Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott joined NPR News in the spring of 2009 to launch a new blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Frank James.

"The Two-Way" is the place where gives readers breaking news and analysis — and where it engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Memmott came to NPR from USA Today, where for over 20 years he worked as a reporter and editor on subjects ranging from politics and, foreign affairs to economics and the media.

In recent years he helped launch and then led three different news blogs at, including the website's 2008 presidential campaign blog, On Politics.

How much, if any, of the shocking sights and sounds should newsrooms report when two people are murdered on live television and the video whips around the world on the Web?

Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two local TV journalists, were gunned down while on the air Wednesday. They were near Roanoke, Va., interviewing local Chamber of Commerce official Vicki Gardner about tourism. Gardner was seriously injured.

Editor's note: The headline on this post tips our hand. But just to be clear, we're discussing language that some readers don't want to hear or read, even when it's bleeped or not spelled out.

This question came up in the newsroom: Should an NPR journalist say during a podcast that someone's an a****** if many people would agree that person is an a******?

The question wasn't about a real person. It was about someone who would bet against his favorite team or would bet that his lover would say "no" to a marriage proposal.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It's Independence Day. Let's take a break from parades, patriotic songs and pyrotechnics to think about the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

As NPR and other news outlets report about the hundreds of people killed this month when the ship they were on went down off the Libyan coast, the stories are referring to those who died as "migrants."

Eight months after a notorious group of fighters in Iraq and Syria became regular characters in the news, NPR still begins most of its reports with words such as these:

-- "Self-declared Islamic State."

-- "Self-proclaimed Islamic State."

-- "The group that calls itself the Islamic State."

Wednesday's attack at the Paris office of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo is thought to have been the work of killers who believe cartoons can be so offensive that they justified the murder of 12 people.

News organizations and people around the world obviously believe the opposite — that no one deserves to die just because he's rude, crude or otherwise obnoxious. Free speech includes the right to be offensive.

You're ready to check out at the supermarket. There are only eight items in your cart, so you look for the express lane.

The sign above says "10 items or less."

Do you:

-- Head for the register without a second thought?

-- Rue the decline of the English language because you were taught that the sign should say "10 items or fewer?"

The Two-Way is just shy of its fifth anniversary, on May 13.

This blogger has written just over 9,700 posts for NPR — almost 9,500 of them for The Two-Way.

It seems like a good time to move on.

Next week, I'll be on vacation. When I return to work May 5, I'll be taking on the duties of "standards and practices" editor at NPR and no longer blogging for The Two-Way.

According to our ethics handbook:

The biggest sports story of the week for millions of football (soccer) fans around the world was the sacking of David Moyes as manager of England's Manchester United, one of the two most valuable sports franchises on the planet.

The news Friday from the site of South Korea's ferry disaster includes word that:

-- "At least 185 passengers had been confirmed dead, with 117 others still missing." (Yonhap News)

Saying that "the tense geopolitical situation between Russia and Ukraine" could accelerate the already heavy flow of money coming out of Russia, Standard & Poor's on Friday cut that nation's credit rating to just above "junk" level.

What's more, S&P says it doesn't expect things to improve anytime soon:

In case you missed it, much is being made of what happened Thursday at the White House when a 10-year-old girl stepped forward at a take-your-children-to-work event with first lady Michelle Obama to say:

"My dad's been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his résumé."

High up on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest, fresh ice avalanches on Friday made it "almost certain that no one will summit the world's highest mountain from Nepal during this year's climbing season," Reuters writes.

The crisis in Ukraine showed no signs of cooling Friday. Harsh rhetoric was flying:

-- "Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk accused Russia on Friday of wanting to start World War III by occupying Ukraine 'militarily and politically,' " Reuters reports.

The Vatican on Thursday sought to tamp down speculation that Pope Francis wants to reverse church teachings and allow divorced and remarried Catholics and their spouses to take Communion.

One day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was calling off his side's participation in the next session of peace talks with Palestinian leaders, Israel's Cabinet has endorsed that decision and "unanimously decided to cut off contacts," The Associated Press writes.

Students at Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea, began the difficult process of resuming classes on Thursday, eight days after a ferry disaster claimed the lives of more than 200 of their classmates.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News, the seniors (or third-year year students):

After two straight weeks in which the figures tracked near their lowest levels in seven years, the number of first-time applications for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week.

The Employment and Training Administration says there were 329,000 such claims filed, up by 24,000 from the previous week's slightly revised figure.

The father of a teen who last weekend survived a 5 1/2-hour flight from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a passenger jet says:

"When I watched the analysis about the extraordinary and dangerous trip of my son on local TVs and that Allah had saved him, I thanked God and I was very happy."

A large piece of metal found earlier this week on the coast of western Australia, which investigators had called an "object of interest" in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the 239 people who were on board, is apparently not connected to the missing jet.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau reports that "after examining detailed photographs of material washed ashore 10 kilometers east of Augusta, it is satisfied it is not a lead in relation to the search."

Three American citizens were killed Thursday at a Christian organization's hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, when an Afghan security guard opened fire. Another American citizen was reportedly wounded.

One of those killed was an experienced pediatrician from Chicago who had been working at the hospital for seven years, according to media reports. The other two killed were a father and son whose names and ages had not yet been released.

"A Rio de Janeiro slum erupted in violence late Tuesday following the killing of a popular local figure, with angry residents setting fires and showering homemade explosives and glass bottles onto a busy avenue in the city's main tourist zone," The Associated Press writes.

The news from high up the world's tallest mountain continues to be confusing, with some reports implying that a boycott by Sherpas means there will be no climbs to the summit this year and others indicating that there will still be attempts to reach the top.

Based on what we can glean from various news accounts, it appears that some expeditions have indeed canceled their climbs. But it also seems that at least some of the estimated 400 Sherpas on the mountain may be willing to continue on — meaning there will be summit attempts in coming weeks.

The already slim hope that anyone might still be alive aboard the South Korean ferry that sunk a week ago was all but extinguished Wednesday with the news that divers have found no air pockets in key areas of the ship.

The latest word about the teenager who survived a ride Sunday from California to Hawaii in the frigid wheel well of a jet is that he may have hoped to eventually get to Somalia to be with his mother.

After 6 1/2 weeks of false leads and conflicting information about what may have happened to the jet and the 239 people on board, Wednesday's headlines about the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 need to be viewed with considerable caution:

-- " 'Object of interest' found on Western Australian coast." (

There are more data to add to Chicago's well-documented problem with gun violence.

Headlines such as this from the Chicago Sun-Times — "In violent weekend, at least 8 dead, 37 wounded in shootings across Chicago" — set us off in search of news reports after previous weekends.

Update at 12:30 p.m. ET. Despite Government's Concessions, Many Sherpas May Leave:

The likelihood of the upcoming climbing season on Mount Everest being canceled altogether seemed to veer from very possible to very unlikely to somewhere in between within the space of less than an hour on Tuesday as news reports came in from the world's tallest mountain.

With the death toll continuing to rise and likely to exceed 300, the captain and crew of the ferry that sank last week off the coast of South Korea have been called cowards and accused of murder.

Now, though, we're also hearing about the heroic acts of some among the 29-member crew — seven of whom either are confirmed to have died or are missing.