Student paper at Webster University faces cuts

The longtime student newspaper at Webster University, the Journal, was facing an uncertain future this spring as the administration’s budget axe was about to swing. The weekly Journal, reporting on its own chances of survival, said its 30 issues a year might be cut to four or five in the 2015 budget, and the number of student staffers receiving pay could be cut from 10 to two. Some students and faculty believe the administration is upset over controversial stories the Journal has done, and one way of putting a clamp on the upstart newspaper is through the budget. But this is disputed by Webster’s public relations spokesman, Patrick Giblin.

Copyright verdict’s lesson: Use online photos with care

BY ERIC P. ROBINSON / In a case that offers a reminder that material found online cannot simply be reused without regard to copyright considerations, a federal jury in Manhattan awarded a photographer $1.2 million in November against a news agency that, without the photographer’s permission, distributed photos he had posted to Twitter. American copyright law provides that a creative work is protected by copyright the moment it is created, and is owned by either its creator or, if the item created was a “work for hire,” the creator’s employer. This copyright protection persists even if the creator makes the work available on the Internet, and even if it can be easily downloaded and copied. Downloading, copying and reusing a work found on the Internet without the owner’s permission is infringement, unless the copying or reuse is covered by the “fair use” principle extended to uses such as news and education, as long as the use is not overly extensive and does not substantially harm the potential commercial market for the work.

Journalistic naval-gazing: 2 heavyweights have their say

BY GEORGE SALAMON / Earlier this month, two heavyweights of journalism wrote about their profession. On March 14, Glenn Greenwald – who revealed much of Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks in the UK’s Guardian – answered an attack on his new publication, the Intercept, which is funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, founder and chief executive officer of eBay. Journalism, Greenwald told us in “On the Meaning of Journalistic Independence,” does not have to reflect the views of those who fund it, even those with “bad political views.” A few days earlier, the New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, reflected on the values of good journalism, based on her talk earlier to the Associated Collegiate Press convention.

GJR publisher highlights undisputed points

BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / Top editors of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have written a letter to the editor of the Gateway Journalism Review taking issue with a recent story about the paper’s “Jailed By Mistake” investigation. The GJR is publishing the entire letter to provide the newspaper a full airing of its views and because the letter is an extraordinarily detailed defense of a major newspaper project.

Journalism for the perpetually busy and easily distracted

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?

Social media campaign by former Post-Dispatch writer alleges mistakes in series about mistakes

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.

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$25 tickets available for GJR First Amendment celebration featuring Amy Goodman

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.

Spray-paint artists in America’s most expensive neighborhood: Terrorist threat or teenage prank?

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.

Ombudsmen in decline: An ominous trend for American press

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.