Reevaluating Ronan Farrow: Last week, New York Times media columnist Ben Smith published an op-ed denouncing Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ronan Farrow, who helped break the story of Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior. Smith argued that while Farrow’s reporting was not fabricated, he omitted certain details in order to keep his storylines “irresistibly cinematic.” The journalism world responded, with both Farrow and New Yorker editor Michael Luo taking to Twitter to rebut Smith’s claims. Writers from the Washington Post, Slate and Poynter also published pieces on the subject. For those who are still trying to understand the issue, L.A. Times staff writer Christi Carras published an overview of the ongoing media war.
Alison Roman’s stewed awakening: Prominent cook and cookbook author Alison Roman is under fire for an interview with The New Consumer in which she bashed Chrissy Teigen and Marie Kondo. Although she later apologized, the exchange fueled a much larger debate about the cultural context surrounding food. Writing for Eater, Navneet Alang explores how ethic food is often portrayed as “trendy” or “fashionable” by white cooks like Roman, who craft their careers around making ethnic food more palatable for white audiences. Meanwhile, chefs of color who cook food from their culture do not receive the same level of attention or acclaim.
Delving into diversity data: Last week, The New York Times published their annual diversity report, showcasing the demographic changes among its workforce over the last two years. People of color now make up 32 percent of the staff and 21 percent of leadership at the Times. That’s the good news. However, the bad news is that NiemanLab reporter Sarah Scire revealed that publishing diversity data is still not standard practice. Furthermore, the American Society of News Editors decided to halt its diversity survey this year to reevaluate their methods. The survey will be back, but in the meantime, journalists will have to turn to other sources for their diversity data.
New Barriers to Public Information: Along with shopping and socializing, access to public records has become an issue. Writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, Richard Salame and Nina Zweig explain how agencies like the FBI, the State Department and various municipalities are slowing or ceasing their response to public records requests. Experts worry that the pandemic is being used to obstruct public access to information.
Quibi’s Rough Start: Designed for users on the go, the new app Quibi hosts a streaming service full of short videos ranging from five to 10 minutes long. It seems with shelter-in-place orders, this would be the perfect app to take off. Yet the app has failed to meet expectations and has dropped out of the 50 most downloaded free apps a week after launching. Writing for the New York Times, Nicole Sperling describes the hurdles that Quibi has faced since launching, and what the company has in store for its users.
Measuring the toll of the pandemic: Data is of the utmost importance during a public health crisis, which, unfortunately, is when it can be most difficult to obtain. To help bridge the divide, epidemiologists from 24 European countries have teamed up to form a group called EuroMOMO, which publishes weekly death tolls. Data journalist James Tozer speaks with an epidemiologist from EuroMOMO, and explains how The Economist calculates the global death toll of the virus.
Moderating with machine learning: The New York Times is learning some lessons while using machine learning to edit its comment section, writes Matthew J. Salganik and Robin C. Lee for the New York Times. Since 2017, the Times has used a form of machine learning called “Moderator” to review comment submissions and filter out spam. However, its Community Desk team still had to work to overcome some of the implicit biases incorporated into machine learning software.
Expelled from Egypt: It’s never easy being a foreign correspondent. Make that reporting from one of the most undemocratic countries in the world, and throw in a pandemic, and everything is way more difficult. Ruth Michaelson, in the Columbia Journalism Review, recounts her experiences working as a foreign correspondent in Egypt, one of the most dangerous countries for reporters, ranking 166th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. Journalists who report on the crisis in a variety of undemocratic countries are currently facing fines, jail time and deportation for doing their job, a risk that is heightened under COVID-19 as countries seek to suppress reports of high infection rates.
Street newspapers halt sales: The loss of street newspapers has impacted homeless communities, where many people make their living as vendors, according to Kristi Eaton in Poynter. Many vendors have been hard-hit by the pandemic not only because of the loss of income, but because of the loss of social interaction that comes with quarantine. In response, organizations like Real Change are stepping up to provide vendors with food, money and help filing for social services like unemployment.