Nieman Reports

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

Articles from Vol. 56, No. 3, Fall

`About This Story': Newspapers Work to Make Narrative Journalism Be Accountable to Readers. (Journalist's Trade)
When reporters write stories at read like good fiction they inevitably arouse suspicions. Reality is messy. Speech is messy. If a story is tidy--if the plot is too seamless or the quotes are too eloquent--the reporter probably juiced it a little....
Additional Nieman Fellow Named to Class of 2003: Former Canadian Publisher Russell Mills Will Plan for a New Journalism Institute. (Nieman Notes)
Russell Mills, the former publisher of The Ottawa Citizen, has been added to this year's Nieman class. Mills, who worked for the Citizen for 31 years and served as its publisher for 16, was fired in June, after the Citizen published a story reporting...
Arriving at Judgments in Selecting Photos: At the Oregonian, Key Questions Help to Frame Decisions about Images of Mideast Violence. (International Journalism: Middle East)
An explosion at a Jerusalem market, triggered by a suicide bomber, leaves the street littered with debris and body parts. Among the wounded, a rescuer assists a man whose clothes are shredded and charred from the blast. In Ramallah, a Palestinian...
Breaking News or Broken News: A Brief History of the `First Cloned Human Embryo' Story. (Science Journalism)
At nine o'clock on Sunday morning, November 25, 2001, the online e-biomed: The Journal of Regenerative Medicine, posted an article by Jose Cibelli, from Advanced Cell Technologies, and five colleagues entitled "Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer in Humans:...
Bringing Science to a Television Audience; Too Often, Spectacles-Like Mummies and Volcanoes-Triumph over the Reporting of Modern Science. (Science Journalism)
In the late 1960's, some farsighted BBC producers had an interesting idea--why not try to make television documentaries about science? Working on 16mm film, these pioneers set out to report on what, to viewers, had been a completely closed world...
Celebrating a Journalist's Life: Richard Harwood's Family Donates His Books to the Kovach Library. (Niemans Notes)
At the final dinner for the Nieman class of 2002, a ceremony was held to honor the memory of Richard Harwood, Nieman Fellow class of 1956, whose family donated his library to Lippmann House after his death more than a year ago. The 223 books that...
Class Notes. (Niemen Notes)
1950 William German retired as editor emeritus of the San Francisco Chronicle in May. German joined the Chronicle as a copy boy in 1940 and went on to work as a reporter and copy editor, as copy desk chief, and in various senior management positions....
Covering the Intifada: A Hazardous Beat; Photographers and Journalists Come under Gunfire While Reporting on the Conflict. (International Journalism: Middle East)
On July 12, 35-year-old Palestinian freelance photographer Imad Abu Zahra died in a hospital a day after he was wounded by machine-gun fire in the West Bank town of Jenin. Abu Zahra and another Palestinian photographer were taking shots of an Israeli...
Deciding on an Emotion-Laden Photograph for Page One: When an Image Reflects `a Crucial Moment in a Course of Events,' Editors Make the Decision to Publish It. (International Journalism: Middle East).(Brief Article)
At The Boston Globe, we never run photos of dead people without some discussion of the impact they are likely to have on our readers. This is particularly true of those appearing on Page One, where they are more likely to be seen by many members...
Do Words and Pictures from the Middle East Matter? A Journalist from the Region Argues That U.S. Policy Is Not Affected by the Way News Is Reported. (International Journalism: Middle East)
As an Arab and an American who as worked for U.S. and Middle Eastern media in the Middle East for most of my 33-year career, I feel that there is a clear pro-Israeli bias in the American mass media as a whole, with some exceptions. But I also believe...
Environmental Consequences of Our Reliance on the Printed Word: Waste and Pollution Are the Result of the Paper That Fuels the Timber Industry. (Journalist's Trade)
One part of a great conundrum of our time is that, psychologically, the most efficient way to convey literate intellectual property from one mind to another is through the silent reading of words and graphics printed on paper. The printed word virtually...
Expanding the Lens on Coverage of the Middle East: By Judging a Newspaper's Visual Coverage over a Long Period of Time, Bias Becomes Less Apparent. (International Journalism: Middle East)
The Palestinian child stares emptily from the foot of a bloodstained staircase, a half-eaten sandwich in his left hand, his right hand resting on a step leading to his house. Hours before, the boy's father and grandfather had been shot to death...
