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Posts tagged ‘newspapers’

InsideClimate Wins Pulitzer Prize

The Tiny News Startup That Crashed the Pulitzer Prizes
by Jeff Bercovici at Forbes
16 April 2013

On the 12th floor of a none-too-modern office building in downtown Brooklyn are the offices of the law firm Kornblau & Kornblau. Tucked away deep in this warren of dim rooms is the brain center of InsideClimate News, the newest member of the elite fraternity of Pulitzer Prize winners.

How small an operation is InsideClimate News? Well, when I visited publisher and founder David Sassoon there Tuesday afternoon, I doubled the occupancy rate. The five-year-old nonprofit has seven employees total, but the other six are scattered across the Western Hemisphere, from Tel Aviv to San Diego. “If we get somebody in Hawaii or Australia or Japan, we’ll have the globe covered,” Sassoon says.

inside-climate-news

In winning the Pulitzer for national reporting for a series on the poor regulation of oil pipelines, ICN beat out the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, two newspapers with around 900 journalists between them — not to mention all the news organizations that didn’t make it to the finalists’ circle. How could a crew of seven beat behemoths that live for Pulitzer day?

“When you do have huge operations, you’re being pulled in lots of directions,” says Sassoon. “We’re covering one thing. We’ve been doing this 24/7 for five years.”

A small budget is only a handicap if you’re trying to attack the problem in the same way as news organizations with big budgets, he says:

“I don’t know why it has to be that expensive. We probably spent 10% of what a big, well-endowed newsroom would spend, and that’s in terms of salaries and everything. We didn’t do a lot of traveling. We didn’t have the money, so we didn’t think about it. We were just figuring out out how do we get the story. I think it’s possible to do a lot of journalism on low budgets without necessarily feeling like you can’t do the job you want to do. Maybe a lot of the newsrooms can do it more efficiently than they think they can. There are plenty of individuals, newsrooms, little ones here and there, that can do this kind of work.”

That said, ICN wants to be a slightly larger news organization. “We think to do our job fully, we need to be 20 to 25 people,” says Sassoon. “As we work out our plan, I want to have a newsroom in New York. We need a hub.”

Read entire story at Forbes

The Real Mad Men

From Nation of Change
Op-Ed by Amy Goodman
3 May 2012

The Real Mad Men: Following The Money Behind TV Political Ads

Murdoch and the murder of Milly Dowler. What do they have to do with the 2012 U.S. general election? This year’s election will undoubtedly be the most expensive in U.S. history, with some projections topping $5 billion. Not only has the amount of spending increased, but its nature has as well, following the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which allows unlimited spending by corporations, unions and so-called super PACs, all under the banner of “free speech.” This campaign season will unfold amidst a resurgent Occupy Wall Street movement launched globally on May 1, the same day the British Parliament released a report on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire charging that he is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” Now more than ever, people should heed the advice of the famous Watergate source, Deep Throat: “Follow the money.”

Most money in our elections goes to TV stations to run political advertisements. According to writers Robert McChesney and John Nichols in the Monthly Review, the amount of political ad spending is skyrocketing, such that “factoring for inflation, the 1972 election spent less than 3 percent of what will be spent on TV political ads in the 2012 election cycle.”

For just one relatively small race, a recent Pennsylvania congressional primary between Democrats, journalist Ken Knelly provided a comprehensive analysis of the local TV news coverage compared with the amount of political ads that ran on the same TV stations. Knelly’s headline says it all: “28 hours of political ads (and a few minutes of news).” More than 3,300 ad spots were run on the stations serving the predominantly Democratic district. Lost in the hours of ads, Knelly writes, was the “very occasional news report on the race,” and he said the reports contained very little substance.

How Knelly was able to probe these details is crucial. The Federal Communications Commission requires that TV stations maintain a public inspection file, and any member of the public can view it. Within the disclosures are the details of the political advertising purchases made, the amounts paid and what entity bought the airtime. Recent efforts have been made to compel these hugely profitable broadcast entities to publish these files online. The broadcasters have vigorously fought such efforts and, although they usually prevail in the industry-friendly halls of the FCC, have lost this battle. On Friday, April 27, the FCC voted 2-1 to require stations to transition from paper to online filing over a two-year period. ProPublica reporter Justin Elliot notes the files will not be provided in a standard format, and will likely not be searchable.

