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Why reporter quotas are a good idea, or not.

December 18, 2012 5 comments

One of the most interesting proposals made by new Nanaimo Daily News editor Mark MacDonald in his plan to rejuvenate the fortunes of his paper is the introduction of story quotas.

It’s an idea that deserves serious and sober thought. So, rather than talk about some of the more abstract proposals by MacDonald, I thought I’d concentrate on the quota idea.

Note that I’ll be writing generally about quotas as an idea, not specifically about what may or may not be implemented in Nanaimo. I may, though, use it as an example.

Before tearing the idea down, it’s probably best to build it up, thinking like a news manager, not a reporter. So, without further adieu…

Why quotas are a good idea for journalism:

  • Because journalists are cultured to do just enough work as necessary. This sounds condescending, and it may be. But it’s also true. A veteran reporter isn’t likely to write five stories if he’s only expected to write four. He’s not going to write four, if he’s only expected to write three. And so on. If there are no expectations, or if the expectations that exist are only vague, then there is little consequence for not meeting them.
  • Because the “news hole” is now limitless. The internet means that there is no limit amount of stories a news organization can publish. A paper can pump out five, 10, 20, 50 stories a day, if it has the ability to do so. And the more stories, the more reason to visit the site. Also, the more words, the more likely stories will show up in Google search results. More visitors mean more traffic means more advertising revenue. Or, if you implement a paywall, more wanna-be visitors means more subscribers.
  • Because it lowers the bar on what constitutes a legitimate news story, and thus promotes the gathering of hyperlocal news. People want to read about what happens at the local elementary school. Reporters do not want to write about what happens at the school. Or they didn’t until they had a quota of stories to file and began digging towards the bottom of the barrel.
  • Because the pursuit of lesser stories may turn up hidden gems. Often, journalists miss great stories because the people who know about them do not seek out publicity. Someone speaking to a reporter about a lame story may, incidentally, reveal a larger, better story that has so far remained unreported.
  • Because more stories require making more contacts, and more contacts equal better stories. The more people a reporter knows and speaks regularly with in the community, the more likely he or she is to stumble up on a very good story—see above.
  • Because more locally written stories mean less press releases/wire copy appearing in print. The Internet has substantially depreciated the desirability of wire copy in small papers. More locally written stories should be able to bump wire copy, press releases or press release rewrites. More content should mean that only the best stories, or most pressing local information gets published, thereby improving the quality of the paper product.

Why quotas are a good idea for newspaper owners (but bad for reporters):

  • Because quotas could allow them to fire reporters. Newspapers are not suffering for content. With revenue either flat or declining, the main challenge is to cut costs. Cutting costs in newsrooms is difficult, however, without jeopardizing the content of a paper. Web advertising is basically worthless. Revenue still comes from the printed product. Papers are not getting bigger. Editors are not being asked to fill more space with the same amount of reporters. They’re being asked to fill the same amount (or less) of space with fewer reporters. But you still need enough reporters to fill a paper and enough editors to lay it out. How do you fill a paper with fewer reporters? You get the remaining reporters to write more. If you’re ruthless, you do this before you cut staff so you can see which reporters are unable to meet your higher demands.

Why quotas are very bad for journalism:

