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A growing backlash on web comments

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Alexis Sobel Fitts discusses why increasing numbers of news web sitesPacific Standard, the Huffington Post, the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times — are doing away with comments or making them less prominent: "When Popular Science did it first, in September 2013, the internet response was mostly negative or incredulous. But it’s becoming increasingly commonplace as more discussion gets outsourced to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other parts of the social Web."

This year in news media screwups

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Rolling Stone’s discredited campus rape story wins Error of the Year from Poynter's Craig Silverman in his annual roundup of the year's most notable media missteps and corrections: "It should go down as one of the most cautionary tales of confirmation bias in journalism. It’s also an example of how to not to behave when your organization publishes a disastrous piece of reporting." Silverman contrasts the Rolling Stone-walling with mea culpas from Deadspin and io9.

Speaker's gavel drops on FOIA reform

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The House of Representatives may have passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill before adjourning, but it didn't get to vote on a Freedom of Information bill that passed the Senate by unanimous consent. Kelly J O'Brien reports that "an almost complete lack of interest from the major publications most likely to benefit from better freedom of information laws" was partly to blame. More from The Hill. Details from RCFP.

Eric Holder's record on press freedom

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The retiring attorney general has prosecuted record numbers of people under the Espionage Act for leaking classified information to the media. Kelly J. O'Brien writes that Eric Holder needs to do more than express regret: "The Obama administration has undoubtedly tilted the legal landscape against leakers and national security reporters. If Holder wants to change that, he will have to unpave a long road of specific policies laid down by the DOJ during his tenure,"

Why plagiarists can get away with it

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Multiple accusations of plagiarism by Fareed Zakaria haven't derailed his career, and David Uberti says that's because journalists aren't serious about the problem: "A review of examples from the past quarter-century shows that journalists have continuously grappled not only with the definition of plagiarism, but also how to respond to it. Punishment has been consistently inconsistent. And opinions vary on whether such sinners should be allowed back in the church."

A science writer at Ben Bradlee's side

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Amid the remembrances of legendary editor Ben Bradlee, Carol Felsenthal writes about Howard Simons, who was the Washington Post's second-in-command during the Watergate era: "If Bradlee was the great man of Watergate, Simons, who died in 1989 at age 60, was the forgotten man, without whom Bradlee might never have been seen as so great," Felsenthal writes. "He had started at the Post in 1961 as a science writer, one of the subjects that particularly bored Bradlee."

Big business enters the news business

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The Richmond Standard, a news web site in Richmond, Calif., is "one of the more polished sites to emerge in the age of hyper-local digital news brands," Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson writes. Then he explains: "That may be because it is run and funded by Chevron, the $240 billion oil group which owns the Richmond refinery that in August 2012 caught fire, spewing plumes of black smoke over the city and sending more than 15,000 residents to hospital for medical help."

Does Time expect ad-friendly writing?

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A spreadsheet leaked to Gawker's Hamilton Nolan suggests that newly spun-off Time Inc. rates writers, in part, on how "beneficial" their work is to advertiser relationships: "Would you believe that this once-proud magazine publishing empire is now explicitly rating its editorial employees based on how friendly their writing is to advertisers?" More from Nieman Journalism Lab, and a Time Inc. reply from Norman Pearlstine.

EPA tries to gag its science advisers

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Journalism and science groups are protesting an Environmental Protection Agency policy muzzling its science advisers: "An April memo from the EPA's chief of staff said that 'unsolicited contacts' need to be 'appropriately managed' and that committee members should refrain from directly responding" to reporters, Congress, and others. More from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Union of Concerned Scientists.

On the nature of plagiarists

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The latest round of journalistic shoplifting prompts this Jack Shafer post: "Plagiarism is not a crime against the journalists whose passages have been stolen. It’s a crime against readers, who have every right to believe that journalists vouch for the copy they serve … Disdain the plagiarist because he traffics in the counterfeit. His greatest crime is wasting your time." More from Margaret Sullivan, Dan Duray.