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Daily Archives: June 29, 2012

UPDATE: The NJ.com chief content officer’s job listing below was removed after I posted this.

A Romenesko reader writes: “This is the Jersey equivalent of Nola.com and the Times-Picayune. Wonder what it means for the [Advance/Newhouse-owned]Star-Ledger?”

* Write something short every day, and 11 more pieces of advice for young journalists from GOOD’s ex-editor. (Nieman Journalism Lab)
* Court ruling may force Tribune Co. to divest of broadcasting or newspaper operations in several markets. (Crain’s Chicago Business)
* London’s Daily Mirror is caught lifting a story from Murdoch’s The Daily. (New York Observer)
* As expected, Savannah Guthrie is named “Today” co-host. (New York Times)
* Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson to blog for Patch. (@SEWisconsinPatch)
* OK! Magazine staffer accepts thousands of dollars from PR people after her dog dies. (Gawker)

UPDATE: I’m told that Monroe Evening News editor Deb Saul asked sportswriter Jeff Meade to “add context to the column.” It’s been reposted here.
——

Veteran Monroe (Mich.) Evening News sportswriter Jeff Meade was struggling to come up with a topic for Tuesday’s column.

“I just didn’t feel fired up about any sports issue,” he says in a phone interview.

In the end, the 57-year-old journalist decided to go with an idea “that was just in the back of my mind” — revealing the most unethical things he’s ever done as a reporter.

“It was a throwaway column,” says Meade, who attended Eastern Michigan University in the 1970s but never graduated. (“I never took a journalism class, but I worked for four years at the Eastern Echo.”)

In a piece headlined “Journalism students: Don’t do this,” Meade admits to:

* “Reconstructing” quotes after losing his notes
* Favoring players he covered
* Going out with a beauty pageant winner after interviewing her
* Using a city manager’s quotes after being told not to (the official made the request at the end of the interview, so Meade wasn’t in the wrong)

“It was sort of a coming-clean column, but I didn’t think any of them were that serious,” Meade says. “And most of them happened at the first paper I worked for. I hope I wouldn’t do any of those things now. But if all journalists were candid they would say they’ve pushed the envelope before.”

Meade tells me that his 19-year-son — a pastoral ministry student — “thought it was good, and my sports editor thought it was funny.” As for other colleagues at the 20,000-circulation daily, “I don’t know if anyone on the staff read it.” (I don’t think he was joking.)

Jeff Meade

Readers weren’t amused by the piece:

“You need to find a new profession, sir,” one wrote in the comments. “You should be fired,” said another. “You’re pathetic.”

“These people weren’t as upset after I responded to them,” says Meade. “They thought I had written this for journalism students, but I didn’t. I didn’t write the headline.”

Meade’s piece circulated on social media, but “I didn’t know that it had stirred anything up” until the column was taken off his paper’s website — “maybe because the responses got out of hand.”

* Jeff Meade: Journalism students: Don’t do this (Monroe News)


“It’s a pack of lies that stood for 19 years. Somewhere, Brian Tierney is smiling.”

I emailed the Philadelphia journalist who wrote the above line, which appeared in a blog post headlined, “Ongoing Archdiocese Fire Sale Exposes 19-Year-Old Cover-Up of Cardinal Bevilacqua’s Lavish Spending,” and told him that Tierney is now at Poynter, heading its new foundation.

Ralph Cipriano, the “Fire Sale” story author and longtime church-watcher, wrote back:

I’m stunned. Anybody who thinks Brian Tierney should have anything to do with legitimate journalism should be looking at his role as an archdiocese spinmeister for the late Cardinal Bevilacqua.

Bevilacqua is a known criminal at this point who, according to a couple of grand jury reports, orchestrated a successful coverup over a decade that kept from prosecution 60 sexually abusive priests who had raped and molested hundreds of innocent children. And Tierney at every stage of the game was his spinmeister, the guy who when Bevilacqua was being repeatedly questioned by a grand jury, spun the story so that Bevilacqua was the victim.

In a 1998 American Journalism Review piece, a Philadelphia Inquirer editor told Alicia Shepard: “Tierney has made his reputation by representing the archdiocese and defending it against the Inquirer. His tactic is to be a bully. You go to a meeting with the archdiocese to ask legitimate questions and Tierney starts attacking the reporter.”

* Archdiocese fire sale exposes cover-up of cardinal’s lavish spending (priestabusetrial.com)
* Poynter names Brian Tierney the head of its new foundation (Philadelphia Weekly)
* From 1998: Cipriano sues editor over comment about his church coverage (AJR)

This 10-day-old little video seemed to go unnoticed on social media, probably because people didn’t realize it’s a birthday message to Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli, who turned 51 on June 19.

