Daily Archives: July 26, 2012

A Romenesko reader writes:

In her report today [transcript excerpt below] on the protests in Anaheim over police killings of two Hispanic men, NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates used the term “spic-and-span” to describe the area around Disneyland.


Anaheim, Calif., On Edge After Violent Protests

It strikes me as a silly complaint, but I suspect NPR’s ombud will hear about it.


Another reader sends this Los Angeles Daily News headline and asks: “Inadvertent genius, or brilliant subterfuge?”

L.A. City Council Deals Blow to Pot Clinics


(Below, left) A tipster who’s forced to do all of his phone interviews via landline emails:
“No matter where you are in Rupert Murdoch’s state-of -the-art WSJ/Dow Jones newsroom in Midtown Manhattan, you’re very lucky to get a Verizon iPhone connection!”

(Below, center) Another reader let me know about today’s University of Florida Alligator cover. The paper is fighting an order to remove 19 of its campus newsracks and have them replaced by university-owned racks. “With UF now controlling our distribution on campus, what happens if we have coverage of the UF administration that they find unfavorable?” the editors ask.

(Right) A Facebook friend writes: “Only in Cincinnati would Hustler be considered ‘good news,’ I guess. Maybe the feud is the good news? The danger of format pages.” (This ran in the Enquirer last weekend.)

(Have a tip, memo, observation or comment? I’m at

“I urge you to sell” the Times-Picayune, U.S. Sen. David Vitter tells Steven Newhouse.

July 26, 2012

Steven Newhouse
Advance Publications
950 Fingerboard Rd.
Staten Island, NY 10305

Dear Steven Newhouse:

In light of your decision to only print the Times-Picayune three times per week, and the multiple credible buyer groups that I know want to buy the paper and continue it as a daily, I urge you to enter into serious negotiations with them. Then I urge you to sell.

Sen. David Vitter

Maybe you truly believe that your new model for the Times-Picayune will serve the region well. I do not. More importantly, no citizen of the region whom I’ve spoken to about this does. And I literally mean no one. This includes everyone at the Times-Picayune itself that I’ve spoken to.

First, no digital platform, no matter how good, can completely replace a printed daily in substance, use, and significance to the community. This is particularly true in large, important segments of the population.

Second, you have a terribly inadequate digital platform which has actually gotten worse since your announcement. The new format has been universally panned (and I agree). And this is reflected in the numbers. As a single member of our Congressional delegation, I actually have far more Facebook followers than your whole enterprise.

Third, from a pure business perspective, you’re about to get smoked. The Advocate and others are moving in to fill the void you are creating. And TP subscribers, including me, will be eager to cheer them on by trading our subscriptions.

For all of these reasons, do the right thing. Sell.


David Vitter
United States Senate

Controversies over quote approval on the campaign trail and a Washington Post reporter sharing his story drafts with the PR people at the University of Texas at Austin prompted this memo:

From: Marcus Brauchli
Date: July 26, 2012 4:08:01 PM EDT
To: NEWS – All Newsroom
Subject: Rules on quotations and story drafts

To the staff:

Over the last several days, there have been reports raising compelling questions of journalistic ethics in the practices of allowing sources to set rules on the use of quotations and the sharing of story drafts. We’d like to remind everyone of some core principles and lay down guidelines that should govern those practices at The Post.

The central principle of our journalism is to report the facts as closely as we can ascertain them. We should never do or promise to do anything that would shade the truth or call into question our commitment to reporting the news accurately and fairly. That is essential to the trust we enjoy from the people we work for, our readers.

In response to the issues raised recently, we are modifying the relevant sections of The Post Stylebook. Please read this carefully. We encourage further discussion and will incorporate these specific points in upcoming sessions of Newsroom University.

Marcus Liz John Shirley Peter

Our objective in quoting people is to capture both their words and intended meaning accurately. That requires care in negotiating ground rules with sources. We do not allow sources to change the rules governing specific quotations after the fact. Once a quote is on the record, it remains there.

Sometimes, a source will agree to be interviewed only if we promise to read quotations back to the source before publication. We should not allow sources to change what was said in an original interview, although accuracy or the risk of losing an on-the-record quote from a crucial source may sometimes require it. A better and more acceptable alternative is to permit a source to add to a quotation and then explain that sequence to readers. If you find yourself in this gray area, consult with your editor.

Some reporters share sections of stories with sources before publication, to ensure accuracy on technical points or to catch errors. A science writer, for instance, may read to a source a passage, or even much of a story, about a complex subject to make sure that it is accurate. But it is against our policy to share drafts of entire stories with outside sources prior to publication, except with the permission — which will be granted extremely rarely — of the Executive Editor or Managing Editor.

In negotiating terms of engagement with a source, reporters and editors should be prepared for everything they say or write, in any medium, on the telephone or in person, to become public. They should make no promises, agree to no compromises and offer no concessions that aren’t compatible with this policy and The Post’s standards. Clarity and straightforwardness in our communications with sources is essential.

* Public Radio International is acquired by Boston public broadcaster WGBH. (
* LSU alums say journalist Cokie Roberts has the “ideal traits” to lead the university. (LSU Reveille)
* Union files grievance with Newsday over firing of veteran reporter James Bernstein. (Long Island Business News)
* Penn State players to attend preseason media sessions after all. (ESPN)
* Why Twitter’s move into TV could be a disaster. (
* Last week’s “Today” vs. “Good Morning America” results: too close to call. (New York Times)
* Los Angeles Times to connect its print coverage of Olympics with multimedia content using an augmented reality app. (Los Angeles Times)
* Owner of 420 Emporium enlists police to help evade journalist’s questions.
* Bob Sassone’s thoughts on the state of TV criticism in the digital age. (

UPDATE: Chicago Tribune editor Gerould Kern tells his paper’s media reporter in an email that “we appreciate the concerns of the staff and share their values. Credibility is the bedrock of our business. We are committed to completing our review and making the right decisions.”

