May 21, 2010

Oregonian reporter fired for writing for Glamour without OK

A 12-year career with The Oregonian ended with a firing because a reporter wrote a story for a national magazine without clearing the job with her newspaper editors first.

Details about the firing, including a comment from the editor, are posted in Williamette Week.

The story, published in Glamour under the headline " 'I Found Out My Mother Was A Killer': the Rebecca Babcock Story," is about a 26-year-old woman learning her birth mother, Diane Downs, was convicted of shooting her own children in 1983.

Downs was pregnant with Rebecca during the trial, the result of a "brief fling with a newspaper reporter" according to published reports. (The Oregonian published several reports, including this one, on "one of the most notorious murder cases in Oregon history.")

20/20 also featured Babcock's story. and "Why did Diane Downs Plot to Kill Her Kids?". You also can watch an interview with a reporter about how the story developed. The story of Diane Downs was the subject of Ann Rule's book "Small Sacrifices," and that was turned into a TV movie.

Most news organizations either restrict employees from contributing or publishing in other sources or require advance permission and first refusal rights.

May 17, 2010

Jef Mallett: Control what you can

How much in life can we control? As a woman who lives in a temperamental body - oh, thank you MS - I know that sometimes the answer is nothing.

But Jef Mallet, who I first met through The Flint Journal, suggests how we can control the start of the day in a blog post under the headline of Reveille. He sneaks in a review of John Hiatt's Muddy Waters.

I also like reading how Jef invites those of us on Facebook to head over to his latest blog post. Here's the intro for today's post:
"Most of life just happens the way it wants, even for those of us who like to think we're allergic to passivity. Truth is, you can only control a few little pieces. They might as well be key pieces. First three minutes of the day seems pretty key to me."
Most times you'd get his lead:
"People who don't like waking up on Monday mornings apparently don't wake up the way I did this morning: To John Hiatt's "Crossing Muddy Waters," from his 2000 album of the same name."
It's a perfectly good way to start a blog post. But I like how he takes the time to craft a summary of his latest post. Here's what he said over on Facebook when I left praise for his intro:
"I like how that spreads the word and drives traffic, but mostly I like how it forces me to do an instant evaluation of what I've written. Great training."

Me? I like waking up to read the blog posts of long-time and short-time friends despite being allergic to mornings. Finding a role model or learning something new can perk me up almost as much as a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Refresher 'course' uses humor to improve grammar

Me and her? Double negatives? Run-on sentences? The College Humor site takes us through some grammar lessons. But such a tragic ending, I'm afraid.

Fear not: Internet helps shrink world into villages again

Great reminder from Jason Kottke who has been sharing online since March 1998, about How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet.

Click on that link and you'll see what Kottke pulled out as a stark reminder that it is us on the Internet.

Then head to the original piece by Douglas Adams, which first appeared in The Sunday Times on Aug. 29, 1990.

One of my favorite lines?
"Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it."
It's part of three sentences of what in the world is normal and what is against the natural order of things. Unfortunately, most of us won't believe those sentences until we've made it past the age of 40 or so.

But I also like the reminder:
"Another problem with the net is that it’s still ‘technology’, and ‘technology’, as the computer scientist Bran Ferren memorably defined it, is ‘stuff that doesn’t work yet.’ "
But what I like best is this reminder of who we are and why we reach out via email, Facebook, FarmVille, Twitter, and so much more:

"We are natural villagers. For most of mankind’s history we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing.

"Interactivity. Many-to-many communications. Pervasive networking. These are cumbersome new terms for elements in our lives so fundamental that, before we lost them, we didn’t even know to have names for them."

Won't you be my friend? Or follower? Or neighbor?