Most of the major U.S. broadcast networks lobbied against the new disclosure rules, including Fox Television, one of the crown jewels of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire. Murdoch received a stinging rebuke this week with the release of a British Parliament report on the phone-hacking scandal that has racked his newspapers in Britain. The scandal exploded in 2011, when The Guardian reported that News of the World reporters had hacked into the voice mail of 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler in 2002. While Dowler was still missing, reporters deleted some of her voice mails, which gave false hope to her family that she still might be alive.

Journalists, along with both a judicial inquiry and parliamentary hearings, have uncovered a culture of criminality behind much of the newsgathering facade at Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World newspaper in London. The parliamentary committee released its report this week, saying the Murdoch-controlled company “stonewalled, obfuscated and misled and [would] only come clean, reluctantly, when no other course of action was sensible.”

Read complete Op-Ed and other stories at Nation of Change.

As Rich As J. K. Rowling.

If I got paid for every rejection I’ve received from past queries I’ve sent to magazines, newspapers, journals and book publishers, I’d be as rich as J. K. Rowling.

When I started taking writing seriously (again) about twenty-five years ago, I sent out a column to the local weekly magazine and had a nice reply saying they would like to print it. I was ecstatic and literally jumped up and hit my head on the door frame. Luckily, for my head, I was able to eventually contain myself and start on the next project. “Hell,” I thought, “If getting published is this easy I’ll be a successful writer in a few months.”

Reality soon set in and I received at least fifty rejection slips in a row. Most were quasi-sincere apologies. “Please excuse this form letter, but we get so many submissions it is not possible to personally reply to them all. Your submission has been carefully reviewed. Our decision to not use it at this time is based on numerous factors and is no reflection on your writing.” Some were more personal, yet just as maddening.

“Thank you for thinking of us. We liked your story, but it wasn’t quite right for our focus.”

“The focus of your idea was well done, but the writing lacked clarity.”

“Your presentation of the material is very good, but we recently did a similar piece.”

“You are a gifted writer. Good luck.”

“You write well, but your book doesn’t fit our plans. You may want to try a smaller publisher who specializes in your genre.”

“We appreciate your finely written story, but we are a small publisher and have to be very selective. You may want to consider a larger, more diverse publishing company.”

Within months I had gone from the ecstasy of my first published piece to a continuous stream of rejections. I became a manic-depressive insomniac who was willing to walk on hot burning coals to have my writing accepted, let alone occasionally paid for.

Slowly, year after year, as my writing improved and my ability to ascertain which markets were more appropriate for my nonfiction and fiction, I began to make the great leap forward having only ninety-eight out of a hundred queries rejected instead of the previous hundred and ninety-nine out of two-hundred! My odds were increasing by one to two-percent annually. At that rate I would soon have a hundred percent success by the time I was one thousand years old!

A transforming and sanity-saving moment occurred while writing late one night, when I realized that I had to write because I LOVE writing MORE than getting what I write published. This attitudinal shift turned me away from the self-defeating behavior of a masochist scribe, into a peaceful warrior who writes for the joy of the creative process.

Yes, it is always a thrill when someone accepts something I have written, but luckily I was graced with the insight that I AM a writer, whether others acknowledge that fact or not and the more I practice, the better it gets. Rejection letters come and go, but I no longer take them to heart. I wouldn’t shy away from a six-figure advance for my next best seller, but I don’t live my life waiting for it to happen.

If you can’t live without writing, then write. Write every day, as if your life depended on it. Write, write and rewrite. Be open to constructive editing and commentary from others, but never disregard what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Writing for publication is like preparing a good meal. Even if what you cook is meticulously prepared it may not suit someone else’s tastes. Keep trying new recipes and spices. Sooner or later someone will savor the dish you’ve concocted and you’ll get to enjoy the main course of a writing life and the delicious dessert of publication and pay.

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