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  • Tim Cook files clean copy, Businessweek editor says

    Bloomberg TV

    Apple’s CEO acknowledged in a Bloomberg Businessweek essay today that he’s gay. How’d that article end up in Businessweek?

    “The backstory is pretty simple,” Businessweek Editor Josh Tyrangiel says in an interview with Tom Keene. “He called and asked if he could come out.”

    Tyrangiel says Cook’s draft “was crisp and clear, and frankly I hope he is available for more assignments going forward. He was very easy to work with on this.”

    Read more
  • There are a lot of good illustrated journalism pieces this week

    CIR | Al Jazeera America | CityLab

    Three good examples of illustrated journalism arrived this week. That’s not a trend, but it’s a welcome opportunity to highlight alternative storytelling forms.

    The Center for Investigative Reporting just published “Techsploitation,” a graphic novel that tells the story of an Indian man who ended up in a “guesthouse,” applying for work online after he thought he was getting a job in the States. CIR reporter Matt Smith also illustrated the book, which accompanies his much longer text-based story about shady job brokers.

    A page fron "Techsploitation"

    A page fron “Techsploitation”

    The Guardian also ran “Techsploitation” online.

    Meghann Farnsworth, CIR’s director of distribution and engagement, said she didn’t yet know the extent to which the partnership boosted the book’s reach, but said “On social media we’ve seen a lot of people excited to see it.” CIR is also trying to figure out how many print copies of the book to make — some will go to colleges and media organizations in India, Farnsworth said, and others might become premiums for CIR’s members.

    A previous CIR graphic novel, “The Box,” was also produced by CIR’s Michael I. Schiller, and the news organization printed that one, too. “Digital is amazing, but there’s something about holding things in your hands,” Farnsworth said.

    Al Jazeera America published “Terms of Service,” a less-than-rosy look at how big data is letting companies monetize your life — and come up with their own stories about you that you can’t control. Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld wrote and star in the book, which follows them to Colorado and New York.

    A page from "Terms of Service"

    A page from “Terms of Service”

    Rhyne Piggott, the news organization’s head of multimedia and mobile, tells Poynter in an email that AJAM plans a print version of “Terms of Service.”

    CityLab just republished “Compartment 13,” a comic by Darryl Holliday and Jamie Hibdon about the effects of anti-homeless measures in Chicago.

    A detail from "Compartment 13"

    A detail from “Compartment 13″

    Holliday and Hidden created the piece for Symbolia Magazine, CityLab senior associate editor Shauna Miller tells Poynter in an email. (The piece was also published in partnership with Illustrated Press and the Journalism Center for Children on Families, which funded it.) “We did not commission Compartment 13, we simply connected with the writers on a tip from one of our staffers and took it on just as we would take a reported article from any freelancer,” she writes.

    The story “is also part of a book that Darryl is working on that will provide a snapshot of life on Kedzie Avenue in Chicago,” Symbolia Editor Erin Polgreen tells Poynter in an email. Polgreen edited “Compartment 13″ and plans to edit Holliday’s book as well, which Holliday plans to crowd-fund.

    Miller said CityLab hadn’t run a piece like this before but said she is “embarking on editing a series on homelessness for CityLab and thought this was a really good way into the human side of the issue (which is the hardest layer to get through regarding this issue with readers).”

    Related: Journalists, Artists Tell Stories with Nonfiction Graphic Novels | From radio reporter to graphic novelist, how Brooke Gladstone became a character in ‘The Influencing Machine’ | California Watch tells difficult story with video, tweets (and text)

    Read more
  • How the AP busted Nazi suspects receiving Social Security payments

    After three years of on-again-off-again investigation, David Rising finally sighted his quarry this summer. He was a small man, bespectacled and balding, peering over a second-story window ledge to survey his surroundings.

    Rising, a Berlin correspondent for The Associated Press, had traveled a long way to see this man — all the way to Osijek, a mid-size city in Croatia nestled along the banks of the Drava River. The man, Jakob Denzinger, was one of the last living subjects of a story the AP had been chipping away at for years, a story about a decades-old policy that connected American taxpayers to individuals suspected of Nazi war crimes.

    On Oct. 19, the AP moved that story, a 4,320-word investigation into a loophole that allowed Nazi suspects, including Denzinger, to receive monthly payments from the United States Social Security Administration.

    The tale behind the investigation — a ponderous project that required three reporters spread out over two continents — gives a look at how the AP is leveraging its year-old international investigative team and its global network of correspondents to bring ambitious stories to term.

