I came to the US some 49 years ago, a young refugee, lucky to have fled an Eastern European communist country. I felt that I must earn my American citizenship by working hard and perfecting my English. My girl friend, a genuine girl from Brooklyn, N.Y. Said to me: “You wanna speak good English? You gotta read the New York Times. Every day. O.K.”
William Pavlov, now a long-time NY Times reader who is an attorney in Miami Beach, left that comment on the new Times Insider, a new behind-the-scenes Times Premier feature.
Times Insider came along with Times Premier, one of a set of new subscription plans and offerings launched last month that offers readers who are willing to pay $45 a month services like Times Insider (a behind-the-scenes look at how big stories are reported), TBooks (single-subject compilations of past articles), family access and more.
Pro Tip: The idea behind Insider is to create a more informed readership. While all that sounds appealing, if you’re not a big-time fan like William and not trying to pay for Premier, you can always read excellent news about how the news was made over at CJR and especially IJNet, while also diversifying your news diet.
Members of his staff — most of them young and working on a newspaper for the first time — referred to him with varying degrees of affection and apprehension as “Oz the Great and Terrible.”
Mr. Rensenbrink referred to himself as a “working hippie,” shaped by counterculture values and a blue-collar work ethic. He was, by most accounts, a tough boss.
The Aquarian Weekly, headquartered in various northern New Jersey storefronts and warehouses in its 44 years, has outlived most of its underground cohort. After The Village Voice and The San Francisco Bay Guardian were taken over by corporate newspaper chains in recent years, The Aquarian claimed to be one of the last independent alternative papers in the country left standing and one of the oldest continuously published ones.
Mr. Rensenbrink, who died on Nov. 6 in Grants Pass, Ore., at 81, received offers over the years from chains looking to buy The Aquarian, with its circulation of 45,000. He said no each time. By the time he retired in 1999 and moved to Oregon, he had arranged to transfer ownership to an employee cooperative. The co-op has been publishing the paper — in print and online editions — ever since.
He’s a fascinating man with a fascinating legacy. The Aquarian Weekly staff write about meeting and working with him in this tribute on their site. Worth reading.
The problem with the cutbacks in professional foreign coverage is not just the loss of experience and wisdom. It’s the rise of — and exploitation of — the Replacements, a legion of freelancers, often untrained and too often unsupported. They gravitate to the bang-bang, because that’s what editors and broadcast producers will pay for. And chances are that nobody has their backs.
Bill Keller, It’s the Golden Age of News, NY Times.
Keller points out that despite the fact papers have fewer and fewer experienced correspondents on staff, our access to those who are doing the work is unprecedented (and often free). Cutbacks have led to the rise of freelancers, who often lack the support needed to conduct their work as safely as they ought to be able to. He writes:
Some of them, of course, are tremendously talented, and many prefer freelance work over staff jobs for the freedom to cover what interests them. But for most of them, I suspect, it’s not a choice. Freelance work has long been a way to break into the business of international reporting; nowadays, increasingly, it is the business.
FJP: It’s an important read. I’ve got a friend who, while not a foreign correspondent, has been freelancing in the broadcast industry for years. And while she’s won two Peabody’s for her work, she’s struggled to maintain a livable salary with benefits. The fact that such a dichotomy can exist speaks for itself. —Jihii
That’s what live television is these days — just a starting point. On-demand viewing behaviors, which have been reshaping television since the first TiVo DVR was shipped in 1999, are becoming more pronounced with each passing year, sometimes to the benefit of networks and advertisers and other times to their detriment.
And I am not advising younger women (or any woman) to tough it out. You can lash back, which I have done too often and which has rarely served me well. You can quit and look for other jobs, which is sometimes a very good idea. But the prejudice will follow you. What will save you is tacking into the love of the work, into the desire that brought you there in the first place. This creates a suspension of time, opens a spacious room of your own in which you can walk around and consider your response. Staring prejudice in the face imposes a cruel discipline: to structure your anger, to achieve a certain dignity, an angry dignity.
Do not use illegal as a noun, and avoid the sinister-sounding alien.
A new entry in The New York Times’ stylebook on “illegal immigrant”.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of advocates against the use of the term “illegal immigrant” gathered outside The New York Times building in Times Square to deliver a petition of protest. Organizers said the petition, which asked the paper to stop using the phrase contained more than 70,000 signatures collected online.
