Wednesday, December 30, 2009
YouTube - AIN'T WE CRAZY - Harry "MAC" McClintock - 1928
The lyrics are here and here.
And if you need an encore... another from Mac...
Thanks to CDBPDX.com for putting all of this audio history online.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
(With Dec. 26 update, appropriately enough.)
While I was still in a half-asleep Wednesday-morning fog, the clock radio and WVTF cut through with a short piece about the between-holidays tradition of "Breaking Up Christmas" music parties, and a pointer to http://folklifefieldnotes.org, a Virginia Folklife Program website I hadn't run into before.
I didn't see the item itself on the Morning Edition rundown or WVTF sites. It ran a bit incongruously somewhere around the story about Larry McMurtry's "Literary Life", an interview with Liz Smith recalling "when gossip columns ruled," the news that Arnold Stang has died, and Frank Deford's speculation that multi-product spokesmodel Peyton Manning learned comedic timing from football. (Not the "hardest" of news this time of year.)
Update -- WVTF played the spot again on Saturday morning's Weekend VA, with this lead-in: "When Christmas is over, the fun is just getting started for many in Southern Appalachia. Virginia State Folklorist Jon Lohman has the story behind 'Breaking up Christmas,' a little-known tradition that takes place the week between Christmas and New Year's Day."
Searching for that passage helped me find the program -- and a new resource to bookmark. The segment turned out to be distributed via PRX.org, the Public Radio Exchange, "a growing social network and community of listeners, producers, and stations collaborating to reshape public radio."
The organization has a blog, RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, and services for listeners as well as producers and stations. Cool... but back to Breaking Up Christmas...
The first time I heard the program, I suspected it might be by Paul Brown, but didn't think it was his voice on the item, although I was still half asleep. Paul's the banjo-pickin' NPR news guy who did a documentary on Breaking Up Christmas a dozen years ago (as mentioned here). I think he was the first person I heard play the tune by that name, too, when he was my banjo teacher for a week or two about 30 years ago (photo at right). I couldn't find a link to that documentary of his, but did discover that he's donated his archives to my alma mater down in Chapel Hill. Cool!
In my Googling around the subject, I also found a UNC educational resource for school teachers interested in using the Breaking Up Christmas tradition (and Paul's documentary) to get students writing about their own family or cultural traditions.
The Song of the Mountains page for its 2006 Breakin' Up Christmas party mentions Paul's project and includes this enigmatic lyric:
Hoo-ray Jake and Hoo-ray John,
Breakin' Up Christmas all night long.
Way back yonder a long time ago
The old folks danced the do-si-do.
Way down yonder alongside the creek
I seen Santy Claus washin' his feet.
Santa Claus come, done and gone,
Breakin' Up Christmas right along.
I also discovered the CD of Paul's program through a fan of his in Japan, although he or she doesn't seem to police the spam on that page much. Do Breaking Up Christmas and Viagra ads go together? Who knew?
One result of all this impromptu research: I headed up&down to Floyd to see if the CountryStore had a copy of the record. (It did; I bought a couple of copies -- one for me, one for Christmas giving.)
Video footnotes c/o YouTube: Two great versions of the tune (you'll have to wait a minute for the video on the second one... from the upper Appalachians around Ithaca)
(I first heard the Horse Flies at that same Pinewoods summer camp I met Paul! Time sure flies, and the Web pulls it together... web... flies... Horse Flies... must be a thread there.)
More update: House parties, jam sessions, folk music, public radio, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blip.tv, make an interesting cross-section of old and new media "social networking." The PRX organization I discovered in my online travels this week is another manifestation... and it has it's own online video item to explain what it's all about. Enjoy:
Friday, December 04, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I was surprised to see how many public Wave discussions related to newspapers I found, once I'd figured out how to search for such things. See this L.A. Times article, How Google Wave could transform journalism, and other links below.
Wave is part e-mail, Wiki, chat, file-sharing and bulletin board. Once you're in, you can search for public Waves (ripples? currents? tides?) such as the daily ones the Chicago RedEye is running. I joined a Wave discussion of ideas for college media projects, which I'll share with Radford students as I get them invited. It already had a few dozen contributors.
Just after my invitation arrived (thanks to Mich Sineath at AEJMC), I stumbled on this article, which suggests that not having a ready-built community to wave with is a common complaint: What Users Like/Dislike About Google Wave along with this, Why Google Wave sucks, and why you will use it anyway
However, there are already 30 people in my GMail "contact" list with Wave accounts. On the other hand, I could say "only 30," since my contact list has more than 1,000 e-mail addresses. I wonder how many of them are in the same boat I'm in: "Intriguing new tool, but no time to use it right now."
My Wave account gives me eight invitations to send, and I'll divide them evenly between students and faculty. I'll seed some invites in my Web production classes next week and next semester, chain-letter style (invite one student, who can invite another, etc.), and do the same with our school website committee, then see if we can use it for a virtual meetings. I'm also intrigued by a plug-in called Bloggy that lets you post a conversation from Wave to a blog like this one... but I'll save that for later.
"Bloggy"? I see there are also "Embeddy," "Tweety" and "Trendy."
I wonder if someone has created a "Cutesy," but that might be redundant.
Here's the first batch of Wave links from my bookmark list:
- How Google Wave is Changing the News
- Chicago RedEye does daily waves
- LA Times: How Google Wave could transform journalism
- Google Wave... journalistic tool?
