Posts Tagged ‘editor’

 

The Writing’s Never Done

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

laptop keyboardI don’t know how other bloggers are about this, but I am constantly editing my entries. Not just the recent ones either!

Sometimes I’ll be drawn to an older entry, read it and be dissatisfied with what I see. It’s easy to open the editor and see if I can rework it.

Sentences formed of typed letters seems so much more permanent and meaningful than sentences formed of spoken words. I have to give them the proper measure of respect. Anyway, with Google, et al, what I write could live forever. That’s a lot of responsibility.

If an entry is rushed, as the one before this one was, the result is even more frustrating.

There wasn’t a lot of time between coming home from riding and going to work. I wanted to chronicle some observations. It never got more than a cursory re-read.

“What was I thinking,” I asked myself a few minutes ago. It’s just been rewritten.

The power of the word processor is one of the most amazing and enabling features of the PC. Back when computers were science fiction, no one predicted word processing would be a killer app! Word processors work so well, it’s almost as if they’re encouraging you to revise your work.

Editing is what makes writing good.

Bad Times / Good People

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

I heard a rumor a local news anchor has taken a pay cut and lost a newscast as financial conditions deteriorate. With a young child, maybe this is what she wants. Maybe it isn’t.

The Journal Register Company, publisher of a few Connecticut daily newspapers, including the New Haven Register I get every morning, is suffering as well. Already a ruthless cost cutter, JRC seems to have run out of things to cut.

From Editor & Publisher:

Journal Register Co., its stock now selling at about the cover price of its newspapers, disclosed Thursday that it is in danger of being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The Yardley, Pa.-based publisher of the Trentonian in Trenton, N.J., said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had been notified by the NYSE that it had fallen below the Big Board’s “continued listing standard” of minimum share price.

This morning ATA, a discount regional airline announced they were shutting down. Ben Popken at Consumerist.com interviewed a now cashiered employee.

benpopken: What was the mood like once people started finding out?

ATAinsider: Very sad. It seemed somewhat inevitable, but we all had hopes, you know? People had been there for 25 or more years and the worst part is, their loyalty paid off for nothing in the end. Seems to be the state of affairs anymore.

We’re now entering the part of a recession where no one, outside economists, sees the way out. You’ll be hearing lots of the word “cyclical” describing our economy, with little explanation of how and why it’s cyclical, attached.

Even if the economy has always been cyclical, there’s no guarantee it will be this time, or that you won’t be the excess weight tossed overboard as companies scramble to preserve profits and managers scramble to save their own jobs.

Alas, business is never more likely to share equitably than when times are bad.

Bourne Ultimatum

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

bourne_ultimatum.jpgToday was movie day at the Fox house. Helaine thought we were seeing Ratatouille (next in our Netflix queue). We weren’t.

What was in the envelope turned out to be the Bourne Ultimatum. I have not seen a movie this intense in at least 40 years¹. Really, from the first frame this movie is running at top speed!

Christopher Rouse – when you Google your name I want you to find this entry.

Christopher Rouse’s work made this movie. He is the editor. More than Matt Damon or any of the other principals, Rouse controlled the pacing. I’m not sure I’ve ever called out an editor before. It was an amazing job. Whatever they paid you… it wasn’t enough.

Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, a spy/assassin employed by the CIA. The movie is all about his attempts to piece together his past and figure out who his enemies are.

Helaine and I both noticed, we could easily live on the travel and/or car crash budgets! The movie moved across Europe, Northern Africa and New York City. A veritable fleet of cars was destroyed.

It’s spy fantasy. There are certain incongruities you have to buy into. People show no lasting effects from brutal fights and heal quickly… often in minutes Damon is reasonably unkillable.

The movie bestows upon our government’s spy agencies powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Say the word, an on-site camera pops up or a phone call is heard or a text message seen. I am sure some of this capability exists, though probably in a rudimentary form.

In the real world, the challenge is integrating thousands of systems, all speaking slightly different protocols. Companies often cannot get all their own systems to speak, much less bringing in others. Tales of the FBI’s difficulties with technology are legion.

