Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Web and the workplace

NPR had two interesting programs today on the Internet and how it can affect you professionally.

"Morning Edition" discussed the increasing trend of employers googling employees and searching social networking sites such as MySpace for information. Not suprisingly, people tend to state things on their blogs or MySpace profiles that they would never admit to their boss or colleagues.

"All Things Considered" looked at how employees use the computer while at work. Many surf the Web, check personal e-mail accounts, blog and instant message, while others are blocked from doing so by official company policies.

One sweet gig

The New York Times has hired Chandler Burr as its first columnist to review and rate, using a four-star rating system, perfumes and "other scents such as perfumed candles." The column, appropriately titled "Scent Strip," will be published on August 27 in the fall issue of T: Women's Fashion and will feature one of my favorite actresses, Catherine Keener, on its cover.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A month of new media

NPR's "Talk of the Nation" had an interesting interview today with Amy Webb, the editor and founder of Dragonfire, a "digital magazine about culture and news," who decided to go for 30 days without any sources of traditional news. This meant foregoing newspapers, television, radio and magazines (Webb even avoided billboards and the newspaper boxes on street corners) and relying solely on blogs, feeds and podcasts to get her news. Webb did admit that one morning, while driving to work, she had blown her experiment two hours in when she realized she had been "passively" listening to her local NPR station.

This got me thinking about whether I could do the same and I think if I made a deliberate effort I could do it. When I'm getting ready for work in the morning, you won't find me reading the paper or watching one of the morning news shows. Instead, you'd see a woman balancing her cereal bowl over her keyboard as she logs into Bloglines to read her feeds and to check her four primary e-mail accounts.

When asked by host Neal Conan if she would miss the traditional sources if she were to give them up permanently, Webb answered without hesitation. "I would. I noticed after a while that I was getting agitated being online all the time. It was nice to slow down and look at newspapers and magazines every now and then."

I would as well. Like Webb, this Amy also likes to lay in bed on Sunday morning drinking O.J. (this Amy doesn't do coffee) reading the Sunday paper and other magazines. And listening to Weekend Edition on NPR has become a regular part of my routine as well.

My news consumption is an equal and healthy mix of both traditional and new media that supplement rather than replace each other.

This now concludes this episode of Amy on her soapbox.

Guest blogging on the scratchpad

I'm flattered beyond words that my mentor and good friend j, who will soon be taking a
well-deserved vacation, has asked me to be one of the guest bloggers on the scratchpad during her absence. Thanks j and have a wonderful trip!

Indy Star seeks reader contributions

The Indianapolis Star is looking for readers who are willing to write about the interesting people and events that make up the community of Carmel, Indiana. "Join the CarmelStar reporting team," reads the initiative's tagline. The Star is also providing tips for interested readers as they consider and develop their respective stories.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Congratulations Cindy!!!

Cindy, a frequent commentator on this blog and a good friend, is receiving her Master of Library and Information Science today from Kent State University.

Congratulations Cindy! I wish you much luck and happiness now and throughout your professional career.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tell us something we don't know

Lost Remote points to this report from Outsell, which states that United States newspapers could face a potential $20 billion shortfall over the next five years as readers and advertisers continue their migration to the Web.

A combination of declining circulation and the continued growth of online news sources will
"lead to a huge revenue gap for the newspaper industry by 2010." As the highly prized demographic of 18 to 39-year-olds continue to get their news online, daily papers could see their circulation numbers "dropping by as much as 19.5% from 2004 levels."

Outsell's lead analyst Ken Doctor says the expected shortfall is worse than newspaper executives are acknowledging. "The business of news faces an unprecedented transformation as these trends likely accelerate over the next five years.”

Carroll series increases Monitor's Web traffic

Courtesy of Romenesko:

Reporter Jill Carroll's 11-part series on her kidnapping ordeal has meant increased traffic on the web site of The Christian Science Monitor.

According to a press release issued today by the Monitor and by WebSideStory, Inc., a "provider of digital marketing and analytics solutions" which recently partnered with the paper, "when the series went fully live this past Monday, August 14th, more than 450,000 unique visitors flooded the site during the next 24 hours, making it one of the top-ranked newspaper web sites in the country for that period." The statement adds that after passing the one million mark for page views on Monday, that number increased to more than 1.5 million on Tuesday.

The series has also driven new visitors to the paper's Web site, with the number rising "to
more than seven times its daily average in July." The interactive features of the series, including video interviews, feeds and podcasts has also proven successful, increasing "the percentage of visitors viewing two or more pages from an average of 22 percent in July to more than 63 percent during the first two days of this week."

Presidential trivia

I stumbled across this presidential trivia page from the National Park Service after a colleague mentioned that she listened to a locally produced NPR piece that said James Madison, the fourth President of the United States and one of two presidents to sign the Constitution, (President George Washington was the other) stood only a little over five feet tall and was around 100 pounds.

The most interesting thing I learned concerned our 14th president, Franklin Pierce. President Pierce delivered his inaugural address entirely from memory. Did I mention it was 3,319 words?

Something for me to aspire to given that I'll be teaching again next summer. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tools for managing your bookmarks

Depth Reporting does it again by pointing to this list of links to help you manage your bookmarks.

Make connections via your toolbar

I haven't done the download to try this out yet, but I'm intrigued by Others Online, a free toolbar that allows you to view others with similar interests and Web browsing behaviors and connect with them via e-mail or chat.

An intriguing idea I feel I will eventually succumb to, courtesy of Depth Reporting.

