Wednesday, September 16, 2009
At any rate, here's the first quote that I couldn't work into the article but that I thought was interesting:
"PE is always going to need bigger spaces by virtue of what we do, we move around, we’re not sitting around in chairs like in an auditorium." - Martha Jamieson, athletic director in Wayland.
Obviously, she has a point. Her argument was that sticking to the very strict square footage guidelines put out by the Mass. School Building Authority won't necessarily behoove the students in terms of their education.
For the most part, the people I talked to said the process was phenomenally transparent and inclusive, at least in Wayland. This compared to some other districts, where departments could submit a list of what they wanted to see in the new building and the architect and superintendent would decide. In Wayland, the committee to make those decisions was more than 60-strong.
But pick your cliche - is it too many cooks in the kitchen when the AD has to try and convince a group of 60 rather than a group of 2 that she needs more space? Or is it as simple as you can't have your cake (a new school) and eat it too (get everything you wanted)?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The towns I was being considered for are just down the road from me, and I regarded the prospect with unreserved excitement. I would have been working in a groundbreaking experiment in aggressive news coverage, and I would have been doing it in my own backyard. I hoped I was among the top-choice candidates based on my devotion to the paper in finding new places to work, based on my proximity and familiarity with the area, and based on my previous work for Globe West and the Boston in 60 Project.
But last week I got the call that I was not the finalist chosen for the position. It was a blow, I'll readily admit, and one that took me a day or two to rebound from. But immediately following that tough news, I was afforded the chance to go back to basics and work in local coverage for the print section, Globe West. In fact, I was going to be picking up four towns out there, most of which are high-activity and all of which are high-profile. Not a bad deal, I suppose. It doesn't pay as well as the Your Town job would have, but I'll have more traditional clips this way. And I've seen writers take opportunities like the one I now have and turn them into bigger and better jobs.
In the interest of maintaining an online mindset from time to time, though, I'm hoping to add another function to my blog here (one that I hope will drive me to add content far more frequently than I've done): outtakes. The Globe has, in a couple of places, features that highlight the "best of" something that didn't run. A long-time photographer posts the best picture that didn't make it into the paper. Sportswriters add little tidbits to the Notes columns when they don't grow into full stories.
What I'd like to do is, once a week, post the best quote/picture/anecdote that I came across but didn't use in working on these four towns, just because it was interesting. Maybe it'll help me keep the writing-for-new-media skills in practice, too.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
If I'm going to be here at this unholy hour on a weekend, I'm going to be comfortable. Go go Gadget t-shirt.
I need new shoes. I don't think I have a particularly distinctive gait, but when there's a clicking pattern coming from my left foot when I walk on the tile, it's time to replace the kicks.
They should make two additions to the area surrounding the Message Center - 1. Give us a DVD player. 2. Add one of those Red Box machines with the DVD rentals. There's money to be made.
Speaking of money - sandwiches and meals here are expensive, except at breakfast. Fair portion of scrambled eggs, home fries, and a small coffee - $3.24. I could do worse.
Apropos of the Gates story, as soon as someone drops the words "you people" with me, I immediately assign them to telephone hell.
I don't know what percentage of our readers is over 70, but 80% of our callers are.
Wikipedia: the bored but curious man's best friend. Also good for trivia buffs.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Naturally, an incident like that is going to set the mainstream media on fire - heck of a story we're doing, Brownie.
But something that might have upset me even more than the crash itself was a detail included in some of the stories, entirely unnecessarily.
Boston Globe story
WHDH story (AP)
WBZ story (AP)
Those three stories all exclude something specific. These next three stories do not:
Boston Herald story
FOX 25 story
WCVB story (first to mention, by my notice)
What do those last three have that the first three do not? The information that the driver of the train transitioned from female to male in the recent past, including a name change from Georgia Anne Quinn to Aiden Quinn. Two of those last three (predictably, the Herald and FOX) make this little tidbit the crux of their story.
