Nieman Reports

Winter 1999 - Spring 2000

Commemorative Double Issue

Cover for Winter 1999 - Spring 2000

What you [see] here is a collection which reflects the substance of the first 53 years of the conversation journalists have engaged in about their rights and responsibilities in the pages of Nieman Reports. At times you will find an article that opened a new argument or ended an old one. Throughout you will hear the voices of journalists committed to their work challenging colleagues to raise the standards of discovering, reporting, writing and editing the news in a context meaningful for navigation within a free society. – Bill Kovach

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Journalism

Winter 1999 – Spring 2000: Journalism Introduction

By Journalism December 15, 1999

What you [see] here is a collection which reflects the substance of the first 53 years of the conversation journalists have engaged in about their rights and responsibilities in the pages of Nieman Reports. At times you will find an article that opened a new argument or ended an old one. Throughout you will hear the voices of journalists committed to their work challenging colleagues to raise the standards of discovering, reporting, writing and editing the news in a context meaningful for navigation within a free society. – Bill Kovach Read more

1954: Handouts to the Country Editor

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the July 1954 issue of Nieman Reports.] Fiction writers have used a broad and inaccurate pen in painting the modern country editor as a grey-haired, old man wearing a green eyeshade, black muslin elastic-banded arm … Read more

1959: The Pursuit of Journalism

By Journalism December 15, 1999

President Truman holding a press conference on the lawn of the “Little White House,” his vacation residence at Key West, Florida, surrounded by reporters, photographers and staff members, 1950. Photo courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library, … Read more

1960: Newspapermen and Lawyers

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the July 1960 issue of Nieman Reports.] I propose to speak tonight on a moderately pretentious topic, the public responsibilities of newspapermen and lawyers.… As my concern is public responsibility in our professions, I want … Read more

1960: The Catholic Issue

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the September 1960 issue of Nieman Reports.] Cartoon courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Library.…only the man who has learned historical depth can give what we call the news a scope and … Read more

1961: Are We the Best Informed Nation?

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the July 1961 issue of Nieman Reports.] “Communications specialists” and working newspapermen sometimes glibly assert without a shred of proof that the American people are the best informed people in the world. This is a … Read more

1963: For That Hole in the Forms

By Journalism December 15, 1999

A.J. Liebling. Photo courtesy of UPI/Corbis-Bettmann. [This article originally appeared in the March 1963 issue of Nieman Reports.] It is a time-honored custom for the out-of-town speaker to tell you what’s wrong with newspapers. Forgive me … Read more

1960: Asking Rude Questions

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the September 1960 issue of Nieman Reports.] …I remember going over to the President’s house.… And he said, “You know it’s only three years—you’re the third class [of Niemans]. But I think maybe you people … Read more

1964: Calvin Coolidge and the Press

By Journalism December 15, 1999

President Calvin Coolidge in cowboy outfit with press photographers. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.  [This article originally appeared in the September 1964 issue of Nieman Reports.] The press conference as an organized biweekly meeting … Read more

1966: Custodians of the City

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the March 1966 issue of Nieman Reports.] I was in Greenville when the age of electronic journalism first came creeping in, and I have always thought that a kind of monument was erected there on … Read more

1978: Uphill All the Way

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Winter 1978 issue of Nieman Reports.] …Having been introduced to newspaper work on a thriving paper that received its United States and world reports by Morse code—when the telegraphers actually used a Prince Albert … Read more

1979: Covering the Women’s Movement

By Journalism December 15, 1999

The head of the Venezuelan delegation to the 1975 International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City receives a message from a colleague. Photo courtesy of The Associated Press. [This article originally appeared in the Summer 1979 issue … Read more

1971: The Xerox and the Pentagon

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the September 1971 issue of Nieman Reports.] …To the office secretary, the Xerox machine is the greatest invention since the coffee break. In an instant, carbon paper has been made obsolete. True, many offices, including … Read more

1979: Yes Virginia, There Is an Agnes

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Summer 1979 issue of Nieman Reports.] …Louis M. Lyons, as Nieman Curator, continually struggled against the ban on women from the program. His correspondence with the University administration in the early 1940’s shows that … Read more

1986: The Us-First Syndrome

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Summer 1986 issue of Nieman Reports.] For whom do reporters write? For the readers? Well, yes and no. After two years inside a daily newspaper, I have concluded that among the hundreds of stories … Read more

1996: A Grueling Standard to Live By

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Fall 1996 issue of Nieman Reports.] Violent crime rates have been falling, yet sensational crime coverage on television news has been rising. So have the fears of viewers who have an exaggerated sense they … Read more

1998: This Is Watchdog Journalism

By Journalism December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Summer 1998 issue of Nieman Reports.] [T]here is far too little public understanding in the United States about the role of the press in the American system. And one good reason for that is … Read more

1998: Making Sense Out of a Tragedy

By Journalism December 15, 1999

Photographers line airport road to photograph one of the funerals of a Westside Middle School shooting victim. Nettleton cemetery is located across the street. Photo by Bill Templeton/The Jonesboro Sun. [This article originally appeared in the … Read more

First Amendment

The Bill of Rights

First Amendment December 15, 1999

The Bill of Rights, as this parchment copy is now known, is on permanent display in the Rotunda of the National Archives. Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration. Read more

1980: The New Reality

By First Amendment December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Spring 1980 issue of Nieman Reports.] Martin Chuzzlewit, the hero of Dickens’s novel of that name, sails to the United States on a packet boat. As the boat reaches New York harbor, it is … Read more

