Spring 2006

What Katrina Revealed, Will Journalists Now Cover?

The unfortunate reality is that American journalists do not systematically or analytically cover the plight of the poor, the marginalized, the isolated, or the powerless. When we put together elaborate hurricane coverage plans, organize medical beats, determine Iraq war coverage, or decide on approaches to stories about globalization of the economy, our focus generally is on implications for the affluent and what "experts" have to say, while keeping a watchful eye on breaking news.

Reporting on Gaps That Katrina Revealed
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Remembering Those Who Are Usually Forgotten
By Jane Daugherty
Questioning Assumptions About Poverty
A North Carolina public radio station devotes extraordinary time and resources to an exploration of what it means to be poor in this time and place.
By Emily Hanford
Exploring Connections and Tensions
The small local newspaper in Greeley, Colorado devoted considerable time and space to examining the gaps emerging in its community.
By Dan England
Advice About Doing Project and Daily Reporting at the Same Time
By Dan England
Views About Race Cloud Discussions About Disparities
‘Do these labels — “health disparities” and “the achievement gap" — create a more comfortable way for us to talk about contemporary impacts of race?’
By Martha Bebinger
When the Role Race Plays in Societal Gaps Is Unspoken
A journalist faces ‘obstacles — some institutional, some personal — that stand like an invisible line between covering race and covering it up.’
By Claudia Meléndez Salinas
Probing the Shifting Ground of Wage and Benefit Gaps
Business reporters need to keep a careful watch on the numerous ways in which corporate executives are thriving, while promises to workers are being broken.
By Kevin Noblet
Investigating the Nation's Exploding Credit Squeeze
'Questions of by whom and for whom need more and better investigation, as well as a look at who are the losers and who are the winners.'
By Danny Schechter
As Health Care Gaps Grow, Coverage Shrinks
Stories about the have-nots don’t ‘fit into today's paradigm of health news.’
By Trudy Lieberman
Untangling the Achievement Gap's Factors
‘Gaps intersected and converged like earthquake fault lines; what affected one rippled through the others.’
By Cathy Grimes
The Working Poor: Is Their Gap With the Middle Class Narrowing?
A reporter looks for ways to merge coverage of the middle class and the poor.
By Paul Nyhan
Finding Perfect Pitch
‘… the stronger their facts, the more vivid their detail, the less reliant they are on the poetry.’
By Susan Brenna
Numbers Don't Tell a Story That Connects With Readers
With reports about tough economic times in hand, a journalist relies on families’ experiences to illuminate the significance of the findings.
By Jason Johnson
The News Gap With the Poor: Engagement, Then Silence
‘I got the feeling that once welfare had been “reformed,” the news story was simply over.’
By Jennifer Friedlin
Wealth Is Displayed, While Poverty Goes Unnoticed By Many in the Mexican Press
‘What one almost never reads or hears about in Mexico is the immense gap dividing the more well-to-do Mexicans from the native Indians ….’
By Ana Cristina Enriquez
Reporting on Gaps in a Country Devoted to Harmony
In China, social and economic gaps are acknowledged, but the news media rarely probe their causes or their consequences.
By Yuan Feng
Violence Attracts the News Media to a Story Not Reported Enough
Coverage of the riots in France reaffirmed the need for ongoing, in-depth reporting of poor immigrants&rsquo circumstances and the issues they confront.
By Françoise Lazare
Journalist's Trade
The Job of Frontline Editor
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
New Metaphors Needed for Changing Roles
‘It is time for some new language to describe the role and value of the assigning editor. Even the job title is dated and limiting.’
By Jacqui Banaszynski
Moments Illustrate the Lives of Frontline Editors (1 comment)
By Mae Cheng
Editor and Reporter: A Writing Journey Together
‘Then Joanna found her vision. It was crisp and clear. She made me see it, too.’
By Stuart Warner
Listening to Editors' Difficulties Helps Find Solutions
‘Frontline editors usually come from reporting ranks, and it is not unusual for problems to emerge in the transition.’
By John F. Greenman
Training Frontline Editors: Once Overlooked, Now Happening
‘Despite their importance and the tough transition when they switch from reporter or copyeditor, frontline editors often are sent to the end of the line for training.’
By Michele McLellan
Aiming to Put the Right People in Charge
New online tools will help prospective assigning editors see whether they have what it takes to succeed.
By Marty Claus
Exploring What Makes Training Successful
Whether editors’ training takes place in a single newsroom or as a regional gathering, its essential elements remain consistent.
By Lillian Swanson
The Dearth of Resources for Entering Editors
There are available ‘… few books, a large but scattered field of articles, and the handouts and tip sheets collected at relatively few Web sites.’
By Carl Sessions Stepp
Resources for Midlevel Editors
By Carl Sessions Stepp
Newspapers' Survival
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
If Newspapers Are to Rise Again
‘Reinvent or die. It's that simple.’
By Tim Porter
Can the Newspaper Industry Stare Disruption in the Face?
‘Lessons learned from past failures can help to ensure future triumphs.’
By Scott D. Anthony and Clark G. Gilbert
When Journalists’ Voices Are Missing
A former newspaper editor examines the impact of the lack of journalists serving on media company boards.
By James Naughton
An Open Letter From Knight Ridder Alumni
By 92 journalists who have worked for Knight Ridder newspapers
A Shrinking Staff Propels a Newspaper's Transformation
‘If we’re forced to be a smaller place, then let’s aggressively teach ourselves the virtues that go along with that sensibility.’
By Amanda Bennett
A Newspaper's Redesign Signals Its Renewal
‘… newspapers have enormous strengths to rely on — and that is where we need to concentrate.’
By Anders Gyllenhaal and Monica Moses
Lessons From a Newsroom's Digital Frontline
In Roanoke, Virginia, a midsized newspaper has had ‘the freedom to run some experiments, fail, try again, and along the way discover some meaningful success.’
By Michael Riley
Wrong Turns Make a Difficult Situation Worse (2 comments)
A journalist lists Top 10 bad decisions editors make when facing cuts in staff.
By Carol Bradley
Community News Drives a Newspaper's Vigorous Growth
‘We joke about how almost every day maintenance people seem to be assembling another desk.’
By Joe Zelnik
Will the Meaning of Journalism Survive?
‘Journalism educators are in a state of disquiet, if not distress, at their students’ lack of the broad background essential for independent journalism.’
By Melvin Mencher
Teaching Journalism for an Unknown Future
Journalism professors work to align essential skills with emerging technology.
By Peg Finucane
Damaging Ripple Effects of Newsroom Cutbacks
‘In previous downturns, rookie reporters reinvigorated the newsroom; now, there might not be any quality, young journalists to take over.’
By Joel Kaplan
Preserving What It Is Newsrooms Do
A teacher challenges his students ‘to devise a proposal for the protection of newsroom independence and integrity’ in a changing media environment.
By Stanley Flink
Words & Reflections
Introduction
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
Seeing Lives as They Once Were and Are Today
More family album than newspaper report, a book published by the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi documents Hurricane Katrina's life-altering force.
By Stan Tiner
The Connective Threads of the News Media and Government
A journalist sets forth a reform proposal to alter the incentives and break apart the ‘mediaocracy.’
By Dan Kennedy
A Recurring Image in Art: The Newspaper (1 comment)
‘Though there is little shared cultural ground for these artists, newspapers have become a shared tool of storytelling across countries and eras.’
By Maria Henson
The Coverage of Soviet Dissidents by Western Journalists
KGB memos about Andrei Sakharov reveal the government’s increasing fear of him as his ideas received press attention in the West.
By Murray Seeger
Delivering the News in Two Languages
What’s happening in several regions of Spain with bilingual journalism offers American editors and publishers a valuable ‘case study and a cautionary tale. …’
By Seth Lewis
Curator's Corner
Community Journalism's Pathway to the Future (1 comment)
‘A newspaper can't be independent unless it is interdependent with its community of readers.’
By Bob Giles
Nieman Notes
Old Newspapers Lead Students to New Discoveries
A valuable collection of historic newspapers is used to put ‘journalistic skills to work on news long dead.’
By Doug Cumming
Nieman Reports Heads to Journalism Classrooms
By Melissa Ludtke, Editor
The Atlantic Leaves Boston (1 comment)
By Robert Manning
Journalist Liu Binyan: China's Conscience
By Juntao Wang and Xiaoping Chen