  • Because quotas will force reporters to spend less time on a story than they would have otherwise done.
  • Because reporters will speak to fewer sources. The one-source story will become a favourite, especially if it can spur a comment (and thus another story) from another source in the following paper. Instead of balance, you get he said, she said.
  • Because reporters will stop asking questions sooner, rather than later. If I know I need to get a story done ASAP, I’m going to speak to an interview subject not for an hour, but 15 minutes. I can almost always get a decent-length story out of that quarter-hour. While I may have more questions, and while those questions may prompt better quotes or more thoughtful responses, interviews stop increasing story length after the 20-minute mark. At that point, the story stops growing and starts getting better. But if I’m judged on piecework, 20 minutes is good enough.
  • Because ‘good enough’ will become not just a newsroom joke but a real mantra.
  • Because reporters will be discouraged from leaving the newsroom. Fifteen minutes spent driving to an interview subject’s home and 15 minutes spent driving back, is a lot of time to spend not cranking out copy. Why not do the interview on the phone? Phone interviews, obviously, aren’t as good as in-person interviews. You can’t look your subject in the eye, or observe how they interact with your surroundings. For the same reason employers prefer to interview prospective employees in person, journalism is better conducted face-to-face. The travel time discourages this, as does the fact that in-person interviews are more likely to last longer than the 20-minute good enough limit.
  • Because however fast a reporter writes, less time for a story means less time spent checking for factual errors, typos or leaps of logic. Less time spent checking means more time spent getting sued and apologizing. On the other hand, maybe corrections would count towards one’s quota.
  • Because less time on a story means less time writing the lede. Most reporters can write a lede to any story they come across in 30-seconds. Writing a lede that is good and draws the reader in, however, often takes much, much longer. But what’s the point, when you’re being measured by quantity, rather than quality?
  • Because there is such a thing as a slow news day. There just is.
  • Because some reporters will get screwed. Some beats come ready made with ideas and topics to cover, although they often depend on the time of the year and the principals involved. Other beats require more time and more enterprise. Can you afford the genius assignment editor you will require?
  • Because features and investigations will be devalued. Presumably exceptions could be made for select stories that require more than two hours of work. But a quota-based newsroom is likely going to provide less time for such subjects. Even in a system that gives generous amounts of times for certain stories, quotas will encourage reporters to reduce or eliminate the time they spend on those smaller features that don’t quite qualify for a quota exemption. Good stories won’t get told because they take just a little too much time.
  • Because the writing will suffer. Why make a sentence shine when a dull matte sheen is good enough?
  • Because a quota-based newsroom sounds like a horrible place to work and is unlikely to attract good reporters. The quality of applicants for jobs that require reportas to meet quotas will suffer. And the turnover rate will be astronomical. Which may allow a paper to fill its ranks with cheap labour. But that inexperienced labour is going to turn out a cheap product.
  • Because a newspaper that has to rely on reporter quotas to survive or prosper is not a newspaper I want to read or work for.

Disagree? Leave a comment. Please try to keep comments civil/not libellous. I had to put the kibosh on a couple on the last post that crossed the line.

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Penny for your thoughts? Yeah, right.

September 21, 2012 2 comments

I’ve been asked a lot of things in my time as a community newspaper reporter. But the one thing I’ve never been asked is what I think my newspaper chain can do better. I’ve thus also never been asked how it might make more money, or produce better content, or alienate fewer readers, or piss off fewer employees. (Which is, of course, one of the reasons I started this blog.)

Every now and then you’ll read a story about an innovative company that is great to work for. What sets these companies apart isn’t usually what they produce, but how they produce it. Google allows workers to set aside something like 20 per cent of their time for their own personal projects. Toyota asks front-line workers to suggest improvements to allow it to run more efficiently. Other companies ask their employees what they can do better. Not newspaper companies. At Postmedia, which has blessedly sold off its community papers, Paul Godfrey set aside time a couple times a year to answer employee questions. Which is a nice gesture, I guess, but also condescending and ridiculous and symptomatic of all that’s wrong with the industry.

Or you have the old executive visit. This happens at most every paper: you’re working a pumping out another edition when the publisher or editor brings some guy in a suit around to your desk. Your boss states your name and position, makes small talk and facilitates a handshake. It’s an utter waste of time and demeaning for all concerned, the equivalent of dogs sniffing each others’ asses. Except at least the dogs might find something interesting.  The reporter and editor goes through the charade because they have to, obviously. The boss does it to plant the company’s flag and show his face and, if he’s an idiot, because he (it’s always a he) thinks it’s good for morale.

If the guy really cared, of course, he wouldn’t ask about the news of the day or how the family is doing, but rather if there’s anything he and the other folks at head office should know that would make the paper run better. To pull this off requires skill and the allocation of actual time and effort on the part of the suit. The workers need to know he’s coming (so they can prepare their pitch) and be promised that any suggestions they make won’t come back to bite them in the ass. But it’s not that hard. And it shouldn’t take that much time: most employees will be too shy, or too apathetic, to offer suggestions. Some might, though. Maybe it’ll help. Maybe processes can be streamlined. Maybe new markets can be found. Maybe smart new employees will reveal themselves. And maybe somebody will show that even non-executives can have good ideas, or at least the same old bad ones.*

Maybe the suits will ignore all the suggestions. But at least they’d be pretending to fucking care.

