Thursday, March 23, 2006

Student athlete punished for attending professional conference

Romenesko points to the story of Melaney Whiting, a student majoring in mass communications at Tennessee State University, who was kicked off the tennis team and had her athletic scholarship revoked after she opted to attend the Historically Black Colleges and Universities National Newspaper Conference rather than listen to the mandate of her coach, who told Melaney she would not be allowed to miss practice in order to attend the conference. After her dismissal, Melaney appealed the decision to the school's athletic director, who sided with the coach.

Well, Melaney weighed her options and made what I feel was the wise choice, to attend an event that would afford her the opportunity to attend sessions relevant to her future career and give her many chances to network with her future colleagues.

I can't say I'm shocked to hear of yet another university which puts athletics above all else, but I'm very disappointed that this school's priorities are so obviously screwed up.

Melaney is a writer for the university's student newspaper, The Meter, and wrote a column about her situation which appeared earlier this week.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A plea to my tech geek friends

Calling all my tech geek friends, I hope you can help me out with a problem that I find completely maddening.

Tonight I tried to order something from Amazon and attempted to log in to my existing account. I type my e-mail address and password and get a message that my e-mail address is not in the proper format. Here's the exact annoying message I keep getting:

"The e-mail address you entered appears to be incorrect. E-mail addresses must contain an "at" sign (@) and a period (.) somewhere to the right of the @, with no spaces or commas. (Example: "

I just want to scream at the computer that the address is in the proper format (I've ordered many times before and had no problem entering the address.)

Of course, I can't send an e-mail to Amazon either because, you guessed it, it doesn't recognize my address.

This has been happening a lot lately. I tried signing up for some online newsletters and had my address rejected. I tried my primary account, as well as a Yahoo! and Gmail address and it wouldn't accept any of them.

Any help with this frustrating problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Post reporters to management: Show us the money!

I saw via Romenesko today that reporters at The Washington Post are balking at the prospect of being expected to add blogging to their regular duties with no extra pay to show for the added work.

Apparently an employee who is the sole contributor to a blog (as some Post columnists are) get added compensation for their efforts. But when a blog has a variety of newsroom contributors, those employees are paid the same amount as before blogging was added to their list of daily responsibilities.

Some might say there's a simple solution, simply refuse to blog. Not possible, according to Post Metro editor Robert McCartney, who says that during a meeting with the paper's lawyers, staff were told "that it had been "determined that the paper could compel its employees to blog."

Monday, March 13, 2006

The State of the News

In the aftermath of the sale of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, NPR's "Talk of the Nation" looks at how the news is covered and what it means for the future of journalism.

One of the show's guests is Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the organization responsible for the annual report "The State of the News Media 2006."

McClatchey - Knight Ridder deal

More regarding the sale of Knight Ridder to The McClatchey company.

Today on NPR:

* "Morning Edition:" "Knight Ridder Newspaper Chain Finds a Buyer"

* "All Things Considered:" "McClatchy Will Buy Knight Ridder for $4.5 Billion"

Courtesy of Romenesko:

* Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder's letter to employees

* Answers to frequently asked questions from Knight Ridder employees in light of the sale

Sunday, March 12, 2006

McClatchy to purchase Knight Ridder

Thanks to Amanda for letting me know that The New York Times is reporting that the McClatchy Company is buying the Knight Ridder newspaper chain for $4.5 billion.

McClatchy publishes 12 dailies and 17 community newspapers which "have a combined average circulation of 1.4 million daily and 1.9 million Sunday." By comparison, Knight Ridder publishes 32 dailies, among them The Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News.

Chuck Richard, an analyst for Outsell Inc. sees the sale this way: "McClatchy is a dolphin swallowing a small whale."

The deal will be officially announced tomorrow.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Networking with students

I saw a great idea for connecting special librarians with students in the most recent bulletin of the Special Libraries Association's Eastern Canada Chapter.

The Special Libraries Association Student Group at the McGill Graduate School of Library and Information Studies invited area special librarians to participate in an event with a format similar to speed dating. Small student groups each had approximately five minutes with one of the invited guests before a buzzer would ring, signaling that it was time to move on to the next special librarian. The event lasted an hour and in the latter half of that period, there was an opportunity to "mix and mingle," giving students additional time to speak with any of the librarians whose comments were of particular interest to them.

Washington Post newsroom cuts

Romenesko points to an Editor & Publisher story which reports that The Washington Post will be eliminating 80 positions in its newsroom through buyouts and attrition. Staff were given the news in a series of meetings that began Thursday and continued yesterday. One of the employees at the meeting was quoted as saying that layoffs were not mentioned.

