Things to read

Before we get to long running lists and passages of recent journalism and media links, there’s this video to consider:

I’ve covered exactly two protests, neither of them with as much as stake as we’ve seen in recent months in several places around the country. What I’ve learned, by watching from afar, is that the juxtaposition of thoughtful interviews playing in a two-box opposite things on fire in any city is sad and unfortunate. Here are things that people use and depend on and enjoy. And here are people destroying them. Society has a difficult time abiding by that. I suspect that, eventually, it will stop doing so. The reason is pretty simple. There are protests, and then there are those who would use protests as cover for their own unscrupulous goals. Guys like the one in the video above never get noticed, and they probably do as much as anything else to keep the balance tipped to the more peaceful side of the spectrum.

First Hurricane Katrina evacuee enrolled in Opelika schools to graduate this spring:

With relatives already living in Opelika, the family fled to Alabama to stay at Emily’s grandmother’s house. Just days after they arrived, Emily’s parents enrolled her in third grade at Opelika’s Northside Intermediate School.

Emily was one of approximately 20 Katrina evacuees who enrolled in Opelika City Schools between Sept. 1, 2005, and Sept. 5, 2005, when the Opelika-Auburn News published an article titled “Opelika schools open to evacuees.” The article featured Emily as the first of those 20 evacuees to register in the school system in that five-day time span.

Days after Emily became a student, and still 10 years later, Emily’s mother and grandmother talked about how welcoming the school system was to their tragedy-stricken family.

“I was very proud of the way the school system and everybody opened to her,” said Emily’s grandmother, Barbara Strickland, sitting on her couch in Opelika last week. “I mean the schools, the kids in the school that were in the classrooms with her, the teachers, the kids’ parents — they were totally awesome to her.” Barbara Strickland shared similar thoughts in the Opelika-Auburn News’ September 2005 article.

Cool little story, there. She’s going off to Huntingdon College in the fall.

A small handful of carefully cultivated online stories:

Google’s ‘mobilegeddon’: ways you can respond to the algorithm shake-up
Google to websites: Be mobile-friendly or get buried in search results
13 Instagram tools brands should be using
Before and After Pictures of the Earthquake in Nepal
Scenes from the Nepal earthquake zone
Digital Commerce Is the Norm as Germany’s Internet Culture Matures

Such widespread adoption and penetration in Germany’s private culture is very telling.

And now a big handful of journalism links, starting with a few useful reads. As you may know, the Pulitzer Prizes were announced last week. Here’s a judge’s thought process, The winner for the best Pulitzer Prize lead is…:

There may be more than 300 candidates in a category, and your job is to find three finalists. Your default position is to reject, reject, reject (in Pulitzer parlance to throw it under the table). To have a chance, your prose has to grab a juror by the throat. Leads matter. And your first lead in a series or a collection matters most of all.

With that theory in mind, I have sifted through the Pulitzer Prize winners of 2015. I am about to award an ancillary prize for best lead. In addition to the winner, I will honor two finalists and three honorable mentions. The prize is lunch with me – their treat.

My rules:

I will only consider the lead of the first story in any entry.
Categories compete against each other. Leads are leads.
Long leads are not punished, but shorter ones get extra points.
If I don’t get the point of the story in three paragraphs, you’re under the table.
Unusual elements get extra points, as long as they don’t distract from the focus of the story.

Great analysis follows, and if you’re a writer, thats worth reading.

Journalist-turned academic John L. Robinson on one of his darkest newsroom days, Laying off journalists:

When I left, I went straight to a reception for one of my daughters’ soccer teams. I could have skipped it, but I wanted to be around people and I knew there was beer there. I told the host how I’d spent the day. He briefly commiserated, then put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, “I’ve been on the other side. Your people had it much tougher today than you.”

He was right, of course. I still had a job.

I wept when I got home. Wept from guilt, from regret, from stress. Wept because I knew this was the beginning of the end for me and the paper.

In the ensuing days, it was clear that a bond between the company and the employee was broken. The deal had been this:

They would work hard, do good work, miss family dinners, have coworkers critique their work, hear from readers that they were stupid and biased and worse.

We would give them a place to do what they loved, a paycheck and job security. We could no longer provide the security.

After that day, that covenant wasn’t ever fully restored.

Last month, I told a student who interviewed me for a school project that that day had traumatized me.

Which one of these do you think is more interesting?:

Virginia Cop Detains Television News Videographer, Fearing Camera Vest Could be Tactical Gear
Police body cams: The new FOIA fight
Politico plans to double its reporting staff to about 500
Peter Hamby leaving CNN for Snapchat
‘Traditional TV viewing for teens and tweens is dead. Not dying. Dead.’

The correct answer is they are all interesting. The officer involved in the first link is clearly at odds with the law. The FOIA issues around police cameras are going to be reoccurring stories for the next several years. Politico growth is an interesting note, but how and where they will grow is the most telling. That political reporting vet Peter Hamby, meanwhile, is jumping from CNN to be the director of news at Snapchat is an incredibly telling move. This one came up in class today. We left it with the observation that this are, indeed, interesting, transitory times. That’s the second time I’ve made that point in class this semester. The first one is about the last link in that group, that young people don’t watch television as you and I did. The numbers are so stark that I’ve all but stopped making live television references in class.

A few more strictly journalism-related links:

WH Press Corps Developing Demands For More Access To The President
The president and the press
Why The New York Times apps look different
Getting it Right: Fact-Checking in the Digital Age
The unstoppable rise of social media as a source for news

News about Facebook and news:

Andy Mitchell and Facebook’s weird state of denial about news
Facebook is making 3 big changes to its NewsFeed algorithm, and publishers should be worried
Facebook Tweaks Cause Concern, but Not Necessarily Panic

We’re not even reading tea leaves here. This stuff is pretty obvious, and Mitchell’s speech should be off-putting to everyone who values the role news place in local society.

Facebook is about 15 minutes away from dominating online video, however. Will Facebook Pass YouTube for Video Ads?:

It’s go time for Facebook autoplay video ads, and according to December 2014 research by Mixpo, the social network is set to pass YouTube in video ad usage this year.

Nearly nine in 10 US advertising executives polled said they planned to run a video ad campaign on Facebook in the coming year—the highest response rate out of all networks studied and up from fewer than two-thirds who had done so in the past year. Despite usage intent rising 3.7 percentage points, YouTube fell to second place, trailing Facebook by 5.5 points.

The Wall Street Journal rolled out a new version of their site today. Check it out. And then follow up with a few on-topic links:

After the launch of its long-awaited web redesign, The Wall Street Journal hopes to spur innovation
The Wall Street Journal is playing a game of digital catchup
Wall Street Journal’s digital revamp: Q&A with Emily Banks, news editor for mobile

Every newsroom should probably start seeking out a person to fill the mobile editor role. Why wouldn’t you have someone in that position, when so much of your audience is mobile, anyway?

Finally, this is a thoughtful and attractive effort from Esquire. They’re taking some of their great pieces from over time and sharing them in a modern style — and they could do this in almost every presentation evolution that comes down the line. It looks really handsome and demonstrates some of the great, timeless storytelling that Esquire has had over the years. There are eight great pieces there so far. They call it Esquire Classics.

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