textualdeviance: (Default)
One of the benefits of this new gig? Even though it's unpaid, it's still more-or-less legit writing work, with a byline and everything. It's silly, I suppose, but that really matters to me.

Aside from my internship--which I loved--I never got much of an opportunity to write either in school or with the jobs I got after that. The vast majority of what I've done has been on the techy side instead. I'm a geek and I enjoy pushing buttons to make web stuff look pritty, but at my core, I'm all about content. I like researching and reporting stories, I like writing them and I like making decisions about what kinds of stories should get the most attention. I'm a journalist, after all, not just someone who knows how to write a bit of HTML and futz around with photo and video editing. My greatest strength is in synthesizing disparate bits of information into a comprehensive package.

So it's really very gratifying to me to be able to do that, to a degree, with this thing. It's not straight reporting--I'm a columnist, more or less, not a news reporter--but I'm still creating stories, which feels really good. I don't consider myself a genius at this, and I may not yet be anywhere near truly following in the footsteps of my beloved Molly Ivins, but I feel a hell of a lot closer to that now than I did before.

Plus, the cool side benefit is that I now feel comfortable actually calling myself a writer when random people ask what I do. The multi-hyphenate Dilbertspeak jumble of what I was doing before never made for great small talk. Now, I can just spit out a word or two, and people both know and respect what that means. Awesome.
textualdeviance: (DONE)
So, a couple of weeks ago, one of my profs contacted me out of the blue and asked if I'd speak to her online journalism class about my experiences as a button monkey content producer for a Major Internet Presence.

So, I got to go up and do that today. It was really quite strange, since I hadn't been back in B'ham since I graduated a year and a half ago. I didn't get to see all my old profs, which was a bummer, but I did see a couple of folks I recognized, which was cool.

The campus has changed a bit--there's a whole new building next to the Com building now. Very weird.

It felt good, though. I didn't feel overly nostalgic or like I was pining for lost youth (that happens when I visit Portland. Sigh...) I felt satisfied, in a way. Like I did what I came there to do four years ago, and it all worked out well and was a chapter of my life that I feel was successful. No regrets. No "what ifs" save for the few little bits of pining away for some of my hottie classmates with whom I would never have had a remote chance to hook up. ;)

The talk itself was rather funny, I suppose. I gussied up a little bit*, which sometimes helps me feel a bit more confident about giving presentations. (Yes, it's weird. Even with all my stage and performing and radio experience, I still have issues with giving presentations or speaking in front of a class or meeting. I have no idea why.)

I basically spent my whole hour in front of the class scaring the living crap out of them about their potential job prospects. And some other stuff, too )

I'm not a great judge of how groups of people are reacting to me unless they're actively engaged with what I'm doing, so I don't know how well I came off. The blank stares I was getting could've been rapt fascination or boredom or sheer, unadulterated terror about what I was saying. I dunno. My prof seemed to want me to come back at some point, so I guess I did OK.

Busy weekend coming up. A birthday party Friday and an engagement party Saturday. No word yet on any new jobs, but I'm sure something will come up eventually, and I'm fine with cooling my heels until then. I still have a novel to work on, LOTRO characters to level and Rock Band songs to master, so I'm good. ;)

* )
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
This piece is fantastic

Some key excerpts: )
ETA for a bit of commentary:

I love all of this, but I especially like his pointing out that journalism should be approached like a science--subject to verifiability and peer review.

A journalist's sole responsibility is to the facts of the story. That includes facts that underlie the surface issue of the story.

We would never, for instance, report without comment or rebuttal a quote from someone who insists the moon is made of green cheese, because we know for established, scientific fact that that's false. We can report that that person THINKS the moon is made of green cheese, but we cannot just give that person a soapbox for that belief without any sort of framing of the assertion as patently false.

The same principle is true for hundreds of other established facts that are often treated by news media as opinion: The capability of same-sex parents, for instance, or man-made contributions to global warming.

