Friday, July 25, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:50 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by David Cay Johnston | Email the Author

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Placing a bet on USA Today

Gannett has long felt the television model could translate into print. Now it’s using its flagship paper to double down on that idea.

The business model of network television--plugging the power of a national broadcast operation into a grid of local stations--is coming... More

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LAT exposes wasteful spending on the biowarfare beat

Local media outlets around the country can do that, too

An expose of dubious Pentagon spending hit the front page of the Los Angeles Times front page not long ago,... More

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A laurel for The Globe and Mail

Canada’s national business paper examines inequality in “The Wealth Paradox” series

Inequality is an issue not just for the United States, but also for our northern, and very similar, neighbor.... More

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Obamacare and part-time workers

Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily goes beyond claims and counter-claims

Critics of the Affordable Care Act have claimed employers are pushing some workers, especially lower-paid workers, into 29 hours or... More

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Missing context on JP Morgan

A liberal columnist tries the math that the business press should have done

A crucial piece of context went missing in coverage of the recent news that JP Morgan settled with the federal... More

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Local coverage tracks shutdown’s impact

Papers from Maine to Minnesota and beyond find consequences for those in need

The government shutdown in Washington will be temporary--but the damage it creates in some lives is likely to be long-lasting... More

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Hot air housing stories?

News reports on rising housing prices, including rentals, neglect a basic economic fact

The price of housing, whether buying or renting, is rising, or so say many recent news reports. Some skepticism is... More

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How billionaires get around the estate tax

A stellar Bloomberg article uses the Waltons as a case study

Ever wonder why the very rich pay so little in gift and estate taxes, which are intended in part to... More

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A laurel for the Detroit Free Press

Deeply reported coverage explodes simplistic myths about how the Motor City went bankrupt

"How Detroit Went Broke," published Sunday in the Detroit Free Press, is a superbly reported, written, and illustrated investigative... More

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Think taxpayers, not just NFL fans

There is a big—so far, untold—story about the proposed NFL concussion settlement

Journalists threw the public for a loss last week when reporting on the tentative settlement of a lawsuit brought by... More

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Scandal! IRS official cites public record

An “exclusive” report about collusion against a conservative group comes up empty

As Brendan Nyhan wrote Thursday for CJR, the elite mainstream press has largely lost interest in the IRS scandal, even... More

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At what cost?

A New York Times report on presidential helicopters offers lessons for covering government contractors

Competition for government contracts tends to drive down prices for taxpayers. But when bidding requirements are narrowly-crafted, as the New... More

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Tax overhaul: big numbers, hidden stories

Multinationals have ways to avoid taxes not available to domestic companies, and momentum is building in both parties to fix a flawed system. A few journalists are taking note.

How big corporations pay--or don't pay--their taxes isn't a subject that gets a lot of quality explanatory coverage, though... More

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A laurel to Time’s ‘Battleland’ blog

Winslow Wheeler’s posts show how the Pentagon uses its own inflation adjuster to make the case for more spending

The growth in the Pentagon budget over time is even greater than you think--and the scale of the increase... More

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WSJ minimizes the latest IRS news

A solid reporter’s story gives curiously short shrift to fresh facts. Meanwhile, what was the IG directed to find?

When the latest revelations in the IRS political targeting controversy--the fact that nonprofit applications from groups whose names suggested they... More

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Sequester update: contractors’ edition

Government contracting is under-reported terrain—and story-rich, for reporters who know where to look

Because of the budget sequester, food banks cut some Meals on Wheels, day care and Head Start workers were laid... More

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Is BofA mining profits from mortgage misery?

A Laurel to The Palm Beach Post

Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post broke an important story about how the Bank of America allegedly rewarded... More

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A second look at the sequester

And it isn’t pretty. A Laurel to The Associated Press

The federal budget sequester is back in the news. Three months after these across-the-board budget cuts began--some $85 billion... More

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The undercovered dark cloud in the shrinking-deficit story

Flurry of articles was welcome, but some cautionary notes deserved greater play

The federal budget deficit has been shrinking like a wool sweater in a clothes dryer, but that fact seems mostly... More

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The other IRS scandal

Required context for a controversy

The burgeoning "scandal" over how the IRS chose for review 75 applicants for tax-exempt status puts on full display an... More

How Forbes got to $475 million - That’s what a Hong Kong investor has agreed to pay for a firm that two years ago had trouble paying its rent

Are female journalists up to the job of a Jill Abramson interview? - Reporters avoid unflattering discussion about her firing

How to check if that viral video is true - Journalists don’t always verify user-generated content, so readers need to learn how to verify what they see online

The Grand Dame of Florida reporting has retired twice, but she’s still causing trouble - A conversation with the Tampa Bay Times’ Lucy Morgan

Brick by brick - After years of shrinking ambition at The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has the paper thinking global domination


The White House deploys minders to interviews all the time (WaPo)

“Almost every officially sanctioned exchange between reporters and the proverbial ‘senior administration officials’ is conducted in the presence of a press staffer”

The down-and-dirty history of TMZ (BuzzFeed)

“TMZ’s real engine — what defines its mission, what legitimizes it and sets it apart — is a unique and controversial mix of scandal mongering and investigative journalism”

The 10 worst New Yorker longreads (Gawker)

“[A]pparently [Adam] Gopnik did not know you could bake fancy breads from France and other cultures. So he got his mom to teach him how to bake them. A fine anecdote, maybe, to tell a friend or a therapist. But in this case he wrote about it for the New Yorker, a magazine.”

Bloggingheads

Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute

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Who Owns What

The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Study Guides

Questions and exercises for journalism students.