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Poynter.
  • Public fear and ‘an abundance of caution’

    I wonder how George Orwell would react to a phrase that has been repeated time and again by government and university officials to justify recent stringent actions — such as quarantines and dis-invitations — in response to the Ebola crisis.

    These officials say they are acting “out of an abundance of caution.”

    It seems to be one of the phrases of the day, expressed by leaders who are trying to limit or eliminate contact, not just with sick people or people who have cared for the sick, but with almost anyone who has worked or traveled through countries where Ebola has spread.

    It seems to be one of the phrases of the day, expressed by leaders who are trying to limit or eliminate contact, not just with sick people or people who have cared for the sick, but with almost anyone who has worked or traveled through countries where Ebola has spread.

    Orwell was a famous critic of political speech, especially of the kind that used euphemism or passive constructions to cloud misbehavior or avoid responsibility. Mistakes, after all, are made.

    To my ears, “an abundance of caution” is a peculiar phrase. It sounds like a parody of collective nouns such as “a gaggle of geese” or “an exaltation of larks.” How much caution will you exercise, Governor? Why, an abundance of caution, of course, sir.

    “Abundance of caution” also carries the kind of tension you might find in an oxymoron (such as “jumbo shrimp”). “Abundance” is not the opposite of “caution” at the literal level. At the level of connotation, however, abundance suggests expansion while caution suggests contraction.

    Which leads me to this strategy for journalists: Any time a political figure or thought leader wants to operate “out of an abundance of caution” – especially when the risk is demonstrably slight – look for the many ways in which they are operating out of a “scarcity of caution” – my term – when the risk is great.

    Not a single American, to my knowledge, has contracted Ebola in the USA and died from the disease in the USA. On the other hand, here is a list of much more serious dangers to life and limb, based on statistics taken from the CDC. After each real danger is my fantasy of what a leader might say “out of an abundance of caution.”

    • About 35,000 Americans were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. Twenty-two percent of them were people 15 to 24 years of age. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to raise the legal driving age to 25, and to greatly improve the quality of mass transit in our community.”
    • 16,250 people were victims of homicide in 2010, most of them from handguns. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to initiate a Constitutional Amendment that will allow reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.”
    • 38,360 Americans took their own lives in 2010. “Out of an abundance of caution, we will establish community based mental health facilities, whatever the cost, to create a safety net for those suffering from mental illness.”
    • According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, as many as 22 American war veterans, maybe more, take their own lives every day. That’s more than 8,000 per year. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to multiply by ten the budget for the care of soldiers and other first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress, and will raise taxes to pay for it. Out of an even greater abundance of caution we have decided to no longer send our sons and daughters into protracted distant wars that we cannot win.”

    Fever? Headache? Muscle aches? Forget about Ebola, chances are astronomically higher that you have the flu or some other common bug. That message still hasn't reached many Americans, judging from stories ER doctors and nurses swapped this week at a Chicago medical conference. Misinformed patients with Ebola-like symptoms can take up time and resources in busy emergency rooms, and doctors fear the problem may worsen when flu season ramps up. . (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    Fever? Headache? Muscle aches? Forget about Ebola, chances are astronomically higher that you have the flu or some other common bug. Misinformed patients with Ebola-like symptoms can take up time and resources in busy emergency rooms, and doctors fear the problem may worsen when flu season ramps up. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    There are many more real things to be afraid of in the USA. Influenza and pneumonia caused 53,826 deaths in 2010, and yet we don’t require folks to get immunized for these common diseases. Using the logic of the governors, perhaps we should “out of an abundance of caution.”

    Here are some possible translations for various uses of the phrase “out of an abundance of caution”:

    • Because our lawyers told us to.
    • Because I know my constituents don’t believe in science.
    • Because I know my constituents don’t trust the government.
    • Because I don’t want to get blamed for something outside my control.
    • Because I don’t have the backbone to do the right thing.
    • Because I’d rather demonize heroic caregivers to make myself look decisive.
    • Because our lawyers told us to. (Oh, sorry, I already said that one.)
    Read more
  • How news orgs plan digital coverage of midterms

    Tuesday’s midterm elections will determine which party controls of the U.S. Senate. There are also 36 gubernatorial races, and the biennial U.S. House elections. Here’s how some news organizations plan digital coverage of the races. (This is by no means comprehensive; please email me your plans.)

    ABC News will feature a live stream on its site, on its mobile app and on Apple TV. It plans some killer mobile alerts: One every time it calls one of the 507 races it’s covering Tuesday. Don’t worry, you won’t get 507 alerts: You can tell your app what your interest is overall (low, medium, or high), or pick individual races, or let it know your location and it will tell you the winners and losers near you. You’ll also be able to watch live video via iPhone and iPad apps.

    The Associated Press says it “has reporters working in every statehouse throughout the year, and more than 5,000 stringers will be deployed across the country on election night to help AP Election Services gather local vote counts.” Its mobile app will feature coverage from member newspapers in hot-race states as well as “a dynamic feed of race calls, photos and videos.” Here’s a Twitter list of AP reporters on election duty.