Fact is what we trade on. And we must, therefore, first establish what a fact is--something empirically derived, and not just the opinion of laypeople or pseudoscience--before we can begin to discharge our duties as reporters of facts.

Whether those facts dovetail with and therefore confirm the beliefs of the masses is irrelevant. Even if a majority of laypeople think, for instance, that global warming doesn't exist, we still cannot report on that issue as if such an assumption is at all factual.

From a business standpoint, it's supposedly necessary to engage in some level of confirmation bias for our target demographics. But when doing that ultimately destroys our credibility so that people no longer trust us, we're going to lose audience in the end anyway.

It makes far more sense for us to report the truth, as empirically derived, and ultimately build our credibility to a point that audiences are drawn in on that alone.

If we don't do this--if what we produce is nothing more than a fact-lite echo chamber for the uninformed--we are derelict in our duties, and don't even deserve to call ourselves journalists.
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
Journalizm: Yer doin' it wrong.

I suppose it's too much to hope that they fire her ridiculous ass, considering that it was probably one of their Friedmanite freak editors who assigned the story in the first place.

The WSJ hasn't had anything resembling journalistic standards in... oh... about forever. And it got even worse when NewsCorp (yes, the one famous for owning Fox "GOP Pravda" News) took over. But it's still kind of surprising that they'd be this clumsy about their overt partisanship. I mean, really... can't you at least make some attempt at actual reporting before you start in with the whole "Democrats are EVIL and want to STEAL YOUR MONEY!!11" spin?

Sigh... it all makes the zombie Edward R. Murrow cry.
textualdeviance: (Default)
These last two weeks of freedom have been sweet, albeit not without some annoyances. The amount of work that the house needs is really quite overwhelming, though I'm making dents in it. I've been a little sick on and off because I re-started my meds, and my tummy doesn't like those early on, so I've been a little slower on the mucking around than I'd hoped. Still, there has been progress.

I've also been slowly ramping up on the socialization thing. Can't wait for the party--two weeks out!

Job hunts and ethics--strange bedfellows )
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
I don't know what's more horrifying: The idea that we're already fucking around with Iran or the scary people commenting on this report, saying the media are "traders" for telling the American people what their government is up to.

Here's an example (one of, unfortunately, many):

I am deeply disappointed that your alleged news organization would broadcast to the enemy, an islamic state who hates freedom, Christians, and most of all, Americans. "Treason" is too kind of an adjective to apply to brian ross. I dare say you are no more American than the disgusting kouric wretch.

I would like to call you all a lot of bad names. Where is that imus guy when he might be of some use?

ETA: There are some good comments on there, too, though. I like this one:

I think we've found the 25 percenters who have no interest in the evil performed in their name.

And this one:

Oh yes, let's bring down Iran. Bringing down Iraq has been such great fun!


And this one:

To the morons: Stop involving yourselves in politics. Stupid people should stick to drinking beer and watching sports. Just because one of your own became President doesn't mean the tide is turning for your kind.

And this one I have to post just because of the name:

If all you authoritarian subjects bleating "treason" had been paying the slightest bit of attention to anything but FOX McF'inNews for the past ten years, you would recognize that this is old news at best, and more likely a total non-story. Filler. I read about covert actions in Iran years ago, and the Iranian govt. certainly knows more than this vague fluff . And yet, you are angry that any reporting is being done at all.
You want LESS news.
I throw up my hands in despair.

Posted by: christonableedingsegway | May 23, 2007 1:46:51 AM
Apr. 19th, 2007 11:31 pm


textualdeviance: (Default)
I have decided to form G.U.C.E: The Guerilla Union of Copy Editors.

Our motto: "An apostrophe is a terrible thing to waste."