*One of the problems with newspaper chains is that innovation (if you can call it that) tends to only happen from the top. All the websites (save that of the Powell River Peak) look the same, and all changes can only be implemented on a chain-wide basis by somebody working at some head office or location set apart from the individual papers. There is no room for experimentation. An idea is conceived and implemented across dozens of websites. This takes substantial time and money. If it fails…scratch that….nobody’s allowed to admit failure because doing so requires someone to admit that all that effort was wasted. And because the chains discourage failure, they inevitably discourage innovation and promote imitation. Imitation, of course, is safe and comfortable and allows the suits to keep collecting their salaries while they cut from the bottom.**

**Maybe that’s why chains don’t want to hear from us.

The Danger of Free

August 16, 2012 Comments off

This column might ramble. I apologize in advance.

One of the fun things about running a blog is looking at your stats. Seeing which posts are popular, and competing against yourself to get more and more views is kind of fun.

But it can also be idiotic—not that idiocy has never stopped a newspaper company (or a blogger). Let me explain.

Newspaper companies are relying more and more on web-based metrics of readership. For free papers, this move has its roots in the cost—or lack thereof—of their product.

The fact that most community newspapers are free has insulated them from (some of) the Internet-caused tumult that has been so damaging to dailies. There have always been downsides, of course, the most obvious being the lack of revenue that accompanies the word “free.” Ads in free papers are also cheaper than those in similar circulation paid-for papers. After all, 30,000 papers distributed free to 30,000 homes, whether they really want the paper or not, do not have the same readership as 30,000 papers bought by people willing to pay for their news.

But the rise of the free community paper has presented another problem, one that has a direct affect on the journalism the papers produce.

Free papers have a difficult time measuring their readership. The question has always been: how many of those 30,000 papers get tossed straight in the recycling? And also: if a person does pick up a paper, how much of it does a person read?

Many newspapers will survey their community in order to try to answer such questions. But the surveys are infrequent and tainted by the fact that their primary function of the results is to sell advertisers a readership. The infrequency of the surveys makes it impossible for publishers and editors to analyze the numbers and determine whether people like the paper more than they did last week, last month or last year.

The Internet means that the circulation of paid papers is decreasing at a rate far exceeding the decline of the journalism they produce.  So measuring success and quality isn’t as easy as seeing if the numbers are going up or down; they require comparisons with other papers. But the beauty is that circulation numbers permit this, and thus they offer the simplest way of answering the question: “How much do readers value this paper?”

Those numbers provide crucial data that the publishers of community papers don’t have. At least, that is, for the printed product.

The focus on growing online readership isn’t a bad thing. The world is headed away from paper and companies have to respond to that shift. For free community papers, that means that they can finally accumulate the same sort of data that paid papers have. They can also now measure their readership over time and against others in their chains.

Predictably, editors find ways to game the system. the Vancouver Sun is the most famous practitioner, with its regular sex-themed photo galleries, but community papers have tried the trick too.

To their credit, Black Press has backed away from photo galleries and Glacier is also showing less enthusiasm than their predecessors. (Feel free to disagree with me in the comments on both counts).  Social media—Twitter and especially Facebook—is now the order of the day in the quest for more and more online clicks. It makes more sense: advertisers will eventually catch on to the fact that half of the Sun’s hits comes from people hitting the “next” button hoping to finally see some nipple.

But even without photo gallery cheating, the main problem with web numbers is that they usually only reflect the ability of a journalist to drive traffic to a story, rather than actually write and research a good article in the first place.

Earlier this year, I had 10,000 hits in one day on this blog. That was more than 30 times any previous day. More than half the hits (5,037) came via Facebook, but readers weren’t pointing to any outstanding bit of commentary or reportage I had produced. Rather, they came because I had posted Osoyoos Times editor Keith Lacey’s anti-RCMP column and the Mounties’ subsequent response. I think I wrote, in total, around 200 words. But people were interested (and outraged) in the story and so this blog was flooded by visitors.

All those visitors have leaked away. Today, when I don’t post, I usually get around 40 to 90 visits. On days with new posts, I get between 150 and 300 visitors, many of them by way of Twitter. (This is actually quite good in my mind; I aim this blog solely at local journalists in B.C. and there aren’t thousands of us out there). Looking at my stats, that 10,000-visitor day swamps all. If I relied upon it as a metric of quality or readership, it would skew how I write this blog—and not in a good way.