Marcus Brauchli

Lip-synching “We Are Young” are members of the Post’s social-interactive-innovations team. I’m told that appearing in the video are: Cory Haik, executive producer of news innovations and strategic projects (the video is shot in her office); Amanda Zamora, national digital editor; Melissa Bell, director of blog engagement; Katie Parker, digital and new products design; and Sarah Sampsel, deputy director of digital, mobile and new product design. (Please correct me if my source is wrong.)

* Watch the video here

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that Michael Calderone mentioned the video on Twitter earlier, and that one of the producers responded.

Dear Elizabeth Wurtzel:

I’m sorry not to have written sooner, but your letter and book landed in a pile that other things got on top of. I finally read P.N. [Prozac Nation] and I think you are a brilliant and funny writer. I don’t give quotes, took myself out of the quote business years ago when my vet wrote a book (I had pets once) and asked for a quote. Not to link you with my vet. Anyway, you are truly wonderful and so is your book and I hope they do not send you to places like Detroit to promote it, which could make even a person with no history of depression depressed. I cannot imagine that you would ever want to write a screenplay, but if you ever do, call me up. I’m in the book.

Very best,
Nora Ephron

* “Letter I received from Nora Ephron in 1994. I’d been meaning to respond” (@LizzieWurtzel)

About a month ago, I posted a letter about Reuters’ Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), which targets reporters that the company believes are “laggards.”

“[They] are handed a document that warns they could face termination if they don’t up their game, and given 30 days to turn things around,” a Reuters reporter explained to Romenesko readers on May 31.

Today a Reuters journalist writes: “There’s a new [PIP] casualty today: our ace Supreme Court correspondent Jim Vicini.”

The Romenesko tipster writes:

Jim has built an unmatched reputation for being accurate and fast on complex legal rulings. As we saw with yesterday’s healthcare ruling, it’s easy to blow it on stories like these. Jim had accurate headlines on the wire at 10:07 a.m., while CNN and Fox were reporting that the individual mandate had been struck down.

Jim’s reputation was cemented in December 2000, when he was the first reporter to figure out that the Supreme Court had handed the presidency to George W. Bush.

Rather than deal with the months of humiliation, he opted to leave Reuters.

Jim Vicini

Here is Vicini’s farewell message to colleagues:

After nearly 35 ½ years at Reuters, I have decidedly mixed emotions in letting everyone know that today is my last day.

It has been an honor and privilege to have made so many wonderful friends and to have worked with so many consummate professionals over the years.

I had the opportunity to report on the healthcare and so many other landmark Supreme Court rulings, the Justice Department, the 9/11 investigation, major trials, spies, terrorists, scandals, nine AGs and four FBI directors during the past 28 years.

I would be remiss not to mention that it all began in commodities — as a young reporter in his second job out of college doing a brief stint in New York, then covering the Chicago commodities markets, working on the commodities editing desk and finally reporting countless USDA crop reports after moving to the Washington bureau more than 30 years ago.

Our new bureau chief, Marilyn Thompson, recently remarked about the need for a “happy culture.” I totally agree with her and remember in years past the atmosphere of fun, exhilaration and joy in the Washington bureau while producing hard-hitting, market-moving wire service journalism that beat the pants off the competition.

Over the years, I have jokingly referred to colleagues about “Vicini’s rules.” I want to share a few in no particular order:

* The more paper in a government press packet handed out at a news conference, the less the news.

* The more times you get an email about an event, the less likely there will be news.

* Write fewer internal emails; write more stories.

With Debbie Charles when we worked on the beat together. If there’s a difficult decision with a colleague such as who gets the byline or who works on a weekend, flip a coin.

I am considering a wide range of really exciting ideas as I embark on a new chapter in my life, though I have yet to make a final decision on what I will do next. I will greatly miss so many of you, but we can stay in touch. [Contact info deleted]

UPDATE: The Newspaper Guild of New York says: We hope the departure of Jim Vicini and other talented journalists, including Washington economics correspondent Glenn Somerville a few weeks ago, makes management realize how counterproductive and damaging this [PIP] process is.”

Danny Sheridan

Four weeks ago, USA Today handicapper Danny Sheridan had 11,000 Twitter followers.

“Then, starting on the first of June, something crazy happened,” writes John Koblin. “His follower count started to skyrocket. Between June 1 and today, his Twitter follower count went from some 11,000 to nearly 400,000. For the last month, he has been picking up thousands and thousands of followers a day.”

WHAT SHERIDAN SAYS: “I have never, ever spent a penny to buy followers on Twitter.”

He emails Koblin:

the people responsible for this (claiming I’ve bought twiter names) appear to run criminal outfits, according to the DOJ & our country laws, and are only doing this to raise awareness to their name (by using my name & usatody’s name, as no one has ever heard of them including you). I intend to contact the DOJ about them, & my guess is they will then crawl under the rock they’ve always been. I’ve not broken any laws, let’s see if they can say the same thing if and when the DOJ contacts them

* Is USA Today’s veteran gambling guy buying Twitter followers? (USA Today)
* Join the hundreds of thousands following Sheridan on Twitter