June 12, 2009

Carrying a pen, notebook makes you stand out?

hand holding penI forget what got me to "the Media Equation - In Media Equation: In one city, two soirees ages apart. I know this paragraph by David Carr is what stopped me:
"I wandered the rest of the party and noticed people staring at me. Had I become the dad in the basement at the teenage party? No, as it turned out, it was the analog act of taking notes with a pen on a notebook that was freaking people out. I may as well have been prancing around with an abacus."
Hours earlier, a physical therapist also talked about the lost art of putting pen to paper. Actually, she was praising computers and keyboarding for developing strength in both arms and hands as opposed to the stronger, bigger arm/hand once developed with old-fashioned writing.

I own a nice collection of computers, including the iPhone that fits so nicely in a pocket. But I still like a good pen to use on a notebook.

Vital signs: Notebook and pen

I take a notebook and pen to every doctor's visit to jot down what is said even if I don't understand at the time. Later, something I scribbled then becomes clear as I learn more about the health issue that prompted the doctor's visit. It may just become more clear as I translate the scribbling into a document on a computer.

(Yeah, I have bad writing that combined with my version of shorthand makes it impossible for others to read. It can make it hard for me to read if I wait too long to translate the scribbles.)

I still take notebook and pen to conferences and symposiums, even those that boast of wireless connections. It's the fear of a dead connection leaving me powerless to recall later what was said. It's my backup.

In search of silence, freedom

The pen and notebook is quieter too. The sounds of keys sometimes disturbs the thoughts generated by the speaker up front.

The pen and notebook also let me wander in a way typing on a computer never does. I can scratch out what the speaker says and then write a question or thought to explore later in a margin. I can quickly duplicate a sketch or draw a portrait of the speaker on my notebook.

Only the right one will do

And, what a difference the pen can make. I like the thicker ones - at least as big as my smallest finger. But I don't like pens pushed inside foam rubber tubes, the type I had to use when my fingers needed to relearn how to move correctly after a multiple sclerosis relapse froze my right side.

I learned the hard way that the the pens that leave lines similar to markers are not good to use in wet weather. Also, don't use the marker-type pens on clumsy days if you plan to drink coffee or water.

But, oh, the feeling of the pen with marker-like ink and nib flowing over the paper, pmontblanc penushing lines out of the brain and into a format others might recognize. It's the right pen for painting a greeting inside the card designed to remind someone they are remembered.

I miss my Montblanc pen, a gift, that was lost after years of use and just after I finally bought refills. It was a wonderful luxury that made writing fun.

Technology wins

Still, there are times the computer, or at least the iPhone win. The keyboarded notes are often easier to read faster and to share.

The computer also helps me write more, capturing the news of the day, the interesting blog post, the thought I don't want to escape. Then, with time, I can massage the message until it reveals what I've been thinking, holding inside and mulling through.

On a good day, I remember to hit that "publish post" key at least once so that the blogging software will accept more emailed links, notes and random thoughts.

I have room for a pen and notepad in my home; in my car; in my purse; in my suitcase and in my hand. Do you?

June 11, 2009

Twitter can be so addicting, so satisifying, so confusing

power tweeterLike many, I've learned that the 140-character limit of Twitter can quickly fill needs. And, I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge it also can fill time.

Even when I can't write about what I'm finding and learning, I'm out reading the web. The links that I share here often are clicked and I can see that through some of the statistics I review.

On Twitter, the quickest way to see if a linked shared scored is by the number of RTs, that is the number of times people retweet the link you share.

This week it was a link to Search ideas: How To Find People On Twitter Using Google and one to 40 reasons to still study journalism by Social Butterfly that got me retweets (and led me to new people like Jonna Rae and Pat Kitano and Kevin Mannion and Katherine Morrison and Saddek Rabah and )

I was intrigued by the "Search ideas" title when @JamesRiver first sent out the notice that he was done with another post on his blog, Twitter Power System Blog.

I expected - and got - ideas for searching Google more effectively, including more ways to use the site:twitter.com by adding some fields. For example, putting this
site:twitter.com intitle:”on twitter” “bio* * journalist
in the search box of google.com netted me more than 5,000 Twitter names. It looks like it might also work on the Bing.com search site.

Check out the post for more tips on searching Twitter, including using search.twitter.com

Why study journalism

The 40 reasons post is a note of optimism for an industry needing it. So why study journalism when so many journalists are losing their jobs?
  1. We need journalism.
  2. As a society, we need good journalism.
  3. We need good journalists.
  4. We need journalism’s spirit.
  5. We need the next generation’s talent.
  6. Journalism teaches you to be a writer, and a good one.
  7. Journalism teaches you to be a talker, and a good one.
  8. Journalism teaches you to defend your stance, your writing and your character.
  9. Journalism teaches you ethics.
  10. Journalism teaches you to learn on the fly.
Alexandra Ramy gives 30 more reasons, all with explanations. Check it out.

Some related posts you might enjoy:

June 10, 2009

Bye, bye, bye - bloggers calling it quits

Three bloggers who watch the media with an insider's edge are moving on as a result of being burned out, burned or moving in new directions.

The first notice came from Jim Hopkins in Going Fishin' | I'm now handing in my notice. He says he never planned that the Gannett Blog, started on Sept. 11, 2007, would be a long-term venture. He expected a company breakup when he started the blog after ending his 20-year career through a buyout. But with all the changes in the industry, his blog filled a need he was willing to do.

