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  • Has anyone put a llama in a gold and white dress yet?

    Good morning. It’s Friday, so let’s have a bit of fun before we dive into the serious stuff. Here are 10 media stories.

    1. The end is nigh

      Two llamas got a brief vacation and made huge news yesterday in Sun City, Arizona when they escaped, were chased and the whole thing was covered like crazy. (Poynter) | The Washington Post had six people on it, plus one contributing from New York. (The Washington Post) | The Post also mapped the locations of every llama in the U.S. (The Washington Post) | BuzzFeed made a quiz. (BuzzFeed) | CNN went live with a llama. (Mashable) | Related because it also happened yesterday and swallowed up the Internet: This thing happened with a dress and no one can agree on the colors. (BuzzFeed) | It all started on Facebook. Of course. (Business Insider) | And there's real science behind why you may see the dress differently than another person. I'm not gonna weigh in here other than to say it would be way cuter in tomato red. (Wired) | On Friday, Craig Silverman made the whole thing applicable to journalists with "The lesson from the dress color debate that every journalist needs to know." (Poynter)

    2. Net neutrality

      On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of net neutrality regulations. (CNN) | The president went on reddit to thank supporters. "Wish I could upvote every one of you for helping to keep the internet open and free." (Mediaite) | The New York Times went to the Netherlands to show us what the new regulations may look like here. (The New York Times)

    3. Before he killed himself, Missouri's state auditor called two reporters

      Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich committed suicide on Thursday morning. He called the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Tony Messenger. "Seven minutes before police were called to his house, he left me a voice mail." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) | Schweich also called The Associated Press' David Lieb. (The Associated Press)

    4. This podcast tells location-based stories

      The mobile app Detour offers audio tours of San Francisco that use location-based services to deliver stories. “Instead of data visualization, I call this data audiolization,” Robert Hernandez told American Journalism Review. "It can tell you what crimes happened on this corner.” (American Journalism Review)

    5. The BBC's new election blog is in homage to 'Trainspotting'

      It's called "Campaignspotting." "You may not be ready for the 2016 US presidential race, but the candidates are ready for you." (BBC)

      Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.39.02 AM

    6. Here's another Bill O'Reilly story that's getting a closer look

      The Guardian spoke with six people who covered the 1992 riots in Los Angeles with Bill O’Reilly. They didn't remember it the way he did. A spokesperson for Fox News said in a statement that this was "nothing more than an orchestrated campaign by far left advocates." (The Guardian) | Dylan Byers wrote about Media Matters, a "liberal watchdog," on Thursday. "David Brock has spent more than a decade trying to bring down Bill O'Reilly."(Politico)

    7. Gov. Chris Christie considered giving up The New York Times for Lent

      "'Don't cheer. It's bad news,' Christie said as the crowd cheered his choice. '[The priest] said, Chris, that's not acceptable, you have to give up something you'll actually miss.'" (Politico)

    8. Stan Lee sent a child a drawing through a New York Times reporter

      After reporting on an autistic child who loves Spider-Man, New York Times reporter Michael Wilson received a drawing of Spider-Man from one of the comic book hero's creators, Stan Lee. Lee wanted Wilson to get the drawing to the 8-year-old. (The New York Times) | "His most recent incarnation of Spider-Man now rests in the very real world, on a table in a cramped apartment in East Harlem in a building with a broken buzzer, its owner probably a few years away from understanding what it means, but enjoying it all the same." (The New York Times)

    9. Front page of the day, selected by Seth Liss

      Some snow, OK a lot of snow, from the Daily Press (Courtesy the Newseum)
       

      VA_DPRESS

    10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin

      Carley Petesch will be West Africa correspondent for The Associated Press. Previously, she was an Africa desk editor there. (AP) | Leena Rao will be a senior writer for Fortune. Previously, she was a content partner at Google Ventures. Matthew Heimer will be a senior editor at Fortune. Previously, he was senior editor at MarketWatch. Kristen Bellstrom will be a senior editor at Fortune. Previously, she was a senior editor at Money. Robert Hackett is now a writer at Fortune.com. Previously, he was a temporary reporter there. Christina Austin is now a producer for Fortune.com. Previously, she has worked at Business Insider and The Huffington Post. Adam Lashinsky is now an assistant managing editor at Fortune. Previously, he was senior editor at large there. Roger Parloff is now an editor at large at Fortune. Previously, he was a senior editor there. Beth Kowitt is now a senior writer at Fortune. Previously, she was a writer there. Anne VanderMey is now an associate editor at Fortune. Previously, she was a reporter there. Erika Fry is now a writer at Fortune. Previously, she was a reporter there. (Email) | Christina Farr is now the host and editor of "Future of You." Previously, she covered Apple and health technology for Reuters. (KQED) | Job of the day: The Maryland Gazette is looking for a general assignment reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

    Corrections? Tips? Still don't know the difference between a llama and an alpaca? Please email me: khare@poynter.org. Would you like to get this roundup emailed to you every morning? Sign up here.

    Read more
  • The lesson from the dress color debate that every journalist needs to know

    dress

    Yesterday’s insane Internet debate over the color of a dress offers a critical lesson that every journalist must incorporate into their daily work.