Travel budgets were also a topic for discussion, with another staffer saying that "the paper would continue to travel with major government figures, but hinting that other travel may be curtailed."

Other cuts that are being rumored include "the eventual closing of at least two foreign bureaus and changes to some other overseas bureaus that would have staffers working out of their homes." It was suggested that some of the changes are a result of the high cost of covering the war in Iraq, a figure that was put close to $1 million a year. However, it was emphasized that a reduction in war coverage was not an option that was being explored at the present time.

Here's the memo that was issued by Post Publisher Bo Jones.

Rick Weiss, the co-chair of the Post's unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, was vocal in his concern about the impending cuts. "One concern is that the fewer of us there are, the harder it is to accomplish the core mission of reporting and writing the tough, accountability story. It is going to have a negative impact on the quantity and quality of journalism we can do."

Weiss adds that the task will be particularly difficult given the paper's move toward expanding its Web, television and radio presence. "The more time I spend blogging, doing radio shows and TV spots, the less time I have to generate the news that everyone wants. They are counting on reporters, editors and columnists to fill a lot of airtime."

Ode to Libraries

This past Thursday, the Patriot Act was renewed by President Bush. To "mark" the signing, NPR's "All Things Considered" offers "An Ode to Libraries."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Create a word cloud

A fellow SLIS grad, Sara, sent me a link to SnapShirts, where you are able to create a word cloud generated from a book or from a blog.

According to the definition on the site, a word cloud is a "visual depiction of content (words) used in a body of text." That said, I think this can be better illustrated by way of, what else, a photo, so here's the word cloud my blog created.

After creating your own word cloud, you can wear it proudly by having the design put on a T-shirt for $18.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

LII survey

Librarians' Internet Index, which is facing a significant budget cut as of July 1st, is asking readers to take a moment to complete a short survey. The results will be looked at in order to learn what readers want from the site and to justify the continuation of support for the services it offers. The survey will continue until 11:59 Pacific Time, Thursday, March 16th.

To learn more about the impending cuts, read "Ten Facts About The Pending Budget Cut," which was a featured link on the site's "New This Week" feature. (I'm one of the many readers who doesn't visit the site directly, but instead subscribes to its feed via Bloglines.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Denver Post first to offer Spanish-language Web videos

The Denver Post, according to its publisher, has become the first newspaper in the United States to offer Spanish-language videos on its Web site. The project is an attempt to reach out to the city's Latino residents, who make up about 35% of its population.

Thanks to for the link.

Podcasting in China

Following up my previous post about the increase in blogging activity among the citizens of China, today's "All Things Considered" on NPR discusses the rising popularity of podcasting in the country and the boundaries various podcasts are pushing.

CD-ROM newspaper inserts points to this recent article in The New York Times (free registration required) that discusses the recent announcement by The Dallas Morning News that it will begin including CD-ROM copies of Hollywood Previews magazine within its Sunday paper.

The CD-ROM contains movie trailers, interviews, music videos and 30-second ads which include hyperlinks viewers can click to be taken to a site where they can buy merchandise. (None of the content is derived from the newspaper.) The packaging consists of a "glossy folder" resembling that of a magazine cover and the title "Hollywood Previews" and a table of contents is prominently displayed across the front. The insert will debut in the April 30th issue and thereafter, will be included in the paper on the last Sunday of each month.

Henry Williamson, the president of newspaper syndication for iMedia, which produces Hollywood Previews, explains the appeal of such inserts, saying that including a Web site address in the printed paper and hoping readers will later visit the site "is really a leap of faith. We want a captive audience, we want a tangible product."

The arrangement with The Dallas Morning News marks Hollywood Previews' "first permanent partnership with a newspaper."

NPR starts blogging!

If you've spent any time perusing my blog, you'll see that many of my posts come from the interesting programs I listen to daily on NPR.

NPR is adding to its offerings with the introduction of a blog, "Mixed Signals." Content will include a discussion of people and events in the news, as well as stories which NPR staff found compelling, but for one reason or another, didn't make it on the air.

The effort is being directed by NPR producer JJ Sutherland, who was the featured guest on a segment of today's "Talk of the Nation." Sutherland spoke to "Talk of the Nation" host Neil Conan (who is also Sutherland's uncle) and took calls from listeners about the things they would most like to see on the blog. One of the suggestions, to post a list of the Web sites and blogs regularly visited by NPR staff members, is already underway, as Sutherland has requested that his colleagues send him their favorite sites and interesting links.

As a sidenote, a similar effort occurred a couple months ago when several employees of The Poynter Institute supplied readers with their "Poynter Diets," a list of the places they turn to get their news each day.