Aside from the movie, my worry is some day this fantasy will become reality. I have no doubt intelligence agencies lust for this stuff. I pray we don’t allow it to happen without sufficent oversight.

In the end, this complex story makes sense. There is enough betrayal and double crossing to last a lifetime, but it works seamlessly.

¹ – Sometime, late in 1967 or early 1968, I visited a friend at SUNY Albany. We went to an on-campus screening of “The Brig.” I am still affected, having seen this scarily intense movie.

Too Much Democracy

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I read a lot of tech news online. It’s pretty tough to find a technical subject I don’t want to delve into.

Finding these articles can be tough, so like many people I harness the power of the Internet by going to ‘aggregator’ sites. These sites don’t usually produce content on their own. Instead, they link to other sites where the articles are kept.

Originally, my favorite was Slashdot. There were times I’d go there a half dozen or more times a day.

The way Slashdot works is, people suggest stories, editors check them out, they get posted. When first discovered, I liked Slashdot a lot.

Over time it got too slow for me. I’m not talking about how long it took for a page to load. It wasn’t pushing enough links my way.

Next came Digg, a San Francisco start-up headed by Kevin Rose, formerly of TechTV. This site also takes suggestions from readers. Instead of having editors pass judgement, Digg encourages their readers to digg a story (or not). Get a lot of digs and your story hits the front page and gets read by lots of people.

The more I liked Digg, the less time I spent on Slashdot.

Then came Reddit. Like Digg, this site’s content is juried by its readers. What I liked was, more stories made the front page and the lineup was volatile from hour-to-hour. There was lots for me to read.

The more I liked Reddit, the less time I spent on Digg. Even worse (for them), Slashdot was falling off my radar.

Now there’s a problem. A small community, like Digg or Reddit, can easily be overrun by single issue zealots. For Reddit especially, that means supporters of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

Stop – I’m not criticizing either of these candidates. What I’m concerned about is how their supporters have hijacked these sites to get their points across. I want to read tech, not hear about who feels short changed and why.

Having no editor should lead to a democratically juried site. Instead, it’s leading to anarchy.

At the moment, I still read all three. Their order of importance in my life is currently Digg, Reddit, Slashdot… but Reddit is getting very close to dropping to number three.

An Evening Of Higher Education

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

After last night’s 6:00 o’clock news, I headed to Southern Connecticut State University. Jerry Dunklee, a journalism professor at Southern who I knew as a radio talk show host when I first came here, invited me to join a panel on blogging.

The class was already underway when I walked in the room. I was glad to see little has changed. The students avoided sitting close to the front.

Sitting behind a table, facing the group, were Denis Horgan and Andy Thibauld. These guys are much better examples of what bloggers are all about than the navel gazing I usually post.

Andy publishes “The Cool justice Report,” while Denis’ blog is self named.

Both these guys are capital “J” journalists with backgrounds at traditional media outlets. Denis went though a messy divorce at the Hartford Courant, after editor Brian Toolan told him to stop blogging. I’m not sure of all the steps, but the Courant no longer has Horgan… we do.

As with my blog, though in a much more beautiful, writerly way, Denis choronicles his own life and experiences. A really good writer can make the mundane meaningful.

If that came off as a left handed compliment, it wasn’t my intention.

Denis is also author of “Flotsam: A Life in Debris,” reviewed quite favorably in the… wait for it… Hartford Courant. You can’t make this stuff up!

Andy Thibauld is also a print journalist gone web. This description probably doesn’t do it justice, but his site is an outlet for Andy’s investigative reporting.

Staunchly liberal (as is Horgan), Andy is answering a calling, more than doing a job. The fact that he’s doing this kind of expository reporting in a medium where there’s little chance for financial payoff means it’s passion driven.

Stereotypically, both men seem directly out of central casting for who they are. That Denis is an Irishman from Boston is totally obvious before he even speaks! Andy wears the same rumpled trench coat nearly every other investigative reporter wears.

