Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Let the Beat Go On
Let the Beat Go On (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Your Final Beat Memo 

List important sources contacted during the semester and their areas of expertise. Give specific advice on contacting and handling the most important of these sources. In other words, provide tips on the best way to work your top sources. Which sources were the most valuable to you, balancing accessibility and cooperation with depth of expertise? With whom would you advise anyone following you on this beat to start?

List any secondary sources that proved particularly valuable during the semester. In other words, who were your “paper men” and what did they provide that enabled you to use your reporting time more efficiently?

Assume this memo will be passed on to a reporter who succeeds you on this beat. List stories that you would encourage them to pursue that you did not have time to explore. Mark each story one-star, two-star or three-star. In each case, include the rationale – remember our news values – for pursuing each story.

In general, what did you learn about working a beat during this semester?

Here's a link to a final beat memo from Toan Lam many years ago.

And here's a link to On the Media's interview with Jorge Ramossometimes called the leading Hispanic TV journalist in the U.S. What he says about how a news source should bring value to its particular viewers is useful.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Hope of Journalism in a Democracy

from Nate Silver on Jill Stein "recounts," which he says are really audits

Ultimately, though, I’m in the information business. An audit very probably won’t detect a conspiracy, but it will reveal information about our voting systems. FiveThirtyEight and most other American news organizations are founded on the premise that more information is better, even if it risks being misinterpreted. I’ve never questioned that premise more than I have over the course of this election. But over the next four years, we’re all going to have get used to an environment in which nuggets of insight come buried in mounds of misinformation. An audit is as good a place as any to start.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The 'Objectivity' Dynamic

Once you acknowledge your bias, you have a chance to resist it, though that, too, has perils.

"Based on what I’ve observed during the final months of this campaign, I believe Clinton is the favorite to win the general election. And so there is always a chance that I will (perhaps unconsciously) seek out patterns that confirm that prediction, or I will fail to spot evidence suggesting the opposite outcome. Conversely, now that I’ve acknowledged this bias, it’s possible I’ll overcompensate and swing too far the other way."

From Slate

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Rest of the Semester

Week Twelve: November 9
Resume preparation. Job-hunting skills and what an employer looks for. Ideas about hunting for jobs.

Big Story outline/progress report (13) is due Friday, November 11.    
Week Thirteen: November 16
Videolicious. Working on final projects.

Writing sample from Big Story (14) is due Wednesday, November 16.    

Week Fourteen: November 23 (Thanksgiving Week)
Working on final projects. If you want me to read a draft, this is the time.

Week Fifteen: November 30

Big story (15) is due Wednesday, December 2.

Week Sixteen: December 7

Final story from your beat (16) is due Friday, December 9.

FINAL EXAMINATION: Beat summary (17) will be due Wednesday, December 21. This will be your final.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Style Matters, as These Links Suggest

Garfield (character)
Garfield (character) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defama...
English: Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Logo Italiano: Logo della Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Breaking news on AP style

William Safire in his On Language column in The New York Times approved of the use of generic he, mentioning the mnemonic phrase "the male embraces the female".[20] A reader replied with an example of use of the purportedly gender-neutral he:
"The average American needs the small routines of getting ready for work. As he shaves or blow-dries his hair or pulls on his panty-hose, he is easing himself by small stages into the demands of the day."
— C. Badendyck [sic], New York Times (1985);[21] as quoted by Miller and Swift.[17]:46

From AJR two years ago

AP standards editor Tom Kent said the Associated Press has reevaluated its more conservative

“Society evolves – and news organizations evolve with it,” Kent said. “The AP has evolved. A
 decade or two ago, we tried very hard to avoid using the word ‘hell’ if we didn’t have to. I think
 we’ve moved beyond that now. And five years from now, lord knows what we’ll be saying.”

But the AP still evaluates profanity on a strict case-by-case basis. “We’re trying to keep pace 
with common usage,” Kent said, “while looking at vulgarity as the way we look at everything
else, which is: What is essential to the story?”

