Rolling Stone’s problems are journalism’s problems, too

Like many other journalist, I read the Columbia Journalism School’s report on the Rolling Stone rape story and was appalled. But even as thorough an analysis of it as Jay Rosen’s on his PressThink blog leaves me thinking the reaction is missing the point. Yes, Rolling Stone screwed up. Yes, the errors its reporter and

‘Why bother’ reporting sets journalism gold standard

Brayden Olson is a real person who has many similarities with one of the main characters in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Or not. Business Insider, an operation I know mostly from the frequency with which its posts show up in the news feed on Yahoo’s homepage, says that Brayden Olson says he’s just like Christian

Let’s say goodbye to the man on the street

The voice of the people is the voice of God, says the proverb — in Latin, vox populi vox Dei. Hence the term “vox pop” used by some in broadcasting for a reporting method also known as man-on-the-street (MOS) or man-in-the-street. Balderdash, says I. Vox populi vox ignorantiae: The voice of the people is the

5 questions about Rolling Stone’s gang-rape reporting (updated twice)

Last month, Rolling Stone published a frustrating story by Sabrina Rubin Erdely about a young woman who said she was gang-raped on the campus of the University of Virginia. The story was, at first, frustrating because it depicted a university stuck in the Stone Age, unwilling to deal properly with sexual assault, and a campus

Death to the inverted pyramid; life to alternative story forms

I have a hate/hate relationship with the inverted pyramid. I hate the fact that this artifice, created to deal with ancient mechanical issues, is still being justified to journalism students today based on ex post facto reasoning. And I hate the way alternative forms, often based on actual reader habits, are so often derided as

What’s a nice girl like you doing in a comment section like this?

I have much respect for every woman who dares to use her real name when posting online. As a comment moderator for several years, I saw just how dangerous that can be. What women can expect online was highlighted recently when women who work at Jezebel, a blog aimed at women, complained publicly that the

When bad structure happens to good stories

We experience life chronologically: This happened, then this happened, then that happened next. Organizing a story in the same way makes it easy to follow. This happened, then that happened isn’t the only way to structure a story, or always the best way. But whenever I was working with a writer who had trouble with

9 tips to make comment moderation easier

I’ve written often that comments are useful on news sites, anonymity serves a purpose, and making those things work requires adequate, local moderation. But there’s the hitch: Moderating comments on an active site can be a daunting task. Phillip Smith, whom I follow on Twitter, sent out this today: Volunteered to cover comment mod on

The Times-Picayune changes: Retreat or rebound?

This week, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans announced that its home-delivery subscribers, who were cut back to three days a week in the fall of 2012, would be getting two “bonus” home-delivered papers — Saturdays and Mondays — at least through the end of football season this year. Also, the paper would switch back to

100 books every journalist must read

A young journalism student once asked a newspaper editor what she should do to prepare for her hoped-for career as a political reporter. “Read,” the editor said. Absolutely, I thought, sitting between them, waiting for my own interview for a top job to resume. “Read Shakespeare,” he said. “And the Bible.” Forsooth, I thought, that