Nieman Reports

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

Articles from Vol. 58, No. 1, Spring

Ann Simmons, 2003 Nieman Fellow, Wounded in Iraq
"... At the end of last year I was sent on assignment to Iraq to assist with out paper's [Los Angeles Times] coverage of the crisis there. "Much to my horror, I was the victim of a suicide bomb attack outside a restaurant in Baghdad on New Year's...
A Political Reporter's Toolbox: The Committee of Concerned Journalists Suggests Campaign Coverage Strategies Based on the Advice of Veteran Political Journalists. (Campaign Reporting)
Before many reporters were out on the presidential campaign trail, the Committee of Concerned Journalists (CCJ) gathered some of the nation's top political journalists to talk about campaign coverage. Out of these conversations emerged approaches that...
A Visual and Visceral Connection to the Cultural Revolution: 'Morning Sun' Explores the Psychological and Emotional Topography of Mao's China
The world belongs to you. It belongs to us as well, but ultimately it's yours. You young people are ... just like the morning sun. You embody the hope of the future. -- Mao Zedong It was an age ruled by both the poet and the executioner. The...
Elements of a Free Press in Indonesia
When Tom Rosenstiel and I wrote The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect," we felt pretty confident there would be an interested audience among journalists in the United States. But since its publication...
Flapjacks and Photo Ops: Concord Monitor Photographers Worked Hard to Bring Readers Behind the Scenes of New Hampshire's Primary Campaign
Covering the New Hampshire primary is a tense dance between photographers and campaign staff. Campaigns carefully plan events and arrange settings to mold how they'd like to convey the candidate's image, while photographers seek out engaging moments...
For Whom Is Political Coverage Written? in This New Web Era, Reporting on a Hometown Candidate Means Serving Different Audiences in Print and on the Internet
It's shortly after 10:00 in the evening on the last Friday in January as I start banging this story out with two thumbs on my BlackBerry and sip cheap Chardonnay. I'm on a chartered flight from Columbia, South Carolina to Albuquerque, New Mexico, keeping...
Frank del Olmo, an Associate Editor and Columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Died on February 19th of an Apparent Heart Attack
Frank del Olmo, an associate editor and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, died on February 19th of an apparent heart attack. He was 55. Del Olmo's impact on the Times and the city of Los Angeles was deep and strong. Friends and colleagues spoke...
From Jose Antonio Martinez Soler: "What Is Now Madrid's Leading Daily Paper and Spain's Second Largest Paper by Readership-With Editions in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Zaragoza-Was Conceived in Our Home Office in Late 1999
From Jose Antonio Martinez Soler: "What is now Madrid's leading daily paper and Spain's second largest paper by readership--with editions in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Zaragoza--was conceived in our home office in late 1999. I'd been fired from...
Going Online, Going Downtown: In Two Interview Situations, a Political Writer Observes Differences in Reporting
Just when I thought I might be a troglodyte, fully convinced that reportorial shoe leather and old-fashioned eyeball-to-eyeball interviews were still the truest way to report on a political campaign, I got the opportunity to conduct my first online,...
Images from China
During the most turbulent years in China's recent history, photojournalist Li Zhensheng documented the "human tragedies and personal foibles" of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath for the Heilongjiang Daily in Harbin, China. Now many of these...
Iraq Reporting Becomes a Literary Portrayal of War: His Editor Said to Him: 'That's Your Story. Man's Fascination with War.'
I never set out to write a serial narrative about the war in Iraq. I never planned for it, and I never considered writing anything more than daily stories from the battlefield. But something happened when I got back from Baghdad. I started writing...
'It Felt like Slow-Motion Robbery'
On January 21st, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) searched the Toronto home of Juliet O'Neill, a reporter with the Ottawa Citizen. They also searched her desk at the paper's city hall bureau. The RCMP's search warrant alleged that...
'Liberty in the Balance': The Sacramento Bee Investigated What's Happening to Civil Liberties Instead of Sending Reporters to Cover the War in Iraq
It wasn't a particularly popular choice in some parts of the newsroom: The Sacramento Bee would not be sending any reporters or photographers to Iraq to cover the impending war. Yes, it was a huge story that would receive worldwide coverage. And yes,...
