January 15, 2008

Forget caller ID, tell me nature of call

My Twitter struck a 'me, too' nerve today. Seems I am not the only one interested in the nature of the call more then who is calling.

Now since Twitter limits your space, I merely explained that a color siginal about the news to be conveyed would help. Blue flashing would be a warning, red for danger and green for a 'good' call.

I was reacting to my brother's call. First, he asked me to play soccer, knowing I never had and certainly can't right now. But then the real reason for the call slips out: My dad is back in the hospital. Of course, it was the family tradition: Don't tell anyone until the procedure is done.

We all knew something was up. Although my father is a man of few words, we had heard even fewer lately. Yes, a tumor was back, a surgeon sliced it out, and now we wait. Was that enough? Will chemo help? Is anything else wanted? Or needed? Or capable of sending hope?

We wait, trying hard to be supportive, sending prayers, hugs and wishes. And while the battle continues, somehow I must find a way to walk through my own pain and continue as if nothing so earth-shattering is affecting me.

I try to finish the final details of a launch, figure out ways to make sure the team of six know enough to build their own way and still carry the day-to-day tasks of the job, of getting Medicare, MedI-Cal and Social Security on the same numbers for my mom and stepdad, and doing what I commited to do before my life unraveled.

I have either found the world's best diet or words for a great country song with the latest chapters of my life.

I know I would like to stop answering the phone now - as if that would stop the avalanche of unwelcomed opportunities.


Cancer, senior discount spur new 'Bucket List'

As I race through the last days of a web site redesign that will end 29 years at the same publication, I am creating "Bucket Lists." There is the rush to explain the thinking behind what's there, the determination to get everything in place and, finally, a focus on my next steps.

Seeing "The Bucket List," with an unasked-for senior discount, and my dad's latest operation helped clarify which list to work on.

Scattered in journals, old Daytimers, and loose papers are lists of goals over the years.

Lately, I have been rushing through a checkoff of things that MUST be in the showpiece I will oversee. Quick, get that poll in, those comment features in. Find ALL the folks already blogging. Get pages about the things that make Flint, Michigan, Flint done. Figure out how to highlight video, squeeze in the latest social media tool.

I had a plan for what happens next - breathing space. My material and threads, my paint and brushes, my wire and beads beckon. UFOs wait - that's unfinished objects for the non-quilters or crafters who stumbled here. My husband cannot believe he has thrown out two months of JoAnn and Michael sales pieces. Folks joke that I have caused the local branches of these and other raw material outlets to consider bankruptcy.

My side of the family hasn't had its Christmas gathering yet.

Yet, the plan to focus on family and friends, on me began to slip as I heard of others' dreams. Suddenly, I am swept up in searching for potential funders, possible grantmakers for projects as diverse as digital media and black-and-white photographs of a town saying goodbye.

Suddenly, I am fascinated by the possibility of writing about things I love.
I jump to get details on possible consulting jobs helping other newspapers change attitudes, at offering corporations diversity awareness sessions, and developing alternative sources for news.

But then, a cashier gives me a senior discount 18 months early. Ouch. I also realize it has been at years since I was inside a movie theater when I used to go at least once a week.

Plans of family time, of friend time, of me time come back into focus.

Perhaps, though, it was my brother's call that made me realize the list that needs the most work

My father had another tumor removed from his throat, which explains his reluctance to talk. Perhaps, chemo will work again.

Me? When I am done with this gig, I won't. It is time for family, for friends, for me

January 13, 2008

Goal: Journalist, citizen, human

The Journalist and the Buddha blogger asks why journalism can't talk about its own morality in a recent post. Although the writer shares guides that lead him through a discussion on objectivity, depression in the newsrooms and more, I found my a-ha moment here:
"My New Year’s resolution is to work as a journalist, to act as a citizen, and to live as a human without a blindfold."

Although the blogger dismisses that by saying
"I'll try to simply use my God-given head and heart and eyes,"
I found those simples words to be powerful.

For many years, it seems that journalists have sought to build walls around parts of their lives, or even eliminate segments from their lives. Reporters and editors have been forbidden to actively participate in politics, with one newspaper in 2002 extending the restrictions to spouses. (See On the Media: Professional Journalists, Personal Activists.)

Involvement of journalists in their local churches, community groups or clubs was frowned upon just in case those groups might become a news source.

Today, the debate looks at should a journalist blog?

John Robinson, among others, have suggested they want to know that a potential reporter is blogging - it shows interest in the field, raw ability and more. Yet not all agree that journalists should blog as evident at the discussion in October at the Online News Association.

I like that we are moving to acknowledging that journalists are humans too. I think we will discover that just as being a parent can make you a better editor or writer - watching someone learn what the world is can awaken your senses - so we will find that a person who struggles to be a better journalist, a better citizen and "live as a human" will be the person we want helping us make sense of the world we live in today.