Newtown Bee associate editor expresses thanks and concerns

The following message was sent earlier today to members of the New England Newspaper & Press Association by John Voket, associate editor of The Newtown Bee. It is well worth reading given the Bee’s central role in covering the Connecticut shooting massacre. Note, too, Voket’s comments about harassing behavior on the part of some of his colleagues in the media.

Dear NENPA Colleagues and Members,

By now you and the world is fully aware of the devastating tragedy that has befallen our small community here in Newtown, CT.

As a member of the NENPA board I wanted to reach out the first moment I could to many of you, and journalists around the globe who reached out to us at The Bee to send thoughts, prayers and asking how you can be of help to our community — especially those immediately impacted by the December 14 massacre at Sandy Hook School.

Please know my fellow staffers here — and our community — are so very touched by your thoughts and wishes. And if I was to make a request for anything at this early stage of recovery, it would be twofold.

First — despite repeated requests by many victims’ families, First Selectman Pat Llodra, and our local and state law enforcement agencies, a growing number of incidents have been occurring as I write this Monday morning involving reporters and media crews invading the yards and space of grieving survivors, school staff and responders.

I fully acknowledge that some of these were initially invited as shock set in, or as part of the process working through their immediate grief by communicating to the world stories of heroism and tragedy they were hearing from children and other survivors. But I have been asked by officials and some victims to remind your correspondents that most are still requesting to be left alone.

Secondly — the outpouring of support has been, and continues to be overwhelming. But it has created opportunities for scams and legitimate organizations that are taking pass-through and/or processing expenses before delivering donations being made.

Newtown Savings Bank has assured me through its president and CEO that its survivors fund will be distributing 100 percent of every donation to assure the immediate victims are being cared for — including any expenses related to specialized counselors and responders who need to be brought in and put up in close proximity to Newtown. I will be discussing with them in the near future ideas about how any future surplus from donations can continue to serve victims and especially children affected by this and other similar tragedies.

If any NENPA outlets are inclined, they can drive readers, viewers and listeners to www.nsbonline.com for information on donating to this fund. Having friends of my own who lost children, and many more who were immediate to the incident, I can’t begin to articulate the horror this unwanted event has showered on us, but your thoughts, prayers and attention to these immediate concerns will make a significant and positive difference.

With deepest appreciation,

John Voket
Associate Editor
The Newtown Bee … since 1877

A big night for my old friends at the Phoenix

This past Saturday, Mrs. Media Nation and I had a great time spending the evening with old friends from the Boston Phoenix at the New England Newspaper & Press Association awards dinner. I was there because Harvey Silverglate and I had been nominated in the right-to-know reporting category for the 2009 Muzzle Awards; we ended up taking second place.

Overall, the Phoenix cleaned up. I was especially pleased to see Mike Miliard win Journalist of the Year, one year after Phoenix political columnist David Bernstein took the honor. There were so many first-place awards that I will just point to this rather than try to list them all. If I may, I’ll just single out one other — Kristen Goodfriend, who won first place in design, and who always makes all of us look good in print.

You can find all the NENPA winners here.

Reconnecting with your audience

I’ll be leading a discussion on “Blogging, Social Media and Journalism” tomorrow from 10:45 a.m. to noon at the annual convention of the New England Newspaper & Press Association at the Park Plaza. I’ve put together some slides (above), but I’m conceiving this session as an unconference, and I want to turn it over to the editors and reporters who’ll be attending as quickly as possible.

The blabbing continues. From 3:45 to 5 p.m., Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub and I will lead a workshop on “Writing for the Web.”

Finally, on Saturday from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m., I’ll be taking part in a panel discussion on social media that’s part of the ACLU of Massachusetts “Secrecy, Surveillance and Sunlight” conference at UMass Boston. I’ll be joined by Northeastern University Law School professor Hope Lewis, ACLUM online communications coordinator Danielle Riendeau and ACLUM communications director Christopher Ott.

Now, to get back to those slides (and sorry for the funny line breaks; there’s something about SlideShare that I’m obviously missing). There are a number of examples I’ll be talking about that are worth taking a deeper look at. So I thought I’d post some links here.