There’s got to be a warehouse where these are given out to people who whisper, “I know this pol on the take.”

Both these guys are passionate about what they do. Neither seems to have a free will choice to stop. It’s just too deeply ingrained in their DNA.

I’m not sure how either puts food on the table. There’s no money in blogging… certainly in this kind of blogging. People write for newspapers because they need to write and they need to eat. Blogging only fills half the equation.

I can’t be sure the students got what we were talking about. Can you understand what drives these two guys before being driven yourself? Don’t you first need to understand what it’s like pounding your head against the wall for a boss who judges your work by quantity alone?

The students seemed attentive and asked good questions. It’s just, I’ve come to the conclusion experience cannot be taught.

It’s a shame the traditional media (print and electronic) are under such brutal financial pressure. Guys like these, to whom principle is king, are amazing role models for college students. I’m not sure if I belonged on the same panel.

There are never enough bright people with principles.

The Modern Desktop Publisher Uses Video

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

About two years ago, a bunch of my friends got together to make a movie for an 8 hour film contest. One of the participants was Harvey. Harvey is a physician, heavy on the research, whose specialty is getting women pregnant.

He likes to say that. Me too.

One of the things Harvey has devised is a test used to better understand why some women don’t get pregnant… and how to change that. I’m oversimplifying, but you get the idea.

When we made the movie, Harvey knew nothing about video production. Because he had Final Cut Pro on his Mac laptop, and because he didn’t know how to use it, he asked if he could be our editor!

He wanted others, people who did know what they were doing, to teach him the software. That was a masterstroke.

That afternoon, Harvey began to edit. What he did was rudimentary, but before we began, Harvey didn’t know enough to know the extent of what he didn’t know!

I got an IM from Harvey yesterday. He was working on his own video project, explaining a medical test he’s devised for IVF candidates. Would I look at it?

What Harvey brought was a little rough. You could see it wasn’t done by someone who edited a lot. But, it was easy to see there was a really good and effective presentation hidden beneath the rough cuts.

First I, then my weather partner Gil Simmons, watched the video and took notes. Most of the problems were simple things – dissolves versus cuts and how to work around shaky shots. Harvey took it all in.

The really cool part was, Harvey had gotten so close by himself. He shot, wrote and edited the whole production¹ with no outside help.

We had dinner and Harvey headed home, hoping to begin cleaning the production up. We spoke again at 11:30 PM.

By this time, I was as anxious to make the video a success as he was. I drove to his home and spent nearly three hours with him working on graphic elements.

Final Cut Pro is an amazing product. Just using the tools he had at home, Harvey was beginning to have a very slick looking production. It will end up being burned on DVDs and put on the web as Flash video.

There is a moral to this story. The kind of production Harvey assembled could have cost well into five figures – and it would have been worth it. Now, effective video production can be done by anyone, even a multiply doctored academician from Yale!

It’s true he needed some professional help to get him on track, but he was incredibly close to success all on his own. Non-linear editing tools allowed us to manipulate the project where it needed to be with little trouble.

Video production is the most powerful storytelling medium ever devised by man. It has been democratized.

¹ – Writing is probably the most important part of video production. A well written story is the blueprint which guides how everything is assembled. Good writers are tough to come by.

Manipulating Mother Nature

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

I was just sent a tear sheet from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper. It’s a real letter to the editor from last week.

There’s not much I can say except, read it. You might need to read it again.

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two.

This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.

Connie M. Meskimen

Hot Springs

Wow!

Blogger’s addendum: Jim, in Truckee, CA pointed out something I didn’t realize. The letter to the editor is probably heavily tongue in cheek by an attorney known for this sort of thing.

Since some of you don’t read the comments, and what Jim said is important to understanding (better than I obviously did) the story, I’ll include it here:

There’s even more to this ‘true’ story. Snopes.com (Urban Legends, etc.) says this guys is known for writing sarcastic and humorous letters to the editor.

See: Snopes.com

The Good Story From The Libby Trial

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I want to make comment about the Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby trial. This will have nothing to do with the verdict.

