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The CIR Is On It: Telling the Story of Solitary Confinement for Teens Over, and Over, and Over Again

CIR the boxThis week, the Center for Investigative Reporting released a print story, a short animation, and a photo essay about solitary confinement for adolescents in the U.S. prison system. That’s in addition to a NewsHour and a public radio piece released last month and to a yet unreleased half hour documentary and graphic novel. By the end of the month, there will be around 10 pieces of the adolescent solitary confinement story circling you on one form of media or another.

It’s enough to make you rethink what you’ve been reporting on all year. CIR reporters Daffodil Altan and Trey Bundy started over a year ago trying to gain access into prisons and report on conditions for teens. Altan says that the access issues surrounding the story seemed “almost insurmountable” at a certain point. Instead of being deterred, they pressed on and worked on thinking of different ways to handle the content. Says Altan:

We started of thinking of ways to tell the story even though we were dealing with essentially invisible sights. That’s  where the idea for the animation came up. We had met this very compelling young man in New York who told us about his experience at Rikers very powerfully and we had all this tape of him…we decided to try to take 3 hours of interview and see if we could carve that into something smaller and with a narrative arc.

And so the reporting team of two or three turned into a team of somewhere around 15-20, according to Bundy. Bundy says that as they are reporting they’re “always having conversations about what else we can do besides what we’ve already settled on.” In this case, there was a written story in mind, with photos to boot. But a colleague who acts as a liaison between the CIR and KQED “heard radio all over this,” says Bundy. When New York State started talking about banning the practice of solitary confinement for teenagers, NewsHour suddenly wanted the story sooner. “That wasn’t always supposed to be the first piece that was released on this,” Bundy adds. Having the story told across platforms means you reach more people. Says Bundy, “There’s some overlap between people who listen to public radio or watch NewsHour, or read Medium, but it’s not total overlap. The benefit of having multiple platforms is that you are going to catch multiple, different types of audiences, hopefully.”

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MediaShift Launches EducationShift to Move Journalism Education Forward

PBS MediaShift recently announced the launch of EducationShift, a revamped site to help bolster journalism education.

edshift post picSupported by both the Knight Foundation and the Scripps College of Communication, the re-tooled Education Shift site will feature increased coverage of classroom innovation as journalism and communications schools around the world wrestle with unprecedented technological changes. Read more

Journalism Crowdfunder Helps Climate Micro-Pub Launch

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 11.22.30 PMWhile perusing Columbia Journalism Review’s website this morning, I was struck by a story detailing the beginnings of an environmentally-themed “micro-publication.” But more than the project itself (these things are popping up all over the place, it seems), the digital magazine Climate Confidential’s partner caught my eye.

Beacon, a platform that seeks to “empower” writers by allowing readers to access the work of their favorite reporters for $5 per month, will host Climate Confidential as its first publication on the site — but only under one condition. Using its own brand of crowdsourcing, Beacon plans to lift Climate Confidential off the ground if they can gather 800 readers to back the climate-focused reporting venture.

Typically, you can become a part of the Beacon community by chipping in $5 each month to your favorite writer (I vetted it, and there is plenty of good journalism to be discovered there), but Beacon evidently thinks the reporting and writing brains behind Climate Confidential (comprised of a six-woman team of freelance environmental/tech journalists) will be quality enough to host the publication on its website as a special “project”.

The digital pub, only available to those who contribute via Beacon’s platform, will still get its own branding and logo as a microsite under the Beacon umbrella and will enjoy the benefits of long-term financial help from those who feel the mainstream media is neglecting stories on the “forefront of research and development in cleantech, the water-energy-food nexus, transportation and public health,” wrote the Climate Confidential team.

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Slate Writer Amanda Hess Wins Sidney Award for Examining Online Sexism

Amanda Hess CoverIn her Sidney Award-winning essay last month in Pacific Standard: “The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” Slate staff writer Amanda Hess tackled yet another facet of cyber-bullying by focusing on the disproportionate abuse that female journalists endure online.

The Sidney Awards are given monthly by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, in recognition of outstanding socially-conscious journalism. Read more

Questionable Comments Put AOL CEO Back on Defensive

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong

It seems that AOL CEO Tim Armstrong just can’t keep his foot out of his mouth–even when the company has good news to report.

The good news should have been that AOL’s fourth quarter earnings showed the company’s best growth in a decade, thanks in part to recent efforts to cut costs and streamline operations.

But, instead, that good news was overshadowed by yet another in a string of missteps by Armstrong, who seems to need a remedial course in PR. Read more

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