“He said-she said” journalism debate rages

In “How ‘balanced journalism’ helped the climate change deniers,” Will Bunch of Philly.com discusses a New York Times article “about how an interest group heavily funded by the oil and auto industries called the Global Climate Coalition was able to muddy the waters on manmade global warming, overriding scientists who said proof of this “greenhouse effect” was now beyond any doubt.”

Bunch continues:

You shouldn’t surprised that the Global Climate Coalition (nice name, by the way) ignored all this and went ahead and used pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo to create enough “reasonable doubt” on the issue for the public and our elected pols to put off any tough choices on global warming. What’s disturbing (although, again, not all that surprising) is the role that supposed “journalistic ethics” played in spreading this Big Lie, by cluelessly giving these charlatans equal play with the established science on the issue.

Other related articles worth checking out: Jay Rosen’s long “He Said, She Said Journalism: Lame Formula in the Land of the Active User,” which includes a very useful definition of the phrase and includes links to several other related articles and blog posts, including Richard Sambrook of the BBC’s “What’s So Funny About News, Comment and Understanding?”

Standards of good journalism remain fundamental to the job

In “‘Old journalism’’ standards that shouldn’t die,” Gina Chen argues that even as news media undergo a major transformation, journalists must not lose track of standards such as accuracy, impartiality and careful editing. Most of all, however, it comes down to quality: “With so many options for readers, you have to be good to expect anyone to read you and keep reading you.”

In Jon Stewart we trust?

“The Daily Show,” according to an article by Michiko Kakutani, is now a genuine cultural and political force. The political and social satire show, which airs on Comedy Central, brings many controversial issues to surface in an effort to bring awareness to the public.
“‘The Daily Show’ is clearly impacting American dialogue” and “getting people to think critically about the public square,” Kakatuni writes.
Host and managing editor Jon Stewart has become a cultural icon and has gained the trust of many American citizens.

When Americans were asked in a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press to name the journalist they most admired, Mr. Stewart, the fake news anchor, came in at No. 4, tied with the real news anchors Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw of NBC, Dan Rather of CBS and Anderson Cooper of CNN.

When a quote is not quite the quote

In “Quote, Unquote,” The Washington Post’s Ombudsman, Deborah Howell, discusses the misuse of quotes among journalists. Journalists frequently will “clean up” quotes to avoid “embarrass[ing] someone whose command of grammar is weak,’ says Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, assistant managing editor for sports at The Washington Post. Many sports journalists take this approach; however, Howell’s view is plain:

Quotes should not be changed. If coaches or athletes are routinely “cleaned up,” that should stop. Simply put, quotes should be and sound authentic. And The Post needs to set this particular record straight. Wise’s Portis quote should be restored to its original form. The rough draft of history is still history.

NPR reinvents itself with multimedia

National Public Radio is focusing on reinventing itself in order to indulge its listeners in a more user-friendly experience. Included in this transformation is a revamped Web site and multimedia training for its editorial staff.
“Back in the days that there was just radio, your station was the only point of entry to all this content,” says Robert Spier, director of content development for NPR Digital Media. “You couldn’t get NPR except through your station because it was only available on radio, and radio was time and geographically bound.” Today, of course, “the user expects to be in control of his or her experience.”

Beyond the inverted pyramid: The news diamond

In his post “A Model for the 21st Century Newsroom: Pt. 1 — the News Diamond,” Paul Bradshaw offers a Web-first model of publishing that might prove useful for those teaching convergence journalism classes. He breaks the types of news reports into those that capitalize on the online mediums twin strengths of speed and depth. Compelling reading, as is Pt. 2 — Distributed Journalism.

Using links properly

Frank Rich of The New York Times tells the Nieman Journalism Lab why he is one of the few Times writers to include hyperlinks in his work. In the process, he also offers good advice for anyone writing for online delivery:

As a reader, I can’t stand the links where if the link is “Barack Obama,” and you click the link and it’s Barack Obama’s official campaign page. It’s useless because any sentient person who knows how to use the Internet doesn’t need that link to figure out how to get a motherlode of information about a proper name in a piece of journalism… So the feeling I’ve always had is let’s get the links as specific as possible instead of something generic.

New factor in writing: SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the use of techniques to ensure “that your content is found by the millions of people every day who use search engines as their first filter for news and those who don’t search at all but trust an automated aggregator, such as Google News, to filter stories for them,” according to Shane Richmond in the British Journalism Review. One consequence of using SEO techniques is that writers need to tailor their copy to be found more readily. While some writers complain about those restrictions, Richmond notes that

It should be clear by now that there’s nothing to debate when it comes to SEO. If you want your story to be found, you have to adopt these techniques. There’s no room for argument.