Friday, April 27, 2007

YAY!

(Simply because I cheer for people who have curly hair like me...)

NPR has announced that Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist Alison Stewart (most recently of MSNBC's "The Most with Alison Stewart") has been named one of the hosts of the network's new morning show, The Bryant Park Project.

The program is geared toward NPR's younger listening audience. Stewart will co-host with NPR reporter Luke Burbank.

For those unfamilar with Ms. Stewart, she begun her career (and won a Peabody for) covering the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections for MTV News. Since then, she's been a correspondent and anchor for CBS and NBC, before landing her own show last year with MSNBC.

This young radio enthusiast only hopes she'll show up as part of the NPR delegation for the NABJ Convention in Las Vegas this summer. As if it weren't mind-blowing enought to share a family-style Italian dinner with Farai Chideya, Karen Grigsby Bates, Michel Martin, Danyell Irby and Michele Norris in Indianapolis last year....

Excitement! :-)

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Posted by Veronica Marché at 10:56 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Size does matter

...at least when it comes to circulation.

With the recent sales of media conglomerates, the ever shrinking newsroom and the exodus out of the fourth estate, at least one branch of the industry is seeing sunshine while we get cloudy days: the local newspaper. Washington Post reporter Frank Ahrens writes in a March article:
If there's any good news about the businesses of newspapering these days, it can be found at the industry's littlest papers, which are doing well even as their bigger brothers founder.

The average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has declined since 1987. The smallest papers, however -- community weeklies and dailies with circulation of less than 50,000 -- have been a bright spot in a darkened industry. As the Internet dramatically transforms the largest papers in the business -- siphoning classified advertising and commoditizing national news -- many small papers are weathering the decline with relative ease, and some are even prospering.

Why? Small papers face less competition from other media outlets, are insulated from ad slumps that have hammered big papers, employ smaller staffs of lower-salaried journalists and have a zealous devotion to local news, both in print and online, industry experts agree. Also, there is less competition on the Web for local news.

I know Ten95 readers have an opinion about what Ahrens is saying. Would you consider leaving the "mainstream" to work at a small paper - daily or weekly? Why or why not? If you work at a small paper, what advantages do you see to your job? Disadvantages? Should all newspapers focus on hyper-local coverage? Is that where the future of journalism is?

Discuss.

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Posted by T Dot at 4:28 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Monday, April 23, 2007

Go, Vandy!

Ten95er Marcus Vanderberg talks to the folks over at Journalisticks.com about blogging, writing and lots of other great stuff.

Check him out.

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Posted by T Dot at 4:35 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Friday, April 20, 2007

Holding Out Hope

Last night I attended a discussion with Aaron McGruder, the Boondocks comic strip creator, at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in San Francisco. In light of the recent media controversies, I was determined to ask McGruder about his thoughts on where things like media and free speech are in America. (Yeah, I know, a broad topic to ask a cartoonist.) But McGruder, like Don Imus (who deserved it), has felt the wrath of Al Sharpton and others who indulge in media-circus-like tactics to silence the voices who make them uncomfortable.

I'd initially heard about the McGruder event on local radio. And earlier in the week I attended hip hop journalist Jeff Chang's book release and discussion. Prior to Chang's event, I was asked to go and photograph the event for Oh Dang Magazine with a writer who was interested in a possible online/multimedia component to what he would write. Chang was to lead the conversation with McGruder, so I thought it wise to introduce myself to Chang at his own event in hopes that he would be able to give me insight on how to get an interview with McGruder.

McGruder, I've been told, has been turning down interviews ever since the New Yorker ran an unflattering article about McGruder's character. The communications company coordinating the event for the JCC also informed me that the local NPR, ABC, and NBC stations had also called them requesting an interview with McGruder. So it seemed like the only way a journalist might see and hear from McGruder is at an event like this. You're acknowledged as media, but herded with the rest of the cattle (fans and enthusiasts, that is).

I did not want to take no for an answer. I believed that somehow if I approached McGruder with a humble spirit and my campus publication press pass taped to my forehead, I'd gain his sympathy and score an interview.