    The Boston Globe plans a “A homepage takeover with results for key races” as well as “A second-screen experience where reporters will file dispatches from the field on election night,” BostonGlobe.com Editor Jason Tuohey tells Poynter. Plus, of course, stories, results, analysis.

    CBS News will offer a livestream of network coverage and “will provide a variety of tools to help users navigate the voting results, including interactive maps and exit poll data as it becomes available,” it says in a press release. CBS News’ site will also “feature original reports from CBS News correspondents in the field.”

    CNN plans a live “Hambycast,” which will start streaming at 8 p.m. on CNN.com. The site will also feature a “digital version of John King’s infamous Magic Wall, where users can drill into the districts and data for themselves,” CNN says in a release. Plus: Short animated videos, like this one, that CNN has been posting on Facebook, and an experiment with the gaming platform Pivit, where you can play games like “Will Florida Governor Scott (R) win re-election?” PLUS: A chat on Facebook at 1 p.m. with Peter Hamby, Chris Moody and Stephen Collinson.

    The Denver Post will feature live video from its video initiative DPTV, Post news director Kevin Dale said. New anchor Molly Hughes will speak with Post reporters through the night. The Post will replace its homepage “with a larger Elections presentation that will help us highlight our video, stories and results,” Dale said.

    Visitors to Fox Newssite can look at a dashboard that shows balance of power graphics, links to predictions and news stories. Fox News’ coverage will be available to people using the FoxNewsGo app as well. Fox News will stream two video entities online from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET: FOX News Latino, and a revival of its old online show “The Strategy Room.”

    The Huffington Post‘s politics crew will run a live blog, and HuffPost Live will “stream special coverage of midterm election night 2014, hosted by Marc Lamont Hill, Alyona Minkovski and Howard Fineman” from 6 p.m. until midnight Tuesday, HuffPost spokesperson Sujata Mitra said.

    Hotline’s Race tracker will power National Journal‘s election-night dashboard. NationalJournal.com will also feature a live blog featuring “instant updates, reporting, video, photos, and commentary on the races as they are called,” the publication says in a press release.

    NBC News will roll out a new look for online and on-screen graphics, NBCNews.com’s product and operations director, Rachel Rique, said. “We designed it for mobile so it’s a lighter weight and a lighter feel,” she said. Visitors to NBC’s homepage will see a status bar that shows balance of power in the Senate and House, and prominent links to a redesigned elections page, which will host live video coverage, stories and links to “cards” for individual races. When NBC’s decision desk makes a call, the anchors will announce the result, and a new API will push a green check mark next to the winner’s name on a card. Those cards can easily be shared on social media.

    The New York Times will have correspondents on the ground in 10 states with competitive races, and it will feature “Real-time election results across all of our platforms and devices, including our web site, mobile web site and phone and tablet apps,” Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades-Ha said in an email. Times data-y vertical The Upshot “will be applying its usual analytical, graphic-heavy methods to Election Night, on nytimes.com, Twitter and elsewhere.” Plus interactive maps, detailed results pages and photo essays “that tell the story of the election in a way that only the Times’s photojournalists can.”

    NPR is throwing an “election party,” and guess what: You’re invited! (Sorry, getting a little punchy here.) NPR.org will stream the news org’s live coverage, from 8 p.m. ET to 1 a.m., and the NPR politics desk’s Tumblr will feature “live blogging, photos and more,” according to a release. There will also be an “expanded version [of NPR's coverage] built for television and optimized for Google Chromecast.” Also I’d like to salute NPR’s PR squad for including the sentence “Party on, Melissa. Party on, Robert” in a press release.

    USA Today will livestream “segments from the USA TODAY newsroom featuring political pundits and USA TODAY experts,” Gannett spokesperson Steve Kidera said. “In partnership with Gannett’s Video Production Center and Gannett Broadcasting, all the key races across the country will be covered, including live reports from many Gannett Broadcasting stations and campaign headquarters. Beginning at 8 p.m. (ET) and running throughout the night, coverage will be viewable across mobile, tablet and desktop devices on USATODAY.com, all Gannett Broadcasting websites and many of Gannett’s USCP sites.” USA Today’s elections forecast tool “will turn into a results page” on election night.

    The Wall Street Journal will launch “a special election hub that will track the key races in real-time with live headline feeds and data galore,” U.S. news editor Glenn Hall said. “A key feature of the data hub will be a comprehensive map that allows users to drill down into voting results in each Congressional district of every state.” The Journal’s homepage will have “a live election scorecard, an interactive map, streaming video analysis, a live blog, real-time headlines and scores of analytical articles updated throughout the night.” Its relaunched politics section, Capitol Journal, “will serve as the content hub for our election news and analysis.”

