Several items of interest

I bumped into several stories today about a range of issues in journalism. In case you haven’t seen these, check them out.

The first is a link to a column from Poynter about a Reuters editor who identified one of James Holmes’s classmates as a “person of interest” in the shootings at the theater in Aurora last Friday. What I find especially interesting is the discussion (through quoted material and some tweets) about how news organizations should treat Holmes in the coverage and the pledges being made by some to keep the focus on the victims. I understand the fact that the victims matter more — and some of the Dart Center work (you can find a link to the Dart Center in Caryn’s post, too), but as journalists can we really afford to ignore Holmes’s story? I think too many people still want to get some sense of what led up to his deadly rampage.

The second column, also from Poynter, provides some advice on reaching out to trauma victims via Twitter. Social media can be a valuable tool, but with only 140 characters to work with, it can be difficult to make the request for an interview compassionate. This column has some advice and examples of how to do it better.

Then there’s this story from Forbes about Ryan Holiday, head of marketing for American Apparel, who managed to get quoted in publications ranging from small blogs to The New York Times on topics ranging from winterizing your boat to collection vinyl records. He’s not an expert in any of those topics, but he pretended to be one and offered himself up to reporters in search of a quote. Once again, this speaks to the need to verify what your sources are telling you, including what they’re telling you about who they are.

Finally, here are some follow-up pieces to the story on political sources who are demanding that they get the chance to approve quotes as a condition of being interviewed for a story. I posted the original story last week, and now some news organizations are saying “no” to the quote-fixing demands. The NYT did a follow-up noting that the National Journal is banning the use of fixed quotes, McClatchy Newspapers has developed a similar policy, and On the Media has a short audio story about the controversy.

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