Time to stand up for a free press: We’re not the enemy

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

Enough already.

The last couple of years have been an unending barrage against the freedom of the press and the practitioners of this noble trade.

From being called “liars,” “fake,” and “sick” by irate politicians to enduring capricious and punitive tariffs that are an existential threat to newspapers, the landscape for journalists today may be as inhospitable as it has ever been in the 242-year history of this great union of ours.

All this while the public at large seems unable to break free of the social media echo chamber. We retreat there to endlessly bicker with those who don’t agree, or to bolster the confidence of our own positions by seeking solace from those who do.

We’ve devolved into a nation of people who simply don’t want to hear it.

And that’s incredibly dangerous. Continue reading “Time to stand up for a free press: We’re not the enemy”

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This and that on tariffs, summits, and transitions

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

July 17 was a very long day for us in this business and not just because it was a Tuesday, which are replete with production deadlines for most newspapers.

No, this particular Tuesday was the day the marshaled forces representing newspapers across North America appeared before the International Trade Commission to make the case for it to abandon imposed anti-dumping duties and tariffs on Canadian-imported newsprint.

For all of our members, it is the existential crisis of the moment. And it’s a very dangerous one. The tariffs — still considered preliminary until the ITC rules late this summer — are causing newsprint prices to soar and availability to be sharply curbed.

The hearings before the ITC included a parade of dozens of members of Congress from both parties. These people know how important community newspapers are to the towns and counties they represent. And despite all the howls of “fake news” this and “fake news” that, these people know the threat such tariffs could have on principles as basic as those prescribed in the First Amendment.

Continue reading “This and that on tariffs, summits, and transitions”

Print continues to evolve, fill need

Wagner, Peter
Peter Wagner

By Peter Wagner

The biggest problem publishing newspapers today is public perception. Every newspaper, from the largest metro to the smallest family-owned community weekly, is judged by the actions of all the others.

If a large chain decides to reduce the number of day they publish or the size of their news room both broadcast and social media report it as a sure sign “print is dead.”

But print isn’t dead. Newspapers are simply facing the same challenges impacting most traditional retailers in this time of increased on-line marketing. Both newspaper and shopper publishers are often told they are the buggy-whip manufacturers of the modern age. But those who say such don’t consider that, although the buggy-whip business is long gone, the importance, status and value of a fine horse remains.

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Don’t blame Trump for this one

By Charles Dunagin

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Charles Dunagin

The few pundits who were quick to blame President Donald Trump for the mass murder at a newspaper in Annapolis, Md., last week were way off base.

You can’t blame Trump, the consummate press critic, for the rampage that resulted in five deaths at the Capital Gazette even though the president and some of his followers have labeled the news media as “the enemy of the people.”

No, the Capital Gazette shooting was more about a personal vendetta and today’s gun violence environment than a reflection of a public antipathy toward the press.

Police say Jarrod Ramos targeted the paper because of its coverage of his 2011 conviction for harassing a former classmate.

Continue reading “Don’t blame Trump for this one”

10 ways investigative reporters get the information they need

By Lareeca Rucker

Lareeca
Lareeca Rucker

The 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in Orlando was packed with information that could help you take your reporting to the next level.

One of the most informative sessions was called “Public Records Track: 50 Records to Request Now.” Described as a “quick-paced, lightening round-style session,” it was co-led by Todd Wallack, an investigative and data reporter for The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team. According to his IRE bio, Wallack has been part of teams among the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize four times, including a series exploring Boston’s reputation for racism.

Kelly Hinchcliffe, a reporter at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, also led the session. Hinchcliffe focuses on education reporting using public records and data, according to her IRE bio. She writes a public records column for Poynter, and you can find her on Twitter @RecordsGeek.

Wallack and Hinchcliffe offered the following ideas for public records requests.

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We used to be better than this

“The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, But in ourselves that we are underlings.”

—Shakespeare

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Ray Mosby

ROLLING FORK — If we are going to consider ourselves and call ourselves “the civilized world,” then we are going to have to act like it.

My mother was a lot of things, some of them psychologically interesting, but she was also an English teacher. A good one. One that knew not only that words mattered, but that sometimes words mattered more than anything else.

And both she and my father shared a common belief that parents were obliged to instill in their children and reinforce through their own actions a simple and non-negotiable rule of behavior: females were both required and obliged to act like ladies and males were required and obliged to act like gentlemen.

Continue reading “We used to be better than this”

Reunion, ‘Post’ remind of newspapers’ purpose

By Layne Bruce

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Layne Bruce

OLIVE BRANCH – This town used to be known only to me as the “last pit stop before Memphis.”

In the 70s, Olive Branch seemed little more than a couple of gas stations at an exit on U.S. 78 just before you reached the Tennessee line. It wasn’t until much later – until I actually lived in the city from 2004-2006 – that I learned of its charming downtown and tight-knit community.

Like much of suburbia, the city exploded in growth in the 80s and 90s as city dwellers moved outward. Likely sensing what was coming, Doug Jones opened the DeSoto County Tribune in Olive Branch in 1972 on the cusp of a period of rapid growth. Population in the small town exploded from 1,500 in 1970 to upward of 20,000 just 30 years later. It’s estimated 35,000 call Olive Branch home today.

Continue reading “Reunion, ‘Post’ remind of newspapers’ purpose”