Daily Archives: July 12, 2013

Barry Newman, regarded as “the King of the A-heds” at the Wall Street Journal, retired today.

Newman has written over 500 A-heds in his 43 years at the paper. (The page one Journal feature is called an A-hed.) His first ran on Dec. 3, 1970, and his most recent — a piece on apostrophes — was published in the print edition on May 16.

“There are generations of people, like me, whose idea of what a story could be – or even what journalism could be – was redefined by Barry’s work,” says Journal reporter Conor Dougherty.

In his retirement, Newman will serve as a Journal writing coach, “working with Page One to encourage, advise and console reporters who are in the throes of doing WSJ A-heds,” he tells Romenesko readers.

“CUNY Journalism Press has also asked me to put together a story collection, interwoven with instructional and, I hope, amusing essays on how I got the ideas and did the reporting and writing. It’s due next April.”

His favorite stories?

“I’ve done so many it’s all a blur,” he writes. “But a couple of months ago I got an email, as below, from a guy who has written a country-music song based on an A-hed I did in Spain in the early 80s and was collected in a book called ‘The Literary Journalists.’ Plenty of reporters have movies made of their stories, but how many have country-music songs? I think it’s great and it describes exactly how I feel right now. You can dance to it, slowly.”

The email:

Mr. Newman,

I’m a big fan of your work. I also happen to play in a band in Baltimore, Md and we’ve recorded a song based on your story “Banderillero.” I didn’t sit down with the story to write the song — rather it stuck with me and seemed like my memory of it distilled into a country song. I wanted to send you a rough track of it and ask if you mind if we use it and thank for the inspiration — not only here, but as a writer (the drummer in this group is a public radio reporter). We will credit it as based on your story.


Baynard Woods
Senior Editor
City Paper
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201

woodsWoods (at right) sent me a link to his song this afternoon, and said of Newman: “I continue to learn from his stories all the time. Working at an alt-weekly, I don’t get as much time as he often did to report stories but we are often working under the same spatial constraints — and he can do short and deep better than anyone since Hemingway.”

* Barry Newman’s most recent Wall Street Journal features (

UPDATE: The National Transportation Safety Board has apologized for “inaccurate and offensive names” that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the Asiana flight 214 pilots. “A summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.”

Asian American Journalists Association: “Despite the NTSB’s apology, KTVU is hardly off the hook.”

ALSO: KTVU, which earlier boasted that it had covered the Asiana plane crash “without putting a single piece of erroneous information on our air,” has apologized for the gaffe.


“These are not their names,” notes Deadspin, which has video of the anchor reading the names.

There’s more about the error on the Oakland station’s Facebook page. (“I CAUGHT THE NAMES! I can’t believe that they didn’t catch that. Saved it to DVR,” and “DAMN I THOUGHT I WAS TRIPPIN WHEN TORI READ EACH ONE OF THOSE NAMES OUT LOUD!”)

* KTVU issued a retraction and apology later in the newscast (

A memo to Wall Street Journal staffers:

From: Walker, Sam
Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 3:20 PM
To: WSJ All News Staff
Cc: Cohen, Ben
Subject: The Sporty Ben Cohen

Please join me in welcoming Ben Cohen to the sports bureau as a full-time reporter based in New York.

Ben Cohen

Ben Cohen

Ben is hardly a stranger to these parts. He joined the Journal as a sports intern in 2010 and has been writing for us, and occasionally pinch-editing, ever since. Ben has focused on college basketball and college football and has been a key part of our coverage of the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics. In that time he’s also been a prolific writer of a-heds, covering everything from pay phones, cheese and show dogs to NBA players who wear snazzy eyeglasses.

Before coming to the Journal, Ben was an intern at Deadspin and the researcher for Andre Agassi’s bestselling memoir, “Open.” He’s written for a bunch of other websites, including Grantland, GQ, Vanity Fair and Tablet. Not many people know this about Ben because he keeps it pretty close to the vest, but he graduated from Duke. And in case you’d forgotten, the Observer famously selected Ben as one of its “50 Media Power Bachelors” for 2011 (the sports desk has not forgotten, nor will we—ever).

Please extend Ben every kindness as he settles into his new/old job.


The Sun-Times isn’t the only news organization that recently got rid of its photo department.

cameraTwo weeks after the Chicago tabloid laid off its 28-person photo staff, the Southern Community Newspapers Inc. (SCNI) chain in Georgia — five dailies and two weeklies — closed its photo department. Three photographers were dismissed and a fourth staffer was named company videographer.

SCNI chief executive Michael Gebhart says in an email that “for the last few years I have preached to our newsrooms that the era of specialization was over and we were moving into an age in which journalists need to be multi-faceted in their approach.”

He adds:

Journalists need to write, shoot video, post on the Internet and edit. The technological advances in the world of digital photography made this strategic move logical. How many photographers need dark room skills to develop film and make prints? Furthermore, it is certainly more economical and efficient to assign one journalist to cover an event in words, pictures and video.

Michael Gebhart

Michael Gebhart

Change in a newsroom can be burdensome. Our journalists initially recoiled from this change because of the added responsibility. However, most appear to be embracing this and are taking excellent photos.

