Posts Tagged ‘Reuters’


The legacy of Morley Safer

CBS News correspondent Morley Safer, seen here in 2010, died Thursday in New York. (Photo: Charles Bogel/US National Archives/Flickr)

CBS News correspondent Morley Safer, seen here in 2010, died Thursday in New York. (Photo: Charles Bogel/US National Archives/Flickr)

There are various reasons as to why we go into journalism. We pursue this work because it is a calling, because we have the ability to make a difference for the common good, and ultimately because we believe that the power of the written word or the broadcast segment evokes the ability to impact the civil discourse of our society.

We do this not for fame or for fortune, but for the ability to know that the work we are doing is making a difference, no matter what we cover.

The same rule applied to Morley Safer, the longtime CBS News correspondent synonymous with the program 60 Minutes. Safer died Thursday in New York, days after announcing he would be retiring from the network after 46 years on 60 Minutes, and over half a century with CBS itself. He was 84.

Safer did 919 stories for 60 Minutes over the course of his tenure, some associated with the currency of events, others to paint a portrait of the world and what makes it tick, in addition to its effervescent qualities. There were certain elements that became quintessential hallmarks of a Safer story for a viewer — from the language he used to the picture he wanted to paint, to what Canadian journalist Peter Mansbridge described as the broad picture, the world view, in an interview with Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC.

These were elements that were signature of Safer’s work, especially on 60 Minutes, whether it was his 1979 interview with actress Katharine Hepburn or his 1991 visit to France, to examine the global health effects of the country’s food culture.

His interviews were different compared to others one would see. He humanized personal interviews with celebrities, asked questions of key events here and abroad, but most notably, left us thought-provoking images and thoughts about how the world, and its key personalities, work.

Safer, born in Toronto, and who worked for Reuters, as well as CBC, before joining CBS in 1964, yet said that he was never comfortable being on television. For Safer, one suspects the story trumps the medium to which it is seen, and that the quality of the story is the only thing that matters.

This industry continues to change, and new platforms continue to become available beyond broadcasting and newspapers. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are becoming hubs for content. Yet, through all of the changes, there is one fundamental reason journalism continues to prevail. There’s always room for a good story, and that good storytelling remains the core ethos of journalism. Good storytelling can change anything.

The stories will continue, and though we will never again see a new story by Safer, he has left a prolific insight into how a good story should be.

He also gave us a reminder to us all, that in spite of the changes to come, journalism is still fundamental to society, and it is worth preserving, not just today, but every day.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

In defense of 140 characters

Twitter turned ten years old on Monday, and as the occasion was marked, a debate continued to play out. The subject at hand was how to reverse the long term decline in users to the social network, and how chief executive Jack Dorsey plans to tackle it.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, seen in 2009, has said no to getting rid of its 140 character limit. (Photo: Brian Solis/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

One item that was being considered was expanding the character limit from its signature 140 characters to 10,000 characters. That is now not going ahead.

In an interview Dorsey gave to NBC’s Today Show on Friday, Dorsey ruled out the expansion.

“It’s staying,” Dorsey said as quoted by a report in Reuters. “It’s a good constraint for us and it allows for of-the-moment brevity.”

Twitter’s ability to have 140 characters has been good for the platform, as well as for journalists who use it. While it may cause common frustrations when constructing a tweet, the brevity that comes in the 140 characters can be beneficial for audience engagement, as users flock to the social network to get instant news and information, and might not be in a position to read, hear or watch something in-depth.

Indeed, it may only take 140 characters to tell a story and spark a discussion on an issue, which can help journalists build a following and credibility on the platform. While there are recommended ethics and tips to consider, especially in live tweeting (something I wrote about earlier this month), 140 characters has become a quintessential part of Twitter, as well as the development of its relationship with journalism, something that journalists should embrace.

Indeed, there is something that every journalist can do to make 140 character tweeting really work. Twitter, with its livewire elements, can help tell a story, but it is down to what can be offered, any bonus content or color that won’t make it onto traditional platforms, that can allow a 140 character tweet to help make your reporting stand out…something that might not have been accomplished if 10,000 characters were used.

After all, users that come to Twitter seeking instant information can also get a great story, despite the brevity.

So while Dorsey considers his next move to help boost user growth and engagement on Twitter, keeping 140 characters will keep its signature space in the social media marketplace, as well as give journalism a reason to flourish on the platform, now and for the next ten years.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

News app: The Apple of journalism’s eye?

An Apple Store in New York. Apple is reported to be introducing paywall content on its News app. (Photo: Anthony22/Wikimedia Commons under CC)

An Apple Store in New York. Apple is reported to be introducing paywall content on its News app. (Photo: Anthony22/Wikimedia Commons/CC)

On the heals of a concerning report to investors on iPhone sales, Apple is said to be introducing subscription content through its News app.

The tech company, which introduced the app last June as part of the new iOS 9 software, is looking to continue its competition with Facebook and its Instant Articles initiative. According to a report from Reuters, the move from the company would allow news organizations to maintain a relationship with readers, as tech companies including Apple and Facebook would be the go-to between them.

As of data compiled last October, there are over 50 publishers that participate in Apple News, and the Reuters reports quotes readership of 40 million readers.

While this has not been officially confirmed by Apple, this will likely continue the ongoing competition for readers by tech companies trying to engage audiences, which includes Instant Articles as well as Moments, the curation feature introduced by Twitter late last year featuring content from news organizations including BuzzFeed and The Washington Post.

Yet, this would be different from what had been seen when initiatives like this had been introduced, as it allows news organizations and publishers the ability to maintain that relationship with audiences on the platform, as well as give them the ability to engage new readers, something organizations have long since advocated for. In addition, it may give cause for new publishers to sign on with Apple and allow their content to be distributed under the frame reported.

We’ll have to wait and see what is confirmed from Apple, but journalism could be the Apple of readers’ and news organizations’ eyes.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to Net Worked on social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Long Form Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

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