Daily Archives: January 16, 2012

NBC News to Gawker: “Can you please have the post of Brian Williams’ email to Nick Denton taken down immediately? That was sent in confidence as friends and absolutely never intended to be public. A speedy removal would go a long way in maintaining the trust and respect we have for your site.”

Part of that Williams email: “….it was a fallow holiday period for those of us who check your shit 10 times a day by iphone.”

* Read what they’re saying about this on Twitter

“Rather than convincing people to support a newspaper out of a sense of civic duty, a better plan would be to convince people to pay for newspapers because they are simply the best algorithms we have for optimizing our busy lives,” writes Dominic Basulto.
* Are newspapers civic institutions or algorithms?
* Earlier: NAA tries to sell papers with “Sexy” campaign

Does Washington Post reporter Sally Jenkins believe what Joe Paterno said in her exclusive interview with the former Penn State coach?

I don’t know. That’s my best answer. I wrote a story about a man battling on three fronts, fighting for his life, and his life’s work, and his reputation, who had decided to break his silence. Some of his answers I found completely genuine, some I’m not as sure of. I’d prefer the reader simply make up their own mind.

* Sally Jenkins discusses her talk with ex-Penn State coach

What I’ve tweeted so far today to @romenesko followers:
* Chicago Tribune offers buyouts to newsroom. “We begin the year with a need to reduce costs,” says editor
* Brian Williams tells Nick Denton he’s among the people who “check your shit 10 times a day by iphone”
* Wisconsin high school apologizes for student column calling homosexuality a sin punishable by death
* Miss D.C. wins Miss America pageant’s first journalism scholarship. Ashley Boalch attends U. of Maryland
* Google says Murdoch’s tweet about the search giant being a “piracy leader” is “just nonsense”
* National Enquirer aiming to “reinvent gossip” with iPad app that launches in February
* Simon Dumenco goes after Huffington Post – again!

“Where we write a so-called dope story involving our own speculative opinions we will say frankly that these are speculative opinions, not verified.”

From 1941: A Managerial Directive on How to Report War News

I always wonder while watching an interesting “60 Minutes” piece: Which newspaper did they fail to credit for giving them that story idea?

Jake Barnett

Last night Morley Safer profiled 13-year-old math prodigy and college sophomore Jake Barnett. He’s from Indianapolis, so I figured the story originated in the Star. A Google search proved me right.

Dan McFeely’s piece — “Genius at work: 12-year-old is studying at IUPUI” — ran in the Indianapolis Star on March 20, 2011. He wrote:

Just a few weeks shy of his 13th birthday, Jake, as he’s often called, is starting to move beyond the level of what his professors can teach.

In fact, his work is so strong and his ideas so original that he’s being courted by a top-notch East Coast research center. IUPUI is interested in him moving from the classroom into a funded researcher’s position.

I asked McFeely about “discovering” Jake, and what he thought about “60 Minutes'” treatment of his story. His emailed response:

Yeah, I was the first one to write about Jake. We got the tip in an unusual way. It wasn’t Jake’s mom. It was a mayor in a small town in Indiana where “Jacob’s Place” was opened – a fun place for autistic kids to play. They opened this place a while back, before Jake was famous. The mayor sent a “story tip” to our website, and it was funneled to me, as I was covering higher education at the time.

Dan McFeely

I called the mom and she agreed to meet with me. Several interviews later, and a lot of fact-checking and reporting, I wrote my story. It ran on a Sunday front page and became an online success as it was linked across the web. Lots and lots of “math geeks” (self professed geeks, I might add) shared it amongst each other.

Anyway … by the end of the year, Jake’s story was the No. 1 online story at the website, getting more clicks than any other story posted in the calendar year.

After the story ran, I got dozens of e-mails from all over the world. Many came from the math geeks, many came from parents of autistic children, and I got a lot of calls from other media seeking to contact Jake and his family. I passed along the reputable calls and I know Jake’s parents were getting similar requests. Jake was featured first on a local TV station, the Fox station I believe. And then he went on the Fox Network and was interviewed by Glen Beck.

Anyway, Jake’s mom told me about all the offers she got for interviews. Many of them, from across the globe, came from networks willing to pay for the story. She asked my advice (at the time, I was the only media person she knew) and I advised her to turn down anyone willing to pay for the story. And then she said that 60 Minutes had wanted to do a story. She has always liked 60 Minutes. I told her to think about it and go for it, given the program’s reputation.

My understanding is that 60 Minutes followed Jake and family around most of the summer. They did all their own work. I did not receive any calls from them asking for help.

I thought the 60 Minutes piece was well done. I think they captured the essence of Jake as a brainy child prodigy who is also still very much a kid. Of course, I don’t think it delved deep enough into his story, but I suppose there was not enough time to do that in less than a half hour. That’s what newspapers can do much better, I suppose.

Photo: Glenn Glasser

ALSO ON SUNDAY: Newsweek/Daily Beast senior editor Rebecca Dana tweeted: So it’s ok for the NYT to totally rip off that great NYO story on the Mueller bros, provided they call it “Noticed”?

Here’s yesterday’s New York Times piece on identical twins Kirk and Nate Mueller, and here’s New York Observer’s profile from January 4.

Colin Myler

Former New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove says the appointment of “hot-tempered Liverpudlian” Colin Myler as Daily News editor can be seen as Mort Zuckerman’s attempt to solve his paper’s identity crisis by turning it into “a full-throated yellow tabloid.”

Zuckerman denies that. “He’s not going to go downmarket,” the Daily News owner tells Grove. “He’s a great tabloid editor and he’s going to stay within the standards of the marketplace. What I hope he will do is put out a great tabloid newspaper in the Daily News tradition.”
* Tabloid Wars: Colin Myler leaves News Corp. for NYDN