    The story that would eventually lead to Denzinger began in 2011. That year, AP investigative researcher Randy Herschaft was digging through declassified documents at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

    Herschaft was trawling for information on Nazi suspects, specifically evidence related to a man on trial for committing crimes while allegedly working at a concentration camp in occupied Poland during World War II.

    But during his search, he ran across a State Department report from 1984 analyzing the practice of “Nazi dumping,” a policy by which Justice Department officials used Social Security payments as leverage to persuade suspected Nazis to leave the United States.

    When Rising discussed the report on the phone with Herschaft from Berlin, they both knew the implications were huge. If living Nazi suspects were still receiving these benefits, this decades-old report could be the beginnings of a high-impact story.

    “I think maybe ‘holy shit’ was the reaction,” Rising said.

    Although the two journalists had a big story on their hands, deadline pressure and daily assignments slowed the investigation. Rising had to juggle reporting and writing with leading the news cooperative’s text operations in Germany. Another obstacle intruded: the Social Security Administration changed the scope of a FOIA request seeking documents that might reveal the extent of the program.

    In the meantime, Herschaft and Rising shared bylines on three other investigations into Nazi activity — two about a former Nazi commander, then living in Minnesota, who they discovered ordered a massacre on a Polish town. They also finished the story they were working on when Herschaft discovered the State Department report on Nazi dumping, an article that showed the FBI had concluded evidence used to prosecute a suspected Nazi was probably fabricated.

    By February of this year, the two reporters had made significant progress on the story, but they were still missing key pieces of evidence. Rising and Herschaft hadn’t confirmed specific cases where suspected Nazis received Social Security benefits after leaving the United States. And they hadn’t yet documented whether the program was still ongoing.

    Enter Richard Lardner, a reporter assigned to the AP’s international investigations team based in Washington, D.C. Trish Wilson, Lardner’s editor, sent him an email from Europe enterprise editor Joji Sakurai that laid out the foundations of the story: evidence of bargaining with Nazi war crimes suspects, deals cut by the U.S. to avoid messy deportation proceedings. Sakurai wanted help from a reporter in D.C. who could push the project forward.

    In the coming months, Lardner conducted about 20 interviews and pored over records at the United States Holocaust Museum library and the National Archives. He also tried — unsuccessfully — to schedule on-the-record interviews with officials from the Social Security Administration and the Justice Department. He wasn’t discouraged by the lack of response, though.

    “It just makes you want to pursue this even more aggressively,” Lardner said. “It’s the nature of what you do. If you gave up all the time, you’d never get anywhere.”

    With Lardner aboard, the investigation was nearing the finish line. But as it drew to a close, the team still wanted to find a face for the story, a living person to show the impact of the decades-old policy. They got a break when Rising got in touch with one of his sources, who provided the whereabouts of Denzinger.

    “Denzinger, as a former death camp guard who was removed from the U.S. and was still alive and receiving Social Security, was the ideal way to illustrate the story,” Rising said in an email to Poynter.

    On July 27, Rising flew to Zagreb, Croatia, and drove about three hours east to Osijek. He and Darko Bandic, the photographer assigned to the story, took position at a café near Denzinger’s apartment, hoping to catch him on the way out.

    As stakeouts go, it wasn’t too bad — the journalists moved between the café and a restaurant, so they had plenty to eat and drink. But after a day of waiting, all they had to show for their efforts was a glimpse of Denzinger through the window and a report from a waiter who said he was a good tipper.

    So, knowing they couldn’t stay in Croatia forever, the pair decided to head to Denzinger’s apartment for the interview. They were buzzed into the building without a word. When Rising arrived at Denzinger’s door, his nurse answered, speaking Croatian. Rising fetched Bandic, who could speak to the nurse — but when they got back to the door, she wouldn’t answer. Two hours later, a lady from a downstairs apartment arrived and let Rising in.

    “There was the natural apprehension of stepping into someone’s apartment not knowing exactly what awaits, but even more a rush of adrenaline knowing this was my chance and that persistence had paid off,” Rising said.

    When he stepped into the apartment, Rising got his first up-close look at Denzinger. He was round and short, wearing a cardigan even in the heat of the summer. Rising identified himself in German, but Denzinger refused to comment for the story. Eventually, he asked Rising to leave.

    Although he weren’t able to persuade Denzinger to go on the record, taking the trip to Croatia was worth it, Rising said.

