Pitch Fest: Connecting communities with newsrooms

Later this fall, the Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University will host Pitch Fest, a workshop intended to help community and nonprofit organizations connect their stories with news organizations, with the mutual goal of better coverage.

If you represent an organization which would benefit from participating, please complete the brief survey below. Responses will be delivered to the CPIJ staff, but will not be published online. Thank you.

Posted in Events, News Tagged with: , , , , ,

CPIJ Photo Night at the P&P: Featuring David Maialetti

Luzzara, Italy on June 8, 2014. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )Luzzara, 2014. Photograph by David Maialetti.

After leading Photo Nights at the Pen and Pencil Club for more than 10 years, David Maialetti stepped down last spring, but now we’re going to put his work on the screen at last. Please join us at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 17th at the Pen and Pencil.

For the past 18 years, Philadelphia Daily News staff photographer David Maialetti has been documenting the city where he was born and raised. His visual talents have earned him numerous international, national, and local honors, including awards from World Press Photo and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as multiple Pennsylvania Photographer of the Year titles.

Maialetti at work in Luzarra. Photograph by Nicole Sivieri.

Maialetti at work in Luzarra.
Photograph by Nicole Sivieri.

Most recently, Forbes.com named Maialetti one of “10 Instagram Photographers You Should Follow.”

Since 2006, Maialetti has been spending his vacations teaching photography to American college students studying abroad in the Marche region of Italy. He has also taught at Temple University, his alma mater, and is currently teaching photojournalism at Community College of Philadelphia.

For Photo Night, Maialetti will share recent work documenting life in Luzzara, Italy, a village in the Emilia-Romagna region, where he also tracked down the last remaining subjects photographed by American photographer Paul Strand.

In 1955, Strand teamed up with Italian screenwriter Cesare Zavatini to create the book “Un Paese.” The Philadelphia Museum of Art will host a Strand retrospective this fall.

Posted in News, Photo Night Tagged with: , ,

LoBasso’s #IRE14 takeaway: 3 Reasons to believe in “No Surprises Journalism”

Randy LoBasso

Randy LoBasso

Philadelphia Weekly Staff Writer Randy LoBasso was among six Philadelphia-area journalists who attended the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2014 Conference with support form the Center for Public Interest Journalism. So far in 2014, the Center for Public Interest Journalism has selected 31 Philadelphia-area journalists for support to attend national journalism conferences, thanks to a generous grant from the Wyncote Foundation.

Randy LoBasso: 3 Reasons to believe in “No Surprises Journalism”

Much of the journalism world was floored late last year when Mark Schoofs left investigative nonprofit news source ProPublica to head Buzzfeed’s new investigative reporting outfit.

It was a unique intersection of two vastly different American journalistic entities. Schoofs, on the one hand, is a Pulitzer-winning veteran of the Village Voice and the Wall Street Journal. The Yale journalism instructor has reported from more than 25 countries on four continents and actually holds two patents. He soon found his work alongside Buzzfeed’s bread and butter, a/k/a celebrity gossip with labels like “OMG” and listicles explaining why Publix is the best supermarket “ever.”

His hiring was a message to Buzzfeed’s current and future readers, and the industry: As publications the country over dismiss investigative reporters and editors, or turn to partisan news coverage in order to bait readers for a click, Buzzfeed—which had too often been cast aside by critics as nothing but feline photos and so-called “life hack” tips—was revving up its investigative engine, putting Schoofs in charge of six reporters amongst the internet juggernaut’s 130-person newsroom.

“Mark is the best in the business — a brilliant reporter, teacher, storyteller with the sort of deep experience we need as we continue to expand the kind of rigorous reporting that people want to read and share,” wrote Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith in a press release announcing the hire. “He’s a creative, entrepreneurial guy with long-ago roots in the vital gay press and an endless curiosity about the changing medium.”

Having followed his work for a few years, and having come to respect what Buzzfeed’s been doing with their massive Internet real estate, I was pretty excited to hear both Schoofs speak, and discern the advice he was about to give to those attending the “Bulletproofing stories, anticipating missteps and managing blowback” panel during the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2014 conference. He presented alongside Maud Beelman, Patricia DiCarlo and Blake Morrison, all well-respected journalists and editors in their own rights.

After telling the audience his method for finding the right reporters (can they think both big and small? Can the write? Have they landed big project in the past?) he went over an “incredible tool” he utilizes in his daily work. Something both incredibly simple, and incredibly necessary, it was an often overlooked and uncomfortable reporter’s tool he dubbed “no surprises journalism.”

