Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Justice for Linda"

Chip Scanlan has a great column today on Poynter Online in which he speaks with, via e-mail interview, Orange County Register legal affairs reporter Larry Welborn, who talks about a story he was unable to let go of and a woman whose photo he was never able to forget.

Linda Cummings was 27-years-old in 1974 and to that point, had not had a happy life. After experiencing a difficult childhood and physical problems related to a congenital condition that affected her knees, Linda "had a plan." She was working at a hospital, studying to become a registered nurse and was "more optimistic about life than ever before," according to Colette, her stepsister.

Then why would Linda kill herself, which is what everyone thought had happened when she was found dead in her apartment in January 1974. Or did she?

The Orange County Register recently ran Welborn's eight-part series on his search for "Justice for Linda." (Free registration required.) The story's Web version includes links to original articles about the case, video interviews with Welborn and copies of Linda's driver's license and death certificate. Throughout the story, embedded links can be clicked if you wish to view further details about Welborn's source information.

This is a terrific example of great storytelling and I can honestly say that after reading Linda's heartbreaking story, I'm also having trouble letting go of her.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Legal guidance for bloggers

My good friend and fellow SLISer Em sent me this link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers.

It includes an overview of the various legal liability issues bloggers may face, as well as information for student bloggers and the specific issues involved in blogging about elections and political campaigns.

Remembering Sam Cooke

Here's something my faithful blog readers probably don't know about me: I'm a huge Sam Cooke fan.

Even if you can't place who Sam is, you more than likely have heard his songs, some of which include "You Send Me," "Another Saturday Night," "Chain Gang," "Only Sixteen," and my personal favorite, "Bring It On Home to Me."

In anticipation of the 75th anniversary of his birth, NPR's "Talk of the Nation" reflects on Sam's life and legacy with Peter Guralnick, author of "Dream Boogie : The Triumph of Sam Cooke."

Sam died tragically in 1964 at the age of 33, so we'll never know how much more success he would have had or the various directions his career would have taken if he had lived.

I do like to think that wherever Sam is, he's smiling knowing that he has so many fans like myself, who were born several years after he died.

Here's to you Sam, you were and always will be one of a kind.

Books for a rainy day

Librarian Nancy Pearl, the inspiration for the wildly successful librarian action figure, (which was followed by the deluxe librarian action figure) speaks on NPR's "Morning Edition" about her selections for the best books to curl up with on a rainy day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Times Picayune editor reflects on aftermath of Katrina

Jim Amoss, the editor of The Times Picayune in New Orleans, recently spoke with NPR's Terry Gross about how the paper and the city are faring several months after Hurricane Katrina.

The unofficial SLIS alumni club

I have created an unofficial alumni club for SLIS (if you graduated from there, you know what the acronym means) graduates where we can keep in touch, ask questions of each other and exchange thoughts and advice.

Here's how to join (with apologies for sounding like an infomercial):

Go to the UW Alumni Association's inCircle page.

If you're not already registered, fill out the registration form. If you've previously registered, login with your e-mail and password.

Select the groups tab.

Select the industry groups link.

Click "Add to My Groups."

You're in.

I hope many of you will join. I'm looking forward to reconnecting and hearing about your new cities and professional positions.

Stressed out librarians

A new study reports that among librarians, police officers, firefighters, train operators and teachers, librarians are in the most stressful occupation.

"Librarians are the most unhappy with their workplace, often finding their job repetitive and unchallenging," says psychologist Saqib Saddiq, the study's author.

Chief among the complaints was the physical environment in which librarians work, as well as their belief that they weren't utilizing their skills and that they have little control over the direction of their careers.

Are you a librarian? Take the quiz!

j posted about a quiz you can take to find out if you are a librarian and I admit I was afraid to take it after reading about her results. j is one of the smartest people I know and a wonderful librarian, so when she remarked that she didn't do well, I sure wasn't going to see how badly I would fail.

But then I was prodded by my friend Amanda, who bit the bullet and took the quiz. I had to test myself and even though I was tempted to cheat by using my search skills to find the correct answers, I remained entirely honest throughout the process.