For instance, Kent pointed out a Broadway play from 2011 called “The Motherf—— With The

“There was no way to get around that,” he said, so they used five hyphens to convey the title 
without fully spelling out the word. For a story about a popular book called “Sh*tty Mom,” 
the AP went even further, spelling out the word “shitty” in a quote.

Kent mentioned a few once-forbidden words that have become relatively commonplace.
 “I suppose that ass is something that we see more in stories these days than we might’ve 
a decade or two ago. When Barack Obama called Kanye West a jackass, we certainly had
no trouble running that,” he said. “Goddamn is something that we would’ve thought 10 times
about a decade ago, but recently we quoted Michael Douglas as saying ‘I don’t smile a lot
in my pictures…I’m always so goddamn grim.’ There wasn’t much debate about that.”

Still, there remain certain lines the AP will not cross. When Vice President Joe Biden dropped
an f-bomb while congratulating President Obama on passing the healthcare bill, the AP
 published the quote, but hyphenated out the word. Kent doesn’t expect these standards
 to loosen much in the near future, as they are based on reader demands.

“I suppose if the trend among our members or subscribers changes substantially, we will too.
 But I don’t think there’s much doubt in any reader’s mind what ‘f’ and some hyphens 
and ‘s’ and some hyphens mean, so we’re hardly concealing what the word is when 
we use them.”

The Pussy Problem

AP Stylebook Updates 2016

AP Stylebook Updates 2015

Poynter Presents the Highlights

The Conscious Style Guide

From the University of Pittsburgh, Gender and Sexuality

from New York Times earlier this year

“Students proposed ‘they/them’ pronouns, but the faculty vetoed the idea because they said it is grammatically incorrect,” Mr. Williams recalled. “They said, ‘You don’t put a plural pronoun with a single individual.’” A second option, also being used in various trans communities, was “ze” (pronounced ZEE), a riff on the German pronoun “sie,” with “hir” replacing “his/her.”

GLAAD Style Guide

Disability Issues

Why Style Matters in "Creating Brand"

PR pro loving AP Style

AP Style and "racial" IDs

No More 'Illegal Immigrants' in AP Stories

Some Raise the Specter of 'Language Police'

Buzzfeed Style Guide

Livestock Publications Style Guide

NFL Super Bowl Style Guide

Army Communicator Style Manual

Some AP Style Quizzes

AP Style Chat F17

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Your Opinion?

You've seen the picture.

Hi professor Robertson!!

I'm in a bit of a confusing situation and I thought maybe you could give me some advice... I want clarification about whether or not I was in the wrong. I took a photo of an elephant exhibit at a big carnival in my hometown. I went to Facebook and I posted this photo online to promote the mistreatment of elephants. In the photo, there are small children riding the elephant.
When I posted this photo to facebook it unexpectedly got a lot of shares and call to action posts to treat the elephants better. I then received a facebook message from one of the children's moms:

While I understand your plight and respect your opinion on animal rights I don't feel it's fair that you spread photos of young children on the Internet without parental consent. These three kiddos are mine and I feel you have violated their privacy by snapping a picture of their faces and spreading it on social media. You posted their picture without stopping to think if doing so may reveal their location to an estranged family member, possibly putting them in a precarious situation. I get you feel sorry for the animal, and again appreciate your argument, but perhaps you should think of how your case could be presented without identifying minors. I would appreciate it you could remove this photo from your post so my kids don't have to worry about people who shouldn't be looking for them. Thank you."

Am I in the wrong? I did not mean to harm anyone and my purpose for this post was to spread awareness of the elephant problem. But This photo was taken at a PUBLIC event with no journalistic purposes whatsoever. My only concern is that the children are not of age to consent, but would they need to consent if the photo is at a public place?

Here is the photo:


As you can see, the children's faces are barely visible...

