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The ‘essentially accurate’ standard

Abraham Lincoln began the Gettysburg Address with the words, “About a century ago, the dudes that started it all . . .” Well, ok. Those weren’t exactly the words, but they are “essentially accurate.” That’s the standard that Detroit Free Press sportswriter Mitch Albom imposed upon himself in handling direct quotations for his column. Apparently, […]

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Women as news sources

That is the basic finding of a new study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The basic finding is probably not surprising, but what is impressive and important is how widespread and consistent is the tendency of journalists to use men rather than women as sources […]

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The Numbers Guy

Numbers are funny things — especially for journalists. They sound so definite and authoritative. Numbers represent facts in a seemingly indisputable way. They are easy to use and easy to understand. But numbers should always be checked for context and source. One journalist who regularly examines the source and context of numbers is Carl Bailik, […]

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First reporting assignment: a preview story

It’s the first week of class in your reporting class. Your students are bright and eager — and they don’t have a clue about what they are supposed to do. You want to get them into the field quickly, but you’re afraid (rightly so) to unleash them on an unsuspecting campus. The solution: a preview […]

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The center of gravity has shifted

The web has pretty much rendered obsolete the adage that says you should never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel and newsprint by the ton. Today there is less fear and frustration with the news media on the part of those outside the profession, and there is more willingness […]

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Bonds hoisted on his own Louisville slugger?

It would be a reporter’s dream: Barry Bonds answering questions under oath — with two reporters in the room. That could be one of the outcomes of the suit that San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds has filed against Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, two San Francisco Chronicle reporters who have written a book about Bonds’ […]

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Gay Talese, a reporter’s life

For decades now, readers and critics have focused on Gay Talese’s writing style. In the 1960s he was a pioneer of the New Journalsim, which used fictional and literary techniques to tell his nonfiction stories. But what readers should have been focusing on was his reporting, which is meticulous, exacting and precise. Talese, according to […]

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David Halberstam, reporter

Most of all, I think, he demonstrated that a reporter who does his job can make a difference.

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Kiffen pre-presser video – last century’s journalism

The YouTube video above shows the eight minutes of controversy surrounding Bud Ford, the news reporters, and Lane Kiffen’s lack of cooperation with reporters in dispensing information about his resignation as Tennessee’s football coach last week. The video has been racing around the web (more than 175,000 views as of this morning), and lots of […]

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New York Times coverage of Obama’s speech – a different reporting form

The New York Times used the tools of the web to bring the story of Barack Obama’s speech to Congress last week in a different and innovative way. The web offers journalists many opportunities to report on events in ways that we never could have done with another medium. Witness the New York Times coverage […]

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The demise of newspapers means better journalism

We who contemplate the importance of journalism look at the future with trepidation. What happens to journalism, we ask, when newspapers continue on their inevitable decline? The question assumes that journalism itself will be diminished.I am coming to a different conclusion: Journalism will improve once newspapers die or decline to a minor medium. Note that […]

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A good take on being a reporter

Reporting is where journalism begins. Without reporting — gather facts, information, and views and putting all those together — journalism doesn’t exist. So we owe a deep debt to those who spend their lives doing the tough job of reporting. Deborah Howell, ombudsman for the Washington Post, has a good take on what it takes […]

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Mencken on being a newspaper reporter

With the changes in the news business, will succeeding generations experience what H.L. Mencken did as a newspaper reporter at the turn of the previous century? In all of the events of H.L. Mencken’s eventful life, nothing matched his days as a young newspaper reporter (circa 1899): My adventures in that character (a newspaper reporter) […]

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A high school journalist, undercover

McSwane is a senior at Arvada West High School in Colorado. He had heard that the Army was having trouble recruiting because of the increasing unpopularity of the war in Iraq, and he had seen recruiters at his high school. It occurred to him to test out how far the recruiters would go to get […]

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