The result? I'm an "aspiring librarian," which is defined as follows:

"You're getting there - you know more than most people about libraries. Maybe you're starting Library School and getting yourself ready to take over the profession. Or maybe you already work in a library but just don't know some of the history and details. But, you're more of an aspiring librarian than a full-fledged librarian."

I beg your pardon, but no quiz takes away the fact that Amanda, j and I are full-fledged librarians who are unbelievably great at what we do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

CJR examines Miami suicide and its aftermath

The current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review revisits the story of Art Teele, the Miami City Commissioner who committed suicide last July 27th in the lobby of The Miami Herald building.

Shortly before shooting himself to death, Teele was on the phone speaking to Herald columnist Jim DeFede, who unknown to Teele, was taping the conversation. Following Teele's death, DeFede went to management to tell them he had taped the phone call. He was subsequently fired for violating the paper's ethics policy.

The fallout from that tragic day continues.

Thanks to my former co-worker Therese for her "clip service" heads-up.

Dreaming of retirement

The baby boomers are turning 60 this year and many, if they haven't already retired, are certainly dreaming about it. Will they be moving and if so, where? Why are they choosing the locations they do? What are various communities doing to attract retirees?

Yet another interesting offering from NPR's "Talk of the Nation."

The bad news continues

An Editor & Publisher article on the sale of Knight Ridder newspapers spends its last two paragraphs remarking on what newspapers will face in 2006.

Merrill Lynch reports that the growth in advertising revenue for newspapers isn't likely to prove better this year than it was in 2005. In fact, it "is likely to trail even the paltry estimated 2.4% in 2005." Classified advertising is also expected to suffer.

What does all of this mean for the newsroom? Unfortunately, as Tim Porter states , that
"the boardroom hammer will fall once again" and more people will likely lose their jobs.

A professor and his podcasts

The University of Oregon's campus newspaper, the Oregon Daily Emerald, profiles
journalism professor Al Stavitsky, who incorporated podcasts into the Mass Media and Society class he taught last semester.

Stavitsky, who is also the associate dean of the university's School of Journalism and Communication, did not merely duplicate his lectures for the podcasts, which he dubbed "Al Pods." Rather, he included information from lectures, discussions from guest speakers and current news events.

There were some problems with the use of the technology. One student remarks that he's "pretty sure" several of his fellow classmates didn't bother to read the course textbook because the "Al Pod was so convenient" and that "some kids wouldn’t show up to class due to the fact that they could simply download the Al Pod and listen to it while they were at the Rec Center. I think some kids abused the Al Pod.”

Despite those misgivings, there is talk that podcasts may soon become part of the curriculum of other university departments.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Reporters discouraged from using phones

In one of the more "interesting" additions to Romenesko's compilation of memos, Greg Weber, the assistant IT manager at the Naples Daily News, asks employees to refrain from using their desk phones for business calls in order to free the lines for customers calling to request a start or stop on their subscription or place a classfied ad.

Employees are further told that if they "must make business calls please use your cell phone."

I'm guessing that since the paper is a business, the need to make business calls will arise.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cartoonist blog

Jim Borgman, editorial cartoonist for The Cincinnati Enquirer, started his own blog last month where he posts his cartoons, as well as his sketches and "doodles."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The emergence of political blogs in Wisconsin

My hometown newspaper today discussed the rise in the number of blogs covering Wisconsin politics and the potential impact they may have on this year's November elections. The article includes a list of state and Madison-based blogs.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Columnist weighs in on blogs

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane offers his thoughts on blogs, saying they have definitely made an impact, but "I believe there's little chance that blogging will replace traditional forms of reporting and commentary. At least, not in the near future."

He goes on to say that "blogging is best when it's a clearinghouse for ideas rather than a
long-winded exercise in self-congratulatory rhetoric," citing one particular blog that offered scatching criticism of Kane's columns and the thoughts and opinions he expresses in them.

Although he says he has developed a thick skin in response to personal attacks, he believes that at some point, the legal system will intervene to curb the more outlandish comments posted to blogs. "Some of this stuff is just too ugly to let go unchecked," he adds.

