Donate Today! Help us help others.

Lynch Coaching


Sunday, August 11, 2013

On The Media: Public Opinion on Gay Marriage, America's Most Notorious Gangster, and More

« previous episode

America's quickly shifting opinions on gay marriage, overclassification and obfuscation over government surveillance, and the trial and media profile of Whitey Bulger.

The Messages Behind the Gay Marriage Battle

The next battles over gay marriage will happen in the states where each side has changed and refined their messaging over the past few years. Brooke talks with Amy Mitchell from the Pew Research Project for Excellence in Journalism about the growing acceptance of gay marriage. Also, gay marriage advocate and researcher David Dodge explains that pro-gay marriage campaigns have only recently found messages that work.
B. Fleischmann - Lemmings

An Evolution Of Messaging Against Gay Marriage

Despite the Prop 8 and DOMA rulings, groups like the National Organization for Marriage will continue fighting gay marriage in many states in coming years. Brooke speaks with Thomas Peters, the communications director for the National Organization for Marriage about the past, present and future of the group's messaging.
Four Tet - Harps

The Classification Game

In spite of the ongoing leaks by the Guardian and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, there is still much that the public doesn't know about government surveillance. Brooke talks to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who says that the government needs to better inform the public, and when it does, it needs to be a little more accurate and a little less misleading.
Tom Waits - Clap Hands

Help Solve a Mystery

Lori Ruff  committed suicide on Christmas Eve, 2010, by shooting herself in her in-laws' driveway. The details of her death are clear. But the family she married into knew virtually nothing about her life. After her death they learned that she'd stolen the identity of a child who had died in a fire in 1971. But who was Lori Ruff, really? Brooke talks to The Seattle Times’ Maureen O’Hagan, who's asking readers to help solve this mystery.
Lúnasa - Killarney Boys of Pleasure

America's Most Wanted Gangster

Famous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger is now on trial in Boston. He’s accused of committing 19 murders, and has also been revealed as a long-time informant for the FBI. Reporter Kevin Cullen was the first to report that Bulger was an FBI informant years ago, and he kept up with the case. Brooke speaks to Cullen about Bulger, and about his new book “Whitey Bulger, America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice.”
Cops and Criminals - Howard Shore

Will TV and radio remain free? Will anyone care?

Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
Aereo uses antenna farms to capture broadcast signals that can then be streamed on the Internet and viewed on a device of the customer’s choosing.

It's money that matters.  Do you have a right to watch local over the air television broadcast free (we theoretically own the air in "we the people." Is the battle between broadcasters and Aereo, a start-up company that delivers over-the-air signals via the Internet, about the future vs. the past? 

The reality is that Aereo and similar products are simply antennas that pick up free over the air signals to show on a very small television screen...your cell phone. But that does not seem to matter. 

Are broadcast networks CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and Univision resistant to the changing ways consumers can view media? Are they trying to protect a way of doing business that will ultimately go the way of the dinosaurs soon enough? 

If so will there be free ways of watching the airwaves so all Americans have access to emergency information and/or local programs regardless of income or geography? 

Is it about public service, as those who used the broadcast frequencies were told and had to agree to?

That's one way to look at this. 

But in reality, like most things in life, this is about money. 

Profit by those who use the airwaves rather than service and access leads the way in decisions and innovation. The free access broadcast world may come to an end.

FOX threatened to do so. COMCAST (NBCUniversal) has indicated support in principle. Both say we no longer watch over the air anyway. Both say that it is not their responsibility to provide service to those that do not have access and that there are other ways to keep the citizen informed in an emergency. FOX went so far as to say that most people do not want to be informed, but prefer entertainment and escape programing and content on their video services.

Analysis of the Aereo-broadcast feud from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. April 11, 2013

Outsourcing the News to India

Newspapers acknowledged publishing dozens of items in print or online from outsourcing firm Journatic that appeared under fake bylines. The Chicago Tribune, for example, said the matter is under investigation. But the newspaper's corporate parent, the Tribune Co., is a new investor in Journatic. 

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Newspapers acknowledged publishing dozens of items in print or online from outsourcing firm Journatic that appeared under fake bylines. The Chicago Tribune, for example, said the matter is under investigation. But the newspaper's corporate parent, the Tribune Co., is a new investor in Journatic.

 Fake Bylines Reveal 

Hidden Costs Of Local News

From NPR's Morning Edition
Click here for the full story and

Major newspapers in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco are among those this week that have acknowledged they published dozens of items in print or online that appeared under fake bylines.

A screenshot of the Journatic website, announcing the company's deal with the Tribune Co.As was first disclosed by the public radio program This American Life, the items in question were not written by reporters on the staffs of the papers at all but by employees of what is effectively a news outsourcing firm called Journatic.