How is this newsworthy? Does Aiden Quinn's gender identity play any sort of role in his capacity to drive an MBTA train? Yes, the fact that he has speeding violations in the past is pertinent, and yes, it's worth a story. But nothing about those Herald and FOX stories has any relevance to the story at hand. It's sensationalistic, "look, this guy is different!" coverage.
Not only is Quinn's gender identity irrelevant to the story, disclosing it so flippantly goes against every rule of LGBT courtesy out there. It's absolutely unacceptable to out someone's gender identity or expression in so public a forum - it is Quinn's business and nobody else's.
People wonder why the media get a bad rap. It's crap like this.
Your Honor, I am a reporter for The Boston Globe. On behalf of the public and The Boston Globe, I respectfully object to the closing of this proceeding and request a hearing at which legal counsel may present arguments to the court on the issue of closing this courtroom. I also request an adjournment so I can arrange for counsel to attend the hearing. Thank you.
The card, on its inverse, has numbers for several lawyers retained by the Globe (presumably the Times - all the numbers are New York-based).
I found it an interesting little specimen. Part of me wants to make a snide remark about there obviously being enough use of these cards to justify printing a batch. But part of me rather wishes there was still enough purpose to them to justify handing them out.
There was a time, I'm told in my history of journalism classes, when reporters were respected, rather than despised. There was a time that dropping the name "Boston Globe" would startle many and frighten some. There was a time where reading the text on that card might actually have gotten the desired results.
I doubt any of those are as true today as I'd like, as I enter the industry. A court faced with that card's statement will not change its decision. The last presidential administration so poisoned the judicial pool that most judges won't care. The First Amendment and the respect given to those who protect it has been so eroded that the cards given to reporters, just in case, lie forgotten in a drawer underneath the switchboard.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Well, when in doubt, I turn to people who know more than I do. And lately, I've discovered that the "collective" is often the best source.
My response was to Twitter-search each of the towns. Yeah, it sounds dumb, but hear me out - you're not using the tweets themselves as sources, obviously you can't do that with unconfirmable identities and the easy potential for bad information. But you can see very quickly what people are talking about in respect to a given town.
For example, one town in question had a short tweet about termites. Well, looking at the tweeter's website indicated he was a pest control service provider, so he clearly has a vested interest in increased interest in termites in that town. That said, the simple fact that it's being mentioned merits a call to town officials to see if there has, in fact, been a spike in the number of termites in the town. And if there is - bang. Story.
I'm looking at Twitter for journalists the same way I look at Wikipedia for research papers - you can't use it as a primary source, but you can absolutely use it as a listing of primary sources or an idea well.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
The month of April was so incredibly hectic with finals, my show, moving home, and graduation prep that I wasn't able to properly sit down and plan out what my summer and forward was going to look like. Now that I'm home again, I would like to think that this summer is just going to be a quick rest-stop, as it were.
The plan as I would have it drawn up:
- Make contact with editors throughout the Globe (and other publications?) and pitch stories for freelance opportunities. Also continue to write for Blast Magazine.
- Create a home-office sort of space that would give me the right settings to focus on writing and public relations/marketing work.
- Pick up as many hours at the Globe on the City Desk and Message Center as humanly possible.
- Finalize production team and resources for Summer Scene's production of Seussical Jr.
- Find local bartending job, get back into pouring drinks...and getting paid for it.
- Hang out with Greg and Natalie as frequently as possible, because both of them are taking off at the end of the month.
- Try to start working out regularly, now that I've got more time to do so.
- Begin to map out each scene and the set for Seussical Jr.; audition program participants and cast show.
- Ask around about potential apartment-mates for the fall.
- Continue to search for and apply for full-time jobs in the Boston area.
- Continue work at Globe, Blast, bar.
- Direct Seussical Jr., make the show kick ass.
- Settle on apartment-mates and find and secure apartment near T line that will let me have car. That last part is pretty key.
- Continue working at Globe, Blast, bar.
