Border stories

Humane Borders volunteers John Yoakum, right, and Rick Wilmsen, both of Tucson, work to fill an emergency water station for illegal immigrants in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. June 2002.

I photographed Humane Borders volunteers John Yoakum, right, and Rick Wilmsen, both of Tucson, filling an emergency water station for illegal immigrants in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in June 2002.

It’s been more than a decade since I spent time with Humane Borders volunteers putting out water barrels in the desert for migrants crossing illegally from Mexico into Arizona, and more than two decades since I covered the U.S. Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas. I’d welcome any excuse to get back to that world with a camera, but three new batches of reporting on the borderlands will have to suffice for now: Border Dispatches by NPR, Hoping for Asylum, Migrants Strain U.S. Border by The New York Times, and Stuck in Tijuana hoping for a miracle: the deportees with nowhere to go, part of a new series by The Guardian. Related to the Times piece is this appreciation of Todd Heisler’s photography for the series.

Sevareid Awards

MPR took home four first place awards — including best overall website — and four awards of merit in the annual Northwest Broadcast News Association’s Sevareid Awards contest, competing against entries from radio and television stations from six states.

First place awards

Overall website: MPR News

Investigative: Archdiocese knew of priest’s sexual misbehavior

General reporting: Problems with Minnesota’s new health insurance website

Documentary: International Falls tries to forge new future

Awards of merit

Broadcast writing: Homebuyers seek edge with ‘love letters’ to owners

Hard feature: Parents say school didn’t warn them of landslide dangers

Series: PolyMet mine: Economic boon, or too environmentally risky?

Newscast: All Things Considered Oct. 8, 2013 (Newsroom)

SND awards

When your digital productions go up for awards against the likes of The York Times, The Associated Press, The Guardian and The Boston Globe, you temper your hope. But we found out today that we took home two awards from this year’s Society of News Design competition. The first was for our team live blog coverage of the Minnesota Legislature’s passage of a bill allowing same-sex marriage: From Legislature votes to #loveisthelaw. The second was for a novel video by Curtis Gilbert and Molly Bloom: Hey Minneapolis, still don’t get ranked-choice voting? Here’s a guide. Plus, our own Meg Martin served on the judging panel (though of course not in the categories in which we were entered) and was featured in the SND clip above.

NPR’s big iTunes leap

It’s huge:

Anywhere you can play iTunes, you’ll find NPR.

Digital streams of Morning Edition, All Things Considered and hourly newscasts will be available on a new 24-hour streaming NPR station on iTunes Radio.

“What you hear today is just the start of what’s to come,” said Zach Brand, NPR’s vice president of digital media. Later this spring, the station will expand to include streams of our member stations from across the country.

This collaboration is just one step in the company’s larger move to create an expanded digital listening experience — a “Pandora for public radio.” That project is still in the works, and hurtling forward.

Apple Insider:

The latest data released earlier this month found that iTunes Radio is already more popular than Spotify, with an 8 percent share of the streaming market. Apple’s service is close behind iHeartRadio, which has a 9 percent share, while market leader Pandora has a considerable buffer with 31 percent.

The Verge:

What good is a “radio” service if it can’t keep you current on the day’s news? Apple seems to be wondering the same thing. Beginning today, content from NPR will be available on its iTunes Radio streaming service.


NPR officials say that within weeks, some of the broadcaster’s local stations should begin offering their own stations, with a similar mix of live and taped news.

Ben Mook (Current):

Acting NPR CEO Paul Haaga said in a memo to station executives Monday that digital streams from NPR member stations can be added to iTunes Radio if stations switch stream formats to meet Apple’s requirements. He added that NPR Digital Services will help stations with the switch.

Judith Smelser:

Stations no longer have the option to ride NPR’s coattails as nothing more than pass-throughs for national programming. They must invest in unique, compelling content that’s specifically relevant to their communities.

How they grew audience share

Know your audience: Wall Street Journal refugee Jessica Lessin writes at The Guardian about launching The Information, a $400-a-year subscription service, while other news outlets aim for a mass audience with free content supported by advertising.

“We believe the best way to build a brand is to be indispensable to some people, rather than try to appeal to everyone,” she writes. “Our only incentive is to write articles our customers want so badly they are willing to pay for them.”

The Financial Times made a similar discovery, CEO John Ridding tells Poynter. They have a paywall, and his organization spent a lot of time and effort to know their audience through subscriptions instead planning strategy in the dark.

“I don’t think we really understood the power of the data and the audience understanding that came with the subscription model,” he said. “We’ve been able to build a system of understanding our readers” to give them more of what they want — and are willing to pay for.

Trust your tactics: The ad-based “go big” philosophy’s most celebrated practitioner of late, the curation play Upworthy, organizes the strategy of leveraging other people’s work into viral content this way:

“Clickbait” — overselling content with outrageous headlines in order to get people onto a website — is a totally viable (if totally annoying) way to get a bunch of initial views. But it doesn’t create viral content. By far the most important factor in getting people to share a post is the actual quality of the content in the eyes of the community. To share, they have to love what they see.”

At The Verge, also free, “all we’re told are the monthly totals, which basically just tick up every month,” reporter Adrianne Jeffries tells American Journalism Review. “So every meeting it’s like, ‘great, another record month, everybody wins.’” That was a big adjustment for Jeffries, who’s previous employer was BuzzFeed.

Guttenfelder on Instagram

For David Guttenfelder, AP’s chief photographer in Asia, the debate about Instagram is over. “This is just another communication tool,” he tells Olivier Laurent in FLTR, the British Journal of Photography’s excellent pub covering smartphone photography.

“The Associated Press has a massive reach, and so does National Geographic, but with Instagram, I’m talking to people directly. They are commenting on my images, and I answer them, and that’s a very interesting thing. There’s an audience out there that maybe doesn’t read The New York Times and may be getting its news about North Korea or the Philippines from Instagram. That’s cool, especially since it’s a purely visual place. You and I have been thinking about photography for a long time, but a lot of people have been thinking about it just for the past few months – and this is exciting.”

More David Guttenfelder on Instagram: