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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Shots on the Bridge: Police Violence and Cover-Up in the Wake of Katrina

Linda Topping Streitfeld by Linda Topping Streitfeld 0 comments

In the days after Hurricane Katrina, two unarmed men were killed by New Orleans police officers. Four other people were grievously injured, some maimed for life. Investigative reporter Ronnie Greene’s new book, Shots on the Bridge: Police Violence and Cover-Up in the Wake of Katrina, traces how the officers and their victims came to be on the Danziger Bridge, and how police methodically worked to hide their crimes. In this Book Talk Q&A with NPF, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist puts the events of a decade ago into the context of today's outrage about police use of force.

Surprising fact: Greene doesn't record his interviews, choosing instead to take careful notes and transcribe them immediately. His advice for would-be nonfiction authors: pick a topic that fascinates you.

Monday, August 17, 2015

NPF Adds New Digital Innovation Awards

Sandy K Johnson by Sandy K Johnson 0 comments

NPF has created two new journalism awards to recognize the contributions of technology and innovation in news coverage. The window to apply for the new digital innovation awards and NPF’s other prestigious awards is open now through Oct. 15.

* The Innovation in Journalism Award celebrates news organizations that are transforming journalism while maintaining the integrity and standards that make journalism an essential part of a free society. The winner will be selected by a special committee of NPF judges to recognize organizations or individuals who are pioneering new ways of storytelling. Recent examples include NYT’s multimedia chronicle of the Tunnel Creek avalanche, “Snowfall,” and NPR’s true-crime podcast, “Serial.”

* The Best Use of Technology In Journalism Award recognizes individuals or organizations that use groundbreaking tools and technology to change the news media landscape as we know it. The competition is open to anyone at a news organization, including reporters, editors, front- and back-end developers, social media producers, data scientists, reporters, editors or others involved in producing cutting-edge digital journalism. Judges will take into consideration both the quality of the journalistic work and the innovative use of technology. A vendor or technology partner (examples: DataMinr, Storyful, etc.) may apply if submitted jointly with a news organization that used their technology.

“Next year the National Press Foundation celebrates its 40th anniversary of training journalists around the world,” NPF Board Chairman Heather Dahl said. “These new awards continue our mission for the next 40 years by helping shape successful journalists and news organizations. By injecting innovation and digital technologies into traditional news values, we help journalism thrive.”

The winners of the new digital awards will be honored at NPF’s annual awards dinneron Feb. 11, 2016, at the Marriott Marquis. At a later date, the innovation winners will present to other journalists, to inspire their colleagues to try similar innovations.

Application instructions for all awards are available on NPF’s website.  These awards include:

·        Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award

·        Clifford K. & James T. Berryman Award for Editorial Cartoons

·        Everett McKinley Dirksen Awards for Distinguished Reporting of Congress

·        Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism

·        Feddie Award

More information about sponsorships and table purchases for the Feb. 11, 2016, dinner can be found here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Julius Duscha, Long-Time Director of the Washington Journalism Center, Dies at 90

Bob Meyers by Bob Meyers 0 comments

WJC Became Important Part of NPF

Julius Duscha, director of the Washington Journalism Center for two decades, died on July 2 in San Francisco at 90. For many years the Center was the only source of non-university training for U.S. mid-career journalists.

Duscha was a reporter at The Washington Post from 1958 to 1966, rising to the post of chief national political reporter. After leaving the Post he served as assistant director of the Stanford University Professional Journalism Program before returning to Washington to head up the newly formed Washington Journalism Center, which he served for 22 years. He retired in 1990.

“Julius was a warm and wise mentor for me at the Washington Journalism Center,” Chuck Lewis, for many years the Washington Bureau Chief for Hearst Newspapers, wrote in a tribute.  “His insights and high standards have guided my career ever since. I consider myself fortunate to have learned from him.”

The Washington Journalism Center was established in 1965 by W.M. Kiplinger, the respected newsletter and magazine editor who believed that reporters and editors needed time away from the pursuit of daily deadlines to sit back, talk to authorities and come to a deeper understanding of issues than the daily grind provided.

The Center was set up as an independent 501(c)3 educational organization, a rarity in those days. Seed money was provided by the Kiplinger Foundation, and enlightened corporations and foundations, as well.

“What Julius did was navigate a transition from one stage of journalism to another,” said Austin H. Kiplinger, who led the WJC after his father’s death. “Journalism does not stand still, if it ever did. Julius was very effective in this.”

Julius constantly adapted the model of WJC fellowships and programs to meet the needs of journalism and the public at large. The earliest fellows came for lengthy residences in Washington, often a semester or academic year at a time. Some journalists worked on projects; others did not.

In the wake of national racial civil unrest, the Ford Foundation asked the WJC to develop training programs for African-American journalists to assist their advancement in the field. The grant lasted five years.

Duscha made a point of recruiting women journalists to the program, seeing them as underrepresented in the field. And he brought in television journalists as well, because he saw how news gathering and delivery were changing.

Whatever the format, or project, Julius used his superb knowledge of Washington and its players to arrange off-the-record meetings with Supreme Court Justices, Senate and House committee chairmen, chairmen of the Joint Chiefs and individual Service chiefs, and many mere Washington mortals.

Such meetings were usually held in the mornings, with discussions and research taking place in the afternoons. There are some former fellows who have wonderful memories of those conversations taking place at the exclusive Cosmos Club, whose elite members include journalists, scientists and explorers. Perhaps a glass of beer or a martini was served as the discussions took place, along with an endless supply of potato chips.

During Julius’ tenure, styles and attitudes in journalism changed, along with its funding mechanisms. Editors across the country who once found the off-the-record briefings fascinating now felt that sources should be on the record whenever possible, because “off-the-record” was an “inside the Beltway” concept, not necessarily a good thing.

Journalists could no longer be sprung for six or eight months; so shorter programs were developed — eventually settling in at three or four days, and focused on a very specific topic.

Finally, changing forces in the news business disrupted the funding flow that had supported the programs for nearly two decades. By the mid-1980’s many corporations and non-profits supported both the WJC and the National Press Foundation — a 501(c)3 that been set up as an independent organization in 1975. With economic disruptions in the news industry — decreasing circulation, increased cost of news print, staff cutbacks— many of those same organizations reduced funding to each organization and many eventually pulled out altogether.

Julius retired from WJC in 1990, as negotiations had begun for a merger of the WJC and NPF. That merger was completed in 1993, and I was hired that spring to begin work on July 3. It was my great good fortune that Julius was in Washington that year from his home in San Francisco, and we had a terrific afternoon together at the Cosmos Club comparing notes on how to organize programs, what had worked in his day and what I would have to do now.

Knowing Julius’ reputation for the highest quality programs, I was first apprehensive, and then thrilled, to discover that my in-room style was identical to his. Once we had introduced the speakers by giving a brief bio, we sat in the back, out of the way, so the reporters, editors and producers only focused on the speakers. If the speakers were going on too long (trust me, it happens), as directors we would call for questions from the journalists, so the speakers didn’t get a free ride in pushing their point of view.

That day at the Cosmos Club, the potato chips went down very smoothly indeed.

Julius Duscha played an important role in the development of journalism education in this country, and in the skills and knowledge of thousands of journalists. It is customary to say in an appreciation that he will be missed.  That’s very true. But his presence will always be felt.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Farmhaus: “Nose to Tail” Food Philosophy

Sandy K Johnson by Sandy K Johnson 0 comments

“This has always been my dream.” Chef Kevin Willmann created Farmhaus restaurant in St. Louis to showcase his passion for using the freshest ingredients grown locally.

Willmann’s food represents the bounty of the region with ingredients grown in Missouri and Illinois and from the Mississippi River that flows between the two states. He espouses a “nose to tail” philosophy, using every part of the animal on his menu. Willmann prepared a six-course dinner for National Press Foundation journalists who traveled to St. Louis to learn about food and farm sustainability. With each course, the chef discussed the local derivation of the ingredients.

Watch NPF’s Q&A with the chef here:

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Inevitable Food Contamination Outbreak

Sandy K Johnson by Sandy K Johnson 0 comments

The Inevitable Food Contamination Outbreak

We love to eat, yet there is an inevitable yuck factor in the food supply chain: poop-contaminated beef or salmonella-tainted cantaloupe or listeria-laced ice cream.

The facts:

*48 million Americans get sick each year from contaminated food. That’s one in six.
*Of those, 128,000 wind up in the hospital. About 3,000 die.
*1,000 foodborne outbreaks cost $3 billion a year in health care. Throw in lost productivity, and that cost reaches $15 billion.

Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases, said the good news is that the incidence of many foodborne illnesses has stabilized, such as listeria and salmonella.

However, vibrio is on the rise. The virulent bacteria is most often found in shellfish, and about half of infections are fatal. Tauxe called it the “E. coli of the sea,” noting that the subtropical bacteria has moved up the coast; even Alaska has reported an outbreak.

“The waters they (fish) live in are getting warmer and warmer over time,” he said.

One promising note: Tauxe said bacteria DNA can now be sequenced, just like human DNA, creating an important tool to investigate outbreaks. The cost is now less than $100.

Some resources for journalists to cover the next foodborne illness outbreak:

*CDC’s PulseNet which tracks molecular fingerprinting of food contaminations
*USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service
*CDC’s online database for foodborne outbreaks

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