Daily Archives: July 3, 2012

Gannett execs were in Detroit last week to work out the operational details of the Free Press moving into the chain’s U.S. Community Publishing division, reports Bill Shea.

This is important. Here’s why: The community publishing division (known for many years as the community newspaper division) is the daily print newspaper arm of Gannett, home to more than 80 nameplates.

Previously, the Freep was in a separate division along with USA Today.

When cost-cutting directives came down from corporate to trim staff and expenses within the community newspaper division, the Freep and USAT were exempt.

* Detroit Free Press isn’t closing, but a major change is afoot (Crain’s Detroit Business)

* SouthComm acquires Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing Atlanta; it now owns eight alt-weeklies. (Creative Loafing)
* “The Newsroom” and an ex-colleague’s passing leave a journalist mourning her newspaper family. (View from Kalamazoo)
* Second episode of “The Newsroom” takes a ratings hit. (Vulture)
* Alison Gendar quits New York Daily News to do PR for teachers; “a huge loss.” (Capital New York)
* Sick military blogger hangs it up for now, says “my energy must now be expended on recovery.” (Carl Prine)
* Bangor Daily News senior contributing editor retires at 94. (Bangor Daily News)
* Media General reorganizes after selling most of its papers to Warren Buffett. (

There’s a reason for that:

The text:

DO NOT Report the death of Andy Griffith at this point CNN continues to confirmation

Guidance from CNN National Desk \ Terence Burke

CNN National desk and ENT unit continues to work to confirm the death of Andy Griffith. At this point we are not at a point to confirm the death. ENT unit has reached out to the actors mgt\agent. The desk has spoken to a local funeral home and ME for the state both could not confirm and have directed questions to the local sheriff. The National Desk has spoken to the sheriffs office and at this point the [sic] will not confirm the death. CNN has also spoken to Bill Friday who has spoken to other media and others media has used to confirm the death. However CNN does not feel that his information can serve as a confirmation. We continue to work the phones and will update when we have more.

Larger view of the CNN memo | h/t Matthew Keys

* CNN reports musician killed himself, he denies it on Twitter (

A Medill alum and Romenesko reader writes: “The Medill alumni listserv has degenerated over the past few days (as it so often does) into personal attacks over who should be taking Prozac and who should shut up and stop emailing the listserv. This prompted the school’s Director of Communications to email everyone, threatening to take the listserv away if we don’t behave ourselves.”

From: MEDILLALUMS automatic digest system
Date: Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 6:49 PM
Subject: MEDILLALUMS Digest – 1 Jul 2012 to 2 Jul 2012 – Special issue (#2012-184)


Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2012 14:48:07 +0000
From: Belinda L Clarke
Subject: Respect the Listservs – or they will go away….

A not-so-gentle reminder from your friendly listserv moderator — these listservs are made available for networking and information-sharing by alumni – personal attacks are grounds for removal. Below you will find our boilerplate statement regarding listserv etiquette. Lastly, use of these university-maintained listservs is a privilege. Medill is the only school that still offers external listservs to alumni. So, if we don’t respect the listservs, they will be eliminated.

“With a few common sense exceptions, Medill does not want to take a role in censoring the listserv. Medill has made an alumni listserv available for the convenience and enjoyment of its alums; we see it as an open community. Bear in mind that Medill has a diverse pool of graduates, who have chosen to enter all types of professions. Please be aware that we do monitor the listserv on a daily basis and do not allow patently offensive, pornographic or illegal postings to the listserv. Alumni who post such material will be taken off the listserv immediately.”

If you have additional questions, please contact me OFF the listserv.

Happy 4th of July!


Belinda Lichty Clarke
Director of Communications and Alumni Relations
Northwestern University

Greensboro News & Record editor Jeff Gauger tells his staff that “if we’ve deemed a crime story worth of only three paragraphs, then by definition the facts don’t merit identifying the victims.”

What’s your news organization’s policy on naming crime victims?

From: Jeff Gauger
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 9:07 AM
Subject: Crime Victims

Effective immediately, do not identify crime victims unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

There often is a compelling reason, as in a homicide or highly visible or gruesome crime.

More often, there is not, especially in three- and four-paragraph crime briefs that we dash off by rewriting press releases. If we’ve deemed a crime story worthy of only three paragraphs, then by definition the facts don’t merit identifying the victims.

In place of a name, use gender, age and town of residence, as in a 20-year-old Greensboro woman or a 48-year-old High Point man.

To emphasize: this policy does not ban the use of crime victims’ names. It requires us to pause and think before naming victims.

Please share with any others who need to know.


Jeff Gauger
News & Record |
Greensboro, N.C.

UPDATE: I asked Gauger if there was a specific incident that prompted this policy change. His reply:

Yes. A seven-paragraph story about motel robberies that was published online Monday. The story named four victims, but gave no further information about any of them, including their relationships to each other. We got their names from police and made no attempt to contact them prior to publication.

In a longer, more fully reported story there may have been reason to identify them. In our short story, there was not.

