3 to Read: Tom Cotton vs. the 1619 Project | NYT pilots disability-friendly section | DHS surveils journalists

Tom Cotton vs. the 1619 Project: When it was first created, the 1619 Project was hailed as a revolutionary piece of journalism. It contained a series of essays, a broadsheet section and a podcast, all of which analyze slavery as a central part of American history. Though the project was awarded  the Pulitzer Prize and has been incorporated into school lesson plans across the country, it has also received pushback from a few vocal opponents. Writing for the Washington Post, Teo Armus examines the pushback to the 1619 Project led by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, and the online debate that pushed the series further into the spotlight.

NYT pilots disability-friendly section: To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the New York Times opinion section is piloting a series on living with disabilities, Sarah Scire writes for NiemanLab. In addition to publishing a wide variety of pieces from writers with disabilities, the section is also experimenting with production and design techniques to make the section more accessible to readers. The series includes audio versions of every article, improved alternative text for people with screen readers and a braille version that will be available through the New York Times store. The Times has also tweaked its style guide for the issue, allowing writers and sources to capitalize words like “blind” and “deaf” in their pieces.

DHS surveils journalists: In response to the waves of protests against police brutality in Portland, the Departland of Homeland Security (DHS) began compiling intelligence reports on journalists covering the unrest. The reports, normally reserved for individuals suspected of violence and terrorism, highlighted editors and reporters from the New York Times and Lawfare who published leaked documents about the DHS’s involvement in the Portland protests. After the story was released, acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf launched an investigation into the issue. Writing for the Washington Post, Shane Harris uncovers the story behind the intelligence reports and explores next steps for the DHS.

By Maya Homan & Matt Carroll

Help us reunite this lost Chinese “I love you” ring with its owner

Aug. 7 is the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day. Can we get this ring back to its owner by then?

By Matt Carroll and Jingfei Cui

Somewhere in the tea fields of China, some heartbroken person possibly lost their “I Love You” ring. We found it in Boston. Now we’re trying to put the ring back on that sad lover’s finger before the Chinese “Valentine’s Day,” on Aug. 7. Maybe you can help us.

The story starts with a bag of green tea from the Wuyi Tea Liability Co. Ltd., based in Yunnan.

The tea is called, “Wu Yi Sheng Tai Lu Cha.” That tea has traveled a long way, through a couple of different tea drinkers, to my desk at Northeastern University in Boston, where I am a journalism professor.

It’s a nice green tea, and I am a devoted tea drinker, so I drink it fairly often. One morning this spring, my hand brushed against something hard in the tea bag.

I dug out a slightly battered ring. Surprise, surprise.

The romantic inscription caught my eye — “(Heart) I Love You (Heart).” It’s written in English.

We were intrigued. Whose ring was this? Where did they lose it? Was it thrown away after a failed relationship? Or was its heartbroken owner crying themselves to sleep over its loss?

We set out to find out. First, we talked to the previous owner of the bag of tea, Ruan Chao, of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, who had gifted it to me when she was visiting Northeastern. It wasn’t her ring. And, as it turns out, she had received the ring from another person. Not theirs either, we were told.

So that leaves … China, possibly somewhere in a tea region of Yunnan.

We have to say upfront that it is not an expensive ring. And it is a little beat up — it’s dented on one side, possibly from its travels.

We contacted the tea company in February through WeChat. An employee told us the factory is not large and the workers process the tea manually, so it’s impossible for a ring to get in a bag unnoticed.

Now we are stuck. So we are appealing to you. Can you help us reunite the ring to its owner? We don’t need much — just a little help spreading the word about the ring. Hopefully we can all work together to reunite this ring with its owner and give this love story a happy ending.

Matt Carroll is a journalism professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Jingfei Cui is a graduate student at Emerson College in Boston.

3 to read: Making journalism crowd funding work | Finding subscribers | What Jill Abramson got wrong

Jan. 26, 2018: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

How The Correspondent became the largest journalism crowdfunding project in history — without 1 story on its site: News sites are increasingly turning to readers to be their financial saviors. But it’s not easy. So here’s a fascinating look at how The Correspondent patiently and carefully laid the groundwork for raising $2.6 million from more than 45,000 supporters. For people interested in starting their own crowd-funded news sites, this is a primer on how to do it well. Great story by Emily Goligoski and Aron Pilhofer for MembershipPuzzle.org.

How many paying subscribers do you need to keep a money-losing magazine afloat? A regional mag finds out: The digital age has not been kind to regional magazine, which at one point were fat, happy money-makers. Now they’re hanging on by their fingertips. So when Arkansas Magazine announced it would shut down if it didn’t get enough paid subscribers, the staff jumped in, pushing hard on social media. Here’s what happened. By Laura Hazard Owens for Nieman Lab.

What Jill Abramson gets wrong about the digital journalism: Abramson, the first female executive editor of the NYT, has written a book, “Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts.” It’s a take on four big media players — the NYT, WaPo, Vice, and BuzzFeed, where media is headed, and her own bitter falling-out with the NYT. But apparently she had trouble wrangling the truth down about Vice and BuzzFeed. An angry war of tweets has erupted over what reporters at Vice and BuzzFeed claim are errors in the book. As Josephine Livingstone chronicles for The New Republic, it’s not a pretty. But it makes an interesting read.

3 to read: WordPress unveiling CMS | AR’s newsroom moment | FB flubs its 10-year challenge

By Matt Carroll <@MattCData>

Jan. 19, 2018: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail. Originally published on 3toread.co

WordPress unveils a toolkit for local newsrooms: Reporters and editors love to bitch about their crappy CMS system, with good reason. Most of them stink. But there is some action towards improving them (talking about you, WaPo’s Arc). Finally, WordPress is diving into the fray. Honestly, it seems late to me. If there was an organization perfectly set up to dive into this years ago, it seems it would be them. But still, good news. Story by Christine Schmidtfor NiemanLab.

Augmented reality is having its newsroom moment: More and more publishers are sticking their toes in the AR and VR waters, testing how they can best use it in newsrooms. Let’s hope it’s not a “pivot to video” kind of moment. Max Willensfor Digiday.

How benign is Facebook’s ’10 Year Challenge’? Maybe it’s not that harmless, at all: My 10-year challenge is this: A decade ago, I would not have thought twice about posting pictures of myself up. Now… hmmm, what could possibly go wrong, since it involves the increasingly creepy Facebook? No thanks, FB. Good read by Kate O’Neill for Wired.