    This lesson has nothing to do with viral content, fashion, BuzzFeed, social media, the future of media, Tumblr, or audience engagement. 

    Many of us looked at a very simple photo of a dress and saw something different. This had nothing to do with intelligence, experience, fashion sense or any other personal characteristic.

    We are all at the mercy of our brains and its cognitive processes. Our eyes took in the information in front of us, our brains processed it, and in many cases it gave us the wrong answer. But the fact that it was coming from our brain meant that it seemed like exactly the right answer. People insisted on what they were seeing because it was what they were actually seeing.

    We don’t go about our daily lives assuming that own brains — and our eye — can give us faulty information. 

    They do, all the time.

    The simple truth is our brains process information in ways that can lead us astray. This is something every journalist needs to be aware of and account for in the work we do. 

    The dress should remind us all: what you see is mostly a projection of what your brain expected to see.

    — Alexis C. Madrigal (@alexismadrigal) February 27, 2015

    We have cognitive biases that affect how we gather, evaluate and retain information. We suffer from pareidolia, “the human tendency to read significance into random or vague stimuli (both visual and auditory).” We see patterns where there aren’t any.

    Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Bor’s book “The Ravenous Brain” explains our desire to find order amidst chaos. Here’s a relevant excerpt quoted by Brain Pickings:

    Perhaps what most distinguishes us humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ravenous desire to find structure in the information we pick up in the world. We cannot help actively searching for patterns — any hook in the data that will aid our performance and understanding.

    It sound like a good thing, and it can be. But it can also lead us astray, Bor writes:

    One problematic corollary of this passion for patterns is that we are the most advanced species in how elaborately and extensively we can get things wrong. We often jump to conclusions — for instance, with astrology or religion. We are so keen to search for patterns, and so satisfied when we’ve found them, that we do not typically perform sufficient checks on our apparent insights.

    The dress is a reminder that we sometimes see things that aren’t there, misperceive what’s right in front of us, and otherwise fall victim to our own brains.

    This is particularly true when it comes to the way we process information. Once we have made up our minds — or decided on an angle for our story — we assimilate information in accordance with that view.

    “[W]e humans quickly develop an irrational loyalty to our beliefs, and work hard to find evidence that supports those opinions and to discredit, discount or avoid information that does not,” wrote Cordelia Fine, the author of “A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives, in The New York Times.”

    Journalists are told to be aware of the biases of sources. But we must also be constantly aware of, and seeking to mitigate, our own cognitive biases.

    My new Tow Centre research report about online rumors and how news organizations debunk misinformation offered a look at several cognitive biases that leads us and other astray, and that make debunking difficult.

    Below is an edited excerpt from my report that outlines five phenomena and biases that every journalist needs to be aware of in our daily work.

    So, from now on, when we’re gathering information, speaking with people, and selecting what to include and emphasize and what to exclude, think of that dress. 

    Let it be a reminder of the fact that what we think we are seeing, hearing and understanding may in fact have no connection to fact.

    The Backfire Effect 

    In a post on the blog You Are Not So Smart, journalist David McRaney offered a helpful one-sentence definition of the backfire effect: “When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger.”

    McRaney delved further into the backfire effect in his book, You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself. He offered this summary of how it manifests itself in our minds and actions: 

    Once something is added to your collection of beliefs, you protect it from harm. You do this instinctively and unconsciously when confronted with attitude-inconsistent information. Just as confirmation bias shields you when you actively seek information, the backfire effect defends you when the information seeks you, when it blindsides you. Coming or going, you stick to your beliefs instead of questioning them. When someone tries to correct you, tries to dilute your misconceptions, it backfires and strengthens those misconceptions instead. 

    Confirmation Bias

    Confirmation bias is the process by which we cherry-pick data to support what we believe. If we are convinced of an outcome, we will pay more attention to the data points and information that support it. Our minds, in effect, are made up and everything we see and hear conforms to this idea. It’s tunnel vision. 

    A paper published in the “Review of General Psychology”defined it as “the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis in hand.”

    Here’s how a Wall Street Journal article translated its effects for the business world: “In short, your own mind acts like a compulsive yes-man who echoes whatever you want to believe.”

    Confirmation bias makes us blind to contradictory evidence and facts. For journalists, it often manifests itself as an unwillingness to pay attention to facts and information that go against our predetermined angle for a story.

    Motivated Reasoning

    Psychologist Leon Festinger wrote, “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.”

    We think of ourselves as rational beings who consider the evidence and information placed in front of us. This is often not the case. We are easily persuaded by information that fits with our beliefs and we harshly judge and dismiss contradictory details and evidence. Our ability to reason is therefore affected (motivated) by our preexisting beliefs. 

    “In particular, people are motivated to not only seek out information consis- tent with their prior attitudes, beliefs, and opinions, but also readily accept attitude-confirming evidence while critically counterarguing attitude- challenging information,” wrote Brian E. Weeks, in his paper “Feeling is Believing? The Influence of Emotions on Citizens’ False Political Beliefs.” “Information supporting one’s prior attitude is more likely to be deemed credible and strong, while attitude-discrepant information is often viewed as weak and ultimately dismissed.”