I had done well, I think, to introduce myself to Chang at his event. He remembered me when I approached him as he sat just feet away from McGruder, who was signing copies of his comic strip books.

"Would you have any idea what he's up to after he's done signing books," I asked, kneeling down just below his eye level as if to signal that I know I'm asking him for privileged information.

He, of course, made it clear that he could not "broker" me an interview with McGruder. And I understood that, assuring him that I was only asking if he knew what McGruder's plans were after the crowd and book signing line had died down. And I hoped, journalist to journalist, he'd recognize my determination to get the story. He recommended I wait around until after the crowds clear. So I did.

Meanwhile, I got crowd reaction quotes and photos. I got some shots of the crowded lobby from a balcony. I even interviewed legendary Black cartoonist Morrie Turner, who came to the event to meet McGruder. And once I'd gotten Turner's picture, I was certain that the story would be great if I got McGruder to talk to me.

Once the crowd began to thin considerably, I sat near the signing table. As the last few folks waited in line, it seemed as though McGruder had one foot out the door. He appeared to be ready to go. And I got nervous. So I approached Chang, who was still sitting a few feet away from McGruder. And again, kneeling just beneath his eye level, in an act of desperation, I asked:

"Do you think you could introduce me to McGruder after he's done signing that last book?"

"Don't put me in that position, man...why don't you go ask him yourself? Be a journalist."

Ouch.

Chang didn't know that I'd spent most of Tuesday calling everyone I could: people who'd hosted McGruder for talks and lectures at universities and community centers in Maryland, in Stockton, Calif. and even in New York. I had been trying to reach his rep. With no luck, and a discouraging call back from a Stockton Record reporter, I still didn't give up hope.

Fact was, McGruder himself had not yet told me no. So I stood feet away from McGruder with my M-Audio recorder in my hand, my Canon Digital Rebel around my neck, and a reporter's pad and pen.

"I'm sorry, but he doesn't do press," a lady, who sat next to McGruder, said before I could move my lips to even begin introducing myself or ask McGruder for a few minutes of his time.

"I only want to ask a couple of questions," I uttered sternly, halfway stuttering.

McGruder lifts his head after scribbling his signature on the inside cover page of a Boondocks comic strip book, looks directly at me and says, "I'm sorry, man. Nothing against you, I just don't do press."

If I was a dog, my tail would have stopped wagging and I would have limped away with my tail between my legs. I had held out hope. But at least I'd heard it from the horse's mouth.

Now, what will I make of the reporting that I've already done?

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 1:07 PM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Two Days Ago...

The tears stinging the back of my eyes felt too familiar. And so did the urge to repress any expression of emotion.

I exhaled silently, blinked, and focused back on the computer screen in front of me. I have a job to do. I have to write. And I'm on deadline, so I can't get up and leave to call my dad like I did a year and a half ago.

Maybe it's because I'm still a kid. Everyone else in the newsroom seemed so unaffected. Me? I don't have that wall yet. I don't think I ever will. So watching other kids not much younger than me on television, crying, upset, hugging each other and searching desperately for answers hits me. Hard. And it makes it tough to focus.

I got the same feeling in my gut watching people who looked like me wading through waist-high water, clinging to their only remaining possessions and asking if someone, anyone, knew where there loved ones were, praying that their lives hadn't floated away.

That time I wasn't on deadline. And so I left. Left the newsroom, left the buzz of covering a national tragedy, left the need to be "objective" and "clear-thinking." I left, called my dad, and let the tears out.

This isn't for me, I told him. I can't do this. Yeah, there's an allure for working in a national news operation, but damn. At what price? Every national tragedy becomes your life for eight hours or more for each day that it's in the news.

I told him it feels like too much to watch other people suffer, and to know that the only thing you can do about it... is tell other people that they're suffering.

I don't know if I'm made for this, I said.

But he told me I am. And everyone knows I trust my daddy's word.

So I as I sat there again, fighting maintain my composure, I reminded myself of what he said to me a year and half earlier:

"Yes, you're a journalist. But you're a human first.

