Sunday, February 18, 2018

British Comedian Has Lessons for American Journalism

English: John Oliver, American Comedian Origin...
English: John Oliver, American Comedian Original description by Ted Kerwin: :Mitch and I were interviewed by John Oliver, lets see if we make the cut. :We made it at 1:30 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
John Oliver says he's not a journalist, but he has some good ideas.

But save the usual sarcasm and biting jokes at the state of the world that keeps everyone in the conference room belly-laughing, Oliver has a lot to say about how to report on President Donald Trump. Given the daily onslaughts on the media from the White House, the crusade against facts, and the labeling of any dissent or critique as "fake news," these lessons are critical and welcomed.

Friday, February 09, 2018

A Journalist at Work

The famous Michael Lewis

Before I go to bed I send him a note. I’d planned to go watch the State of the Union address at the Capitol. I now think I’d rather watch Bannon watch the State of the Union address. Bannon is understandably gun-shy after the Wolff saga. He’d agreed to meet me for lunch so long as we spoke on background, and he had the right to vet any quotes. So I suggest safe terms: I tell him I’d like to record his play-by-play thoughts about Trump’s big speech, on the record -- though if he says anything he regrets in the moment he can just tell me, and I won’t use it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bear Traps on the Final Exam (Watch Your Feet)

Big Bad Wolf
Big Bad Wolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. At least every other paragraph, source your material:

 * Police said... 
 * According to police...
 * According to the police report... 
 * xxxxx told police that...

2. Unless someone is arrested, do NOT include her/his name.

3. If someone IS arrested but that person is 17 or under, do NOT include his/her name.

4. Only include so-called racial identifiers - an Asian woman, a Hispanic or Latino man,  a black or African-American woman if:

* the incident might be considered a hate crime, that is, a crime in which the so-called race/ethnicity of one of those involved in some way precipitated the incident. In that case the race/ethnicity of a victim or of someone who was arrested might be included.

* the preceding not being true, someone is a suspect in a crime (i.e., has NOT been arrested/is still out there) AND

* the description is sufficiently detailed that it might aid in the apprehension of the person who committed the crime.

The Department of Public Safety received information from the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) on Saturday, July 4 that an attempted rape with force occurred on June 28 at approximately 12:30 pm at the French Quarter Laundromat at 2601 McAllister at Stanyan.

The suspect is described as a white male, possibly Hispanic, medium complexion, 20 to 23 years old, 6 feet tall, 200 pounds with a full trimmed beard.  He was last seen wearing a brown rock-band t-shirt, possibly a Metallica shirt, brown corduroy jean pants and a back pack.  He was accompanied by a mutt pit bull dog, tan and white in color on a brightly colored leash.

5. Don't announce as fact something that you don't know and that none of your sources actually said.  Example: According to the police report, the professor was waving a large stick and complaining in general terms - let us say about being late to class -about his students who were standing nearby. Several students told police they felt threatened.

Do NOT say that the professor was threatening his students. You can only describe what police said his actions were and what the police said the students felt about those actions: According to police, several of the professor's students who were standing nearby felt threatened when the professor waved a large stick while complaining about them.

Do you see the distinction?

6. If the person's age is available, give it.

7. Beware of writing in chronological order, that is, beginning with the first thing that happened and gradually working your way down to the most important thing that happened, that is, The News. Put the most important information at the top.

A local wolf was killed yesterday after falling into a pot of boiling water while attempting to crawl down the chimney of a house that he had tried but failed to blow down moments before.
  The water had been put in place by the homeowner, a local pig acting, he told police, to protect himself and his two brothers whose homes had been blown down by the wolf earlier, and who had then fled to their brother’s home.
    The pig told police his home is made of brick. His brothers' homes, he said, were made respectively of sticks and straw. (100 words)

For those who've forgotten the tale, here is a more benign version:


Monday, April 24, 2017

The Week of April 24

1) Your Big Story is not due until Friday at midnight.

2) With one exception,   I am not giving any extensions. Write your story as if the information you have at the moment of writing is all that you will have. If there are holes in the story because sources have not responded, acknowledge that in the text.

3) However, if a source comes through after deadline, add that source to the story and resubmit.

4) No AP style test until a week from Wednesday.

5) No class on Wednesday. I will be in my office 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. for consultation. I can be consulted at home by phone other days and times.

6) Some of you still owe me your beat memo. ASAP please.

7) You have all been invited to enroll in Videolicious. Do so.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Meet Our Wednesday Visitor. Your Assignment is to Post Questions for Her in Comment Section

Meet Nanette Asimov.

Stories she suggests we look at.

Here are a few story options that could inspire discussion about how we cover stuff:

UC Berkeley worker says professor sexually assaulted, then fired her (good for discussion of fair coverage / and what’s a nut graf)

Videos show officer tackling seated man, waving gun in Vallejo (non-education story – wahoo! – good not only for fairness, but what happens when one side doesn’t call you back? and where’s the nut graf)

Outrage over dean altering story in Santa Clara campus paper (How to cover news and be fearless at a private university… and where’s the nut graf)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Getting Started, or Ignore Your Notes

Sailing Analogies for Interviewing Techniques

Who are you as an interviewer?

The wind I face represents my natural disposition as an interviewer, in this case timidity. To get the information I want, I need to interview more aggressively. That is, I "sail" into the wind, forcing myself to be as direct as possible - which is never going to be straight ahead.


 The wind behind me represents my natural disposition as an interviewer, in this case combative assertiveness. To get the information I want, sometimes I need to interview less aggressively. That is, I "sail" with the wind - without piling on too much sail. Sometimes one needs to slow down.


Or just jump in the water and go for it, clumsily but persistently. Dog paddlers can get there, too.

(But be careful about trying to persuade through analogy as I have just done.)