Graphics Journalism: In USA Today, Some of Its `Snapshots' Have Not Given the Full Picture. (Journalist's Trade)
On January 22,1997, USA Today ran its customary Snapshot in the lower-left corner of Page One. Given intense feelings about the killing of animals to make fur coats, the paper's lead graphic of the day qualified as news. According to Responsive...
How Does the European Press Address Cloning? the Answer Depends on the Level of Debate and Who Is Saying What. (Science Journalism)
Only outside of the continent might people think of Europe as being a fully integrated political and sociological entity. From within, there is a great diversity of thought among the 15 members of the European Union. Divergent views about the scientific...
Images Lead to Varying Perceptions: `In Photographs in Which We, as Journalists, Saw Danger, Some Readers Saw Deception.' (International Journalism: Middle East)
Seeing photos through readers' eyes reveals images and responses that journalists sometimes overlook. In photographs in which we, as journalists, saw danger, some readers saw deception. To an image depicting young Palestinian protesters running...
Investigating Science: Lots of Time Is Required to Cultivate Sources and Verify Their Claims. (Science Journalism)
In the early 1990's, an investigative reporter named John Crewdson began a series of articles on AIDS research, navigating a maze of claims and counterclaims over who first isolated the virus. Crewdson, of the Chicago Tribune, was a tireless researcher,...
Listening to Scientists and Journalists: By Hearing What They Say about Themselves and Each Other, Researchers Try to Find Common Ground to Improve Reporting. (Science Journalism)
The last third of the 20th century has seen a lot of tension and conflict between scientists and journalists about the way the media treat science stories. Survey research in the United States shows remarkable continuity in the areas of contention....
Meshing Science, Money and Politics in a Book about AIDS Vaccines: `Narrative Was an Obvious Tool for Approaching Such a Story.' (Science Journalism)
It was October 1996 when the idea of writing a book about AIDS vaccines came to me during an early morning shower. I was working on a Harvard Health Letter story about the year's top medical advances, and high on the list was the dramatic, life-saving...
New Complications in Reporting on Science: Scientists Have Important Roles to Play in Getting the News Right, but They Are Often Reluctant Participants. (Science Journalism)
Scientists often complain to me about the poor quality of science journalism--that the science news they read or hear is too often misinterpreted, overhyped, or just plain wrong. I always tell them I agree. Then I tell them they are the only ones...
Nieman Curator James C. Thomson, Jr., 1931-2002. (Nieman Notes).(Obituary)
James Thomson, Curator of the Nieman Foundation from 1972-1984, died on August 11 of cardiac arrest after a brief illness. He was 70. What follows are words contributed by Niemans who knew him well and would like others to know about his work as...
Photographic Images Can Be Misunderstood; `I Had Hoped People Would View This Boy from Ain El-Helweh as I Had Seen Him, a Tiny Tragic Figure.' (International Journalism: Middle East)
I knew not to ask their names and concentrated on the girlishness belied by their suicide belts and kalashnikovs. Subtle feminine clues appeared. They whispered to each other behind cupped hands in front of their covered faces. A small delicate...
Radio's Relentless Pace Dictates Different Coverage; `the Doing of Science Is Rich Territory for Radio, since It's Full of Sound, If Not Fury.' (Science Journalism)
"The universe is flat so that the total density of the universe throughout is equal to the critical density." Hmmm. Maybe this needs some more explaining. Try reading the following paragraph, carefully, so that you understand it. "If the composition...
Reporting on Science in South America: International Coverage Is Good, While Local Research Often Isn't Well Covered. (Science Journalism)
This year two major events suggest a coming of age for South American science journalism and for its achieving international quality standards. In November, the Third World Conference of Science Journalists will take place in Brazil. And earlier...
Reporting Science Means Looking for Cautionary Signals; `Experienced Science Writers Try to Keep the Sense of Uncertainty in Their Copy.' (Science Journalism)
As scientists will acknowledge, most scientific findings are wrong at least, so uncertain as not to be certifiably true. But most people would never get this impression from the way the news media usually cover the latest research developments....
Restoring and Renovating Walter Lippmann House: The Nieman Foundation Is Enlarging Its Home to Meet the Needs of Its Residents. (Curator's Corner).(Brief Article)
For the past two years, the staff of the Nieman Foundation has been developing ideas to address a situation encountered by recent Nieman classes: It s a tight squeeze to fit the staff and the many activities of the fellows into Walter Lippmann House....