"And that's okay."



Many news organizations offer help for employees coping with tragedy, whether they're on a personal or national scale. Contact your human resources department to find out how what kind of assistance is available to you.

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Posted by Veronica Marché at 5:18 PM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

D loves the kids

So look at what popped into my e-mail this morning:

You are invited to lead a workshop and help high school journalists improve their skills at the third New York City High School Journalism Conference at Baruch College on Monday, May 7. The college is at E. 24th St. and Lexington Avenue.

Upwards of 200 students and their teachers will attend over 30 workshops conducted by journalists from The New York Times, Daily News, Newsday, New York 1, WINS, The Journal News, the South Asian Journalism Association, Columbia Journalism School and the Baruch College Journalism Programs.

Among the sessions at last fall's conference were: How to Get That Interview and What to do When You've Gotten It; Covering People Different From You; Localizing International News; Human Interest Feature Writing; and Media Law.The workshop slots are 9-9:55, 10-10:55, 11-11:55, and 12-12:55. Lunch is from 1 to 2 p.m. and you are invited. The conference will close with a panel on Breaking Into the Media, from 2-2:45.

You are welcome to stay for your session only, or for the entire program, and you may join the panel as well.If you would like to participate, please contact Jessica Siegel, director of the New York City High School Journalism Program at Baruch at jessica118@aol.com. Suggest a session to her that you'd like to present, or ask her to suggest one she thinks would benefit the students and their newspaper advisers.New York City high school journalism programs need your support.

This would be a great opportunity to give it, and I'm sure you'll find it an inspiring experience.

So I think Vandy and I are in. Are you?
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Posted by Darren Sands at 4:40 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Monday, April 16, 2007

2007 Pulitzer Prizes

Looking for a mentor? Contemplating your next move? Take note: the Pulitzer Prizes for 2007 were announced not long ago.

Here are a list of winners:

Public Service: The Wall Street Journal
Breaking News Reporting: The Staff of the Oregonian, Portland
Investigative Reporting: Brett Blackledge of The Birmingham (Ala.) News
Explanatory Reporting: Kenneth R. Weiss, Usha Lee McFarlin and Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times
Local Reporting: Debbie Cenziper of the Miami Herald
National Reporting: Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe
International Reporting: The Wall Street Journal Staff
Feature Writing: Andrea Elliott of The New York Times
Commentary: Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Criticism: Jonathan Gold of LA Weekly
Editorial Writing: Editorial Board of the New York Daily News
Editorial Cartooning: Walt Handelsman of Newsday, Long Island, N.Y.
Breaking News Photography: Oded Balilty of the Associated Press
Feature Photography: Renee C. Byer of The Sacramento Bee

For a full list of winners and nominees, click here, and click on 2007.

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Posted by T Dot at 3:40 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Coincidence? I think not.

A few months back, fellow Ten95er Darren blogged from the Nieman Conference on Narrative Writing in Boston.

He told us about the secrets of professional athletes and how their antics are often stories.
He showed us how empathy can be a tool in reporting.
He relayed that the best narratives are kept short and sweet.
He had an award winning journalist break down a narrative.
And he rubbed elbows with the one and only Roy Peter Clark.

In doing so, he enumerated a lot of useful tips and tricks for us to take back to our newsrooms. He was the eyes and ears for those who weren't lucky enough to make it to the conference.

This weekend, Poynter fellow Pat Walters blogged this weekend from the National Writers Workshop in Connecticut. The result? 48 tips in 48 hours.

Biting our style? Just a little bit, I'd say.

Regardless, Pat has a wonderful collection of tips he's assembled from the weekend. Check them out.

After all, they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.*




*There is no scientific evidence that Pat stole this idea from us. In fact, I'm sure he just thought it was a cool idea. And it is. I'm just jokingly pointing out that, in some incarnation, the good folks here at Ten95 had the idea prior to the wonderful post currently on the Poynter site. But it's all love. There's enough good writing tips and journalism to go around for everybody.