Objectivity

1955: The Seven Deadly Virtues

By Objectivity December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the July 1955 issue of Nieman Reports.] …So revolutionary a change in the role of the American citizen was bound to have its effect on American newspapers. For many years we newspapermen had given the … Read more

1971: A Case for the Professional

By Objectivity December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the September 1971 issue of Nieman Reports.] …at no time in history has the world needed the professional journalist more. The strident, partisan voices of today’s society contribute heat but no light to a society … Read more

1970: The Quest for Objectivity

By Objectivity December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the December 1970 issue of Nieman Reports.] …Those who would improve our practices in questionable ways come not only from the outside in the form of powerful politicians. Some come from the inside. Militant young … Read more

1971: White Newsmen and Black Critics

By Objectivity December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the September 1971 issue of Nieman Reports.] Can white reporters accurately report events that involve blacks and other minority groups? This question—and the related topic of whether reporting can or should be “objective”— was … Read more

Sources

Winter 1999 – Spring 2000: Sources Introduction

By Sources December 15, 1999

In the spring of 1999, Nieman Curator Bill Kovach opened the second Watchdog Journalism Conference by voicing concern about the possible consequences of shifting relationships among sources and journalists. He said, “This year, the Clinton/Lewinsky story has highlighted the extraordinary … Read more

1999: Reporters’ Relationships With Sources

Sources December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Fall 1999 issue of Nieman Reports.] No topic consumed as much of the conversation at the Watchdog Journalism Conference [May 15, 1999 at Harvard University] as that of reporters’ relationships with sources. How are … Read more

1999: When Reporters are Shut Out By Sources

Sources December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Fall 1999 issue of Nieman Reports.] What happens when reporters are shut out by sources whom they believe are necessary to report a story? Several journalists at the Watchdog Conference argued that reporters often … Read more

Race

Winter 1999 – Spring 2000: Race Introduction

By Race December 15, 1999

From early in the magazine’s history, America’s dilemma—race relations and, in this case, how journalists report stories involving race—has been dissected and debated. Regarded initially in Nieman Reports from the perspective of two Southern newspaper editors, Hodding Carter (NF’40) and … Read more

1948: The Southern Revolt

By Race December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the April 1948 issue of Nieman Reports.] As a personal preface to these comments, I would like to point out that they have been delayed because of my absence from Greenville on a speaking trip … Read more

1956: A Negro Reporter at the Till Trial

By Race December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the January 1956 issue of Nieman Reports.] Millions of words were written about the recent Till murder trial, but the most dramatic and, by far, the most significant development during the hectic week in the … Read more

1962: The Reporter in the Deep South

By Race December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the April 1962 issue of Nieman Reports.] In “Absolom, Absolom!,” one of William Faulkner’s great Gothic novels of Yoknapatawpha county, Quinten Compson goes to Harvard and is questioned endlessly by his Canadian roommate and others: … Read more

1968: A Newspaper’s Role Between the Riots

By Race December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the June 1968 issue of Nieman Reports.] When the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders blamed white racism for the destructive environment of the ghettos, most of the immediate reaction was unfavorable. The charge evoked … Read more

1978: Covering the Real Politics

By Race December 15, 1999

Busing students to Hyde Park (Boston) High School in 1974. Photo by Paul Connell, courtesy of The Boston Globe. [This article originally appeared in the Summer 1978 issue of Nieman Reports.] …I now find myself at … Read more

1998: Roy DeCarava Retrospective

By Race December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Summer 1998 issue of Nieman Reports.] Roy DeCarava doesn’t occupy a space, he blends with it. But to say that his approach to photography is stealth-like is to attribute to him a potential for … Read more

Electronic Media

1952: Al Capp Views the Networks

By Electronic Media December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the April 1952 issue of Nieman Reports.] The two main ways to communicate ideas in America are by press and radio. I’ve communicated with America both ways. I’ve found freedom of speech in the American … Read more

1981: A Conversation With Fred Friendly

Electronic Media December 15, 1999

“…Murrow had the sense of curiosity that all journalists have to have, a need to understand something before he talked about it, and a marvelous ear for copy.”—Friendly (left), with Edward R. Murrow. Photo courtesy of CBS … Read more

Photography

1974: Words on Pictures

By Photography December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Autumn 1974 issue of Nieman Reports.] The media—and in particular newspapers—are taken to task by Edwin Newman in the October [1974] issue of The Atlantic for appropriating words and phrases, overusing, abusing and, finally, … Read more

1998: Photo Essay

By Photography December 15, 1999

Widow of Muslim man killed in Banja Luka is comforted. Photo courtesy of Michele McDonald. [This article originally appeared in the Summer 1998 issue of Nieman Reports.] These photos were taken in August, 1993 in Serbia, … Read more

International News

1982: Endangered Species

By International News December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Autumn 1982 issue of Nieman Reports.] The independence era dawned over black Africa two decades ago, and in the flush of victory the new presidents promised their people many things: Constitutions, they said, would … Read more

1983: … The Crucial 1940’s

By International News December 15, 1999

[This article originally appeared in the Spring 1983 issue of Nieman Reports.] Scottsdale, Arizona — Two dozen of those whose reporting from China in the 1940’s helped shape American attitudes and policies in the years culminating in the Communist victory … Read more

Masthead

Publisher
Bill Kovach
Editor
Melissa Ludtke
Assistant Editor
Lois Fiore
Editorial Assistant
Adam Reilly
Design Editor
Deborah Smiley
Business Manager
Cheryl Scantlebury

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