M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Archive for the ‘Original’ Category

Quotation of the year

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“I refuse to let my professionalism and my femininity be defined by a piece of fabric.”

— Melissa Medley, Enterprise Florida

Florida answers critics of ‘sexist’ logo: ‘It’s just a cartoon’ (M. Alex Johnson/NBC News)

Written by Alex

February 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Nope, I haven’t changed jobs, or: Welcome to NBCNews.com

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But my employer changed names:

NBC News has acquired full control of msnbc.com and its digital network from Microsoft Corp. and is immediately rebranding the site as NBCNews.com.

Many details of the arrangement remain to be worked out, and financial terms weren’t disclosed.

But NBC News President Steve Capus said the site — one of the news industry’s earliest and most successful online operations — would become part of NBC News Digital, a new division led by Vivian Schiller, the former president and chief executive of National Public Radio. Schiller joined NBC News as chief digital officer last year.

Full story (M. Alex Johnson/NBCNews.com)

Written by Alex

July 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Police Blotter of the Day: Cop twice uses Taser on mom at Mississippi middle school

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A police officer working as a school resource officer in northern Mississippi twice stunned the mother of a Guntown Middle School pupil with a Taser during a heated argument at the school Wednesday morning.

The woman — identified as Michele Lee Eaton, 39, of Saltillo, about 15 miles north of Tupelo — was arrested on disorderly conduct, public profanity and other charges.

Guntown is where Adam Mayes, who allegedly killed a Tennessee woman and one of her daughters before  killing himself earlier this month, was spotted on a convenience store surveillance camera.

Full story (M. Alex Johnson/msnbc.com)

Written by Alex

May 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Surprise! People are sophisticated

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Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET: Over at msnbc.com, I have a piece looking at how people have followed the Trayvon Martin case online. This is one of the projects we’re doing with Crimson Hexagon’s Forsight social media tools, which are explained in this post.

Although you might get the impression from news coverage of the case that the American public wants George Zimmerman’s head on a stake, what the American public has been saying on Twitter and Facebook and in online forums is much more nuanced.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is American intelligence on the right track?

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Over at msnbc.com, I have a report on the annual national intelligence assessment. In it, National Intelligence Director James Clapper told senators that al-Qaida could be receding to purely symbolic status, leaving the United States with the challenge of confronting numerous new, harder-to-get-a-grip-on security threats.

Read the details here and let me know whether you agree. And if so, how should Washington refocus its intelligence resources?

We also have a poll on Facebook: Is the U.S. safer today?

Written by Alex

January 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Anatomy of a walkback

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Over at msnbc.com, I’ve posted an update on Benjamin Colton Barnes, the former Army private believed to have shot Park Ranger Margaret Anderson in Mount Rainier National Park over the weekend.

Here’s the key passage:

In July, the mother of Barnes’ young daughter said in court papers seeking a protection order that he “has possible PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) issues.” News organizations — including msnbc.com— noted the court filings and reported that Lewis-McChord is considered one of the most troubled bases in the U.S. military, with an alarming record of violent incidents and suicides among veterans returning from Iraq.

But as more has been learned about Barnes, it appears that his troubles may have had little to do with his service in Iraq or his having been stationed at Lewis-McChord.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

January 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Michigan man may have intentionally infected hundreds with HIV

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Leon Hendrix of NBC station WOOD-TV of Grand Rapids, Mich., spoke to one of the possible victims.

Update: Smith’s attorney says he plans on “exploring all options” in defending Smith, saying specifically, “I am concerned about his mental health.”


Over at msnbc.com, I have the bizarre story of a Michigan man with HIV who’s been charged with sex crimes after he told police he intentonally set out to kill as many people as he could by having sex with them.

According to documents on file with Grand Rapids 61st District Court, Smith claimed to have had sex with “thousands” of partners, intending to kill them by infecting them with HIV. Some of those people are from outside the Grand Rapids area, including people Smith met over the Internet, he told police, according to documents.

Smith faces separate preliminary hearings on the two charges on Jan. 4 and Jan. 9. He remains in the Kent County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond. Smith’s attorney did not answer calls seeking comment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

December 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Police Blotter of the Day: Bull shot to death after daring meat-plant escape

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Cross-posted from msnbc.com, where it originally appeared:

By M. Alex Johnson, msnbc.com

An animal control officer shot and killed a bull Thursday after it escaped on its way to a Maryland meat processing plant, charged a sheriff’s deputy and damaged a patrol car, authorities said.

The bull escaped Thursday morning in Mount Airy, Md., about 50 miles north of Washington, as it was being led from a truck into the plant, said Brian Horton, a spokesman for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the sheriff’s incident report, the bull broke free, charged a bystander and ran off in the general direction of a day care center. Deputies followed him into a nearby field, where he then charged one of the deputies.

“Fearing for their safety, a deputy discharged two rounds from a shotgun, striking the bull, and causing him to retreat into a wooded area,” the report said. A county animal control officer then finished him off with two more shots.

Besides the bull, the only casualty was the taillight on a deputy’s cruiser, which the bull slammed into as he eluded attempts to corral him. The body of the bull — presumably no longer fit for human consumption as it was by then lead-contaminated — was released back to its owner.

Written by Alex

December 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Judge allows media to live-tweet Sandusky hearing

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Senior Judge John Cleland has reversed himself and says he will allow news organizations to report the preliminary hearing for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky  through Twitter, email and text messages.

Pennsylvania law bans “transmission of communications from the courtroom by telephone, radio, television, or advanced communication technology,” but at a hearing Monday requested by news organizations, Cleland appeared to carve out an exception for live electronic text reporting, deciding that the ban applied to “neither ‘tweeting’ or the simultaneous transmission of a reporter’s account or impression of events as they occur in the courtroom.”

The state rule is intended to bar “an audio and/or visual record” of events, Cleland ruled — not the actual reporting of the news.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

December 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Reporting: New diet rules curb Meals on Wheels

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Cross-posted from msnbc.com, where it originally appeared.

Federal guidelines meant to help Americans eat healthier foods are straining Meals on Wheels and other nonprofits already laboring to make sure the elderly get enough to eat at all.

Lanakila Meals on Wheels in Honolulu, Hawaii, already has a waiting list of 90 people, most of them elderly, who have asked for food the organization can’t afford to provide.

The program can always use more volunteers, but what it really needs now is money. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

November 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

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