- 9 Ways to Use Google Wave (in education)
- NYTimes Bits Blog tags for Google Wave
- Top 6 Game-Changing Features, Complete Guide and More (Mashable)
- Wave gadgets tutorial
- Tutorial (10 videos) at Butterscotch.com
- Google's Long Video (80 minutes?!) about Wave
- Google's shorter video on ways to use Wave
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
So Virginia is losing a harmonica-playing governor to the Democratic National Committee? Excellent pictures by Doug Thompson, but no audio... Sorry I missed another Friday night at the Country Store in Floyd.
I can't help wondering whether the Democratic tune was the old sea chantey, "Donkey Riding."
More likely candidates for an old-time fiddle-and-banjo jam might be "Flop Eared Mule," "Kickin' Mule" or "Whoa, Mule, Get Up in the Alley," which really is a harmonica favorite of mine... Alas, the only full-length mp3 I've found online does it on banjo.
(This item marks a transition in the kind of content I'll be posting in this blog. I'll be doing my more serious and school-related posting at http://stepno.wordpress.com for now, with items more specifically about newspaper journalism at http://aejmc.net/news )
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It's AEJMC Newspaper Division Blog at http://aejmc.net/news
For a half-dozen years I've posted all my blog items related to "newspapers" to a special-category blog section for members of the newspaper interest group ("division") of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, along with taking care of the group's home page, http://aejmc.net/newspaper
Using blog categories as separate sites was something my old blog software, Radio Userland did automatically, but Userland is ending its blog hosting in a couple of months. So I figured it was time to switch to Blogger or WordPress.
Bill was already familiar with WordPress, and it was already conveniently installed on the http://aejmc.net server that houses our division home page. Randy Reddick from Texas Tech maintains the server, and gave us a hand with a "theme" for the site.
The division blog and home pages have separate addresses, but also have prominent cross-reference links. I've also created an archive of my old AEJMC Newspaper-related blog posts.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
With great photographers and weekly deadlines, it made a visual record of the 20th century, from Vol. 1, No. 1, Nov 23, 1936 (96 pages of text and pictures, mostly pictures).
Now it's all online and searchable with Google, up to the last of the regular weekly editions, Dec. 29, 1972's "The Year in Pictures" issue. You can select by date and cover or search by keyword.
Try it: LIFE - Google Books
Click "Search all issues" in the left column, or "Browse all issues" to flip through those memorable covers.
Search for photographers: Margaret Bourke-White shot the first cover; or try Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson or any other famous photojournalist whose name you remember. They're probably there.
Search for 20th century events -- wars, elections, outbreaks of peace...
Search for celebrities. Life liked initials: FDR, JFK, LBJ, MLK. For some, first names will do: Elvis (it'll find Presley, not Costello), Marilyn, Liz, Liza, Judy, Satchmo. Or try Hepburn (for both Audrey and Katharine in one click), Sinatra, Crosby, the Beatles, or Woodstock (add 1969 to narrow the search, or just go to the special edition).
If you haven't used Google's magazine search, that's probably because it's hidden in the "book search" section. For the ability to search by date as well as keywords and magazine titles:
- Go to: http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search
- Click "Magazines" on the "Content" line.
- Put a magazine title in the "Title" field (even though it says "Return books with the title...")
- Enter your keywords and dates.
- And, if you're like me, say goodbye to a Sunday afternoon.
"LIFE Magazine is the treasured photographic magazine which chronicled the 20th Century. It now lives on at LIFE.com, the largest, most amazing collection of professional photography on the internet. Users can browse, search and view photos of today’s people and events. They have free access to share, print and post images for personal use."Elsewhere:
- For just the photos, without the context, see Google image search and the archive at http://www.life.com/
- For a history of the magazine and its competitor LOOK, see this article at magazines.things-and-other-stuff.com, one of many sites for old magazine collectors.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Dennis Baron, a professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, discusses culture-shifting technology in an interview with Salon Books, aptly titled Is the Internet melting our brains?
"So, what I'm trying to do is put the computer revolution into historical context to see how it fits with previous innovations in communication like pencils, like the printing press, like the clay tablet, like writing itself. A new communication technology does what old technology was able to do – sometimes better, sometimes in a little different way -- and I'm looking at how we make sense of all of this."Salon's Vincent Rossmeier:
"Baron believes that social networking sites, blogs and the Internet are actually making us better writers and improving our ability to reach out to our fellow man. 'A Better Pencil' is both a defense of the digital revolution and a keen examination of how technology both improves and complicates our lives."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Event-design as Rorschach test... Am I the only one who mistook the jagged white Rocky Mountain profile ranging through next year's AEJMC Convention logo for a hint that the organization is fracturing? Or took it for an optimistic graph of media industries' ups and downs, showing a slight upturn on the right? On second thought, the line looks exciting, dangerous and cracked, which reminds me of someone...
Getting a crowd of journalism educators together in Hunter Thompson territory in August could be a lot of fun. I hope I can attend... (I hope anyone can attend, given the state of academic travel budgets, if my own institution is any indicator.)
Thinking of Hunter inspired a rewrite of this post and gave me a panel discussion idea for the event:
"Going Gonzo: From Uncle Duke to Johnny Depp, how do journalism faculty and today's students deal with Hunter S. Thompson's legacy?"
He's in my students' textbook, on a page headed, Journalism heroes, legends and folklore. He's relevant to bloggers and skeptics, rebels and iconoclasts, lefties -- and libertarian lovers of recreational firearms.
So let's make that a discussion question for any journalism educators who see this post: How DO you treat Hunter Thompson in your classes? Is he in the textbook you use? (In my case, it's a "yes" for Tim Harrower's Inside Reporting.) Is he discussed in writing classes? In magazine classes? Reporting classes? History classes? Ethics classes? Do students read him? What do they think?
Background: This paragraph was at the top of this post before the link to it slipped into the Twittersphere, referring to the part above. Rather than be accused of "burying the lead," I've turned things around.