In many cases, the pairing of words and photos has improved in that the reporters are more aware of the subject matter of the story, as opposed to the photographer choosing images based on the scant information found on a photo assignment sheet.

“That hurts,” one of the laid-off photographers said when I read him the last sentence of Gebhart’s statement. “We were always chatting with the reporter about a story before shooting it. I always knew as much about the story as the reporter. I take a little umbrage to that official statement.”

The photographer, who is interviewing for another job and doesn’t want to be named, says the photos in the chain’s newspapers “look a little rough” now that they’re shot by reporters, “but through no fault of the reporters.” He adds: “They’re not visual journalists, and it’s noticeable. When I approach the news box, I definitely notice the difference” in photo quality.

* Here’s a PDF of one of the chain’s front pages from Thursday (

New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson announced today:

times* Sam Sifton steps down as national editor to become a senior editor, put in charge of two new ventures. “His first assignment is to create an immersive digital magazine experience, a lean back read that will include new, multimedia narratives in the tradition of Snow Fall …The second assignment puts Sam’s incredible depth as a food editor and food writer to use in creating a new dining news product.”

* Arthur Gregg Sulzberger takes a leave from the metro desk to become editor in charge of a new ideas task force.

* Weekend editor Alison Mitchell becomes national editor — “the job she was born to do,” writes Abramson.

The memo:

Dear Colleagues,

As part of my strategic push to have the newsroom take a leading role in developing new ways to present our journalism in digital forms and to create new products, I have made various changes in the structure and leadership of the newsroom. My goal has been to find the best digital talent in the newsroom and appoint people to very senior editing roles that report directly to Dean and me.

Before I get specific, it’s worth noting that we are by far the most read newspaper Web site, thanks to all of your heroic work and innovation. At a time when mobile traffic is nearing half our visits, we are reaching a much broader array of readers. Many recent moves, including the new ones I am announcing today, help solidify and expand our achievements./CONTINUES Read More

updateLast September I did a post about Milwaukee TV investigative reporter Rob Koebel getting fired from WTMJ-TV after urinating outside of an Apple store and then becoming belligerent when confronted by police. “Do you know who you’re messing with?” he asked a cop. “Don’t play games with me. Do you want to take the gloves off or no?”

What’s Koebel doing today?

He’s living in a halfway house after 90 days in rehab and is close to getting his 10-month sobriety chip from Alcoholics Anonymous, reports Duane Dudek. He’s also been acting – playing a cop, a reporter and other characters on various TV shows, including NBC’s “Revolution” and CBS summer hit “Under the Dome.” (Dudek writes: “In one [episode], he plays a cop protecting a disgraced reporter. The irony was not lost on him.”)

Koebel playing a cop on "necessary Roughness."

Koebel playing a cop on “Necessary Roughness.”

Koebel says of “Dome”:

“I’d never have believed it if 10 months ago someone had told me I’d be part of a Stephen King-Steven Spielberg event that would be the hottest show of the summer. …Life’s not perfect, [but] it’s a hell of a lot better than it was when I left Milwaukee.”

* TV reporter’s fall from grace leads to acting career (

* WTMJ-TV fires reporter after incident involving public urination, name-calling (
* Koebel says he drank for three days after ex-wife’s TV interviews

“If a stranger were to peer into the back seat or trunk of a staff photographer’s car they might assume it belonged to a gypsy,” writes Worcester Telegram & Gazette chief photographer Dan Gould. He and six colleagues tell readers what they always have with them, including a collapsible snow shovel (“this is a must-have”), earplugs for loud-volume assignments, and body armor for “active” crime scenes shoots.

* Photojournalists need to be prepared (

* UPDATE: What my Facebook friends and subscribers keep in their trunks

* Bids for the Boston Globe range from $65 million to $80 million. At least three investor groups remain in contention. ( || Will Newsday go on the block? (
* Hundreds complain to NPR about “Talk of the Nation” being canceled. (
* Re Tribune spinoff announcement: It may be a deke, a tax dodge, or a Koch-around. (
* Jean Godden on departing Seattle Times executive editor David Boardman: “That I was lucky enough to have the investment of his time is something I’ll never be able to repay.” (
murdoch* Twin Falls (ID) Times-News photographer Ashley Smith snaps photos of media moguls (Murdoch at left) at the Allen and Company Sun Valley Conference. (
* News embargoes are tough to enforce these days. (
* Travel + Leisure had nearly $36 million in ad revenue in the second quarter. (
* Andrew Goldman steps down as New York Times Magazine’s “Talk” Q&A columnist. (
* Twitter is “done”? Hardly! (
* Springfield (IL) State Journal-Register union: “GateHouse even refuses to insert language in the contract that would prevent reporters from being forced to write advertising.” (
* BuzzFeed hires its first foreign correspondent. ( | Claim: July will be remembered as the month the BuzzFeed backlash hit its tipping point. (
* Prismatic is called “the world’s smartest news reader.” (
* There’s now a #PartyLikeaJournalist rap. The musician behind it says: “I thought a relatable, catchy song would bring [the hashtag] to life.” (