ESPN Responds to Criticism of Grantland’s ‘Dr. V’ Story (BuzzFeed)
ESPN issued a statement Sunday in response to continued controversy and criticism over a Jan. 15 Grantland article about a transgender physicist and golf club inventor. The story in question, “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” profiled Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, the inventor of the Oracle GXI smart putter club — and ultimately outed Vanderbilt as a transgender woman, against her wishes. At the end of the piece, author Caleb Hannan wrote that Vanderbilt killed herself. Slate / CultureBox Over the last few days, Twitter has bubbled over with arguments about what Hannan did and didn’t do. At one extreme are the people calling Hannan a murderer, alleging that a trans woman killed herself because she believed a reporter was about to out her. At the opposite pole are those who say Hannan did what journalists are trained to do: report out a story until he unearths the truth. Glittering Scrivener It is not the mandate of a writer to keep pursuing a private citizen’s secrets (secrets which have exactly no impact on the product you are writing about) until they kill themselves. This is not an honorable act. Jezebel It appears from the story’s tone that there was zero ethical concern whatsoever concerning the trans status. This is the sort of stuff that comes up, by the way, in 101 ethics classes: Say you’re called to cover the story of a hero who saved a drowning man from an icy river, and in the course of reporting you determine the hero is also gay, and would prefer to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. Do you report on it? The answer, of course, is no, you don’t report that detail, because the hero being gay is irrelevant to the story. But real-life scenarios are not so simple. Shakesville This is one of the most cavalier, irresponsible pieces of journalism I have read in a very long time. New Republic An inquiry to Grantland’s editors was redirected to an ESPN spokesperson. He said that Bill Simmons, who runs Grantland, will respond via Grantland soon, and wrote: “We understand and appreciate the wide range of thoughtful reaction this story has generated and to the family and friends of Essay Anne Vanderbilt, we express our deepest condolences.” Hannan did not reply to a request for comment. Nieman Storyboard I spoke to Hannan Sunday afternoon. He told me he has been following the reaction to the story, and that he is working with his editors to prepare a statement. He said he will discuss the story when he and his editors feel the time is right.
BBC Anchor Komla Dumor Has Died (TVNewser)
BBC anchor Komla Dumor, a rising star of the World News network, has died from a heart attack. Dumor, just 41 years old, anchored what would be his final newscast Friday night. Very active on Twitter and Facebook, Dumor was a presenter on the daily programs World News (airing at midnight ET) and Focus on Africa, a primetime program for African viewers broadcast worldwide. The Guardian Ghana-born Dumor was remembered by broadcaster and BBC Radio 4 Today presenter Mishal Husain as “one of our brightest and best.” Peter Horrocks, the BBC’s global news director, described him as “a leading light of African journalism.” BBC News He travelled across Africa, meeting the continent’s top entrepreneurs and reporting on the latest business trends around the continent. He interviewed a number of high-profile guests including Bill Gates and Kofi Annan. Mail Online “Our BBC family mourns loss of one of our brightest & best — Komla Dumor. Big heart, big personality, brilliant broadcaster,” Husain wrote on Twitter.
Is Al Roker’s Today Job in Peril? (NY Post / Page Six)
All the back-slapping, orchestrated tweeting and phoniness in the world won’t change the fact that weatherman Al Roker is feeling nervous after Sam Champion’s appearance Thursday on the Today show. Champion jumped from ABC’s top-rated Good Morning America to The Weather Channel, which is partly owned by NBC. But TV insiders say the peacock network now has some leverage with Roker, whose $8 million contract expires later this year. “NBC could install Champion at Today for a fraction of what they are paying Roker,” said one source.
