Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Living to the End:" Lovelle Svart, 1945-2007

I never had the pleasure of meeting of Lovelle Svart, a fellow news librarian who worked for The Oregonian. Lovelle, a smoker since the age of 19, retired from the newspaper in 2002 after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. In June of this year, Lovelle's doctor told her she was likely to die within six months. She passed away Friday, September 28, 2007, after "taking a drug overdose prescribed at her request under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act."

In the final months of her life, Lovelle shared her thoughts on death and dying, a topic she felt wasn't discussed enough, in a series of video diaries which formed the basis for the series "Living to the End." The last entry was made less than an hour before Lovelle took the medication which ended her life.

Are readers embracing newspaper blogs?

The answer is no if you agree with the contentions made by Choire Sicha in a recent post on Gawker.

The problem, Sicha contends, is that newspaper Web sites have made the mistake of grouping all their blogs together, preferring to organize by form rather than by content. "Readers just don't come to a newspaper's website looking for a messy passel of blogs," Sicha writes. "They come looking for sports, or fashion, no matter what `form' it's in. Old newspaper editors may think blogs are some crazy different variety of publication; readers don't."

The end result, Sicha adds, is "that most of the blog writers end up screaming into the void."

Many thanks to Romenesko for the link.

Location, location, location

A friend (thanks TS!) sent me this article from one of my hometown newspapers, The Capital Times, which tells about a civil war reenactment which was put on this weekend by the Verona Public Library in Verona, Wisconsin. The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House is the main event connected to a six-week exhibit the library is hosting which focuses on President Abraham Lincoln and his "quest to free the slaves."

The most interesting part of the story for my friend and myself though is the irony of the name of the street where the library is located.

No, I'm not telling. You'll need to check the article out for yourself.

Wish list addition

Just the way I like it, direct and oh so true.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Stellar storytelling

Even if you're one of those people who says you don't have time to read a daily newspaper, here are two recent examples of stories you simply have to find time to read.

The first special report, titled "Doubt," was published in late August by the St. Petersburg Times. Staff writers Meg Laughlin and Don Morris detail the case of Leo Schofield, who has been in prison for 18 years for the 1987 murder of his wife Michelle. Leo's long-stated claims of innocence seemed to have been bolstered when a fingerprint found in the car Michelle was driving on the night she went missing were found to belong to another inmate serving time for murder. And there were other problems with the case against Schofield as well, including a key eyewitness who changed her story and has had mental health issues including delusions and the lack of any blood at the place believed to be the crime scene, despite the fact that Michelle was stabbed 26 times.

Schofield's lawyer has petitioned for a new trial and a judge is expected to rule on the request in the next few months.

The second example is an eight-part series that concluded today in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. It tells the story of Johanna Orozco, who was shot in the face by her abusive ex-boyfriend. The shooting had occurred while the ex-boyfriend was on home arrest after raping Johanna at knifepoint in the home she shared with her grandparents and brother.

Reporter Rachel Dissell and photographer Gus Chan should be commended for their eloquent telling of Johanna's struggle to recover physically and emotionally from the tragedy that has changed her life forever.

Both stories also include incredible multimedia packages including slideshows, podcasts, video interviews and interactive timelines and graphics.

Both are nothing short of amazing examples of quality journalism.