On June 6, Farhad Manjoo wrote a column headlined “You Won’t Finish This Article. Why people online don’t read to the end” for the online magazine Slate. To find out why they don’t, you must read to the end and learn that “we live in an age of skimming. I want to finish the whole thing, I really do. I wish you would, too. Really – stop quitting. But who am I kidding? I’m busy. You’re busy. There’s always something else to read, watch, play, or eat.” How does Slate, founded in 1996, attract about 3 million monthly Internet visitors in the United States alone (about 5 million worldwide) if Manjoo is right about current reading habits?
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / The “Jailed by Mistake” project published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this past fall had all of the earmarks of enterprising journalism in the public interest. By the time the project went to press Oct. 27, the Post-Dispatch reported that 100 people had been arrested in error over the past seven years and had spent a collective 2,000 days in jail. But in the months since publication, a former Post-Dispatch editorial writer who went to work for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay meticulously documented what he thinks were mistakes in the series about mistakes. The top Slay administration official, Eddie Roth, has gone about it in an unorthodox way: He has published a series of criticisms on his Facebook page that have run even longer than the original series.
BY SAM ROBINSON / Gateway Journalism Review will once again host a First Amendment celebration on March 29. The event will be at the Edward Jones Headquarters in Des Peres, Mo. Longtime St. Louis publisher Ray Hartmann will serve as the master of ceremonies. Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!” will be the keynote speaker.
BY SAM ROBINSON / New $25 tickets are now available for the March 29 First Amendment celebration featuring Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist and host of “Democracy Now!” The annual event benefiting Gateway Journalism Review will take place at the Edward Jones Headquarters in Des Peres, Mo. Goodman will speak at 8 p.m. Those who would like to attend the program, but not the full event, can now purchase tickets for just $25.
They struck in the early evening hours of Feb. 16, spray-painting “F*** the 1%” several times and “Kill People” once on walls of houses, garage doors, fences and a car in Atherton, Calif. On Feb. 25 the CBS television outlet in San Francisco (KPIX) and CNBC reported their “threatening” and “offensive” graffiti, and CNBC coined the term “anti-wealth phrases” to capture the heinous nature of the threat the graffiti posed. On the following day, a story in the San Jose Mercury News followed with a less-agitated account of what had occurred and who might be responsible. None of the stories confronted the key issue raised by the response to this act of vandalism. While no one questioned that personal property was defaced and destroyed, and that therefore felonies were likely committed, the real question of whether or not the FBI should have been involved in the investigation of the spray-painting was not explored by the media.
One year ago, Rem Rieder in USA TODAY wrote about ombudsmen, the individuals (often called “readers’ representatives” or “public editors”) employed by newspapers to keep a vigilant eye on the paper’s journalism and report the findings to readers. Rieder painted a discouraging picture, noting that just half as many ombudsmen were working in U.S. news organizations as was the case a decade ago – and that more than a dozen media organizations axed the position following the 2008 recession. This, Rieder reported, even though a handful of new ombudsmen positions were being created in newsrooms in other nations.
When Wolcott Gibbs parodied TIME magazine’s famous style (“TIMEstyle” or “TIMEspeak”) in the New Yorker in 1936, he penned the now-famous line: “Backward ran the sentences until reeled the mind.” But TIME was much more than a collection of inverted sentences, cheeky puns (“Esther Williams’ pictures are so much water over the dame”) and double-jointed adjectives. TIME was America’s first and best news weekly, read by more than 20 million worldwide, and it may well have “invented mass media.”
It promised to be a lulu of a story: “The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page,” in the New York Observer on Feb. 4 by the paper’s editor, Ken Kurson. The subhead hinted at the juiciness of it all: “Reporters in ‘semi-open revolt’ against Andrew Rosenthal.” Rosenthal, the New York Times’ editorial page editor, gets skewered by more than two dozen current and former Times staffers, as do his assistants who write the paper’s editorials, the columnists on the op-ed page, and the “Sunday Review” he’s in charge of. The attack, from all but two named sources among the Times staffers interviewed, proceeded on four fronts.
When Ryan Ferguson was released from prison Nov. 12 where he had been serving time for the murder of a newspaper sports editor, television journalists from across the country swooped down on Columbia, Mo., home of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. The big story provided a teaching moment for one professor, concerned about accuracy, media ethics and the appearance of objectivity. A lesson was to be learned, too, about convergence, and how an event can be transformed or amplified by the various forms of media buzzing around it.
BY TERRY GANEY / Dean Mills, who has served as dean of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism for nearly 25 years, announced Feb. 6 that he would be stepping down effective Aug. 31.