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Posted by T Dot at 10:39 AM | link | Tell us what you think [4]

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A few words for the weekend

Allow me to piggyback* off of Duck's fine post.

I'm often asked why I got into the news business. Way before I ever decided to become a journalist, I wanted to become a historian. So the truth about being glued to the television when that little girl got stuck in that hole somewhere in North Carolina, or not believing my eyes when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in mid-air, is truth about news becoming history, and me wanting to be connected to that truth.

That's why we raised our hands to cover Katrina. That's why Walter Middlebrook says if you're not ready to go to Iraq, you're not ready to be a journalist.

And of course there's the newsroom, that clubhouse of believers -- those seasoned newsmen and women who, by no fault of their own, will be forever in search of the moment that will define their career. When news breaks, the newsroom is alive.

Thursday I saw it for myself.

Sure, a cantankerous old white guy was fired from his job. But it was news. People were glued to the televisions. Reporters were on the phones calling someone -- anyone -- who had something to add to the analysis. No, it wasn't Flight 800. But it was fascinating to see. Said one reporter that sits near me: "So when are we opening up our Imus bureau?"

Yes, the Imus saga was far from being a historical event. But if it sparks the anticipated self-righteous debate about the backwards lexicon of misogynistic hip-hop, then who knows?





*"Piggybacking" was the popular term for adding on statements to the end of an announcement at morning meetings at Dublin School in Dublin, New Hampshire, where I attended from 1998-1999. Christopher Horgan, as I remember, did not coin the phrase. He simply made it what it was -- a school-wide inside joke that always made us giggle. He was the Headmaster, and he loved a good laugh.

In sports, us reporters go crazy about teams taking on the personality of their coach. Well Mr. Horgan was everything that Dublin School was. He was sensible, the school was sensible. When he was spontaneous, we were spontaneous. When he was happy, we were happy. He talked about us with an understanding of who we were. We loved him.

Someone sent me a facebook message that Mr. Horgan died of a heartattack this past week. His funeral was today, April 14, 2007.

I remember once that Mr. Horgan, who doubled as my tennis coach, told me that an opponent I was losing to was not better than me. He said, "you've got way better groundstrokes than him. Now go win."

He knew my problem: I had no confidence. From that day on, his interactions with me were all meant to build me up. He would tighten my tie. He'd restring my racket. He drove me to get a pizza. He'd ask me what I thought I could do on a test, then tell me what I was going to do.

So when I thought of Dublin, I thought of Mr. Horgan.

Today I am thinking about how I wanted him to see what I've become. I have a funny feeling he'd look at me the way he did when I came back and won that tennis match that warm day in the spring.
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Posted by Darren Sands at 5:49 PM | link | Tell us what you think [6]

Aaron's Tech Corner: CAMERAS


CLICK ON IMAGE

---------------------------
-------------------------------

GLOSSARY OF PHOTOGRAPHY TERMS
  1. aperture (priority) - The size of the lens opening through which light passes, also a mode (on most digital SLR cameras) in which the photographer selects the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed that will produce the correct exposure.
  2. fixed lens vs. zoom lens - with or without an adjustable range of focal lengths.
  3. f-stop (also f-number) - The common term for the aperture setting of a lens and/or the number that equals the focal length of a lens divided by the diameter of the aperture at a given setting. (Right over your head? Yeah, I know. Take a class.)
  4. shutter speed - The speed (measured length of time) at which a mechanism opens and closes to admit light into a camera.
Source: Photography, 8th Edition, co-written
by Ken
Kobre, professor of photojournalism at
San Francisco State University, the school Aaron
attends. Special thanks to Sibylla Herbrich for an
excellent semester so far and to
Aaron's mom,
the
photographer he looks up to most.


Wondering who that is in the photo in this week's tech corner? That's Eunice Mangwane telling the story of the Keiskamma Altarpiece during its unveiling at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on April 12. Eunice is an AIDS counselor in Hamburg, South Africa, where the altarpiece was created by 120 women of her coastal town. The altarpiece is a message of hope for people who are contending with the devastation that AIDS has wrought in the lives of the impoverished and those going through other hardships. For more about the altarpiece, visit http://www.gracecathedral.org/calendar/detail.php?eid=914.

