Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Advice to journalism job-hunters

The folks at NewsLab have posted a nice collection of short interviews with people who hire young journalists (or would like to) at places ranging from local television stations to the Washington Post.

NewsLab Resources: Job Hunting

Key phrases: "know the current media landscape," be prepared with "journalism-plus," "be tech savvy," "learn Spanish and HTML," "be able to shoot video better than the standard wedding video," and "The written word is still the most important thing."
Jim Meskauskas at MediaPost has an essay on why he reads magazines as well as being an inveterate online newspaper reader...

"Part of living successfully in a democracy is being exposed to the people and things that share your world even if they don't share your views. Reading through a magazine is like riding the subway: You eventually get where you wanted to go, but you get there by going through where you aren't headed while sitting next to people you don't know. You see, hear and smell things that you may not have chosen if left to your own devices, but you still end up where you wanted to be. Only now, you have at least passing familiarity with people and things you didn't before."
MediaPost Publications The Biz: A Paean to Print 01/27/2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Folksongs and singers in the news

A folksong-savvy friend in Boston alerted me to this month's stories about William Zantzinger, just as I was about to talk about oral traditions in news reporting in my Media History class. Here's the link he provided and a few more:

Since my search brought me to Pete Seeger's site for an old issue of Broadside, the 1960s folksong magazine, I can't avoid pointing out Pete's most recent performance.

YouTube had taken one copy of a video of that song offline, so I went looking for alternatives. This one is still there via, but not high quality. Is that from an international station's copy of the HBO footage? Does HBO have a free "official" copy? Is this "not currently available" notice all there is?

Aha... found it. There are some official clips posted on YouTube by "Inauguration," and Pete and Bruce are there with "This Land is Your Land" (followed by Beyonce doing "America the Beautiful") in the final ten minutes of this two-hour coverage: We Are One: Opening Inaugural Ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial.

But I've come in late on this controversy. We may have to come back to this for discussion of private property and copyright law... or maybe that's a whole other course. Come to think of it, maybe that Dylan video is a copyright violation that YouTube will be "taking down" sometime.

Ribs, river-view and environmental journalism education

The East Tennessee chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, right on the front lines of the TVA coal-ash spill story, will have a mini-conference about environmental journalism Friday, March 27, 2009.

Location: the banquet hall above Calhoun’s on the River -- The Tennessee River, not the one the ash dumped into.

"The day-long conference will address many of the difficulties journalists face when covering the environmental beat such as understanding and translating legal, technical and scientific issues; finding sources; using different angles and approaches; dealing with ethical problems; packaging stories for today’s media market, and more.
"The objective is to prepare present and future journalists to handle the massive amount of information related to environmental topics."

East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Environmental Journalism Conference

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wikipedia raises warning flag

After the latest high-profile cases of wiki-editing abuse, "Wikipedia May Restrict Public’s Ability to Change Entries," the Times says.

The user-edited encyclopedia has tightened things up in the past, notably after what it called the Seigenthaler incident.

Coincidentally, the names of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy came up that time; this time their younger brother is involved:

Kennedy, Byrd the Latest Victims of Wikipedia Errors

(If you want to keep watch for further abuse, or check the "history" of Senator Kennedy's page, here it is: Senator Kennedy's Wikipedia page)

For a demo of how drastically a Wikipedia page can change over time, see Jon Udell's webcast analysis of the Heavy Metal Umlaut page -- and here's the current metal umlaut page, which has lost the word "heavy" over the years.

Back to Sunshine?

Will the new president's statements regarding public records, transparency and the disinfectant qualities of sunshine ripple into state and local government?

Freedom of Information Act memorandum from President Obama
A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.
The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.... (read more)
On First Day, Obama Quickly Sets a New Tone -

Obama Reverses Bush Policy, Opens Access to Some Records, WSJ, Jan. 21.

(Comparison: Government Openness at Issue As Bush Holds On to Records, NYTimes, Jan. 3, 2003)

Closer to home, the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, calls itself "one of the few places the average citizen in Virginia can turn for a solid answer to a question about access to public records and meetings." Check out its newsletter, its blog, and other information on its site, such as this article on The shady (as in no sunshine) General Assembly.

RU to study Randians and Randroids?

I think this is the first time a Google search for Radford University has led me to the Web site named, all thanks to Ayn Rand, some innovative course financing, and a Wall Street Journal Story.

See Atlas Wanked: From Fiction to Fraud in 52 Years | Crooks and Liars and continue into the discussion thread...

Which leads to this December Tim Thornton story in the Roanoke Times...

Which refers to this announcement last fall from the university.