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Daily Archives: August 30, 2012

Georgetown Law student Austin Tice, 31, who has been freelancing from Syria for the Washington Post, McClatchy and other news outlets, was reportedly captured and is being held by the Syrian government.

Austin Tice

“If the reports are true, we urge these authorities to release him promptly, unharmed,” says Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli. “Journalists should never be detained for doing their work, even — and especially — in difficult circumstances.”

Tice, who went silent after tweeting on August 11, write last month that “no, I don’t have a death wish — I have a life wish.”

McClatchy’s Hannah Allam writes:

Tice was keenly aware of the dangers he faced, he wrote in a posting on his Facebook page, but he implored his friends and family to “please quit telling me to be safe.” He wrote that he drew inspiration from Syrians in the throes of conflict, and that “coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”

Meanwhile, Georgetown alum Matthew VanDyke says he’s going to Syria in a few weeks to work on a documentary film. “Syria’s the next step in the Arab Spring movement, the next regime that needs to go,” he says. “This is the best way I can help.”

* U.S. journalist reportedly in Syrian custody (washingtonpost.com) | (McClatchyDC.com)
* Earlier: Freelance journalist Austin Tice is missing in Syria (jimromenesko.com)
* Georgetown alum to document surging violence in Syria (thehoya.com)

The National Catholic Register editor goes on to say that “we released his interview without our usual screening and oversight” and that “we have sought clarification from Father Benedict.” I called De Melo for further explanation and was sent to voice-mail. I left a message and also asked reporter John Burger for comment.

The Kettering, Ohio-based Register pulled its interview with 79-year-old Groeschel after it went viral. Andrew Sullivan wrote that “it’s a staggering insight into how the old hierarchy viewed child abuse: as essentially the child’s fault and no big deal.” Matt Abbott called Groeschel “my favorite living spiritual writer,” but said he found his comments “quite disturbing.”

* What happened to National Catholic Register’s controversial interview? (commonwealmagazine.org)
* Editor’s note: We have removed the story (ncregister.com)

A Montana journalist who asks to remain anonymous was going through a stack of papers in the newsroom, spotted this, and shared it with Romenesko readers. (I inserted the nameplate on the bottom right.)

Today was Frank Rich’s day on Reddit. Some highlights from the New York Magazine writer’s AMA (ask me anything):

Regarding writer’s block: “It’s a problem that has dogged me since I started writing under deadline for a college paper. You just have to keep going — get something down. The terror of the empty page (or computer screen) must be fought tooth-and-nail.”

Frank Rich

“I think the divide in the Republican party is the most fascinating political story in years — maybe even more so than the rise of Obama. …Nowhere is the divide more dramatic than in Romney, the last vestige of the old guard, vs Ryan, the spear carrier for the radical right that is now the tail wagging the GOP dog.”

Will print magazines survive longer than newspapers? “I don’t have a clue — though right now it seems that generally more high-quality magazines (not just New York) are thriving than [sic] high-quality newspapers.”

“It is embarrassing (and depressing) that ‘fact-checker’ is now a journalistic gimmick rather than part of the actual process of reporting stories as they emerge. The time to call out lies is when they first turn up on the public stage.”

Is there room for successful journalism that is both fair and truth-focused? “Yes there is, there’s a market for it, and many are trying to fill it in the new digital age. I fully expect new institutions to emerge.”

“I think the resurgence of Ayn Rand is as remarkable as it is disturbing.”

Advice for aspiring magazine writers: “Write about what you feel passionate about, because that will produce your best work. So don’t game it. If you really care about pop culture, fine, write about it, but if your passion is sports or politics or science or whatever, do it instead, and do it anywhere you can, whether at school, as a blog, doesn’t matter. Good writing will out, believe me, and top publications recognize it when they see it.”

To the woman who has a crush on his son Simon and asks “Will you put in a good word for me?”: “Get in line.”

* I am Frank Rich, writer-at-large for New York Magazine (reddit.com)






The Las Vegas Review-Journal announced Thursday afternoon that it’s eliminated several newsroom management positions, including managing editor and city editor. Just as that news came down I received a memo that said the Orange County Register is adding 23 positions.

Here’s the memo that Register publisher Aaron Kushner sent after a recent all-hands meeting:

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for taking the time to attend our associate Town Hall. [Freedom President] Eric [Spitz] and I are very excited about the future of the Register, and we hope you left the meeting with a clearer understanding of our priorities and the specific actions we are taking to create more value for our subscribers and our community.

