Open House with Peter Pula, CEO of Axiom News

Location:  The Hub Seattle, Glass Room, 220 2nd Ave South, Seattle, WA 98104

When finding solutions is part of the journalist’s job

As noted earlier this month in a Nieman Journalism Lab post by Jan Schaffer, journalism that activates is becoming a trend.

Peter Pula, who started Axiom News, has 15 years of experience with doing what he calls “generative journalism”.  Founded on the principles of Appreciative Inquiry, it is a strengths-based approach for propelling communities and organizations towards their highest potential.  And to support their journalism, Axiom News has a business model that works.

Learn more by coming to The Hub Seattle anytime between 9:00am and 4:00pm on Wednesday, June 26th.  Peter, along with Mike Fancher, former editor of the Seattle Times and Peggy Holman, co-founder of Journalism That Matters will be there.  In the spirit of Journalism That Matter’s unconferences, the conversation will center around the interests of the people who come.

At 11:00am, Peter will say a few words about Axiom News informed by the morning’s conversations.

Our purpose for gathering: to learn, make new connections, strengthen the web of the news and information community in the area, and to connect with other communities from around the world who are working in similar directions.

So join us.  And bring your friends.

Peggy Holman and Mike Fancher

Brought to you by the Seattle Journalism Commons, a project of Journalism That Matters

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Washington News Council Hearing

The Washington News Council will hold a public hearing on a complaint against The Seattle Times from Dr. Richard Wollert, a Vancouver psychologist. The hearing will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 1, at Town Hall Seattle. Audience members will be invited to vote along with the WNC’s Hearings Board. Doors open to public at 8:30 a.m. There is no admission charge.

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KING-5 Photojournalists Dominate NPPA Awards

The photojournalism team at King-TV has been named the nation’s best among large market stations. The National Press Photographers Association also awarded Doug Burgess of KING the 2013 Ernie Crisp Photographer of the Year.

According to NPPA, Judge Brian Kaufman said, “He has the ability to take really complicated stories and shoot them in a way that made them conversational.” Judge Lynn French said, “He has a signature to his stories, you could easily pick them out.”

Jeff Christian of KING-News was runner-up for photographer of the year. Galleries of work by Burgess and Christian are here.

John Sharify of KING-News was runner-up for the NPPA photojournalism award for reporting. His work is posted here.

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Crime News From Inside Seattle PD

Crime in the Emerald City may not pay, but it is forging a career for local reporter/blogger Jonah Spangenthal-Lee. The lifelong Seattle resident found his niche in journalism almost by accident, while writing for the alt-weekly paper The Stranger as an intern from North Seattle Community College.

“I still don’t really know how I ended up on the crime beat,” Spangenthal-Lee said in an e-mail interview. “The first few stories I wrote at The Stranger all happened to be cop or crime-related, and I started making contacts and figuring out the cops/court system through trial and error.”

The 4-month internship led to a job covering the city’s crime beat, and for years he gained valuable experience and established many solid contacts reporting at crime scenes.  After parting ways with The Stranger, he wanted to continue crime reporting, but knew it would be difficult landing a position in a newsroom.

Soon after, with “a ton of help” from Justin Carder, publisher of and Central District News founder Scott Durham, Spangenthal-Lee’s site was born. “A few other blogger/reporter friends also pitched in from time to time with posts on my site,” Spangenthal-Lee said.

Creating his own news site did have advantages.

“The editorial freedom that comes from running a mostly one-man show was fantastic, and operating without any sort of financial safety net, attorneys–or even petty cash to pay for things like court documents–really forced me to be resourceful about how I obtained and used information.”

Spangenthal-Lee offered stories other media outlets didn’t have, by spending more time reading through police reports and by breaking stories sooner than the competition.

“Being a small ‘independent’ operation also meant I could be a lot more agile with how and when I published (breaking news on Twitter from a crime scene hours before I’d ever get back to a computer to churn out a traditional inverted-pyramid story, for instance) but working 18 hour days and always having one ear tuned to the police scanner can take its toll.”

“I worked hard to make sure I had stories or details no one else had and tried to inject a bit of personality into my posts as well,” he said.

“It helped being able to break some good scoops, and that very few other reporters were combing through police records with the regularity I was, but I think just being present on the site–both in the comments section and over emails with readers–and putting out regular updates around the clock helped give readers a reason to keep coming back.” developed a small but dedicated fan base as the “go-to-place” for local crime news. Connecting with neighborhood blogs that linked to his coverage and a iPhone app all helped his site garner more local and national media attention.

“Crime, however, does not pay,” he concluded. “Especially if you’re blogging about it.”

He explained, “I tried to keep myself out of the advertising side of things because I didn’t want to risk compromising any editorial content. But from what I heard from the folks who tried oh so hard to sell ads for me, nobody wants to sell their product right alongside a story about a murder, car thefts, or other generally grim news.”

And after dedicating his life to for more than a year, the opportunity arose to work alongside the very folks he covered, the Seattle Police Department.

For the past year he has worked as a contractor blogging for the SPD Blotter page, a site started in 2008, which informs local residents of the crime news and information happening in the city with updated blogs and twitter feeds, also written by the detectives and officers themselves.

Spangenthal-Lee seems like a natural fit for the blog, and he’s enjoyed the chance he’s been given.

“It’s been a great experience working at the SPD so far. I’ve received a tremendous amount of support and freedom from the chiefs, my boss, my unit, and tons of other officers, detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, and captains throughout the department. I’ve been encouraged to keep doing things the way I’ve always done them.”