Or look at this story:
AIDS alterpiece: From sorrow to celebration.

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 4:57 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Friday, April 13, 2007

Can Anybody Hear Me?

Well, dang. It's been one hell of a week, hasn't it?

No need to explain what happened. I could say one word -- whether it be "Imus," "Rutgers" or "hos" -- and you'd know what I'm referring to.

In the deluge of media coverage this week, I've notice one disconcerting thing -- black women are still invisible. That is, until someone wants to jump to our defense (while bashing black men or hip-hop in the process).

Betty Baye, a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, had a question about who the media sought for commentary on the Imus situation:

Did they ring up the president or the women of Spelman College? Did they call Johnnetta Cole, Julianne Malveaux, Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Callie Crossley, Vanessa Williams, Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove, Shirley Franklin, Mae Jameson, Condoleezza Rice, Kathleen Cleaver, Pearl Cleage, Susan Taylor, Renita Weems, Jill Nelson, Sheryl Swoopes or any of the legions of accomplished black women who could bring historical and political context to the harm of calling young women hos?

No. Black women were insulted, but the media rushed to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Are black women wearing burkas? Are they so invisible that they don't even get to speak first about their own pain?
As big as this story has become, the demographic that so many people are jumping to defend is still going largely unheard. The hosts of ABC's "The View" have discussed this story for the past week, and not one discussion included the voice of a black woman. None of the coverage I've seen had any comment from the National Council of Negro Women.

It's been an entire week... and I have yet to be asked how I feel about Don Imus.

No one wants to know how I feel?
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Posted by Veronica Marché at 2:08 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who Run It?

Me, that's who.

Why are you laughing? I'm serious.

I was top cop the other day in my newsroom. My boss was out sick and when she called in, I answered the phone.

"The barbershop quartet is the centerpiece," she said. "I need you to tell [my coworker] to hold off on that feature and instead write about the school committee. And make sure you add a few sentences to the budget for the crawl [a preview of news items that runs at the bottom of a local news station]."

Uh, okay.

Slowly, my coworkers trickled in. The boss was gone I told them. Don't forget to get on the budget.

They looked at me twice, yet complied.

Then, I got a call from the photo desk. The photo block we planned to use was too old - we might not be able to run it. So I started looking over other bureau budgets to see if I could steal any centerpieces or other stories. I called another office.

"Hey," I said. "Is that Mt. Everest story real, or did that fall through. My editor is out today so I'm filling in."

Silence. Then...

"Oh, yeah, that story fell through. I just forgot to take it off of the budget. So you're in charge, huh?"

*Sigh*

I'd hear this phrase more than once. Because I've only been here a year and a half and am the youngest person in my bureau, I was apparently the talk of the newsroom.

"How'd you get in charge? Coup d'etat?"
"Oh, Lord, what were they thinking leaving you to be editor?"
"I heard you're in charge today - you should know things!"

Back up off me. While I can say it wasn't the most pleasant experience - running around trying to find a centerpiece in thin air is never comforting - it wasn't as hard or harrowing as I thought it would be.

My bureau budget made it in on time. Our centerpiece drama worked out so we weren't left with a hole on the page. And our page was actually filled with stories - which I was afraid it wouldn't be. The next day, my boss came back to the office and relayed the praise I got from the higher ups for being so efficient and producing a great section.

And on top of that, I get the higher class differential today for filling in for my boss. I need for her to be sick more often - I've got bills.

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Posted by T Dot at 10:50 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Monday, April 09, 2007

Covering the Watchdog

What does the media do when the news story it must cover happens in its own newsroom?

One Tampa television station had to find that out when they reported the death of the station meterologist, John Winter, who died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Poynter Online Managing Editor Scott Libin analyzed the station's coverage of the event, and contrasted it with the way other outlets handled the news. On Winter's station, WFLA, here is what Libin observed:

I saw the usual establishing video of Winter's house, with police tape and emergency vehicles in the foreground. A tighter shot of his car in the driveway followed. I did not see any neighbors, nor did I hear any sound bites from them recounting what they'd seen and heard or speculating on what might have led Winter to take his own life. Would such sound have been part of the story if it were about a famous person who didn't work at the station? Should it be part of such stories? Will it in the future when WFLA covers cases that don't come quite so close to home?