Kane acknowledges the circulation declines for the Journal Sentinel and many other newspapers and recognizes the need to interest readers in new ways. These include the paper's Web site and the blogs of several Journal Sentinel staff members, including Kane, who started his Raising Kane blog in the last month.

Kane knows that if "the battle for new consumers of information and commentary is to be fully engaged, much of it will happen on the Internet."

He offers this challenge to bloggers: "Bring it on."

The future of newspapers

Slate founding editor Michael Kinsley weighs in on the topic.

A mild librarian rant

I subscribe to several library-related listservs that have proved to be an invaluable resource for me. It's great to know that when you need assistance, you can simply post a message and be inudated with helpful suggestions from your colleagues. Likewise, you can express your thoughts about a particular issue facing the profession and receive thoughtful advice and insight.

There is one listserv I subscribe to though that is flooded each day with posts from one individual. For the most part, the messages are links to articles and Web sites he/she feels would be of interest to others. I appreciate that to a point, but find myself getting mildly annoyed when I open my in box and see all the messages from this person. He/she is also on another listserv I subscribe to, so many times I receive multiple copies of the same message.

I certainly want to remain informed about items of interest and things relevant to our changing profession, but I also think people need to realize when enough is enough. I have a feeling I can't be the only person who feels this way.

The listserv in question is one I'd like to remain on, because I feel it will help me in my efforts to create a niche for myself, but at this point I will probably unsubscribe to avoid all these unwanted messages.

I'd be interested in hearing other thoughts on this topic. Do people appreciate receiving these informative messages and want them to continue? Does a librarian who complains about the situation look unprofessional? I'll be interested to receive your feedback.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Washington Times' employee blogging policy

Romenesko has posted the text of a memo from editor-in-chief of The Washington Times, Wesley Pruden, who describes the conditions and reasons behind the paper's policy on employee blogs.

The policy requires that employees who wish to blog first receive permission to do so from senior editors. It is anticipated that most requests will be granted, provided a few conditions are adhered to:

* Time spent researching potential blog topics and the writing of the entries themselves have to be done on the employees' own time.

* The topics written about cannot discuss issues pertinent to a respective journalist's regular beat. Doing so could open the journalist to accusations of perceived bias and worst case scenario, could be used in any libel lawsuit brought against the paper.

* Employees cannot blog about the paper itself.

I have to say I find the policy to be a fair one. I made a decision when I started this blog that the one topic that would absolutely be off limits is my job and my employer. I firmly believe that the work I do and the situations I deal with at the office are meant to be kept separate from the thoughts I express in my posts. I realize there is a lot of debate on this topic, but my position stands.

OCLC purchase

The Online Computer Library Center, better known to my fellow librarians and I as OCLC, has just acquired Bloomfield, New Jersey based Openly Informatics Inc., a software and systems provider for libraries.

OCLC, which is based in my neck of the woods in Dublin, Ohio, says the acquisition will enhance its offerings, chiefly access to materials in the WorldCat database.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Dallas Public Library draws criticism

Today's Library Link of the Day (Thanks Em!) reports on the Dallas Public Library's updated code of conduct, part of which will ban "distracting odors" from the library. Advocates charge that the policy unfairly targets the city's homeless and poor citizens.

Library Director Laurie Evans says the code had not been looked at in years and that "the rules are meant to address behaviors, not people, and are not an excuse to kick people out of the building." She adds that any violations will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and only when someone lodges a complaint.

Support for the policy has come from the incoming president of the American Library Association, Leslie Burger: "If people can't take care of basic hygiene and are disturbing to the 100 or so people around them, then it's perfectly acceptable for the library to say, 'Will you please sit somewhere else?' or 'Will you consider coming back another day?' "

Similar policies have been adopted throughout the country.

A terrible mistake and its aftermath

Editor & Publisher reports on the fallout many newspapers are facing after they reported that the miners trapped underground following an explosion were alive when in fact 12 of them died, the 13th badly injured and fighting for his life.