Although, he’ll be the first to admit that in the beginning his transition wasn’t exactly smooth sailing among his new colleagues.

“I’d be lying if I said everyone here was initially excited to have me on board, but I get that I come with some baggage and that cops have a lot of preconceived notions about reporters, much as reporters have a lot of preconceived notions about cops,” he said.

“I’ve really had a good time here, though it was a risk for them and a risk for me, but I think it’s worked out pretty well so far.”

Being the one contributing blogger on the Blotter site who isn’t a cop, Spangenthal-Lee provides readers with an alternative point of view on crime news. He hopes that will further build an audience and make the site the best source for crime and police news.

“I think my background, having not been a cop, I can come at things from a different perspective than some of my co-workers, who’ve been in law enforcement for some time. I get excited to write about incidents, crimes, or police processes that might seem routine or boring to them.”

His efforts have been written about in The Seattle Times. And he was given an award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government, which praised his philosophy that “If there’s information we can give to anyone, we should give it to everyone.”

He got a lot of attention for a blog post entitled “Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana in Seattle.”

If Jonah Spangenthal-Lee’s story shows other aspiring reporters anything, it’s that finding the right niche for yourself in journalism is possible by not only working hard, but also taking chances.

His advice:

“Get well acquainted with Twitter, learn to write quickly, function on 6 hours of sleep, and be equipped to shoot your own photos and video, even if it’s just on your iPhone.  Find something you’re interested in writing about and write about it (assuming it’s something anyone else on the planet is interested in).

“There are tons of free publishing platforms out there right now, so if you’ve got something to say about a topic write it up, post it, and Facebook and tweet the hell out of it. The more you do it, the more feedback you’ll get, and the better you’ll get. Probably.”

In essence, Spangenthal-Lee is reporting about the Seattle Police Department from within the institution. Asked what he would say to people who are skeptical that any public agency can report honestly about itself, he answered philosophically:

“I guess I’d just say that I hope people remain skeptical. We need to continually work to earn and maintain public trust and a healthy dose of skepticism is just more incentive to be as open and accurate with our information as possible. That said, some acknowledgement — when we do the right thing the right way — wouldn’t kill anybody, either.”

(Patrick Fancher is a freelance writer in Corvallis, Oregon.)

Posted in Blogs, Miscellaneous, Re-inventing Journalism, What's Working | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

NW Journalism Scholarships

Deadlines are nearing for several Northwest journalism scholarship programs, including:

AAJA Seattle

Washington News Council

Northwest Journalists of Color

Washington Coalition for Open Government, which offers a $1,000 cash prize for the Washington State high school junior or senior who writes the winning essay about the importance of open government.

Let us know of other opportunities.

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My Edmonds News lauded in Knight Digital Media Center

Entrepreneurial journalists in the Pacific Northwest continue to draw attention for their innovative ideas.  The News Leadership 3.0 blog at the Knight Digital Media Center features the work of Teresa Wippel in creating and sustaining

In addition to advertising, the site generates revenues from live internet streaming of local high school football and basketball games.

Kudos to Wippel for her journalistic passion and dedication.

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02/13/2012 Going Deeper than Google

Tickets and info via Eventbrite page for the Society of Professional Journalists (Western Washington Chapter) Continuing Education Series

Bring your laptop and four media professionals will show you how to get the information you need through the web. A hands-on session that takes you beyond simple searches. Scheduled presenters include Kellie Cheadle, KING-TV; Kathy Gill, University of Washington; Cheryl Phillips, The Seattle Times; Matt Rosenberg, Public Data Ferret.

Recommended that you read Seattle Journalism Commons’ coverage of a similar presentation with Cheryl Phillips on digging deeper into data

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02/06/2012 Beyond Journalism

Tickets and info via Eventbrite page for the Society of Professional Journalists (Western Washington Chapter) Continuing Education Series

From researching, reporting and interviewing to writing, tech know-how and critical thinking skills, journalists make great employees in just about any communications job. And in this shifting ecomony many of us are moving in that direction. So how do you leverage your years in the news room in a new job market? What can journalists bring to public relations firms, tech start-ups and nonprofits (and what should we leave behind)? What are employers looking for and how do you adjust to a new career? Join us for a panel discussion with journalists in our region that have answered those questions for themselves. This session also includes one-on-one career change counseling.

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01/30/2012 Writing for SEO

Tickets and info via Eventbrite page for the Society of Professional Journalists (Western Washington Chapter) Continuing Education Series

Search Engine Optimization: What it is, who does it well (and not so well) and how to make it work for you. Whether you’re a blogger, freelancer, journalism professor or newsroom reporter, everyone has to know about keywords, metadata and headlines that grab the attention of Google bots and humans alike. Learn tricks of the trade, ask those questions you’ve been afraid to ask and compete in headline writing contests with online journalists from about town in this hands-on session.

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Direct Community action on behalf of Nourishing Networks

Notes from Linda Benson

From January 9 News Oasis/Nourishing Networks meeting

The question was, “What are some ways to get individual community members to take direct action on behalf of Nourishing Networks?”

  • Plant food/seed bombs throughout the community (brand with Nourishing Network information)
  • Make mud balls filled with vegetable garden seeds that anyone can plant in their containers, gardens or yards
  • Create planter boxes or transform landscapes to grow fresh vegetables at local restaurants and municipal locations.  Invite patrons to help maintain.
  • Promote the 10% Campaign diverting food dollars to local food production.  Challenge businesses and residents to participate and to report their actions that can be used to measure impact and the new capacity for local food.
  • Create an easy way for citizens to share their needs and their stories; i.e. telephone message line, on-line tool, etc.
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