Daily Archives: January 27, 2012

Credit: Imgur

Facebook didn’t want reporters snooping and finding out about its Next Big Thing while attending yesterday’s press conference at its Seattle offices, so it ordered them to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Journalists were told the NDA “only applies to things that you might accidentally stumble upon while you are there and covers nothing discussed during our news conference.”

The NDA-is-required email went out at 8:10 a.m. Thursday, and was rescinded two hours later. KPLU public radio points out:

Somehow inviting a pack of journalists to a press conference and then telling them they have to wear blinders and not talk about anything they might see in a side office, overhear from a water-cooler conversation or perhaps a yelled statement revealing an intellectual property secret, seemed like a bad PR move.

No kidding! (The above are comments from my Facebook friends.)

* Facebook wanted journalists to sign NDAs before news conference

The Defense Department told DC-based Stars and Stripes staffers this week that they’ll be moving to the military’s public affairs headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland this November.

“Most of us see this as an obvious attempt at censorship by the Pentagon, which has grown increasingly aggravated with our critical coverage of the Defense Department in recent years,” a Stripes employee tells me.

“Putting us in the same building as top public affairs officials – and next door to the building where they train future public affairs officers – will damage our credibility as an independent voice for the troops. Worse, it will give the military the chance to look over our shoulder as we try to remain an aggressive investigator on defense issues.” My tipster continues:

The stated reason is to save money, but our front office folks say the financial situation is far less dire than military officials are portraying. They were given no opportunity to find equal savings on their own.

The fact that this directive came down as a complete surprise was unsettling enough, but the timing is also suspicious. Our ombudsman’s term ended this week, just two days after the paper’s management was ordered to start preparing for the move.

My source says the directive came from Defense Media Activity acting director of the Defense Media Activity Mel Russell.

I asked Stripes publisher Max Lederer to confirm the report, and here’s what he emailed: “Stars and Stripes has been directed to move its Headquarters’ operations in Washington DC to Ft Meade, Md. As your comments [in the email I sent to Lederer] indicate some staff have expressed their belief that this is an attempt at censorship by the Pentagon and damages Stripes’ credibility as an independent voice.”

A Romenesko reader who said she was “too shy” to be named sends this email:

I wonder what you and others think about the story in the New York Times regarding Apple’s business practices in China. The first place I ever heard about the issue was via Mike Daisey’s monologue on Steve Jobs, in which he details nearly everything in the NYT series. It feels as though he got there first, and yet NYT never cites him. Am I mistaken?

I asked Daisey what he thought of the Times’ piece. His response:

I’ve been telling this story nightly for eighteen months, and I’m absolutely thrilled that the NYT is doing this reporting. It’s what I’ve been hoping for — that journalists would dig in and pull this story out by its roots, and the NYT has done that here.

I’m a monologist, and not a journalist in any traditional sense. I see our roles as utterly complementary –journalism reports the facts that fill our world, and I tell stories that create connections that make audiences engage in a human way.

I know that reporters who have worked on this series saw my monologue in the fall, and I spoke with Charles Duhigg then about my experiences. If my work helped them in any way I am very glad.

As a monologist, I’m passionate about stories told fully and deeply, so there can be a way for us to see the truth in a human way. The NYT’s work on this series does that magnificently, and they deserve all the credit for their hard work. I think it’s a great day when a work of art and a piece of journalism can both be in the public sphere affecting change in their own ways. More than anything else, I am grateful to the reporters who are telling this story because when I speak from the stage I feel less alone.

* Visit

How did it go at the Plain Dealer yesterday after readers learned that popular Browns beat writer Tony Grossi was reassigned for tweeting that team owner Randy Lerner is “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world”? Ted Diadiun, the paper’s ombudsman, tells Romenesko readers:

I think [managing editor] Thom [Fladung] got by far the most reaction, probably since his was the name most connected with the story since he called the radio show on his way to work this morning to correct some things they were saying. [Editor] Debra [Simmons] got fewer, I believe fewer than she did in reaction to that Non Sequitur comic strip that was pulled, but she’d have to confirm that (it’s been an interesting couple of weeks…).

As for me, I got fewer responses to the decision than I thought I would, given Cleveland’s mania for the Browns. I probably got a couple of dozen e-mails, fewer phone calls. All but one were highly critical of the decision. Some threatened to quit the paper, several mistakenly thought that Tony had been fired, several accused us of rolling over to protect [Browns owner Randy] Lerner. A couple said that Toni (?) Grossi was their favorite sportswriter at the paper …

Interestingly, I saw several people on the comment areas of OTHER news media who wrote that they understood the issues and agreed that Tony had to be removed from the beat. Didn’t expect that.