CNN Changes: Around The World Canceled; John Berman, Michaela Pereira Add 11 A.M. (TVNewser)
CNN is changing up its daytime schedule, replacing the noon ET Around The World co-anchored by Suzanne Malveaux and Michael Holmes with Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield. Banfield’s move from 11 a.m. to noon makes room for a new show co-anchored by John Berman and Michaela Pereira at 11 a.m. ET. Berman and Pereira will continue their roles on Early Start and New Day. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple Perhaps the big news here is the anchoring load falling on Berman and Pereira. Deadline Hollywood Wolf Blitzer will continue to anchor the 1 p.m. hour; he will focus on politics, breaking news and international news. He will also continue to anchor The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer weekdays from 5-6:30 p.m. Carol Costello will continue to anchor 9-11 a.m. and Brooke Baldwin will continue to anchor 2-4 p.m.
Michael Kinsley to Join Vanity Fair, Write Monthly Column (NYT)
Michael Kinsley will join Vanity Fair as a contributing editor, stepping down as editor at large of The New Republic, and leaving its masthead for the first time since 1976. Kinsley will write a monthly column for Vanity Fair, which is likely to cover “what I’ve written about most of the time: politics, in one form or another,” he said in an interview on Friday. His first column will appear in the spring. Vanity Fair / VF Daily “When I arrived at Vanity Fair, Michael was one of the first people I reached out to, asking him to come write for the magazine,” said editor Graydon Carter. “After 22 years, I’m thrilled to have finally sealed the deal. There is nobody like him.”
Guild Has Mystery Backer to Buy Philly Dailies (NY Post)
The biggest guessing game last week in the turbulent Philadelphia newspaper wars is the identity of the money behind a bid by the Newspaper Guild of that city to stop the madness and buy the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com website from the current feuding owners. Guild executive director Bill Ross said his only interest is protecting the jobs of more than 500 union members.
Washington Post Removes Opinion Piece After Inquiry About Author’s Identity (Poynter / MediaWire)
The Washington Post removed an opinion piece Saturday evening. I inquired about the author’s identity after I couldn’t find any evidence of him online. The story, “D.C., You’re Depressing,” was published online Friday. The author of the piece was listed as Jason Huntmann, who said he was a recent transplant from California. In it, Huntmann described a negative recent experience on the city’s public transportation system Metro, using it as an illustration of all that is wrong with Washington, D.C. and its people.
Shape Draws Criticism for Native Ad (Capital New York)
American Media Inc. fitness magazine Shape drew criticism from an industry watchdog last week for its mislabeling of an ad that promoted its own product. Under the heading of “news,” the ad, which ran in its September issue, encouraged readers to hydrate with water and to “check out new Shape Water Boosters,” along with other advice. It was a print example of native advertising, or ads that resemble the editorial content in which they’re packaged, that have been on the rise online as of late. NYT After citing many studies espousing hydration, and a warning from the Center for Science in the Public Interest against high-calorie sugary drinks, the non-bylined article said that about 20 percent of Americans did not like the taste of water. “Just a single squeeze (equal to a half-teaspoon) adds delicious flavor — but not calories — along with a concentrated punch of nutrients that offer some important bonus benefits.” Accompanying the article are photos of all four varieties of the product, named for those promised benefits: Beauty, Wellness, Slim and Energy. FishbowlNY Unsurprisingly, The National Advertising Division, the ad industry’s investigation unit, ruled that Shape’s article “blurred the line between advertising and editorial content in a way which could confuse consumers.”
Storms Ahead as AccuWeather Takes on The Weather Channel (Bloomberg Businessweek)
The weather wars are heating up — or getting frosty, or hailing down, or whatever your favorite weather-related cliché may be. Let’s just say they’re getting bad. At midnight on Jan. 14, DirecTV dropped The Weather Channel from its service, replacing it with a service called WeatherNation. The move left an estimated 20 million people without access to the Weather Channel and gave WeatherNation, a two-year-old upstart out of Colorado, a national audience almost overnight. WeatherNation currently airs the weather on three-hour taped loops and does not report live. After news of the conflict broke, AccuWeather, the Pennsylvania-based company that currently supplies forecasts to 175,000 paying clients and several hundred local TV stations around the country, announced plans to join the 24-hour weather market by launching its own TV network sometime in September. TVNewser The Weather Channel remains off DirecTV with no return in sight. In fact, TWC chief David Kenny says the network may never return to the satellite service.
