Learning to Love—or At Least Appreciate—Those Bastards from the AP

Most newsrooms once had both UPI and AP teletype machines.

At a lunch of mostly retired journalists, the subject of the Associated Press came up. The AP had just reported its 2016 earnings:

NEW YORK (AP) — Earnings at The Associated Press shrank substantially last year compared with 2015, when the news organization enjoyed a large tax benefit that skewed its results. Revenue also edged downward, reflecting continued contraction in the newspaper industry and a stronger U.S. dollar that reduced the value of overseas sales.

When Geeks March, The Hypotheses Get Giddy

By Mike Feinsilber

Some of their signs looked more like hypotheses, and I sort of expected footnotes and citations. But at Washington’s huge and rain-soaked Science March, most sign bearers showed that scientists can be witty and political. And longwinded, even on a placard.

The verbosity made my task hard, trying—in Saturday’s rain—to jot down the slogans. Carried in some instances by demonstrators wearing white lab coats.

My notebook got soggy, my ballpoint ink smeared and I felt like a cub. So I skipped the dissertations and went for the pithy. And, dry at home, searched the internet for more signs carried at marches elsewhere.

Signs of Protest on Tax Day: “If Brains Were Taxed, He’d Get a Refund”

By Mike Feinsilber

Something about Donald Trump—or maybe it is everything about Donald Trump—arouses the creative juices among his critics. On Tax Day, protesters marched to demonstrate their displeasure with Trump’s refusal to make public his tax returns.

Hand-lettered signs carried by demonstrators in a march from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial by way of the Trump Hotel and the IRS bore both anger and mockery. Some wanted revenge at the ballot box (“Flip the House 2018”) and some latched onto suspicions that a Russian connection underlies Trump’s refusal (“I Didn’t Order a White Russian” and “Can Trump Claim Putin as a Dependent?”). But most stuck to topic A (“Trump doesn’t Pay Taxes, Why Should We?”).

The Ten Million Reasons Why the Washington Post Loves Professor Allan Lichtman

Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post on Sunday credited American University professor Allan Lichtman and his Keys to the White House with “calling every presidential contest since 1984.” Lichtman’s 13 keys predict the winner of the presidential popular vote. In 2000, he correctly predicted that Al Gore would win the popular vote, but George W. Bush won the election and the presidency. In 2016, Lichtman’s keys predicted that Donald Trump would win the popular vote, which he didn’t—Hillary Clinton got almost three million more votes. That faulty popular vote prediction was the result of a Lichtman mistake with his 13 keys.

As Mark Twain Said, “Never Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Good Story”

The Washington Post continues to credit American University professor Allan J. Lichtman with being one of the few political prognosticators to call the 2016 president election for Donald Trump.

On October 27, Post reporter Peter W. Stevenson wrote:

Last month, the man who’s tried to turn vote prediction into a science predicted a Trump win.

Allan J. Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University, said Democrats would not be able to hold on to the White House.

What Kind of Leads Help Win Pulitzers and National Magazine Awards?

Poynter had a good piece yesterday on the best leads on stories that won 2017 Pulitzer Prizes. The very best lead, said Roy Peter Clark, was written by Eric Eyre of the Charleston Gazette-Mail. His story won the Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting for coverage of the opioid crisis in small-town West Virginia. The lead:

Follow the pills and you will find the overdose deaths.

The trail of painkillers leads to West Virginia’s southern coalfields, to places like Kermit, population 392.

There, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million highly addictive — and potentially lethal — hydrocodone pills over two years to a single pharmacy in the Mingo County town.

Mr. Magoo Meets Journalism: What It’s Like to be Interviewed for Animated News

By Barnard Law Collier

Neil Collier: Animating news for the New York Times.

I’m captivated by the potential of “animated news,” a still experimental facet of journalism that was, until a few weeks ago, news to me.

Animated news is the use of audio/visual interviews that, instead of showing the actual speaker’s photographic image, employs a graphic artist to turn their vocalizations into a clip of portraits, symbols, colors, moods, and actions. I’d seen little of it, and the idea tickled my storytelling antennae.  I thought: “News marries art.”

We Didn’t Win? The Vagaries of Judging Journalism Contests

Here’s an enlightening take on not winning a Pulitzer from Connecting, a newsletter written by Paul Stevens for current and former AP staffers:

I fully expected this morning to be joining a chorus of praise for AP’s Burhan Ozbilici on winning a Pulitzer for his frighteningly stark image of the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey last December.

David Fahrenthold Wins the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting

Pulitzer winner David Fahrenthold

Update: A little after 3 p.m. on April 10 it was announced that Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold had won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. The win didn’t leak in advance, as accidentally happened with the three Pulitzers won by the New York Times, but when the Times leak made news, I checked Fahrenthold’s Creative Artists Agency page that offers him as a speaker to see if it had advance notice. Fahrenthold’s win didn’t appear there until 3:45: “Won the Pulitzer Prize for his groundbreaking reporting on the Trump campaign.”
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Ignore the Tweeters, Mr. President—Playing Golf Is Good for You and the Country

By Jack Limpert