Nieman Reports

A journal presenting information concerning media issues for the academic audience.

Articles from Vol. 64, No. 4, Winter

A Changing of the Guard in Washington, D.C. News Bureaus
It was on a hunch that Marcus Stern, a reporter in the Washington, D.C. bureau of the Copley News Service, launched the investigation that brought down California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. When Cunningham was asked why he had taken two...
A Journalistic Vanishing Act
Like most reporters, theater critics are not generally accused of being discreet. Granted, most of us don't actually use those notorious pens that light up in the dark. But we're still sitting there, scratching away on our reporters' notebooks, while...
Argo Network: NPR's New Group of Beat-Driven Blogs
Local news initiatives are blossoming online--with the rapid expansion of AOL's Patch, the launch of Allbritton Communications' Washington, D.C.-focused TBD, and the collaboration of The New York Times and New York University journalism students on...
A Shrinking Sports Beat: Women's Teams, Athletes: As Newsroom Staffs Shrink and Eyeballs Measure Interest, Women's Sports Coverage Is Losing Ground It Once Seemed to Be Gaining
Visit the Minneapolis Star Tribune's website or pick up the paper on most days and--as with most other newspaper sports sections--you'll be hard-pressed to find news of women's sports. It's not that women aren't playing. They are, and in huge numbers....
Community Host: An Emerging Newsroom 'Beat' without a Guide: TBD's Community Engagement Team Listens-And Responds-In a City Where Everyone Is Talking: Washington, D.C
The job of engaging with those formerly known as "the audience" is in some ways becoming a new online "beat"--one in search of a simple moniker to describe what it is, the skills required, and the tasks entailed. Four of the six members of TBD's community...
Eclectic, Entertaining and Educational-The 21st Century Science Beat
"Giant, hippie-hating, cannibalistic squids attack SF Bay Area." It's not exactly the kind of headline normally associated with PBS or NPR. But when our TV story about giant Humboldt Squid spreading up the California coast was featured a couple...
Expanding the Vision of the Nieman Foundation
When I arrived at Lippmann House in early August 2000 to begin my tenure as curator, I had only an inkling of the sweeping changes that would wash over journalism and mainstream news organizations during the coming decade. My predecessor, Bill Kovach,...
Family Beat: Stories We Tell around the Kitchen Table
Notes from a recent week on the family beat at The Roanoke (Va.) Times, the 88,000-circulation paper where I've spent most of my career: * Made calls for a possible story on a truck driver who reunited with his daughter in Germany via Skype after...
Figuring out What a 21st Century Book Can Be: When an Author's Insistence on Publishing under a Creative Commons License Met Resistance from Book Publishers, He Decided to Self-Publish His Book with Lulu
I left the traditional newspaper world almost six years ago. Now I've left the traditional book publishing world, too. The publisher of my new book and website, Mediactive, is me. With the help of a company called Lulu, an enterprise that understands...
Fondly Remembering Francoise Lazare, a Journalist for le Monde since 1988
Francoise Lazare, NF '98, died on October 15th in Paris, France, after battling a brain tumor discovered during her Nieman year. She was 45. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] She had been a reporter with the French daily newspaper Le Monde since 1988. One...
Frank Deford: Sports Writing in the Internet Age
In the spring of 2010 Frank Deford, a senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated, author; and commentator on NPR's "Morning Edition," delivered the Red Smith Lecture in Journalism at the University of Notre Dame. He called his talk" "Sportswriter...
From Journalism to Self-Publishing Books
Digital technology is lowering the threshold for book publishing, and it couldn't arrive at a better time given the difficulties aspiring and established authors face in getting their books into the marketplace. So earlier this year we at the China...
From Newsroom to Nursery-The Beat Goes On
I couldn't sleep that night. It was 3 a.m. The house was quiet and dark. I slipped out of bed and walked back through the house to the guest room, the room that would be the nursery. Sitting down on the rug, I hugged my knees to my chest and breathed...
Gay Talese: On What Endures in Sports Writing amid Change
Early in October Gay Talese came to the Boston Athenaeum to celebrate publication of "The Silent Season of a Hero: The Sports Writing of Gay Talese." In this collection of his stories, his words span nearly five decades--beginning in 1948 with glimpses...
Geographic Fortunes-And Misfortunes-Define This New Midwest Beat
Throughout much of the 20th century, Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago were industrial boomtowns. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to them from all over the country and all over the world in the Midwest's equivalent of the Gold Rush. Between 1947...
Guardian Blogger Spoofs Science Journalism
Prompted by dismay at the dearth of evidence-based policymaking, Martin Robbins, a researcher and science writer, created a community blog called The Lay Scientist. This fall The Guardian hired him to be one of its four science bloggers. It didn't...
Investigative Reporter Craig R. McCoy Honored with I.F. Stone Medal
Craig R. McCoy, who has exposed injustice and corruption during almost three decades as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer; is the 2010 recipient of the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence. Established in 2008, the I.F. Stone Medal...
Investigative Reporting about Secrecy
The real intent [of the First Amendment] was to prevent national suicide by making it difficult for the government to operate in secret, free from the scrutiny of a watchful press. --I.F. Stone's Weekly, October 3, 1966 Investigative reporters...
It's a Brand-New Ballgame-For Sports Reporters
Here was a moment that explained why a sports fan in New England would reach for The Boston Globe each morning. The excitement of a New England Patriots victory had become overshadowed by speculation that Randy Moss, the gifted and controversial wide...
It's Expertise That Matters
