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Archive for July 2012

Be honest: Even if it’s just ripped from a press release, cite the source

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The plagiarism rule I learned in the newsroom 45 years ago is this: Don’t steal. It has a corollary: Never deceive readers.

Earlier this month, the Kansas City Star fired columnist Steve Penn “for using material that wasn’t his and representing it as his own work.” Penn, at least a dozen times, the paper says, took material from press releases and did not tell the readers he did so. The paper was correct to fire Penn; he is suing.

Penn has a defender — Gerard Corbett, chairman and chief executive officer of the Public Relations Society of America. Corbett says it’s okay to take material from a press release (within limits) and use it without attribution. Corbett is wrong, wrong, wrong too.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 26, 2012 at 8:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

CBO’s overlooked caution: ‘ObamaCare’ impact on deficit ‘highly uncertain’

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I don’t think anyone in this town believes that repealing ObamaCare is going to increase the deficit.

John Boehner, speaker of the House, Jan. 6, 2011, at his first press conference as speaker.

The Congressional Budget Office, in response to a request from John Boehner, opined Tuesday in a letter to the speaker that GOP-sought repeal of the Affordable Care Act would increase the nation’s federal spending deficit, adding $109 billion from 2013-2022.

And, as might be expected following the release of the CBO’s letter, partisan voices are either assailing the nonpartisan CBO estimate as illusory or using it as a cudgel against the health care law’s opponents.

Virtually all miss the nuances of the CBO’s letter regarding the fiscal impact of H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act. No one really knows if the deficit will increase or decrease whether the ACA survives or is repealed.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Boston Globe, once a beacon of U.S. metro dailies, continues to falter

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The New England Media Group — which oversees The Boston Globe, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Boston.com and a few other papers — is whacking its workforce again.

At The Globe, 43 people are leaving — 23 in advertising and 20 in the newsroom — through buyouts. Another 10 are victims of “involuntary reductions.” (Wonder if an HR person actually said to a staffer: “We’re sorry, but we’re involuntarily reducing you …”)

And the reason? From the memo circulated by Globe publisher Christopher Mayer:

This move, difficult as it is, is part of a program to rebalance the business and will allow us to reallocate resources toward the investments we need as we innovate and introduce new products. This will also assure that we continue to meet the needs of our advertisers, and provide readers the high-quality journalism they expect from us. [emphasis added]

Huh? Rebalance the business? What the hell does that mean?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

When is an epidemic really an epidemic? Or not? Just let the media tell you

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My search for evidence to support the claim began with this tweet sent 9 minutes after midnight:

CBS Radio News ‏@CBSRadioNews

US appears headed for its worst year for whooping cough in 50 years with the number of cases rising at an epidemic rate http://bit.ly/cbsnewscast

Step 1: Click on the provided link. It led to the current newscast. All Aurora shootings; nothing on whooping cough.

Step 2: Google “whooping cough.” Story number one from Reuters:

SEATTLE (Reuters) – The number of U.S. whooping cough cases has risen to around 18,000 in an outbreak that is on track to become the most severe in over a half century and could in part stem from possible waning vaccine protection, health officials said on Thursday.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Giving ‘quote approval’ to politicans an act of editorial surrender

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Reporters learn their craft in several ways. One is imitation. Another is instruction by a teacher. Another is instruction by experience. The lessons taught by each may be widely dissimilar. But lately, imitation and instruction by experience, unleavened by common sense, have produced poor journalism. That ill serves readers.

Much harrumping by media critics has followed NYTer Jeremy Peters’ revelation of “quote approval” — demands that reporters allow politicians to edit and rewrite quotations chosen for news stories.

Dan Rather calls this “a jaw-dropping turn in journalism.” Says NYU prof Jay Rosen: “This is real power shift. Quote approval is now routine on the campaign trail. Reporters feel they have no choice.” Former News & Record editor John Robinson: “Campaigns get quote approval? Can we embarrass ourselves some more?” And CUNY prof Jeff Jarvis: “1 Journalists should never give quote approval. 2 If they do they’d damn well better reveal it.”

Why would otherwise competent journalists surrender control of their story-telling to the subjects of their stories?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Birth of a climate change meme: Inadequate reporting followed by inept blogging

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Today I witnessed (at least for me) the birth of a meme — an idea spread through a culture. It’s a common word in Internet parlance: An “Internet meme” is often considered to be a viral torpedo bent on tearing through that culture malevolently.

The emergence of this meme shows us what passes for acceptable “content” these days. The journalism business has shed experienced, competent reporters as compensation for lousy business decisions made by shortsighted media corporations. That has a cost. We reap what we sow …

A friend sent a link to a Yahoo news blog post about remarks by Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, regarding Americans’ perceptions of climate change.

The post, written by one Conor Skelding, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as a Yahoo intern, carries this hed: Just step outside: More Americans convinced of climate change after extreme weather

The hed provides no support for “convinced”; it is sheer opinion. It is a meme emerging from the womb, a virgin birth with no fathering fact.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

July 5, 2012: Nothing’s changed. The American dream continues to erode

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Hope you enjoyed your hot dogs, Mom, apple pie, fireworks, and the inevitable flourishes of patriotism, both faux and real, on the Fourth of July. But nothing has changed in America from the July 3 that kissed you good night to the July 5 that nudged you awake you this morning.

Political warfare by any name is still war. Call it what you will: The haves vs. the have-nots, class warfare, or ideological conflict — it’s still a cruel war, and it inflicts wounds on far too many of us. Some are deep: The bank took the house. Some are possibly fatal: The insurance company wouldn’t pay for the surgery. Or the drugs for that cancer. Some will fester for a lifetime: College students face a one-trillion-dollar student loan debt. Some are a perpetual itch that scratching does not relieve: There will be no pay raise next year, and your contribution to the company’s health plan will double.

Worse, so many of these problems that erode the American social contract are not meaningfully addressed by those we have chosen to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized