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Reporting on prisons: Stories of life inside

Reporting on prisons in the United States can be challenging and often frustrating for even the most respected publications and seasoned journalists. It can't be approached like any other beat. The good news is that organizations are penetrating the confusing, dense veil of prison policies and prison life. And, they’re supporting prisoners who dare to write as incarcerated journalists and sharing tips with editors and journalists on the outside who want to report on prisons.

Experts discuss the complexities of objectivity as a journalistic ideal

The term “objectivity” is itself subjective. If you were to poll the public about their desire and demand for “objective” journalism, many might opine that reporters should stick to the “who, what, when, where and why” model — sans the “why” part. But the “why” is, after all, the essential context of the story, and without it, the public is less informed and not as inclined to read the bare-bones carcass of the story that remains. Of course, contemporary conversations about objectivity and fairness in reporting are much more nuanced and complex.
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In the early days of the internet, a few early adopters were starting careers in the news industry and seeing opportunities in digital that their bosses did not fully understand. Today, digital pioneers have become the bosses. Those ahead of the digital movement — like Conan Gallaty, Lisa DeSisto, Grant Moise and Robert Granfeldt — saw their careers take shape in ways they never expected.
Louie Mullen owns over 30 weekly newspapers in small towns across seven states. “Every newspaper is run as an individual. It is a representation of that community. It’s more of an old-school style of running newspapers,” said Mullen, who is buying community newspapers across the country. And, his ownership style is hands-off.
Gaps in news coverage are spreading across the country. But even with this challenge, newsrooms are finding resources and innovative ways to save or even revive their storytelling capabilities. One example is partnerships between universities and media companies. This trend is especially prevalent in local newspapers, which are facing increasing newsroom layoffs as they struggle to survive.
Ryan Sorrell and his team at The Kansas City Defender rely on two methods to reach young people. First, they know that each social media platform has a different ethos, so they personalize content for each brand. Second, they have a broad content mix, blending hard news and culture stories with headlines such as “10 Best Black-Owned Restaurants.”
A report published by the Center for Media Engagement in the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin shows how journalists can connect with stigmatized communities by using person-centered language. Caroline Murray, a senior research associate at the school and one of the authors, says this research is important because it demonstrates how journalists can better connect with the communities they cover.
Over the decades since, there have been dozens of cases of news people who turned to a life of politics. Richard Warner Carlson — known as Dick and father to one Tucker Carlson — famously quit TV news to pursue his political aspirations. Malcolm Stevenson (Steve) Forbes Jr. straddled the world of news and politics, including two bids for the Republican presidential nomination. Sarah Palin remarkably went from TV sports reporter to Alaska’s governor to vice presidential candidate. This year, she campaigned for Alaska’s House seat but lost to her Democrat opponent in the special election. The list goes on and on.
Jennifer Bertetto inherited a deadline the day she became the leader of Trib Total Media. She had two years to save the company. Bertetto was named Editor & Publisher’s 2022 Publisher of the Year at the #NewsMedia Business Summit in Harrisburg on Oct. 13, in part, for rescuing the southwestern Pennsylvania newspaper company from its swift plunge toward bankruptcy. In the process, she retained her commitment to her employees, community and journalism.
For the better part of 10 years, journalists have been told that paywalls are the future to funding a sustainable newsroom. Free is out, the funnel is in and pageviews matter a lot less than subscription conversions. What if there is another way? Well, journalists in Chicago are putting that to the test.
It’s one of the oldest stories of human endeavor: From the upheaval and uncertainty of established institutions — in this case, the newspaper industry — comes opportunity. Tony Mecia saw his chance after 11 years with The Charlotte Observer and another eight years as a freelancer writing for various publications. Today, that opportunity has become The Charlotte Ledger, a newsletter-based news product distributed by email.
It has been a tumultuous 2022 for Gannett — especially for the employees laid off this year — replete with high highs and troubling lows. Certainly, one of the highlights for the company came when its flagship, USA TODAY, celebrated its 40th anniversary. E&P asked Gannett CEO Mike Reed to reflect on the title’s 40th anniversary — and other questions about the company.
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President Joe Biden's granddaughter Naomi Biden's White House wedding to Peter Neal was closed to the news media, frustrating White House reporters whose complaints grew louder on Tuesday when Vogue magazine's exclusive pre-wedding coverage was posted online.
The planned merger between Trump Media & Technology Group and Digital World Acquisition Corp. has attracted regulatory scrutiny because of concerns that it potentially violated rules designed to keep investors informed.
A helicopter pilot and a meteorologist who worked for a North Carolina television station died Tuesday when a news helicopter crashed along a Charlotte-area interstate, with police praising the pilot for heroically avoiding the roadway in his final moments.
The program will devote more staffing and resources to women’s sports coverage, with a focus on basketball and soccer.
As the 2022 World Cup kicks off, USA TODAY Sports+ launched interactive Augmented Reality (AR) features for the most dedicated soccer fanatics, including a customizable design for a World Cup Kit and “Make the Save,” an immersive World Cup app.
The outcomes confirmed anew that election polling is an uneven and high-risk pursuit.
The Columbia Missourian, a digital-first community newspaper based at the Missouri School of Journalism, has partnered with NewsMatch through the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN) to raise funds supporting the Missourian’s independent, public-service journalism.
Independence Day author Steve Lopez turned the issue of retirement into a reporting project, speaking to geriatric experts, a psychiatrist, a rabbi, plus people who have retired and some who refuse.
The Associated Press has fired a reporter and is reviewing its standards on use of anonymous sourcing following an “egregious” error in a story about a fatal missile strike that killed two people in Poland.
Elon Musk and his advisers are examining all types of expenses at Twitter. Some of the social media company’s vendors have gotten stiffed.
