Monthly Archives: February 2016

Our designers are world class, officially: George Rodrigue

Newspapers are sensual objects. To those of us who love them, they have a certain feel, a particular scent, and, for the very best papers, a special look. I mention that because, once again, the Society for News Design (SND) has recognized The Plain Dealer's design team as one of the best in the world. The PD's design portfolio took home 80 awards this year, second only to The Washington Post, which had 85. Here's a partial list of the work for which our staff won recognition, in hopes it will prompt pleasant memories among close readers: Sports. The judges admired the depth and breadth of our Browns sectionsand said, "Readers must have loved getting this section every week, despite the disappointment of their losing team." To give you an idea of the teamwork it takes to produce sections this good, the list [...]

By | February 29th, 2016|

How The Birmingham News broke and told the story of Harper Lee’s death

Since coming to the AL.com and The Birmingham News about a year ago, statewide investigative reporter Connor Sheets hadn't written any obituaries. Until Friday. At close to 8:30 a.m., Sheets got texts from two sources who'd heard a rumor — Harper Lee had died. The paper had two obituaries waiting, one short and one long. He started making calls and confirmed what he'd heard from several sources, including an official one. While he worked, his coworkers watched social media for the news to break. It didn't, until after 9 a.m., when Sheets published the first story about Lee's death. The reaction was intense, of course. But the impact of the death of the beloved author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" really hit Sheets after he tweeted the news and then watched it quickly ripple out. Sheets and I spoke several times about whether or not [...]

By | February 23rd, 2016|

The Oregon standoff is over, but the story hasn’t ended for The Oregonian

Earlier this afternoon, the last holdout from a group of armed protesters that seized federal buildings near the town of Burns, Oregon gave himself up. David Fry's surrender marked the end of a 41-day standoff that's seen scrutiny from national and regional outlets alike. But for The Oregonian, which has been covering the occupation since it began in January, the story's far from over. Below is a question-and-answer session conducted over email with Mark Katches, the editor of The Oregonian, about how the newspaper covered the standoff over the last month, and how he sees that coverage changing now that the confrontation is over. Now that the standoff is over, does The Oregonian plan to follow this story? If so, how? Thankfully, it looks like a lot of the court coverage will occur a couple blocks from our newsroom here at the federal courthouse in [...]

By | February 12th, 2016|

How local media coverage is forcing Cleveland to try to finally fix its lead problem

Pallets of water, ready for distribution in the community, sit at the Sebring Community Center, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 in Sebring, Ohio, 60 miles south of Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Gillispie) Rachel Dissell lives in one of Cleveland’s “high risk” neighborhoods for lead exposure, a place where the state mandates screenings for small children. Still, when a blood test in late 2012 revealed that her young son had elevated levels in the aftermath of a home renovation, Dissell, a reporter for The Plain Dealer, was horrified—she hadn’t fully realized the scope of the city’s lead problem. When she called the city, the news was far from comforting: An official told her Cleveland’s monitoring program was low on funds and behind schedule, only making visits to inspect homes if lead levels were high enough to hospitalize a child, which her son’s were not. In [...]

By | February 10th, 2016|