Think you could write and edit from behind the wheel and never sit at a desk? Reporter Chuck Myron does. Here’s Chuck’s personal essay on how a “mobile journalist” gets his work done.
Journalism From Inside a Car
When: Monday, November 6, 2006 7:30 PM
Where: Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St.,
Chicago, IL 60640
What: Protecting Confidential Sources: Why It’s So
From Watergate and the Pentagon Papers to Iran-Contra and Abu Ghraib, journalists have used information from confidential sources to reveal illegal conduct by our government. It is vital to our democracy that we protect the people who are the sources for the exposes in newspapers, magazines and books.
Please join Alysia Tate, editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, and Brian Rosenblatt and Ryan Jacobson, media lawyers from the firm Smith Amundsen, while they discuss the importance of confidential sources to a free press.
This program is sponsored by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free _Expression and MLRC Institute and the McCormick Tribune Foundation.
NB: I post events like these that sound like they might be of interest and of use to writers as I come across them. If you hear of any reading, lecture, conference related event that you think might be of use to your fellow writers and editors–even if you can’t make it yourself–please forward it to me!
A former Baghdad bureau chief for The Washington Post describes the obstacles he faced in war-torn Iraq:
When I arrived in Baghdad on April 10, 2003, the day after U.S. troops toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, I could go anywhere in relative safety, even to Fallujah and Tikrit. No guards. No flak jackets. No convoys. I could talk to almost anyone, even former Baathists. I scrawled “PRESS” on the side of my car and told everyone I met that I worked for the Washington Post. The inevitable response was a smile and a conversation. After decades of repression, everyone wanted to tell their stories.
During the following months, as insurgent attacks became more frequent, the carefree attitude gave way to a growing wariness. At the time, I was less worried about kidnapping than I was about getting caught in crossfire or being mistaken for a private American defense contractor. I convinced my bosses to buy me a $90,000 armored Jeep Cherokee, which I promptly took to Baghdad’s Sadr City slum. Sixty dollars later, the shiny silver paint was sandblasted off and taxi decals were affixed to the sides.
Read more from Rajiv Chandrasekaran here. Or, check out an excerpt from his book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, here. Finally, if you want to see him speak in person, get the info here.
The television journalists who covered Katrina reflect on the storm – and how they covered it – in a series of exclusive interviews. Here are some of the highlights, courtesy of TVNewser‘s Brian Stelter:
Viewers didn’t know it at the time, but NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams – whose on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Katrina helped earn NBC a Peabody Award – fell “terribly ill” in the days following the storm.
On Tuesday, August. 30, “we did a broadcast from the I-10 overpass,” Williams recalls. “I thought I could stand up, and I got very weak. They started pumping me with fluids and made me sit down on an equipment box for the broadcast.”
Williams was clearly uncomfortable discussing the illness.
“The only problem I have with it being public … is that I am the last person people should be thinking about,” he says. “I was surrounded by such depravity, watching people try to survive with such great quiet dignity, that I have a real problem with any attention [directed toward me].”
Williams never revealed his illness to viewers.
Is a “gentleman’s agreement” between reporter and source broken when a blogger beats a reporter by posting their exchange first? Greg Lindsay investigates:
All Kate Kaye wanted were a couple of quotes. Back in April, the news editor of the interactive marketing news site ClickZ spotted the news that Weblogs Inc., the blog network that Calacanis had started and sold to AOL, were introducing regionally themed sites. Seeing as how the news fit neatly into a story package Kaye happened to be working on, she dropped Calacanis a line. Did he have time for a quick interview? Sure, he replied, but only via email. I do all my interviews via email these days, he told her, to prevent myself from being misquoted. With misgivings, Kaye fired off a volley of questions that Calacanis promptly answered. After a few rounds of back-and-forth follow-ups, Kaye was satisfied she had enough for her story. She thanked him and promptly forgot about it, at least until her executive editor pointed her to Calacanis’ personal blog a week later. To Kaye’s horror, he had posted their exchange, email headers and all, on his personal blog, as Calacanis is wont to do.
Read on here.
This weekend I learned a little lesson on what to do if you feel that your work has been copied without your permission.