The Boston Globe got rid of 30,000 copies of its paper with the incorrect information and got the corrected version into 145,000 copies of its final edition.

Editor Martin Baron said the Globe's "coverage was as good as could be expected ... It seemed we handled it just fine all along the way. It's not like people were working with no information." Baron added that "if the paper had held off on the story and it turned out to be true, it would have drawn criticism for waiting too long. `At some point, you've got to print a paper. I don't know what else you can do.'"

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette managed to get out 114,000 copies of its paper with the correct story after executive editor David Shribman made the decision to stop the paper's presses.
"We had run about close to half of our run, but we got the second half and we got it right." (Read the article posted today on Poynter Online.)

(Thanks to Romenesko for pointing to the stories.)

The many erroneous news reports were also discussed on today's "All Things Considered" on NPR.

West Virginia tragedy

This morning I went out to get my paper and was so happy to see the headline saying that 12 of the 13 miners waiting to be rescued in West Virginia were alive. That feeling dissipated quickly however when I learned that the 12 were actually dead and that some type of "miscommunication" had led to the circulation of erroneous information.

In a column on Poynter online this morning, Al Tompkins questions how the incorrect stories running in many of the nation's newspapers "will affect the way readers look at the news media."

Check out Today's Front Pages courtesy of the Newseum and see how many papers ran the untrue headlines and stories.

My heart goes out to the miners and their families and I'm thinking about the one surviving miner and hoping he makes it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Men, Women and Internet use

Today on NPR, "Talk of the Nation" discusses the recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that details the differences between men and women in respect to their Internet usage.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Banished Words list

Lake Superior State University presents its 31st annual list of words to banish from your vocabulary in 2006. My two personal favorites? "Hunker down" (which I've been known to use more times than I care to admit) and "Dawg." (Hate that one with a passion.)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Year in journalism review

"Black and white and bloody all over" from the Boston Phoenix. (Courtesy of Liz Donovan -- thanks Liz!)

Archived front pages

Courtesy of the Newseum, archived front pages from national and international publications marking major historical events. This past year included Hurricane Katrina, the death of Rosa Parks, the revelation of the identity of Deep Throat and the naming of a new Pope.

Each day, the Newseum posts the front pages of newspapers throughout the United States and the world. I check the site each day to look at my hometown paper, as well as those throughout the state of Wisconsin.

Front pages can be viewed by going through the list of thumbnails or you can choose to have the titles listed by region or displayed in map view.

The archived front pages link was found courtesy of Liz Donovan and her Infomaniac: Behind the News blog. Liz is the former news research editor at the Miami Herald and a fellow news librarian.

Career Change Quiz

The Occupational Adventure blog, by Curt Rosengren, starts the new year off with a Career Change Quiz. There are fifteen statements listed and you rank your agreement or disagreement with the statement on a scale of 1 to 5 and then request a score.

I scored 54 out of 75, the "Keep at it - you’re getting close" range. How do you fare?

National Film Registry

Today's "Weekend Edition" on NPR (I know I've been posting tons of links to NPR shows, but they've had some great stuff this past week) discusses the National Film Registry and the list of 25 films that were added to the registry for 2005.

The National Film Preservation Act, passed in 1988, authorized the Librarian of Congress "to
select and preserve up to 25 films each year to add to the National Film Registry." Films are chosen based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic significance.

Read more about the creation of the Registry and see the complete list of selections from 1989 through 2005 at http://www.filmsite.org/filmreg.html

"News & Record" 2006 agenda

John Robinson, editor of the News & Record in Greensboro, North Carolina, has a terrific post today where he lays out his paper's news agenda for 2006.

Robinson, who became N & R editor in 1999, started "The Editor's Log" in August 2004 as a way "to engage you (the readers) in public conversations about the newspaper."

I subscribe to the blog's feed and am a big fan of Robinson's efforts. I hope more editors will follow his lead and begin having thoughtful discussions with readers about the kinds of news they want and expect from their local newspaper.

* Addendum: People are taking note of Robinson's agenda. Case in point: Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine.

Welcome 2006!

Here's wishing all my family and friends nothing but the best now and throughout the new year.