When community newspapers look at their web numbers to gauge success—because, after all, the paper version is free and difficult to measure—they see a similarly distorted picture. Stories that contain hot button words like “guns,” “marijuana” and “teen sex” might be the most popular on the website, but the articles themselves might be shit.
Web numbers don’t care, though. Hypothetically an egregious piece of journalism might be passed from one outraged person to the next. You could rack up the hits, while losing hundreds of future readers.

Even for advertisers, not all hits are created equal. Most advertisements on community newspaper sites are for local businesses. When someone from Kyrgyzstan reads a random story about climate change on the Kelowna Capital News website, that page view is next to useless for the Cap News’s advertisers.

But I doubt that anybody’s paying attention to that.

All papers—both paid and free—need to use the data they have better. And the data is out there. You can tell where someone is from when they visit your website. With a good stats program, you can also tell how long they spend on your site and where they go after they’re done with you.

I’d like to think that Black Press and Glacier are doing so as I write this. One can dream after all.

Categories: Columns Tags: ,

Why being a community newspaper reporter is too easy

July 13, 2012 Comments off

God knows I’ve moaned enough about different aspects of community journalism, but I think it’s time to admit something: being a reporter or editor at a community paper can be pretty damn easy.

Now there are the usual caveats: we often have to work irregular hours, deal with difficult people (including difficult colleagues), and adhere to strict and inflexible deadlines; the future of community newspapering only looks half-decent because we compare it to the state of daily newspapers, which are dying quicker than the hopes of Toronto Maple Leafs fans in spring; our newsrooms are often dark holes filled with obsolete equipment; our budgets are nil and our pay middling.

But despite all that, community journalism is easy and usually low-stress.

This is a problem, of a sort. But if it’s not easy, that’s also a problem, because it kind of should be.

If you find the basics of the job hard, you’re probably new. Because after you have written a couple hundred stories, the next thousand become blindingly easy to write. Finding them can be difficult, depending on the day, but there is usually something to fill that hole.

And when it comes down to community newspapers, it is all about filling holes—or at least it can be, if you’re not careful.

(Another note: All this is not to discount the fact that finding a full-time, permanent job may be extremely difficult; in fact, it may be one of the reasons that very good reporters often can’t find work.)

This job is easy because it’s exceedingly rare for reporters and editors to be dismissed because they’re not good enough. Sure, the three I’s—idiocy, incompetence and insubordination—may be enough to get you fired. But if you’re an OK reporter or editor, you’re not going to be replaced by a good reporter or editor.

And that is what makes this job easy. If you are a good reporter, it is easy to work at an OK level and not tax yourself. If you’re a fair reporter, it’s still not that hard.

Lead, explanatory paragraph, human element, quote, repeat. That’s all you’ve got to do.

It’s up to editors, of course, to get a high quality product out of their writers. But editors are often just as guilty of taking the easy way out as their reporters. It’s up to publishers to get their editors to produce good content. But many publishers don’t seem to care about the actual editorial content of their paper. And the bosses at the chains don’t—can’t—read all their papers enough to enforce high standards they don’t have in the first place.

So in the end a paper’s editorial quality can only be as good as each of its journalists are willing to make it.

It’s easy for an editor to accept his or her staff’s writing as good enough. It’s more difficult—especially when head offices always want to focus on online shovelwork—to actually work with those reporters to improve their writing and news-gathering skills.

It’s also easy for a reporter—especially one who (probably justifiably) doesn’t envision a career at a daily newspaper—to bang out stories quickly and spend the rest of their time surfing the Internet. God knows I’m not all that innocent on that front. Filing freedom of information requests, spending hours with interview subjects, and polishing a story until it shines aren’t nearly as soothing.

The payoff, though, for taking the difficult route is, well, not as clear.

It’s sure the fuck not bonuses or pay hikes. Sometimes the payoffs come in the form of awards and half-decent free meals. But more often your hard work will get the exact same reception as your half-assed work.

And yet, taking the easy way out is just too easy.

And there are some rewards, lame as they may sound. Making your job a little bit more difficult WILL improve your skills and—maybe not today, maybe not this year or even next—eventually lead to something good: a story you can hang on your wall, a shiny award you’ve never won, a sense of accomplishment, or a positive public response.

Failing all that, just be guilty. Be guilty that you have a job and occupy a position that might otherwise be filled by somebody who would work hard and—maybe not now, but probably down the road—contribute a hell of a lot more than your lazy ass.

