In Ideas on February 16, 2017 at 6:28 pm
In a city with 17,000 vacant buildings, The Washington Post chronicled the life and death of a single block built in 1905 that has housed generations of families.
So begins a Medium post by Steve Hendrix of the Washington Post. One of the nation’s great news enterprises set out to tell the story of one block of Baltimore rowhouses — and in so doing, a piece of the city’s own history — before it was demolished. Along the way, a Post photographer took 8,000 images and reporters interviewed dozens of people with a connection to the block. They chronicled the change from a racially mixed area to an all-black part of town after white people fled America’s inner cities for the suburbs after World War II.
It’s a jaw-dropping project, right down to the marketing on social media. There is a lot here for us to learn.
Imagine doing something like this on a smaller scale in your town. Is your city about to demolish an historic old building? Is one about to fall of it’s own accord? You could do this to great effect with a 100-year-old private home. Tell us who lived there through the years.
This would make a great editorial initiative in 2017.
In Opinion pages on September 24, 2015 at 2:12 pm
Occasionally in this life, public officials behave so egregiously that the only rational reaction is a bit of irrationality.
Take the case of Tea Party favorites and former Michigan state House members Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. Their actual affair (and yes, I mean “affair” in both the literal and figurative sense) is too tortured to bother explaining. Suffice to say, the Michigan House has voted overwhelmingly to expel Gamrat. Courser saw the writing on the wall and resigned.
No matter: Gamrat is still running for election to her old seat. Not easily deterred is the fourth person ever expelled from the Michigan Legislature!
What you see above is the joint opinion issued by the Grand Rapids Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette. Emphatic enough for you? (Incidentally, one advantage of print over digital is the effect of “negative space” like this. Take a look at how it looks online. Not as effective, is it?)
Look, you can’t do that sort of thing very often. You can’t run front-page editorials all the time, either. But there comes a time when the local newspaper should speak loud and clear. “No” is pretty clear. … Read the rest of this entry »
In Innovation on April 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm
This week, the nation’s best newspaper offered what it is calling, Times Insider. It’s pretty cool and may provide one of the keys for all of us going forward.
The idea is to give your most engaged readers unprecedented access to the journalists of the New York Times and a clear window into decisions that always seemed opaque before. The premium offer comes at a price. It costs digital subscribers another $10 a month.
Among other things, it promises question and answers with Times reporters:
This feature will try to put you behind the scenes at The Times. It will explore how we cover a war zone, how we launch projects, how we choose photographs — basically, how we work.
This is most fascinating for anyone who has been in the business more than, say, five years. Before it started to seem silly, we jealously guarded the “secrets” of the trade. We didn’t want readers to see how the sausage of journalism gets made. We wouldn’t have dreamed, for instance, of letting readers sit in on our editorial meetings. They might hear our snark and learn out biases. But that is one suggestion from Times Insider, and it’s something Digital First Media papers did several years ago.
The Times, like most newspapers, was sort of like Oz. You knew there was a wizard back there somewhere, but he was very well hidden from the commoners. … Read the rest of this entry »
In Opinion pages on November 2, 2012 at 8:09 am
The other day I was very pleased to help out at the San Francisco Peninsula High School Journalism Boot Camp. Organizers had me down to talk about editorials.
As I composed my thoughts for that task (have you ever tried to keep 30 teenagers interested in anything for an hour?), I uprooted some long-lost newspapers in my home office. For some reason, I have a half-dozen or so newspapers from June 6, 1968.
That’s the day after Robert F. Kennedy was shot.
History buffs will know that was roughly two months after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. (I have some papers from the day after that terrible event as well). The Vietnam war was raging. It was two months before the Democratic National Convention brought violence to the streets of Chicago. RFK’s brother, John, had been in his grave for only five years.
I read parts of the editorials to the students. Some of the newspapers included heart-felt, incredibly well-written editorials and columns on the front page. I think I had their attention.
Stupid, crazed men, brandishing a fiery gun, splintering bones of a politician. This is America? … If it isn’t too late, we’ve got to stop this delusion. So long as a man can’t campaign in safety, so long as a president can’t parade, so long as a Negro can’t preach reform without suffering the sting of an assassin’s bullet, then this is America.
— Bristol Virginia-Tennessean … Read the rest of this entry »
In Guiding principles on June 11, 2010 at 8:27 am
I want to talk for a moment about The Wall. Not the Pink Floyd album I used to listen to at ear-splitting volume in the dark of my parents’ basement … the other one.
I’m talking about the wall that traditionally was said to separate advertising from editorial at the nation’s best newspapers. Scary topic, I know.
Back in the day, news types would go on about their independence from financial concern of any sort. They would froth at the mere mention of advertisers influencing copy. They would use their shift key a lot in these discussions, conjuring the capital letters and capital ideas of the First Amendment, the Fourth Estate and so on. We were incorruptible. We were invincible!
Or course, many readers never believed any of this for a second. A lot of people always thought the big car dealer called the editorial shots. Sometimes the critics were even right. Read the rest of this entry »
In Opinion pages on June 11, 2010 at 8:09 am
A letter to the editor, written to a daily newspaper in the South and purporting to come from “Jesus Christ,” reads:
The Patterson-Gimlin film of Bigfoot that was made in 1967 is real. The test that (North American Science Institue) did on the film stated that the creature had both human and gorilla characteristics. Bigfoot is a human-primate hybrid. A man made creature that was created several thousand years ago by men that went to Africa and had sex with female gorillas. For all you skeptics out there, they were real men that had real sex with real female gorillas. And nobody was wearing a costume at the time.
OK, settle down, class. There is a moral to come, I promise… Read the rest of this entry »