    “From the visit we were able to paint a picture of the life that Denzinger was leading in his retirement in Croatia, which helped put a human face on the story,” Rising said.

    Even after the interview, the team still had much to do — reporting and writing and fact-checking the article to make sure it was bulletproof, Rising said. That took an additional three months.

    When it finally moved over the wires, the article was a hit. It was published on 68 front pages over two days; it was republished by Mashable, CBS News and Der Spiegel; lawmakers announced they would introduce legislation to close the loophole.

    “That’s very satisfying,” Lardner said. “You want to write something that’s good, that’s accurate, that people read, that has impact. And I think that story did.”

    This story and others like it, exclusives that have come through the AP’s international investigations team, are part of a strategy to produce original content, said John Daniszewski, vice president and senior managing editor for international news at the AP.

    “I think as the news has become more of a commodity, more ubiquitous because of the Internet, you need more special stories to make you stand out and make people feel like the AP is going to have a distinctive range of stories — and they’re going to be missing those stories if they didn’t have AP,” Daniszewski said.

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1 Addington, Harold Administrator 3146
2 Apikian, Nevart Administrator 3328
3 Atseff, Tim Administrator 3645
4 Ayers, Liz Administrator 6855
5 Barsha, Jerry Administrator 4402
6 Bliven, Luther Administrator 3871
7 Brigham, Andy Administrator 4766
8 Bunn, Tim Administrator 7315
9 Carey, Bill Administrator 5262
10 Case, Dick Administrator 4651
11 Clark, Wesley Administrator 3340
12 Curtis, Ron Administrator 6114
13 Daugherty, Jean Administrator 5547
14 Duffy, Nancy Administrator 3344
15 Edwards, Don Administrator 5101
16 Eilenberg, Carl Administrator 4582
17 Ennis, Paul Administrator 3578
18 Franklin-King, Karin Administrator 3040
19 Funeral Arrangements for Jerry Barsha Lou Gulino 3421
20 Gallinger, Roy Administrator 2836
21 Ganley, Joe Administrator 3776
22 Gorman, J. Leonard Administrator 4957
23 Graeff, Ron Administrator 7671
24 Green, Maureen Administrator 8444
25 Griffin, Eddie Administrator 3009
26 Grunfeld, Walter Administrator 3529
27 Haggart, Robert Administrator 4471
28 Hand-Wright, Laura Administrator 10606
29 Hart Seely Lou Gulino 5897
30 Henderson, Emanuel "Blair" Administrator 3701
31 Heyman, Fred Administrator 4312
32 Hillegas, Fred Administrator 3416
33 Hofmann, Phillip Administrator 3267
34 Janis Barth Lou Gulino 6275
35 John Krauss Lou Gulino 4193
36 Jones, Alexander Administrator 3058
37 LaRue, Arlene Administrator 3105
38 Long, Richard Administrator 4390
39 Loomis, Linda Administrator 3936
40 Mareiniss, Joel Administrator 5313
41 Morse, Jack Administrator 3957
42 O'Leary, Cornelius Administrator 3646
43 Parton, Red Administrator 6975
44 Peterson, Art Administrator 3225
45 Pinckney, Leo Administrator 3186
46 Porcello, Joseph Administrator 4640
47 Price, Mike Administrator 6568
48 Robert Atkinson Lou Gulino 4583
49 Robinson, Jackie Administrator 6961
50 Robinson, Rosemary Administrator 3232
51 Rogers, Stephen Administrator 3709
52 Rogers, Stephen A. Administrator 3274
53 Ron Lombard Lou Gulino 7322
54 Rossi, Frank Administrator 3933
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56 Roth, A. Brohmann Administrator 2863
57 Schartz, Veronica Administrator 3305
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60 Sparrow, Kenneth Administrator 3217
61 Speziale, Donna Administrator 3263
62 Sylvahn, J. Luther Administrator 3705
63 Vadeboncoeur, E.R. Administrator 5651
64 Vadeboncoeur, Joan Administrator 3730
65 Vanderveer, Karel "Bud" Administrator 4126
66 Vosburgh, Lois Administrator 3016
67 Wood, Rod Administrator 3885
"It’s all storytelling, you know. That’s what journalism is all about."
--Tom Brokaw, NBC News

Wall of Distinction

Luther F. "Gus" Bliven

The Post-Standard

Luther F. "Gus" Bliven scored a number of news "scoops" during his distinguished 68-year newspaper career with The Post-Standard where he became best-known for his work as a political writer and the "dean" of Albany legislative correspondents.

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