Daily Archives: January 17, 2013

Letter to Romenesko

From DIANE WERTS: Subject — One thing nobody brings up about Te’o reporting. I’m a former Newsday editor/critic who took a buyout after 22 years at the paper in 2008 — long enough to blog, but before all the Twitter/Facebook fun. (I am still a contract freelancer for Newsday.)
One thing nobody seems to mention in excoriating early media acceptance of the Manti Te’o girlfriend tale — nobody checked deep enough, blah blah blah (Howard Kurtz just let loose on CNN) — is that many reporters are no longer given *time* to report. For print (or whatever you want to call today’s newspaper/magazine biz), they’re too busy blogging, Tweeting, dashing out “breaking news” alerts/writethrus, and otherwise upping online page views with right-now quick takes. For TV, they’re too busy “going live” from “location” to actually go out and, you know, find out anything, much less make an effort to confirm it. Many if not most reporters abhor this, but going along is the way they keep their jobs. And we all know how few of those are left.

Let’s lay some blame on their outlets’ editors — or, better yet, the ownership.

Read the 40+ comments about this letter on my Facebook wall.

* Pete Thamel: “I sat down with Manti Te’o for a story that was due two hours after the interview concluded” (
* Media fact-check policies questioned amid Te’o scandal (
* “I just finished filing my fifth story of the day. Even so…” (
* John McIntyre: “There are supposed to be editors who ask hard questions” (

Here’s an Associated Press memo for you, Old Cowpoke:

From: AP Standards
Sent: Wed 1/16/2013 5:44 PM

Some of our sharp-eyed editors, including Eileen Putman in Washington and Kristen Wyatt in Denver, have noted a tendency by gun-control advocates in the United States to speak of “gun violence” rather than “gun control.” That is, legislation they propose is about “curbing gun violence” rather than “controlling guns.”

Today's Sandusky Register

Today’s Sandusky Register

Gun advocates, in contrast, feel that gun legislation is mainly about controls with no guarantee of ending violence.

We think there’s room for both kinds of phrasing in our report. We should vary our terms from one script or story to another. But pay attention to the context: Obama didn’t unveil a “gun violence package,” but a package against gun violence.


Speaking of guns, two common mistakes we’re making on gun references can be easily avoided:

_ Remember that modern weapons use magazines, not “clips,” to hold bullets. The Stylebook explains that “clip” is normally associated with obsolete military rifles. The current debate in the U.S. is about how many bullets should be in a magazine.

_ Semi-automatic has a hyphen in it — an exception to our general use of “semi” without a hyphen. (A “fully automatic” weapon has no hyphen because we don’t hyphenate after “-ly” words.)

Tom Kent
Dave Minthorn

Letter to Romenesko

At 7:58 AM CT, I received this email from an editor who requested he only be identified as “an avid Romenesko reader.”

Subject: Fecal transplant story. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that this will end up as the most-emailed story in the history of the NYT, with the subject line: “I was thinking you’d make a good donor.”

I don’t know if it’s on track to shatter NYT’s most-emailed record, but the story was #1 at 2 p.m. CT:

* Fecal treatment gains favor for some illnesses (

UPDATE: The Wisconsin State Journal’s GEORGE HESSELBERG writes: “I would have to agree with the guy. Everybody was talking about this story by our medical reporter, David Wahlberg, and forwarding it.”

A Rupert Murdoch minion snapped the photo below and sent this report at 1 p.m. ET: “Happening now. A dozen cops are guarding the building with those barricade things they use during the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Yet there are TWO protesters! I heard some screaming about ‘the banks.’ The story to me was the complete overkill of security for little more than one complainer. Must be nice to have an entire police force at your beck and call.”

Justin Hyde writes that “no fewer than ten press kits from the reveal of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray on Sunday are up for auction.”

People have sold auto show press kits for years; there’s a few people who seem to do little but collect them for sale online. But if you respect yourself as a journalist, selling swag you got for free as part of your job lies beyond the redline.

* Ethically questionable media hawk 2014 press kits ( | Items for sale (’s latest list of “popular” journalism schools was released this week, according to the Daily Northwestern. It’s based on enrollment, not quality of education.

Here are the top ten journalism schools, with enrollment and “total on-campus cost.”

1. University of Missouri-Columbia; 598; $21,874
2. Northwestern University; 349; $58,829
images3. University of Kansas; 340; $21,802
4. Indiana University-Bloomington; 328; $22,049
5. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; 316; $24,050
6. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus; 311; $31,002
7. New York University; 307; $58,858
8. Columbia University; 292; $59,208
9. University of Colorado Boulder; 291; $27,236
10. West Virginia University; 267; $16,874

All 100 j-schools on’s list are here.

