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Portions of the James O’Keefe-produced video that showed an NPR executive making disparaging remarks about conservatives were taken out of context. That’s the conclusion of at least two sources–NPR and the Glenn Beck-owned The Blaze.

Andrew Sullivan reported on the misquoting, and said this:

Despite the fact that O’Keefe is a known liar, and that his past video stings have been edited in misleading ways, much of the mainstream media ran with his latest. Will those outlets now inform their viewers and readers about the deceptions uncovered by The Blaze?

Mitch Albom raised similar questions in the Detroit Free Press, calling O’Keefe’s videos Punk’d-style journalism. He then says that anyone hoping to prove bias in NPR reporting should do a real study, not hide a camera.

Ira Glass of This American Life made a similar challenge over the weekend. He asked Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone of On the Media to find bias in NPR’s reporting. He says they won’t. Glass’s challenge came during a larger conversation on why no one has come forward with documented evidence of subjective news. A fundraising executive may share private opinions over lunch, but Glass insists that doesn’t affect the newsrooms at all.


The Institute for Rural Journalism (which runs the oft-linked Rural Blog) is seeking year-end financial donations. Institute director and notable journalist Al Cross says this:

Perhaps ironically, the financial squeeze on metropolitan newspapers and other changes in the news media have made all the more important the Institute’s vision of helping rural America through journalism, because most major papers and broadcast outlets have abandoned coverage of rural areas. That has left a vacuum that rural news media must fill, covering issues and setting the public agenda in their communities.

WikiLeaks’s document dumps have been called everything from terrorism to unparalleled journalism. With past leaks, the value of the revealed documents was covered in tandem with the information in the documents. But the value debate seems to be taking a front seat with the release of hundreds of classified diplomatic cables this week.

The information in the cables is sometimes amusing (which world leader had botox treatments?) and sometimes potentially dangerous (most of the discussions about Iran). But should that danger outweigh the obligations of journalists to report the truth? The New York Times published (and continues to publish) stories about the cables. But alongside those reports, the Times issued a statement that outlined how the paper came to have the cables, and how they treated the information. Some names were redacted, the White House was offered a chance to comment and after much hand-wringing and internal discussion, the stories were printed.

The paper’s editor also took to the airwaves, speaking with NPR about the process.

This is all very exciting to journalists and news junkies who (like me) like to think about ethics in journalism and how different outlets and mediums can present information in different ways and generate different responses. The cables on WikiLeaks are raw. The information in the Times is processed, filtered and interpreted. Pundits will take that interpretation further. The range of the news media’s interpretations is on display, and it’s fascinating.

NPR’s Anne Garrels recently spoke in Utah, and she had some interesting things to say about the state of foreign correspondent work.

“You are looking at a Neanderthal,” Garrels told an audience of about 400. “I am not a commentator, I don’t shout. I do report on the life and death of Americans.”

Without reporters on the ground to “bear witness” at important events like wars and battles and “human moments,” Garrels said, the rest of world may never learn of them. The loss of U.S. journalists and news bureaus oversees means that there is no one there to make Americans aware of atrocities, tragedies and human triumphs.


From NPR:

Daniel Schorr, a longtime senior news analyst for NPR and a veteran Washington journalist who broke major stories at home and abroad during the Cold War and Watergate, has died. He was 93.

Schorr, who once described himself as a “living history book,” passed away Friday morning at a Washington hospital. He was able to bring to contemporary news commentary a deep sense of how governmental institutions and players operate, as well as the perspective gained from decades of watching history upfront.

My favorite Schorr legend: He read President Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” live on the air, and didn’t realize he was on it until he got to his own name.

Apparently we’re out of touch here. Jina Moore writes:

I gave a talk yesterday in the stellar Rosemary Armao’s upper-class undergraduate journalism class at SUNY-Albany. As an aside, Rosemary Armao is a woman of steel organs of your favorite type — an investigative journalist who works tirelessly in the Balkans (one of those many pesky world regions where knowledge is often more fear than power), she also invited Jayson Blair to her journalism class to explain to her students what in the news business or newsroom structure made it possible to lie like he did. What a move!

Anyway, Rosemary’s 30-ish students are all around 20. I polled them. None of them reads blogs. None of them uses Twitter. A few actually read the newspaper (cheer for the underdog!), but few of them really seek out news. Those who do look at it on their phones.

This reminded me of my visit to St. Mary’s, a private high school in Portland, Ore. I didn’t poll the students there — my mission was slightly different — but I did happen to find out that not one of them uses Twitter. “Ms. Pierce,” one student explained to my friend who had invited me, “Twitter is for old people.”

Politicoholic is a bit concerned about the lack of digital immersion, but says all hope is not lost.