Leave a comment.

Categories: Columns Tags: , ,

The $30,000 question

February 7, 2012 1 comment

Chris Shepherd is hardly the first reporter to get fed up with his pay and strike out in search of greener pastures. I’m sure he will not be the last.

But his criticism of the lack of money to be made will sound different depending on your Facebook info. In particular, I’m talking about your age, your relationship status and, perhaps most importantly, your location. It also probably depends on who your parents are and what you consider a comfortable life. I’ll explain.

We’ll assume that you have a little journalism experience, but not a lot. Say, two years. Most reporters seem to stop changing papers once they hit the five-year mark, or so. If you work in the Interior, two years of reporting experience is going to get you around $30,000/year (If I’m wrong on this, please correct me. It’s more or less a guess). Whether it’s more or less depends on what size of paper you work for. But go to the Lower Mainland, and you’ll get a hefty pay bump. The papers are larger, but you’re still looking at an extra $8,000, give or take some cash. That is huge and more than makes up for the higher cost of living. It also suddenly puts you near the provincial average wage of $42,000. One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of reaching an adult wage. I remember growing up and asking how much my dad made. My mom told me $40,000, which at the time was just a little above average. To make as much as your parents is important. If we tend to look up to our parents, then making as much as they made is a major milestone, even if it’s just average.

To not be able to get there, and to see no prospect of ever making as much as your parents, would be hugely dispiriting. And that’s before you even consider the actual tangible benefits that come along with making money.

That’s why your marital status and whether you have kids is so important. If you have a girlfriend or wife who has an average-paying job, then you can still look forward to a good life even if you’re never going to make more than $50k by yourself. A family income of $75k is pretty good. But if you’re single and a new journalist making $30k a year in the interior, then things become markedly more difficult. You’re no longer looking forward to the future. Instead, you’re merely subsisting in a basement suite and eating pasta. At that point, when you look to the future, you start looking at life elsewhere.

But even reporters in the exact same situation may have starkly different opinions on what a good life entails. I knew a reporter who was very good at his job and very passionate about the craft. But he dreamed of owning a cabin on a little lake and his job didn’t seem likely to ever be able to pay for that. So he left and is now working elsewhere, working at a job that uses some of his journalism skills while at the same time being not at all journalism. He was probably making more than he made at his old paper. But I doubt that he likes his job as much.

Then there’s the age thing. If you start at a paper now, you should know that any raises you get are probably going to barely match the rate of inflation. So unless you move in with a sugardaddy or momma, your standard of living isn’t likely to dramatically rise. You may still be relatively comfortable, but you may start to question whether you’re succeeding at life (if such a thing is possible).

There are a million other factors, but if you’re in a small town at a paper that will never pay you more than peanuts, of course you’re going to consider your options.

Of course the papers themselves are in a bind. “Pay your reporters more,” is easy to say until you see budgets and realize that you can’t do so without also either increasing revenues or cutting back in other areas. The Bob Halls of this world are important because of the long and continuous journalism they provide to their communities.

But what is to become of our newspapers when all the editors our there who are now in their mid- to late-50s retire? The question is not just whether there is a crop of younger would-be editors able to step into their shoes, but whether those editors will have the financial wherewithall to stick around and become the repositories of community knowledge that longtime reporters and editors provide.

In communities with one- and two-person newsrooms, those crusty old editors are already gone, replaced instead by reporters with bigger and better things in mind. One cannot blame the reporters and editors in such positions. And you can’t necessarily blame the papers. It’s simply a fact of life. But I worry that unless something drastic happens, larger communities will begin seeing a similar process begin to take place. Maybe, in such cities, the reporters won’t aim to leave town but instead pursue different career opportunities inside their own communities. But the result will be the same: a structural loss of knowledge and experience that damages both the papers and the communities they serve.

I apologize for the tortuous and circuoutous reasoning contained within this column. I know it may be hard to read and I suppose I could have hacked it up and recomposed it. But I didn’t. Sorry.

How to wage war on the government PR hacks

May 16, 2011 Comments off

So here’s the problem: you’ve got a solid, hard-hitting story and want a response from the government, both for journalistic reasons and because you might actually be curious about what they have to say.  How naive you are. Anyways, you call a government PR flack to try and arrange an interview with a real live person.

