Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Spchrist posted a link to this article on the YBJ listserv this morning, highlighting 40 Newark Star-Ledger employees who banded together after layoffs and buyouts to create their own news website, NewJerseyNewsroom.com. I can see and hear the lightbulbs going off above several readers' heads as I type.
While the staff of New Jersey Newsroom can rely on their buyouts to keep their bills paid, they are, as the article suggests struggling to make money (aren't we all?). I still believe this is a good idea, because ultimately, we can't sit around waiting for the economy to turn and the top-heavy management in the nation's newsrooms to return to a sense of normalcy.
We all are aware that the internet and multi-media journalism is where everyone and everything is headed right now, so why not take our futures into our own hands by creating our own websites and going for what we know? My mother always says "nothing beats a failure but a try." And we owe it to ourselves to try and stay relevant and up to speed in the fast-paced industry we currently work in.
I felt a sense of "why not" when I read this story, believing that there is room on the internet (and trust me there is PLENTY of it) for credible journalists who want to bring the news to folks may not be as keen as walking to the newstand and picking up a newspaper anymore. I might be more willing to try this because at 27, I'm fortunate enough to be single and childless, which basically means, I am my own responsibility. I can't speak for anyone else who may not share the same situation.
All I know is there is hope for us all. We just have to have the courage and conviction to adapt to it and embrace it. The staff of the New Jersey Newsroom are already off to a good start in that respect. continue...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Take the case of the New York Times' review of the new Beyonce/Idris Elba/Ali Larter movie Obsessed. I pulled up the review to see whether the Times found it entertaining or a complete waste of time. But I was smacked in the face with this instead:
"The movie’s most disturbing aspect, of which the filmmakers could not have been unaware, is the physical resemblance between Mr. Elba and Ms. Larter to O. J. and Nicole Brown Simpson. It lends “Obsessed” a distasteful taint of exploitation."
I was gobsmacked, to put it simply. How on earth does one conflate one of the most explosive cases of domestic violence in the 1990s with a 2009 movie about a family man that's trying to do right by his wife? (Oops. Sorry. Spoiler alert.) How do you compare a character whose overarching trait is his restraint reserve with someone who had no issue with being violent toward a woman? (For the record, the only violent scenes in the movie involve the two leading women.) And how do you POSSIBLY do that with a 14-year gap between the two?!
How does an editor see this and not bring up any questions?
I know, I know, it's just a movie review. But the comparison left me incredulous and actually, downright offended. There's no need to go into a tirade -- the baseless demonization of a black man who finds himself entwined with a white woman is obvious. And it would surprise me if no one else felt at least some glimmer of that too. To me, it's irresponsible to come up with some that couldn't possibly be anymore far-reaching -- and pass it off as a credible criticism.
I'm just sayin. continue...
Wednesday, April 22, 2009City Council meeting shooting last year where five people were killed and a metro reporter was shot in the hand by an enraged citizen?
Well, the reporter, Todd Smith, was laid off last week.
Smith was a metro reporter covering Webster Groves and Kirkwood at the time of the February, 2008, Kirkwood shootings and went to Kirkwood City Hall to cover what he thought would be a regular City Council meeting. It was the night that Cookie Thornton stormed in with a .44-caliber Magnum and in a mere one minute and 32 seconds killed five people -- two council members, the city's public works director and two police officers -- before turning the gun on himself.I'm going to refrain from making any puns or anything. Apparently the paper won a Sigma Delta Chi award for its online coverage of the shooting (Smith was the online editor for two suburban editions). The article said that Smith was one of a number of people let go throughout the company.continue...
Smith took one of Thornton's bullets in the right hand. He immediately pulled out his cell phone with his left hand to call the Journals. "I said they'd need to send somebody else, because I'd been shot in the hand."
Monday, April 20, 2009Kwame Kilpatrick textgate story (if you haven't read their coverage, Google it). It is kinda weird to not see other pieces you think should have gotten serious consideration (like the Chauncey Bailey Project). Slate did a piece I thought was apropos. Enjoy it after you check out the list of winners:
Public Service - Las Vegas Sun
Breaking News Reporting - The New York Times Staff
Investigative Reporting - David Barstow of The New York Times
Explanatory Reporting - Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times
Local Reporting -
Detroit Free Press Staff
Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune, Mesa, AZ
National Reporting - St. Petersburg Times Staff
International Reporting - The New York Times Staff
Feature Writing - Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times
Commentary - Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post
Criticism - Holland Cotter of The New York Times
Editorial Writing - Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY
Editorial Cartooning - Steve Breen of The San Diego Union-Tribune
Breaking News Photography - Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald
Feature Photography - Damon Winter of The New York Timescontinue...
Friday, April 10, 2009live blogging the Master's Tournament for his paper since the tourney kicked off yesterday.
For those who are golf inept, a primer (via Wiki): The Masters Tournament, also known as The Masters, or The U.S. Masters outside of the United States, is one of four major championships in men's professional golf. Scheduled for the first full week of April, it is the first of the majors to be played each year. It is held each year at the same location, Augusta national Golf Club in Georgia. The winner of each tournament is awarded a green jacket, which must be returned to the clubhouse after a year.
