As the title to this post suggests, week two of the Midtown Magazine Journalism Camp is in the bag. It had it’s share of surprises, but all in a good way.
First, I’m very proud of the group I have the privilege of assisting, one that earned the distinction of being the first to complete a story.
Not that we had time to bask in the accomplishment. On Wednesday morning, we were informed that the business we had planned to profile was not ready for us, and that in its place a last-minute substitute had been found. Forgive me for not revealing the names of these businesses, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise before our articles are published. I’ll just say that the interview and tour we were given exceeded my expectations.
It would help, however, if the story really could write itself, because upon returning to John Hopkins Middle, one of the camp’s organizers informed us that the company we had originally been scheduled for would be able to see us the following morning. Are we up to the challenge of carrying an extra story? “We can do it,” I casually replied.
Which means — amidst the press conferences, tangential conversations and obligatory snack times — we’re committed to finishing three stories before Thursday. And we will find a way to get them done. Welcome to the world of journalism, kids.
Is that just overconfidence talking? Stay tuned and find out.
Today marks the end of my first week as a volunteer for Midtown Summer Journalism Camp, a joint effort of John Hopkins Middle School, Melrose Elementary and Lakewood High, my alma mater. Go Spartans.
The three-week program helps students from J. Hop and Melrose hone their skills as journalists, sending them out to cover various businesses and citizens in the Midtown area of St. Petersburg.
Some of the volunteers are high school students, while others I’ve met are photographers and writers for The St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune. I believe a few are students from Eckerd College, which helps fund the camp.
Each day, we mentor the pair of students we’ve been assigned to (or, in my case, assigned themselves to me), assisting them with their newsgathering and writing.
Today, the team I’m working with went out on their first interview and did a commendable job. We’ve got do some follow-ups, but should have the article done by Tuesday. Then, as reporters well know, it’s on to the next story.
My experience at the camp has been nothing but positive, as was the volunteer work I did over the past three months for John Hopkins’s journalism program. There’s a reason why J. Hop and Melrose are consistently recognized as the best student newspapers in the nation in their respective categories — the teachers and students are that talented and dedicated.
Stories and photos produced by the camp will be published in Midtown Magazine, which will be available at the “Midtown: Through Our Eyes” exhibit scheduled for Oct. 2-11 at Studio@620.
Posted in civic journalism, journalism education, News
Tagged blogging, John Hopkins Middle School, Melrose Elementary, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Times, Studio@620, Tampa Tribune, journalism camp, Midtown, Lakewood High School, Midtown Magazine
Here’s a survey of today’s ledes from some of the nation’s top newspapers about President Obama’s intentions to toughen fuel economy standards for automakers. The Wall Street Journal offers the most specific opening graf, while the Washington Post and New York Times do a good job of contextualizing the announcement. The Los Angeles Times lede, on the other hand, is syntactically jarring, sacrificing clarity and accessibility for conjecture and information that could have been included further down in the article:
Wall Street Journal:
The Obama administration plans to order auto makers to increase the fuel economy of automobiles sold in the U.S. to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, four years faster than current federal law requires, people familiar with the matter said.
The Obama administration today plans to propose tough standards for tailpipe emissions from new automobiles, establishing the first nationwide regulation for greenhouse gases.
New York Times:
President Obama will announce tough new nationwide rules for automobile emissions and mileage standards on Tuesday, embracing standards that California has sought to enact for years over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration.
The Obama administration is set to announce Tuesday what will amount to a sweeping revision to auto-emission and fuel-economy standards, putting them in the same package for the first time.
Los Angeles Times:
The agreement that the Obama administration will announce today forcing dramatic reductions in vehicle greenhouse gas emissions and improvements in auto mileage marks a potentially pivotal shift in the battle over global warming — and a vindication of California’s long battle to toughen standards.
Posted in headlines, media criticism, News, news industry, Newspaper industry
Tagged auto emissions, fuel economy, lede grafs, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, President Obama, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post
Just a couple of the lessons to be learned from the two stories cited below: the loss of institutional credibility when journalists unquestioningly accept government statements as truth, and the speed with which half-truths, obfuscations and outright lies can spread throughout the mainstream media to become established “fact.”
First up, Timothy Noah reveals the logical fallacy of believing that the torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed helped U.S. intelligence foil a plot to crash a plane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles:
The CIA and Thiessen had argued that torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, allowed the U.S. government to thwart the Library Tower attack, wherein al-Qaida planned to hijack a jetliner and fly it into the tallest building in Los Angeles (formally known these days as the U.S. Bank Tower). The trouble with this argument was that the chronology didn’t work. Sheikh Mohammed was captured in March 2003, and on more than one occasion (for instance, here, here, and here), the Bush administration stated that the Library Tower plot was broken up in 2002. How could torturing Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 have prevented an attack that had already been foiled a year earlier?