The PR flack on the other end of the phone is always very, very nice. Yes, I can help you get the info you need. Yes, I will see if someone can speak about the issue. When’s your deadline? OK, we’ll have something for you. What type of questions would you have for the Minister?

You tell her what you’re looking for. You want to know what the plans for the future are to fix this government clusterfuck on which you are reporting (but you use different words). You know that the government would like to add its two cents for whatever story you’re running.

Sure, we’ll get you something. When’s your deadline.

Fast forward a day, a week, or a month. You get an email full of government numbers and gov-speak that very much does not answer your question. In fact, while the info the flack has sent you contains thousands of words, only five, maybe six if you’re lucky, are of any relevancy to the story you’re working on. It looks like it took a long time to put together this package for you, which it probably did, since PR flacks have to do something to justify their pay. But it takes you about 30 seconds to realize that, No, this isn’t what you wanted.

So you call up the flack. You thank him for all the information, which might be of some use, but you really need to speak to the minister.

The minister’s really busy but we’ll see what we can do.

OK, good, you say. You really want to get the government’s side on this. People have questions. They want answers. Real answers. You’re doing the government a favour by being so accommodating.

The next day you receive an email.

The minister is not available. Someone from the ministry can give you some information. But it would be on background, of course. You couldn’t quote anybody, certainly not by name.

This is your casus belli, your justified reason for war.

You say that you know the minister is busy but that you can make yourself available to fit his tight schedule and, besides, you only need a couple minutes (this can always be dragged out, it’s not like he’s going to hang up on you). Given your open schedule, you know that the minister must be available for five minutes sometime in there.

You say you need someone to go on the record, that a quote or information from an anonymous government flack isn’t worth the cheap newsprint your paper is printed on. And you don’t back down.

Part of a media relation person’s job is to “build relationships with the media.” When dealing with a flack, you have the upper hand. If he or she works for a provincial or federal ministry, you likely won’t be speaking to them again. So you’re as forceful as possible to get something out of them, and you tell them that their policy is fucking ridiculous, that you have done your utmost to accommodate them and that you’ve got a story to print one way or the other. After all you’re in the right, they’re in the wrong, and you also are standing above them with a sledgehammer aimed at their gonads.

Also, you make clear that you’re not going to let them off the hook by writing a six-word sentence that says “Minister So-and-So wasn’t able to comment.” No, you’re going to write that despite repeated attempts throughout the past week/month, the Minister refused to explain the government’s stance. Because that’s what happened. You also may threaten to do worse than you actually would, knowing that the PR flack will cave.

If you’re speaking to a local PR flack, you might be a little more tactful, but you know that the PR person has even more to lose. You use that fact to, in no uncertain terms, describe what you really think about whatever local media policies piss you off. You might get those changed, you might not, but this is like bartering; even if you don’t get everything you want, you’ll likely at least get the information you seek for the story in question.

This is important.

Without push back from media, local, provincial and federal governments will always stray toward insular media policies that allow government workers and ministries to dodge accountability while giving up a minimum of information. I’ve heard of, and experienced, many such examples of useless PR hackery in the last year and I’m fed up with it. But nothing will change without more journalists loudly and vehemently pushing back against government.

Categories: Columns, Ethics Tags:

Thumbs down to awards weekend bitching

May 2, 2011 5 comments

Here’s a thumbs down that deserves its own post:

Thumbs way, way down to the way in which awards weekend brings out the conspiracy theorist in normally sane and reasonable journalists.

Every year reporters, editors and publishers gather around a computer, look at the nominees and winner lists for the CCNA and Ma Murray awards and, if they don’t win, declare the judges bought, the results skewed and themselves persecuted.

They do all this having seen only their own entries. Publishers will declare “We should have won more” having seen few, if any, of the competing entries. And reporters will declare that sponsorships and corporate backroom deals influence the winner of certain awards, evidence to the contrary be damned.

This is pernicious in a few ways, but perhaps most disturbing is the way such conspiracy theories allow newspapers and journalists to overlook deficiencies in their own work. Perhaps, if you’re not winning awards, you’re just not doing the hard work required to win an award. Maybe someone else called one more source, wrote a better lede, or proofed their story one more time. And maybe you just needed to do something different, outside the box.

Forget the conspiracy theories and instead consider Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is usually right. Maybe you didn’t deserve an award.

Categories: Awards, Columns Tags: ,
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