In journalism on June 10, 2016 at 7:31 am
Reuters / Derek Hauck
You probably read that many Bernie Sanders supporters consider it sacrilege that the Associated Press got off its collective duff and called all the super delegates to the Democratic Convention. The AP determined that enough of them were pledging to vote to Hillary Clinton to render the rest of the primary game moot.
How dare they?! They have no right to call the contest before the final vote! The AP is disenfranchising voters! Oh, the lamestream media…
It’s the same logic that Donald Trump has employed again and again. Blame the messenger. The press is just another institution to many people and, frankly, we have only ourselves to blame for that perception.
But are they right in this instance? Is it wrong to say it’s over before it’s over?
I don’t think so, do you? All the AP did was show some initiative. It called and counted and reported the count. The alternative is waiting till it’s over and letting someone else count. That isn’t proactive reporting. That’s transcribing. … Read the rest of this entry »
In journalism on May 12, 2016 at 3:25 pm
Courtesy Getty Images
So there is this woman running for sheriff of Mohave County, Ariz. And there are these two people who can’t stand her. The candidate says they don’t like her because she once arrested one of them for assault. A supporter of the candidate wrote something unflattering about the opponents on Facebook. They sued in return.
Welcome to silly season.
The Lake Havasu News-Herald chronicles the dispute here. But, really, as we bear down on election season, you can read stories like that in most Wick newspapers. While they arouse white-flame passions locally, they always appear childish from afar. Interestingly, we tend to think there is something unique about our own local political climate that spawns stories like this, but trust me: this kind of stuff happens in every small town with an election.
Editors and reporters struggle with how to cover claims and counterclaims that often seem better suited for a school yard than a court of law. Usually, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Invariably, these come down to back-and-forth sorts of stories in which all you can hope to do is document each side’s claims and run for cover. (Here in Half Moon Bay, the battle du jour is over an obscure “official argument” against a ballot measure. One guy has sued claiming such arguments can only come from elected officials. He lost and is now appealing. … Not that anyone will actually read the written argument in question anyway. … Except for one fourth-grade class that used the specious arguments as a lesson in logic! That is making for a good column even as we speak.) … Read the rest of this entry »
In Elections on November 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm
What do you do on election night? I ask because I sincerely want to know what we might do better.
For the most part, this week’s election night in the Half Moon Bay Review newsroom was pretty darn similar to my first election night with the newspaper in 2004. In fact, it was only significantly different in one respect from the way I covered elections in the 1980s.
We divvied up assignments. Mark took the City Council and Harbor District, Julia got the Fire District and school board and I resolved to write about a tax measure. We made sure we had cell numbers for all the players. We wrote our B matter ahead of time. That’s the soft, gooey center of civic journalism, with candidate ages, a sentence or two about their positions and history, etc. (If you aren’t doing this ahead of time, see me. I’ll be happy to tell you how to go about it.) And then we waited for results to start rolling in. In keeping with newsroom practice since the Paleolithic era, we ate pizza on election night. (I highly recommend the meaty Montara Mountain at It’s Italia on Main Street…)
The only substantive difference from, say, the mid-1990s, is that there are now reliable online numbers that make waiting around the county elections office sort of quaint.
Sure, we do more than plop it in the newspaper for next-day consumption. We tweet the winners, put photos from election parties on Facebook and update the website as quickly as possible. … Read the rest of this entry »
In Elections on January 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm
Jim Pumarlo is a longtime community news guy. He’s consulted with newspapers all over the fruited plain and his latest book is “Journalism Primer: A Guide to Community News Coverage for Beginning and Veteran Journalists.” The following column appeared in the California Newspaper Publishers Association weekly email and I asked him if I could reprint it. He graciously agreed. Here’s a new year’s resolution: Resolve to get on top of the election cycle before it’s too late. Take it away, Jim… Clay
The general election is a year away. Numerous other political jurisdictions will conduct elections between now and then. Election preparation should be at the forefront of newsrooms.
Election coverage is one of the most demanding and exhaustive tasks that newsrooms undertake. Its various aspects from presenting candidate profiles to handling letters to the editor are scrutinized by candidates and the general electorate alike, underscoring the importance of fair and responsible coverage.
The coverage of months-long campaigns presents its challenges. That said, the process will be smoother for newsrooms – and the coverage more relevant to readers – if editors and reporters pay early attention. … Read the rest of this entry »
In Ethics on July 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm
There is a guy named Leland Yee running to be the next mayor of San Francisco. I know a bit about him because he is currently the state senator representing Half Moon Bay and environs.
He and I have had occasion to see things differently. That was true most recently when his ill-advised bill to outlaw the sale of violent videogames to minors was quashed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which had valid First Amendment concerns. He’s a politician. Sometimes he puts his finger to the wind to determine the prevailing political breeze before acting to best represent his constituents.
He also has a colorful past, including some near misses with the law.
Last week the alt-weekly SF Weekly ran a cover story headlined, “Sketchy: Leland Yee can’t erase his past.” It revisited two prior run-ins with city cops who thought he might be trying to pick up prostitutes in a notorious section of San Francisco (he was never charged) and a third kerfuffle in which he was stopped for pilfering tanning oil in Hawaii (I don’t think he was charged that time either.)
That’s fair game for a guy who is running to be mayor of a major U.S. city. But the drawings accompanying the piece really made me wince. You can see a couple of them in this post. … Read the rest of this entry »
In Elections on October 29, 2010 at 8:37 am
Election night is almost upon us and Wick Director of Digital Media Pete Bakke reminds us all to be first as well as accurate.
It’s imperative that we all post results – with some level of analysis – on election night, before the morning paper. I suspect that causes most of you to roll your eyes. Most of you have undoubtedly been doing just that for years now, but if you haven’t been posting election updates as they happen on election night, you are missing the boat and losing readers.
Thankfully, Pete and his staff say they will be standing by to help. He says all three of them will be available until 11 p.m. pacific time. You can reach them here:
In Elections on October 22, 2010 at 8:19 am
Perhaps more than ever, candidates hate our guts. OK, I don’t mean that. What I mean is that increasingly they feel they don’t need journalists to tell their stories.
Social media has changed the political game in many ways. Barack Obama was famous for marshaling the tools of Web 2.0 to bypass the mainstream media and communicate directly with an adoring public. In the parlance of the day, Obama went viral. Actually, while the tools have changed, the concept is nothing new. Ronald Reagan liked to pit an “elitist,” “liberal” media against the everyman who voted for him. Richard Nixon did it a decade before Reagan. Heck, Andrew Jackson made a political career for himself in the 19th century by reminding folks he wasn’t one of the elite crowd from the north.
I was reminded of that tradition when I read this story from Washington state. Candidates know they can use the public’s mistrust of reporters to their advantage and they don’t have to depend on us to disseminate their messages either… Read the rest of this entry »