John Quinn, John Seigenthaler, 2010 in Nashville

(Journalists John Quinn and John Seigenthaler chatting at the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2010.)

Some good pieces on the large life of John Seigenthaler:

I only ask however you can, whenever you can, please stand up for what Ben Franklin called a precious gift, worth preserving and protecting.

-- John Seigenthaler

Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change small events, and those acts can write the history of our generation.

-- Robert F. Kennedy

Another year, another year older

Researcher Greg Harmon of Borrell Associates says the average age of a print newspaper reader is 57 and the average newspaper web visitor is 51.  Saying the industry's aging demographics ought to have "everyone's hair on fire," Harmon notes that newspaper readers have been getting a year older every year for more than a decade. 

-- Alan D. Mutter

A great piece from Om Malik on media. There's lot of food for thought in this piece.

Among his highlights:

  • No one could've predicted FB and Twitter as the boosters for media and this is why we've seen so much change and new models.
  • The problem with media is that it's trying to find a answer within itself and not looking at what readers want.
  • The internet as we know it is at an end. The Chinese and Brazilian internets are developing in their own way and pace.
  • Putting a paywall on a thing people were getting for free is a backward move. You must create a new, compelling, useful experience.
  • My open source tools are a paper and a pen.
  • Journalism schools need to teach journalism for the social media age.
  • Big publishers are in the habit of always 'taking' from users, not giving back.
  • We are limited by the industrial definition/model of journalism.
  • It is time for big publications to think of themselves as technology platforms.


The fate of a law that was passed in the infancy of the commercial Internet and which created the legal underpinnings for everything from anonymous comments by trolls on news stories to your pet photo on Facebook was argued today in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The case involves a defamation lawsuit by a former Cincinnati Benglas cheerleader against a gossip website.  The cheerleader, Sarah Jones, sued gossip site The Dirty in 2012 claiming allegations on its site about her sex life were untrue. A Federal jury awarded Jones $338,000.

In the appeal heard today, The Dirty's attorneys argued the case should have never been heard because the Communications Decency Act of 1996 grants immunity to websites from content posted by users.

"If Judge Bertelsman's ruling stands, the Internet will have a nuclear meltdown," Arizona attorney David Gingras said. "It'll change the rules across the board for everyone. ... Mark Zuckerberg could be dragged into court for what users post on Facebook."

While that quote is more than a bit of hyperbole, the case is being closely watched by web content firms who say upholding the lower court ruling would  "significantly chill online speech" . Read more.

Photo caption: This Monday, July 30, 2012 file photo shows Sarah Jones, a former Dixie Heights High School teacher and Cincinnati Ben-Gal cheerleader, arriving at the Kenton County Justice Center, in Covington, Kentucky. An appeals court is considering whether an Arizona-based gossip website should have been allowed to be sued for defamation by Jones, convicted of having sex with a teenager. Attorneys for both sides argued their case Thursday, May 1, 2014 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/The Enquirer, Patrick Reddy, File)

Newscast bunnies get into some sexy business


Local TV station WBIR has been in the news as an Easter segment last week went viral. 

What made everything from Gawker to the Today Show were some bunnies that in an on-air segment in front of the anchors did what ... ah ... rabbits often do.

The Gawker headline: "Bunnies Have Sex Like Bunnies on Local News Channel's Easter Broadcast"

And CNN:

Even another Gannett TV stations have had fun with it.

For its part, WBIR and staff have had a good sense of humor about it and are just rolling with it.

Here's Christy Moreno, WBIR News Director:

About that comment

What's new in comments about comments. The debate on anonymous comments on websites continues while publisher retool or junk their comment systems. Meanwhile, a few interesting new experiments are happening.

See the bigger list of links on comments.

General Dynamics tank manufactureHere's another incredible example of the government's trampling of the rights of photojournalists.

The Toledo Blade filed suit Friday after the Army security personnel detained two journalists outside a tank plan in Lima, Ohio. Cameras were confiscated and some photos deleted.

The incident occurred March 28 at a General Dynamics plant.

The lawsuit claims the newspaper employees were unlawfully detained, that one  was unlawfully restrained and received threats of bodily harm, that cameras were unlawfully confiscated and images unlawfully destroyed, and that their Constitutional rights were unlawfully prevented from being exercised.

Was this part of some newspaper uncover project? Nope. They were in Lima covering a press conference at a Ford automotive plant and, while they were in town, they went around taking photos of businesses as file art for future stories.

They were outside the plant's fence and took photos from public property, the newspaper said.

One of the employees, a female photographer, was held in handcuffs for over an hour. One officer said to her "You say you are a female, I'm going to go under your bra," the newspaper reported.

There have been a string of incidents involving law enforcement officers confiscating cameras or interferring with photographers. At times, it almost seems there is a not-so-secret government war on photojournalism.

Skillz for journalists

Good news for training in the newsroom.

The Poynter Institute and the E.W. Scripps Co. today announced a long-term agreement that will provide customized training for staff members in the Scripps newspaper division.

See the release. And this is but one component of a larger training agenda for Scripps newsrooms.

Digital paywalls are the newspaper model now

Paid Content at Newspapers2013 was the year when paywalls became the norm for newspapers.

70 percent of newspapers now have some sort of paywall (see pie chart on right), according to a survey by the Reynolds Journalism Institute. That's up from 41 percent in 2011 and 47 percent in 2012.

Consumers are still adjusting.

Newspapers are not using just one model and are changing the business rules in search of the sweet spot of subscriptions and audience. But don't expect the walls to falls.

In the Reynolds survey, publishers generally said: "We should have done it sooner."

While there are few experiments, don't expect a similar rush to paywalls by TV website owners or digital only startups.