Quick Hitters news briefs

New publisher at Akron News-Reporter, Brush News-Tribune

January Quick Hitters: Porter

Brian Porter

There’s new leadership at the helms of northeast Colorado’s Akron News-Reporter and Brush News-Tribune. Texas newspaper manager Brian Porter, formerly of Star Group Media, took over in late November for departing publisher Iva Kay Horner, who with her husband, Kevin, recently headed north to Wyoming to join their daughter, Jamie, and two granddaughters.

After working as general manager and editor of the bi-weekly Burleson Star, Porter now serves as publisher at Akron and publisher/editor at Brush. Porter majored in communications and minored in marketing at the University of Texas-Arlington. Porter’s award-winning journalism career has included working as a contributing writer to many Texas news outlets, a job as sports editor of the Midlothian and DeSoto newspapers in that state, and managing editor of Star newspapers in Mesquite and Addison. He also founded PlanoFootball.com and was senior associate for public relations and marketing firm Vann & Associates, providing media perspective.

From Roseville, Ill., Horner worked for the Daily Review Atlas, a GateHouse Media newspaper in Monmouth, Ill., from August 1987 until October 2005, when the couple and their youngest son moved to Colorado. That month she joined the Brush News-Tribune staff as editor, and later became publisher as well. She joined the Akron staff in November 2006. Brush, Akron and newspapers in several more northeast locations are part of Prairie Mountain Publishing.

Poynter Institute will use $1 million grant for ethics initiative

The Poynter Institute is the recipient of a $1 million grant from the Craig Newmark Foundation to fund a faculty chair in journalism ethics. The five-year program will examine best practices of verification, fact-checking and accountability. The grant is the largest single donation from an individual foundation. Poynter began accepting applications for the job in January.

January Quick Hitters: Newmark

Craig Newmark

“I want to stand up for trustworthy journalism, and I want to stand against deceptive and fake news,” said Newmark, also the founder of Craigslist and a member of the board of directors of The Poynter Institute Foundation. “And I want to help news organizations stand and work together to protect themselves and the public against deception by the fake media. Poynter’s the right place to do this work because the institute has long been very serious about trustworthy news and committed to both training journalists and holding media organizations accountable.”

The incoming faculty member will work with other organizations, including The Trust Project, the American Press Institute, Google and Facebook “to support trustworthy news,” reported an article on www.poynter.org.

CJR offers 10 resolutions for newsroom managers

January Quick Hitters-Geisler

Jill Geisler

As we begin another new year of journalistic challenges, Jill Geisler, newsroom management columnist for Columbia Journalism Review online, lists her top 10 resolutions for newsroom managers. Her “call to action” includes:

1. Rally the Troops – “Start the year with a huddle your team won’t forget. Talk about what really matters: a passion for ethical, high-impact journalism that can only come from newsrooms with clear priorities and plans.”

2. Unleash your Design Minds in the Fake-News Fight – Go beyond fact-checking and flagging fake news and examine the visual appeal and power of fake news forms. Look to designers to develop “powerful new formats that highlight falsity or veracity in ways ‘word people’ haven’t yet envisioned.”

3. Taxonomize Trumpian Tweets – Refine your reflexes regarding time spent analyzing Trump – or anyone’s – messages. Trump’s can be classified in six basic categories: boasts, salutes, info, promises, threats and spite. Use editorial discretion and clear language for anyone’s tweets for apparent intent, importance and accuracy, and devote attention accordingly.

4. Grow more Policy Wonks – Identify policy issues important to your community and give reporters the time to develop the expertise needed to cover them.

5. Focus on Systems over Symbols – Don’t let images transcend truth. Separate symbolic events from systemic change. “The food drive we cover doesn’t break a cycle of poverty.”

6. Establish a “Whistleblower” Strategy – While using anonymous sources as a last resort, “think now about how you will handle those valuable and potentially volatile sources,” including your vetting process of the accuracy of the information, and ensuring the safety of the messenger.

7. Distinguish Boldness from Bias – Talk openly with your team about ethics, including human biases and blind spots. Discuss your code of ethics, a discipline of verification, editorial oversight and consequences for errors.

8. Show Your Math – “At the beginning of every important story or project, ask your team how they will incorporate transparency in their plan. This isn’t just a public relations stunt to say, ‘Look at all the cool stuff we do.’ It’s way to let the public learn, question and contribute. It can define the work of real journalism at a time others want to delegitimize it.”

9. Show Your Heart – Don’t be so focused on “righteous indignation” that you neglect the “warm, weird or wonderful” stories in your community. “Good journalism shines a light in dark places, but never misses a chance to brighten a day.”

10. Give Feedback as Never Before – Focus on your news product, but also on your news people. Provide more and better feedback to your team “so they never, for a moment, wonder where they stand.” Share information on three levels: individual growth for each team member; everyday excellence of your product, personnel and processes; and strategic impact – your company’s special initiatives to gain or maintain competitive advantage or business growth.

New postal prices in effect Jan. 22

January Quick Hitters: Heath

Max Heath

“Weight break increases from 3.3 ounces to 4 ounces as Standard Mail renamed ‘Marketing Mail,’” reports Max Heath in his Postal Tips column on the National Newspaper Association (NNA) website. Heath said postal prices have been approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission “mostly as the U.S. Postal Service proposed and will change effective Jan. 22, 2017.”

Prices will not change for in-county Periodicals, “the main prices affecting community newspapers,” he noted. “Likewise for Regular Rate Periodicals (outside-county) pound, piece and bundle prices.” Tray/Sack prices are the only Outside-County item that will increase, in conjunction with “an end to all prices for Flats Sortation Sequencing, from which newspapers have been mostly exempt.”

The most notable changes are the new Marketing Mail moniker and its weight. Many newspapers still use the older name of Third Class, changed to Standard Mail in 1996, when Second Class changed to Periodicals. “The renamed Marketing Mail class was always designed for advertising mail, no matter what it was called,” said Heath. “So the Postal Service is undoubtedly trying to help the younger generation in ad agencies and businesses understand its purpose better.”

The weight break – “the weight at which a Marketing Mail piece must start paying both a piece and pound price, rather than a flat rate” – is the largest ever made, and reflects a desire to allow larger packages of advertising (or news and advertising, in the case of some free newspapers and shoppers).

“So, the best business plan is to shoot for as close to or right at the 4 ounces mark, the sweet spot where the most money can be collected for the same postage price