Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Well-rounded education key to future jobs

Reporting jobs may be undergoing a retrenchment, reports Mark Glaser, but many journalism companies also are adding jobs -- in areas other than print.

Such news stresses the importance of a well-rounded, liberal-arts education in journalism rather than a vocational outlook to train students for specific jobs that may not exist in a few years.

Read Glaser's entire piece via his MediaShift blog within PBS --

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Student intern from Iraq appreciates freedom

The next time you're frustrated with a source who won't return your call or an editor who can't be satisfied, think of Washington Post intern Omar Fekeiki, profiled in the Christian Science Monitor this week.

Fekeiki, from war-torn Iraq, was assigned to cover a fatal shooting and wondered how -- if just one or two are dead -- do reporters know whether it's a story?

"I was born and raised in a Baghdad family that appreciated and practiced writing," Fekeiki said in an introductory bio for the newsroom, "but I never thought I'd become a journalist, because I lived under a dictatorship. To me, it was a taboo profession because the only thing journalists did under the regime of Saddam Hussein was to praise the government and lie to the people."

Here's a link to the complete story and photo -- http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0823/p20s01-ussc.html?page=1

Saner heads prevail at Fox: the audience

It's not the first overly hyped TV show that lasted all of one episode, but Fox's "Anchorman" was canceled Aby the network Thursday afternoon after its Wednesday-night premiere.

The program -- about a former model and World Wrestling Entertainment performer named a local news anchor -- attracted a tiny 1.0 rating in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fox News makes a mockery of TV journalism

Associated Press TV beat writer Frazier Moore this weekend filed a short, insightful piece on Fox's latest debacle -- a story that ran in some places headlined 'Fox making a mockery of TV news.'

It effectively shares details about "bosomy bottle-blonde" Lauren Jones, soon to be the newest member of KYTX-TV 19 in Tyler, Texas, and star of the network's new reality show, "Anchorwoman."

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Moore writes, "With a resume that includes the titles of Barker Beauty on "The Price is Right," former Miss New York and featured WWE Diva, she's a natural to join the hallowed profession of Murrow and Cronkite."

Turning a bitr more serious, the AP reporter adds, "This show (and KYTX) are doing their part to make a laughingstock out of local TV news."

Here's a link to an online version of his story, published by -- you got it -- Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2007Aug18/0,4670,TVLookout,00.html
So what? Much of it already is.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Musings of a Journalist

Dave Bakke is a long-time writer at the State Journal-Register in Springfield, where the following essay first appeared this spring:

I am a journalist.

It is my fault that the majority of Americans do not support the war in Iraq.

It was my fault when Americans turned against the war in Vietnam.

I am the reason your teenaged girl dresses like that.

I made “Lady In The Water” tank at the box office.

I am unfair to the president. Every president.

When you feel bad about the future, it is because of me.

I do not know what is important.

I am biased.

I misspell your name and get your address wrong every time.

I snoop around into your business and tell everyone about it.

I am a dinosaur on my way to the dust heap of history.

I am a pest.

Global warming was dreamed up by me.

I don’t get it.

I only print the bad news.

I need you more than you need me.

I get sued, hung up on, shouted at, thrown out and punched.

I am too big for my britches.

I have no business being where I am most of the time.

I print your divorce in the paper.

I print your marriage in the paper.

I dwell on your failures.

I blow things out of proportion.

If your kid robs the liquor store, I print it.

If your kid makes Eagle Scout, I print it.

I tell people about your anniversary, your birthday, your wedding, your award, your promotion, your retirement, your death.

I tell you about unknown people doing wonderful things for other unknown people.

I end up in your scrapbook and on your refrigerator.

I print the quirky, the unusual, the heartwarming, the sad, the happy, the inspiring, the surprising, the awesome and the trivial - all of the goulash that makes up life.

At dawn, I am in a car somewhere on my way to talk to someone who just saved a life.

At midnight, I am on the way to a fire.

Sometimes I like to do the unexpected. Like this.

I do not expect to be liked, admired or trusted. So when you do, it means more.

You do not expect me to be likable, admirable or trustworthy. So when I am, it means more.

I tell what I have to tell about you, despite your importance, what position you hold or how much influence you have.

I tell what I have to tell about you even if you are nobody, do not hold any position or have any influence at all.

I could have done something else with my life and escaped your blame for things that go wrong.

But, no, I could have done nothing else with my life. This is what I’ve always wanted.

I am a journalist.

I tell stories.

You read them.

It’s as simple as that.

And as complex.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New media meets campus media

There's an interesting article out this week in Inside Higher Ed about college journalism programs and their slowness in adapting to the new digital age of news delivery. If you follow the link, check out the comments others have added below the article. Several are from students who make it clear we need to be doing much more to prepare future journalists than we're doing.