We will roam the English-speaking world with our red pens, correcting flyers, ads and other printed evidence of ugly grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Fear us, ye foes of proper language!*
Caffeine + tired = silly Shawna )

*This random message was brought to you by a flyer from our department that used the phrase "over $10,000."

textualdeviance: (Brenda)
So, in catching up with the shootings of today, I noticed some interesting things, from my perspective as a student journalist:

CNN interviewed the school paper's EIC. She was nervous, and a bit giggly (due to that and the wind) but showed considerable composure. She and her staff were also clearly on top of things, too. They started looking into the first shooting almost immediately after it happened, and were trying to track down why there was no campus closure after that.

And then there's this.

As awful as this event is, it amazes me that the students and student journalists at this school have done a better job of covering it than the mainstream media have, by not only being more on top of it, but by integrating content from multiple sources into a cohesive, continually updated story that still manages to be journalistic despite much of its amateur origins. The paper's site has become basically a blog about the event, with news as it comes in.

Also, it's interesting to see some of the shitty behavior by reporters on the LJ post from the guy whose girlfriend was in one of the classrooms. WTF does the Boston Fucking Herald need to be pestering this guy about this? National? Sure. Local? Of course. Campus paper? Absolutely. And EVERY OTHER REQUEST ought to go through one of those three channels.

This is why so many people hate the media. They descend like packs in situations like this instead of simply letting the people closest to the event--and therefore the most appropriate to handle the story--get the story, and then syndicate that. There is no reason whatsoever that the Boston Herald shouldn't be using what the Collegiate Times gathered, instead of trying to get their own story by pestering the exact same sources. They're not going to get a scoop. They're not going to get a good story. They're not going to do anything except piss people off.

If I'm EVER put in a situation in which an editor asks me to go sticking a microphone in the face of someone who's just experienced a tragedy when we aren't the core media in the area or subject in question, I will, with no hesitation, walk right off that job. If I worked for the Everett Herald and they told me to go track down some guy in Idaho whose son was mauled by a rabid moose? Fuck that. If the guy was a former Everett resident and Boeing employee? Different story. That's something that matters to our local audience, and therefore we have a responsibility to deliver that angle of the story (although we should cover it far less thoroughly than Idaho media.)

On behalf of all real journalists, I apologize to the people who have been affected by the shittastic behavior of the vultures today, and I applaud the people from the Collegiate Times who have showed such amazing professionalism under extraordinary circumstances.
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
You know you're at a geek conference when you see people around riding Segways. Heh.

My first day of the conference has gone well so far. Some of the stuff they're talking about is over my head, but not by much--although I haven't been to any of the heavy-duty geek seminars.

I kind of miss being at school, though. I'll be missing a cycle and a half of the SPFH, and I feel bad about leaving them in the lurch like that, even though I'd planned for this well in advance. I also have a huge proposal due for my senior project, and I'll need to find some time in the next couple of days to work on that.

One of the coolest things I heard about today was the idea of browsers and desktop apps taking advantage of microformats. For the uninitiated, what this would mean, in theory, is that a bit of code in a page would specify what kind of information is being formatted, and then give the user the option to add that information to his or her app of choice.

For example, if you were looking at an event calendar, and wanted to add a given event to your Outlook calendar, you'd have the option of clicking on something (button, menu item, etc.) in your browser that would then copy that info directly into your calendar without having to type it all in. It would work something like how clicking an RSS link then sends content to your RSS reader of choice.

Obviously, there are security and spam issues to think about--anytime you have online content directly interacting with data storage, that can get scary--but I do like the idea. I especially like it from a reader service perspective wrt media sites. Virtually every news content provider has some sort of calendar of events or lists of contacts or addresses (think of classified ad info or capsule restaurant reviews!) and it would be seriously cool for the reader to just push a button and add all that info to their personal data management apps. From the perspective of advertising keeping news media going, making advertisers happy by offering them more ways to interact with potential customers is a lifesaver.

Perhaps the most fascinating bit, though, was a comment from one presenter about how when mobile devices are truly out there and content is being properly configured for them, print newspapers will finally die.