About having multiple blogs. My old Radio Userland blog had an interesting feature: I could tag items with "category" names that actually became separate blogs. I used that to create a subset of my blog posts so that I could link some of them to the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication newspaper division's website, which I've been editing for a few years. I even had evidence that someone read it once or twice.
Now I've been wondering whether to use Blogger or WordPress to recreate that blog as a separate entity, possibly as a more formal adjunct to the Newspaper Division site, which I never seem to get around to updating in a timely fashion.
Among other things, I haven't been able to attend the last few AEJMC conventions, which makes it difficult to spread news about the organization. So here's an experiment: I'm going to point the division officers to a trial site or two and see what they think. With WordPress, I might be able to enlist a co-author or two. Here's the prototype, with a question about Hunter S. Thompson.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Reading back through his blog posts, this passage caught my eye... I should put it on my office door with a "me too" at the end.
I am the old guy working hard to learn everything, from everyone. I was lucky to leave print when I did, but I take no pleasure in watching the fall of “dead tree” media.That item is headlined Eyes Wide Shut, but the one that got me reading his stuff in the first place is the latest The Story Is Dead. Long Live the Story, where he observes that "The story is not dead, it's just suffering..."
"The reason is that publishers, journalists and other story tellers have been slow to adapt to a digital world with lots of newfangled pens and pencils, including audio, video, full-motion infographics, Flash animation, various forms of interactivity—and, of course, words, the better the better.His post is partly a response to one by Vin Crosbie, someone I've known for years, and I don't think he was declaring the death of storytelling... but many a good conversation has started with some kind of miscommunication or misreading, especially online where we tend to skim and miss some nuances.
"Some of us have confused the availability of new tools with the need for a new theory of knowledge. To be sure, our moment is revolutionary, and the media disruption we are experiencing now will have revolutionary outcomes. But the story in this revolution is like the axe in the transition from stone to bronze: We still used axes. The edge just got a lot sharper."
If I read them correctly, Vin was arguing that "stories" aren't the only (or best) way online media can convey some of the things that "local news" sites and newspapers publish in newspaper-story form... while Jim is arguing that storytellers should embrace new media and learn to use them well. I don't think those two ideas conflict.
In fact, putting the two side by side makes me want to go dust off Mitchell Stephens' book, "The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word," and also go search the Web for any more-recent reflections he's had on the state of storytelling. But not this afternoon.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
The timely topic is health, with sub-topics for feature writers, beginning reporters, "data miners" and investigative reporters.
Suzanne Yada at at San Jose State University has this page about the project: Journalism students across the globe, here is your reporting assignment.
Sarah Jackson at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia has this: Eye to eye: #Collegejourn crew is planning a global collaborative journalism project
Josh Halliday at the University of Sunderland (UK) posted the plans to the Online Journalism Blog: The CollegeJourn global reporting project.
That "#Collegejourn" they mention is a Twitter "hashtag," the key to an online discussion conducted via Twitter.
Some participants also will be using the UK site Help Me Investigate, which I haven't had time to investigate myself. (It's partly the work of Paul Bradshaw, online journalism prof at Birmingham City University and publisher of that Online Journalism Blog mentioned above.)
Maybe between h1n1 flu (my school just had its first case) and the U.S. health insurance debate, enough journalism students have become health-issue conscious and will take up the challenge to come up with school newspaper and school website stories, class projects... or maybe to get something published in the off-campus media.
Coincidentally, there's a free 60-minute webinar Wednesday (Sept. 9) on Health Reform Coverage: The Key Issues with Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review; Kay Lazar of The Boston Globe; Karen Tumulty of TIME; and Robert Laszewski of Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review. Mike Hoyt, editor of CJR, will moderate. Register in advance at the link above. The webinar is also accepting early questions.
Here are a few other places students might browse for health-reporting inspiration:
- A 2003 issue of Nieman Reports on Medical Reporting
- The Association of Health Care Journalists, and its blog.
- The UNC Chapel Hill (my alma mater) master's program in medical journalism.
- A Journal of the American Medical Association article about Medical Journalism and Public Awareness.
- The Journal of Health Communication at George Washington U (more academic research on public health publicity, but could have some story leads).
Friday, September 04, 2009
2013 Update: Better late than never, after four years, I have just received an email note from the keepers of this site saying that they plan a substantial redesign, and requesting that I remove the link to its old address.
Just a little bit of critical thinking will help journalism students identify the flaws in this list of the 100 Best Blogs for Journalism Students. [Link removed by request.]
Here are my top 10 clues:
10. It misspells the name of #14 Harvard's Nieman Foundation and Nieman Journalism Lab. (Remember "i before e..."?)
9. It identifies the #12 Columbia Journalism Review as a blog in the "educators" category, when it's a leading magazine in the field.
8. The site is entirely silent about its ranking methodology. Stacking a bunch of categories, starting with "general" and "educators," suggests that numerical rank isn't really the point. And UK journalism blogs are omitted. (See this UK list.)
7. There is no contact information to respond to the creator of the list.
The "reply" area at the bottom of the list says you must be logged in to comment, but offers no way to log in.
6. Descriptions of the sites are very thin, often just the keywords from a site's self-description (including mine).
5. The name of the blog is "Learn-gasm." How serious can you take that?
4. The list does not include a link to this page, at either http://www.stepno.com/blog or http://boblog.blogspot.com , which has been my main blog for the past year.
3. The list also does not include a link to http://www.stepno.com/oldblog or http://couranteer.com, the archive of my old blog posts, whose original server is being discontinued later this year.
