Daily Archives: June 20, 2012

Barrett Tryon was placed on administrative leave by Freedom Communications’ Colorado Springs Gazette last week after he refused to pull a Los Angeles Times story off his Facebook wall — a piece about the sale of the Gazette. || Read reaction to today’s decision on Tryon’s Twitter feed.

UPDATE: Tryon tells the Colorado Springs Independent that “I hope that the takeaway is that people realize that, if you do have a social-media policy in place, it’s important that you know what it is, and how it can be interpreted or misinterpreted.”

* Suspended Gazette journalist offered reinstatement, declines (

Ann Curry

* NBC prepares to replace Ann Curry on “Today” show. (New York Times)
* Trying to come up with a creative lead? Head to a “relatively noisy” coffee shop instead of a library. (The Atlantic)
* Film critic Andrew Sarris dies from complications of an infection developed after a fall. He was 83. (New York Times)
* American Prospect magazine to stay in business after raising over $1.2 million. (Huffington Post)
* Ex-NYT Magazine Ethicist columnist Ariel Kaminer to cover higher education in NY region for the Times. (Capital New York)
* Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does battle with the city’s police chief. (Urban Milwaukee)

The New Yorker website editor Nicholas Thompson tells the New York Times that Jonah Lehrer is still employed by the magazine. “[He] declined to elaborate, saying, ‘This is wrong. He knows it’s a mistake. It’s not going to happen again.'”

Mr. Lehrer, reached by telephone, expressed remorse about the self-borrowings but declined to comment further. “It was a stupid thing to do and incredibly lazy and absolutely wrong,” he said.

* Lehrer apologizes for recycling his work (New York Times)

A Romenesko reader writes:

“The student journalists at the University of Virginia are giving me hope. In case you haven’t seen it, they tweeted highlights from a bunch of emails they got under FOIA about the board shenanigans that led to the ouster of president Teresa Sullivan. @cavalierdaily is the feed.”

Veteran film critic David Elliott — he’s worked at the Chicago Daily News, USA Today, the Sun-Times, and San Diego Union — refuses to whine because he’s been let go by the San Diego Reader.

The problems of movie critics don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. And it would be bad form to lament the loss of a part-time reviewing gig when every day journalists lose full jobs, salaries, and status. All are bitten by the black dog of the “bottom line” — now there is a term that lives down to its name.

* David Elliott’s Final Column (San Diego Reader)

The Chicago Sun-Times discloses at the bottom of this column: “Jenny McCarthy donated her $1,000 fee for writing this column to Generation Rescue.”

I heard McCarthy on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM show earlier this month and wondered if any Sun-Times editors were listening to see what their new columnist had to say. She didn’t hold back: her oral sex secret, her vibrator habits and many other X-rated topics were discussed.

* Jenny McCarthy on the North and South (sides) (Sun-Times)
* Summary of Jenny McCarthy’s Howard Stern show appearance [do page search for “McCarthy”] (
* Earlier: Sun-Times didn’t mean to “endorse” McCarthy’s organizations (

Andrew Yawn, a reporter for the Auburn University Plainsman, approached accused oak tree-poisoner Harvey Updyke during a court break on Tuesday to inquire about his health. During their conversation, Updyke allegedly said: “Did I do it? Yes.”

Harvey Updyke

Evan Woodbury writes on

After the confession, Yawn said Updyke asked him not to use that quote. Updyke’s wife Elva said, “Of course, he’s going to use it. He’s been taking notes,” according to Yawn.

Yawn said he faced a “moral quandary” about using the quotes as he had originally planned to write a sympathetic feature about the Updykes later in the week. But after talking to his journalism advisers he decided to post the story.

Updyke’s lawyer claims there was no confession. He tells WLTZ-TV:

There were other reporters around from ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX,, AP, major, major media outlets, and all of you were swarming in the courtroom, the lawyers were around the courtroom, and we think it’s kind of odd that a student reporter from Auburn University was able to get this story when all these major media outlets have been here the entire time. No one saw this reporter getting this information from Updyke.