I wasn’t there. I don’t have all the facts. The trial was incredibly politicized, These are all things I’ve worked to keep out of my blog.

There was, however, one part of the procedure which struck me when I read an article in Editor and Publisher.

(Juror Denis) Collins, a journalist who has written for The Washington Post and other newspapers — and is author of the 2004 book, “Spying: The Secret History of History”– described the jury’s painstaking deliberations. He said there were several “managerial types” on the jury and they spent many days just assembling post-it notes in some kind or “buildings blocks” fashion. They did not take an immediately straw vote.

If I ever go to court, that’s what I want to hear – the jury was involved and thorough. It’s something I think we often feel isn’t there.

A few years ago, while tuning past C-Span on a boring Sunday night I had audio tapes of Supreme Court proceedings. It was a similar feeling.

I had no idea what the particulars of the case were, but I heard intelligent men and women pondering the facts with well thought questions and comments.

Cousin Michael, who reads the blog and who clerked in the US Circuit Court might write otherwise, but these comments from the Libby trial and my ‘eavesdropping’ on the Supremes, gives me optimism our republic is built on a solid foundation.

Or maybe I’m just naive. I hope not.

One Man Band

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

When a news photographer is also the reporter, that person is referred to as a “one man band.” It is not usually offered up as a compliment.

How can you do both well, reporters and photographers ask? Historically, that was true. I’m not so sure it’s still true as cameras and editing gear become more sophisticated and lightweight.

My friend Mike‘s TV station has switched to this mode of news gathering. The jury is still out on whether it’s a success or not, though he says they cover a lot more stories.

The reason I’m writing about this now is because of a job listing from the New York Times.

Job Description

NYTimes.com, the #1 newspaper site on the Web (Nielsen/NetRatings) and winner of Best News Site awards in 2005, 2004, 2003 (Editor & Publisher) is seeking a Videojournalist to join our team.

The videojournalist will be responsible for producing video segments for NYTimes.com.

Responsibilities:

Less Of Katie On CBS

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

This is a news story that has to be ‘delicious’ to any editor or producer. Katie Couric’s photo has been published as part of the publicity campaign to launch her reign as anchor of the CBS Evening News. TVNewser¹ discovered the photo had been doctored.

The photo on the right is a slimmer Katie!

Colors were adjusted too, but I see that as much less troublesome. Often photos need to be properly white balanced after the fact. I can’t tell you which, left or right, is closer to the ‘real’ color look. Does it matter?

On retouching in general – mea culpa. Helaine has complained when I’ve doctored vacation shots to remove power lines or other schmutz. The temptation to improve on reality is great, especially when it’s so easily done.

I’ve also removed dozens of pounds in photos of friends and relatives. Not one has ever seen the finished product, realized I’d slimmed them, and complained!

Professional photogs like Greg Apodaca do this all the time, and even brag about it by showing examples on their website.

I shouldn’t have any problem ‘glamming’ Katie in publicity shots. Can a guy who wears makeup every night really complain about the vanity of others?

However, since Katie represents the entire CBS news organization, maybe this would have been better left undone. This photo might be OK for publicity, but has to violate the news policies of CBS. That’s a standard even more important to keep after the revelation of doctored and staged photos from the Israeli/Lebanese conflict.

The need for a doctored photo implies our hearts may be in the wrong place, valuing physicality above content. That’s a message I don’t want to send.

¹ – I am a daily reader of Brian Stelter’s blog, and once had a comment published. After watching Fox News follow a particularly heart pounding car chase for much of the afternoon, coverage stopped at 8:00 PM. That’s when O’Reilly (pre-taped, I believe) goes on. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

If they continued the chase, it would have been an acknowledgment it was news. By stopping at 8 p.m., they instead signaled it was news porn.

Unfortunately, news coverage based on the compelling nature of video, as opposed to the story’s impact or content, is a constant worry – and it’s certainly not limited to FNC, who happened to be the guilty party this particular time.