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Daily Archives: April 10, 2015

A few months ago I posted Milwaukee journalist Mike Juley’s “Top 10 Tips to the Newsroom.” His #5 was: “Don’t be afraid to pick up a ringing phone. It’s good to find out what an actual reader thinks.”

This afternoon, Suffolk Times editor Michael White picked up his ringing phone and heard from an actual reader who thinks their is spelled thier. Here’s part of the call:

Caller: …it’s spelled incorrectly.

Editor Michael White: It’s a possessive — ‘Their place.’

Caller: How do you spell their?

White: T-H-E-I-R.

Caller: And do you think that’s the correct spelling of that word?

White: What *is* the correct spelling?

Caller: It’s I-E-R.

White: Ah, OK. I-E-R you’re saying?

Caller: Well, you tell me how you guys came up with it, because I can’t find it in any dictionary, and I went to college, and I was taught it was t-h-i-e-r. ….[Garbled] Google it and let me know. I can hold.

White: I have other stuff to do. You should Google it.

Caller: Wow, okay, well, I already know that I’m correct.

* Listen to the editor and reader debate T-H-E-I-R vs. T-H-I-E-R (soundcloud.com)
* Don’t be afraid to pick up a ringing phone and other tips (jimromenesko.com)

New: Check out the comments from my Facebook friends and subscribers




NewsGuild (formerly Newspaper Guild) president Bernie Lunzer has blasted the Elkhart County (Ind.) Prosecutor’s Office for demanding Elkhart Truth reporter Emily Pfund’s notes and recordings related to her story about a murder investigation.

Lunzer warns Curtis Hill: “If you continue this ill-advised pursuit, expect to feel the combined weight upon you of the nation’s journalists, media organizations and free press activists.” His letter:

April 10, 2015
Curtis T. Hill, Prosecuting Attorney
Vicki Becker, Chief Deputy
Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Elkhart County 301 S. Main St., Suite 100
Elkhart, IN 46516

Dear Mr. Hill and Ms. Becker,

On behalf of the 25,000 members of The NewsGuild-CWA, the union, until recently known as The Newspaper Guild-CWA, that has been representing professional journalists since 1933, I am writing to condemn your reckless, unconstitutional and shameful misconduct toward Elkhart Truth reporter Emily Pfund.

Emily Pfund

Emily Pfund

We call on you to rescind immediately your subpoena for Ms. Pfund’s testimony and her notes and other materials stemming from an interview with an inmate who accuses authorities of interrogating him under duress while needing medical care for a concussion and broken nose.

If you are genuinely concerned about the abuse-of-power allegations that Ms. Pfund’s interview raised, you can follow up with inmate Freddie Rhodes, with the police officers involved, and with the medical personnel who treated Mr. Rhodes’ injuries.

Instead, your pursuit of Ms. Pfund suggests a chilling attempt to punish her and the newspaper for publishing Mr. Rhodes’ charges, and to silence further such reporting. And it is not just the journalists’ First Amendment rights that are at stake. Your community has a fundamental right to know what its elected and appointed officials are doing, as well as the right and responsibility to hold those officials accountable.

If you continue this ill-advised pursuit, expect to feel the combined weight upon you of the nation’s journalists, media organizations and free press activists.

Sincerely,

Bernie Lunzer, President
The NewsGuild-CWA
501 Third St. NW
Washington DC 20001

* Prosecutor wants Elkhart Truth reporter’s notes and recordings (elkharttruth.com)

- Post and Courier fronts from Thursday and Friday

– Post and Courier fronts from Thursday and Friday

“The newspaper’s coverage of this tragedy has, thus far, been an excellent example of American journalism at its finest.”

Retired newspaper editor Steve Fagan adds:

To say the very least, The Post and Courier’s coverage has been riveting, but that’s almost automatic with an an event this sensational. It’s the sort of incident that virtually any daily newspaper worth its salt should be able to cover well.

However, The Post and Courier’s coverage has been so much more than just good. It has been exhaustive and exemplary.

Update: Executive editor Mitch Pugh (pictured below) tells Romenesko readers that Fagan’s praise “means a hell of a lot,” and that “it’s been a challenge, but I have to tell you this newsroom is fearless.”

They didn’t shrink one bit from the challenge. They feel the crushing weight of the responsibility to get this right, no doubt, but they are all in.mitch We were the first to report the tape existed and what was on it, and we believe we’ve offered the most comprehensive, nuanced and authoritative coverage since.

Any time the national media swoops in, they are going to get exclusives and scoops. The bright lights are impressive for a lot of folks, and we understand and accept that. Our job is to get it right, be fair and go to sleep at night knowing we’ve served this community well.