- Hopefully I'll have a job by now - once Seussical Jr. concludes, I'll be left with only my part-time jobs, so I'll need to have something lined up very soon to work toward the apartment money.
- Part-time work throughout.
So yeah, that's what I'm hoping happens. We'll just have to see how well I can put that into action.
Monday, March 30, 2009
This is a short photoessay I've constructed:
The photos can be viewed in a full-size slideshow here.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Like a novice craps shooter, I'm moving into hedge-your-bets territory with this job search. In addition to keeping options open in PR or business communications, I'm starting to expect to make a substantial amount of my income through my new trade: bartending. Yesterday I finished up my course at DrinkMaster Bartending School, which means I'm pretty well-trained and qualified to make an Absolut Sex on the Beach, straight-up, rocks on the side.
But that means I've also got to start another job search; I've got to find someone to hire me to work as a bartender part-time while I'm still in school (and maybe more after I graduate until I find something in my field). Remake the resume entirely, emphasizing a whole new skill set that has nothing to do with the written word.
(Also: I love that the instructor of the class confirmed what I've always suspected. People are dumb.)
From time to time, I wonder if I wouldn't have been better off studying something else - there's just seemingly nothing out there. Yeah, I know that's not true, very cynical, blah blah blah. But try convincing college seniors (especially those in the liberal arts majors) of that. Myself included. I bet I'll have an easier time convincing someone to pay me to make a round of Blue Kamikaze shots than I will convincing them to pay me to report on the decline of science fairs throughout MetroWest. Even worse? I think I'd probably make more money bartending than I would at an entry-level journalism job.
Photo is mine from Boston in 60 Project.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This is three times now, though, that the ISG has screwed me over, and only one of them was my own damn fault.
Sometime when I was younger, my family packed up the SUV to go check out the ISG. We'd been hearing good things about it forever, and my folks figured we could get in and out pretty quickly, before my brother (who was all of 7 at the time) or sister (who would have been 3) started to complain. At some point during the trip, my brother apparently leaned too far over a display and one of the security guards threw a hissyfit, manhandled my brother away from the display, and yelled at him right there. He was 7. He hadn't fallen, he just got closer than the security guard liked.
During the summer, while I was working on my Boston in 60 Project, I decided some Monday morning to go to the Gardner museum for my daily trip. I hadn't checked ahead of time; it's not open on Mondays. Of all the days of the week for it to be closed, that didn't make sense to me, but fine, I'll chalk that one up to my own damn fault.
This time, though, I had done my due diligence. I scoured the ISG website (to which I refuse to link) and found no mention of a ban on photography. Great - I'd swallow my pride, get my shots, and get out of there. So I headed over to the museum around 6:15 for an event that ran from 5:30-9:30. After waiting in line for half an hour in the 35-degree drizzle, I finally got into the foyer where I was told "no photography, you'll have to check that". I asked the guy why not, was this not just a regular Thursday night event? "Museum rules." Then I cursed him out colorfully in front of the whole line and walked away. If someone can find any mention of a ban on photography on the ISG website, I'll take my crow pie, but I looked and there was nothing.
So now, with this assignment due tomorrow morning, I have just about no chance to get anything. Thanks, Isabella, and rot in hell!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I'm an ardent and lifelong supporter of the New England Revolution. Stuck it out through some crappy years, and more pertinent to this post, some crappy marketing campaigns to accompany the crappy years. Those of us in the fandom recall vividly the "Get Your Kicks" campaign (gag).
For the majority of the team's existence, the front office has chosen to market itself almost exclusively to the soccer moms/youth teams demographic. I can't fault them on this - in theory, a family of five is going to spend more at a game than five 20-somethings. I thought the campaigns were cheesy and more than a little annoying, but they kept at it for a good few years.
In recent times, however, with the team's sustained success and growing (and vocal) diehards' groups, the team has started to market to that 20-something male demographic with images like this one:
In case you can't read the fine print: "The Fort experience is not intended for children nor is it for the faint of heart. So grab your scarf and warm up your vocal chords and get ready for the most raucous experience in New England sports!"
