Wick Communications

Can you have an opinion?

In Online media on March 26, 2015 at 3:37 pm

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The question of publishing reporters’ opinions came from @muckrack: “Some journalists of color have been harangued for tweeting personal reactions to #Ferguson while also covering it. Your take?”

First of all, Muck Rack is a sort of social experiment for journalists, bloggers and PR professionals. Among other things, it is a platform for marketing types to find journalists who cover their niche. One of the most interesting things about it, for me, is a regular Monday evening Twitter Q&A. (Follow @muckrack and the Monday hashtag is #muckedup.) The question above was one of those bandied around on Monday.

As you can see, the responses were varied. That wouldn’t have been the case 10 years ago, when an overwhelming number of journalists would have suggested their brethren keep their opinions to themselves. That was the prevailing wisdom, well, forever. Until recently.

That began to change with the advent of social media. In part, that is simply correcting a silly bit of pretension from our pompous past. We all have opinions. Our readers know it. Just admit it already. It also changed simply because Web 2.0 was just so ubiquitous. It was becoming difficult for reporters to pretend to be opinion-less.

I think there is a logical middle ground. …

Picking up what the DA dropped

In Crime on March 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm

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Here’s a scenario with which you are probably familiar. You write a blurb in the police blotter about some guy who allegedly did something wrong. Maybe it’s only a couple sentences. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal. Police say the guy had some drugs. Maybe he intended to sell them.

You print the arrest. End of story.

Only it’s not — not for the guy whose name is in the paper. If you work on the editorial side of the newspaper, I bet you’ve seen these guys straggle in from time to time to proclaim their innocence. The cops got it wrong. They planted evidence. I didn’t do it!

So what do you do?

I bet you try to check it out. At least I think you should. I think we owe the people we drag through the mud the opportunity to come clean. We should follow the charges through to adjudication. (Because we at the Half Moon Bay Review don’t have the resources to routinely cover court machinations that take place out of our circulation area, I long ago made the decision not to print names with most misdemeanor offenses. We do name those involved in felony arrests and we try to follow up on those.)

Last week, one of our usual suspects came to see me. He said the cops were out to get him. Again. I always try to be respectful to these folks, partly because I figure they are having a hard time and it’s the least I can do. I’m also aware that just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t really out to get you.

In this case, the cops really did venture out of bounds. Calls to the district attorney revealed that myriad charges against Osman Yousif were dropped after a superior court judge ruled he was subject to an illegal detention. He calls it “kidnapping” and I’m not sure I can argue the point. Curiously, charges related to a previous arrest – for allegedly having 20 pounds (20 pounds!) of pot packaged for sale – were also dropped when the government’s own expert witness would not testify that the pot was marketable. Is Osman paranoid, or are they really out to get him? …

Sorry, here’s an iPad

In Marketing on March 26, 2015 at 3:21 pm

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This is something a little different today. It’s newspaper marketing and circulation, rather than journalism. File it under ICYMI.

This week, the Wall Street Journal found a unique way to respond to one reader’s complaint. California businessman Richard Nagler made a bit of local press when he posted a note on his business asking that whoever was taking his morning newspaper stop doing so. Nagler’s note to the thief suggested the guy simply borrow it and return it every day by mid-morning. (He went on to write, “I find the editorial stance of the Wall Street Journal reprehensible, but the journalism justifies the subscription.”)

Well, a local blog covered the story of Nagler’s stolen newspapers and his note. That caught the eye of the brass at the Wall Street Journal. Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker decided to post his own note on Nagler’s business. You see it above. The newspaper also posted a note offering the thief a subscription at a low introductory rate.

If the offer of a free iPad to compensate for a few stolen newspapers strikes you as overkill, consider that this non-story and the WSJ’s generous offer has now been covered by Huffington Post, Romenesko, NPR and local television stations. Add The Kicker to that growing list of coverage. The WSJ might have paid $400 for that iPad. It costs more than $200,000 for a full-page color ad in the newspaper’s own national edition. I’d say the iPad publicity is cost-effective. …

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