“We all assumed this would be the moment of our execution….”


Lyndsey Addario/NYTimes

Fascinating piece in the New York Times magazine about Lyndsey Addario, the photojournalist, though I look forward to the day when doing work while pregnant is actually not newsworthy.   Thanks to Carolyn Gearig for pointing out.

Before Thursday’s class, please read Nothing to Envy ps160-220

For a discussion on Ebola reporting, look at www.eboladeeply.org

Reporting Ebola: A Story of Divergent Western and African Experiences (World News Publishing Focus)


Here are some rebuttals to the egregious Newsweek story we talked about in class.   The Washington Post ran a story about the long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place.  Humanosphere called it racist, and this interview with a medical anthropologist was interesting.  In two tweets, Howard French and Siddharta Mitter sum it up:

WRITE: A 300-word blogpost about the coverage of a natural disaster in your country. Was the media coverage ‘a single story’ or did any pieces stand out, and if so, how? Was the Western coverage more critical than that of the media from your own country?

Anonymous Sources


Washington Post/2005

Following our class discussion on anonymous sources, here’s a poem on the use/abuse of anonymity in the New York Times.   The most recent Public Editor blog, by Margaret Sullivan, on the use of anonymous sources is here.  She too mentions the @NYTAnon twitter feed.   I’ve put a link to the class slides in Ctools, and hopefully the readings (up to page 181 of Amnesia) will be there within the next day or two.

ASSIGNMENT:  Write a 500 word post on the use of sources and the level of danger they face in your chosen country. You can write about sources in general, or you could write about one specific example where an anonymous source was used or a source’s identity was divulged perhaps unwillingly or at a cost.   Remember to source each statement, and link to your sources within your post. (to be posted by Jan 20th at 8am)

And finally, on the topic of free speech, here’s a warning one publisher to her journalists to stop swearing in the newsroom. Apparently, the cause of the cursing is likely to be the disappearance of junk food from the newsroom vending machine.  No junk food.  No swearing.  Doesn’t sound much like a newsroom to me.



AFP/Martin Bureau

AFP/Martin Bureau

The new Charlie Hebdo has been printed with the Prophet Mohammed on the cover.  The cartoonist who drew the picture, Renald Luzier, explained it at a press conference where he repeatedly broke down.  “It was not the front page the world wanted us to make, but it was the one that we wanted to make,” he said. “It was not the front page the terrorists wanted us to make, because there are no terrorists in it, there is just a man crying, a guy crying – it’s Mohammad.”

In the US, the Washington Post printed the picture, so for the first time depicted the Prophet Mohammed, while for its part the New York Times did not take this step, but instead warned about the possibility of reprisals.

In Hong Kong, a pro-democracy tycoon who runs the Apple Daily newspaper, Jimmy Lai, had a petrol bomb thrown at his house, sparking a #jesuisjimmy hashtag, while a German correspondent in China wrote this sobering account of the arrest of her Chinese assistant.   Before Thursday’s class, please read the first 82 pages of the People’s Republic of Amnesia, and make sure that you have filed your first blogpost by 8am.



Welcome to Comm 439!

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Welcome to Comm studies 439!   This is a class website, and I’ll be posting assignments, reading lists, random thoughts and other general info here.

On a day we should all be thinking about media freedom, here are some cartoon tributes to the murdered Charlie Hebdo journalists in France.   Interesting to see which news outlets refused to publish the cartoons – AP, CNN, The Daily Telegraph, New York Daily News and many others, while the Washington Post, Buzzfeed and Huffpost were among those that did.  As for the New York Times, there was a lot of back-and-forth, as described by Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, who explained the thinking of Editor Dean Baquet, “I sought out a lot of views, and I changed my mind twice,” he told her, “It had to be my decision alone.” He decided against, citing the sensibilities of Muslim readers, “We have a standard that is long held and that serves us well: that there is a line between gratuitous insult and satire. Most of these are gratuitous insult.”


On another topic, there are some great opportunities for student journalists on the horizon – there’s a position at Michigan radio for students with work/study funding which would allow for some writing and reporting experience.    Also the deadline is approaching for the Pulitzer Center’s student fellowship.  Email me for more details, or I’ll post shortly.  And finally, the deadline is fast approaching for the AP paid internship over the summer, which offers posts all over the US as well as Bangkok; Berlin; Johannesburg; London; Mexico City; New Delhi; Paris; Rio de Janeiro; Seoul and Tokyo.   Start filing your applications now!