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Monthly Archives: December 2014

North Korea: The tale of two other American journalists

north korean golf course“Are you two the Americans?” she asked with a smile.

I had been watching her make her way from the front of the bus to the last row of seats where I had been with my travel companion, Joe Skeel. Obviously we stood out in a bus filled international journalists.

“Yes, we are.”

“Do you have anything with you, anything you are wearing, that is a symbol of the United States? Do you have an eagle, flag?”

“No,” we answered, not entirely puzzled by the questions. We were, after all, sitting in the DMZ moments from disembarking and walking into North Korea.

“Good, because you are not allowed to have it where we are going.”

Where we are going? You mean North Korea in 2007, that oppressive country which hated the United States and pretty much anything that resembled democracy? That North Korea led by dictator Kim Jong Il who always seemed to have his finger inches from a nuclear launch button?

Where we were going was only half the story. The rest unfolds in a bizarre 36 hours that involved a drunken Chinese leader, two hours on a bus while Czechs were detained for filming soldiers, and the near arrest of a surly Italian reporter who was generally uncooperative with our hosts the entire week. And there was lots of undistinguishable, high-octane alcohol.

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Breaking news and digital: How Maclean’s handled the Ottawa shooting

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 1.57.01 PMBreaking news hits. Bullets fly, people are panicked, and your newsroom kicks into high gear. It’s the moment journalists brace themselves for, but will your digital media strategy pan out?

Kiplinger Fellow Sue Allan might have had that thought in October — albeit fleetingly — when an Ottawa gunman went on a killing rampage at the National War Memorial and then opened fire in the nearby Parliament building.

The managing editor of digital for Maclean’s was en route to the magazine’s Ottawa bureau when the shooting began.

“I opened the door to discover my colleagues running out,” she said. “For about 30 seconds, I wondered if I should press ahead with (my) appointment — Maclean’s publisher was in town. (In fact, the meeting did go ahead, just without me.)

The next few minutes were devoted to alerting the Maclean’s newsroom in Toronto and recruiting resources.”

Soon much of the city, including the bureau office, was in lockdown. Sue worked to setup a central contact list of the magazine’s key reporters and editors, as well as at sister radio and TV stations.

“Although our Ottawa building would end up on lockdown into the late evening, my colleagues kept finding a way out to report,” Sue said.

The magazine’s digital coverage centered on its live blog, using ScribbleLive to stream news content and tweets. They also used SoundCloud recordings collected on the scene. Here’s how the Maclean’s staff approached its digital coverage:

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Journalism ethics of reporting suicides

The jubilation of a football victory over arch rival Michigan and a looming Big Ten championship had barely set in for this year’s highly ranked Ohio State Buckeyes when the team and university community received the tragic news that a senior player had taken his own life.

missing-osu-player-1201-art0-glhvcsdk-1karageorge-mugDefensive lineman Kosta Karageorge had gone missing on Wednesday, the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday and a few days before the season’s final home game against the Wolverines. His mother had reported her concerns to police. The family’s worst fears were realized on Sunday when Karageorge’s body was found off campus, death by an apparent gunshot wound.According to information released by the family prior to his discovery, the 22-year-old, who also wrestled for the Buckeyes, had suffered a number of concussions during his football playing days, one as recently as last month. His mother said he had bouts of confusion. The effects were reportedly getting worse. He ended a text message to his mother saying, “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment . . .”

The decision to report on suicides has always been a tough ethical dilemma for journalists. The death of Karageorge is another in a continuing line of self-inflicted deaths that call on the media to act responsibility with their coverage. But the line of responsibility isn’t etched in stone. It’s not as easy as it seems; in my 35 years as a journalist the policy has been all over the place, usually created by editors, subject to change.

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