Scary proclamation, but he's right. The only reason that newsprint is still common (aside from a handful of Luddites) is that it's more mobile. Most people aren't tied to their desktops all day, and therefore don't have news access all day. Even with wifi, laptops still aren't completely portable (are you really going to bring a laptop into the john?) but pocket PCs and the like are. Yes, I've actually read and sent text messages and e-mail on my smartphone while in the bathroom. Sue me. But newsprint, of course, is static, limited-quantity and hard-formatted. You read what comics the editors think you want to read.

This doesn't mean journalism is dead. In fact, the need for people who are trained professionals in information gathering and assembling is greater than ever, now that so much raw information is out there, and there isn't a good way for most people to sort the good stuff from bullshit. The presenters in question acknowledged that, and acknowledged that professional editors are desperately needed to bring some order to the chaos.

Going to spend the rest of the day doing research for my project and otherwise catching up on reading. Big day at the conference tomorrow--lots of sessions I want to hit. And I also want to do at least a bit of touristy gawping, since I haven't been here in a bajillion years.
Dec. 1st, 2006 12:30 pm


textualdeviance: (Brenda)
The news is dead. Long live the news.

M just sent me this.

Something I decided a while back, and which was cemented during my internship, is that news--and the consumer need for it--does not change just because the medium changes. Having worked extensively in three of the four main forms of media (radio, print and online) I can safely say that very little changes about content from medium to medium. Only the method and timing of delivery changes. Airtime becomes column inches becomes bandwidth. Budgeting for space/time for ads v. content is still necessary. Giving audiences what they want AND what they need is always a balancing act.

And one of the big things that does not change is the basic principle of journalism: gather the facts from reliable sources and assemble them into a concise, educational and interesting package.

And yet... )
Nov. 26th, 2006 03:33 pm


textualdeviance: (Default)
So, though things are fairly reasonable here at the moment (it snowed, then rained, now it's snowing again) the path between here and B'ham is icky, as is B'ham itself (the city of which apparently does not own a snowplow. WTF?)

And it's prepro day for the SPFH. And tomorrow's forecast looks even shittier, and that's production day.


Naturally, this happened while the eds and reporters were far-flung for the holiday. But! We are using the wonders of tha Intarwebs to get an issue out anyway. Not just the online edition (the final design of which I finally have up and running, thanks to M) but the print edition, too. At the moment, everyone's scrambling around sending various emails organizing how we're going to get this done. We have a few eds on campus who can do the layout, and a few of us--like yours truly--can work from home, plus we're using Blackboard to do a few things, too.

Honestly? I'm giddy. I love shit like this. Not the weather--although snow is pretty and fun to play in, it makes getting things done a pain in the ass--but the mad scrambling trying to patch together an issue with duct tape and bailing wire. When I have six gazillion other things to do or when something Really Serious hangs in the balance, chaos annoys me, but when it's just a challenge to find different ways of doing things when the usual way fails--love it. I think one of my greatest skills is creative problem solving (Hm. That should be on my resume...) so when I have a problem that needs creative solutions, I'm really in my element (assuming I have any idea what I'm doing.)

The only bummer about all this is that I was supposed to register for winter term a few days ago, but there's a hold on my account (my latest parking ticket, of course.) I was going to pay up tomorrow, but that won't happen, now. I'm on the waitlist for the two j. classes I need, but I'm concerned that I might not get into my psych class, and may need to beg to be let in so I can get my minor. Meh. I know it's my own damned fault, but still. Annoying.
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
Attention to all fandom sorts:

I'm doing a project for my online j. class about digitial copyright management. I'd like to do brief interviews with a couple of webmasters of sites that use copyrighted video or images. Actually, even if you just post these things to LJ, MySpace or YouTube, I'd like to talk to you. Even large-volume icon makers would be useful.