    Motivated reasoning and confirmation bias are similar in many ways. In “Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind,” psychologist Gary Marcus expressed the difference this way: “Whereas confirmation bias is an automatic tendency to notice data that fit with our beliefs, motivated reasoning is the complementary tendency to scrutinize ideas more carefully if we don’t like them than if we do.”

    Biased Assimilation

    Fitting well with motivated reasoning is the process of biased assimilation. In “True Enough,” [Farhad] Manjoo defined it as the tendency for people to “interpret and understand new information in a way that accords with their own views.” 104 (He cited research by psychologists Charles Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark Lepper from their paper, “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization: The Effect of Prior Theories on Subsequently Considered Evidence.”) Simply put, we interpret and understand new information in a way that fits with what we already know or believe.  Read more

  • Career Beat: Carley Petesch named West Africa correspondent at The Associated Press

    Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

    • Carley Petesch will be West Africa correspondent for The Associated Press. Previously, she was an Africa desk editor there. (AP)
    • Leena Rao will be a senior writer for Fortune. Previously, she was a content partner at Google Ventures. Matthew Heimer will be a senior editor at Fortune. Previously, he was senior editor at MarketWatch. Kristen Bellstrom will be a senior editor at Fortune. Previously, she was a senior editor at Money. Robert Hackett is now a writer at Fortune.com. Previously, he was a temporary reporter there. Christina Austin is now a producer for Fortune.com. Previously, she has worked at Business Insider and The Huffington Post. Adam Lashinsky is now an assistant managing editor at Fortune. Previously, he was senior editor at large there. Roger Parloff is now an editor at large at Fortune. Previously, he was a senior editor there. Beth Kowitt is now a senior writer at Fortune. Previously, she was a writer there. Anne VanderMey is now an associate editor at Fortune. Previously, she was a reporter there. Erika Fry is now a writer at Fortune. Previously, she was a reporter there. (Email)
    • Christina Farr is now the host and editor of “Future of You.” Previously, she covered Apple and health technology for Reuters. (KQED)

    Job of the day: The Maryland Gazette is looking for a general assignment reporter. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

    Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org

    Read more
Written by Administrator   

Don Edwards

WSYR / WSTM-TV

Club President: 1965

The road to success for Don Edwards started in a small southern Ohio village and led to the general manager job at a major Syracuse television station, and later to the top job in the broadcast journalism department at Syracuse University's Newhouse School.
Along the way, Don moved to Canton, Ohio, where he graduated from high school and soon enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. It was 1950 and the Korean War was getting underway. By the time he was discharged in 1953, he had been promoted to lieutenant.

His interest in radio and television news brought him to Syracuse University, for which his "extensive research" showed him was where the best broadcast journalism program in the United States was located. Like many students who had been in the military, Don wanted to complete his education as soon as possible. He earned his bachelor's degree in just three years, then wasted no time starting on a master's degree in broadcast journalism in 1956. Meanwhile at SU, Don met his wife, Nancy, and, as he puts it, "I wound up trading my master's degree for a wedding license."

That same year, Don joined the staff of WSYR-TV and radio as a photographer-reporter. "In those early days of TV," he explains, "when a photographer went out on an assignment, he often was the reporter, too." So the photographer also wrote a story for the WSYR radio stations!

Don decided early that he wanted to get into management, so in 1958 he switched to producing documentaries, and directing special projects at the television and radio stations. Seven years later, he became the WSYR's public affairs director, a position he held until 1975 when he was named general manager of WSYR-FM.

During his early days at WSYR, one of Don's interests was the search for a plentiful supply of fresh water for Onondaga County. He realized that a good water supply was badly needed if the area was to develop and grow. So Don worked with Onondaga County's Lake Ontario Water Committee to successfully convince voters in the 1960's to approve the $45 million expenditure to guarantee an inexhaustible supply of Lake Ontario water.

He also found time to work on several Syracuse Press Club committees in those years, and was elected president in 1965.

In 1978, Don became program manager of WSYR-TV (now WSTM-TV), and four years later, he was named general manager of the television station. During all of these changes, Don remained in the US Army Reserve. By 1976, after serving 23 years, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and decided to retire from the Army.

In 1986, SU asked Don to join the faculty of the broadcast journalism department. He decided that after 30 years in broadcast journalism, it was time to make the move. So he accepted the job offer. The following year, he was named chair of the department and continued in that position until he retired in 1999. During Don's 10 years as chair, the department's student enrollment soared from under 100 to 600-plus.

Don and his wife, a native of Central New York, are spending their retirement years in the region they most love. "The quality of life here is fantastic," he says.
--Joseph A. Porcello
 
"A composite is a euphemism for a lie. It’s disorderly. It’s dishonest and it’s not journalism."
---Fred W Friendly, Columbia School of Journalism

Wall of Distinction


Tim Atseff

Herald-Journal

Herald American

The Post-Standard

Tim Atseff has had only one employer in 40 years. He started at the Herald-Journal as a copy boy in 1965.
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