2. The list does link to that old blog of mine (#10), on its soon to be discontinued server.
1. Last but not least, it lists my blog (that old one) in the world's top 10 blogs for journalism students! Gotta be something wrong there.
Actually, the list of 100 does include a lot of blogs that journalism students should know about, even mine. I'm happy to be in such good company, but can't imagine how I wound up above most of them (including those Harvard and Columbia sites, Mindy McAdams, Jeff Jarvis at CUNY, Jay Rosen at NYU, and many more.
Here's an idea: Take the numbers off the list, replace them with bullets, and run some program to randomize the order! (But, in my case, if this essay doesn't get me bumped off the list entirely, please use my current address or its shortcut, http://stepno.com/blog, not the one that will evaporate in December. )
Monday, August 31, 2009
Close to 100 sites are on the finalist list under dozens of award categories, from major news organization sites (bbcnews.com, nytimes.com, Wired.com, washingtonpost.com) to individual stories and multimedia presentations, all organized by topic and size.
Candidates for the Knight Award for Public Service include one site I've blogged about before, The Chauncey Bailey Project, named for -- and continuing the work of -- a former newsroom colleague of mine who was murdered while on the job in Oakland, Calif.
Other public service nominees are Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong at The Seattle Times, for Culture of Resistance, The Toronto Star, for Crime and Punishment, and The Wisconsin State Journal for Down to a Whisper: State's Native Languages Threatened with Loss.
ONA says many of the finalists are "pushing the envelope of innovation in digital storytelling and information sharing."
Student online journalism projects up for awards are:
- Joy Lewis, Western Kentucky University, Sister Wife
- Lisa Pickoff-White, University of California, Berkeley, It Happens at Midnight
- University of Miami School of Communication, Special Olympics Live
- NYCity News Service/City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, Election 2008: A Date with History
- UNC-Chapel Hill, Andaman Rising
- Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, South Africa: At the Crossroads of Hate and Hope
More information about the awards, judging and organizations is available in the ONA press release.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
But I did try pumping all that text into Wordle to see what would happen, as a "cool Web 2.0 tools" demo for my class. The result isn't bad as a self-portrait, but I think it needs more music and dancing. Kinda like my life.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
He lists skills Web designers do and don't need today, differences between being a "Web designer" and a "professional Web developer," and the need for designers to "understand what a developer does and how they are doing it."
Something similar is going on at online newspapers and related forms of journalism: Depending on the size of the organization, one person doesn't always have to do everything. But team members need to know each other's abilities, responsibilities and needs. Some are Web designers, Web developers, database-savvy journalists, "backpack journalists" with multimedia skills, or editors responsible for quality control and pulling it all together.
Speaking of backpack journalism, here's an online example of what a couple of "text-oriented" journalists accomplished in their first day using an inexpensive audio recorder and digital camera, a free audio-editing program (Audacity) and an inexpensive slideshow-creation program (Soundslides). Their (ok, our) training was part of a Freedom Forum Diversity Institute "bootcamp" earlier this month.
Also just in time for my new Web design course, I stumbled on a Ze Frank video from a few years ago that you might call "a meditation on contemporary Web aesthetics." I call it "don't be ugly."
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Society of Professional Journalists
"The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior." (Annual convention coming up Aug. 27-30 in Indianapolis. Also see its Student Resources page.)Innovation in College Media
"The Center for Innovation in College Media is a non-profit think-tank that was created to help college student media adapt and flourish in the new media environment." (Also see this MediaShift column by founder Bryan Murley.)Journalism 2.0
"Mark Briggs coined the term Journalism 2.0 in 2005 when he was invited to write a book about digital literacy for journalists based on a training program he had created at The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash. Mark is currently working on an updated version of the book, to be published by CQPress in fall 2009." (The original is still online here.)ReportingOn
"A professional reporting community for journalists... helps journalists of all stripes find peers with experience dealing with a particular topic, story or source."Collaborative Journalism | Publish2
"Link Journalism: Bring the best of the web to your readers. Complement your reporting with links to relevant and interesting content." (Newest feature: Social Journalism.)CoPress
"CoPress empowers student newsrooms to hack the future of journalism." It has a blog, forum and wiki as well as selling hosting service to college newspapers.Associate Collegiate Press
"ACP is the oldest and largest national membership organization for college student journalists. Since 1921, we've offered our members resources to help their publications - newspapers, yearbooks, magazines, broadcast programs, and online publications - improve."Education Writers Association
"The Education Writers Association is the professional organization of education reporters and editors. We support the ongoing professional development of journalists as part of our mission to help improve the quality of education reporting in the United States." (That's a link to its higher education resource page; the group also offers $30 memberships for students. Faculty have to pay $100!)HigherEd Watch
"Analysis, reporting and commentary on the world of higher education, with a focus on college access, affordability, and quality." (A blog at the New America Foundation.)The Chronicle of Higher Education
"the No. 1 source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators. Based in Washington, D.C., The Chronicle has more than 70 full-time writers and editors, as well as 17 foreign correspondents around the world." (Long-standing place where professors look for jobs. Some content is free with registration, some for paid subscribers only.)Inside Higher Ed
"Inside Higher Ed is the online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. Whether you're an adjunct or a vice president, a grad student or an eminence grise, we've got what you need to thrive in your job or find a better one..." (All free... challenging the Chronicle since 2004, without killing trees.)Global Student Journalists
"...an online meeting place for student journalists from around the world. Students currently enrolled in a recognized post-secondary Journalism program, anywhere in the world, can create a profile and begin connecting with other student journalists. Members can network, share ideas, upload projects and receive feedback on their work." (New, started by journalism students in Canada.)... and, last only because I've mentioned Mindy's RGMP recently:
Teaching Online Journalism
"Notes from the classroom and observations about today's practice of journalism online," by Mindy McAdams, including her Reporter's Guide to Multimedia Proficiency (RGMP).
