October 2019 Newsletter

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2020 Region 11 Conference: Real Skills for Real News offers range of programs in Hawaii

By Nancy Cook Lauer
2020 Region 11 Conference Chairwoman

The for-profit media model seems to be becoming less tenable, leading to more news outlets going nonprofit, adopting a nonprofit arm or partnering with national nonprofits such as ProPublica to produce high-impact investigative pieces.

Honolulu Civil Beat took down its paywall in 2016 and transitioned to a 501(c)3. Hawaii Public Radio, while a different breed, reports 94 percent of its funding is raised locally.

Across the pond, Florida’s paper, the Tampa Bay Times https://projects.tampabay.com/projects/investigative-fund/, and the for-profit Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/from-the-editor/article236245168.html are actively soliciting funds from subscribers to help pay for investigative work.

Is this the future of news? Is a nonprofit sustainable in Hawaii, where obtaining the critical mass of readers, much less donors, is a challenge? If so, how does a newsroom go about the transition?

This topic is just one of many set to be discussed at the SPJ Region 11 annual conference, being held next spring at the University of Hawaii Manoa campus.

We’ll also feature in-depth sessions on covering indigenous issues and people, training sessions from Google and NICAR, a “fake news” and media literacy session from incoming SPJ National President-Elect Matthew Hall and a bevy of college students from across the nation engaging in a debate competition organized by Cal Poly Professor John Patrick.

Save the date March 20-21, 2020. More details to be forthcoming.

2019 SPJ Excellence in Journalism Convention

Chad Blair
Board Director

Excellence in Journalism 2019
San Antonio, Texas, Sept. 5-7

    It was an excellent conference, my first, and much more substantive than the Online News Association conference (my fourth) a week later in New Orleans. I might go to the 2020 one in D.C.

    A common theme was how work stress is hurting journalists, and what to do about it. I wrote about that for Civil Beat, so I will not recap things here.


    I will focus here on EIJ-SPJ. There is too much to report, so I will just offer a few takeaways:


    Social Media and Violence

    It was strange to see armed guards at every escalator at the hotel. But Texas had been the recent location for two mass shootings, so it was understandable.

    Hawaii has not had to deal with such an incident since at least the Xerox shooting of several decades ago, so I don't know how relevant this is. But I was impressed with the panel titled "280 Character News: Staying Ethical When News Breaks on Twitter."

    It included a Dallas reporter who talked about her coverage of one of those shootings. I was struck by her observations of how friends and relatives of shooting victims can really hate the media in the early hours and days of an incident, but how they appreciate being reached out to later after things have settled. In this sense, we are vultures at first but comforters later, if we can be sincere in our reporting.

    "Don't be rude is a good standard to live by, don't force yourself on people" she said.

    The panel was really about social media, and there were those who recalled when Facebook and Twitter were banned in newsrooms but are now essential. Journalists must continue to be very careful about posting their opinions online, and certainly anything that is not fact-checked.

    "Don't be stupid," said one person. "People don't need to know you are having a bad day."

    Twitter and Facebook may also not be in the journalism mix soon, as other platforms come along.

    Also, hashtags may be on their way out because they are too dehumanizing.

    Hate Groups

    The Trump administration continues to dominate so many narratives, but when it comes to hate groups, the message is to call them out for what they stand for.

    A panel from The Atlantic titled "Covering Extremism in the Age of Trump," for example, said newsrooms are becoming more frank about how to cover "white supremacy, ideological extremism, and hatred in all its forms."

    "Calling something racist is not subjective," said one person. "It's better than trafficking in euphemism."

    This should be understood in the context that white supremacy is far from something new or novel - think Nazi Germany, slavery, American Indian genocide, eugenics. What's different is the Internet's ability to amplify matters and a president who stokes it all.

    "Part of this is just a tech story," one person said.

    Prediction: race and racism will be at the center of the 2020 presidential election.


    In a panel titled "Say This, Not That. Writing Ethically and Inclusively," these and other questions were raised: "Are you cisgendered? A survivor? Latinx? Did someone 'die by suicide'? Was there an 'officer-involved shooting'? More than ever, advocates, activists and experts are insisting that journalists adopt certain terms and abandon others."

    It was a wonderful panel that challenged the way journalists identify the people they cover. Do you call someone a felon or a formerly incarcerated person, for example? The former term is loaded.

    "Think about these expressions critically and ask if it is the best way to characterize it based on facts," we are advised.

    A related panel - "Serving All People: Combating Bias When Covering Race and Religion" - raised similar concerns.

    Excerpt: "Bias is ingrained in all of us. Our implicit, unconscious bias leads to errors in how we as journalists perceive truth, remember events and, most importantly, make decisions about people. In short, bias limits our truth-telling."

    Random Observations

    It's amazing how much Spanish is spoken in San Antonio, including at the conference.

    A good many of the conferees were younger women, many of color. I was one of the middle-aged white guys who are declining in number and who almost all wore a dark blazer.

    Conference room names at the Grand Hyatt included Lone Star, Travis, Crockett and Houston. The Alamo is remembered.

    Award for SPJ Hawaii's Stirling Morita
    INDIANAPOLIS - The Society of Professional Journalists has selected Jonathan Make and Stirling Morita to receive the Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Award for contributions to their SPJ chapters and regions.

    Each year, this award is given to no more than two members - one from a chapter of 75 or more members and one from a chapter of less than 75 members. The award is in honor of Howard Dubin, longtime member of SPJ's Chicago Headline Club. Dubin not only contributes time and money to the Society, but also remains dedicated to service at the chapter level.

    Jonathan Make is a dedicated member of the Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter. For the past five years, Make has been a board member of the chapter, one of SPJ's largest, and is the immediate past president, after serving two years. His involvement is not limited to his chapter. Make is active on Twitter and Medium helping share SPJ news and updating members on what is happening at the national level. Make epitomizes grassroots support because he also organizes comments and suggestions from a group of more than 50 other chapter leaders around the country via an email list to pass along to SPJ national leadership.

    Stirling Morita has been an active SPJ member for more than 30 years. He has served on the Hawaii Pro Chapter Board of Directors, including as president, for at least 20 years. Morita works behind the scenes on several Hawaii Chapter projects including helping young journalists obtain internships, organizing annual contests, fundraising efforts through the Gridiron Show and organizing a variety of interesting speakers and forums. Morita also organizes the chapter's annual dinner and regional conference.


Al's Cool Tools
Al Tompkins, Poynter senior faculty for broadcast and online

    Innovation in Action

    Knight-Cronkite News Lab has been conducting experiments to create examples for local television newsrooms to follow in reinventing themselves in the computer age.

    Jennifer Graves of WLS-TV in Chicago said the station's research showed people wanted different stories at different times of the day so it carved up the daylong broadcast/web stories into "microdays." For example, people in the 4-10 a.m. slot want essential information to get their day going or getting the kids off to school.

    Bernice Kearney of KSAT12 in San Antonio said the station focuses on one-on-one interaction to find out the issues. For example, it provides events for the community so its staff can interact with the public and find out what interests them.

    Digital Reporting Toolkit
    Victor Hernandez, Mike Reilley

  • Programs that will make your job easier.You should visit this list at https://www.journaliststoolbox.org/ This is a wonderful self-teach tool put together on many how-to-do-its. You SHOULD visit it often. You'll find lots of material to work with.

  • Digital tools updated by Victor Hernandez: https://tinyurl.com/y47ouall

  • Twitter
    Social media dashboard-allows you to customize and download Twitter materials Tweeten - https://tweetenapp.com/

  • You can gather feeds from Twitter for anyone you search for with various options.
    FollowFly- http://followfly.co/ Brings in best posts in the past 12 months

  • Twitter bot verification activity of Twitter accounts and gives them a score based on how likely they are to be bots Twitter audit tool Botometer http://botometer.com

  • Multimedia: Use Storyflow app's editor and nice layouts to create stories and share them on Instagram, Snapchat Storyflow https://www.storyflow.studio/

  • True game-changer for mobile journalists is real-time caption feature for adding text to your mobile video on the fly.
    Apple Clips https://www.apple.com/clips/

  • Check grammar, spelling Grammarly http://grammarly.com

  • Social Video
    IOS mobile video editing. Has automated captioning
    CLIPS https://www.apple.com/clips/

  • Animated text over photo
    Ripl http://ripl.com

  • Hyperlapse from Instagram screenshots post photos

  • Storyline makes it easy for non-tech people to create, test and publish complex voice files.
    Storyline https://www.storylineonline.net/

  • Fyuse https://fyu.se/ An app which lets users capture and share interactive 3-D images.

  • Wavve transforms audio into social video https://wavve.co

  • Headline writing: http://www.ironicsans.com/thsrs/ good for headline writers. Long words get short synonyms

Mike Reilley, Google Earth

    Take a certain location and use photos over a period of time, and you can show the changes, whether in topography, destruction (such as the Dorian disaster in the Bahamas as produced by CNN), urban growth, coastal erosion, development. The list is limited only by your imagination.

    Or you can take a photo in 360 and designate points around the object or location and produce a video flying around the target.

    1) Earth Engine Timelapse: https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse/

    2) Google Earth: https://www.google.com/earth/

    3) Download Earth Pro: https://www.google.com/earth/resources/

    Or you can take spreadsheets of mass killings by location and produce a map of them.

    He used an example of football stadiums or bowl games and going across the country to each location and then zooing in and out of the stadiums.

    College Football Bowl Game Locations http://bit.ly/bowllist

    Mass Shootings: http://gun-violence.org/
Government websites

  • Interesting website from Bureau of Economic Analysis: https://www.bea.gov/

    Story ideas: How does Hawaii's stack up against other states' economies? Look at health care spending How far does a dollar go in Hawaii?

    2020 Census https://2020census.gov/ News releases, fact sheets, infographics, story ideas, event calendars, multimedia resources

Website Misinformation
Olaf Steenfadt
Journalism Trust Initiative
Reporters Without Borders

    Yearlong project to verify news websites to combat online disinformation

    There was talk of creating standards and support of news organizations that are compliant in a voluntary process. "We want to do something before governments step in and do crazy stuff."

    What surprised the organization is that Russia was the first country to sign on.
-- Stirling Morita, board president

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