Mar 18

On the road again

On the podcast I talked with Ken Booth, a man who used to be my boss a few jobs ago. I have always enjoyed chewing the fat with him. He’s a clever and well-read person, so it was only a matter of time before he was on the show. Also he let me work for him for four-and-a-half years, so he’s clearly very smart.

Actually, he took a chance on me. I was leaving broadcasting and he was running what was then a news site that was something between a startup and a mainstay. They were making money and hiring and I was a journalist who could code a little and do some other things and we found ways to make it work and it became one of those things that led to other things and turned out to be pretty important, that job and the things I did and learned there. So I was clearly very smart to take the job.

And now here we are today, about 14 years since he hired me and nine-and-a-half years since I left — it seems like two lifetimes ago – talking about the success of the young craft brewing industry:

Also, most of today was spent in the car. Allie came along. She’s a great traveler, but we think she might not like the leather interior of my car. She spent most of the trip in the floorboard:

We drove for about seven hours — which is about four more hours than anyone should ever be in a car, but the cat was fine — and finally made it through a land where they now advertise on buses:

And now we have arrived, for a quick family trip and a birthday and more time in the car. And that’s the weekend. How’s your weekend shaping up?

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Mar 18

The bricks are now doing the talking

So last year, in a town that likes its bicycling, the city council decided to let bikes on sidewalks. Or, more accurately, they just legitimized something that was already happening and not being enforced. The biggest argument for it was “I’m scared to ride on the roads.” And that’s not an illegitimate concern – have you seen people that drive?

The biggest argument against was “Bicycles don’t belong on sidewalks.” I happen to like this argument, and I am not unsympathetic toward the elderly residents who complained about what changing the rules might mean for where they walk around.

Nevertheless, the city made it OK to ride your bikes on sidewalks. Except for a few high profile walkways, where these messages are now appearing:

In a perfect world, with unlimited resources and no lost days to weather or personnel or legal disputes, I’d build a secondary path that followed the primary roads. This would be for bikes. And I could drop this into place instantly and people would come up with interesting ways to break the rules set up for safety. Because that’s just what some people will do.

I bet I could go sit by that dismount notice for just a few minutes and manage to take a picture of someone riding or skating over it. That’s just what some people will do.

Today’s podcast was with my old friend Justin Thurman. The story we discussed has to do with how technology is hurting the youth, this time.

I used to work with him way back when. He may be one of the people that interviewed me, as I was leaving broadcasting. Super nice guy, just smart and thoughtful as can be. He’s one of those knows a lot about a lot kind of people. And he’s got this super cool kid and his wife is a wonderful human being. Now I think I’ve finally arranged this so that I can do a show with him on a regular basis, which was really the ultimate goal of the entire show, if you ask me on the right day.

(Tomorrow’s show will feature the guy who was our boss.)

(Tomorrow will also feature a road trip, so I must go pack a few things. Ta ta for now.)

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Feb 18

Where I remember journalism class things

First the shooting in Parkland, Florida happened. And then the boycotts of businesses that do business with NRA came. And then a few of those businesses reacted, or just acted. (One can never be sure and, for our purposes here, it doesn’t matter all that much.) One of those businesses was Delta, which said they would pull their NRA travel deal.

Then, the great state of Georgia decided this was a political moment with which to motivate. So there’s this moment where one state office-holder wants another office and figures, if Delta doesn’t back NRA, I can make some hay in the next election by picking a fight with Delta.

And this impacts Delta because the carrot in this “and the stick” formulation is a $50 million gas tax chit. Georgia will vote on this sooner or later, but civic officials elsewhere aren’t wasting time, and the courting of the airline has begun.

This is the basis of today’s podcast, which features a return of one of the original way-back-when guests, my old friend and now Knight Journalism Fellow, André Natta.

The only problem with having Natta on this particular program is having to cut about 10 good minutes of material to keep the show in its format. That’s one of those good problems to have, really, but it doesn’t make any nicer to edit. Also, he tends to select stories that let us recycle the program several times, which is very nice.

Anyway, he’s out at Stanford just now with this fellowship, and it is the first time I’ve spoken with him in person in some time. Sounds like he’s doing well, too, plus he also met Ted Koppel today, which is one of those things you can do at these great big programs. Last week we had Diane Foley, the mother of James Foley, a freelance journalist killed in Syria, in to speak. Anthony DeCurtis, from Rolling Stone, was just in a class. So was Pat Walters, from Radiolab. That’s just the last few days around here, and just on the journalism side. Kathleen Jamieson Hall is here right now doing her usual amazing work with political communication. It was really neat to meet her this week. (As a journalist, I used to interview David Lanoue. As a grad student I studied under the great Larry Powell and Gary Copeland. You can fairly say my political science communication cup has runneth over.) Oh, and Dan Balz will be here next month. Balz is a chief correspondent at The Washington Post, where he started in 1978. He’s been covering politics there my entire life.

The only speaker I remember from my undergraduate program was a guy from the local paper and a man who was a bombardier shot down over Schweinfurt, Germany during World War II. The guy that taught us photojournalism was the biggest star they ever managed to land. And he worked there. He’d also cut his teeth in the business covering the Civil Rights Movement, the Freedom Riders and Bloody Sunday, so this was no small thing. He was far and away the best journalist we ever heard from, and he was on the faculty. And that was, for the time, a decent journalism program. Maybe its different now.

Tomorrow night I’ll hear Hall, who is the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center for the third time this week. You might say that’s working out in my favor.

Feb 18

I like to think I’m more of an autumn …

I tried a new shade of tie today. It got several nice compliments.

Maybe people just know I’m not naturally a purple?

I don’t know how your day was, or how her day was, but sometimes you just need to cuddle with someone while they hold your head:

I recorded a podcast today with Dominick Jean, who is a news editor of the Indiana Daily Student. I’m pretty confident in my thinking that I couldn’t have done this when I was his age:

Speaking of cool things our students are doing … IUSTV is launching a new show, the second of the semester. First they rolled out a weekly late night kind of show. It’s fun and fairly clever. And now, here’s the first scripted drama they’ve done in a few years, it will be full of location and field shoots, I’m told. If you’re in town and fit any of these demos, come on and take on a role:

Isn’t that cool? Students have an idea for a program and they can pitch it to the student television station and then they all go out and produce the thing. Lucidious makes the fifth new series they’ve rolled out since I’ve been here. What a wonderful and unique opportunity.

And let’s end this on a precious little video:

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Feb 18

Then the Men in Black moved to the Bermuda Triangle

There was text here, but “they” removed it. It must be part of a larger conspiracy, which was the subject of today’s episode of the podcast. My former boss and longtime friend, Ken Booth, joined me to talk about conspiracy theories. No tinfoil hats are necessary here, but do keep an eye out for black helicopters.

And if you still haven’t been abducted by UFOs being flown by Bigfoot, go check out Ken’s projects. He’s the co-founder of Shorpy.com, which is full of historical photos and fine prints, and of Vintagraph.com, which h as loads of great posters. We have a couple at the house; they’re high quality.

Ken hired me a lifetime ago, when I was getting out of broadcasting. He was the editor at al.com and I worked for him as a producer for four-and-a-half years. I was always appreciative that he took me on. I learned a lot, and I was able to to be helpful to the project. We did some great stuff there, some incredibly important hurricane work and of course sports and I managed to work in some political coverage and some new storytelling features. And then I left, and he eventually moved on as well. They’ve done some other great things there since then, but it started with Ken, and those early sales and design and editorial teams. My time there served me well for what was to come later.

If it sounds like a grand scheme, it probably is.