Concise + Accurate = Journalism

Posted on May 12, 2014
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The Washington Post detailed an article about another memo the AP put out as of late. No, this one doesn’t have to deal with switching abbreviated state names back to the full name. The memo this time around is basically about stories being too long and no one cares what you have to say unless you can sum it up for me.

I have to say this is quite concerning for me. As a journalist for the Royal Purple I routinely go above and beyond. This leaves my editor with word counts well over 800 words. According to the AP, only the very top global stories of the day warrant that many words. I write about sports, so I’m going to go ahead and assume my stories don’t fit into that category.

0423_apI don’t see going over the word count as a problem. I see it as getting everything I have on paper. My whole story rarely gets published. Obviously we have limited space to work with. However, it is that limited space that makes me reflect on what I have written and chop out what is not crucial for the story to succeed. I ended up doing this quite a bit with my editor and it helped form a better relationship.

I suppose when it comes to web journalism we don’t have space issues, but if it’s not tight then no one will read it anyway.



Gist of the memo:



As promised at the end of our Monday talk on story lengths, here are some guidelines to establish target lengths for different types of stories.

In the U.S. regions, we will aim to stick to these guidelines. Other regions and departments may have slightly different ranges depending on the needs of their primary audiences. These are ours.
Most daily, bylined digest stories: 300-500 words
The top 1-2 stories in each state: 500-700 words
The very top global stories of the day, at or near the top of the the digest: 700+ (but still tightly written and edited)
While I’m sure everyone can think of exceptions, these guidelines should cover the vast majority of stories that we produce for both state and global audiences.

Here are two keys to successful execution:

– The reporter and editor should have a discussion about the appropriate length of stories at the outset of reporting — and stick to it;
– Consider using alternative story forms either to break out details from longer stories, or in lieu of a traditional text story.

And to summarize the key points of Monday’s discussion, our members and subscribers are clearly and near-unanimously sending the message that our text stories need to be tighter.


Posted on May 6, 2014
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The Fall of Clippers Owner Donald Sterling

The Fall of Clippers Owner Donald Sterling

Sterling’s abrupt downfall came on the heels of a tape recording unbeknownst to him. The recordings, composed by Sterling’s mistress Vivian Stiviano, contained racist remarks regarding African-Americans.

  1. TMZ obtains recordings of conversation between Sterling and Stiviano.
  2. Clippers Owner Donald Sterling to GF – Don’t Bring Black People to My Games, Including Magic Johnson
  3. NBA is investigating “disturbing and offensive” recording by @TMZ purportedly of Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks.
  4. NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson responds.
  5. TMZ reported this morning that Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn’t want me or other African-Americans to come to Clippers games.
  6. .@cjbycookie and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.
  7. I know coaches & players play for each other & especially THE FANS, but it would be hard for me to play another game for Sterling. #NBA
  8. The TNT halftime crew discusses the ramifications that could result from Sterling's comments.
  9. TNT Halftime reacts to Donald Sterling’s racist remarks
  10. Commissioner Adam Silver briefly addresses Sterling's comments but insists an investigation will take place before a decision is made.
  11. NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Clippers owner Donald Sterling
  12. ‘NBA Countdown’ Crew on Donald Sterling
  13. President Obama is confident that commissioner Adam Silver will resolve the matter but thinks racism is something that will likely continue to surface.

