M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Archive for the ‘Great Moments in Journalism’ Category

11 Buzzfeed Listicles of 11 Things

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Written by Alex

May 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Life on general assignment

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In the new world at NBC News, I’m now doing general assignment after many years covering various beats. That yields a certain variety to one’s work week.

At 1 o’clock this morning, I was hunched over a spreadsheet calculating word-frequency counts for President Obama’s State of the Union address. Ten hours later, I was writing this:

One of the busiest interstates in the U.S. remained closed Wednesday, hours after a semi-trailer transporting French vanilla coffee creamer overturned in Phoenix, coating more than 150 feet of the highway with a white slick of delicious-smelling traffic hazard.

You never know what life on GA will bring next.

Grab your coffee mug: French vanilla creamer closes busy Arizona interstate (NBC News)

Written by Alex

February 13, 2013 at 12:02 pm

In re the frumious beer bet

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Update [May 9, 8:10 p.m. ET]: Now you can even buy a Bandersnatch Cummerbund T-shirt.

Original post: I worked there seven years, but it took this to finally get my name in The Washington Post.

In re Bandersnatch Cummerbund controversy (Lisa de Moraes/The Washington Post)

Written by Alex

May 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Human editors matter, or: Pat Buchanan, call your lawyers!

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Google likes to generate a “quote of the day” atop some of its news searches. It doesn’t always work out well.

Because I was doing a story that involved Adolf Hitler, I of course did a news search for “hitler” to see who else might be reporting the story. This is what I got:

Written by Alex

February 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Police Blotter of the Century: For suspect, gun is a .38-caliber pain in the …

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Authorities believe Michael Ward concealed this .38-caliber revolver by hiding it where the sun don't shine. (WITN-TV)

A man pulled who was pulled over for a traffic violation in North Carolina was found this week with a gun in his jail cell — a big gun that authorities believe he hid in his rectum.

Deputies said the man — who claimed he was disabled and couldn’t walk — was searched and strip-searched both at a hosital and at the Onslow County, N.C., jail before he was placed into a holding cell. Jailers even made him perform what they call a “squat and cough” procedure.

No gun.

Only later did the .38-caliber revolver — 10 inches long, with a 4½-inch barrel — turn up.

Ward was taken back to the hospital Friday for examination of “possible injuries that may have occurred” to his rectum.

Full story (M. Alex Johnson/msnbc.com with WITN-TV and WNCN-TV)

Written by Alex

January 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Dear Santa: Give me ‘the real-life Justin Bieber … or you die’

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Mekeeda Austin has warned Father Christmas that he will be ‘killed’ if he fails to deliver at least two of her long list of gifts – including a BlackBerry smartphone and ‘the real-life Justin Bieber’.

The 13-year-old goes even further and threatens to ‘hunt down’ Old Nick’s reindeer so she can ‘cook them and serve their meat to homeless people on Xmas day’.

Full story (MetroUK)

Written by Alex

December 16, 2011 at 11:54 am

Net benefit?

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“The Web helped make activities fun.”

That’s the caption on a photo topping a New York Times essay, the thesis of which appears to be: Gosh! You can use the Web for more than work!

Here’s a screenshot in case the caption is edited later:

Barefoot Sean Penn looks like he’s having a ball, doesn’t he? Which, according to the Times, would have been impossible before the Web was invented 20 years ago, because activities weren’t fun until then.

Written by Alex

August 14, 2011 at 8:14 am

Great Moments in Journalism: Camel eats reporter’s hair

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“You never know what might happen when you’re reporting on a farm.

“WWBT reporter Tara Morgan learned that lesson the hard way. While working on a story in Hanover County, VA, a camel started eating her hair. …”

Full story (WWBT-TV of Richmond, Va.)

Written by Alex

May 13, 2011 at 10:45 am


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And I don’t mean this cover, from the weekly edition of The Telegraph, is a perfect front page. I mean it perfectly captures the struggle between the frivolous and the serious that we in the media still haven’t resolved.

Why I Love Local News: Male stripper won’t have to wear pasties

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“Male exotic dancer Ed Cloyd, who goes by the stage name ‘Total Package’ at clubs in Prince George’s and Washington, D.C., will not have to wear Band-Aids over his nipples when he dances close to customers.

“The injunction of the Maryland Strip Club Law, which would have limited the way entertainers could dance, dress and behave in Prince George’s County venues that sell alcohol, was upheld Feb. 17 by U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James A. Wynn.”

Full story (The Gazette)

Written by Alex

February 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm