Monday, July 11, 2005

The mind reels

Tuesday update: toned down some wording, added a question.

It takes a lot to raise me from the moribund, but The Union has done it.

They've won prizes from the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest (PDF evidence) - for a feature by David Mirhadi*, and for Becky Trout's reporting, which was used to form part of The Union's pre-election volley against Conklin - widely regarded to have been a (successful) smear.

Four questions for Becky Trout -
  1. Are you proud of this series, as it appeared in The Union?

  2. When you wrote the "Crowd Defends Land Trust" story (the more informative headline, "Investigation Finds No Wrongdoing", wasn't used) for this series, was it published as you wrote it? (did you wait until your sixth paragraph (and the story's jump to the back page) to note that "[counsel found that]...based on current evidence, Conklin's hiring by the Land Trust did not violate any laws governing conflict of interest for public officials", or was this the editor's doing?)
    (For any newcomers to this story, here's a summary with links; Yubanet's report is here)

  3. Would you be willing to discuss how this series came to be written, on the record?

  4. Who (plural) thought it was a good idea to submit the series in this contest?

I went looking to see what the judges for the contest were like, and ran across this from Jack Ronald * on the hardships in running a newspaper in Russia:
...civil war that tore the country apart...killed about 50,000 people and continues to haunt the country’s politics. Newspapers played an unfortunate role in the conflict, Ronald said, fanning the flames of ethnic and religious hatred.

"More than one editor in Tajikistan has told me that the country’s newspapers have blood on their hands," Ronald said.

"Ironically, that excess may create an opportunity," he said. "Newspaper editors in Tajikistan have realized that if they are ever to win back credibility and the trust of their readers, they are going to have to go down the path of objective reporting.

"The best of the editors I’ve worked with are far ahead of their colleagues in other parts of Central Asia simply because they’ve seen the consequences of political rhetoric passed off as journalism."

Contest judge Chris Braithwaite also has thoughts worth reading.

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