Hear ‘Snopes’ editor at Jan. 26 SPJ/LA Distinguished Journalists Banquet

“Fake news” — based on fiction instead of fact — has become a major concern for journalists and others over the past few months, and one of the sites hit hard by it is Facebook. Now the social media site has enlisted the help of professional media fact-checkers to verify stories that are suspect. Among those fact-checkers is “Snopes,” a web site that examines rumors and”urban legends.”

On Jan. 26, 2017, the managing editor of that site, Brooke Binkowski, will be the keynote speaker for the 41st annual awards banquet of the Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. A no-host cocktail reception will begin at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Tickets are $100 for SPJ members, $140 for non-members and $80 for students. If you can’t make it to the banquet, please consider donating $80 to sponsor a student. (If your child is a student interested in journalism, marketing or politics, this is a great time and place to meet Southern California professional journalists.)

The Distinguished Journalist honorees are longtime regional journalists practicing in print, radio, television and digital media. They are: Hector Becerra, editor with the Los Angeles Times; R. Scott Moxley, investigative reporter for the OC Weekly; Greg Habell, editor for KNX 1070; Adrienne Alpert, general assignment reporter for ABC7 Eyewitness News; and Ken Bensinger, Jeremy Singer-Vine and Jessica Garrison of BuzzFeed News.

For details on sponsorship or to make a reservation, please contact Alice Walton at AliceMWalton@gmail.com or (310) 595-5612.

Time span to acquire meaning

Some research has been done on the question of “time span to acquire meaning” in news stories. In plain words, that means how quickly a typical reader at a particular time and place will understand and feel interested in a specific story. For example, if the story is about the Vatican, the reader who is Catholic or has visited Rome will probably be more likely to read at least the first few paragraphs of the story, while someone with neither characteristic/experience would skip it. Of course that’s why editors want to think about the audience they are serving with news and information. When you have a few minutes, you should look at a newspaper or web site and think about which stories interest you and why (and which do not).

Pay attention to grammar and style rules

In a podcast (“About the News”) I listened to while out for my morning walk today, Political writer Peter Hanby told interviewer Bob Schieffer that he got his start in journalism because as a high school student he used to send his local newspaper editor a daily critique of writing errors in found in the paper. The editor finally got tired of the emails and asked the young Hanby to come in and do copy and fact-checking as a member of the staff..
I thought about that again this afternoon when I started reading assignments contributed by students in my online journalism class and discovered some with errors in grammar (present instead of past tense) and style (abbreviated words that should have been spelled out).
There is a reason journalists are asked to use correct grammar and style in writing. If you don’t get it right, you will not find a post-graduation job, in journalism or another profession.