On competing stations, Libin noted some unusual aspects to the coverage of Winter's death:

What little I saw of coverage on competing stations was somber and respectful. WFTS, which calls itself ABC Action News, even referred to Winter as a "News Channel 8 meteorologist." It's unusual in my experience to hear the competition use another station's brand language, rather than the more neutral-sounding call letters.
It's hard enough dealing with a news story in your own newsroom, but what about a news story involving your competition? One of my coworkers had to deal with that when she had to cover a story about a rival reporter who used subscriber credit cards to support a gambling addiction. We knew it was a story, but how much courtesy do you extend? Do you treat it like any other police story and go from the records? Do you sanitize it a little and withhold some elements of the story? Where do you run it - inside or on the cover? How does an industy that - ideally - is unbiased and neutral, cover a story its involved in or that involves a contemporary?

How would you have covered the meterologist story? The gambling reporter story?

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Posted by T Dot at 10:24 AM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Friday, April 06, 2007

Aaron's Tech Corner: AUDIO

CLICK ON IMAGE

Next week I'll delve into photography. Cameras, camera, and more cameras. So important to multimedia storytelling. Stay tuned.

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 8:46 PM | link | Tell us what you think [4]

Oh the Horror!

What would happen in your newsroom if there was a small flood and the power went out?

(And remember, no power means no computer access.)

The folks at NPR's Talk of the Nation were forced to rediscover pen and paper yesterday -- yikes! And mind you, that show must go on the air live.

As for the flood... that happened on NPR's third floor, home of TOTN. (And if I were still working there on the second floor, I probably would've taken a loooooong walk around the block, to avoid having flashbacks of my own flooding scare last summer.)

Still, there's a silver lining to it all. Producer Barry Hardymon says she had to pick up the -- *gasp!* -- hard copy of the New York Times, since she couldn't get online. And, she says, she found some pretty interesting stuff in the back of the paper. Which made me think, you know... we're all young and tech-savvy, but we shouldn't wait until there's a minor disaster to up pick reading material off the web.

Besides, we've gotta support Talia. :-)
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Posted by Veronica Marché at 3:00 PM | link | Tell us what you think [4]

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Moral of the Story: Toot your own horn

Oh, somebody done messed up now.

We got the e-mail on Monday begging for submissions for the monthly writing contest my paper holds. Basically, its a way to boost morale in an industry that is severely depressed. We nominate our coworkers writing and tell everyone how great they are for crafting their lede or setting the scene.

It's kinda like a low-grade version of the Grammy's for word nerds like us.

I looked over the categories: deadline, public service, developed, single editon, wild card. As I scanned through the entries, I saw that no one from my bureau had been nominated. So I looked in our archives and gathered about 7 articles, about two from each of us, and sent them to the committee.

Randomly, today, I checked the Today Show (our internal message board) to see if anyone from my bureau won. They had.

Single Edition: "Raiche Packs Up 3 Decades of Memories," by Talia Buford.

So much for humility.

Okay, even if this is just my company's low budget version of the Grammys, I'm still super excited. See, this is my first award as a professional. Technically, I've been a pro in this whole journalism game for 17 months, even though I've been a journalist since the late 1990s. I won a few awards in college, and I even submitted my first clip packet to the state journalism competition this year (still waiting on the results). But this is the first time I've won something while being paid to do this whole journalism thing for a living.

There's no money, certificate or statue that comes with this designation. But, so what? I won something. First, internal writing awards, next up: a Pulitzer.

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Posted by T Dot at 3:14 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Internship Blues

It had been about six weeks since I mailed off an internship package to my number one choice. I, being confident that I'd already built up a good rapport with the "key folks" within that organization, banked on this being the most promising prospect of the several internship programs I'd applied to for the summer.

