Pete Hamill courtesy Wikipedia

The one and only time I worked with an honest-to-god legend in my career as an ink-stained wretch was when, for a brief period in the 1990s, Pete Hamill was editor in chief of the New York Daily News, and I was an editor on the national desk. I didn’t interact with Pete much; he was, understandably, primarily focused on coverage of the city, the tabloid’s raison d’etre. I do recall coming in late to work one morning at the paper’s old West 33rd Street headquarters. Speed-walking down the corridor lined with famous Daily News front pages, I suddenly found Pete next to me, headedRead More →

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Many journalists say it’s time to jettison traditional objectivity and focus more directly on pursuing the truth. As I wrote in a previous post, I think objectivity is still a valuable newsgathering tool. But one thing that complicates this discussion is the fact that there are different kinds of truth. Some truths are the kind reporters can uncover and illuminate. Others, not so much. For example, let’s say your editor assigns you to write a story about whether the death penalty has been an effective deterrent to crime. In other words, do states with the death penalty have lower homicide rates than those without? ForRead More →

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Every few years, an old debate re-emerges in journalism: Is objectivity a good thing? The debate goes something like this: Objectivity opponents argue that journalism at its best should be about the pursuit of truth. Traditional he said-she said reporting, which requires that journos document both sides of every argument and refrain from making their own judgments, may be objective but does nothing to reveal the truth, they say. Journalist Wesley Lowery recently summed up this view in a tweet: American view-from-nowhere, “objectivity”-obsessed, both-sides journalism is a failed experiment. We need to fundamentally reset the norms of our field. The old way must go. WeRead More →

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Town governments and school boards deal with a wide range of issues. Some are important and interesting, some are mundane and, frankly, dull. So the reporter covering these meetings must quickly learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. Let’s say you’re covering the Centerville City Council. At the start of the meeting the council agrees to purchase more paper clips for the town secretary. At the end of the meeting councilors vote to raise property taxes 5 percent. Which issue should come first in your story? Obviously the tax hike is bigger news. It affects far more of your readers, and in a fairlyRead More →

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What if everything you’d heard about the death of newspapers was wrong? What if the future of news wasn’t online? Granted, those are decidedly unpopular views. Just about everyone who prognosticates about the news business these days seems to echo the common wisdom that print journalism is on life support, to be replaced, eventually, by all things digital. But Dr. Iris Chyi, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, is a (nearly) lone voice in the wilderness who believes that newspapers have some life in them yet. Which is good because, she adds ominously, there simply is no successful business model forRead More →