Publisher Stumbles in Wild Chase for Growth (NYT)
Timing matters when it comes to news. I had been reading about Aaron Kushner’s audacious strategy to invest in journalism ever since he bought the Orange County Register in 2012 for about $50 million and the assumption of $110 million in pension obligations. After years of covering layoffs, I wanted to write a different kind of tale about newspapers. Last week, I was in Los Angeles and drove down to Santa Ana to talk to Kushner, 40, about his willingness to swim against an industrial tide. CJR / The Audit The Orange County Register, the rebuilt Chevelle SS of the newspaper industry, has blue smoke coming from the tailpipe. On Thursday, owner Freedom Communications laid off some three dozen journalists, including longtime editor Ken Brusic, who declined to implement the cuts, according to OC Weekly.
End of Film: Paramount First Studio to Stop Distributing Film Prints (LA Times / Company Town)
In a historic step for Hollywood, Paramount Pictures has become the first major studio to stop releasing movies on film in the United States. Paramount recently notified theater owners that the Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which opened in December, would be the last movie that it would release on 35-millimeter film. The studio’s Oscar-nominated film The Wolf of Wall Street, from director Martin Scorsese, is the first major studio film that was released all digitally, according to theater industry executives who were briefed on the plans but not authorized to speak about them.
The New York Times‘ Most Popular Story of 2013 Was Not an Article (The Atlantic)
The New York Times has released its list of most-visited stories of 2013. As the Atlantic’s business editor Derek Thompson noted, they include four breaking news articles, one of which was a map; three health stories; a long narrative about poverty in New York; and two celebrity op-eds. What interests me most about the list, though, is what’s at the No. 1 spot: A news interactive made by Josh Katz and Wilson Andrews called “How Y’all, Youse, And You Guys Talk.”
He’s Hard as Nails, Hard to Nail Down, Too (NYT)
Tucked away at the end of Gabriel Sherman’s disingenuous Roger Ailes biography, there is a note on sources that should have opened the book. Sherman has done a lot of interviewing, but there are so many citations of “author interview with a person familiar with the matter” that The Loudest Voice in The Room may set a record for blind items and the untrustworthiness they engender. It would have helped to know right from the get-go why Sherman found this kind of journalism necessary. Baltimore Sun / Z On TV I know that understanding the life and mind of Ailes would make us smarter about our media and ourselves — and we desperately need such understanding. Unfortunately, this book fails to provide that. For all its promotional push, I don’t think The Loudest Voice in the Room will be long remembered — or even talked about past the short buzz life of most media these days.
After De Castro: Who Will Fix Yahoo!’s Ad Woes? (Digiday)
Traffic may be up, but when it comes to selling ads at Yahoo!, things remain rather complicated. That fact was highlighted — again — last week when its COO Henrique De Castro was fired after just 15 months on the job, having done little to turn its dwindling ad business around. De Castro’s departure once again raises the question of who, or what, can improve the beleaguered portal’s outlook.
Life as A Female Journalist: Hot or Not? (NYT)
In 2009, I wrote a cover story for Wired magazine about the anti-vaccine movement and profiled Paul Offit, a leading proponent of vaccines for children. Dr. Offit is a man. I am a woman. That was sufficient grounds for things to get ugly. In online comments and over email, I was called a prostitute and the C-word. J. B. Handley, a critic of childhood vaccination and the founder of the autism group Generation Rescue, affiliated with the actress Jenny McCarthy, sent me an essay titled, “Paul Offit Rapes (Intellectually) Amy Wallace And Wired Magazine.” In it, he implied that my subject had slipped me a date-rape drug. Later, an anti-vaccine website Photoshopped my head onto the body of a woman in a strapless dress who sat next to Dr. Offit at a festive dinner table. The main course? A human baby.
What’s on your reading list for the long weekend?
AuthenticDustin The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
PubBones There’s a long weekend? Oh yeah. Ha. Self-employed, so no.
Rachel Slaiman Safe Haven, The Gravity of Birds, and A Secret Kept