journalism


15
Mar 17

Alone in the woods, with sunglasses and soup

Each day I make use of at least one weather app, the smart thermostat which is still patiently trying to convenience me it somehow knows what is going on outside and a variety of windows which display both front and back yards. I do all of this at night and again in the morning, before I put a single thing in my pockets to leave. And then I put the things I carry in my pockets, so many things. And then I go to the garage, because that is where I park my car.

I open the garage door, because that is easier than driving through it and replacing it every week. And then I settle into my car, crank it and undertake the normal procedures one uses. I put my foot on the brake, select reverse and then throw my arm over the other seat and look backward because that’s how everyone did it when I was growing up and that’s still the coolest move in a car. I snicker at the idea of a backup camera. No, seriously, every day, that makes me chuckle. And then I move the car, each time I am amazed by my good fortune of avoiding hitting things with the passenger-side mirror. And then I am in the driveway, and I back up about 15 more feet and I’m in the road.

Only, today, I was confronted by this thing that I knew from both ancient DNA and my own dim, distant memory.

That’s actually overselling it. Of course it was the sun. I was pleased to see the sun. “This is,” I thought to myself, “a sign of things to come.” That thought was immediately followed by “My, but that’s bright!”

Don’t I own some device that was designed to aid in the filtering of the bright and magical UV rays which are now descending on me for the first time since, oh, November? However long ago it was I had to really struggle to remember — and this part is legitimate — where I store my sunglasses in my car. But I used them today. So pleased was I that, in the parking lot at work I had to find a sunny spot for this picture:

I used to use this article in writing classes. It is about a man who stayed a true hermit, in the woods of Maine, for 27 years before police picked him up on a series of cabin break-ins. One reporter, the author of that piece, was the only person the guy talked to. (Turns out, I just learned, that story has become one of GQ’s most-read pieces ever. I’d give students that article on a Monday and would ask them to discuss it the following Monday. The few that would actually talk about it thought it creepy. At 20 pages of intriguing brilliance, most just thought it too long and admitted they gave up on it. Their loss.)

Anyway, the story appears again, by the same talented reporter, Michael Finkel, who has now written about it in The Guardian. And now he’s got a book on the story, released earlier this month. Read the GQ version, it is worth the time.

Tonight I learned that Allie likes minestrone:

She likes it a lot. Licked the bowl clean. Worked hard at getting the edges. I’ll have to leave her a bit of the broth next time.


28
Feb 17

Watch more TV — on your computer or wherever

I’m feeling better, thanks. Most of the things I would complain about are brought on by the Sudafed. I looked up the side effects this morning and, what do you know? Present and accounted for. And, since I am breathing relatively well, and because I like sleep and a regular heart rate and all of the other things I’ve grown accustomed to over the years, I’m putting the medicine away.

I went for a run this morning. It was cold and drizzling and I was going to do a few miles, but after the first one the mist turned to sprinkles and the sprinkling came with thunder, so I went inside and got warm and ready for work.

Then tonight we had two news shows to shoot and a launch party to attend. I shot this of the news’ teaser opening:

Things to read … Sometimes, when you teach young reporters how to localize a story you can just look around the room. High school student-journalists wrote this: Detained, but not Deported: A Family’s Final Chance to Remain Undivided:

The daily calls, however, have been a strong connection between Yousef and his kids, as he tries to stay updated on their lives at home and in school. He keeps the conversation light-hearted, according to his oldest daughter Yara, a junior at Pioneer High School. “Every Friday he used to take us to the gas station after school, so last Friday he asked us ‘What do you guys want from the gas station?'”

The kids are aware that, in many ways, the cheer is a facade. “He’s mad. Every time he calls us he tries to be happy, but I know he’s mad,” Betoul said. “He has right to be. We all do.”

Despite the closeness of the family, Yousef won’t allow his kids to come and visit. “He doesn’t want us to see him like that. He wants to be strong, he wants to be the dad of the house,” Betoul said. “Seeing him like that, that’s at his weakest point.”

They did a really nice job with the story, too.

Speaking of the utes … Teenagers trust algorithms to select stories nearly twice as much as they trust human editors, research finds:

While teenagers are more trusting of traditional media – TV, radio and newspapers – than adults as they place mounting importance on facts in a ‘filter bubble’ era, adversely they trust algorithms to select stories for them more than human editors, the Edelman Trust Barometer has found.

I wonder if this will be one of those things where the first three months tells the tale. Google announces YouTube TV service that rivals cable for $35:

YouTube says that younger people (“millenials”) want to watch TV in the same place they watch all their other content, which makes sense. It wants to build an experience that “works as well on your phone as on your desktop,” as well as all your other devices.