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] One of the enduring mysteries for an editor lies in trying to divine what readers really want. There are almost as many answers to that question as there are readers, and the more editors try to meet everyone's needs, the...
It's Scary out There in Reporting Land
To understand how badly we're doing the most basic work of journalism in covering the law enforcement beat, try sitting in a barbershop. When I was getting my last haircut, the noon news on the television-positioned to be impossible to avoid watching--began...
Less for More
I also am board chairman and part owner of a very small business--we manage a small hotel--that follows a different customer policy than newspapers do. Every year the three papers I subscribe to cut quality and raise prices. When we charge our guests...
Lewis Nkosi, the First Black South African Nieman Fellow, Dies at 73
Lewis Nkosi, one of South Africa's leading writers and the first black South African journalist to be a Nieman Fellow, died September 5th in Johannesburg after a long illness. He was 73. As a young journalist in the 1950's, Nkosi was part of a new...
Modern-Day Slavery: A Necessary Beat-With Different Challenges: The Nonprofit Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism Is Dedicating a Gift of Funding to Support a Reporter's Effort to Gather and Tell These Stories
In its code of ethics, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) lists as its first two principles: Journalists should "seek truth and report it" and "minimize harm" in the process. My beat is modern-day slavery, and for those who cover unfolding...
Returning Home to Sri Lanka to Face Difficult and Delicate Questions in Perilous Times
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] After living in Japan for decades, I returned to my native Sri Lanka in 2007 for a new job. It was no ordinary homecoming. I moved to the capital city of Colombo to be director of the local office for Panos South Asia, an...
Statehouse Beat Woes Portend Bad News for Good Government
Florida politician Rod Smith once described Lucy Morgan of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times as the state's "biggest pain in the ass." But he added that his legislative colleagues in Tallahassee were grateful for her because otherwise "we would probably...
The Beat Goes On-Its Rhythm Changes
Beats are the newsroom's skeletal structure. Assigned to cover specific topics, reporters employ laser-like attention to deliver depth, dimension and context in their stories. Time translates into expertise--and after a while, the reporter is able...
The Blog as Beat
I am convinced that the Internet is changing journalism in ways we never could have imagined only a few years ago. The idea of the reported story as being the basic unit of journalism is being shaken by the Web's way of sharing information, and along...
The Capriciousness of Beats
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] This may sound sacrilegious, but I have always found the concept of beat reporting rather odd. Don t get me wrong: I can't think of a better way to divvy up the labor of getting out the daily news--or up-to-the-minute news,...
The Guardian Brings Scientists as Bloggers into the Mix
Early this fall The Guardian took an innovative approach to expanding its coverage of the science beat. The British newspaper debuted a slate of bloggers that includes experts in evolution and climate change, a former politician, and a physics professor,...
The Nieman Foundation's 2010 Annual Report Highlights Collaborations
The Nieman Foundation's many partnerships and collaborations and the value these relationships bring to working journalists worldwide is the theme of the foundation's 2010 Annual Report, now online. Highlights include: The foundation and the Pulitzer...
There's Something to Be Said for Longevity
On a June morning in 2009, I stood in the mud on a Pacific Ocean beach watching a work crew gathering oysters. These shellfish had been held in reserve by the state of Washington for those odd years when wild oyster production faltered. But shellfish...
The Science Beat: Riding a Wave, Going Somewhere
As things change rapidly in mass media, the science beat keeps on providing the purest news. At least that's how I see things. It never has been the most prestigious or glamorous beat in a newsroom, but no one can accuse us of merely plugging new names...
The Sports Beat: A Digital Reporting Mix-With Exhaustion Built In
When New York Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson walks from the clubhouse toward his team's dugout, he carries a small sheet of paper with which he teases the beat reporters. It's the lineup card for that night's game. It carries the names, positions...
The Sports Tweet: New Routines on an Old Beat
My name is Lindsay Jones, and I am a Twitter-holic. OK, I admit it. I didn't take to this Twitter revolution right away. Soon after I joined The Denver Post in the summer of 2008 to be the beat reporter for the Denver Broncos, my editor asked me...
The Sportswriter as Fan: Me and My Blog
In early 2005 as a technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal Online, I returned repeatedly to blogging as a subject. It was a rich vein to mine, but there was only one problem: I'd never been a blogger. I decided to spend spring training...
Uncovering an Uncovered Story in Bell, California
This past summer two reporters from the Los Angeles Times broke a major story in a place that doesn't usually figure into its coverage--or any other new organization's. Imminent bankruptcy had forced the city of Maywood to lay off all of its employees...
Unforgettable Characters Encountered in Covering the Civil Rights Movement
Throughout decades as a newspaper reporter, mostly covering the civil rights movement in the South, I have been a witness to history. I covered marches, trials, speeches and midnight gatherings with protesters on their knees singing "We Shall Overcome"...
Visual Stories of Human Trafficking's Victims
Sometimes I wonder if I am crazy to be covering the issue of human trafficking as a photographer. That's when I realize how life can have its own way of deciding such things; it's what I've been compelled to do. Nothing about this job makes it easy--there's...
When Local Eyes Were Watching Their Lawmakers
Copley News Service, my professional home for 30 years, sadly has become the poster child for the fate of regional news bureaus in Washington in the 21st century, having soared to the highest peaks of our profession only to crash ignominiously less...