A sticky question that has become more prevalent within journalism of late: When is it acceptable for journalists to withhold reporting in service of their book project, especially when that reporting is clearly of urgent public interest?
One ray of good news during the Covid pandemic: More U.S. consumers read and subscribed to local news publications.
Detroit Free Press journalists recently ratified a new, two-year collective bargaining agreement as parent company Gannett navigates a dire economic outlook.
Plus, retailers’ attempts to outsmart supply issues may mean savings for consumers; know the risk of your holiday going viral; and more.
U.S. soccer journalist Grant Wahl says he was detained by security staff after he wore a rainbow shirt to USA’s World Cup opener against Wales.
Journa.host is part of Mastodon, a vast network of thousands of servers that look and function much like Twitter.
The Associated Press on Monday fired a national security reporter who had provided erroneous information about a missile strike in Poland last week that resulted in a widely circulated but inaccurate news alert and story suggesting Russia was responsible for the incident.
Six former executives of a now-defunct Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a collusion charge under the National Security Law that has silenced and jailed most opposition voices in the southern Chinese territory.
This updated collection of research examines topics such as holiday pricing, shopping psychology and Black Friday customer aggression. It also spotlights several new reports that may be helpful to journalists covering holiday shopping.
Paxton Media Group is acquiring six newspapers in North Carolina from Gannett Co., Inc. The titles include Lexington Dispatch, the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, the Burlington Times-News, the Kinston Free Press, the New Bern Sun Journal, and The Daily News of Jacksonville.
Industry Partner News
In October 2022, Seawave Corporation, publisher of the Cape May County Herald in Rio Grande, New Jersey, signed a contract with SCS to implement the Community Advertising System to standardize and modernize its advertising and production workflows.
We're proud to announce that Column is now a certified B Corporation. Our certification establishes us amongst a small subset of public benefit corporations officially certified by the B Lab, a global nonprofit network committed to making all businesses a force for good. In our most recent blog, Melissa Theiss, head of people at Column, explains our certification, what a B Corp Score means and how we're committed to making an impact.
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, the trading platform for journalism — Journexx — is launching its final test phase before opening its doors to the entire publishing industry.
STN Video has announced it will be powering video on PressReader’s Branded Editions platform, an innovative digital publishing SaaS solution for publishers wanting custom digital editions for the web, via apps, and as kiosks.
Today, Column announced that the Maine Press Association has joined their Partner Program as the first New England member.
It's going to be a rough year for local advertising in 2023. Borrell is forecasting that growth will be at a near-standstill, held back by a combination of economic pressures and a dramatic reshaping of the type of businesses now operating in each market. Borrell will unveil its forecasts and describe the change in business composition during a 45-minute webinar at 11 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, Nov. 17. The webinar is free.
Mediahuis, an international media group with a range of powerful brands and activities in many European countries and Ireland's leading print and digital media publisher, reaches millions …
Times-Journal Inc, is a 150+ year old family-owned media company now in the hands of 3rd generation news publishers who are committed to serving local communities with award winning journalism and results driven advertising programs.  In short, there are no hedge-funds or corporate “bean counting downsizers” here to contend with. We are committed to a long-term future in this industry!  Located in the heart of Georgia’s most desirable markets, our communities are the ideal place to live, work and play. 
"There’s got to be a better way” was what Keven Zepezauer and his team kept saying to each other whenever they talked about affidavits. Zepezauer, the president and publisher of Restoration NewsMedia in North Carolina, knew that the public notice process — with all its labor-intensive, manual inefficiencies — was a problem. “It was ugly,” Zepezauer stated. “We had a full-time person dedicated just to affidavits. We knew we needed to do something different.”
#NewsMedia Stocks of Interest
Amanda Choy and Mantai Chow are joining The New York Times as video journalists for New York Times Cooking.
On Nov. 17 Jeff Sine was elected by the NPR board of directors as chair of the board. Sine first joined the board in 2017, serving as a Public Director.
The News-Review (Roseburg, Oregon) has welcomed a new multimedia reporter to its editorial team. Nancy Yingtao Lu recently graduated from University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where she received her master’s degree in journalism in August.
Rick Weegman, who has worked at The Eagle since August 2021 as news editor, was named managing editor on Monday, Nov. 21.
Mark Treinen, executive editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, will become the editor of The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin), editor and publisher Paul Fanlund announced.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal has appointed Subrina Hudson to the post of business editor. Recently, Hudson led the business desk on an interim basis, less than a year after being named assistant business editor.
"I’ll put my money where my mouth is," he announced on Twitter. "I’m down for a 12 week internship at Twitter for cost of living in SF."
Michael Bass, a top programming executive at CNN, is leaving the outlet, CEO Chris Licht confirmed on Monday.
Nilo Tabrizy is joining The Washington Post as a Visual Forensics reporter, bringing global reporting experience and video production expertise to the team.
The section will now have four deputy opinion editors with new or expanded responsibilities.
As a senior editor for The Upshot, Tom Giratikanon will help envision, prototype and build engaging, interactive journalism.
Industry Obits
A memorial service for Stephen F. Bentley, former co-publisher of The Lawton (Oklahoma) Constitution, will be at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
He composed many of George W. Bush’s signature addresses, and later, as a writer for The Washington Post, took a stand against Donald J. Trump.
Fred Hickman, a pioneering sports broadcaster and anchor who helped to launch two major cable networks and influenced and informed a generation of sports journalists and fans, has died.
Gary Martin, the Washington bureau chief for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, has died.
Retired Las Vegas correspondent Robert Macy, who wrote thousands of stories about entertainment, crime and sports in Sin City over the course of two decades for The Associated Press, has died. He was 85.
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