The Weekly Illumination — Issue 9

Welcome to the the Weekly Illumination, a JTM newsletter offering a quick look at the week in journalism with a focus on what’s working in today’s news ecology. In this week’s Illumination we look at the power of Twitter, the decline of Wikipedia and revisit the increasingly controversial practice of unpaid interns.

Candidate endorses self in front-page ad

Cleveland’s alt-weekly The Scene doesn’t make political endorsements, but a look at this week’s cover might lead you to think otherwise. Candidate Ken Lanci purchased a four-page ad that wraps over the front and back covers, reports Andrew Beaujon for Poynter.


With many news start-ups taking the non-profit route, political endorsements aren’t always possible, but one newspaper editorial writer thinks even news organizations that are allowed to do so should abandon the practice. The writer, Hank Kalet, came to his decision after reading an endorsement for Governor Chris Christie in the New Jersey Star-ledger that reads more like a rebuke of the politician than and endorsement for the candidate.

“This endorsement’s intellectual and moral incongruities made clear for me, finally, why newspapers should not be in the endorsement business,” writes Kalet.

Twitter opens locked doors

When some reporters in Dallas tried to attend a government meeting that was open to the public they were shown the door and then tweeted a picture of the door. As the tweets and phone calls to city hall increased, the journalists were finally allowed inside, reports Kristen Hare for Poynter.

Meanwhile, former NSA chief Michael Hayden discovered first-hand that anyone on the train could be tweeting what you say. Tom Hatzzie, a political strategist, overheard Hayden conducting interviews as an anonymous source on a public train and decided to pull back the curtain. Before the two got off the train, Hayden’s office called and alerted him to Hatzzie. In a surprising twist, the two posed together for a picture and the former spy chief offered Hatzzie an interview of his own. Check out Mathew Ingram’s story on GigaOm to get the full story and to see the strange photo of the duo.


But what are the dangers of Twitter becoming such a dominant place for important conversations? In this week’s Illumination’s Blog, Dan Gillmor shares his concerns with Twitter and offers his perspective on emerging media ecosystem.

YouTube News like Google News but for Video

YouTube has no plans to get into creating editorial news content, but the company intends improve its news aggregation prowess and has hired a new global head of news, Tom Sly.

“We’re not getting into the business of producing content or operating a newsroom inside of Google or YouTube. That’s not in our DNA,” Sly told Josh Sternberg in an interview published by digiday.


It turns out that while many people get their news when they go on Facebook, only a few go to Facebook to get their news, according to findings in a new Pew report. Participants in the study said their top reasons for visiting Facebook were to see what their friends and family were up to and to see the photos and videos they share.

The fall of Wikipedia?

Although the user-generated encyclopedia is as ubiquitous as it ever has been, showing up in Siri inquiries and often garnering the top spot on Google searches, the number of editors helping to grow and refine the site has been plummeting since 2007. Part of the problem is that the community of editors lacks diversity and they have created an environment that’s hostile to new participants, reports Tom Simonite in the MIT Technology Review.

“Because Wikipedia has failed to replenish its supply of editors, its skew toward technical, Western, and male-dominated subject matter has persisted,” said Simonite in his article. “In 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota and three other schools showed that articles worked on mostly by female editors—which presumably were more likely to be of interest to women—were significantly shorter than those worked on mostly by male editors or by men and women equally.”

Intern or Internment

For some students an unpaid internship is the start of a rewarding career in journalism. For other students the economic realities of spending the summer working for free in a far-flung locale, or even nearby, make such internships impossible. Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones takes a look at the impacts of the often illegal practice of unpaid internships in The Awl.


At the beginning of the semester journalism students at Temple University were given a pocket-sized code of ethics that students can carry with them on assignment, reports Kristen Hare for Poynter. The pamphlet is filled with basic dos and don’ts: “Do tell the truth”, “hear from many voices” and “be independent.” “Don’t Fabricate,” “Plagiarize”, or “behave badly.”

Job(s) of the week

The Gazette Company is looking for a news editor in Iowa, tip provided by JTM Alum Jennifer Hemmingsen.

Are you a reporter with a strong background in covering issues related to mental health? If so, the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation may want to work with you.

JTM is looking for freelancers to write about successful journalism initiatives and is paying up to $250 per story.

For the past 75 years, the Nieman Foundation has offered one-year fellowships. Applications are still available.


The Illumination is a curated collection of stories about journalism innovation, notable job opportunities, grants and updates about Journalism that Matters. It is distributed to e-mail subscribers, through the JTM Google Group, and posted to the Illuminations blog.