Daily Archives: April 18, 2012

Letter to Romenesko

From ANONYMOUS: The media buzz here in Oklahoma City is around how The Oklahoman slow-played and underplayed a huge story today. This morning, Reuters broke an investigation about Chesapeake Energy, one of our largest companies.

For most of the day, The Oklahoman website’s only mention of the story was on its energy blog, posted at 10:52, nearly 3 hours after the Reuters story broke online. There was no appearance of the story on the front page of until after 2 p.m.

This play produced some quick ridicule on social media and online. The Lost Ogle [linked in the last sentence] is the city’s leading media criticism and satirical blog.

I’ve invited The Oklahoman to comment.

Letter to Romenesko

From ANONYMOUS: I prefer not to be mentioned as a source on this, and it’s not necessary because it’s public information. This week I saw reports that the Pulitzer awarded to The Huffington Post was the first awarded to a blog. However, the Pulitzer-winning entry for The Times-Picayune’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina way back on 2005/6 cited the newspaper’s “news blog” on as part of the submission. So wasn’t that really the first Pulitzer-winning blog?

* New Orleans Times-Picayne news blog wins Pulitzer

“We considered this very carefully,” Los Angeles Times editor Davan Maharaj says of the decision to run today’s story and photos of U.S. soldiers posing with body parts of Afghan suicide bombers. “At the end of the day, our job is to publish information that our readers need to make informed decisions. We have a particular duty to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan. On balance, in this case, we felt that the public interest here was served by publishing a limited, but representative sample of these photos, along with a story explaining the circumstances under which they were taken.”

* LAT editor explains decision to publish soldiers’ photos
* Christian Science Monitor: Did LAT make right call on photos?
U.S. troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers

This memo was sent to New York Times staffers:

Subject: your colleagues on Guild pension video, now up on YouTube

A few weeks ago, the Guild asked a number of the paper’s journalists to sit down and talk on video about the negotiations, the issues important to them, how they feel about working at the Times, and so on.

The first video is finally ready. It is about several issues, but particularly about pensions: why they are so valuable, and how much the Times is trying to take from us by demanding a pension freeze.

The original target audience is inside our own building –members who may have doubts about fighting to save the pension.

But it’s powerful enough – I think – to be shown to any audience.

Please have a look – it includes David Dunlap, Jim Dwyer, Clyde Haberman, John Schwartz, Nadia Taha, Joyce Wadler, George Vecsey, Willy Rashbaum, Claiborne Ray, Erik Piepenburg, Andrea Kannapell, Karen Grzelewski, Jennifer Mascia, Kevin Sack and myself. Others also spoke and I gather the plan is to use them in future videos

I laughed when I heard this on “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt 23” and wondered how the passage got past Disney-owned ABC’s Standards and Practices people:

“James Van Der Beek — the ‘Beek from the Creek’ — yeah, we dated for a while and then decided we were better off as friends. We really weren’t compatible genitally. Imagine trying to fit a cucumber into a coin purse. So yeah, now he’s like my gay BFF but straight.”

* “Don’t trust the B—- in Apt. 23” on Hulu

Post Guild rep Fredrick Kunkle posted this on the union’s Facebook page today:


We have learned today that 32 Guild-covered employees have chosen to accept the company’s buyout offer. We do not know how many editors have elected to participate in the buyouts, but union reps are hearing that the number probably puts the total close to 50.

It also appears, as many of you have been hearing, that a high number of the participants are Asian, African-American or Latino. By our count, more a dozen of these Guild-covered employees are minorities, most of whom are black.

We thought we would tell you as soon as we knew the numbers, but we won’t be giving out any names.

In what has to be one of the most dismal weeks in recent Post history (blogger resignation, buyout deadline and Pulitzer skunking, in case you’re keeping score at home), we certainly wish the best for those who have decided to leave.


Editor John Paul

The editor of claims the Beaver County (PA) sheriff pointed a gun at him during an interview. The cop’s lawyer denies it, telling TV reporter Cara Sapida that “no gun ever left the holster.”

Meanwhile, editor John Paul tells his readers that “I have provided a truthful statement to authorities and, at their request, will be making no public statements while the investigation is ongoing.”

Some readers have doubts about the editor’s story, according to a commenter:

There are already accusations that JP did this as a publicity stunt to get more readers. That thought never occurred to me when I was reading this story. The sheriff has law-enforcement power, carries a gun, and has many supporters. One does not use a person like that for publicity. Since JP is in the process of making changes to his website, doesn’t it seem like he would have waited until he got everything the way he wanted before pulling a publicity stunt? I don’t know JP or the sheriff, but I do like a good mystery. I’m sure we’ll hear more.

