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Entries tagged journalism

Oak Creek vs. Aurora

Posted August 15, 2012

In a blog post on The New Yorker, Naunihal Singh points out that the media covered the shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin very differently from the shootings at the movie theater in Aurora, CO.

[T]he massacre in Oak Creek is treated as a tragedy for Sikhs in America rather than a tragedy for all Americans.

I agree with his post completely, especially that the media has an obligation to educate its viewers and inspire them to right wrongs. He puts it plainly.

Sadly, the media has ignored the universal elements of this story, distracted perhaps by the unfamiliar names and thick accents of the victims’ families. They present a narrative more reassuring to their viewers, one which rarely uses the word terrorism and which makes it clear that you have little to worry about if you’re not Sikh or Muslim.

Unfortunately, Singh didn’t spend much time discussing why the media covered it this way, which is equally important.

It’s frustrating and depressing that this country has a history of racist violence, but the problem is one we know. It’s easier to understand and feels like something we can avoid, even if that’s because our looks and beliefs align with the mainstream.

When a person goes into a crowded movie theater and guns down people at random — without any explanation or note — and leaves his apartment booby-trapped for law enforcement, that’s something nearly impossible to fathom or predict. It’s frightening to think that you could happen upon this at any given time without any explanation.

It’s depressing, but the twist logic of Wade Page and the murders he committed in Oak Creek didn’t surprise me. Even as cultural and religious tolerance improves, it’s been the source of much of the violence in recorded history and I don’t see that trend fading quickly. The ones in Aurora are something relatively new and, seemingly, uniquely American. It’s a disturbing trend and a new source of fear, which explains why we spent so much time trying to understand it.

[Article via @rafeco]

Evening Edition: Slow Jamming the News

I’m a big fan of slow news. There are some things that are great to know right away, either because you need to act on them quickly or it’s fun to discuss in realtime at the web’s water cooler. This has left a lot of important stuff, stuff that may not be conducive to a rapid-paced news cycle, at the wayside. This is why I am excited about Evening Edition.

As the creators explain, it is “the perfect commute-sized way to catch up on the day’s news after a long day at work.” They provide a paragraph of text on a handful of stories that is just enough to help you understand what happened. It’s only a day old, but I lurve the concept and the first edition was tight.

Tangentially, Andre is letting the parade march by. Leaving social media can be like paddling your kayak from the center of a roaring river to the edge, but a lot of people I respect have started to consider a world away from the rapids. I’m hoping we all find some balance.

Trimming the Times

Posted April 3, 2011

In response to the Times’ new paywall, the Atlantic Wire is planning to pick out the best articles from each day’s edition in a new series called Trimming the Times. The Nieman Journalism Lab puts it succinctly:

“Trimming the Times” isn’t — per its framing, at least — about gaming the Times’ meter, per se; it’s about helping readers navigate stories within an ecosystem that, from the payment perspective, punishes aimless exploration.

While our household subscribes to the weekend edition of the Times, this was my biggest concern. I didn’t want to have to worry about how many articles I’m viewing. Even though I know I won’t hit the paywall, I find myself avoiding articles that are purely factual, figuring I can save the click and get the information elsewhere.

While I’m busy quoting, my coworker, Mr. Andrew Anker, reframes the discussion by pointing out the real value that the Times provides:

The New York Times’ value to me (as my hometown paper) has never been its hundreds of writers who create a bunch of content every day; it’s been the tens of editors who picked exactly everything I need to know today. When I grew up, that one package on my doorstep every morning was by far the easiest way to figure out what mattered. Now with the internet, social media and portable devices I want more than one set of editors can provide. But I still would like one easy package and I wish more media companies would redefine their editorial mission to include creating new types of packages, not trying to C&D others out of business.

Andrew’s post falls into the category of “I wish I wrote that”, as suggesting that companies make their package more valuable instead of trying to litigate is right on the nose. It’s been said before, but people will happily pay more for additional value. It is now harder to read the Times online and I have to pay to make $35/month to not have to worry. I am happy to pay for the Times, but hate that they make it feel like extortion.

ProPublica's Guide for Collecting Data

A recurring theme at the New York Times’ Open Government event was the pain involved in taking public data and making it usable. I’ve done very little data cleaning, but enough that I know it is a pain in the ass. ProPublica’s guide almost makes it seem easy.

You Fix the Budget

The NY Times has an interactive feature that allows you to balance the budget by choosing cost-cutting measures that are actually being proposed. When people talk about data journalism, this is what they mean.

Josh Marshall of TPM Wins the George Polk Award

It's for their coverage on the firing of 8 judges which led to the resignation of Alberto Gonzalez. I'm proud to say Apperceptive works on his site.

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