Sharing our thoughts and best practices.


Category Archives: Best practices

Grief porn overwhelming Jamaican public

The photo on the front of the Jamaican Gleaner was a shocking precursor to the inside, double-page spread.  A mother, gripped in agony at her son’s funeral, greeted the reading public that morning.

The memorial service played out inside the daily tabloid with full-color, up-close-and-personal photos that included the minister, the casket procession and more tear-streaked faces of family and friends. It was not what someone of an American readership would expect.

This funeral seemed to be a galvanizing moment for a nation that sports the fifth highest homicide rate in the world. Fourteen-year-old Nicholas Francis was stabbed to death in Mid-October over his cell phone in a very public display of a senseless murder. The media made its presence felt at every chance, both in print and on the airwaves, culminating now with his funeral.

As much as the people of Jamaica have grown weary of the violence, they have also shown an evaporating tolerance for the media’s portrayal of the violence and its aftermath, like this funeral. They’ve dubbed this gawking “grief porn.”

Why must the victims and the family be showcased on the pages of the paper? Why must every death be complete with blood pools and explicit details of the deaths? Why does the public need to be guaranteed that body bags and wailing family members are important parts of most story?

smith talk

Kiplinger Deputy Director Kevin Z. Smith speaks to an audience in Jamaica about the ethics of covering tragedy.

I spent four days in Jamaica at the request of the U.S. Department of State and the Jamaican Embassy to talk about the ethics of reporting on grief and tragedy. Admittedly, I’d never heard the term grief porn, but I understood immediately what it meant.

What I didn’t understand was why it was so prevalent in the Jamaican press. In America, we’ve come (for the most part) to understand that graphic images and salacious details of murder and mayhem serve little public good. It’s usually viewed as sensationalism.

The attitudes on this island are divided.

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Time-saving tools help find, curate content for social media

Now your boss wants you to tweet three times a day, every day.

Something about building the newsroom’s brand and encouraging engagement with your audience.

Who has time for that these days? You’re already juggling three beats, taking your own photos and trying to learn the basics of smartphone video. Maybe, if there’s time, you can actually interview sources and put together a story.

Feeding the social media monster has replaced the newspaper challenge of yesteryear: filling the voluminous newshole. (To have “problems” like that again…)

Thankfully, several free and low-cost tools can help journalists find useful content to share on their social media channels. Investing a little time up front to set up a few search and curation services pays off every day — saving precious time to focus on reporting, writing and producing stories.

This chart summarizes tools that can help you find content, schedule posts and even automate some tasks. Descriptions follow of several key tools.


Tools and services can help feed the social media beast. Dollar signs represent services that have a free component as well as premium, paid features.

At the Kiplinger Program, we’ve been experimenting for several months with tools to help us provide a steady stream of useful social media posts on our Twitter and Facebook pages.


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Kiplinger website wins Ohio SPJ awards


The Kiplinger Program’s website won two first-place prizes and a second-place finish in awards announced today by the Society of Professional Journalists.

The website took top honors for Specialized Journalism Site and for Best Overall Blog (Independent). A second-place prize went to Kiplinger Program deputy director Kevin Z. Smith for Best Blog Post (Independent) for “Reporting can come with a price in Pakistan.

The Ohio’s Best Journalism Contest was sponsored by SPJ chapters in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. The Long Island Press Club of New York judged the competition. All winners in all categories are posted online.

The Kiplinger Program’s website, designed by Origo Branding of Columbus, debuted its new look and mobile-friendly features in September 2014.


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Attack on candidate’s wife should trigger a media ethics check-up

Is Donald Trump setting up the media to investigate Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, by suggesting she has a secret?

On Tuesday, Trump sent out a tweet and immediately pulled it back. In typical Trump fashion, he didn’t apologize. Later, he stirred the pot again by backing up the deleted tweet with taunting rhetoric.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.39.15 AM

The tweet came after a political action group supporting Cruz ran an ad of Trump’s current wife, Melania, naked on a bed. The photo is 15 years old. The ad suggested that you wouldn’t want her as first lady.

“Be careful, Lyin’ Ted or I will spill the beans on your wife,” Trump retorted upon seeing the ad. Within seven seconds he deleted the tweet from public view, which is never the case since everything lives forever online. Trump knows that.

The response from Sen. Ted Cruz was immediate and direct:Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 11.43.24 AM


Given this political campaign season and the way Trump has managed to manipulate the media into hanging on his every word, it sounded to me like he was baiting the media to take this story and go with it.

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The media’s addiction to political polls

(Editor’s Note: On the day this blog was posted nine polls on the 2016 presidential election were released. Three were revealed the day before.)

On a weekly basis in the United States, pollsters tied to some university, media group or political agenda release their “scientific” take on the 2016 presidential campaign.

Not long after, the airwaves are filled with chatty pundits who will spend the better part of the day deciphering the poll results.

Later in the week, a different set of pundits will talk about how bad political polling has become in the U.S. and lament the credibility of the surveys and their results.

And this will be repeated the following week.

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