Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sooo...About the Wire...

My apologies. Things have gotten super hectic at work and I've fallen off on my blogging about The Wire in its last season.

So here's one of the latest things I've learned from watching my newest favorite show on bootleg (because I don't have cable).

In a recent episode, the company brass gathered all of the employees in the newsroom around for a major announcement. Editors and reporters alike speculated about what the news could be. Maybe Pulitzer talk was in the air, they asked? Oh, no, said Editor Gus; if there was a Pulitzer in the vicinity, the bosses would be tumescent, he said, referring to the brass' pants.

From the American Heritage Dictionary: tumescence (tumescent) -- adj. -- A swelling or enlarging.

Oh, The Wire: you and your high-brow off-color comments slay me.

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Posted by T Dot at 4:10 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I wonder...

Here's my question... and possibly a volatile one. (Or not. It's never that deep.)

How did your newsroom react when news of Heath Ledger's death crossed the wires?

Here, there were shrieks abound. From the women, at least. The men? Not so much.

"That's unfortunate," one older colleague said. Then he asked me to put out the broadcast script, and that was that.

MSNBC and CNN cut in with breaking news, rehashing Heath's past movie roles and what may have caused his death. And then... back today's other news. The economy. The stimulus package. Oh, and that pesky presidential campaign.

"They're not going all 'Anna Nicole' with the wall-to-wall coverage?" another young, female colleague pondered.

"No... I guess not, huh?" I replied.

Even within our newsroom, the surprise quickly quieted to the usual dull roar. I cocked my head to the side.

"You know," I countered, turning back to my co-worker, "I bet if women ran the newsrooms, it would be SOOO 'Anna Nicole' with Heath."

"You think?" she asked.

"Yeah!" I pointed to the reactions just 15 minutes earlier. We freaked. The guys, again... not so much.

Then I pointed to the text messages and Facebook communiques that started coming in. All but one, from women.

"So you're saying because Anna Nicole was a chick, she got all the attention?" my co-worker said. It was her turn to cock her head to the side.

"Hmmm... I think I see where you're going with this."

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Posted by Veronica Marché at 5:14 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sing, Sing, Celebrate

Yeah, it's cold. It's about six degrees in the sun outside, and if you don't have on gloves, your hands will likely feel as if they were used in an amateur acupuncture experiment.

But today is one of those days where I'm not satisfied with sitting in the office. It's the King Holiday, and there are countless celebrations going on around the country, and at least a few here in the nation's capital. While I usually take comfort in being a cozy, warm, in-house producer and writer, today I'd rather be out talking to the people celebrating, and learning from those who have memories to share.

I've been here before. And I'm noticing a pattern. While fires and court proceedings and celebutante antics don't entice me, moments commemorating history -- particularly, my history -- do. Maybe the yearning comes from not being there 40, 50 years ago. Maybe it comes from only being taught so much while I was still in school. And maybe I'm just simply intrigued -- intrigued by a generation I've only read about.

Or... maybe I just want to be Errin Haines.

So for those braving the bitter, biting cold and desperately trying to warm their hands into order to jot some notes and quotes, rememeber: some of us do envy you.

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Posted by Veronica Marché at 11:03 AM | link | Tell us what you think [3]

Friday, January 18, 2008

I Wonder...

A question for all you fellow journos.

How many other people review your work before it's published or put on air?

Do you have an editor, a copy editor and a section editor?

Or is it a line producer, followed by a supervising producer?

Here at the wire, it's a deputy editor, followed by the national editor. And that's for every piece of copy that's put out on the wire -- as many as ten stories in an hour.

So humor me this... how many people do you think saw this...

...before it went to press?

Apparently no one who in the offices of GolfWeek saw a problem before the issue hit newsstands. But now? Well, now that folks are crying foul, GolfWeek is doubling back -- issuing an apology, removing the graphic from its site and reportedly firing the editor at the helm.

But clearly, Dave Seanor wasn't the only person to have seen cover before it went to print. Has anyone talked to the cover artist? The guy in charge of the cover artist? The guy in charge of the guy in charge of the cover artist?