* Tribune newsroom staffers petition editor over use of Journatic (Chicago Tribune)


Eighty-eight Chicago Tribune staffers have written to editor Gerould Kern about their “deep frustration and concern in the newsroom over the Tribune’s continued relationship with Journatic,” which they say “threatens to jeopardize our credibility.”

The letter says the paper’s code of ethics “makes it clear that it is a firing offense to engage in the kinds of practices that Journatic has engaged in again and again. Why then is Tribune seeking to salvage its relationship with Journatic when as a matter of policy it declares zero tolerance for such behavior?”

They continue:

Details of the Journatic business model remain unclear, but the operation has across the country demonstrated questionable practices difficult to explain away. Repeated incidents of false bylines and false datelines, along with plagiarism, have been exposed at several Journatic clients.

As employees concerned about both the reputation of the Tribune and its future, we have been disturbed not just by the relationship with Journatic but also a lack of detail about how this relationship came about. We also want to know what form, if any, it will take going forward.

* Chicago Tribune staff demands answers from editor over Journatic (Sun-Times)
* Chicago Tribune decides to stick with Journatic (

Read the letter after the jump. Read More

The Times reported a net loss of $88.1 million, or 60 cents a share in the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $119.7 million, or 79 cents, in the same period a year earlier.

The Times’ Amy Chozick reports:

Paid digital subscribers to the Web site, e-reader and other digital editions of The Times and The Herald Tribune were up 12 percent, to 509,000, at the end of the second quarter from 454,000 in March. Paid subscribers to The Globe’s e-reader and replica editions and were up about 28 percent, to 23,000 subscribers.

Digital subscriptions have helped circulation revenue at The Times and Herald Tribune surpass advertising revenue. The newspapers had combined circulation revenue of $194 million, compared with advertising revenue of $171 million.

Meanwhile, Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. tells analysts: “Our board has made meaningful progress in the search for a new CEO and we expect to have more to share with you before the end of this quarter.”

* New York Times Co posts a loss (
* NYT Co. has up day on Wall Street as 2Q loss narrows (
* Times Company’s CEO search hits final stretch (Capital New York)
* Read the Times’ second-quarter results press release (Yahoo Finance)

“I would welcome the opportunity to speak to you about my interest in purchasing the Times-Picayune, with others,” Saints owner Tom Benson writes to Advance Publications chairman Steven Newhouse. “If this is something that is an option, we can initiate this at your earliest convenience.”

He ends his letter noting:

The city of New Orleans is a city of immense culture, economic growth and host to millions of people annually; it is a nationally and internationally recognized city. It is a city deserving of a seven day a week newspaper.

* Benson offers to buy Times-Picayune (
* Earlier: Saints owner says city needs Times-Picayune in print every day (

Struggling newspaper chain Lee Enterprises disclosed yesterday that CEO Mary Junck acquired 500,000 shares of stock at the purchase price of $0. The disclosure comes a week after Lee reported a third-quarter loss of 3 cents per share.

Junck received a $500,000 bonus in March for taking the chain out of bankruptcy. In 2011, Lee execs received 30% compensation increases — at the same time they were laying off journalists at their newspapers.

Junck is also Associated Press board chairman.

* Lee Enterprises SEC filings
* Earlier: Reaction to bonuses for Lee Enterprises’ CEO and CFO (Indy Blog)
* Lee CEO receives $500,000 bonus as more employees are laid off (

The State’s story about South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s daughter getting a Statehouse gift shop job has been published, after being prematurely posted by some McClatchy papers earlier this week. In the piece, Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey scolds the Columbia, SC-based paper “for printing details of a 14 year old’s life and whereabouts, against the wishes of her parents,” and adds that “we have nothing more to say” about the girl’s job.

The Haley family

The State points out that Haley’s office “did a turn-around Wednesday” and gave some of the information that it requested to the Post and Courier of Charleston. Spokesman Godfrey told that paper that Haley’s daughter, Rena, usually works 20-25 hours per week and is paid $8 an hour. (She primarily cleans and stocks shelves, according to the governor’s office.)

The State executive editor Mark Lett tells his readers that “it is not our practice to cover the children of sitting governors,” but…

In this instance, the essential issue is whether it is appropriate for the daughter of the governor to be placed on the state payroll. The child was put in that position by adults in state government and in the Haley family. We have made no attempt to interview the daughter but have asked those adults for comment.

The State’s online poll asks: “Is it proper or improper for a governor’s child to have a state job?” At last check, 73% (522 votes) said it was improper.

* Gov. Haley’s daughter gets state job; questions of nepotism (The State)
* Disappearing article on Haley’s daughter creates intrigue (Post and Courier)
* Earlier: Editor says was held for additional reporting, not spiked (

* Washington Post to tighten rules to make sure that sharing story drafts with sources only occurs “in rare instances.” (Washington Post) | Earlier: Reporter asks college PR department to suggest changes. (
* Vogue, with 658 ad pages, has its best September since 2008. (
* Jeff Jarvis: I’m worried that New York will be undercovered — yes, even with three dailies. (
* Freedom Communications closes sale of Orange County Register and other papers. (
* How to repent for things you shouldn’t have done on Facebook and Twitter.
(Chicago Tribune)
* Atlantic Media’s new business site promises a new approach to commentary. (
* Tired of paying for cable that you rarely/never watch? There’s an e-book to help you. (PBS MediaShift)
* Columbus Dispatch parent says Ohio News Network – launched in 1997 – will go dark on Aug. 31. (Columbus Dispatch)