Making Reporting about Voting Part of the Political Beat: From Punch Cards to Touchscreens, Journalists Are Tracking Potential Problems with How People Vote
Some years ago, before the ill-fated presidential election of 2000, a woman I'd met at a breakfast meeting of political activists in Miami Beach called me to complain about the way ballots were counted. She was the sort of person all journalists have...
Media Access to the Political Process Expands: From Bloggers to Videojournalists, the Digital Revolution Is Transforming How Campaigns Are Covered
The campus of Southern New Hampshire University lies at the end of hilly roads lined with tall pines. At 8 a.m. on the Sunday before the 2004 Democratic primary, it is New England picture-postcard beautiful, snow-dusted pine limbs breaking into a cloudless...
Murder Trials and Media Sensationalism: The Press Frenzy of a Century Ago Echoes in the Coverage of Trials Today
For all the media frenzy swirling around the trial of Scott Peterson for the murder of his wife, Laci--or, for that matter, all the coverage accorded the O.J. Simpson case a decade ago--the prototypic American convergence of journalistic excess and...
Network Web Sites Influence Political Reporting: By Compiling Coverage and Adding Original News and Analysis, the Networks Acquire a New Niche Audience-Including Political Journalists
This year will be remembered as the time when the Internet arrived as a major force in presidential politics. And it won't be just because of Howard Dean's path breaking, online fundraising. The Web has also changed the way the media cover the campaign....
'Only a Lunatic Would Do This Kind of Work': A Journalist Offers His Perspective on the Perspective of Political Journalists
What follows are excerpts from an essay written by David M. Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who is now executive editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and published in "The Making of the Presidential Candidates 2004," edited by William...
Photographers Try to Avoid Staged Moments: 'Political Operatives Use Increasingly Sophisticated Techniques to Give Candidates the Most Favorable Media Exposure Possible'
These days it is difficult to find anything but flattering photographs of any Democratic presidential candidate in the newspaper. Hugging babies, kissing grandmas, and flashing the proverbial thumbs up make up the daily collection of photographs filed...
Political Reporting Happens Faster. but Is It Better? '... Too Many of Us Are Forced to React Now and Reflect Later.'
When David Broder covered his first presidential campaign in 1960, he typed his story on a manual typewriter, then searched for the nearest Western Union office to send it. Nearly two decades later, Al Franken, when he was known merely as a comic instead...
'Primarily New Hampshire': An Upcoming Book Looks Behind the Scenes of a Presidential Primary
Since February 2003, Meryl Levin and Will Kanteres documented the day-to-day experiences of staffers, who are the backbone of presidential campaigns. Their book "Primarily New Hampshire" and an accompanying exhibition will be released in this summer....
'Red-Color News Soldier'
From the mid-1960's to the early 1980's, Li Zhensheng, a photojournalist, took thousands of rolls of film for the Heilongjiang Daily, the leading newspaper in Harbin, China. He was able to document the "human tragedies and personal foibles" of the...
Reflecting the Floating City: The Magic of Networking Offers Pathways to the Real Venice
When it was The Most Serene Republic, a community of art and achievement that valued the individual and barely tolerated the Pope in Rome; when it was the undisputed nexus of eastern and western trade; when Lord Byron or Wagner or Dickens tarried in...
Reporting from the Campaign Trail
No reporting beat, with the possible exception of covering a hometown team, is as closely watched, as thoroughly analyzed, and as consistently driven by what the new technology allows journalists to do as is political reporting. In his essay "Only...
Shoe Leather Beats BlackBerries: Too Much Time Is Spent with Candidates, Not Enough Learning from Voters
When Theodore H. White wrote is landmark book, "The Making of the President 1960," he helped invent a new style of political journalism. His insider, fly-on-the-wall style of reporting made for fascinating, insightful reading, and the rest of us have...