Telling her story has been "cathartic" for Carroll

Telling for the first time the story of her kidnapping and her 82 days in captivity in Iraq in a series currently running in The Christian Science Monitor has been a cathartic experience for Jill Carroll, her mother says in a piece that appeared in today's The Ann Arbor News.

Mary Beth Carroll says it has been difficult for Jill to talk about what she went through and she worried about her daughter following her return to the United States. "She came home to Boston and said, 'I will never leave this country. I will never be a journalist again. I'm going to live with you, Mom. I'm going to live with Dad. I'm going to live with my sister, Katie.'" Mary Beth says those thoughts were not at all like the Jill she knew, but adds that Jill has "come around to remembering her love for journalism. There are a great deal of fears she's going to have to overcome to pursue what she wants to do in the field of journalism.''

Jill completed one televised interview for The Christian Science Monitor, which had an agreement with ABC News. She plans no other media appearances. "She's just not interested in that. She just wants to be a foreign correspondent, and as odd as it might seem with this series, she just wants to keep a low profile so she can do work without the notoriety of her name," says her mother.

Mary Beth hopes that once the series has completed its run, "people will leave Jill alone" and allow her the time she needs to deal with what she went through, "put it behind her and go forward." All Jill really wants, her mother says, is "to be Jill Carroll, correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. She just wants to not be famous.''

Thanks to Romenesko for the link.

Thanks to the troops

My good friend Em sent me a link to this neat site where you can send a thank you card to members of the military serving overseas. The "Let's Say Thanks" program, sponsored by Xerox Corporation, allows you to select from a variety of cards designed by children across the country. After making your choice, you add your name, hometown and a preselected or personal message and click submit. Your card will then be forwarded to a soldier serving our country.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jill Carroll tells her story

Jill Carroll, the journalist who was kidnapped and held in Iraq for 82 days, is giving the account of her ordeal in an 11 part series running in the The Christian Science Monitor. Part 1, titled "The Kidnapping," was made available today on the paper's Web site.

This first segment had a couple of particularly poignant moments, the first being when Jill recounts how, when she was certain she would be killed, she begged one of her captors to make her death quick by shooting her. "Promise me you will use this gun to kill me by your own hand," she told him. "I don't want that knife, I don't want the knife, use the gun."

On the first evening of her captivity, Jill tells her captors she is ready to go to sleep and is led to an upstairs bedroom. Lying there, she relived the events of the day, the most horrific being the murder of her interpreter and friend, Alan. Jill had watched him be killed.

"Oh my God. They killed Alan," she thought to herself.

Jill realized she couldn't deal with her grief now. "I have to put it away," she thought. She remembers looking up toward the ceiling and talking to Alan, telling him how sorry she was and that she would "take care of you later" and recounts the guilt she was feeling at that moment.
"I felt disloyal. I thought to survive, I had to push aside the memory of his brutal murder. But I knew that at some point I'd have to come to terms with the guilt I felt for his death."

Alan Enwiya left behind a wife, Fairuz and two children, a daughter, Mary Ann and a son, Martin. He is also survived by his parents.

The Christian Science Monitor has set up a fund for Alan's family which will enable them to resettle in the United States where they have family. Donations can be sent to:

The Alan Enwiya Fund
c/o The Christian Science Monitor
One Norway Street
Boston, MA 02115

Donations can also be made online.

The series also includes video interviews with Jill where she tells her story and answers questions previously submitted by readers, image galleries and a podcast.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Barbara Ehrenreich blog

One of my favorite authors, Barbara Ehrenreich, who wrote a book that had an enormous impact on the way I look at people struggling to survive on minimum wage and a second book which resonated with me because I had just completed a depressing and frustrating search for my first professional position, has her own blog.

Thanks to Liz for the heads up.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Wikimania 2006

NPR's "Weekend Edition" today aired a piece on Wikimania 2006, which is being held this weekend on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Host Scott Simon specifically mentions the wonderful librarians at NPR, which Simon says "we rely on greatly," who have expressed reservations about Wikipedia that I completely agree with, that with anyone able to contribute to entries on the site, "you can never really tell when something is accurate."

j is attending and presenting this weekend and has already posted an outline of her "Librarianesque Birds of a Feather" talk. Hope you're having a great time j!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Misconceptions about newspapers

John Robinson, the editor of the News & Record in Greensboro, North Carolina and the author of The Editor's Log, has a great post today, "10 misperceptions about newspapers." Robinson and his colleagues obviously compiled this list with their paper in mind, but I think their thoughts are applicable to other newspapers as well.

One of those weeks

Yours truly has not been having a good week.

Last night, I hightailed it home to participate in the online class I've been co-teaching since early June. I was logged in, notes at my side, ready to go when exactly three minutes before class, my power went out. With no other alternatives, I drove back into work and used my
company-issued laptop as a substitute. All ended well and even though the electricity going out is something out of my control, I was annoyed that I had to miss the first half hour of class.

But it gets better. Tonight when I got home from work, I discovered my air conditioning, which I've been running for two weeks straight, isn't working any longer. Keep in mind that like every other part of the country, Columbus is hot, hot, hot, with temperatures that have been in the
mid to upper 90s for the past several days. Anyway, the thermostat was reading 95 degrees and rising so I called the emergency maintenance number. We'll see which happens first: maintenance arrives or I melt.

Welcome back Cyberspastic!

Cyberspastic took a self-imposed respite from blogging, but I guess my nagging worked. Welcome back CS!