Rethinking the Science Beat: Cultural Assumptions Matter, and Journalists Need This Broader Context as Part of Their Reporting. (Science Journalism)
Once I was asked to write a caption to a photograph of a mouse with a human ear on its back. At the time, I was news and magazine editor at a daily newspaper in Berlin. I had not a clue as to what to tell readers about this image. But the picture...
Science Journalism
Those who report on science have never been better prepared to do so, according to Los Angeles Times science and technology writer Robert Lee Hotz, whose insights open our section on science journalism. But as Hotz also observes, the challenges...
`Scientific Conversations': After Interviewing Political Leaders, a Journalist Uncovers the Real Revolution by Talking with Scientists. (Science Journalism)
In nearly 30 years as a magazine and newspaper journalist, New York Times writer Claudia Dreifus honed her skills as apolitical interviewer as a witness to revolutions and civil wars and domestic political crises. In 1998, she joined the team at...
September 11: The Impact of Photography a Year Later: Photographers Help `in the Collective and Somber Effort of Rebuilding.' (Words &Amp; Reflections)
Of the senses, it is the one that most often betrays us--yet most often, too, the one that gives us hope. We are, it turns out, generally poor eyewitnesses. How many times have we been sure of our visual memory, only to see that, after all, there...
Teaching Journalism Students to Report on Science; They Learn How to Put Science into Its Broader Economic and Social Context. (Science Journalism)
Once upon a time science writing was simple: A reporter would read published studies in the scientific literature and write about the latest wonder of research or miracle of medicine. Things have gotten more complicated since those early days...
Technology Enables New Scientific Images to Emerge; `This New Process in Science Communication Will Produce a Different Kind of Journalistic Thinking.' (Science Journalism)
A few months ago, a particularly breathtaking astronomical image appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the globe. These stunningly colored shapes captivated those who saw them. The picture, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, was...
The Daniel Pearl Video: A Journalist Explains Why Its Horrific Images Should Be Treated as News. (International Journalism: Middle East)
True martyrs--unlike the twisted souls who fly jets into buildings or blow themselves up at pizzerias--are inevitably reluctant. Whether it's Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus or Gandhi, the anonymous Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe...
The Devolution of a Science Page: Suffering from Editorial Interference and Lack of Focus, `the Page Actually Managed to Make Science Boring.' (Science Journalism)
Back in the early summer of 1999, just two years after I and a handful of reporters at the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune persuaded the senior editors to publish a weekly science page, the copyeditor I worked with leaned over the low partition separating...
The Difficulty of Finding Impartial Sources in Science: Reporters Are Better Prepared, the Public Is Eager for News, Yet the Science Beat Is Getting Tougher to Do. (Science Journalism)
Journalists who cover science spend their working lives trying to bridge what British essayist C.P. Snow once ed the gulf of mutual incomprehension between scientists and the general public. It is exotic and contested terrain, in which journalists...
The Extraordinary Adventure That Is Science Writing: `Once You've Done It You Can't Imagine Doing Anything Else.' (Science Journalism)
October 4, 1957, was bright and clear in Lebanon, Missouri, and I will remember it forever. I was downtown when I noticed that the post office flag was at half-staff Inside, a clot of stunned people listened to the yammering of a radio announcer....
The Impact of Middle East Pictures and Words. (International Journalism)
As conflict in the Middle East has intensified, scrutiny of the press coverage has likewise increased, with charges of biased reporting being made from all sides. Often such charges lead to internal reviews within news organizations; some examine...
The Minefield of Language in Middle East Coverage: Journalists Rarely Have the Time or Space to Navigate through the War of Words. (International Journalism: Middle East)
In an April 2002 interview with Alicia Mundy in Editor & Publisher, Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist with The New York Times, described himself as "disoriented" and "speechless" in terms of how to write about the current situation in the Middle...
The Science of Producing Food: As Science's Role in the Food Chain Increases, Journalists Need to `Get It right.'(Science Journalism)
Every spring, P.W. Maher planted corn with precision, dropping seed so he could row the crop two ways--from one end of the field to the other and from side to side. Come fall, he would select the best ears for the next year's seed. Tying them together...
Words &Amp; Reflections
"They are pictures from the heart, of devastated buildings and of devastated people. They are images of us--the living--trying to mourn our invisible dead." These words--part of a reflection on the connections we've made with the vast array of...