Also, if you're a producer of copyrighted video or images, I'd like to talk to you, too.

The piece won't be published--it's just an academic exercise on the topic itself--but I will need to use your real name and at least give a description of what it is you post--watermarked images, manips, edited vids, etc.--and for what fandom/topic. I won't need URLs of sites or LJ names, etc. There's no chance you'll get busted from this, in other words.

Comments are screened. Please comment with the e-mail addy you'd prefer to be contacted at and a brief description of what you do, and I'll be in touch within the next few days if I need you.


x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] fanbitch
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
*falls over*

I just discovered that the Student Paper from Hell, thanks to yours truly, is actually scooping the Big Local Paper on this election coverage. They're not printing ongoing returns. Instead, they're running an AP story.


ETA: Okay, they finally posted a pathetic little piece. It only listed a few races. Pfeh.


ETA2: Y'know, it's actually really good that I'm working on this tonight. It's keeping me busy, when I'd otherwise be sitting here chewing my nails to stumps waiting for word on the big stuff. I'm really nervous about the Darcy Burner race. She's currently trailing by about 2700 votes--thanks to a shitload of votes for Reichert in Pierce County--but there are about 450k votes left to count for King County, and only 80k for Pierce. It may be tight enough to trigger a recount. We'll see.

Nov. 7th, 2006 06:29 pm


textualdeviance: (Brenda)

OMG want


I get to do something quite fun this evening, and do some blog-style election coverage for the Student Paper from Hell. I didn't even think about this until just a little bit ago, but the EIC has given me the okay. Should be fun. I slept all day (making up for lost sleep yesterday and dealing with the wrath of the Moon) so I should be good to go for most of the night. Yay. I also get to document what all HuffPo is posting tonight. This is really kind of exciting. I live for breaking news coverage.
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
OMG I want this job.

Damn shame it's unlikely to be there when I graduate. But I almost feel like pestering them to create an intern position for me as an assistant to whoever does this for when I am available.

Technically speaking--and speaking of technicals--I'm not quite qualified for it, yet, and won't be when I graduate, either. But I think this is the kind of thing I want to do in the near future. I'm not sure where I'll start when I'm done with school--and I may take some time off for that whole spawning thing--but at least I have an eventual goal in mind, and I think it's a reasonable one, given my background and current skillset.

This is, of course, just a "job" goal. This is something I think I could easily reach within five years. On a long-term career goal level, I want to do a lot more in terms of writing than a position like this would allow for. But this is the kind of thing I can do to earn a paycheck while I'm working that direction.

I'd really prefer to start on a proofreading/factcheck track, rather than a reporting one, since I detest reporting so much. But since I'm more limited by geography than skills, I'll probably just go for whatever entry-level position I can get at the places I want to work. I'll probably try for another internship, too.

It may sound funny to those of you who have had "jobs" for a long time, but it really tickles me to see an actual job listing that I'm close to being qualified for that isn't just biological office equipment or other meaningless, low-pay drone stuff.

ETA: Heh. I'm clearly not qualified for it if I can't even properly close my tags. Sheesh.
textualdeviance: (Brenda)
Long night editing. Very tired and heading to bed momentarily.

I did want to share this, though. Some of the stuff we print is actually kind of bad, a lot of it is mediocre-to-good, and some writers are definitely ahead of the curve. But occasionally, we get real gems.

This is one of them.

There are a few holes in the way he uses sources, but his writing structure and sense of style are very strong. That's the kind of thing you can't teach. Quirks of grammar and journalistic style can be learned (not that he's deficient there--he isn't.) but a great sense of timing and flow for the written word just can't, and therefore stuff like this always impresses me. I hope he sticks with this path.
Sep. 26th, 2006 11:01 am


textualdeviance: (Brenda)
Reason #75437698 I'm getting into this profession:

I want to clean up horrid things like this.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] flippet for the link.


textualdeviance: (Default)

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