I can’t really rail on college journalists: this past Monday Huffington Post launched its college section and they have a really fine collection of college student bloggers writing for the site and sharing their insights on the college experience today. There is some great content to be found on HuffPost College from some great student writers who really get the importance of digital journalism. So you know those students are out there, but I feel like they’re few and far between.

The future of journalism is all about digital media, yet many student journalists are still, for the most part, not absorbing themselves in the online tools that are quickly taking over their industry. Print is dead (hello!) so I hope that the future journalists of America start using digital tools for information, reading, and research; digital media holds so much value for the future of journalism, but only if the college students of today figure out how to use it. If they have to be educated on it, so be it: maybe what college journalists need is mandatory classes on digital media instead of so many classes on print journalism.

I’m in my early to mid 20s and I read blogs, but I may be an exception. Are you a young person? What are you doing here? Where do you get your information?

Did you notice a boastful quote on the last page of this week’s LEO?

In today’s world of blogs, vlogs, Tweets and chain e-mails, a printed newspaper may seem a little old-fashioned. And it is. At least in the sense that LEO still produces real quality journalism with–get this–verified sources. Sounds almost quaint, huh?

Rick Redding certainly noticed it.

Actually, sounds a little dumb to be taking shots at people like us, who have way more readers than they do. And the last word.

I’m not taking sides, and I it seems like LEO is only targeting the unethical and lazy types, who aren’t verifying facts or getting both sides of the story. As someone who went straight from journalism school to online newswriting to radio reporting, I understand the differences in mediums. Yes, I can appreciate the approach to blogs as rough drafts of thoughts, stories and ideas. I can handle the argument that the web is a medium for distributing raw information quickly, and sure we all make mistakes, but arguing over readers and timeliness when the fight is over facts doesn’t do anyone much good. I read and enjoy LEO and Redding’s posts. I will admit, though, I sighed at the noncredited photo-illustration.

A good piece of investigative journalism really can change things. Take, for example, Jerry Mitchell‘s recent story from The Moth podcast about his stories that landed Klansmen in jail.

Here’s the description of the story (with link) from Boing Boing:

“Jerry Mitchell is a local reporter here in Jackson, Mississippi who recently won a MacArthur Genius Grant for his investigations into previously unresolved Civil Rights Era murders. These investigations led to prison sentences for men who had escaped justice for 40 years or more. This is a great, short story (MP3), told with Jerry’s typical humility and humor. I’m extremely proud of Jerry and what he’s done to advance the cause of Justice here in the South.”

If you didn’t hear The Moth when WFPL aired the evening previews, or if you did hear it and got hooked, the podcast is a great source for new stories.

From WFPL’s environmental reporter Kristin Espeland-Gourlay

On Wednesday, WFPL announced the launch of a new, regional environmental news service called the Ohio River Radio Consortium. We’ll be commissioning stories from public radio reporters throughout the Ohio River Valley – from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois, and points in between, including here in Kentucky. And then stations throughout the network will be able to air them. It’s our effort to broaden and deepen news coverage of our watershed, mainly because environmental issues don’t stop at state borders.

We’re not only talking about water stories here. True, the river connects us—geographically, socially, historically, and economically. But that’s only part of a watershed that’s home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of people. Pesticide run-off from a farm near Pittsburgh rushes past the drinking water pipes for Cincinnati. Mountaintop coal mining is changing the landscapes of Appalachia, and questions now confront us about our energy future. But there other kinds of environmental stories to tell in our region, about cities reconnecting residents with their waterfronts, biologists saving endangered species, local farmers getting more food on local tables—and so much more. In short, telling the environmental stories of a region connects the dots, and may ultimately help us all make more informed decisions about where we live.

So listen for stories from around the region, and let us know what you think. We hope to start a conversation, and that you’ll be a part of it. (And by the way, our new website is almost ready – and we’ll let you know about it right here.)

William Zinsser literally wrote the book on nonfiction writing. His On Writing Well is a near-sacred tome in many journalism schools, right up there with Elements of Style.

Zinsser champions concise, simple and elegant writing. He recently weighed in on the need for this kind of writing in the digital age. Depth Reporting has the quote:

Somebody—that’s you—will still have to write all those video scripts and audio scripts, and your writing will need to be lean and tight and coherent: plain nouns and verbs pushing your story forward so that the rest of us always know what’s happening. This principle applies—and will apply—to every digital format; nobody wants to consult a Web site that isn’t instantly clear. Clarity, brevity, and sequential order will be crucial to your success.

A professor once told me that good writing is something other writers notice and everyone appreciates. One of Zinsser’s main points in On Writing Well is that great writing only comes through practice and repetition. As more outlets start focusing on the web, I imagine that the new voice of web news writing will emerge and continue to be polished until something even better comes along and makes this all look like an antique.

Your thoughts?

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