

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Newspaper Reporter Now Only Second Worst Career

Good news, newspaper reporters of the nation, your job is now only the second worst career choice a person could make. CareerCast’s annual survey of the top 200 jobs placed newspaper journalist at 199, barely edging out lumberjack, at 200. In last year’s survey, newspaper journalist was ranked dead last.

The best job, according to the report, is mathematician. We don’t know how doing math for a living is better than reporting, but hey, you can’t argue with the supreme authority that is CareerCast.

Here are some other jobs that are supposedly better than newspaper reporter:

  • Appliance repair person (#73). The Maytag Man? C’mon.
  • Zoologist (#91). Cleaning chimpanzee poop is probably better than having to quote anonymous sources.
  • Dishwasher (#124). We think CareerCast is just trying to be mean here.
  • Meter Reader (#183). Yeah, this is just getting downright rude.

[Image: Flickr/Compas]

Here’s a Twist: Plagiarized Writer Feels Bad… for the Plagiarizer

TrustMeImLyingCoverHave you ever been plagiarized? There are all sorts of forms of this rampant Web art: sourcing without proper blockquoting; blatant cut-and-pasting by a mysterious SEO operation; Bollywood borrowing of entertainment copy.

In the case of New York Observer/Betabeat editor-at-large Ryan Holiday, chunks of his 2012 book Trust Me, I’m Lying were co-opted for a 2014 article in Arbitrage magazine. As Holiday relates, he had to jump through some outdated masthead hoops to finally get to Arbitrage publisher David Alexander.  However, admirably, Holiday from the get-go indicated to the Toronto-based outlet that he was not looking to get the writer in question fired. Ultimately, that entreaty was ignored at the Canada end, leaving Holiday with very mixed feelings:

The writer is an adult. He has to deal with the consequences of his choices. I get that. I get that I have to as well – I decided to make a complaint, I knew where it might end. But Arbitrage is not some tiny publication. It has numerous writers and a chain of command. They all failed here. Worse yet, they failed when they had an opportunity to respond somberly, fairly and ethically.

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