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
"The Hartford Courant and its former consumer columnist, George Gombossy, agree on one thing: that Mr. Gombossy was laid off this month. But was it because he would not stop unfavorable articles about advertisers, or because his job was simply eliminated?"George became the Courant's Willimantic bureau chief 40 years ago this summer, the same week that I became "the other guy in the Willimantic bureau." I went on to be a bureau chief, too, and made it to education editor before leaving the paper to go into education full-time, one way or another. George did a lot more at the Courant -- went on to be its business editor for a dozen years, among other things.
He has held out through two corporate takeovers (Times Mirror, then Tribune Corp.) numerous buyouts, layoffs and shrinkage at "the nation's oldest newspaper in continuous publication." The most recent cutbacks included bringing the paper and a Tribune TV station under the same management.
These days, most readers know George as the Courant's consumer watchdog. It looks like he's done good work following-up reader complaints, keeping a good relationship with the state's attorney general, exposing faulty products and questionable business practices, and saving people some money.
Now he's started his own blog as CTwatchdog.com and is talking about making it a nonprofit operation, and about suing the paper, the more civilized equivalent of "going to the mattresses," in the Corleone family. He's quoted by the Associated Press as saying new managers are "destroying the Courant instead of saving it" and that he hopes to stop them.
In a more mundane sense, George says mattresses played a part in his leaving the Courant. Here's the AP version: Hartford Courant columnist alleges his departure tied to critical column about advertiser.
The advertiser in question was a big mattress store, the kind that places big ads in newspapers and television, and sometimes draws consumer complaints about bedbug infestations.
The Courant's memos about George's departure are on his blog, headlined "Courant Spin on Watchdog departure."
Along with his remaining Watchdog columns on courant.com, you'll find "The Watchdog's Consumer Resource List," which I'd recommend to journalism students interested in following in watchdog pawprints, looking for local equivalents to the Connecticut offices on his list.
Finally, if you're itching to find out more about bedbugs and mattresses, the "Is this really a new mattress?" question has been the subject of consumer complaints and news investigations for more than a dozen years. A Times story a few years ago pointed out that even new mattresses from reputable stores can pick up bedbugs if they spend a day in a delivery truck carrying away other customers' old mattresses... Those are not the kind you'd want to "go to."
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
(She abbreviates the heading "RGMP" at the top of each page, which I either read as "RCMP" and expect the Mounties, or want to pronounce "rugmap." hence the odd headline on this item. Come to think of it, we've been weaving the World Wide Web so long that we might call it a World Wide Rug.)
The 15 RGMP pages are part of her Teaching Online Journalism blog, where the concluding episode landed today: RGMP 15: Maintain and update your skills.
A key quote:
"... let go of your self-defeating ideas about how you are 'not a computer person,' or how 'computers don't like me.' These attitudes are killing you and your future in journalism."As she mentions, many well-known practitioners and teachers of online journalism skills have learned how to do what they do on their own, or informally -- from other Web sites, online tutorials and workshops. Even today, when most journalism programs have courses in digital media, every formal college class has to stop somewhere -- but the technology keeps going.
Part of the agenda for digital media students has to be coping with change -- new technologies, new versions of old ones, and new stories to tell. With all of the new things Flashing and Twittering and Huluing around, Mindy makes an especially good point about setting priorities, weighing what to learn. She suggests asking yourself these questions about that shiny new thing:
- What will you use it for?
- How well does it fit with your other skill sets?
- And above all — is it a skill that is going to be relevant for a long time?
- RGMP 1: Read blogs and use RSS
Monday, August 03, 2009
Among the others (also listed at the end of the Facebook article) are:
- 10 Ways Journalism Schools Are Teaching Social Media
- How Social Media is Radically Changing the Newsroom
- 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy
- The Journalist’s Guide to Twitter
- Everything I Need to Know About Twitter I Learned in J School
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Her column, in turn, inspired Chris O'Brien to write a piece encouraging news organizations to focus on local community via the Web and somehow reinvent enough of a local marketplace to support multi-platform professional newsrooms, "as part of local news ecosystem": How Passion for Newspapers Points to a Way Forward.
Since I taught a media history class last semester, those two blog items reminded me of something Archive.org has preserved online. For a look at newspaper audience dedication the Web -- and before TV -- see what happened when New York delivery drivers went on strike 54 years ago:
Internet Archive: 17 Days: The Story of Newspaper History in the Making.
Do watch it... You'll be struck (no pun intended) by not only how many people were willing to line up around the block for a paper during the truckers' strike, but how many papers there were, each with its dedicated audience, much like the London scene Renee describes. That strike, during the last summer of World War II, inspired some serious studies of the audience view of a newspaper's varied "uses and gratifications" -- most of which are met by many different media today.
The 1945 model was still good and strong 20 or so years later when I delivered the Daily Hampshire Gazette around the edges of the Smith College campus. Now I live in an even smaller college town, where the local twice-weekly paper has dropped its price to 25 cents and its reporting staff appears to be one person. The bigger regional paper doesn't seem to give any reporter time to get to know the community. (There have been four in the two years I've lived here.)
Historically, what has been important to readers? Using the headline examples from Renee's London paper for examples, even the 1945 New York crowd was interested in news-you-can-use like "Quest for the perfect bottom," and in being entertained by crime-story sensationalism like "Bright City Star in Death Plunge." Those probably were all higher on the audience agenda than investigative reporting or watchdog coverage of government and big business. So were the "hatched, matched and dispatched" stuff of community (births, weddings, obituaries), the local police blotter and court coverage, along with local help-wanted ads, apt-to-let ads and car-for-sale ads.
