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Our common values

In journalism on December 8, 2016 at 11:18 am
Martin Baron at The Boston Globe.

Martin Baron at The Boston Globe.

By now, many of you have probably seen the brilliant speech delivered by Washington Post Editor Marty Baron upon being presented with the Hitchens Prize last week. If not, you should really take the time to read it. Our business is about 20 percent inspiration. Take it where you can find it.

Baron argues for a way forward in an environment in which the president-elect openly vilifies our profession by calling us “disgusting,” “scum,” “lowlifes” and “the enemies.” The answer? Barron says it lies in the pursuit of truth.

Baron famously pushed The Boston Globe investigative staff to force the Catholic church to release records implicating high-level officials in a decades-long child abuse scandal. The church was and probably still is the most powerful institution in New England. It took great intestinal fortitude to chase the truth in the story that was outlined in the movie “Spotlight.” We all need a little more of that now.

The stakes are much higher than the future of our individual news organizations. Baron quoted CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour to make the point:

“This is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdoğan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al,” she said upon begin honored by the Committee to Protect Journalists. “First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating—until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison—and then who knows?” …

This is holiday enterprise

In journalism on December 8, 2016 at 11:05 am


There are 20,000 kids in foster care in Arizona. That’s up 95 percent from six years ago. Six hundred more kids are taken from their homes every year in Arizona alone. It’s a very sad epidemic that The News-Herald in Lake Havasu is bringing to light.

The week of Thanksgiving, the newspaper ran a front-page package that also included an editorial calling for more families to consider a true sacrifice of love.

Last week, I used this space to ask that you plan for enterprise over the holiday season. There are a zillion reasons to do so. You likely have more news hole this time of year. Folks have more time away from work to sit down with your newspaper. It’s a natural time to write stories that further community.

But stories like those in The News-Herald don’t just happen. Here’s editor Brandon Bowers describing the genesis of the idea. …

New Quartz app rocks

In Mobile on December 8, 2016 at 10:59 am


Whether you are familiar with Quartz probably says something about the way in which you consume news. And, if you like its mobile presentations so far, chances are you are going to be fascinated by what its done now.

Quartz is a news aggregation apparatus that publishes “bracingly creative and intelligent journalism,” particularly dealing with the global economy, in ways that are aimed at users of tablets and mobile phones. It’s only been in business for four years, but it seems much more well-established than that.

It’s pretty hard to describe its latest launch. In a blog post, Quartz says the mobile app is “sort of like texting.” It sends text-like messages to which you can respond. It offers more on these stories and links to longer takes. It’s also easy to “tell” the app you aren’t interested in that story and to move on. It looks and feels like texting an all-knowing friend (and who doesn’t need another know-it-all friend?)

It’s right here and I highly recommend you give it a try on your mobile device.

Quartz isn’t alone in trying to master the confluence of news and conversation. In fact, we’ve all been trying to do that since commenting became “a thing” a dozen years ago. But as Josh Stearns notes, projects like Quartz’s are blooming all over.

The key for all of these projects is getting past our past as gatekeeper and on to our future as conversation starter. Or convener. Or further-er. …