* Beaver County reporter says sheriff pointed gun at him
* Read comments about this incident at

Not true, says Pulitzer Prizes administrator Sig Gissler.

“Our official policy is that the finalist and winners are confidential until the point of the release. Apparently some of that leaks out, but our office does not contact anybody. Jurors sign pledges of confidentiality and I ask them to honor them.”

There are 77 Pulitzer jurors — and we all know that journalists like to gossip — so it’s no surprise that some newsrooms know in advance that they won and have the Champagne ready to pour and the local TV stations ready to tape the celebration. UPDATE — A reader points out: “It’s the Pulitzer Board — which I believe has 18 voting members — that picks the winners.”

The Tuscaloosa News won the breaking news Pulitzer on Monday and city editor Katherine Lee writes on my Facebook wall that “we were in the dark til we saw it on the Pulitzer website.” The Stranger says it learned of its prize via the Pulitzer website, too. “They didn’t call in advance,” writes Christopher Frizzelle.

77 jurors.

Romenesko reader Bob Patterson has been reminding me about National Columnists’ Day for nearly a decade now. He did it again last night and sent me his link to this year’s NCD column.

It is about a rascal who was raised in Berkeley and became a columnist who was a friend and arch rival of Herb Caen. He lived in Berkeley about a hundred years ago. He is a name sake because he was named Bob Patterson.

Of course, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists takes note of this day, too.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Kirby tells his readers how reporters differ from columnists:

Reporters are hard-working news professionals with a keen interest in keeping the public informed.

Columnists are different. We’re more like Hollywood actors or circus freaks, meaning that someone found a way to profit from whatever is seriously wrong with us. Depending on the columnist, it could be (and often is) a lot.

Aaron Barnhart

Kansas City Star TV critic Aaron Barnhart (@TVBarn) hasn’t tweeted since early December. His last Star column was published on Christmas Day, a year-in-review piece. It appears he hasn’t been on Facebook since January.

What happened to him?

The Star has yet to tell readers.

“It could be health issues,” says a longtime TV blogger. “But why all the mystery and secrecy?”

“His readers are worried for him,” adds former Dallas Morning News writer and editor Joyce Saenz Harris.

Earlier this month, Kansas City blogger and Star “watchdog” John Landsberg asked about Barnhart’s whereabouts in a post. He noted:

The Star, which normally leaks like a sieve with layoffs and personnel changes, is very close-mouthed about the veteran columnist. Rumors about serious health issues abound.

I’m told that Barnhart’s absence is in fact related to his health. The journalist has previously discussed his battle with leukemia in a Broadcasting & Cable interview headlined “Getting Better.” In 2010, he reviewed “The Big C” — the Showtime series about a woman battling cancer — and called it “an important show … that’s not necessarily a great show.” At the end of the review, readers were invited to “read how TV critic Aaron Barnhart, also a cancer survivor, reacted to “The Big C” and discuss the show on his blog,”

Landsberg tells me that reaction to his Barnhart column “has been mixed” and that “some people think it is a fair question to ask about a prominent columnist who simply virtually disappears for several months. Others consider it a private matter.”

He writes in his email:

I personally think that readers deserve an explanation when a high-profile journalist or columnist is no longer in the newspaper. They are public figures and major influencers and ones like Barnhart have a national following. From a customer’s standpoint, many people buy the newspaper to read columns and stories by their favorite writers, and I believe readers deserve an explanation when that person suddenly is gone.

If it is a medical issue the Star is likely prohibited from saying anything because of HIPAA rules. However, that doesn’t preclude the paper from noting something like “Aaron Barnhart’s column is on hiatus” or some such note.

I asked Star public editor Derek Donovan about the way his newspaper has handled Barnhart’s disappearance from its pages. He writes:

A newspaper company is, of course, a public trust. Its journalists are public figures, and readers come to feel as if they know them. That’s particularly true with columnists. And the industry operates a lot more transparently than just about any other I can think of.

But a newspaper company is also a private business, with all the legal responsibilities to its workers that any other employer must follow. As long there hasn’t been a violation of journalistic ethics, the conditions of a journalist’s employment are a private matter. The employee may choose to divulge more, but the newspaper company can’t — and shouldn’t.

* Mystery of Star’s Barnhart continues