A Line-By-Line Story Deconstruction

Watch the bottom of the screen for comments as Bob Dotson tells a great story:


A Sad Note-Pianos Headed for the Dump

I don’t know why this story affects me so much.  Maybe it touches a nerve because my mother so adored playing the piano before losing her sight. But I don’t think I am alone.

People are writing notes online saying thy wince when watching this story about how NYC piano movers are taking a LOT more pianos to the dump these days because people can’t afford to fix the instruments or don’t have room anymore.

I like this video story an awful lot but would have liked to have seen the main character interacting with the pianos more. We do not get action-reaction shots, just wide shots of nameless faceless people dumping pianos. The closing bite about taking things for granted is a little off topic.

I am left wondering why there isn’t some other way of disposing of these things. The story needs to answer that.

One Third of Murders go Unsolved

Look at the chart. Why is the line going the wrong way?

Every year 6,000 murderers get away with their crime in the United States. One reason is that “crimes of passion” those crimes that are unplanned violent outbursts are down while much tougher to solve murders is going up.
Police Departments are short staffed and in some cities, like Detroit only one murder in five is solved.

How Local TV Stations and Newspapers Reported the Murder Mysteries Project

LEARN MORE: Here is a webinar you can watch to see what Scripps Howard News Service journalists have learned about this trend.

Denver ABC Stations Says Network is Wrong

The local ABC station in Denver says reports that the suspect being held in connection with the shooting at a Colorado movie theater is calm and not at all like what many news sources are reporting. ABC News and others reported the suspect was spitting on guards and was forced to wear a facemask.

  But 7News in Denver reports,

“Sources familiar with the detention of theater shooting suspect James Holmes say his low-key detached demeanor has not changed since he was taken into custody early Friday morning.
According to knowledgeable sources, reports that Holmes was spitting at guards in jail are ‘simply false.’ Two national news organizations have reported that Holmes, who is being detained in solitary confinement, has been acting out at the Arapahoe County Jail.”


Lessons from ABC’s Reporting Mistakes

ABC’s Brian Ross jumped the gun and misidentified the man who shot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Brian Ross: There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes — but this is Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.

Later, on ABC News Special Report, Ross said:

We don’t know much about him. An earlier report that I had was incorrect that he was connected with the Tea Party in fact that’s a different Jim Holmes. He was not connected to the Tea Party and what we do know about him is he is a 24-year-old white male who went to Colorado for a PHD.

Later ABC News posted this statement:

Editor’s Note: An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.

Below you will find the page Ross referred to:

How Closed Records Blocked Journalists in Sandusky Penn State Story

One of the most powerful skills that you can teach your students is how to use public records.
Just when records are now more available than ever, it seems we spend less time than ever learning how to use them.

Here is a story I just produced on how CLOSED records helped keep the Penn State Scandal from being discovered:

Here is a collection of open records
laws for all 50 states:

This will help you to navigate federal open records laws

FOI in the news-great topical studies for your class:

Key Supreme Court decisions
related to FOIA

Sample form letters you can use to request open records:

This is a spectacular textbook called “Access With Attitude” that is a free download. While it is Ohio-centric, 99 percent of it applies nationwide. I like the attitude it includes-open records are a right, not a privilege.

Why journalists should file MORE lawsuits to force open meetings and records:

29-year old Journalist Captures Nation’s Attention

My colleagues and I travel the world working with journalists who inspire and stun us. Look at the story of this remarkable young man who has become a “must listen to” in South Sudan. He “went to school in a refugee camp in Kenya and then managed to get a visa for Canada. There he studied journalism at Grant MacEwan College and, along with a few other South Sudanese exiles, founded a news website. He moved home in April last year, three months before South Sudan became independent.”
Fame is not without risks.

The Best Thing Since the Bread Slicer

July 7th is the anniversary of the bread slicer.

Let’s try a little writing exercise:

The story of the bread slicer is a remarkable tale of a man named Otto Rohwedder who was an optician, a jeweler.  He had a great idea.   The pop up toaster was getting popular but people were still buying loaf bread and cutting it themselves.  They would often cut irregular sizes.

Otto built his machine but the Depression set in.  He had to sell out.
Let’s say you are assigned to do the story of the anniversary.
The inventor is not from your hometown or your state.
How would you tell the story; for print, radio and television?

-go a a bakery
-I know a lady who was so embarrassed to have to eat her sandwiches on homemade bread-she wanted sliced white wonder bread like the other kids in the depression
-Check the patent office for local people in your area who hold patents to crazy stuff. http://patft.uspto.gov/
-Peer into the mind of a local inventor.  They likely have an inventor’s club

The history of sliced bread:
The local newspaper (the Constitution Tribune) announced the bread slicer on the front page, of course not knowing they were reporting the greatest thing since–well, sliced bread.












Journatic: a Way for Newsrooms to Cut Cost by Outsourcing

You would think that a local newspaper would have to rely on local reporters, who live in the towns they cover.

You would think that when you see a byline in the paper, the name you see is real.

You would think..but that is not what is happening in several major cities around America and soon, in Canada.

Journatic is a company that newspapers hire to take care of some of the mundane reporting tasks that suck up time and resources from downsized papers.  Now we know, Journatic has also used fake bylines. See Poynter.org backgrounder.

Learn more:

This American Life went inside the company: