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Monthly Archives: February 2012

From the Newspaper Guild of New York: “Guild members at the The New York Times, protesting company proposals to cut their pension and other benefits, line the hallways that the newspaper’s senior editors will use on Feb. 29 to get to their meeting about the day’s top news stories.”

Alison Stephens

Mark Tatge tried to make his Investigative Reporting Techniques class more interesting to DePauw students last week by handing out a 17-page public-records packet on the arrest of one of their peers.

The material on sophomore Alison Stephens included her police incident report, her Facebook and Twitter profiles, court proceedings and other material. (She was arrested in January for public intoxication, minor in consumption, resisting law enforcement and criminal mischief.)

“I guess I could pick something about patent law and have them go look up patent and trademarks,” Tatge tells the DePauw student paper, “but I think they would be less interested in that than they would be about an arrest for drinking [and the other charges].”

A few of Stephens’ friends are in the journalism class and, of course, told her about the packet.

“I feel embarrassed,” she tells The DePauw. “I felt really uncomfortable walking around … I don’t think it reflects the person I am, so I was hurt.” She called her parents, who contacted DePauw’s vice president for student life, who says the school seeks to protect Tatge’s academic freedom while ensuring the welfare of students.

I’ve invited Tatge — a former Forbes, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Denver Post and Wall Street Journal reporter — to comment.

UPDATE: I just talked to Tatge about the matter.

“I used a public record in a classroom to teach students about public records,” he says, “and some students were upset that I did this because they know the student — they’re sorority sisters. ….The students acted emotionally, which I expected — they’re 19- and 20-year-old kids — but I’m a little concerned about the tone and tenor of university’s response. The school has reacted rather emotionally, too, and is trying to recall all of the records I gave to the students.”

Tatge says the material was used in class to show students what’s available to the public. They were not assigned to do a story on Stephens. (Their next assignment was to do a public records search on someone else.)

The visiting professor adds: “I don’t know what’s going to happen at this point. I feel the school is taking the position of the students” who are upset about the material being distributed. “I’ve been offered no support from the administration.”

Tatge says there are two editors of The DePauw in the class, and that he asked them why it took so long for the paper to report on the student’s arrest. The response: “They thought it would be too embarrassing to the student.”

DePauw editor-in-chief Chase Hall tells me: “Our editor did say that [to Tatge] and I think it was the wrong answer.” The story “fell through the cracks” during a change in editors, he says.

* Reporting class sparks controversy over academic freedom

* Award-winning journalist Mark Tatge appointed Pulliam Professor of Journalism

* “If you are serious about becoming a journalist, then you should take Tatge’s classes”

Some tidbits from Sarah Ellison’s new Vanity Fair piece on the Washington Post:

The desire to compete as a journalistic en­terprise on a national or international level — to do so comprehensively and consistently — seems to have been beaten out of the Post. The disaffection on the newsroom floor is au­dible and undisguised.

Katharine Weymouth has said to people in the newsroom, “One of our biggest problems is we have three people at the top of the paper, none of whom give a shit about Sports, Metro, or Style.”

“The Washington Post is a local newspaper,” [Post investor Warren] Buffett says. “I mean, it has national reach, but the grocers that advertise in it, they’re not going to get national ads. . . . One of the things that’s existed over time which I’m sure you’re aware of is that the newsroom, kindled by what happened at Watergate, liked to think of themselves as national. And they are national, in an important respect, but they’re not national as a business. And they don’t have a business model that works nationally.”

Katharine Weymouth


Buffett told me that, since acquiring his 10 percent stake (which is now more than 20 percent, because of share repurchases), he has never bought a share in the Post Com­pany.

I asked [Don Graham] why the Post had become such a symbol of decline in people’s minds. Graham smiled widely, put his hands up, and said, “Come. On! It isn’t 1989. I don’t have a magic bullet to make the past 20 years go away! It has been a challenging time for newspapers. The Post has responded to that challenge about as well as we could have. We are putting out a really good paper. We have a very ambitious news site, and we are trying a lot of things.

More after the jump

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James Murdoch

* James Murdoch quits News International (BBC.co.uk)

* Two new Chicago publications “fall under the influence of Dave Eggers.” (NewCity.com)

* Terms used by Homeland Security to monitor social media. (Scribd.com document)

* Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth draws a crowd at Indiana University (Indiana Daily Student)

* Iowa State Daily editor meets with Asian-American students to discuss “squintey” flap. (Iowa State Daily)

* The so-called “O-Bitch-uary” tries to zig when others zag. (Obit-mag.com)

* Two laid off NYDN photographers sue the tabloid for age and gender discrimination. (New York Observer)

* Ralph Nader claims progressives are being excluded from NPR airwaves. (NPR.org)

* Justice Department drops effort to force Salon writer to testify at obscenity trial. (Politico)

* NYT’s updated Facebook page includes “inside look into The Times newsroom throughout the years.” (New York Times release)

A new Elon University-Pew Internet survey includes predictions about the teens-to-20s age group in 2020. Here’s a bleak one:

Young people accustomed to a diet of quick-fix information nuggets will be less likely to undertake deep, critical analysis of issues and challenging information. Shallow choices, an expectation of instant gratification, a lack of patience, are likely to be common results. One possible outcome is stagnation in innovation.

* Imaging the Internet

UPDATE: The Tribune-Review says in Wednesday’s paper that “questions emerged on Tuesday about the authenticity of the photos” that it used on the front page yesterday, and that “the newspaper will continue to pursue the origin and legitimacy of the Twitter account” that posted the photos.

“We have nothing to say at this point.”
That’s what Pittsburgh Tribune-Review managing editor James Cuddy told me Tuesday afternoon after I asked about his paper’s front-page “rampage suspect” photos (shown here) that Cleveland Scene says are not of the suspect. I called Cuddy after metro editor Dave Conti failed to respond to my phone call and email from this morning.
* This is not the school shooter, says Cleveland Scene

A Detroit Free Press rival sends this note and image: “The Freep is allowing folks to tweet on their site right now for primary coverage. He’s an example of it backfiring.”

UPDATE: Detroit Free Press assistant managing editor/digital media Stefanie Murray sends this email:

Just saw the screenshot you posted. Yes, we are encouraging people to tweet with the hashtag and we’re running a real-time feed on our homepage. I’m monitoring it and banning abusive users and tweets that are off-topic or purely advertisement. This tweet shown, I deleted it within 5 seconds of it being posted. Obviously someone is trying to create drama where none exists by taking advantage of what we’re offering readers, posting something, then taking a fast screen shot before it is deleted. I think we can have a conversation about this, but the post with the big screenshot on your homepage now is fairly disingenuous to the real story – that tweet only existed for mere seconds.