Archive for the 'journalism' Category

Thoughts on The Root

January 30, 2008

Well, The Root‘s been online now for two days, and though I’m not the target audience, I thought I’d go take a look at it.

My first thoughts are that I’m pretty impressed with the look of the thing. It’s supposed to be “Slate for black readers” yet looks nicer than Slate. (I’ve never been impressed with Slate’s weird pop-out Javascript navigation menu.)

I like that the “stuff” in the left column changes–sometimes it’s the top 5 stories, sometimes it’s a list of blogs, sometimes video. But oh–why do the blogs have to look so different? That’s a big negative.

The news content is pulled from other sources on the web, and opinions/blogs are written in-house. It seems to be a good mix of current events and commentary, but after such a short time I can’t be sure.

There are pictures on the Views (opinions) page, but News seems to be devoid of photos. And, come to think of it, why exile blogs to a separate section rather than allow them to mix with Views?

A plus for The Root is it looks like comments can be posted by anyone. And the blogroll to the left is great.

What do y’all think?

Career books and being a mini-celebrity

January 24, 2008

On Tuesday I attended a career seminar/book signing held by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio, author of the The Girls Guide to Business series. Their latest book, The Girl’s Guide to Kicking Your Career Into Gear (yes, their series doesn’t have an apostrophe but the book titles do–go figure) is about how to ask for a raise, a promotion, a corner office, or just a longer lunch break. (It also covers how to switch jobs if the one you’re in is making it hard for you to get what you’re asking for.)

You can read my interview with Kim Yorio (the shorter one) on ReadExpress.com here: Real Chick Lit

In the course of writing this story, I didn’t exactly have the opportunity to read the book, so I can’t vouch for its content, but I can certainly vouch for Caitlin and Kim, who are both very well-spoken, enthusiastic, knowledgeable women. (And I don’t believe the bit about Caitlin having a fear of public speaking–nice try, ladies.)

The ‘girls’ mentioned a story about being on The Today Show: the first time, Kim freaked out and Caitlin did all the talking. The second time, just before the cameras went on, Caitlin said she thought, “Oh my god, people actually watch this show.”

I had my own mini-moment like that yesterday, when I introduced myself at the end of the presentation and the girl behind me in the book-signing line said “Oh, you wrote that article? That’s how I knew to come here.”

Oh.

People actually read this paper. Hmm.

It’s easy to get suckered into the idea that you’re a lone writer toiling in obscurity, but everyone–from the top guy at the Post to a blogger with a Technorati authority of 3–has to remember that there ARE people out there reading.

Profiled: Journalism’s only working nonagenarian

January 23, 2008

Check out the Sacramento Bee’s recent piece on Daniel Schorr from NPR. At 91, the man’s still working, suspicious of blogs (and respectful of the copy desk), and a pretty interesting guy.

It looks like the Bee has a registration wall that activates after you view two pages; luckily, this piece is exactly two pages long.

Make your interview questions knock ’em down

January 11, 2008
Roger Clemens, who was named in the Mitchell Report as a user of performance-enhancing drugs, appeared on ’60 Minutes’ last Sunday. That’s about as much sports as I can handle, but over at ESPN.com, journalism teacher/mentor John Sawatsky explains how 60 Minutes should have conducted the interview (the segment was pre-taped) and how interviewer Mike Wallace threw only softballs.

Successful interviews get people to go further than they planned to go, and rarely come from a planned list of questions, even when the questions are good ones. Interviewing does not work that way. It is a dynamic process involving two basic stages. Stage 1 is planned; Stage 2 exploits the moment that Stage 1 produces, whenever and however it occurs.

If Wallace has really put Clemens to the test, he did so using a strategy that ties his questions together so the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Rather than “confronting” Clemens, Wallace will have established some basic points of agreement. Accountability inevitably comes out of agreement, not fireworks. It’s the only practical way to get Clemens to open up and come clean. [Source]

The whole article is worth a read. As for more interviewing tips, I enjoyed former colleague Kevin Flowers‘ tip that he gave a roomful of starry-eyed interns at the Erie Times-News—”put ’em on the defensive.” The theory being that someone who feels they have something to prove are more likely to speak out of emotion rather than coolly reading a press statement.

Clemens was on 60 minutes last Sunday. You can read a transcript of how the interview actually went here.

More on the Merc

January 9, 2008

Via Romenesko today:

Just a few weeks before former San Jose Mercury News Editor Carole Leigh Hutton resigned in a surprise move last Thursday, she led a team of staffers in a presentation to MediaNews Group CEO William Dean Singleton to turn the daily into a three-section paper.

Some staffers, still puzzled days after Hutton’s sudden departure, are speculating that that idea, which Singleton and other company brass did not support, may have been the final blow to Hutton’s job.

One of several aspects of the paper’s ongoing “Rethinking Project,” the decreased sections idea was apparently greeted negatively by Singleton and David J. Butler, MediaNews vice president for news, during a presentation in mid-December. [Source]

I’ve written on the Rethinking Project before, in December. I thought it was an interesting if not excellent idea then, and (with no updates to the Rethinking blog to convince me otherwise) am sticking to my guns. Why not have a section for the “important” take-down-the-mayor and wars and political machinations, a section for business, and an “everything else” section? Is it too radical to consolidate sports and entertainment? (Aren’t sports, after all, a form of entertainment?)

What’s sad is that if this project, and specifically the three-section idea, was really the reason behind Hutton’s departure, then it’s probably not going to move forward, or at least not in the way it was going.

Butler, who replaced Hutton as Mercury News editor last week, cited the “Rethinking Project” and specifically Hutton’s description of plans to “blow up the paper” during comments to staffers last week. He said such an approach might be too bold for the moment…