    "When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don't really have to do anything," Obama said. "You just let them talk."
  14. Obama on Donald Sterling Racist Audio 27 April 2014
  15. Deadspin obtains full recording of Sterling's racist remarks.
  16. Magic Johnson on Clippers Owner Donald Sterling
  17. The photo that sent Sterling in a racist rant.
  18. Clippers' players protest their owner before game 4 against the Warriors in Oakland.
  19. An inside look at the Clippers’ protest in Oakland of Donald Sterling. (via @ArashMarkazi)
  20. ICYMI: Clippers throw down warmups & wear practice jerseys inside out in protest of owner Donald Sterling. » 
  21. Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s Racist Rant
  22. Well-known NBA reporter/analyst Stephen A. Smith had a lot to say after the weekend turmoil.
  23. Stephen A. Smith on Donald Sterling Comments – ESPN First Take
  24. Silver bans Sterling for life and fines him the maximum allowed ($2.5 million).
  25. Donald Sterling Banned for Life – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver bans clippers owner!
  26. BREAKING: NBA commissioner Adam Silver bans Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life.
  27. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Bans Donald Sterling For Life
  28. The NBA reacts on Twitter.
  29. I agree 100% with Commissioner Silvers findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling
  30. Commissioner of the @NBA just showed us how he drops the hammer on ignorance. #lifetimeban for Donald Sterling. The ultimate #gonefishing
  31. Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life.
  32. Former and current NBA players are very happy and satisfied with Commissioner Silver’s ruling.
  33. Very proud of commissioner Silver for his leadership. Well done Adam!
  34. Commissioner Silver….STRONG…way to take charge and protect our great league.
  35. Commissioner Silver, FANTASTIC!!! New Sheriff lays down the law, kudos… Honest n precise.. #BANNEDForLife
  36. Current and former NBA players now know that in Commissioner Adam Silver we have a great leader leading our league.
  37. ‘Standing ovation’ for Commissioner Silver. Big time decision standing up for the league and it’s players. Now, Gotta see it through
  38. Strong leadership from Commissioner Silver! He has my full support.
  39. Commissioner Silver thank you for protecting our beautiful and powerful league!! Great leader!! #BiggerThanBasketball #StriveForGreatness
  40. The people who I’m happiest for are Coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers players and fans.
  41. There was no other solution! Adam Silver & the owners have made the right decision. #nba
  42. NBPA Kevin Johnson and Roger Mason Jr. address Adam Silver’s lifetime ban of Donald Sterling
  43. Donald Sterling Banned For Life, Fined $2.5 Million
  44. Clippers' head coach Doc Rivers gives his take.
  45. Doc Rivers address the Media after Donald Sterling Decision by NBA
  46. Stiviano speaks to Barbra Walters about Sterling.
  47. Donald Sterling’s Confidante V.Stiviano Speaks Out
  48. Sports Illustrated releases full transcript of Silver's news conference.

New School Networking with Old School Journalists

Posted on May 5, 2014
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efSteve Buttry is at it again. Only this time, he is trying to integrate those who grew up on old school journalism with those who live and breathe social media. Many new journalists are just trying to navigate their way through the field while picking up tips on the way. This is much easier said than done.

Some of Buttry’s tips include an old fashioned email. Don’t worry email is still in style, for now. He suggests asking a journalist you want to get in touch with a question. It’s a small step but a step nevertheless that could start the foundation of a relationship. Not every person is going to get back to you. Don’t sweat it. Just move on to the next one.

Buttry also encourages young inspiring journalist to follow some of their favorites and interact with them through that forum. It’s a good idea to complement them on their work no matter the platform or ask them a question like why they choose that approach instead of whatever you think you would have done. Again this can be hit and miss, but it doesn’t hurt to try, right?

He has a lot of other good tips but the most important one is not to be a pest. Hey we’re all busy, right? We can’t always get to everything we need or want to. Journalists are the same way. We need to understand that and not spam them just because we want to get our foot in the door. It won’t work and if anything it will backfire. Make sure to seek out those who are willing to talk and go from there.

To Spell Out, or Not to Spell Out

Posted on April 26, 2014
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AP has decided to spell out state names in the body of stories, effective May 1. Datelines, photo captions, lists, etc. will continue to be abbreviated.

Reporters on Twitter are not happy. I can understand why they are upset. The news world is becoming more digital and mobile than ever. With so much journalism on the web, how is this going to transition to Twitter?

ap-tweetTwitter limits one to 140 characters as it is, so having to spell out state names, especially the longer ones, takes away characters they just don’t have to begin with. That being said, is this really a big deal? I mean after all, a reporter can pretty much tweet how they want without the AP cracking down on them.

I feel like Twitter is one of those forums where just about anything goes in order to get one’s message across. If you have to abbreviate something you normally wouldn’t or spell something differently to make it all fit you just do. Maybe I’m wrong? Twitter is all about being concise and so I wouldn’t think this would be such a problem.

Twitter Could Potentially Lead to Job Prospects.

Posted on April 21, 2014
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I think most of us know having a Twitter account is just a good idea. It has become especially important as a journalist. It’s a great way to get user-generated content out there or to link to other journalist’s content. Twitter can also provide a connection to a writer’s audience that a journalist normally wouldn’t have. Followers can provide critics and feedback that a journalist can respond to. Twitter also helps downloadjournalist build a following that may come in handy one day.

Steve Buttry recently posted on his blog about a time in which he was fired and how Twitter helped him get back on his feet. No Twitter itself didn’t get him a new job but his followers helped provide him with potential prospects for a new job.

Journalism is a fickle industry that is constantly being revolutionized. For example, web journalism is something that has really taken off over the last couple of years. Lucky for us web journalists it is so easy to link to our Twitter accounts. Just putting it out there could lead to something big. You never know when it might come in handy.

Social Media Gatekeepers?

Posted on April 15, 2014
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Newspapers having gatekeepers is nothing new or out of the ordinary. That being said, they really don’t exist anymore with the way web journalism has blown up. The structure online has made it so anything and everything can get covered. With space no longer being an issue anymore, even the smallest of local news can find its way online. Has the transition included social media?