The episode is at once a professional embarrassment for the papers and a reminder of an inescapable truth about the cost of gathering local news: Sometimes when you cut costs, you can't avoid cutting corners.

"How do you get police blotters from 90 towns? It's not easy. But that's what we do," says Brian Timpone, a former television reporter and small-town newspaper owner who created what became Journatic six years ago.

He built a company to provide a lot of news and information — mostly highly granular information — for publishers serving small communities around the country. The information in question involves such stuff as lives are made of: information about local arrests, real estate sales, weekly school lunch menus, high school track-meet results.
  A screenshot of the Journatic website, announcing the company's deal with the Tribune Co.
Even large papers with supposedly deeper pockets struggle for a solution.

"These are the challenges that newspapers face every day," Timpone says. "They're the most important ones, in our opinion. And we help you solve them."

News executives at the papers, and their parent companies, declined to talk about the specific incident, though each published news articles or statements about the episode. The Chicago Tribune, for example, said the matter is under investigation. But the newspaper's corporate parent, the Tribune Co., is a new investor in Journatic — evidence of its appeal. (Several other papers in the chain also rely on its services.)

Journatic has dozens of clients, many of them strapped for cash but all hungry to serve up local news for their readers. Many of the Hearst Co.'s papers are also subscribers. The Chicago Sun-Times had an arrangement that was to expire because of the investment by the rival Tribune Co. but announced it would sever its affiliation instantly in the wake of the radio program's report.

Critics argue that Journatic is operating on a fundamentally flawed premise.

"It's a short-term cost-cutting measure, and that's all it is," says Tim McGuire, the former editor-in-chief of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who now teaches media business and journalism ethics at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "It's not a long-term solution to providing local news to people who want it."

Journatic started as a smaller outfit called Blockshopper focusing exclusively on real estate information. Now it boasts 60 full-time employees and 200 freelancers, expanding to sports, crime and community events.

The company also hired more than 100 people abroad as a way of keeping costs down. That means people in Asia are writing about real estate in the Bay Area — and sometimes under fake bylines. Raw data appear in list form; small articlelike items a few paragraphs long also incorporate personal data such as alma maters and employers gleaned from Google searches or professional social media sites such as LinkedIn.

Journatic freelancer Ryan Smith told This American Life that he reworked pieces written by foreigners who were paid a pittance for their trouble and that he had written his own stories for papers in places he had never visited.

"I don't know those communities, and I have no stake in them. And so it didn't matter to me that I found out all the information and I got it right," Smith said. "There is just something inauthentic about the whole process. And the picking of fake names for these writers in the Philippines is just a symptom of that."

Journatic's Timpone concedes that the use of fake bylines was a mistake — but he said they were just real estate items with transactional data — like who bought what when — and shouldn't have had bylines at all.

Timpone said the bylines were added as a search optimization technique so the items would pop up in Google News searches. He also said that some of his colleagues have been subject to abuse online — and indeed a quick search appears to yield blogs set up to object to his company's aggregation of readily available information.

Tim McGuire says it may seem appealing, but newspapers that expect to rely heavily on Journatic are unlikely to be accepted by readers in the long term.

"They are engaging in deception, and some would even call it fraud," McGuire says. "They are pretending they are producing local news with people who are not local. I think it's naive to think that local news is only about things that happen locally. I believe local news also has to be locally produced."

Yet all of this plays out against a backdrop of cutbacks in the newspaper industry as paying print subscribers and advertisers peel away. According to one industry group survey, staffing levels have fallen by more than a quarter since the year 2000.

In some cases, newspapers are getting by with fewer than half as many journalists as they once did. The Tribune Co. has accelerated the consolidation of producing the news pages of its various papers throughout the country in Chicago, with the exception of its biggest paper, the Los Angeles Times.
The website PasadenaNow has only two editorial employees, including its editor and publisher, James Macpherson. When he announced that he would outsource the writing and reporting of some articles about the Pasadena City Council to India several years ago, it sparked an outcry. Now, Macpherson tells NPR, he commissions stories from American and British writers living largely in Mexico and the Philippines.

His site produces between 20 and 30 stories a day about Pasadena life. Most of them are not what a daily newspaper would consider hard news. But he says he does some original reporting that he shares with writers abroad — along with feeds of meetings of public officials and links to public documents. And then he edits and fact-checks the stories once they're done. Without that system, he says, the site would not exist.

"It's the only way I can turn a profit," Macpherson says.

And, indeed, some editors and innovators contend that salvation may lie in providing indispensable "hyperlocal content" — not just news but practical information about the communities of their readers. But such hyperlocal coverage is expensive. The experiment of the Patch network of blogs, owned by AOL, has to date failed to catch fire. And other major newspapers that have experimented with hyperlocal listings and coverage, including The Washington Post, have backed away, finding it too pricey.