Please let me know! I'd love anything you have to share.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why the Sports Beat is a Window on the World

from Salon

The controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s comments are a reminder of how sports are a metaphor for social and political life in the United States. For example, in the NFL black players dominate on the field but are grossly underrepresented as head coaches and in other senior positions. The NFL’s teams — with one exception — are all owned by white men. Likewise, white men are grossly over-represented in the National Football League’s media, marketing, and merchandising machine. Women are present largely as cheerleaders, sex objects for the titillation of men. Old racial stereotypes still color how football players are described by sports analysts and fans. Black football players have “natural talent” and “raw physicality”; white football players “work hard” and are “intelligent.” As such, the notion that African-Americans possess the mental acumen necessary to play as a starting quarterback in the National Football League is still a relatively new one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Old Beat Assignment We May Revisit

San Francisco Bay Area highlighted in red on a...
San Francisco Bay Area highlighted in red on a map of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Beat overview:

* Briefly describe an issue on your beat that is national. That is, an issue that - if written about - would run in a publication with nationwide circulation. It might run in a Bay Area publication without being localized or (less likely) in the Foghorn, but the rationale for its having been written is its national appeal.

* Briefly describe an issue on your beat that is local. That is, an issue that - if written about - would run in a Bay Area publication. It might run in the Foghorn without campus sources being added or (less likely) in a national publication, but the rationale for its having been written is its Bay Area appeal.

*Briefly describe an issue on your beat that is USF constrained. That is, an issue that - if written about - would run in the Foghorn. It might run in a Bay Area publication or (less likely) in a national publication, but the rationale for its having been written is its campus appeal.

You will draw on your sources, including the news sites and the Twitter feeds you follow, to provide this overview.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Curious about Beat Etymology and Sick of Google's Amateurism, I Turn to the OED

Sometimes Google lacks authority. I went back to my miniaturized version of the Oxford English Dictionary to find the first use of beat as "the action of the feet upon the ground" and also the first reference to a "course habitually traversed by a watchman, sentinel, or constable on duty." Now I'm satisfied usage moved from cops to reporters and not vice versa. I'm pleased that the sense of the word in both usages is that beat reporting is an exercise in dogged routine, in using up shoe leather.

Jeffrey Toobin, Reporter

English: Patty Hearst at the Hibernia bank, Sa...
English: Patty Hearst at the Hibernia bank, San Francisco, 15 April 1974. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My editor at Doubleday actually suggested Patty Hearst and I said to him, “Well there must be a million books about Patty Hearst,” and he said, “Go check.”
And I actually went and checked and I saw no journalist had looked into any of this in more than 30 years. So I thought, What the heck! It seemed like a good subject and I started  doing what a journalist does. I started trying to track down sources and it turns out there were a lot of people who would talk to me about it.
Did you talk to Patty Hearst about it?
I did not. I tried. If you have the book in front of you, there’s an author’s note at the end, which discusses this at greater length. She refused to talk to me and I tried everything, directly and indirectly.
She basically didn’t want to talk to me for two reasons. One is she’s in her early 60s now. This is very far in the past. She doesn’t want to relive the experience and I certainly want to respect that.
The other reason though . . . She’s given many interviews about this subject, almost exclusively to journalists who know almost nothing about the underlying facts and, I think, she didn’t really want to answer any sort of detailed questions because there’s a lot that, I think, is pretty hard to explain.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Brand Journalism - or Should That be in Quotes?

Tiger Woods at Dubai Desert Classic 2001
Tiger Woods at Dubai Desert Classic 2001 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Can't find the original source...

Several athletes are already taking control of their message. Tiger Woods announces all of his news via his website. Athletes take to Derek Jeter’s “The Players’ Tribune” to tell their own story. The most marketable athletes tend to also be the ones actively telling their stories on their digital platforms.
Brands need to grasp the same opportunity to tell their stories to fans in interesting ways. Blasting out press materials in hopes that writers and bloggers will pick it up is – at best – old fashioned, and at worse, increasingly ineffective.
The future of cutting edge media relations strategies are centered on the brand as a storytelling engine; a news outlet in its own right. Forward-thinking brands are taking control of where, when and how they tell their stories online by being more assertive and deliberate in how they use their owned properties as branded destinations.
Brand journalism is a vehicle that organizations, especially those invested within the sports category, must use to reach consumers.