The blog has a feed that isn't working at the moment, but I've sent an e-mail alerting JJ to this fact. I also had a suggestion: to devote a portion of the blog to the reference and research questions asked of and answered by the NPR librarians. (Keeping my fingers crossed it happens.)

* Addendum: The feed is working fine now, so subscribe already! :)

Titanic Newspaper Archive

The Titanic Newspaper Archive allows you to search for articles about the famous ship and the April 1912 tragedy that struck it on its maiden voyage in over 15,000 historical newspaper pages. The articles are made available in PDF format for either printing or saving to your desktop and even better, it's all free! If you're a history geek like me, you'll be in heaven exploring this site.

Thanks to ResourceShelf for the link.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blogging in China

NPR's "All Things Considered" discusses the increasing popularity of blogs and blogging in China. Tomorrow's episode will look at the country's view of podcasting.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Oscars are over ... finally!

The Oscars are just wrapping up now (I knew it wouldn't end on time) and the biggest surprise was saved for last, with "Crash" winning Best Film over the expected winner "Brokeback Mountain."

Looks like the things I've been reading in magazines and on various entertainment Web sites and blogs about the Academy not giving the evening's top award to a "gay" movie were true. I can hear the religious fanatics and pro-family groups now commending the film industry for the good judgment they showed.

This is meant in no way to minimize the quality of "Crash," a searing examination of race relations and a powerful film. But I'll be interested to read the commentaries in tomorrow's papers about "Brokeback Mountain" not going away with the top award. It should make for some interesting reading.

I was 4 of 6 for the predictions I made and posted to this blog on Friday. I thought Paul Giamatti had a good chance to take the Best Supporting Actor award, but it wasn't meant to be. Note to other future nominees: When you're nominated, be sure to say over and over within the earshot of the press that you don't believe you have a chance in you know what of winning an Oscar and you're guaranteed a win. It worked well for George.

Otherwise the ceremony was as it usually is, too long and boring. Jon Stewart did an Ok job as host, but in my mind anyone who agrees to host the Oscars deserves kudos. No matter how you handle the job, you're going to be criticized. It's a completely thankless position.

Best moment: The performance of one of the original song nominees, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from the movie "Hustle & Flow." Second best moment: A few moments later, when the song won. Third best moment: Best Adapted Screenplay co-winner Larry McMurtry in blue jeans.

Worst moment: The acceptance speeches where people ramble on thanking everyone they knew from their moment of conception.

Best dressed: I thought Reese Witherspoon and Rachel Weisz both looked fantastic.

Worst dressed: Charlize Theron, I was waiting for her dress' large bow to eat her.

There were several places this evening where bloggers were giving live, blow by blow coverage of the ceremony. The best I found was Tom O'Neil's Gold Derby blog.

Until next year.

I'm not sure if I'll even remember who the winners were at this time next year. When Nicole Kidman came out to present the award for Best Supporting Actor, I knew she hadn't won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar last year and wondered who had. (Generally speaking, the previous year's winner for Best Supporting Actress presents this year's Best Supporting Actor award.) It was driving me nuts and I finally had to resort to a Google image search using the terms "Morgan Freeman"(last year's Best Supporting Actor, who I knew must have had his photo taken backstage with the Best Supporting Actress winner) and Oscar to discover it was Cate Blanchett. I saw "The Aviator," loved Cate's performance and the woman is one of my favorite actresses to boot and I still couldn't remember her. How quickly we forget.

Have a question? Call a librarian!

Today's The Columbus Dispatch has an article on the important and valuable work librarians continue to do in spite of those detractors who argue that everything can be found online and that as the amount of technology increases, there will be no need for libraries and librarians.

Specifically, the article focuses on the Columbus Metropolitan Library's Information Line, which patrons can call to get answers to any and all questions. Last year, librarians handled upward of 320,000 reference questions through the line. In addition to calling, patrons can submit questions via e-mail or chat with a librarian in real time through the KnowItNow program, which is staffed by librarians throughout the state of Ohio.

The article includes a list of some of the questions recently received by librarians, along with
the sources they used to answer them. That list will become a regular feature, "Who Knew?," which will run in the paper's Life section on the first Sunday of each month.

American newspapers and blogging

Thanks to Amanda for pointing out a project by Professor Jay Rosen and his students in the Department of Journalism at New York University which compiled statistics on the state of blogging at the 100 largest papers in the United States.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Podcasting Primer

The Virtual Chase pointed me to this article on the basics of podcasting written by Nick Luft,
Web Manager and Information Coordinator for The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces. Luft is a librarian and worked in libraries between 1998 and 2003, but by his own admission, "is not sure how to label himself" since leaving librarianship in 2003.