Definitely a step in the right direction, as far as the diehards like myself saw it. This was an ad campaign that would appeal to the soccer fanatics, the 20-somethings with disposable income (that season ticket works out to $10/game), and wouldn't put off the soccer families that sit on the other side of the stadium.
But last week, the team issued an audition call for its new "street team", the Rev Girls:
The New England Revolution will hold interviews for the Rev Girls, the Revolution’s new promotional squad, at 10 a.m. in the East Fidelity Investments Clubhouse at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 21.This is an appalling display from the team on several different fronts. Not only is it chauvinistic to a degree we haven't seen from Kraft Sports Group before ("form-fitting clothing", "no facilities available to prepare", "the hottest promotional group in town"), it's also an extremely poorly-constructed attempt at grassroots marketing.
The team’s newest marketing initiative, the Rev Girls will run promotions at games and nighttime events and make public appearances on behalf of the team.
Women interested in interviewing for a roster spot with the Rev Girls must be at least 21 years old, and must bring positive identification with them. Prospective team members must also wear form-fitting clothing to the interview, and also bring both a headshot and a full-body image. Successful candidates will also be available for the entire duration of the Revolution season – March through November.
Those interviewing for a Rev Girl spot should come dressed and ready to meet the staff. There will no facilities available to prepare for the interview.
Sending out 10 or 12 B-rate cheerleaders to the local Uno's is neither going to increase ticket sales, nor is it more than a token "we're trying" when it comes to word-of-mouth. And even if the street team does experience some modicum of success, it's completely unquantifiable - you can count how many people use free vouchers, but the team isn't making any money on them. And if it's not vouchers - you've got nothing to show that the street team's work has had any effect.
Word-of-mouth marketing doesn't need to be complex, nor does it need to be contrived, nor does it need to pander so blatantly to one demographic at the exclusion of others. How many soccer moms are going to bring little Suzy Kicksalot and her U-12 teammates when the "tits 'n kits" team are strolling through the concourse? How about if they meet the street team at their local restaurant? Is soccer mom Kicksalot going to be interested in going to a game when the promotional group is wearing two-pieces and and a push-up? Not to mention that the people they want this program to reach aren't going to respond to a couple of tchotchkes handed to them. They'll show up at a soccer bar, start plugging the Revs, and get shouted down by the guys watching the English leagues on TV.
It's this simple: college outreach. I proposed a college outreach program in my full-throated attack on this "street team" nonsense on BigSoccer. It's not all that difficult to envision. Contact each of the colleges within, say, a hundred miles of Gillette Stadium. Offer $15 ticket-bus-and-personal-pizza vouchers to the students, one bus per college. Don't do it all on one night, do it throughout the season. Each week, a dozen or so schools are sending buses full of tabula-rasa-brand-advocates. Each school could do more than one game - although much of the Revs season falls during the summer break, there are a handful of games before and certainly high-level games after.
Get butts in the seats. Give them a quality product, a good time, and an easy trip to and from the venue, and you'll have several thousand new Revs fans who want to come back. You can't fall in love with the local team on TV, you have to do it in person. New England Revolution holds the monopoly on live men's soccer, and yet they do nothing to market this. They need to get out there and demonstrate that we have a supporters section like their favorite European teams do, but the only way to grow that is to become a part of it.
What's more - all of this, the college outreach, the immigrant outreach, this can all be done without running the risk of alienating soccer mom Kicksalot. Throwing some full-chested bimbos at a bar and calling it "word-of-mouth" marketing is a failure both to maintain the audience you have and to reach the audience you want. It's a pathetic display of "sex sells, ergo, we need sex", and it's a step backward from the excellent "Defend the Fort" campaign.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Bugger. I went through all that effort to print out and collate clips, buy and stuff folders, update and copy my resume, and practice my elevator pitch, and there was nothing there for me at the career fair last week. I know the industry's going through a rough redesign and identity crisis, but I had hoped there'd be at least a few more jobs tangentially related to journalism there. Even the PR and marketing segments were under-represented.
