The shooting death last year of Michael Brown and the subsequent events that followed his death in the Ferguson unrest – protests, vigils, riots, outrage – left the public shocked, longing for answers from both sides of the debate that ensued. Brown’s death sparked renewed national attention to police brutality and the relationship between law…
In May I celebrated the 14th anniversary of becoming the 15th publisher of the Waterville Times in upstate New York. In some ways my past lives at daily newspapers register on the memory meter only now and then, perhaps when breaking news falls between our weekly print cycles or, when for the 30th time in…
Hollywood — and perhaps journalists daydreaming about a better life — create an image of the community publisher that may be overly romanticized. Cheryl Wormley, publisher and co-owner of the Woodstock Independent, used to grocery-shop at 6 a.m. “It was the only way I would get out of there in less than an hour,’’ she…
By SHANE GRABER / Newsrooms in this country have known for nearly half a century that coverage of African-American communities needs fixing. In 1968, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, argued that newsrooms should provide more inclusive reporting on racial issues in response to a summer of nationwide inner-city social disorder the summer before. Last year, the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson provided ample opportunity to see whether the news media had improved its newsgathering sensitivity. According to many observers, it came up short. In a dozen in-depth interviews I conducted for research at the University of Texas-Austin, African-American respondents said that Ferguson news coverage in the wake of the shooting once again did nothing to improve credibility or build better relationships with diverse communities. “In society, trust is not given at the drop of a hat,” a 34-year-old a real estate developer in Chicago told the paper’s author. “So how could media assume a single media performance during a single news event is strong enough to significantly affect trust? The Michael Brown story didn’t affect the way I felt, feel, or will feel about the media.”
By PATTY LOUISE / Through his career from sports editor to editor and publisher, Miller covered every beat at the paper. “Train derailments, crashes, tornadoes … One of the advantages of a small paper is you have a wide variety of news events you get to cover. A large daily gives a reporter just a narrow patch to learn.’’ Large daily newspapers, especially those owned by chains, have done more damage than anything else to journalism, Miller said. “Editors are in and out. Nobody puts down roots because they’re aiming for the next big jump. “The bottom line is all they care about. Hell, if I was interested in the bottom line I’d be in another line of business.’’
By ROY MALONE / A series of sex scandals that revealed tawdry affairs among top officials in Missouri’s state capital made for titillating reading this summer and stirred up a controversy about journalistic ethics. Sex scandals in Jefferson City are nothing new, say veteran statehouse reporters. Bad behavior by lawmakers and lobbyists has plagued the legislature for a century. What is new is the social media technology that ensnares straying legislators and the willingness of the press to name names. The decision by the Post-Dispatch’s veteran and highly regarded statehouse reporter, Virginia Young, to name a female aide of the governor’s who was involved in a night of hard drinking, attracted national comment and criticism.
By BEN LYONS / Social media have helped us cocoon ourselves into comfortable ignorance of “the other side” — so goes the prevailing notion of the last few years, since Facebook has been king. A team of researchers at Facebook published an article Thursday that claimed to detail how much the site contributes to political echo chambers or filter-bubbles. Published in the journal Science, their report claimed Facebook’s blackbox newsfeed algorithm weeded out some disagreeable content from readers’ feeds, but not as much as did their personal behavior. A flurry of criticism came from other social scientists, with one, University of Michigan’s Christian Sandvig, calling it Facebook’s “it’s not our fault” study.
By ROY J. HARRIS, JR. / There’s a line in the “first rough draft” of recent Post-Dispatch history – the paper’s own account of winning its first Pulitzer Prize in 26 years on Monday – that sounds a bittersweet note, at least to me. “The mood in the newsroom became tense as [Pulitzer administrator Mike] Pride read through the awards for reporting,” writes Tim O’Neil. “When he started into the next-to-last category, breaking news photography, and uttered the words ‘…to the St. Louis…,’ the room erupted in joy.” The sweet is obvious: “Photographers hugged each other to the cheers of their colleagues.” Echoes, to be sure, of 17 other newsroom celebrations held by Post-Dispatch staffers over nine decades. The bitter? That the remarkable, intensive news coverage by Post-Dispatch reporters and editors – of the same Ferguson nightmare of violence that led to the photography Pulitzer – received no mention, either as winner or finalist.
The last time Achilleas Zavallis packed his camera gear for Syria, he changed his airline ticket twice within 48 hours because he couldn’t make up his mind whether he should go to a country considered the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. His stomach was tied “in a million knots,” he recalled, as it is every time he travels to a war zone. A photographer based in Greece, Zavallis is a freelance journalist. When he goes into danger, it is nearly always “on spec,” freelance parlance for covering a story and then trying to find someone to publish his work. But in November 2013, after changing his ticket and second-guessing his motives and re-assessing the risks, Zavallis went anyway, traveling to northern Syria to document the country’s Christian minority. He stayed for about two weeks. A photo essay from the trip was published three months later in the National, an English-language publication in Abu Dhabi. “I believe that the story must be told,” Zavallis said, “so that no one can come after 100 years and say that in Syria nothing happened and that no one died.”
By BEN LYONS / “Journalism matters because we have the responsibility to inform readers of the truth of their world, even when they don’t want us to.” That was the message Michel Martin, host of NPR’s “Tell Me More,” and journalist of more than 25 years gave guests at Gateway Journalism Review’s First Amendment Celebration March 19. Drawing journalists and friends of news from around the region, the event took place at the Edward Jones headquarters in Des Peres, Mo. “We are following the story of ourselves as a nation,” Martin said of the media’s Ferguson coverage. Just as we as a people are imperfect, journalism should “hold a mirror to both flaws and beauty,” she said.