Quick Hitters news briefs

Tribune columnist publishes new true crime book

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Mike Peters

A former reporter, now columnist, for The Tribune in Greeley has a new book out – one that focuses on a murder that rocked the community back in 1977. “The Cornfield,” by Mike Peters, chronicles the death of recent college graduate and U.S. Air Force recruit Mary Pierce 40 years ago this year when Peters was six years into his reporting career at The Tribune.

He was on a ride-along with Greeley police on a drug bust when the call came of a missing convenience store clerk. He covered the story from beginning to end, when in 2010 Marcello Maldonado-Perez was found guilty of her murder. Peters retired the next year, but several years ago he tried writing the book, only to toss it out until DNA evidence found the killer and Peters gained new access to files.

The book description on Amazon.com reads as follows: “It was a quieter time, a quieter city then. In 1977, Greeley’s population was less than 50,000, and the Greeley streets were usually quiet at night. But on this night, Aug. 24 and into the 25th, things changed. About 3 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 25, Mary Pierce, a clerk at the downtown Greeley 7-Eleven store, was discovered missing. Her body would be found two days later in a cornfield west of town. For the next three decades numerous investigators would look into the murder of Mary Pierce, the state would destroy some evidence, and police would ask a clairvoyant to look at the case. Finally, 33 years after her death, Mary’s murderer would be convicted.”

Peters celebrated the new book this month with signings at a Greeley Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event, as well as a special signing event at The Tribune. Peters also just published a second book, “Greeley 1917: News from the original pages of The Greeley Daily Tribune-Republican,” a compilation of his popular “100 Years Ago” columns in The Tribune this year. Besides Amazon.com, both books are also for sale at The Tribune and Lincoln Park Emporium.

Aspen Times & Historical Society help preserve politics in cartoon form

Tim Willoughby, writing a Nov. 25 “Legends & Legacies” column – titled “Aspen’s political cartoons pleased and provoked readers during the mining era” – for The Aspen Times, admitted to being a “political junkie.” As such, he seeks out editorial cartoons, with one very successful source being the archived digital copies of newspapers on file in the Colorado Historical Newspapers Collection, a joint project with the Aspen Historical Society.

Wrote Willoughby: “To seek relevant content from thousands of pages, I use a search word. During this process, I accidentally discovered a few local political cartoons from 1891. Newspapers of the 1890s rarely credited writers or illustrators, and I found it difficult to track them down. But general examples form the period shed light on the state of the art.”

Among the journalists he’s found are Thomas Nast, credited as “the father of the American cartoon.” Said Willoughby: “A great portion of his work was published between 1860 and 1890, with Harper’s Weekly, a major publisher.” Nast’s work included images of Santa Claus, and art that would establish the elephant as the Republican Party icon.

He also found James Pierson, an early prospector (who owned claims on Smuggler Mountain and in the Conundrum Valley) who started out as an illustrator, likely part-time, for The Times. “He worked there for several years and left in 1892 to become the cartoonist for the Colorado Sun.” Also, there’s A.F. Willmarth, who worked for The Times in 1891, then moved to Denver to work for the historical department of Colorado’s exhibit for the 1892 Exposition in Chicago. He was known for his cartoons depicting the Spanish-American War.

More news seekers turning to social media sites

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Elizabeth Grieco

More and more Americans are looking to social media sites for their news. A report last month from Pew Research Center – detailed online by Elizabeth Grieco, senior writer and editor focusing on journalism research – notes that one in four U.S. adults now find their news on two or more social media websites. Specifically, 26 percent get their news that way now, up from 15 percent in 2013 and 18 percent in 2016.

But, Grieco reports, there is “considerable variation in the extent to which each site’s news users get news from other sites, and which sites those are.” While 45 percent use Facebook for news, half of Facebook news users get news from that site alone, while other audiences rely on multiple sites, said the survey.

Users of LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp are “particularly likely to get news on multiple social networks (and) half or more of their news users get news on three or more social media sites.” In general, the report noted that sites with a smaller number of news users have the most overlap with other social sites for news.

Tips on avoiding fake news

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Jennifer Peters

Discussions of fake news and legitimate newsgathering are ongoing. But how can readers, and journalists, tell the difference between the two? News Media Alliance Trends and Insights Reporter Jennifer Peters posted a column this month on the subject, offering her tips on how to handle the issue from a writer’s standpoint, urging everyone to “go beyond the headline.”

First, “You have to do a bit of work,” Peters wrote on www.newsmediaalliance.org. Find out who is publishing the story. “Hunt around for the site’s About Us page and see if it’s a satirical or joke site. While satirical stories are not exactly the same as purposely fake news, they can often be mistaken for real news when shared across social media.” Peters also noted that another journalist suggests checking to see if the site has a staff box, and if there is any evidence they print corrections.

Peters also suggests a background check on the journalist in question: “Check out his or her social media accounts and other work, and find out what he or she typically writes about. If his or her other stories seem suspicious or opinionated as opposed to fact-based, take the article you’re reading with a grain of salt.”

Others things to check out include seeing if sources cited have been quoted elsewhere, on a site you’re familiar with, or are listed on their organization’s website. Also find out what other reporters are saying about the article, in their reporting and on social media. “If they’re not, you’ve probably found yourself reading fake news,” she writes. Finally, make sure you’re not “mistaking op-eds for news.”

She notes it might seem overly simplistic, but “oftentimes the opinion pieces will have the writer’s photo on it or there will be a name to the column, but you don’t see that in a news article.” Also look to see if the writer is presenting both sides of the story. “You shouldn’t hear the writer’s opinion in a news piece.”

Postal rates expected to rise by 2 percent come January

According to the National Newspaper Association, a rate increase by the USPS is anticipated to be around 2 percent on Jan. 21, 2018. The amount was forecast in late October with “the official inflation factor used to file price increases under the current postal reform law of 2006, in which the National Newspaper Association was instrumental.” That rate was 1.9 percent for the 12-month average used by the Postal Regulatory Commission, noted the NNA website, www.nnaweb.org.