Putting that all in one dead-tree package with national and world news sold papers, and it sold local display ads, enough to pay the salaries of a large enough staff to do more civic-minded, public-service investigation, fact-gathering and reporting -- if the publisher was so inclined.
We still have all the pieces... some being taken by blogs, TV (online or off), CraigsList, Amazon, Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter... but figuring out where to put the rest, and how to pay for it, is quite a puzzle, especially on a local and regional level.
NPR is often mentioned as a model of non-profit funding that might be adapted by local news websites and citizen journalism projects. (The New Haven Independent is still my favorite.) It will be interesting to see what NPR itself accomplishes with its new www.localnewsinitiative.org
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
This is more technical than most things I post here, but it may help some folks who find themselves in a similar situation.
I've been using another blogging software, Radio Userland, for seven years, but the company's "radio.weblogs.com" hosting service and its software updates are both being discontinued in December. Rather than have seven years' work disappear into the cosmic bitbucket, I decided to archive the site as http://stepno.com/oldblog
(http://stepno.com/blog is a shortcut to this current blog -- and in the future will remain a shortcut to whatever blogging site I'm using most.)
As mentioned below, none of this would have been possible without help from Richard Silverman, the keeper of the server that hosts my stepno.com pages.
I tried to post this whole description in Userland's support forum, but either a momentary Web glitch or a length-limitation gave me an error message... so I posted a shorter message and linked it here.
If someone snuck an sftp function into Radio Userland and I never found it, don't tell me... It would have saved me the day's work described here.
Radio Userland was a pioneer blogging package, but has become old-fashioned in a few ways, most notably its lack of support for secure file-transfer with SSH or SFTP. Meanwhile, my personal Web domain's sysadmin hasn't allowed plain FTP on our server.
That's perfectly understandable: He's a card-carrying security expert who has written two books on the subject (http://snailbook.com for one).
So I've used Userland's radio.weblogs.com hosting all these years. After all, it was already included in the annual $40 license for the software -- quite a bargain by any standard.
Now, with Radio apparently headed off the air for good, I wanted to at least archive my old posts for future reference. I do link to some of them now and then. This post is to share the results.
Basically, I found a way to create a copy of the rendered site on my own machine, zip it up, SFTP the .zip file to the server, and unzip it there. I used a Mac; I assume you can do something similar with a PC. Most of these details will make sense only to other users of Radio Userland with the program open in a browser window. (Good bye to the rest of you reading.)
In Radio, I edited the preferences within the blog to turn off commenting, since I won't have a comment engine attached to the archival copy. I also edited the main template to identify the site as "2002-2009 blog page archive." The rest of the instructions below use the Radio page "Preferences > Basic Preferences >
In the Mac's System Preferences for Sharing, I turned on File Sharing and set its Options to use FTP. (That's the part that must be different under Windows.)
Then I followed these steps:
1. I set Radio to ftp to the localhost Server "127.0.0.1" with a folder Path of "/users/bob/oldblog/" on my Mac. (If I remember correctly, Radio created that folder for me when the process began.) I identified the eventual destination URL as "http://www.stepno.com/oldblog/" -- clicked "Submit" to save those preferences, then (to be on the safe side) quit and restarted Radio to make sure the setting took...
2. From the Radio menu, chose "Publish/Entire Website" -- which took a long time. (I left home while it worked.)
The resulting collection of nested files looked complete.
3. After some trial-and-error, I used BareBones' free editor TextWrangler's multifile global search and replace to change all the embedded explicit href links within the blog, changing them from http://radio.weblogs.com/0106327/ to http://www.stepno.com/oldblog/
I also used a series of global searches to correct a glitch that left out the slash between ...oldblog/ and subdirectory names like .../oldblog/stories/... or .../oldblog/categories/... (Probably my fault: I left out the slash at the end of ".../oldblog/ in Radio's "Path" setting above.)
(Aside: I bought the same company's more powerful BBEdit for my other Mac, but just had TextWrangler on this laptop and was pleasantly surprised to find the full search-and-replace command.)
4. I used the Mac's built in archive command to turn the whole file structure into a zip file.
5. Then I used (also free) FileZilla to upload oldblog.zip to our Linux server,
6. I used the Mac's Terminal and SSH to log into the server and unzip the file, then..
7. Returned to FileZilla to set world-readable privileges through all those folders. (The Unix equivalent, I guess, would be a recursive "chmod" command.) In FileZilla you Right-click the main folder's name to get to the privilege-setting menu.
FileZilla took a very long time -- more than an hour! -- to work its way through the site, since it sets each individual file. A more experienced Unix commandline user probably has a faster way, but I had bothered Richard enough for one day.
In fact, there may be ten easier ways to do ALL of this, but for a not-ubergeek, my approach seems to have worked.
Meanwhile, I've already had this Blogger blog for years, so I'm using that (with an alias of http://stepno.com/blog). At some point I may install WordPress on my server at that address. I may even explore the arcane rituals involved in exporting the Radio blog to a MoveableType file, then importing it to WordPress. There are instructions for those things floating around the Web, thanks to other former Radio Userland users. But I've had enough geek-type summer fun for now.
Stop in and tell me if you see anything missing!
formerly (and until December) http://radio.weblogs.com/0106327/
Monday, July 27, 2009
After discussions of the same subject on Twitter and CNN, here's some fascinating history of English grammar in The New York Times: On Language - All-Purpose Pronoun.
The authors, subbing for William Safire, are Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, who once titled a book “Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language.”
"They," they say, was once acceptable as an indefinite singular pronoun.
