Category Archives: Newsroom

Time for an NNA upgrade

For the record, this is not what the NNA looks like. It’s a framed plaque.

Gird yourself, I’m about to attack a Canadian journalism institution: The National Newspaper Awards.

It has taken me a couple of weeks to write this post. No, scratch that. This has been years in the making.

I need to begin by stating that I recognize the importance of the NNAs – some have dubbed them “Canada’s Pulitzer Prize” (this kind of identifying through comparison with our American neighbours makes me cringe.)

Three of my colleagues were recognized for their journalistic excellence at this year’s NNAs, an achievement that has made everyone in the newsroom proud.

But journalistic excellence doesn’t occur solely in print form.

Continue reading Time for an NNA upgrade


Boston Marathon bombing coverage by CNN and John King

On Wednesday, CNN’s John King reported that a ‘dark-skinned male’ had been indentified, then arrested in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.

But over the next 90 minutes, King’s credibility – and the credibility of CNN – took a major hit.

I created this storify of how the race to be first, and the decision to report information from anonymous sources on live cable news affected CNN’s coverage and credibility in the days after the attack.

Read the Storify here (sorry, WordPress won’t let me embed it – grrrr)

Simple graphic of platform differentiation: how readers’ news needs vary by device


I’ve been hearing a lot about platform strategy in the news business lately, and I think before we create a strategy, we need to look at how  people are using these devices to consume news – including what they want, and when they want it.

Continue reading Simple graphic of platform differentiation: how readers’ news needs vary by device

Leonard Asper speaks about the demise of Canwest

Leonard Asper, left, speaks to the Winnipeg Free Press’ Geoff Kirbyson.

A funny thing happened during my Michener-Deacon research in Manitoba. Leonard Asper, CEO of failed Canwest stopped by the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe to talk about the end of the company. I decided to pause academic research and live tweet it.

(Full disclosure: My newsroom, The Ottawa Citizen, was once owned by Canwest)
Leonard Asper was interviewed by the Free Press’ Geoff Kirbyson.


He began by dropping a bit of a bombshell, providing insight into the company’s goings on a decade ago.

Out of disruption, comes media innovation


Quit your job in a traditional newsroom, and go it alone to innovate in journalism … or work within existing newsrooms, which have the most money to try new things.

These were the two messages that emerged from the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s panel on media innovation on Thursday night, in a talk entitled “Journalism, Disrupted: How to create media innovation.”

The panel was comprised of three disruptors: Michael De Monte, who left a top-level job at CTV and CHUM to found Scribblelive, a live blogging tool that has completely disrupted the workflow of a newsroom; Zach Seward, former social media editor and reporter at The Wall Street Journal, now the senior editor of Quartz, a global business news venture by Atlantic Media Company; and David Skok, Director of Digital News at (yes a traditional newsroom but wait for it…) and Nieman Fellow who co-authored with Clayton Christiensen Breaking News: Mastering the Art of Disruptive Innovation in Journalism.

Marissa Nelson, acting director of digital media for CBC News moderated the panel.

Seward argued that innovation in journalism comes more easily when operations are in startup mode. Quartz was an example of this – he intentionally set operations up in New York while the Atlantic is based in Washington D.C., removing any geographical connection to the traditional media.

Continue reading Out of disruption, comes media innovation

Audio reporting tools of the trade: then and now

Note the 3-metre cord on the microphone, which was designed for karaoke.
Note the 3-metre cord on the microphone, which was designed for karaoke. I wound it up and held extra cord together with a hair elastic. Very technical.

This is an I-love-technology piece, gird yourselves accordingly.

Fourteen years ago, as a journalism student, I recorded a lot of audio.

This set up (pictured left),  included the latest technology: a smallish cassette recorder, and a giant ice-cream-cone-shaped microphone.

I was set. I recorded ‘tape’ of interviews for assignments, and eventually did a 30-minute radio documentary about women journalists working on Parliament Hill from 1966 – 1996. (Note to self: Find and digitize, some big names on there).

In my first year of  journalism school, we were taught to edit tape using an Ampex, razors and tape.  I’m not making this up.

Mary McGuire, my radio professor back then,  tweeted  a pic of the actual Ampex I worked on:


Later, ‘new technology’ was brought in, and we were taught digital editing.  (Cue angels singing, as I was never very handy with razors and tape.)

Continue reading Audio reporting tools of the trade: then and now

The Atlantic’s Scientology advertorial proves audience is awake

  1. Screengrab from the Atlantic's Scientology advertorial
    Screengrab from the Atlantic’s Scientology advertorial

    I suppose it seemed like a good idea to the folks in advertising at the time: The Atlantic receives a sum of money to write a glowing piece on the controversial Church of Scientology.

    The Atlantic has since taken the down the post, but you can see the Google cache of it (thanks to @fnkey for that) here:
  2. The outcry on Twitter was almost immediate. Why would the Atlantic, known for its journalistic integrity, choose to run such a story on its site as regular content. To note: it included the label ‘sponsor content’, but this wasn’t enough.

    Soon after it was posted, some readers noted that comments on the story were moderated, unlike other stories, which had comments posted immediately.

Why Canadian Press is now using Storify

For Toronto hockey fans, Jan. 9 was a big news day: the firing of Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke was completely unexpected.

Also unexpected was how Canadian Press, the country’s wire service used Storify to tell the story.

A screengrab from CP's first storify
A screengrab from CP’s first storify

Think about it: A wire service, whose business model relies on revenues from subscribers, aggregated reaction to Burke’s firing and posted it online for the general public.

I asked Andrew Lundy, CP’s new Director of Digital (Wednesday was his third day on the job) about the decision to use Storify.

Continue reading Why Canadian Press is now using Storify

Note to future journalists: Don’t get your parents to do it

I got a lot of reaction after a mom reached out to me via LinkedIn looking to get her son, a journalism student,  a summer job in our newsroom. (A few people suggested I hire the mom for her social media savvy.)

Sadly, it appears this isn’t the only student with parents more than keen to help.

Exhibit B: from the Toronto Star’s log of calls to its City Desk in 2012:


I’ve always thought the worst insult for a journalist is to be labelled lazy.

Great reporters, great journalists are tenacious. They are dogged. They are driven, sometimes to the point of obsession.

They don’t ask mom and dad for help.

How outing a fabricating reporter illustrates the importance of integrity, trust

Photo by Flickr user Dr. Andre
Photo by Flickr user Dr. Andre

This week, the Cape Cod Times issued an apology to its readers for the work of one of its reporters, Karen Jeffrey.

“There is an implied contract between a newspaper and its readers. The paper prints the truth. Readers believe that it’s true,” the paper’s publisher Peter Meyer and Editor Paul Pronovost wrote. “… so it is with heavy heart that we tell you the Cape Cod Times has broken that trust. An internal review has found that one of our reporters wrote dozens of stories that included one or more sources who do not exist.”

The paper did an internal audit of some of the stories written by Jeffrey, who had been with  (“She no longer works for the Cape Cod Times,” her former employers wrote) since 1981. It was unable to verify identities for 69 people in 34 stories dating back to 1998, when it began keeping electronic versions of its stories.

Continue reading How outing a fabricating reporter illustrates the importance of integrity, trust