No one saw an issue here?

No one said, "Umm, dude... this is a noose"?


I'm just wondering.

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Posted by Veronica Marché at 11:27 AM | link | Tell us what you think [6]

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Maybe I didn't learn anything from the Wire?

So, apparently, the good folks at Merriam-Webster and the creator of the Wire got into a little online spat over the usage of "evacuate" in Sunday's episode. Full story is here.

From New York Magazine:
"Merriam-Webster's Peter Sokolowski, using the handle "MERRIAM_WEBSTER" (heh), commented on our post, pointing us to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage's article on this very subject. Summarizes Sokolowski: "This was indeed a usage controversy until about WWII, by which time the 'remove (people)' sense had taken firm hold. According the MWDEU: 'The respectability of this sense is no longer subject to question.'"

Wire creator David Simon responded with his reasoning:
"At the Baltimore
Sun in my day, I was chastised by the great Jay Spry, rewrite man to the world, for evacuating people in my report of a downtown gas leak. I plead guilty to an anachronism if indeed that is what it now is. However, I would argue that since the evacuation of people can in fact mean giving them enemas, the use of such a phrase should be discouraged by editors, given that the alternate phrase in which a given locale is evacuated is better and unequivocal. When a word has two meanings, find another word."

Go figure. I still won't use evacuate alone though. I'm scarred for life.

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Posted by T Dot at 12:22 PM | link | Tell us what you think [4]

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Something is fishy

I started a feel-good story on a Division II basketball program whose coach who is in his early 30s, has three kids and barely makes enough money to fill up his gas tank.

I sent the Athletic Director an e-mail requesting an interview, and the next thing I know she's asking me not to do the story. Yes. An AD denied free publicity for their men's basketball team. They suggested I do something on the athletic department as a whole.

As if I had that kind of time.

Then she dropped it.

"Plus, you know, we've got some eligibility issues."

You what?

Needless to say, its not a feel-good story anymore. But now I'm faced with investigating what's going on at this place. Where did the kids come from? Who transfered from where? Are the kids taking the NCAA's required 12 credits? Are they playing by the rules?

Where do I go from here? Well, for starters, lots and lots of phone calls, e-mails and reaching out. But am I leaving a paper trail? Are they going to cover up holes in their story to shut me out? Am I going to end up screwing over this coach, his wife, and his three kids?

To be continued.

Posted by Darren Sands at 10:23 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Monday, January 07, 2008

Everything I need to know about journalism...

...I learned from The Wire. Maybe not everything, but I'm sure learning more than I ever thought I would.

So, I'll admit it: I just got hip to this show, largely because I don't have cable and now, I have a friend who downloads the episodes and made me watch them in preparation for the last season, which premiered Sunday night on HBO. The show is essentially about the struggles between drug dealers, the police who chase them and the government processes and politics that equally helps and hinders them both.

From HBO: The fifth and final season of 'The Wire' centers on the media's role in addressing - or failing to address - the fundamental political, economic and social realities depicted over the course of the series, while also resolving storylines of the numerous characters woven throughout the narrative arc of the show.

Sounds like a potential teaching point to me.

As I watch the episodes, I'll try to point out one or two things I've learned about journalism or the media from watching. Feel free to do the same and add your comments to the post. Oh, an if you need to get caught up, most newspapers, like the Boston Globe, published a "What you Need to Know" about the Wire story in yesterday's paper. Check it out and plug in.

* Baltimore Sun reporter Alma Gutierrez turns in a story about a fire where more than 100 people were evacuated. City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes, tells her she's wrong.
Wire Lesson #1: In newspapers, buildings -- not people -- are evacuated. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary -- evacuate: 1) to empty; 2)to discharge wastes from the body; 30 to remove or withdraw from. Without clarifying that the people were evacuated FROM the building, Gutierrez basically just said that after the fire, more than 100 people got enemas. Ew.

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Posted by T Dot at 1:52 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

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