When the circus leaves town, we’ll still be here covering this important topic and playing a key role in putting all of the pieces back together.

Pugh says single-copy sales are up about 25% in recent days, and that website traffic has skyrocketed.

“Tuesday through Thursday, compared with the same period last week, we saw a 563% increase in unique visitors and a 207% increase in page views,” the editor says. “We exceeded 1 million unique visitors and hit almost 2 million page views in that span. …Our page views from Facebook grew 409% and 778% from Twitter.”

* Paper distinguishes itself with Walter Scott shooting coverage (Steve Fagan)
* Post and Courier’s Thursday front page | Friday’s front page (newseum.org)

distract

A Romenesko reader writes: “I was a finalist for a job there in 2012. Reporters told me Twitter and Facebook were blocked on their computers and their computer use was closely monitored. …Thankfully I did not take that job.” (I’ve asked editor David Houston about blocking Twitter and Facebook.)

* Work a beat without the distractions of social media reporting (journalismjobs.com)

Update: On Friday, I invited Daily Journal editor David Houston to comment on keeping social media sites off work computers. He responded: “Is this for your blog… or is this a genuine conversation?” Both, I said. I didn’t hear from him again.

Here’s what current and former Daily Journal journalists say about the place:
– Use of Gmail isn’t allowed. “Not having access to it is a joke.”
– The “draconian Internet filters” often prevent reporters from seeing a law firm or law school website.
– “We found ourselves using our personal phones to look up information for stories on a regular basis, since the filter was so strict.”
– “Right as I walked into the office on day 1, that local manager greeted me with ‘the pleasure is all yours.’ This line characterized our relationship for the month or so that I worked there. My direct boss was also a major dick to me, owing largely, I think, to how he was treated by David [Houston].”

Earlier:
* “Our day begins no later than 9 a.m.,” David Houston tells staff (laobserved.com)
* Daily Journal staffers to get monthly evaluations (laobserved.com)

Have you worked at the Daily Journal? Tell us about. (I’ll withhold your name if requested.)

tips

* WTF?! A reporter for the Elkhart (IN) Truth has been ordered by a prosecutor (below) to testify at a murder trial and turn over her notes and recordings. Want to let the public official know what you think about this?prosec Call his office at (574) 296-1888. (elkharttruth.com) | [RIGHT] Check out the hands: Meet the Elkhart County prosecutors. (elkhartcounty prosecutor.com)
* A $50,000 grant from Hugh Hefner has kept a Chicago high school newspaper alive for the past five years. (@chicagotribune)
* A University of Texas at Austin journalism course teaches students “it’s important to be first and essential to be accurate.” (dallasnews.com)
* The Santa Barbara News-Press has been sued by a photographer who says he was fired for complaining about mold in the offices. (independent.com)
* About two dozen reporters had an off-the-record dinner with Hillary Clinton‘s campaign team last night. (huffingtonpost.com)
* ABC tops NBC and CBS in most time spent promoting itself in the 7-9 a.m. time slot. (hollywoodreporter.com)
* WaPo’s Joel Achenbach on his Rand Paul profile: “This was not the easiest story I’ve ever done, in part because the senator didn’t talk to me, but…” (washingtonpost.com)
* A kidnapping suspect calls the Orange County Register while holed up in a mobile home. (ocregister.com)
* Report: Four parties are bidding for the New York Daily News. (nypost.com)
* The city of Elmira (NY) still has Brian Williams on its welcome sign. The mayor asks: “Where do you get the money to take it down and who decides who goes back up?” (lohud.com)
buzz* What BuzzFeed should have done: Leave the Dove post up and talk to staff about why it’s “flawed” by BuzzFeed standards and what they should learn from it. Instead, editors yanked it and created a shitstorm. (gawker.com)
* RIP David Laventhol: “His ambitions were not for himself but for his papers.” The Washington Post points out that the late newsman – creator of its Style section -“was one of the least stylish people in the newsroom.” (washingtonpost.com)
* JOBS: 89.3 KPCC (Southern California Public Radio) is looking for a political correspondent. (Romenesko Jobs)
* Detroit News page one features “21 Elephants in the Room” – photos of all the GOP who’ve expressed interest in becoming president. (newseum.org/PDF)
* The Onion, formerly a newspaper, is now big on video. (digiday.com)
* “I’m not hating against blondes or anything like that,” says Fox’s Pam Oliver. (thepostgame.com)
* Good riddance, Time Warner Cable! (theawl.com)