Comments gone wild

Hopkins prided himself on using his journalism skills, reading every comment before publishing them even as the volume grew. But then, the tone of comments changed in December:
"...for entirely understandable reasons. Many of Gannett's 41,500 employees came to understand what was taking place in the company. They are now fear-filled, desperate, angry -- even suicidal, on occasion.

Blogging can be very stressful, of course, Now, I'm finding it may be psychologically harmful, too."
So, on October 1, he'll close shop UPDATE: Comment stopped July 10. Posting, for the most part, July 10 also.. Until then, he's blogging less as he works more on his other project, Ibiza Confidential. He's also stopped accepting donations (He is quoted in a Media Life Magazine post that since mid-October 2008, he earned $11,000 via the blog.)

Oregon Media Insiders

Completely shutting down fast "after three and a half years of chronicling the craziness of Oregon's media scene" is/was the Oregon Media Insiders site run by Lynn Siprelle, an award-winning journalist since 1977. The original post announcing the decision, I'm Done" has been replaced with Site Off-Line.
"I lost a friend today over this site--a good friend, one of my best friends. Losing friends was always a risk of doing this site, and in a way I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner."
There was a plea:
"I would like very much for someone to take over OMI. I think it's important that a site like this continue, but I don't have it in me any more."
Comments gone wild

From the original post, it is clear that community helped sink this effort:
"I've never liked running uncivil websites, ever. In fact, I've never run one, other than OMI. I've never had a website quite like it. "
She tried to improve the situation:
"Moving to accounts-only posting has helped a great deal with the nasty drive-by posting. But I can't do this any more. A broken heart can do what a purple-faced news director or corporate lawyer cannot."
But it became too much and overnight all of the posts on the Oregonian, part of Advance Publications, and other media disappeared.

Paper Tiger exiting

Not quite as drastic is the moving on by Ann Arbor's "watchdog/critic/curmudgeon" Jim Carty.

The former Ann Arbor News sports reporter who used a buyout to push him into law school says in "When it's over," why a post on what's up with AnnArbor.com although easy to write, just wasn't much fun" and won't be published.

He is ready to move on less then nine months after leaving the daily newspaper grind and Advance Publications.
"It just feels over with me and the ol' Newhouse empire, and unlike Sugar Ray, I don't think either of us is longing for any sort of reconciliation. My interests, and increasingly my expertise, are elsewhere. "
It doesn't mean that that everything is perfect at AnnArbor.com.
"Now, yes, some of the things they're doing right now are so silly they invite ridicule, and the new site better look a damn sight better than what they've got now."
But there's this:
"I want Tony Dearing's operation to succeed and like the hires he made. I just don't feel very curmudgeonly, even when I can muster up the time to direct some attention to things AnnArbor.com-y."
Giving up the 'gimme'

So we have three more journalists who left the corporate world giving up what Carty was told is "gimme" ("Any subject upon which you're relatively well-versed and can easily churn out 16 to 25 interesting inches is one you should be writing on.")

It means the online water cooler dries up. Back to Lynn Siprelle:
"Remember that it is possible to make your own way, if you're brave enough and are willing to not just embrace change but be change. Remember that there is life after media, and that it's usually wonderful."
It just might not be so wonderful covering the media with that insider's perspective.

Posts mentioning Carty or Paper Tiger No More
AnnArbor.com evolving
Blogger: Print's death to damn river of news
Watching Newhouse spiral painful
What's being said about Advance
Michigan media making news again
1 meeting, 3 takes on AnnArbor.com

Posts mentioning Gannett Blog
Sailing into sale of goods keeps me rushing
Multimedia musings: A video on saving newspapers

June 7, 2009

Newhouse reporter talks of 'hunkering down,'

A new piece in American Journalism Review talks about journalists who are staying in journalism, including Amy Ellis Nutt from Newhouse/Advance Publications Star-Ledger in New Jersey. The article's author, Beth Macy, says Nutt sees herself as a kind of midwife:
"witnessing the rebirth of journalism from a bedside seat, trying to manage the labor pains and hoping that, whatever happens, there will always be a way for her to tell stories and make the public's business known."
But, Macy writes:
Amid the shrunken newsroom at the Star-Ledger, a complicated camaraderie, borne of relief, survivor's guilt and excitement for the future, has emerged, she says.
"We're starting over, and there is not quite optimism, but at least a sense of curiosity about what's going to happen.

"We're the ones left in the lifeboat. We made it off the ship, and we're out in the big ocean. But we're alive, and we're together, and one way or another, we are going to get to shore."
 Call the crew "transitional journalists – rather than transitioned journalist," Macy says.

Despite all the layoffs and buyouts, Macy tells us she's "more than 40,000 newspaper journalists are still cranking away, and I'm grateful to be among them, having vowed to ride out the tsunami until they pry the company-owned laptop from my cold, ink-stained hands. "

She also tends to be an optimist, reminding us in August/September 2008 to ignore depressinging industry news.

I get the attraction. I get the thrill of a great story. What the writer of "Hunkering Down" doesn't get is not everyone gets the choice to stay or go. And even when you have the choice, you have to remember what Patrick Evan says in the piece:
"Because there is always someone younger and cheaper who would love to do your job."
Speaking of jobs, it's been a year since a journalist left his job, sure he had another one lined up. Now, he's about to go play music in the subway as he explains "What don't you do for a living."
"Without music, life would not be fair."
Fair? That was never the promise ... for those with a journalism degree or for anyone else.