Posted at 7:00 pm , on November 27, 2015
For those of you that feel awful about yourselves due to your lavish Thanksgiving Day dinner, then here is one more for you to do so.
While we all scoffed and tossed out all the extra food because we just had to have a piece of every dish, we often forget about how that food gets to our tables, and who are the people that pick them.
Fifty five years ago, CBS and Edward R. Murrow ran The Harvest Of Shame segment the day after Thanksgiving. Americans were horrified at the conditions of migrant work.
Posted at 5:20 pm , on October 17, 2015
The moment you write the word “I” in your story, your relationship with your reader changes. Because now you are a character just like everyone else. Your observations have to become even more prevalent. Your opinions now have to be known.
You have to ask yourself – is my involvement important enough to be in this story? Am I active enough for the reader to care about me?
I also use the following examples for my students to understand the role of the narrator while reporting on scene. The first is by Martha Gellhorn, one of the greatest female journalists of all time (any woman who can wrap Ernest Hemingway around her finger is highly desirable in my book). She was one of the first American reporters at Dachau, filling in the rest of the world about the realities of Nazi concentration camps. Her advantage is her brutal honest. I’m glad she didn’t mask her anger. That’s not the point of a first person piece.
Her reporting for Collier’s in 1945: Dachau: Experimental Murder
I also show my students a modern take on war, where the baffling management of war is scrutinized. The American invasion of Iraq was chronicled for nearly two months by Evan Wright of Rolling Stone. His story proved that drawing game plans in the mud during a paint ball game may not be so far off from some of the U.S. military strategists. Fortunately, the raw reality of our Recon Marines makes this one of the most appealing war stories you will ever read. Wright also displays an honesty – because he tells us that what the rest of the Marines are telling him is absolutely true – war is exhilarating. And comical. Students could not believe what these men were discussing while facing death, but that is what makes this story all the more enjoyable (and frightening.)
The Killer Elite by Evan Wright For Rolling Stone
Check out the HBO miniseries based on the story titled Generation Kill.
Posted at 2:23 pm , on September 24, 2015
Or at least not with substance or grammatical structure, according to a Washington Post opinion piece. It bashes the Common Core structure and wants to focus more on sentence structure. A turn back to basics, they say. I can’t argue. That is a step. Trying to teach students who to write sentences with style is difficult when they are making mistakes I learned in grammar school. Maybe there is a need to have the old fashioned elderly English teacher with glasses and a ruler hovering over every sentence. There is too much writing distraction today – Americans have certainly let text style infiltrate basic writing skills.
But this is just the start. More reading, which is easier said than done. It is the best approach, in my opinion, and one that is impossible to see followed through at home unless parents are willing to put in the effort with their children.
There is also that pesky five-paragraph essay, which too may teachers and professors feel is gospel. In fact, they have lost the whole point of what that structure was supposed to represent, and is not taught properly in most cases, in my opinion. Regardless, that is another blog post for another day.
Why Americans Can’t Write
Posted at 8:26 pm , on January 17, 2015
So maybe you like the world of TMZ or the absurdity of political pundits being the most recognized journalists in the world. But for those “in the know,” we are fully aware that some of the most recognizable, and sadly profitable forms of journalism, is not really journalism at all.
Good journalism costs. It’s takes time. And it comes with a sacrifice. It rarely sales as many papers as a Kardashian, But it creates awareness for the socially aware and brings about real change.
Which is why many are hoping to be funded by grants and foundations which still have a conscious. Great journalism, plus innovated websites, no longer can rely on advertising due to high circulation numbers or our bread and better of classified ads. The public is yet to realize how important it is to pay for its news. So we turn to others for help.
Here is one of the examples that the NY Times wrote about a year ago. Innovation in Journalism Goes Begging For Support
Posted at 8:43 pm , on August 26, 2014
An interesting read, some of which I agree with. Yes, journalism is not failing, it’s financial structure is, but we don’t help ourselves. Most readers don’t really care for good journalism – they want sensationalism and short reads. Which is just horrible for good writers, because so much good work is dismissed because it is too “complicated” for the audience, which essentially means it the readership has to “think” about what is written.
As for the business side, I’ve said it for years. Paywalls need to go up, print publications and online subscriptions need to be folded into one, (hard copies need to be sent regardless, because it will boost circulation, which will boost advertising revenue) and more of an effort needs to be taken to fight these search engines that steal original content so often that it largely goes ignored.
The dollars are out there. So let’s stop giving the content away for free.
Here is Matthew Ingram’s take on it for Gigaom. Journalism Is Doing Fine, Thanks – It’s Mass Media Business Models That Are Ailing