The service also includes a feature called Cloud DVR, which allows you to save an unlimited number of shows without worrying about the storage limits of a traditional DVR. That said, you must be connected to the internet to access your recorded shows, so no watching on the subway or in the middle of nowhere.

Also, what traditional television providers do next will be interesting, too.

More here, and here.


23
Feb 17

Talking about the cyber

Among the other parts of my day, editing a big document, watching students produce a sports show, handling the various comings and goings of emailing and scheduling and so on, I had the opportunity to hang out at an important panel this evening. And I took notes.

Also, even if you aren’t interested in cybersecurity as a journalist or in your own professional role, this slideshow that gets mentioned people is accessible and worth your while. Check that out. Anyway, on to the tweets …



15
Feb 17

A little something for a lot of people

Here’s your mid-week upside down motivation, brought to you by Allie The Black Cat:

She’s always concerned about morale, now if only she could read, so she’d know the words were upside down.

She spends enough time staring at screens and books and paper. Maybe she thinks she can read. Maybe she just looked at that upside down. Maybe I’m the one that is wrong. Maybe she actually can read. Anything is possible, it says.

We went for a run late this evening, before it was time to head back into the studio. I thought we would be running indoors, so I just had shorts and a t-shirt. But we ran outside, where the windchill was 34 degrees. I am smart. So I got in five miles before I had to cut it short to go back to work. I didn’t get my full eight, but I did get this view after I showered and set out to walk back to my building:

That’s going to be a banner on the site one day soon, I think.

These two pictures are from last night. The news show I oversee now has a weather segment. This was from last night, when we finally broke in the green screen. Pretty cool opportunity for the folks studying the weather:

I spent some time in the control room last night, too. Mostly because there are a lot of lights and cool buttons in there:

Things to readHere by the owl:

CADIZ, Ohio — Don Jones supports students as an FFA adviser, represented by the owl during FFA meetings.

In FFA tradition, the owl is a time-honored emblem of knowledge and wisdom, and Jones has served in the adviser’s role for 22 years. Some of his students jokingly refer to him as the “wise old owl.”

In his classroom at Harrison Central Junior and Senior High School, he provides real lessons for real life as the agricultural education teacher. He sees 140 students a day, in grades 7-12.

Being the only educator in the program, with just one classroom, he has to turn away students from his program, which is an elective for the nearly 650 youth at Harrison Central.

That headline is no accident. That’s actually part of the opening ceremony the FFA uses at levels ranging from school meetings to the national convention. The teacher, or the adviser, is represented by the owl.

Last year I wrote about my advisors:

I had many valuable experiences, and this could go on and on, but the most important thing the FFA gave to me was the leadership of two good men. Mr. Swaffield and Mr. Caddell were battle-tested teachers. They are two solid, stand up, good, decent, morally upright father figures I benefitted from as a teenager, when a boy needs them most.

Scott Pelley, Lester Holt, David Muir: The Unprecedented Joint Interview:

And, finally: Lost songs of Holocaust found in University of Akron archives:

In the summer of 1946, the psychologist interviewed at least 130 Jewish survivors in nine languages in refugee camps in France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. With a wire recorder — then considered state-of-the-art equipment — and 200 spools of steel wire, Boder preserved some of the first oral histories of concentration camp survivors. He also recorded song sessions and religious services.

A portion of Boder’s work has been archived at The University of Akron’s Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology since 1967. But it wasn’t until a recent project to digitize the recordings got under way that a spool containing the “Henonville Songs,” performed in Yiddish and German and long thought lost, was discovered in a mislabeled canister.

As I’ve said before: A significant portion of the 21st century is going to go toward the preservation of the works of the 20th.


16
Nov 15

I want to ‘complain’ about some of my students

While we followed the horrible news from Paris last night our news editor learned that 11 Samford people were in the City of Light. (All are safe and accounted for.)

Naturally, she went to work, writing about that story. This made me read copy on a Friday night and fire off a few salvos of emails. And then they interviewed one of those people Saturday and wrote more. So I had to read that and write another few emails, praising our staff, advising them, giving them (hopefully) helpful ideas for their coverage. And now they’ll go talk to more of them, and all of this will no doubt repeat itself. Because a news editor, an English major who wants to work in museums, cares an awful lot about doing it right.

This happened on their Friday night and over the course of their weekend. This was in addition to their regular school week and the other jobs some of them have. It happened after they were in the newsroom until 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning putting together a newspaper and then spent three hours with me, until 9 p.m. on Wednesday night, talking about that issue. And they’ll do it all again tomorrow and Wednesday.

You have to be dedicated to work with student-journalists, because they are incredibly dedicated to their jobs. They care about their community and their pursuit of good journalism. Sometimes that means they work every day. Would that more did. Student-journalists don’t often get the credit for it that their output deserves, but it is gratifying to work with students so invested in the work they are doing, beyond the normal scope and scale in which they work.