On Saturday, I received an email from Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, telling me that he enjoyed MBToolBox’s riff on his post ’5 Signs Your Blog Post is Going Horribly Wrong.’ Also, he wondered what my thoughts were on the fact that a post identical to mine was up on a blog at the UK Telegraph–minus attribution or a link.
I looked at the site and was confused–it definitely was my post, including identifying features like the fact that I live in Chicago and listen to the White Sox on the radio. However, I was convinced that I was missing something, but I double, triple, quadruple checked the post and then realized that, yep–that was my work but without my name on it.
I was perturbed but don’t like to be known for being a jerk. So I addressed the source directly–blogger Melissa Whitworth. If it was an accident, I wanted to give her the chance to correct it rather than creating a total sh*tstorm by contacting her editors and threatening legal action. So I sent the following email:
The nice thing about running this particular blog is that unlike some of my counterparts, I don’t have to worry too much about making scoops and covering breaking news. Yes, there are timely things I need to pay attention to but fortunately I don’t need to be the first to publish photos of Shiloh or report that a strange smell is emanating from downtown Manhattan.
However, other blogs do have to concern themselves with being first on the scene–but the ability to report quickly online also comes with a greater danger of inaccuracy. Rick Edmonds at Poynter explores the issues:
This article is the first of a two-part series based on Poynter faculty members’ visits to print and TV newsrooms this spring. Their goal was to learn more about what news organizations are doing to develop their online products. This article, along with the one to follow, is an analysis of the insights they collected. For more information on the metholodogy of the faculty study and to see which news organizations participated, see the sidebar below.
Kathy Gannon reveals what it was like to report from Kabul and other parts of war-torn Afghanistan during her 18-year tenure as the AP’s correspondent there:
It was Oct. 23, 2001. The U.S.-led coalition had launched Operation Enduring Freedom just two weeks earlier. The bombs were pounding the Taliban’s Afghanistan and every Western journalist covering the story was either in Pakistan or in enclaves in northern Afghanistan controlled by the coalition’s Afghan partners, known as the Northern Alliance. As for me, I was on my way to Kabul, the only Western journalist allowed by the Taliban to return to their territory.
I have been in the region 18 years. I covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the collapse of the communist regime and the four-year rule of the U.S.-backed mujahedeen, led by the Northern Alliance. Those four years were particularly brutal, marked by bloody internecine fighting that left 50,000 Afghan civilians dead in Kabul alone. I was there when the Taliban swarmed into Kabul in September 1996 having sent the Northern Alliance leaders fleeing north. Because I had persisted in my coverage throughout the Taliban rule, meeting them on the front lines, and in their heartland in the south, the Taliban let me back into Kabul while denying all other western reporters access. Some Taliban even knew me from the 1980s Soviet invasion.
More here. Or read an excerpt from Gannon’s book here.
Like most nonfiction writers, I think a lot about objectivity in journalism. I’ve had magazine editors tell me that they would never hire me because of the work I do for corporate publications, and I think, well, yeah, but major enterprise software companies know that their customers are too smart to read ads, so they demand good stories. Meanwhile, many magazines consider it gutsy to write stories critical of cigarette smoking, because after all, they rely on cigarette ads for revenue.
And how often have we been subjected to the false-objective story, in which some crackpot gets to spout for half of a story in the name of balance? You know, the “Dr. Suzy Psycho, research fellow with the American Federation of Tar and Nicotine Producers, noted that there is significant controversy in the scientific community about whether or not cigarette smoking leads to a hacking cough. ‘Our studies show that breathing clean air causes more respiratory distress than breathing the air in a studio apartment shared with a two-pack-a-day smoker,’ she said.”
I made that up, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, given the reflexive charges of bias that pervade the biased American media, I thought this article in Duke’s alumni magazine about the lacrosse team incident was interesting. It doesn’t go into the case itself so much as the effects of the controversy on the campus. I thought it was pretty balanced, given how close we are in time to the event and how close the magazine is to the story. It’s a good example of how an article can be critical yet balanced, fair yet still deeply reported.
And no, I didn’t go to Duke. I don’t have feelings for Duke one way or another. I came across this article while looking up information about Duke for a story I’m working on now, and I thought that you might find it interesting, too.
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