* Medill grabs #2 most-popular journalism school title (
* Earlier: Syracuse named best j-school in TV Week/NewsPro poll (

* @realDonaldTrump tweets about Lance Armstrong, the Journal News and Manti Te’o

After Chicago Tribune’s four-part Tribune bankruptcy “Broken Deal” series wrapped up yesterday, I asked co-author Michael Oneal what he’s heard from readers. He emailed:

Reaction has been generally positive and enthusiastic, which is really I wasn’t sure whether this would be viewed as tired, old news and I’m sure some had that reaction. But the many readers who emailed etc. seemed genuinely interested in hearing the back story and endlessly fascinated with anything Zell [who wouldn’t sit for an interview]. We tried to present it as an allegory of Wall Street and corporate excess and I hope we succeeded.

I also asked about the length of the series.

“How many words? No idea. But as they say, I wish I had a nickel for every one…”

The series is behind a paywall, and I wondered if it would eventually become free-to-read. Editor Gerould Kern responds to my inquiry: “The Chicago Tribune’s ‘Broken Deal’ series is available to subscribers in print and online. The first five page views per month are available free of charge to anyone who simply registers. Visitors can see the series in that way.”

* Earlier: Oneal feels he should get an honorary degree in bankruptcy law after covering this case for so long (

nocommentUPDATE: “The yarn told by Michael Oneal and Steve Mills deserves to be expanded into a book, of course, but as I read I kept thinking, HBO series,” writes Chicago Reader press critic Michael Miner.

Would the miniseries have any good guys? If I were writing it, I’d be tempted to nudge Gerould Kern, the Tribune’s editor, into the limelight. He wound up in the job in July of 2008, getting it mainly because editors with more impressive credentials were bailing out. He had [Randy] Michaels to live with. … Kern also had to live with the open contempt of many of those departed editors.

Who plays Zell in the mini-series? William H. Macy? Robert Duvall?

* On the Tribune covering the Tribune ( editor and former US Weekly editor Bonnie Fuller said on “Bloomberg Surveillance” this morning that she’s surprised by “how fast the readership for magazines has gone off the cliff.bonnie … Newsstand sales are down over 30% for most young women’s magazines. This new generation has grown up and they don’t have the history of wanting that touch feeling for print.”

I’d like to see magazines continue because I think more media is better. More voices are better. It is true that a lot of the time it’s harder to do a longer piece online. My audience very much wants to dip in and dip out multiple times a day.

Most publishers won’t drop print anytime soon, she says, because “they’ve got a lot of money invested in print. And there are still bigger ad dollars in CPM per page versus CPM online. So you have to have a leaner business online.”

* Do print magazines have a place in our digital world? (

* Tom Rosenstiel on the Manti Te’o saga: “The lesson here is ‘look inside the freezer.’ Journalists shouldn’t be taking [a source’s] word if there is some way to verify it for themselves.” (
* Josh Levin: Sportswriters didn’t catch on to Te’o’s phony relationship because they didn’t care to look into it. ( | Today’s South Bend Tribune front page.
* Outsports writer: Everyone’s asking me if Te’o is gay. ( | Lots of Twitter speculation, too.
* Deadspin’s Tim Burke discusses the story with a SiriusXM sports talker. (

WSJ has single mom looking really sad because she only makes $260,000.

WSJ has single mom looking really sad because she only makes $260,000.

* WSJ is deeply concerned about the fate of rich single moms. (
* Washington Post Mexico bureau chief apologizes for plagiarizing four sentences from an academic journal. (
* Philly Inquirer architecture critic calls paper’s liquidation threat “a crude, self-destructive bluff.” (
* Felix Salmon: U.S. j-school grads “believe that there’s nothing worse than saying what you think in a news article.” (
* ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap: “In terms of dealing with [Lance] Armstrong, it was always a very carefully choreographed dance.” (
* Dennis Kucinich becomes a Fox News contributor. (
* Headline: “Elks to hold Novato fundraiser crab feet Jan. 26.” Feed, right? (Or fest?) (@patois42) | The story. (
* Two leaders of Gannett’s Design Studio are laid off. (
* Philly TV station has second thoughts about naming 5-year-old girl who was kidnapped. (
* NYT Co. spokesman Robert Christie is leaving the company. (
* Rolling Stone finally has an iPad app. (
* Grad student is punished after writing in YouTube comments that a classmate’s legs looked like “a pair of bleached hams.” (