Luft provides an overview of podcasting, what it is, the type of content offered and how to find them. On the latter point, Luft believes Yahoo! Podcasts is the best in terms of organization, indexing and quality control.

Libraries, Cafes and Comfort

An article in today's The Capital Times talks about some of the changes that have been made in the libraries on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

At College Library, which is primarily used by undergraduates, this includes an Open Book Cafe, where students can buy latte and muffins and study in comfort in areas that look more like restaurant booths than study carrels.

Asked her thoughts about being allowed to bring food into the library and having the ability to meet and talk with other students, junior Ada Ruiz commented "I don't think it would be as cool without it. It's kind of a hang-out spot." She went on to add that she likes coming to the library because "you can talk and not get dirty looks."

When I was in graduate school, you could often find me in College Library, but not in the Open Book Cafe. I relied heavily on the silence that could be found in the third floor quiet study room. I'm a bit weird because I had to have relative peace and quiet in order to concentrate while completing the massive amounts of reading I was assigned. Another strange quality of mine you can add to your lists if you're keeping track.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The death of Kevin Carter

In 1993, South African photojournalist Kevin Carter shot a moving and powerful photograph that showed the tragic effects of famine. In it, a young Sudanese girl has collapsed on the ground as she struggles to make it to a food center. In the background, a vulture sits, waiting for the child to die. The photo won Carter the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

Kevin Carter was one of four photojournalists that belonged to an unofficial group known as the "Bang Bang Club." Its members traveled throughout South Africa, using their cameras to document the unfair and inhumane practices of apartheid.

Carter captured some of the most dramatic moments on film and eventually his work began to take a heavy emotional toll on him. Two months after winning the Pulitzer, depressed and haunted by the images he so eloquently photographed, Carter committed suicide.

Twelve years after Carter's death, a new film seeks to tell his story. "The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club," is nominated this year for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.

NPR's "News & Notes with Ed Gordon" recently featured an interview with the film's director,
Dan Krauss. Krauss, a former news photographer, says he had heard of the "photographer who had seen too much" and he was initially drawn to Carter by his desire to know what drove him to kill himself after "winning the holy grail of journalism." In a clip from the film Carter talks about his famous photo: "It may be difficult for people to understand, but as a photojournalist, my first instinct was to make the photograph. As soon as that job was done .... I felt completely devastated." (After taking the photograph, Carter had chased away the vulture and watched as the little girl continued her struggle to make it to the food center.)

You can learn more about Kevin Carter's life and death in an article from the September 12, 1994 issue of Time Magazine titled "The Life and Death of Kevin Carter -- Visiting Sudan, a little-known photographer took a picture that made the world weep. What happened afterward is a tragedy of another sort."

Oscar picks

Last year at this time, I had someone to debate my Oscar picks with. That's no longer the case (which is a longer story in itself), so this year my choices get posted to the blogsphere.

Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"

Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"

Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"

This is a close one, with George Clooney possibly getting the nod for "Syriana." The reasoning is that Clooney isn't likely to win in the other two categories he's nominated for, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for "Good Night, and Good Luck." Still, Giamatti won the Screen Actors Guild award for his performance (an award voted on by his fellow actors, just as the Oscars are) and the win will in a sense be a "makeup" for Giamatti's non-nomination last year for "Sideways."

Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"

Best Director: Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"

Best Picture: "Brokeback Mountain"

"Crash" could prove the spoiler, but I still think "Brokeback Mountain" will come away with the win.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Assurances from LII

Library Dust discusses the challenges the Librarians' Internet Index is facing in light of an impending 50% funding cut that begins July 1.

In a post on her blog yesterday, LII director Karen Schneider reassures readers "that I'll be fine ... we'll manage, with many new, good ideas."

Let's hope so. LII is a terrific resource that must be preserved.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Baltimore Sun appeals for help in finding "thug"

Dan Rodricks of the Baltimore Sun wrote a column today in which he appeals to the citizens of Baltimore to assist the police in apprehending the person who assaulted reporter Carl Schoettler in an apparent robbery attempt last Saturday evening.

In particular, Rodricks implores the "new readers of this column," those with criminal records who over the past several months have contacted the paper asking for assistance to kick their drug habits or to find jobs.

"Whatever your crimes, you tell me they are in the past. You say you want to move on to a better place," Rodricks writes, "so help me out here, and help your city."

Schoettler is in serious but stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Let's hope the citizens of Baltimore heed Rodricks call to find and punish to the fullest extent of the law the person or persons involved in this vicious and needless attack.