I had a phone interview with this organization's recruiter about a week after I mailed in my application. The phone interview seemed to go well:
"I'm really interested in working with "so-and-so", I really admire their approach to multimedia. And I'm especially impressed with the "such-and-such" story that you all published about "such-and-such" topic."
I was confident that I'd at least demonstrated that I knew several things about the organization and the folks responsible for producing the aforementioned work. I was then told I would be contacted in about a week or two, whether or not I was to be brought on as an intern.

Two weeks pass and I meet with my multimedia coach, who happens to work for the organization to which I had applied. She suggests that I call the recruiter and then, if I didn't hear back, send an email.

I had already called, left a message and did not get a response. So, per my coach's advice, I sent an email. And still I got no response.

Four weeks pass, and then five and then six. At this point my anxiety level had reached its highest heights. I was tired of being patient. I wanted to have some idea of what my summer would have been like.

So I hastily picked up the phone and dialed the recruiter's direct line. The phone rang twice and I heard a voice on the other end:
(paraphrased) "I'm sorry, but we did not choose you for the internship. Our multimedia editor is looking for someone who has all the skills required for producing multimedia and just hadn't had a chance to do it at a daily paper. You mentioned that you had not yet learned Flash."
I held the phone to my ear in complete shock (though my voice and tone did not express this to the recruiter). Not only was I disappointed that my ideal summer would not come to fruition, I also didn't understand how my not knowing Flash seemed to be the deciding factor in why I didn't qualify for the multimedia internship.

I immediately wished I went to school as a Flash design major or computer programming major, on top of majoring in journalism. If ever I've felt inadequate, it was after that phone conversation. It was hard for me to swallow the fact that I had worked so hard to learn every other skill involved in online media; and the one skill I have yet to learn has me wondering what's out there for a multimedia producer who doesn't yet know Flash.
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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 12:02 PM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

What's in your memo?

We all like to think we do our jobs well. But what would it be like to hear what sources really think of your technique?

Wired reporter Fred Vogelstein got that chance when Microsoft accidentally e-mailed an internal memo to him which included briefing notes for executives who were set to be interviewed.

Vogelstein blogs about the memo here. The feeling was more than he bargained for, he writes:

But after I was done reading all 5,500 words I no longer felt elated at the prospect of an interesting scoop. I felt downright peculiar. I've been a journalist for more than 20 years and always assumed that the people I interview do as much homework on me as I do on them. So the existence of a document like this didn't surprise me. But that still didn't make it any easier to read lines like, "It takes him a bit to get his point across so try to be patient." I know my long-windedness drives my wife nuts occasionally. I didn't know it had become an issue for Microsoft's pr machine too.


What do you think your sources would say about you? Are you too conspiracy minded? Do you misquote people or twist their words? Are you easy to talk to or offputting? Can readers trust what you write or do you constantly get it wrong?

What would be in your internal memo?

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Posted by T Dot at 11:40 AM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Death of a Laptop

My IBM Thinkpad used to purr when it warmed up. I never noticed the warmth that came over me while I listened to the rolling hum of the machine start up, until that warmth became chills on a damp train ride to New York City.

In the old days, there was the zeeeeeeeoooooooom. Then the plickety-plack of the computer’s fan beginning to turn. Yes, there were magic rays of light bouncing every which way inside of it, illuminating the hard drive, and waking the LCD screen from its slumber.

And it was all going normal on the train. I decided to turn it off after we left Providence. Then it coughed. Or stuttered.

It never did that before.

There was a certain suddenness and sadness to it all. It just coughed. And then it died. It hasn’t come back on since.

I was on deadline for three stories. I was about to start a new job. I needed to find a new place. I wanted to catch up with old friends. I needed to do all these things that I did for months with the unwavering support of a laptop that died on me in Rhode Island. It used to purr when it warmed up. Now I just have to work on a way to get my brand new Dave Matthews Band sticker off without ripping it.

I won’t bury it with my sticker.
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Posted by Darren Sands at 12:32 PM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

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