In 1995, an article in Quill, a publication of the Society of Professional Journalists, deemed the ability to "deal with new media such as electronic newspapers or World Wide Web pages" as "nice, but not necessary." So David Wendelken, an associate professor of journalism at James Madison University, told a chuckling crowd August 10 during the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. Suffice it to say, precious few journalism educators would agree with that assessment today. And yet journalism education is lagging behind industry in embracing the new media technologies that students will need to be competitive in the work place, according to Wendelken's research.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Reporter speaks out about Iraq War coverage

After veteran reporter Sig Christenson of the San Antonio Express-News heard U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Spence (R-Ind.) say that the Surge was working but Americans don't realaize it because the media aren't reporting it, the reporter responded with an insightful essay for nieman watchdog.org.

"Everybody knows there’s a war on in Iraq," he writes. "What they don’t realize is there are actually four wars – the one to defeat insurgents and terrorists, another to win support for America’s occupation among a majority of Iraqis and yet a third for hearts and minds among the president’s supporters in the United States. The fourth is a war for reporters and editors: It is to find and report the truth while staying alive to file another day in Iraq."

After a heavily guarded tour of a Baghdad neighborhood with McCain in April, Spence compared it to "a normal outdoor market in Indiana."

Hardly, Christenson writes.

"Problems are bigger than the insurgency," he says. "Surge or no surge, they will continue until Iraqi security forces can hold the ground U.S. troops have taken. That is the truth. You can’t put lipstick on this little pig and pass it off as life in Indiana."

Christsenson concedes problems, such as too few journalists there.

"Few regional newspapers like mine send teams to the war zone," he says. "The obvious reasons for not going are the cost and danger, but shrinking newsroom staffs and an increasing focus on local news factor into the equation.

"TV news crews typically have more money than newspapers but seem rudderless when it comes to ethically reporting a story. That’s the way it is in 2007."

He scoffs at the wisdom of censoring or otherwise controlling the press.

"The last time we saw anyone pass off fantasy for reality and think they wouldn’t get caught was in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans," he says. "Then, as now, politicians acted as if the rest of us were idiots, as if we would believe their words over the very stunning images that filled our television screens.

"Imagine if the government restricted the efforts of journalists to gather the news there," he continues. "The entire country might have applauded as Bush gave Brownie a medal. This is what is at stake in Iraq. America is at a crossroads there and it’s up to journalists and their bosses to roll the dice, spend the money and tell the story. Think of Iraq as Katrina squared."

For his whole piece, go to -- http://www.niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=00199

Friday, August 3, 2007

Chicago TV news: good news, bad news

Chicago TV newscast viewers think the shows adequately inform them, but do little to distinguish themselves from each other and do even less to show people who reflect that diverse market, according to a new study from Medill at Northwestern University.

More than 60% of TV-news viewers think they're "made smarter" by Chicago newscasts, which give audiences a "positive emotional" experience (according to more than 60%, again).

Further, most TV-news viewers think local TV is "substantially more trusted" than newspapers.

However, none of the five stations (WBBM/CBS, WFLD/Fox, WGN/CW, WLS/ABC and WMAQ/NBC) devote even half of their newscasts to actual news or features, the study found, and all would benefit from more diversity in the people it shows.

Chicago's TV market is 66% white and 18% African-American, and approximately 50-50 male and female. However, 75% of faces and voices featured are white and 69% male.

Of course, the study is incomplete, if not flawed, because it doesn't reflect attitudes toward the stations by non-viewiers, nor TV viewers who tune elsewhere at times when newscasts are on.

Michael Malone's summary of the study from Broadcasting & Cable is here -- http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6463856.html&referral=supp

A pdf copy of the study itself is available here -- http://mediamanagementcenter.org/localTV/localTV.pdf

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Bush, GOP block FOI reform

Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona is helping the Bush administration's Department of Justice block a measure that would require Freedom of Information Act requests to be processed in a timely manner.

Writing a few weeks ago in USA Today, reporter Richard Wolf cited examples such as Don Stillman, who in 1991 filed a request with the State Department for information on workers’ rights abuses in South Korea. Stillman, then employed by the United Auto Workers, never heard back.

“It seems like they have far too great a leeway to fail to respond without some accountability,” he says.

More typical is the case of Rick Blum, who sought documents from the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 on behalf of a public-interest group. Four years later, he got a call saying his request had reached the front of the line.

“Citizens have to wait years to get routine documents,” says Blum, who runs the Sunshine in Government Initiative for media groups. “That renders them useless.”

Here's a copy of Wolf's news story via the Free Press web --sitehttp://www.freepress.net/news/24713

Newspapers gain online readers, time reading

About four in ten Internet users visited newspaper web sites during the second quarter of 2007, according to new data from Nielsen ratings -- a 7.7% increase from 2006.

Plus, the time online visitors spent on the newspaper sites is up, too.

Bottom line: 59 million people visited newspaper web sites.

Here's Helen Leggatt's summary of the news, from BizReport.com -- http://www.bizreport.com/2007/07/online_newspapers_experience_record_visitor_numbers.html