Plainsman editor Robert Lee says he stands behind his reporter’s Updyke confession “100 percent” and that “the information gathered was not prompted nor off the record.”

* Auburn student newspaper says Updyke confessed to reporter (
* Updyke confesses to Plainsman: “Did I do it? Yes” (The Plainsman)
* Lawyer denies newspaper’s claim of a confession (USA Today)
* Plainsman editor stands by reporter who claims suspect confessed (The Plainsman)

— West Deptford, NJ Patch, June 13

“Oh, give us a break here!” writes one Patch commenter. “The headline should have read, ‘Monroe Township man arrested…’, and you know it. …this was a cheap shot obviously lobbed to attract attention to your otherwise mediocre piece. Sorry to say I fell for it.”

Other commenters came down hard on Patch for the story, which got noticed by Yahoo and

Matthew Rothenberg wrote:

I’ve worked in journalism for 25 years — online since the mid-’90s — and I know as well as I presume you do how this works. If you truly don’t understand how your “Robert J. Kennedy” headline graduated to, you might want to read up on clickbait.

Dianna Ivanov wrote:

A Kennedy robbed a CVS, WHAT?” I can tell you I was disappointed to see the ploy. I’m happy that it’s NOT another sad Kennedy Family story however I’m feeling duped. Just sayin!

Here’s how West Deptford, NJ Patch editor Bryan Littel defends the headline:

Given there are a couple thousand Robert Kennedys in the United States, and we identified this one by age and hometown, there shouldn’t be any confusion. If another news organization is implying something else, that’s on them.

I asked Littel if he normally runs names of locals in crime report headlines. He writes in an email: “Yes, I typically run names in headlines, even when it comes to relative unknowns – I can give you a dozen or so examples from the past couple of months, if you’d like. It extends beyond crime, as well. If it’s relevant, and a story focuses on an individual, I prefer to get the name in the headline.”

* Robert J. Kennedy arrested in CVS, Rite Aid robberies (

From Stephen S. Hall’s review of Jonah Lehrer’s “How We Decide” in the Summer 2009 issue of Columbia Magazine (second item on the page):

Despite Lehrer’s agile handling of a lot of complicated material, I never was quite sure about the line that separated his reporting from other people’s work. Lehrer’s account of the disastrous 1949 firefighting episode in Montana, for example, with which he began his July 2008 story about insight in the New Yorker, apparently represents no original reporting, but instead is an elaborate four-page retelling of Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire (1992).

Lehrer mentions the Maclean book in the main text, yet oddly doesn’t attribute his very detailed account to it. This and other derivative anecdotes are written with such immediacy and visceral detail that it is the kind of prose we normally associate with eyewitness reporting or fastidious, scrupulously sourced reconstruction. At minimum, it would have been gracious to acknowledge Maclean explicitly in the text as the main source of Lehrer’s extended, vivid account.

* Lehrer “understands he made a serious mistake,” says his editor (

Jonah Lehrer

Will Jonah Lehrer remain at The New Yorker? editor Nicholas Thompson “couldn’t comment on Lehrer’s future at the magazine,” writes Jacob Silverman, but Thompson made it clear that the recycling issue first disclosed on “was considered serious and had been expressed as such to Lehrer.”

“We’ve been on the phone back and forth throughout the day,” Thompson said. “He understands he made a serious mistake. He understands the rules. It’s definitely not going to happen again.”

Searching for a silver lining, Thompson said, “I think the one good thing that will come out of it is making it very clear is that this is unacceptable.”

* Jonah Lehrer’s self-plagiarism scandal rocks The New Yorker (Daily Beast)
* Lehrer plagiarized himself because he stopped being a writer and became an idea man (Slate)
* How Lehrer recycled his own material for “Imagine” (