I suppose, on the bright side, that going to a career fair where there was little for me offered me a dress rehearsal of sorts - I got to interact with HR managers and recruiters without any of the pressure of an actual job being on the line.
Flickr photo is mine.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
For each of my co-ops and internships, I've been able to use my clipbook as a moat of sorts. The people in charge take a look at what I've done, and only if they think I can handle the job do they call me in for an interview. By that point, I had one foot in the position already - I'm gathering that there aren't all that many applicants for the regionals at the Globe (although if these kids knew anything, that'd be top of their list). The interview itself was usually "tell me about yourself, tell me about your experience in journalism," and then, "this is what the job requires."
I've got to start from scratch now without that moat - the clipbook won't come into the equation until after first contact, and it's that first contact that is intimidating me a little bit now. I've never had to make an elevator pitch. I have absolutely no idea how I would go about it. "Hi, I'm Adam, I've been writing for newspapers for 7 years, and I've got a good handle on some social media"? That doesn't sound good at all.
How on Earth do I do this?
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
In time, however, I came to accept that this is not just the reality of how we're to find commentary, it's also valid journalistically. These quotes are not provided to the media, but if we can access them as easily as typing in a URL, they're fair game. Students know by this point that anything they say online is completely out in the open, and the newspaper can be no exception to that. The problem remains, though, that if I quote Jack Ripper's wall post, I've got no way of knowing that Jack Ripper is a real person, or that Jack Ripper himself wrote the wall post. Especially now that Facebook is open to anybody with an email address and not just an @.edu address, additional avatars beyond your actual name are easy to create and play with. (For example, my own mother wanted to explore Facebook, but instead of creating a page for herself, she created one for the dog.)
As a result, journalists still need to take with a grain of salt the use of many (if not most) social networking sites for quotes. But this raises the question as to whether there are degrees of acceptability in social network quotation. If a Facebook user's name is "Jack Ripper" and their listed email is, in fact, an @.edu address, does that make it more likely that Jack Ripper is legitimate? Does that likelihood decrease if the listed email is @.hotmail or @.gmail?
And then there's the application of that same principle to other social networking sites. An old editor of mine wrote me a brief recommendation on LinkedIn, but had to retract it when he decided that if he was going to use LinkedIn as a source, he could not be in the business of recommending people. I understand that fully, it's a conflict-of-interest if he were to endorse me and then use the same network to dig up information for an investigative article. I'm inclined to believe LinkedIn would be of greater validity for the purposes of quotation than Facebook or MySpace, but there's such less availability for usable quotes in LinkedIn that this advantage is meaningless.
But what about Twitter? I'm subscribed to the "official" Twitter feed for Gov. Deval Patrick. If I ask him a question on Twitter and he responds, can I use that as a quote? Does it become a story if what Gov. Patrick (or any other "official" feed) says does not mesh with what he/she says publicly or when asked for comment by a reporter? And do the rules change when a social media "celebrity" is involved? Say I want to quote Chris Brogan in an article I'm writing. Now, Chris is a big proponent of social media, but does that give me permission to quote his blog or a Tweet of his? After all, it's similar to the Facebook-wall-quote grab: once it's online, it's in the public domain.
I suspect that there is not yet any sort of code for how traditional media can exploit social media in this manner. Scouring Facebook or Twitter for sources to then call up personally is obviously fair game, but I wonder what an editor would say if I turned in an article quoting a Tweet.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Considering it's my last semester here at Northeastern, I picked my classes with an eye to studying what I'm interested in instead of what I thought I had to study. Consequently, I'm taking French for the first time in six years, I'm taking a microeconomics course (in no small part to re-brainwash me from the libertarian perspective of the course in Washington) and I'm taking a photojournalism course.