And here is the new entry, (by way of Poynter, if you’re looking for context):
illegal immigrant may be used to describe someone who enters, lives in or works in the United States without proper legal authorization. But be aware that in the debate over immigration, some people view it as loaded or offensive. Without taking sides or resorting to euphemism, consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question, or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegally; who overstayed a visa; who is not authorized to work in this country.
Unauthorized is also an acceptable description, though it has a bureaucratic tone. Undocumented is the term preferred by many immigrants and their advocates, but it has a flavor of euphemism and should be used with caution outside quotations. Illegal immigration, because it describes the issue rather than an individual, is less likely thanillegal immigrant to be seen as troubling.
Take particular care in describing people whose immigration status is complex or subject to change – for example, young people brought to this country as children, many of whom are eligible for temporary reprieves from deportation under federal policies adopted in 2012.
Do not use illegal as a noun, and avoid the sinister-sounding alien.
A newspaper published a story about the Surgeon General’s office that contained information about the size and location of the Army of the Potomac. A furious Hooker complained to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton that the chief of the Secret Service “would have willingly paid $1,000 for such information” about Confederate forces.
Ford Risely, The New York Times, Birth of the Byline.
Risley, a professor of communications and head of Penn State’s journalism department takes us through Civil War era journalism and how the byline came to be.
Indeed, during the first two years of the war, an increasingly aggressive and competitive press had published stories that infuriated military leaders on both sides. The Civil War was the first war widely covered by American newspapers. And in their zeal to report the greatest event of their lives, newsmen produced a decidedly mixed bag of stories.
On one hand, many reporters honestly and faithfully chronicled the fighting. Tireless correspondents went to extraordinary lengths to report stories, often on tight deadlines. However, other newsmen mistakenly, and in some cases recklessly, reported the conflict. Correspondents less concerned with the facts and more interested in rushing stories into print wrote damaging stories that hurt their side.
Following the journalistic practice of the day, correspondents wrote anonymously during the war, most using a pen name or no name at all. Newsmen liked the custom, believing the secrecy allowed them do their work better. As one reporter wrote, “The anonymous greatly favors freedom and boldness in newspaper correspondence … . Besides the responsibility it fastens on a correspondent, the signature inevitably detracts from the powerful impersonality of a journal.”
However, commanders did not like the practice because newsmen often could not be held accountable for what they wrote. McClellan had complained to Stanton of reporters repeatedly “giving important information” about the Army in their stories. “As it is impossible for me to ascertain with certainty who these anonymous writers are,” he wrote, “I beg to suggest that another order be published holding the editors responsible for its infraction.”
After the news leak, General Order No. 48 was issued, which required that all reporters with the Army of the Potomac—of which Hooker (mentioned above) was commander—“publish their communications over their own signatures.”
And the byline was born.
Related: A few more thoughts on journalism history from our archives.
As we started to collect our ideas for the structure of the project, the multimedia group agreed that we didn’t want to create a bunch of different overlapping pieces and hang them all off the text. We wanted to make a single story out of all the assets, including the text. So the larger project wasn’t a typical design effort. It was an editing project that required us to weave things together so that text, video, photography and graphics could all be consumed in a way that was similar to reading—a different kind of reading.
Last month, the NY Times created a beautifully compelling story on avalanches and skiing in Washington State. This morning, we get to read about exactly how they did it. Most fascinating is their discussion of how to pace the story so it would feel like a seamless reading experience:
Q. There’s a ton of audio and moving-image work in Snow Fall, and you used a lot of techniques from filmmaking, but within a very reading-centric experience. What kind of challenges did those elements present?
Catherine Spangler, Video Journalist: The challenges of crafting multimedia to compliment a text-based story were the same challenges faced in any storytelling endeavor. We focused on the pacing, narrative tension and story arc—all while ensuring that each element gave the user a different experience of the story. The moving images provided a much-needed pause at critical moments in the text, adding a subtle atmospheric quality. The team often asked whether a video or piece of audio was adding value to the project, and we edited elements out that felt duplicative. Having a tight edit that slowly built the tension of the narrative was the overall goal.
Graham Roberts, Graphics Editor: With the visuals, especially ones that would actually interrupt the reading, we wanted it to feel like a natural continuation. This required choosing appropriate color palettes, and the right kind of fluid movements. The reader would hopefully feel that they were reading into the graphic, and not see it as a distraction. Content wise, these elements needed to occur in passages that were challenging to express with words alone, like the layout of the terrain, and the shape, speed and duration of the avalanche itself. Or something that was very hard to follow without a visual aid, like the trajectory and timing of each skier’s path down the mountain.