Vivian Schiller, Twitter’s Head of News, spoke at the Newspaper Association of America conference in Denver. She stressed that every journalist should master social media and not leave it to the social media manager to take care of. No single person should be a gatekeeper. A group of people should be involved in the decision making process.

Social media is a vital tool and journalists should be aware of how to use it properly. I think that is where a social media manager comes in. They should be helping the journalists as they go instead of doing it for them. Social media is a way for a journalist to brand them self. If they don’t understand how to do it or use it then it will all be lost.

Don’t Worry About Twitter, Worry About Facebook

Posted on April 8, 2014
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86486a767dbb26ebe6adbd20c09c2917President and Founder of SocialNewsDesk Kim Wilson recently reflected on one of her first blog posts as part of the launch of her blog. Wilson’s post teased readers about how Twitter was stating to fade.

Her latest post talked about how even though we are four years removed from what looked like a grey-area, Twitter is still going strong after four years and is continuing to grow. I found all of this to be quite ironic considering it is now Facebook that appears to be on the outs.

Over the recent months Facebook has lost the interest of there most important demographic. Teenagers don’t seem to find Facebook “cool” anymore. The have definitely gravitated towards the much more innovative and fresh Twitter.

As Facebook seemingly grew in popularity it brought with it people of all ages and that’s just what teenagers don’t like. It will be interesting to see if companies will continue to market to teenagers on Facebook or shift to Twitter to follow an important demographic.

What is a Four-letter Word that Rhymes with Duck?

Posted on April 1, 2014
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What are you thinking right now? Are you thinking of a “bad” word right now? Are you blushing? I would guess not as you probably did not grow up in the early to mid 20th century. The use of profanity has become almost commonplace in today’s world yet the media outright ignores it.

0331OPEDoops-master495-v2Now I’m not going to sit hear an advocate that we need to use vulgarity to “spice things up” or even go as far as well why not, that’s just how people talk nowadays. However, I will say it has become ridiculous in some situations that journalists in the 21st century are not always able to capture the true essence of what was said because of “time capsule” like constrictions.

Why do journalists have to use phrases like “a blunt expletive when expressing frustration” or “profanely dismissed European efforts in Ukraine as weak and inadequate.”

Journalism, at its roots, is suppose to be concise and clear. Was any of that? I don’t think so.

What does that even me? I sure as **** don’t know. Heck! I promise I said HECK!

If there is any confusion of what was actually said then we need to be clear and concise about what was actually said. We are quoting them for a reason aren’t we? They did just say something off the norm, right?

If Web Journalism is the Future, Why is it Stuck in the Past?

Posted on March 17, 2014
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It has been well documented that uniques and page views are not an appropriate measuring stick when it comes to web traffic. So why does a medium that prides itself on being the future of journalism have such a simplified scope?

The quick answer is there is no existing metric that has the ability to replace a websites set ways of doing things. However, it is worth noting that measurement of attention and engagement is starting to make some noise. A new metric may not be that far off in the horizon.

Rick Edmonds, of, brought this very problem to center stage. He advocates that there has to be a better way to measure traffic and he cites Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile as his main source. Haile’s lead graf from “What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong” reads eloquently.

“We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read,” Haile said. “We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again.”

I couldn’t agree more. I know I have accidentally clicked on something I didn’t want to before and have therefore been counted as a page view. I’m also not naive to the fact that sharing is just something people do and it hardly provides substantial metrics.

“Print” Newspapers Making a Comeback?

Posted on March 8, 2014
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The realistic answer is a simple no, but it would be more than fair to say newspapers are not fading into the dark as quickly as many not only predicted but also expected. Below is a Scarborough report that highlights how consumers get their news.












It is probably shocking for some to see that print consumption of news still dominates the mainstay. Roughly 55% of people read the news strictly though a print platform. Even more shocking, 84% of people still use “print” in some fashion even if they combine it with web consumption or a mobile device.

What I found even more unusual was the idea that daily newspaper circulation actually increased by 3%. Reading between the numbers will show that there is something far more interesting going on. Realistically daily newspaper circulation is very much on the decline. The majority of papers lost between 1 and 5% of its circulation. That being said, that isn’t too bad for smaller papers still trying to survive. Is it ideal? No, but there is still money to made in a world that is thirsty for news.



However, all is certainly not lost. The most impressive number 22.3%. This is the percent increase that has occurred for the top 5 newspapers. This tells me that although lesser newspapers are losing circulation, news readers are simply going somewhere else for their news. They are not going to web and mobile they are just switching newspapers.

Newspapers still have a lot to offer and web journalism, although the future, has not taken over just yet.

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