As you might imagine, I’m writing about this for Sunday. I tried to be explanatory and give people a sense of the issue while being fair to Tony.

* Letter to Plain Dealer: Booting Grossi from Browns beat was the wrong move
* Read what PD managing editor Fladung said about Grossi’s reassignment
* Here’s the January 13 “Non Sequitur” cartoon that the ombud mentions

“I have learned in the past few hours that the editors of the Yale Daily News knew about the sexual assault charge as early as November.”

Alex Klein is a Yale senior majoring in “Ethics, Politics, and Economics.” He was Opinion Editor of the Yale Daily News last year.

Late last year, national news outlets breathlessly reported that Yale’s quarterback, Patrick Witt, had chosen to skip a Rhodes Scholarship finalist interview in order to lead our team against Harvard in the annual Game. I was thrilled and proud. The decision struck me, as it did my friends in and out of the media, as smart and heroic. A few months earlier, Pat had helped move a hammock, volunteering as a stagehand in a play I directed. Remembering our connection, I fired off a paragraph-long “thank you” email. But his terse response surprised me: “Thanks for the note, I’ll see you around.”

Last night’s bombshell, broken by Times, may explain the awkward reply. At the time of my email, there was no heroic choice to be made: Pat was no longer a candidate for the Rhodes Scholarship. Days before, the Rhodes committee had suspended his candidacy after discovering that an anonymous woman had accused him of sexual assault. Yale officials knew about the complaint as early as September. It’s unclear if those directly responsible for endorsing Pat’s Rhodes application knew about the assault claim — or if the Yale administration decided to re-endorse Pat after being contacted by the Rhodes committee. Regardless, Pat was no longer a candidate on November 13, when he announced he would play in the Game, earning hero-worship at Yale and in the national media.

The story is sad and still mostly untold. We know few details regarding the sexual assault claim itself. But even in the weeks before the Game, when Yale knew about the charge, the university continued to push the “heroic choice” story on the mainstream media, which gobbled it up all too eagerly. This is disappointing, but not surprising. The Yale administration has persistently stifled the reality of sexual assault on campus: a real and serious problem that prompted last year’s Title IX complaint against the university, alleging a “hostile sexual climate.” But responsibility for the culture of silence does not end at the administration’s door — nor at Patrick Witt’s. I have learned in the past few hours that the editors of the Yale Daily News, the nation’s oldest college daily and a bastion of college journalism, knew about the sexual assault charge as early as November.

As current Science and Technology editor Eli Markham told me, the News’ editor-in-chief, Max de la Bruyere, decided to sit on the story in mid-November. “It’s more complicated than that,” he told a leader on last year’s editorial board, who asked to remain anonymous. Multiple current and past members of the newspaper’s managing board, all deeply involved in the day-to-day work of the paper, have confirmed that the News has had the story for over two months. In fact, the Times story that broke last night featured reporting from last year’s editor-in-chief, Vivian Yee. She too approached the paper with a tip-off, but its editors chose not to follow the story. The paper even knew that the sexual assault claim had lost Pat an offer to join the Boston Consulting Group after graduation. Even then, they wrote nothing. For reasons personal, social, or political — who can ever tell on a college campus? — the News’ management chose to ignore the bombshell, protecting Pat’s reputation.

I am deeply disappointed. Last year, I served as opinion editor at the paper, and couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more. We editorialized through a year of horrible headlines for the university: the aforementioned Title IX charge, sexist chanting from the DKE fraternity (of which Pat was a member), and the administration’s move to censor Sex Week, an educational forum on campus. My colleagues rose daily to the challenge. Like the Newsies that came before them, many will graduate to leadership roles at major national publications. And so too may the students who kept a real and disturbing story out of the public eye.

Each morning, Yale’s dining halls fill with students leafing through their daily copy of the News. I believe they have come to trust it more than your average college paper — as a source unafraid of angering friends, professors, or Presidents when telling unsavory truths. We have all been let down. In choosing to ignore this story, the News not only perpetuated the deceptive, now-shredded narrative of Pat’s “heroic choice.” The paper and its editor are also complicit in Yale’s culture of secrecy surrounding sexual assault: the very object of the Title IX complaint.

(Editor Max de La Bruyere declined to respond to this piece. — Romenesko)

* Today’s Yale Daily News print edition story on Patrick Witt

My tipster writes: “I got this email as a Washington Post customer, but I am also a former Post employee who supported the awful, buggy, crash-prone Methode CMS. I actually liked Raju Narisetti; however, in light of the recent discussion about his legacy at the Post, this is another brick in the wall.”