The Allure of the Web: A Rookie Political Reporter Retreats from His Early Reliance on Political Web Sites and Blogs
For me, the entry into covering the presidential primaries was abrupt, and the learning curve was a steep one. While some of the candidates were still declaring their intent to run, I was working as a municipal reporter at a small Boston-area daily...
The Internet Beat on the Campaign Trail: 'Political Journalists Are Using Web Sites to Tell Stories They Didn't Have Room to Tell in Their Newspapers'
After the 2000 presidential election cycle, news organizations and political campaigns learned how to make the Internet play a critical role in their work. From that cycle to this one, no one development has more influenced how campaigns are run and...
The Political Journalists' Canon
Political scientists and political journalists share one thing in common--a respect for a body of literature that can be described as a "canon." These are different canons, to be sure. The one revered by journalists is, not surprisingly, produced mainly...
'The Unbearable Heaviness of Industry': 'In China, the Road to Full Industrialization Is Gradually but Surely Unveiling Itself.'
Photographer Zhou Hai's images of factory workers and miners in China are part of a touring exhibition called "The Unbearable Heaviness of Industry." In an interview with The New York Times, Zhou Hai, who works independently out of Beijing, said, "As...
The Voice of Independent Journalism: 'Political Cartoonists Push the Limits of Free Speech Daily.'
Last year Doug Marlette drew a cartoon depicting a man dressed in Middle Eastern apparel at the wheel of a Ryder truck carrying a nuclear warhead with the caption, "What Would Mohammed Drive?." Marlette and his paper, the Tallahassee Democrat, received...
Thinking about Storytelling and Narrative Journalism: At a Seminar with Robert Coles, the Topic Is Stories and How They Are Best Told
On a bone-chilling January morning, the Nieman Fellows gathered around a warm fire at Lippmann House with Robert Coles, the professor who has taught at Harvard both in the fields of psychiatry and social reflection and who has spent a lifetime listening...
Tracking Generational Change in Political Reporting: Displacing News Reporting with Analysis Provides 'The Possibility of a Far Different Sort of Bias Than Coziness with a Candidate.'
There's plenty I don't remember about my first presidential campaign. I was in the sixth grade, after all, joining my dad, Richard Harwood, a 1956 Nieman Fellow, as he covered the race for The Washington Post. The year was 1968. What I do remember,...
War and Terror
In Nieman Reports's continuing effort to chronicle the various ways in which journalists are approaching coverage of war and terror, John Koopman, a features writer at the Sari Francisco Chronicle, describes how, when he returned home with reporting...
When Old Media Confronted Howard Dean: 'Dean Scares the Institutional Media out of Their Wits ... Because of What He and Internet Democracy Say about Them'
Here's what I'm learning: For those of us who like the sound of "Internet democracy," who yearn for political and cultural renewal and "transformation," the entrenched obstacle is not the old politics--it's the old media. And the 2004 campaign has...
When Seeing Is No Longer Believing: Photographers and Photo Editors Have the Obligation of Accuracy
The confluence of politics, photojournalism and ethics creates a strange potion. During the campaign season those who take photos and those who make decisions about which ones to publish confront some difficult challenges. Among the tougher ones is...
Why Political Journalism Fails at Handicapping the Race: There Is Too Much Focus on Campaign Tactics, Not Enough on Voters' Concerns
Money, ads, staff and calendar. Those themes dominate much of political journalism in the months before a presidential election cycle really kicks in. And they are pushed by reporters acting as horserace handicappers, trying to determine the main contenders...
With Deadlines Past, a Journalist Observes the Coverage: 'There Are Far Too Many Campaign Media People Quoted in the Copy for My Taste.'
After 45 years of reporting and writing political news, I'm reading it now at a distance, usually admiring the work of my successors, sometimes grumbling over my coffee about the stories I think are flawed--convinced that I could have done it better....
Woman with a Movie Camera: Ning Ying's Cinematic Visions Document a Rapidly Changing China
Recent visitors to China, especially to her cities, cannot but notice he breathtaking changes in skylines and infrastructure as well as in social and cultural life since the country embraced the enterprise of "transformation" (zhuanxing) in the early...