Last month, four Miami Herald journalists who visited the Guantanamo Bay detention center were told they couldn’t publish the names of staff members and had to photograph troops from the neck down.
Mindy Marques Gonzalez
This week, Gitmo soldiers published a story headlined, “There and Back Again: Guantanamo guards return 12 years later,” that had no photo or name restrictions.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Herald executive editor Aminda “Mindy” Marques Gonzalez points out that the Gitmo public affairs piece “showed the names and faces of four soldiers …[and] quoted them by name and published a routine interview on the web and in print, journalistic style.”
She tells Hagel that “under your rules, the story your media wing published would have been defined as an operational security violation had we published the same thing.”
Mr. Secretary, a culture of censorship has set in at Guantánamo of a scale we have not experienced in the past 13 years of reporting from there. Your troops are wielding editorial instruments on independent journalists with an ever-expanding interpretation of their power to influence the story of Guantanamo in the free press.
Read the editor’s letter after the jump. Read More
M.L. Elrick and Jim Schaefer won the 2009 local reporting Pulitzer Prize for their Detroit Free Press investigation of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Last week, Elrick complained to Detroit Metro Times about his name not appearing on the “piece of shit crystal from Tiffany’s” that he got for winning the top prize in journalism.
“The Pulitzer people were jerks,” he told the alt-weekly. “My issue is that what could have been the one thing I would be grateful to pass down to future generations is instead an essentially worthless hunk of crystal because neither my children nor grandchildren will pick it up and say, ‘Boy, I’m so proud of Grandpa Free Press Staff!'”
Former Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter scolded ex-colleague Elrick — now a Fox 2 Detroit investigative reporter — for his comments and reminded him that he was “significantly assisted by other Free Press staffers who worked tirelessly on the story.”
Be grateful that you won the biggest prize in American newspaper journalism. And be generous with the people who helped you — as well as the organization that recognized you, Jim and the team of reporters for extraordinary work.
Former door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman John Reinan says he often compares that college-era job to media relations, his current occupation. He cites five things that apply to both positions:
* It’s tough to sell junk. “When I’m pitching a story I think is weak, it’s harder to be a smooth salesman.”
* A little patter helps. Start off with friendly chit-chat, unless a reporter “emanates a get-down-to-it vibe so intense that you can immediately sense it over 1,000 miles of fiber-optic line. In that case, I dispense with the pleasantries and launch right in.”
* People can be jerks. Doors are often slammed, and phone calls ended abruptly. “You have to shrug it off.”
* Know exactly what you’re selling and why they should buy it. “Hesitation can be fatal to the sale.”
* You never know which door your next sale is behind. It could be a vacuum cleaner sold, or a story idea picked up by a reporter.
A newspaper carrier from Illinois discussed his job with Howard Stern on Tuesday:
We’ve got people that will make $1,000 [a week] because they’ll have four routes a night. I make $400 plus tips [for working two hours a night]. Everybody complains about, “Oh, we’ve got to throw them on their porch.” Howard, the only people who are buying papers are 80. You *have* to put them on their porch. …You’d be surprised how many of these old people are out on their doorsteps at 6 o’clock if you’re not there. This is their day — this is how they start it.
The carrier also expresses surprise that there are customers who still want the print TV listings.
Listen to the brief exchange, which includes Stern’s tribute to print:
My tipster reports: “Times (Shreveport, La.) sports editor Roy Lang came up with this [headline] and didn’t budge despite discussion about whether readers would understand the ‘greater than’ symbol.” I’m told that the paper didn’t get any calls from puzzled readers on Tuesday (“What’s that arrow mean?? I don’t get it!!”)
Updated: The sports editor tells Romenesko readers:
I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but I have not received any complaints yet. So far, 100-percent positive.
The discussion basically went like this.
(Just as you stated) “Will 80-year-old Betty get the greater-than sign?”
“I hope so. Greater-than signs have been around a lot longer than this paper. And, at this point, we need people talking about us (as long as we’re not offending people).”
And, of course, there’s nothing better than a good dog story.
* What Don Graham, Ken Doctor and others say about AlaskaDispatch.com buying the Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy. (alaskadispatch.com)
* Joel Achenbach wonders if what he considers “reporting” is just a form of aggregating. (He concludes, though, he’s not an aggregator. “I was better than that.”) (washingtonpost.com)
* The draft of SPJ’s updated ethics code advises journalists to “aggressively gather and update information as a story unfolds” but says “reporting unconfirmed rumors [is] never permissible.” (ajr.org)
* CNN’s developing a show intended to be viewed and shared on Twitter. (wsj.com)
* Eli Broad still wants to buy the Los Angeles Times. (laobserved.com)
* Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter is named to ASME’s Hall of Fame. (nypost.com)
* Roberto Ferdman leaves Quartz to join Washington Post’s Wonkblog. (washingtonpost.com)
* Tampa Bay Times editor Neil Brown is recovering from a heart attack suffered Friday while playing tennis. (saintpetersblog.com)
* Ryan Holiday: I feel bad that a writer was fired for plagiarizing me. (betabeat.com) * New newsroom mascot? A kitten was found in the wall of the Shreveport Times building. (facebook.com)* JOBS SECTION: Technology reporter wanted | Seeking web producer/online editor job. (jimromenesko.com)
* Washington Post Magazine’s Second Glance puzzle returns after hundreds complain. (washingtonpost.com)
* A plea to ignore lousy film critics. (theweek.com)
* Someone in Netflix PR needs to learn about BCC. (bomble.com)