Darren is showcasing his vast golf knowledge while peppering his coverage with nostalgia, cool facts and a little humor. Check out a few of the posts that stood out to me from Day 1 coverage:
11:41 -- Anyone but me still get the chills when you hear Verne Lundquist's 1986 call of Jack Nicklaus's birdie putt on No. 17? "Yessss, sir!" Crazy.
11:54 -- One of the things that I love about this tournament is its reverence for its past champions. You can see their competitive drive; no one is content to just show up, play for two days. Case in point: 1976 champion Raymond Floyd just missed a birdie try that would have moved him to 3-over par. His knees buckled, he grimaced, he hated settling for par. That's awesome.
12:50 -- Don't underestimate the solid par the ever-eclectic Shingo Katayama just made on No. 11. He's keeping pace nicely with the field's fast start, at 2-under. (update: He just stuck a pin-high iron on the par-3 12th to about three feet. Should be an easy birdie.)
I don't really know what that last post means, but it sounds authoritative, doesn't it?
In addition to blogging the tournament by the hole (pause), Darren is Twittering (follow him here) and word on the street is that he's done some live chats as well. He's like a little bald multimedia machine.
He's back at it again today covering Day 2. Fore!continue...
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
I am scared...
...for real this time.
(Okay, maybe seven words.)
Next month I turn 24. I'll be completely out of school. And, most importantly, I'll be moving to Baltimore, MD for a three month internship with the Associated Press.
From there I'd like to eventually move to New York City...live the rest of my 20s and some of my 30s in the Big Apple.
With the economy in shingles (not to mention the news business), I feel I'm taking a rather large gamble by making such a drastic move. I'm a California-boy, through and through. I've never lived anywhere but here. Adjusting to a new environment won't be a problem for me, but the thought of leaving this all behind both excites and scares me.
I'm thinking the nerves are normal. But my gut tells me that moving out of state with little in savings, no functioning vehicle and no "home base" (yet), and especially right now, is more than a little bit risky.
I happened to be on the bus today talking to a colleague about my concerns. A stranger, who admitted she'd been ear hustling our conversation the entire time, offered this advice*:
(*paraphrased) "Move to New York. If that's your dream, just do it. Things will work themselves out, especially if you have the drive. You don't want to look back on life and wonder what could have been."
I'm confident that I'll do well almost anywhere I go. There is, however, a part of me that feels like I'd be letting myself down if I didn't charge full steam ahead with a plan that I've had since my junior year in high school. That plan? Move to NYC, get a journalism job, write and produce my little heart out, go wild (date), and eventually pen a few books.
I'm ready. (I've got to be.) But is that enough?continue...
NABJ is one of them.
The organization made me believe I could do this. They gave me confidence in my voice.
Michael Holley, a former Boston-area sports columnist, now of WEEI, is another. He was the first newspaperman I ever actually talked to. He met me for lunch randomly one day during my senior year. I love him for that.
And yet, one of the great thrills of my journalism career was being published over and over and over in my hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe. (I hope to God the New York Times Co. does not close its doors.)
But a portion of that newspaper's heart was cut out of the equation recently. City Weekly was the Globe's offbeat news feature section, that great slice of the local paper that tried weekly to make our relatively large city a little smaller, a little warmer, a little more, well, local. Now it's gone.
This sucks. Not afraid to say it. This really sucks.
This is not about clips, though writing for the section certainly gave me plenty of those. It means that Boston might never read about a group of young hip-hop artists coming together in Mattapan to produce a mixtape. The group of Roxbury residents trying to change city ordinances on construction noise? You'd never hear about it. And Bostonians might never read about what its like for a family to cope with the loss of a young person to a violent death.
These were just my contributions, the city as I saw it.
And there are no warm cliches. No it will be all right. No farewell. It just sucks.
Monday, April 06, 2009It’s getting kinda hectic around here.
At my paper, the company is proposing to guild members to take a 2.5 percent pay cut. The Guild put out a newsletter detailing the cut and asking for our feedback. On the back, lists a few options of things we could ask for in exchange for the cut.
As my coworkers looked at the paper, they all but exploded with outrage that they were being asked to make yet another cut (the company has laid off at least 100 guild members in the last 6 months, stopped our 401k match and delayed a contribution for the pension phase out plan already). They indignantly marked “there are no circumstances under which I would accept a pay cut.”
I stared at the paper and twirled my pen in my hand. I didn’t know what option to choose.
Here’s my problem: I have a job. And I’m grateful for it. Especially as I see friends up the road dealing with the prospect of being unemployed very soon. Do I want to take a pay cut? Hell no. Do I want to keep my job? Hell yes.
I was talking to a friend in
I still haven’t turned in my survey. I still don’t know what to mark. They say we can get personal days equivalent to the value of the pay cut, get an additional week of vacation, or ask for a guarantee of no further layoffs during this year or the life of our contract. The company guarantee means nothing to me these days. So I’m waffling between the vacation or the personal days. I just think its silly to think that we won’t have to make some cuts (and some even more painful ones) if we want to stay viable in this economy [disclaimer: my paper is one of the few in the company that is actually profitable, which is another reason my coworkers are up in arms]. continue...