    The Washington Post plans a “takeover display” of its Election Live Stream — maps, graphics, stories, etc. on its homepage. “Users will also have an option to switch to the original homepage to access a variety of non-election stories,” the company says, and the stream will work on mobile. Post reporters will be covering hot races on the ground in 10 states beyond the three in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

    Pregame coverage:
    CNN plans a Twitter chat with Jake Tapper Friday and a Facebook chat with SE Cupp Monday.

    The New York TimesUpshot Senate model “is being updated at least twice a day as new polls come in to help readers assess the state of the most competitive races,” Rhoades-Ha said. The Times also plans a readers’ guide to important races, a “voters’ voices video with a distinctly 2014 midterm feel that focuses on the national mood” and state pages that “give a closer look at the most interesting races and ballot initiatives in all 50 states.”

    Twitter‘s election dashboard lets you drill down to individual states or look at national trends and issues being discussed.

    USA Today and Twitter have partnered on a political issues list that breaks down tweeters on various issues by their age, gender and state. The index “makes no attempt to analyze the sentiment expressed in tweets — only the subject area,” Paul Singer writes. USA Today has also decided “not to compare tweet volume around various candidate names, because in the last days of the campaign swing so much of the Twitter traffic around candidates is driven by campaigns, consultants and other professional partisans.” USA Today also has an iOS app that tracks political ads.

    Read more
  • Sun-Times confirms sale of suburban papers to Tribune

    Chicago Sun-Times | Tribune Publishing

    Chicago Sun-Times parent Wrapports LLC will sell 38 suburban newspapers — six dailies and 32 weeklies — to Tribune Publishing, confirming a report by Robert Feder earlier this month.

    Wrapports boss Michael Ferro says the move out of the burbs will allow the company to “focus on our international digital strategy.” Wrapports announced earlier this week that it was launching a national network of sites that will ““offer content in a manner similar to websites such as Deadspin and Buzzfeed.”

    Employees at the suburban papers will become Tribune Publishing employees at some point and will leave the Sun-Times’ newsroom. The Sun-Times said in 2012 it would close its suburban offices and move most employees into Chicago digs. Terms of the deal aren’t public yet, according to a Wrapports press release. Bob Fleck will be publisher and GM of the papers, Tribune Publishing says in a press release.

    The Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune Media Group have also reached an agreement for CTMG to keep printing the Sun-Times.

    Since splitting from the rest of Tribune’s properties, Tribune Publishing has pursued a strategy of increasing its footprint in markets where it has large dailies. In Maryland it’s purchased the Baltimore City Paper and two other papers; in Connecticut it has purchased 15 weeklies once published by Reminder Media.

    Read more

Nevart Apikian

The Post-Standard

A chance assignment, plus an opportunity to cover entertainers and their shows during her first year as a professional journalist, resulted in Nevart Apikian's lifelong career writing about music, musicians, actors, movies and theater.
Nevart, a Syracuse native, took her first job at the Sullivan County Evening News in Monticello soon after graduating from Syracuse University. She spent a year covering stories about the courts, county government, town meetings and other news events. But, she also wrote about the entertainers who played the numerous Catskill Mountain resort hotels around Monticello.

After a year, she returned to Syracuse and a reporting job with The Post-Standard. As she recalls, "many assignments later, I covered the touring First Drama Quartet in (Bernard) Shaw's 'Don Juan in Hell.' This led to my becoming the theater and movie critic of the newspaper for more than 25 years."

During that time, Nevart found Syracuse "rich in music, theater and art. I was fortunate in being able to write about the Syracuse Symphony, Syracuse Opera and Syracuse Stage, and the many excellent community theaters, and about television. I recall fondly the former Lyric Circus in Skaneateles and the Pompeian Players."

One of her most interesting experiences, says Nevart, a first-generation American, is the trip she took to Armenia, where her parents were born. During the trip she visited Yerevan, the capital of that small country which lies in the shadow of Mt. Ararat near the Black Sea. The journey also gave her an opportunity to practice the Armenian she learned as a child in Syracuse.

Nevart is a past president of Theta Sigma Phi, a journalism honorary now known as Women in Communications, and of the Central New York Chapter of the National League of American Pen Women. She also is a member of Civic Morning Musicals and the Trip Committee of the Everson Museum of Art.

In looking back on her career in the newsroom, she notes the changes from a time when reporters and writers worked to the click-clack and bell ringing of typewriters to the almost silent word processors of present day computers. She says she is grateful for all of the unique stories she covered and interesting people she met. An example of her unique assignments is among Nevart's prized souvenirs -- a photo of her on an elephant, taken when she covered a circus visit to Syracuse. --Joseph A. Porcello
Last Updated ( Monday, 17 November 2008 01:15 )
 
"Criticism of government finds sanctuary in several portions of the 1st Amendment. It is part of the right of free speech. It embraces freedom of the press."
---    Hugo L Black, Associate Justice, US Supreme Court

Wall of Distinction


Karin Franklin-King

WNYS-TV (Ch. 9)

WSYR, WCNY-TV

Nine years after Karin Franklin-King's 1967 arrival in Central New York to attend Onondaga Community College, she was a local broadcast pioneer.

Read more...Link

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