As discussed, our executive team is actively evaluating every opportunity to increase the resources we can devote to adding value for our subscribers. Thank you for your patience as we consolidate IT under Mike Hunsche so we have a unified team, and as we realign our advertising operations under Mike Burns to similar effect. …

We already have 23 new positions approved for hiring in our Content group, in addition to a significantly expanded internship program. Ken Brusic is leading our recruiting efforts with our strong deputy editors and team leaders. We are the Orange County Register and are looking for talent with our level of skill, commitment and teamwork. If you have friends and colleagues who you believe can help us grow please share the opportunity with them.

We have a number of areas we have not yet finished evaluating for growth but among those already approved for hiring are the business section, investigative team, auto, restaurant and movie criticism, sports, copy editing, graphics, data reporting and Sacramento reporting.

Finally, we talked about some of the new content initiatives we have approved for launch including adding a weekly magazine in addition to our monthly Coast and creating a full daily business section to cover the Orange County community. I can’t wait to see them take form as vibrant parts of the Register.

Thank you again for the inspiring and engaging work you do every day. We look forward to growing the Orange County Register together!

–Best, Aaron

From a new Experian Marketing Services report:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central has the highest concentration of Super Democrats of any non-news cable or broadcast show on TV. Likewise, Rules of Engagement on CBS has the highest concentration of Mild Republicans.

No. 1 with other groups:
Ultra conservatives: College football regular season (ESPN)
On the fence liberals: “The Graham Norton Show” (BBC America)
Green traditionalists: “Lizard Lick Towing” (TRUTV)

* “The Daily Show” thickest with Super Democrats (washingtonpost.com)
* Top TV shows for reaching key voters (experian.com)

A study by Northwestern University’s Eszter Hargittai and two associates found that all the information available these days “seems to make most people feel empowered and enthusiastic” and that they appreciate having a variety of news and information sources.

“There’s definitely some frustration with the quality of some of the information available,” says Hargittai. “But these frustrations were accompanied by enthusiasm and excitement on a more general level about overall media choices.”

Few of the research participants mentioned feeling overwhelmed or suffering ‘information overload.'”

Some of the study’s findings:

* Participants had near-unanimous enthusiasm about the new media environment
* Online news was regarded more positively than TV news
* Cable news was often criticized for its sensationalism and stream of repetitive stories
* Trivial social media posts and opinionated political pundits are top sources of frustration when seeking information

* Information overload? Study finds most Americans like it (northwestern.edu)
* Abstract: Perceptions of Information Overload in the American Home (indiana.edu)

President Obama answered ten questions on Reddit and left 10,000 unanswered. “By any measure, it was a watershed moment for Reddit, whose previous claim to cultural relevance was its role in shutting down SOPA,” writes Matthew Creamer.
* Obama brings down Reddit during Romney’s big week (theverge.com)
* Reddit Q-and-A a smart tactic, but empty of actual content (adage.com)
* The best moments from Obama’s Reddit AMA (adweek.com)

More stories:
* Las Vegas Review-Journal cuts several editor positions in a restructuring. “[Removing] a layer of management will best serve our readers going forward,” says the editor. (lvrj.com)
* NYT public editor on the Dowd/Mazzetti/CIA flap: It’s “a problem of boundaries – the failure to maintain them.” (nytimes.com)
* Larry Cohen, who was recently elected newspaper columnists group president, dies at 64. (columnists.com)
* Joe Posnanski leaves his iPad on a plane and is assured by his daughter that “a nice person will turn it in.” (I won’t reveal the ending.) (JoePosnanski.com)
* Reporter covering the James Brown estate controversy goes up against South Carolina’s attorney general. (free-times.com)
* “I’d always hoped it would be The New York Times that stole ideas from me,” says writer plagiarized by Boston Globe. (bostonherald.com)
* Oregonian receives a “Doonesbury” complaint – but not the usual one. (oregonlive.com)
* Deadspin’s attempt to crowdsource paycheck journalism goes flaccid. (observer.com)
* At the RNC, “the new media has decided that it wants to be the old media, and the old media has decided that it wants to be the new media.” (nytimes.com)
* The first radio commercial hit the airwaves 90 years ago. (NPR.org)
* Scott Kraft is named Los Angeles Times deputy managing editor. He’ll oversee the front page, Column One and projects. latimes.com)
* Cedar Rapids Gazette considers 100% employee ownership. (thegazette.com)