GateHouse media, which owns more than 350 smaller daily and weekly papers, subscribes to Journatic but is replacing it with its own center for processing such material. Ten new employees, based in Rockford, Ill., will serve 30 of its papers, beginning next month. David Arkin, GateHouse's vice president for content and audience, says the company hopes to free up its reporters from more mundane tasks gathering data to do more challenging local reporting.

"It's a major time suck to do that kind of content," Arkin says of the hyperlocal listings. "As we look at what our content goals are in our organization, we need and want more enterprise storytelling. We want more 'what it means'-type stories and packages."

First Published 10/22/12

Communicating with Teens


You probably have a teenager in your house if there is talk about dating, driving, telephone use, curfew, drugs, sex, music, friends....These are common topics, which arise when children enter their teenage years. They are a lot easier to manage when parents and teens communicate effectively with each other.

Technically, effective communication occurs when the person sending the message makes it clear and easy to understand, and the person on the receiving end understands the message as the sender intended. In the real world, especially in families, this is not always easy to do. Parents often are busy with work demands, running the household, and taking care of responsibilities to family and friends. Teens are involved in the academic and social demands of school, after school and weekend activities, and spending time with friends. With so much going on, it is no surprise that many of us do not take the steps needed to communicate clearly and to listen carefully. This can lead to problems when talking to teens.

Parents and teens can do two things to reduce communication problems:
Talk more often. The more you talk with each other, the more you have the chance to share important messages. Good times to talk with your teen are before leaving for the office and school, during dinner, and on weekends. Try to plan at least one meal a day as a time when the family sits together and talks. Sometimes it does not matter what you talk about, just that you are talking to each other regularly.

Take extra time to share important messages. When you need to tell your teen something important, such as explaining the responsibilities of caring for a younger sister or brother, take the time to sit down with your teen and talk face to face. You also can write down the important details for your teen. Ask your teen to share with you what he understands your message to be. Your teen can use this same approach when he needs to share important messages with you.

Why is communication so important during the teenage years?
As teens get older, they will be spending more time away from parents and family. They will need to make decisions on their own. Teens also will be expected by others to take responsibility for their actions. Although teens are gaining more independence from their parents, they are not experienced and need continuing parental guidance. Being sensitive to your teen's level of maturity when offering guidance helps in building greater self-confidence.

When you communicate sensitively with your teen,
you are helping your teen grow up to be a responsible adult.
You are helping your teen understand that family rules change as he gets older.
When Jack turned 16 and received his driver's license, he wanted to use the family car for weekend activities. He and his mother discussed rules for using the car and how car privileges would depend upon Jack's showing responsibility. His mom told him he needed to fill the car with gas before bringing it home, and he needed to have it home at the time he had promised. Setting up these rules in advance helped Jack know what was expected of him when he used the car. Knowing the rules also would help Jack to accept the consequences if he fell short of obeying the rules.

You are helping your teen to figure out the kind of person she is becoming as she prepares for adult responsibilities.
Mary and her parents watched a television show about teens and sex. After watching the show, Mary and her parents discussed their views about teen sexuality and responsibility. Mary needed to know her parents' views about teen sexual behavior and to feel comfortable expressing her own views. Should she be faced with a difficult decision about her own sexual behavior, Mary would be more likely to make a good decision. She also is more likely to talk with her parents if there is an open line of communication.

You are helping your teen have better self-esteem.
Tim compares himself often to other kids at school. He frequently feels like a failure, since he does not do as well on tests as others and is second string on the basketball team. Tim's father has listened to Tim complain about not being as good as other kids and has expressed understanding of Tim's feelings. This usually helps Tim feel better. Tim's father also has been taking more time with Tim to do activities they both enjoy. Tim's father makes a special effort to make comments about things that Tim does well. Tim's father is helping Tim appreciate his own strengths and abilities.

You are offering your teen good role modeling in solving problems with other people.
Erin and her mother were out shopping one day when a salesperson was rude to them as they tried to return some clothes. Erin's mother calmly told the salesperson that she expected to be permitted to return the items and asked if a manager were present who could assist with the return. The salesperson responded in a more helpful fashion. Erin later asked her mother why she did not get angry at the salesperson. Her mother replied: "I was angry, but I have learned that I get better results when I stay calm and think about the best way to get the response I want to get from a person." Erin had the opportunity to both observe and discuss a good way to handle problems with other people.

You are helping your teen make important life decisions.
Henry is trying to decide on a college. He wants to pick the best one, but he is not sure how to do this. His parents talk with him about his future goals, about the colleges that have programs that interest Henry, and about colleges that the family can afford. They suggest that Henry call some of the colleges and arrange to visit the ones that are on the top of his list. They talk with Henry about other steps he can take to narrow his choices. His parents help Henry to figure out how to make good decisions, and they permit him to take the steps needed to make a good choice.

To continue reading and for other links from Alabama Cooperative Extension, click here.