After my column appeared, the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America noted (here, here, and here) that the following people continued to repeat the Library Tower canard without acknowledging its logical inconsistency: Karl Rove, Dana Rohrabacher, Clifford May, and Fox News’ Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, Steve Doocy, Catherine Herridge, and Brian Kilmeade.
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald provides a similarly withering criticism of the establishment media’s handling of the benefits of U.S.-sponsored torture. He takes ABC News‘ Brian Ross to task for reporting in 2007 that the waterboard torture of Abu Zubaydah lasted about “30 to 35 seconds” before he spilled his guts to the CIA about numerous terrorist plots:
Posted in headlines, investigative journalism, Mainstream media, media criticism, News
Tagged ABC News, Abu Zubaydah, Brian Ross, Glenn Greenwald, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Library Tower, Marc Thiessen, Salon, Slate, Timothy Noah, torture, waterboarding
The city of Gulfport says its budget will be $3 million short in October, but wants to avoid raising property taxes.
The city has frozen all hiring, except what is considered “mission critical” positions.
Unfilled positions include city manager, the police chief, a police sergeant, two police officers, a police department records technician, a fire lieutenant, the leisure services administrative assistant and a staff assistant in the administrative services department.
The city had already eliminated several library positions, as well as a fire captain, firefighter, maintenance worker, recreation coordinator and a clerical position in the city clerk’s office.
My question — can the St. Pete Times please provide city documentation with its story to give some context to that $3 mil figure?
Tommy at Sticks of Fire explains why delinquent property taxes means more money for newspapers.
Teen shot at Childs Park Rec Center.
Kenneth City’s mayor-elect could be sworn in, 44 days after winning in a landslide. The takeaway here is that Kenneth City, with a population of about 4,400, and a land area of 2 square miles, has a mayor.
Ybor City loves its Starbucks. Take that, Cuban coffee!
Alex Pickett has expanded his Bipartisan guide to ridiculous leglislation.
Posted in civic journalism, headlines, hyperlocal, News
Tagged Alex Pickett, Childs Park, city budget, Cuban coffee, Gulfport, Kenneth City, property taxes, ridiculous legislation, St. Petersburg Times, Starbucks, Tampa Tribune, teen shot, Teresa Zemaitis, Ybor City
Patrick Schuster is getting a lot of well-deserved media attention of late. The J.W. Mitchell High left-hander tossed his fourth straight no-hitter last night, striking out 17 in route to a 5-0 victory over Pasco High. The remarkable feat — a first in Florida high school history — earned Schuster a highlight segment on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Posted in headlines, News
Tagged baseball, ESPN, Florida high schools, Mitchell High, New Port Richey, no-hitter, Pasco County, Pasco High, Patrick Schuster, SportsCenter, St. Petersburg Times, Tampabay.com
Posted in headlines, News
Tagged Broward County, Carlie Becker, Cessna 421, ESPN, headlines, High school cheerleading coach, Oakland Park, plane crash, Ray Sansom, St. Petersburg Times, Stephen A. Smith, Sun Sentinel, Tampabay.com, Twitter
Protest as kitsch, punning headline writers, TV news anchors embracing their inner adolescent, and photos that make you wonder if you’ve woken up in an alternate universe: The Tax Day Tea Party is the gift that keep on giving. And bewildering.
At right: Photo of a woman at Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, TN. Taken from Huffington Post’s Flickr Stream. Credit: David Gilbert.
Posted in headlines, News
Tagged Boston Tea Party, David Schuster, headlines, Rachel Maddow, Tax Day protests, Tax Day Tea Party, tea bags, tea parties, Tea Party, teabagging
At Huff Post, Dave Johnson says those tea parties were anything but spontaneous:
The idea is supposed to have started on February 19, when Rick Santelli of CNBC “spontaneously” complained about plans (click link for video) to help people avoid foreclosure, saying this is the government “subsidizing the loser’s mortgages.” Santelli called for organizing a “Chicago tea party” against helping people pay their mortgages. But investigators starting finding clues that the on-air rant was not spontaneous, and signs that the campaign was organized by the right-wing, corporate-funded Freedomworks . According to a March 2 New York Times story,
“Mr. Santelli’s televised commentary appeared spontaneous to viewers. However, the Internet domain name ChicagoTeaParty.com was registered in August 2008 — well before his commentary — but not used until afterwards.”The events have been widely promoted by corporate-funded conservative PR professionals who specialize in “astroturf.” This is a term for the use of money to create an appearance of widespread “grassroots” support. Currently the corporate-funded conservative lobbying groups Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity, are organizing the events and conservative media including talk radio and FOX News are widely promoting them. Support appears to be coming from Koch Industries, the largest privately-owned company in the country.