Issue 3 ~ Dot’s Reading Room ~ January, 2020

The Bedford Citizen’s Board Member Emerita and Senior Copy Editor Dot Bergin scans the Internet for interesting publications about journalism and current events.

In this installment, you’ll find stories about the US Census, local journalism, and spotting fake news

Is the Census Outmoded?

The Economist wonders if America’s traditional way of taking the census may be a bit outdated in this era of “big data.” A remote village in Alaska is the first to be counted in the 2020 decennial census; the article points out some of the difficulties in today’s society of finding-and counting-everyone living in the US.  Here is the link:

Local Journalism: Long Hours, Low Pay

Here’s a local journalism story that hits very close to home.  In the January 3, 2020, issue of Columbia Journalism Review, former reporter Mariya Manzhos writes of her time on the Winchester (MA) Star.

Manzhos says she loved her work, getting to know the ins and outs of local affairs in Winchester, attending meetings of the Select Board, the School, and Planning Committees, and developing an understanding of the issues the town faces (many of those issues are similar to the ones we face in Bedford: low percentage of affordable housing, rapid growth of the school population, and high property taxes, among others.) To really learn about a town, she felt, required at least a year on the job as a reporter.  Manzhos was responsible both for writing stories for the print edition of the Star and also for maintaining a robust digital presence for online readers

“It takes time for journalists to develop connections to their communities. That connection is something communities expect: according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study, 81 percent of adults believe reporters should be ‘personally engaged with their local area,’ and about 85 percent believe reporters should understand their community’s history.”

For the work Manzhos was doing, her salary was a princely $30,000 per year.  If she took an evening off, she said, and failed to cover a town committee meeting, she felt she was not doing a good job. When the newspaper’s ownership changed hands, Manzhos felt she could no longer maintain a healthy balance of work and home life and left the Star.

Read her story here:

Fake News – Can you Spot it?

Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, keeps tabs on the new academic literature in media, social science, and other fields,  including papers on fake news and fact-checking. JR’s managing editor sums up some of the most compelling papers published in 2019.

Click on the link to see seven journal articles that examine fake news from multiple angles, including what makes fact-checking most effective and the potential use of crowdsourcing to help detect false content on social media.

Click this link to read earlier posts in Dot’s Reading Room!

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