The surprise: The authors blame an 18th century feminist grammarian for our abandoning a once-acceptable "they" in sentences like, "We don't know the murderer's identity, but they may strike again." The result was years of misleading (and sexist) use of "he" as a synonym for "he or she."
However, O'Conner and Kellerman say it looks like "they" may be on its way back:
"...so many people now use they in the old singular way that dictionaries and usage guides are taking a critical look at the prohibition against it. R. W. Burchfield, editor of The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, has written that it’s only a matter of time before this practice becomes standard English: 'The process now seems irreversible.'
"Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) already finds the singular they acceptable 'even in literary and formal contexts,' but the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) isn’t there yet."
If asked about this by [a student] (students), I probably would tell (them) [her or him] to listen to the sentence and make up (their) [his or her] own mind (minds) about "they" -- or consider rewording everything to avoid jarring people whose ears are tuned to one sound or the other.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The "Welcome to Bartleby.com" page now carries this note:
"Due to financial and usage considerations the reference works licensed from Columbia University Press and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have been removed as of June 2009."
The word "usage" is ironic: My favorite among the missing items is The Columbia Guide to Standard American English by Kenneth G. Wilson, who I knew first as a wise, frank and good-humored professor at the University of Connecticut. He was vice president when I was a reporter covering the campus, and I just noticed that his career at UConn spanned 38 years, a "school spirit" you don't see often. He passed away in 2003.
Oops, that should be "whom I knew," shouldn't it? I'm mortified.
Fortunately, Wilson's 6,500-entry book about the language is still available as a searchable electronic edition for card-holders at subscribing libraries, including our McConnell Library at Radford.
And Bartleby.com continues to publish other mostly copyright-free, but still useful, resources for students, writers and researchers... as long as they can tolerate pop-up ads (with audio) telling them they have won $1,000 giftcard from a discount retailer. (I didn't see a quick place at Bartleby to look up the Latin "caveat emptor" or Tom Waits' more contemporary line, "The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away.")
Included on the long list of titles are the Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, the Cambridge History of English and American Literature (18 vols., 1907-21) and The Oxford Shakespeare. Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford -- not bad pedigrees, if you don't mind lurking in the early twentieth century.
For American English, Bartleby still has Strunk's The Elements of Style (1918, not the later edition expanded by E.B. White) and Mencken's The American Language (1921), and for that other kind it has Fowler's The King's English, up-to-date... as of 1908.
Oh, there's also Gray's Anatomy... the book, that is... 20th ed., 1918, where you can look up pictures of body parts they don't show on the television version.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Digital Ethnography: Toward a New Future of “Whatever...” (Higher def version of the video at Wesch's own site.)
More of his comments on the Personal Democracy Forum audience:
"They were all continually trying to figure out where we are, where we might be going, and the possible downsides and dangers of new technologies so we can use the new technologies to serve human purposes. In other words, it was my kind of crowd."
Friday, July 10, 2009
To make his case, Sleeper discusses three stories and a column that demonstrate reporters' skills, Times resources and something extra:
- "Nina Bernstein's front-pager yesterday blew open this country's scandalous post-9/11 immigration policies..."
- "Michael Powell's similarly fine-grained, explosive work on predatory mortgage fraud..."
- An example of "grounded moral witness" from "Roger Cohen, who stayed in Iran at great risk thanks to a true journalist's passion and courage..."
- An example of journalism as a bearer of "public memory as well as moral witness in Bob Herbert's column about the Vietnam War..."
This morning, however, I've been distracted by following links to other articles by Sleeper, a writer and teacher with a long resume, on topics ranging from Thucydides and the value of classical education to George Orwell, Tocqueville and journalism.
I've bookmarked his page of articles on News Media, the Public Sphere and the Phantom Public, surprised and embarrassed that I haven't read his stuff before.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Tim's piece is part of a Chronicle of Higher Education conversation, "The Faculty of the Future: Leaner, Meaner, More Innovative, Less Secure," which non-subscribers can read for $10. However, Tim put a no-subscription-required version of his contribution on the Snarkmarket site. It starts like this:
"How is academe different in 2029? Let's begin with the basics: reading, writing, and teaching. If anything, Google is even more important. The 2009 author/publisher settlements that allowed Google to sell full access to its book collections didn't revolutionize books in retail, but subscription sales to institutions did fundamentally alter the way libraries think about their digital and analog collections. Access to comprehensive digital libraries allows teachers at any institution to compile virtual syllabi on the fly, seamlessly integrating readings, assignments, communication, and composition."Speaking of education and Epic 2015, Robin Sloane and friends have a print/online book out, titled "New Liberal Arts," as mentioned at Snarkmarket. Here's a direct link -- and a chance to get in on the ground floor of an interesting print-first, PDF-later model.
Small sense of deja vu and gratification: I like seeing journalism on a list of liberal arts.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
As substitute prof for a summer school "Media & Society" class tomorrow, I get to show, watch and discuss the film George Seldes: Tell the Truth and Run. (George is the 98-year-old, not me. At least he was 98 when interviewed for the film. He lived to be 104.)
I first saw the film in 1997, when Rick Goldsmith presented it at a conference in San Francisco. His work was nominated for an Oscar back then, but although well reviewed, it had a tough fight against story of the Ali-Frazier "Rumble in the Jungle," which took the prize that year.
For this course, Seldes is a more appropriate battler than Ali -- as a journalist, as a media critic, and as self-publisher of his "In Fact" newsletter.
Discussion question: How much did he have in common with some of today's bloggers and citizen journalists?
For students who want to get right to the source, some of Seldes's writings are online at PublicEye and brasscheck.com/seldes, including Ten Tests for a Free Press.