It is, in short, this: When your story goes to press, you should have already made sure that no single character or source in the piece is surprised by any of the information presented, whatsoever. When you do this, he explained, send your facts to your sources in at least five different ways—a physical letter, an email, a courier, “slip it under the door; just make sure that you’ve gone to the ends of the earth,” he said. Why? Three main reasons.

It’s your final fact-check.

When you get a fact wrong—and we all have—it’s embarrassing. I can remember times in the beginning of my now 4-year journalism career when I’d forgotten a small anecdote or gotten a date wrong in my subject’s life. While this doesn’t necessarily ruin the story (although it can), it may make readers distrust your work, and it’s sloppy.

But if you can send a letter to your subject, not just explaining the facts about them described in your story, but the facts around them, “it is just the single best thing you can do,” noted Schoofs, but noted: “When you send the letter, do not send the draft of the actual story. You don’t want to have a discussion about whether this adjective is, you know, whatever, whatever. Just the facts.”

It gets people to talk.

“I cannot tell you the number of times people have refused to speak with me until they get one of these letters,” said Schoofs, who added the letter should be edited (reporters should not send the letters without first allowing an editor to take a look), and have been looked at by a lawyer, “because you can libel a person through letters…if you’re sending it to a secondary source [and writing] about, say, the main subject of your piece.”

After sending a secondary source his “no surprises” letter, he noted, that source has often come back to him and said, “You know, there’s this other thing I forgot to tell you about.”

It’s ethical.

“These days, any story, anywhere, has the chance to go viral,” he said, “and have literally millions of people read it, right? So, if you’re willing to tell millions of people something about, I don’t know, Blake, but you’re not willing to tell Blake what you’re willing to say, where’s your intellectual honesty? Where’s your integrity? If you’re writing about somebody, you should be willing to say to that person, ‘This is what I am going to write.’ And if you can’t do that, you might want to think about why.”

–30–

Posted in News

Scaccia shares #IRE14 experience

BSEOHPXGIndependent journalist Annamarya Scaccia was among six Philadelphia-area journalists who attended the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2014 Conference with support form the Center for Public Interest Journalism.

So far in 2014, the Center for Public Interest Journalism has selected 31 Philadelphia-area journalists for support to attend national journalism conferences, thanks to a generous grant from the Wyncote Foundation.

Ryan Briggs of the Philadelphia City PaperMarion Callahan of the The IntelligencerMaryclaire Dale of The Associated PressRandy LoBasso of Philadelphia Weeklyindependent journalist  and freelancer Cassie Owens joined Scaccia at #IRE14.

Scaccia chronicled here experience on Twitter and has now organized a report on Storify: Uncovering the story: My thoughts on #IRE14

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Update: IRE boot camp at Temple now booked to capacity

Once again this year, Investigative Reporters and Editors will be offering their esteemed four-day, hands-on, computer-assisted reporting boot camp at Temple University — from August 18th through 21st.

Update: This workshop is now booked to capacity.

Last year, participants were introduced to analyzing data for stories with spreadsheets and database managers, and learned ways to find data, craft open records requests and negotiate for electronic information.

Experienced IRE trainers showed attendees how to summarize data using Microsoft Excel and query information using Structured Query Language in Microsoft Access.

Support from the Center Public Interest Journalism is enabling bargain rates for this workshop, which ordinarily costs $800 and requires a trip to Missouri. Registration for this boot camp costs $200 for current IRE members, $270 for non-IRE members and $225 for non-member students.

About IRE: Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.

IRE provides members access to thousands of reporting tip sheets and other materials through its resource center and hosts conferences and specialized training throughout the country. Programs of IRE include the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting, DocumentCloud and the Campus Coverage Project. Learn more about joining IRE and the benefits of membership.

Last year’s boot camp included participants from the Center for Public Integrity, CNNMoney, Fort Worth Weekly, Metrowest Daily News, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, Temple University, The Buffalo News, The Victoria Advocate, VTDigger.org, WCAU-Philadelphia and the Wilmington News Journal. CPIJ photographs by Jim MacMillan.

Posted in Events, News Tagged with: ,
National Problems, Local Solutions.
The Center for Public Interest Journalism was created in 2010 to support programming and projects intended to improve the quantity and quality of public interest news and information in the Greater Philadelphia area.

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