Wick Communications

When the dam breaks

In Reporting on September 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm

dam breaks art

This week, you needed an ark to get around parts of southern Arizona. The remnants of Hurricane Odile washed east from the coast, largely south of Tucson and over a wide stretch of Wick territory. Obviously, that is big news for people in flood watch and warning zones.

Newspapers in the path of the storm did a variety of things to keep up. Some of them worked better than others.

Take a look at what Dan Shearer and the team in Green Valley did on Wednesday. It’s a tick-tock update for the homepage that is simply topped with each tidbit of new information. He wasn’t promising to freshen all that prose each and every time. I think that made a lot of sense.

I noticed that an editor in El Paso, Texas, posted video, which was a good idea.

Some of you linked to National Weather Service reporting and graphics. That is a great idea.

Wick news sites reported more pageviews throughout the region than they usually gain on a Wednesday. The Eastern Arizona Courier’s 20,971 pageviews is more than double the average for a single day. …

The unoriginal sin

In Writing techniques on September 18, 2014 at 5:12 pm
From Benjamin Mullin's post on the Poynter Institute blog.

From Benjamin Mullin’s post on the Poynter Institute blog.

Plagiarism isn’t going away. In fact, it’s easier than ever before to commit and catch what Poynter’s Roy Peter Clark called “the unoriginal sin.” Sometimes well-meaning people copy and paste as if it were an acceptable part of the writing process. Others are just flat intellectually dishonest. Because writing is hard, it’s easier to steal prose on the Internet than do battle with the white screen in front of them.

I suspect this is less of a problem for local newspapers than it is for regional or national sources. That’s because no one else is writing about the Japanese students who are in Palmer, Alaska, this week. (Shout out to Caitlin Skvorc up there in Wasilla!) If, on the other hand, you are writing about the western response to ISIS, there is a great temptation to steal from very good journalism produced elsewhere.

Most of the suspect prose I see in Wick papers comes from outsiders. It tends to be written by religion columnists accustomed to cribbing parts of the weekly sermon or political partisans cut/pasting their way to that attack on some member of Congress for the local opinion page. Perhaps that is understandable, but it is absolutely not acceptable. As an editorial staff member of a Wick paper it is your duty to challenge anything that strikes you as plagiarism. Our reputation depends on it. …

When the news isn’t pretty

In Ethics on September 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 9.47.50 AM

The Sidney Herald posted this photo on its website and Facebook page and caught heck for it.

The Herald’s Susan Minichiello posted the photo and asked my opinion after getting some negative feedback online. I told her that it is the duty of a local news site to publish the news and a rollover accident that brings out a dozen first-responders, may have stalled traffic and was clearly visible to everyone who passed by on a state highway is news. Period. People in the community want to know what happened, and whether the driver and other occupants are OK. Frankly, they have a right to know.

Please note that Susan was very careful. While she took other photos, some that showed the man being pulled from the car, she knew better than to post those. She brought the camera back to the office and calmly scrolled through what she had. She found the perfect angle that showed the extent of the crash and the response. It isn’t graphic. It doesn’t violate community standards. It’s about as good of a car crash photo as you are liable to find. …

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