Our reflexive “publish now” impulse sometimes needs a pause button – even a short pause button. We should have paused in this case.

By Paul Wilson
Paul Wilson has worked at three daily newspapers and is a former managing editor of He’s now regional sales manager with, which provides technology solutions to news publications.

Days like Thursday make me think I left daily journalism at exactly the right time — even though I did so without realizing it.

On Thursday morning, the nation was abuzz awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s landmark health care legislation. News outlets, armed with tools allowing them to quickly break news in ways inconceivable even 15 years ago, obsessed over whom would be the first to report (or perhaps, more accurately, repeat) the decision announced in Washington.

Shortly after 10 a.m. EDT, CNN reported that the law had been overturned. Other news outlets, notably Fox News Channel, made a similar mistake in those crazy minutes. But CNN held out longest, waiting seven minutes to pull its initial report back and (accurately) tell its viewers that the law was upheld by a 5-4 margin.

Being wrong on reporting at a key moment like that is devastating, and CNN is in turmoil as rivals mock the mistake.

Still, I can’t help but think that something like this was bound to happen in a news environment where many media organizations can’t wait seven seconds – let alone seven minutes – to get the story right. It’s possible that what happened at CNN could have happened to any news outlet or, at least, many of them. This phenomenon, no matter what you think of the technological advancements in recent years, is a problem. We’ve moved to the point where immediacy is more important than accuracy, if Thursday morning is any judge. And that’s terribly disturbing. Which brings me back to my original point …

My last newspaper byline came in March 2008 at The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio. After more than five years as a reporter and four more in student media, I signed on with a Chicago tech startup, where I would work for two years. In making the decision to leave newspapering, I was giving up a part of my identity, but, practically, it was a good decision given the struggles newspapers were facing.

I might have been more right on the practicality of leaving than I knew at the time. A few things happened shortly thereafter that seem to have changed the rules of daily journalism – I’m guessing to a point where I might not have enjoyed the work.

One big change had little to do with technology. The first signs of what would turn out to be the worst recession in generations appeared in late 2007 and early 2008. News organizations were far from immune — and some were particularly bad off. Conglomerates that owned some of the largest news outlets nationwide had fallen under the same spell as the entire country in the 2000s. Those companies didn’t judge the economy at the time for the junk-food high that it was, and proceeded to over-leverage themselves with acquisitions. After the economy nearly fell off a cliff in September 2008, media companies’ debt combined with the recession and growing digital competition led to thousands of layoffs in U.S. newsrooms. /CONTINUES Read More

“Baton death march” (in the top version) was up long enough to get indexed by Google, but somebody at the Chicago Tribune spotted the error and changed it to Bataan. (Anyone at the Tribune care to tell me who deserves credit?)
* Anyone heard of the Bataan Death March? (

The parents of Associated Press intern Armando Montano — both teachers at Colorado College — are in Mexico City, trying to get information about the death of their only child.

“The AP has been spectacular in helping us negotiate the Mexican bureaucracy. They are really helping us,” says Montano’s mother, Diane Alters. “They all loved him too.”

Armando Montano (Credit: Scarlet & Black)

She tells the Denver Post that the AP internship in Mexico was a dream job for her son, who was found dead Saturday in an apartment building elevator shaft.

Grinnell College vice president for student affairs Houston Dougharty tells the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Mando might’ve been the best known senior in our graduating class of 420. His byline was always in the student paper. Folks were drawn to him in an amazing way. He was incredibly charismatic and incredibly active.

One of Montano’s former English teachers says of the late journalist: “From the time he walked into my class as a precocious ninth-grader, he acted and thought like a professional journalist. I would not have been surprised if he’d ended up working for one of the top journalistic outlets in the world.”

* Colorado family seeks answers in death of 22-year-old son in Mexico (Denver Post)
* Teachers recall promise of Springs man who died in Mexico (
* Celebrating Mando: A Scarlet & Black tribute (

ProPublica revealed Monday afternoon that Chicago Tribune syndicated columnist and editorial board member Clarence Page was paid $20,000 and travel expenses to appear at a June 23 rally in Paris in support of the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), a controversial Iranian group that’s seeking to be removed from the U.S. government’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.

Clarence Page

“Page … said he had misgivings soon after arriving at the event, when he realized the scope was more than just a discussion about human rights and fairness toward Iranian exiles, as he previously thought,” reports the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Channick. “He went through with his three-minute speech anyway.”

Channick’s story continues:

Beyond the ramifications of a controversial political association, accepting the engagement was a breach of the Tribune’s code of editorial principles. Although some paid speaking engagements are allowed, all editorial employees need approval before accepting them, Dold said. Page said he took the engagement on his own.

Page says he hasn’t sought editors’ approval for speeches in the last three years; he’s been paid for seven appearances in the past 18 months.

Tribune editor Gerould Kern says in a statement that “we are reviewing all of the circumstances and considering further action” against Page.

* Clarence Page under review for unauthorized paid speech (Chicago Tribune)
* Columnist Page spoke at rally for Iranian militant group (ProPublica)