That could be a good segue into another piece of early press criticism, Upton Sinclair's The Brass Check, which is also available online.
And the film quotes I.F. Stone, who called Seldes "the father of the alternative press," which might inspire some of the students to peek at Stone's own online archives.
Here's a bit of the blurb brasscheck.com ran about the documentary, probably from the original press announcement. Students should learn the names...:
"Seldes at age 98 is the centerpiece of the film: remarkably engaging,witty and still impassioned about his ideas and ideals. Ralph Nader, Victor Navasky, Ben Bagdikian, Daniel Ellsberg, Nat Hentoff and Jeff Cohen, among others, provide incisive commentary. Stunning archival footage and over 500 headlines, photographs and articles provide a rich historical backdrop."Hmm. It just dawned on me that one of the narrators of "Tell the Truth and Run" is back in the news this summer. I wonder if the students will recognize his voice. They're probably too young to remember Lou Grant.
Information overload department:
By way of introducing one of Seldes' themes to the class, I should bring my banjo and sing this song... But I'll be kind and just play Pete Seeger's clip of one verse, then read the more pertinent verse about "Press-titution."
- Is the Entire Press Corrupt?
- Facts and Fascism
- Lords of the Press
- Witness to a Century
- You Can't Print That: The Truth Behind the News 1918 to 1928
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Coincidentally, there's a conference this week at MIT on "The future of news and civic media," and Hume's parting message is full of food for thought: The future of news?. A veteran of both the Wall Street Journal and PBS, Hume says major news organizations are still needed, even while many of today's fine journalists have never set foot inside any mainstream media organization.
- "Joshua Micah Marshall is I.F. Stone2.0 (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com)"
- "Twitter is dazzling, as a headline service and a conversation. But I need more than Twitter, YouTube and my Facebook social network to understand this complicated world."
- "My bottom line has always been: how can people understand their real choices for shaping their own lives and communities? How can the flow of news actually promote personal and community agency? This is why the future of journalism and civic media are important to me."
- "If the best and brightest young folks don’t value agnostic, professional journalism, even a dozen new business models won’t work for long."
- "I am waiting for a public relations campaign to argue the virtues of Kovach and Rosenstiel-style journalism (http://www.journalism.org/node/71), combined with a comprehensive news literacy curriculum at all levels, in all countries, that invites people to produce, consume and pay for public service news."
- "Fair, important, earth-shaking journalism is actually hard to do. It’s harder than simply repeating what anyone tells you, or selecting the facts that support your own biases. That is what all the fuss is about as newspapers around the country collapse and die."
Read the whole thing.
More about Ellen Hume.
More about the Future of news & civic media conference at MIT.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Meanwhile, the Society of Professional Journalists has a "Journalist's Toolbox Update," with more than 30 resources for reporters, editors and teachers -- from online social network tools to background articles on swine flu and government contractors in Iraq. Exploring any of those would be a good idea, too...
As Luckie puts it, "You could spend this summer working on your killer tan... or you could use the downtime to get heads up on the thousands of other grads competing for journalism jobs."
I added a footnote to his post, suggesting that many journalism grads would also profit from the less technological activity of reading some really good journalism -- both to experience the writing and to think about how the reporting was done. I'm working on Max Frankel's autobiography, "The Times of My Life, and My Life with The Times," myself. Gay Talese's "The Kingdom and the Power" and David Halberstam's "The Powers that Be" are old favorites for J-school grads who haven't read them yet.
Here are some source lists:
- Mitchell Stephens' list of 100 top works of journalism
- Pulitzer-winning booklength works of general non-fiction and biography
- Pulitzer-winning feature stories, investigative reporting, and more.
Those last Pulitzer examples include stories you can read online. The book-length suggestions, on the other hand, are easier to take to the beach.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Luckily my Twitter feed brought a couple of tips about it today. Very cool. Try typing "unemployment rate" or "population" in a Google search window, followed by the name of your city or county. This would be very useful for journalism students, once it works as advertised. (See note below.)
demonstrated by Google. I posted a note in a Google forum asking whether the unemployment data search is broken... and will update this when I get more info. (Or just follow that link to the forum to see if there's any discussion.)
On the population data search, a left column allows you to add other counties or states to the expanded graph, as shown in the video. Using the same technique with unemployment data would be even more interesting, so I hope they get it working.
Footnote: The search should be "population placename, st" or "unemployment data placename, st" -- if you leave out the word "data" in the unemployment search, or include it in the population search, you don't get the data graph. The comma appears to be optional. Also, in some localities, such as Radford, independent city names work with or without the word "city." County searches also work with or without the word "county." (New York City, however, is not the same kind of thing. Apparently "New York County" is only part one of five in the city -- 1.6 million of its 8.2 million people. See U.S. Census QuickFacts. )
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
- See this fascinating report and discussion of the words that generate the most clicks, thanks to Zachary M. Seward at Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab.
- My favorite copy editor, Pam Robinson, at Words at Work, found most of these links, including a "Wordle" map of the terms and a list of reasonably correct definitions, rescued from the depths of Metafilter's discussion thread.
- Also see this funny list of bad guesses at what the words mean.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
(Will people will only see the first two words of the title and assume it's about a photo magazine, a breakfast cereal, or a board game?)
Here's a "Merchants of Cool" crossover observation from one of the Life Inc. online chapter excerpts:
"With no other choice available, we grow up partnering with corporations for our very identities. A kid's selection of sneaker brand says more about him than his creative- writing assignments do, and is approached with greater care."Along with the sample chapters, this is the first book I've noticed using online video previews... (The first one starts with a 15-second burst of tuning-across-the-dial static, which almost convinced me the clip or my Web connection was faulty, but the noise goes away.)