The first meeting of that course presented us with an interesting question: why are we taking it? Something like 75% of the class answered, "because I like journalism and I like photography". A fair answer; I'm not going to argue that they're wrong. I just happened to take a more pragmatic approach to the question:
"Because I know that given the industry's trajectory, if I can't take a half-decent picture, I'm not getting a job."
For whatever it's worth, the professor has mentioned that response two or three times since. Apparently the cynicism and pragmatism of knowing you need to have every tool you can in your toolkit has become an almost laudable awareness. But I look at the hoops I'm jumping through to attain those tools and I wonder just how many of them I'm going to need and which ones will prove to be the useful ones. I can already claim a familiarity with video production and editing, podcasting, various forms of social/new media, the processes for writing and editing a story to work for both online and print...but it's not enough, apparently. You have to be a one-man media unit in order to even dream of success in this new age.
Ironic, isn't it, that I maintain one foot firmly in the camp of traditional media while simultaneously doing all I can to ready myself to replace those who remain there?
Image courtesy of Flickr user rolands.lakis.
Monday, January 12, 2009
The other night I attended my sister's middle school performance of Les Miserables. I will admit that I was very apprehensive before sitting down; it's an epic musical and the most recent production of the school's had bored me. I was concerned that a bunch of 7th-graders would fail to do even remote justice to the beauty that is the story of Les Miserables.
I was surprised, then, that they rose to the challenge. Sure, there were parts that weren't great, but it was substantially better than I anticipated it being. It was an unexpected success.
That word, though. "Unexpected". I'd classify a lot of what is going on at the moment as "unexpected." On the positive, meeting Conor was unexpected. Being in DC for the election (and having it go the way I wanted) was unexpected.
However, it goes both ways. For example, I've got a phone call tomorrow to see if a particular job application I put in did me any good. It was somehow unexpected that I've not heard from the company in question since I sent in my resume and cover letter before the new year. I had such excellent luck in getting the jobs I wanted for co-ops and internships that the potential failure to get that first "good job" I found would be unexpected. I don't want to have to cross it off and move on, I liked what I saw as an entry-level job that paid pretty well, but that's a very distinct possibility come tomorrow.
I suppose that boils down to what some friends of mine have already discovered: "the job search sucks". It's not as though everything I wanted with respect to workplaces was given to me; I like to think I earned it. But in being conditioned to experience success when I decided I wanted it, I have to gear myself up more than might be normal for failure so as not to let it be discouraging.
Image courtesy of Flickr user eole.
Monday, January 05, 2009
A couple of things happened when I returned from Washington a couple of weeks ago: one, I got to see more people of my own particular political ideology (most of the people in my DC program were markedly conservative); and two, I returned to working part-time at the Globe. I got a bit of a when-worlds-collide moment when a recent City Desk shift showed me an angry letter that was sent to the Globe. In part:
...you gay Marxist atheists at the Globe are really afraid of a small woman from the real world taking out the holy one, Half-Black Mohammed Islamobama and his anti-change partner, White Bread Joe Obiden....Dumbocraps like you fools never learn.Yes, well. Setting aside for a moment the absurd assertions this particular "writer" makes, I find the letter interesting. This, the City on a Hill, my liberal sanctuary, yet houses types like the author of that letter.
What I'm particularly curious about, though, is why it seems as though the most virulently conservative members of our society are the ones who sit down and write something like that. Look at Boston.com's article comments - most frequently you'll find outlandish right-wing commentary provided on even innocuous articles. Why is it that this particular political ideology seems more mobilized to respond to mainstream media? It's not as if there are no left-wing bloggers and commenters out there, just look at Talking Points Memo, MoveOn, and to a lesser extent, Politico. But it's the right-wing that assails the press.
Is it because the press is viewed (mistakenly or not) as biased for the left? Is it because the left-wing bloggers are too busy patting themselves on the back for being on the "correct" side of the spectrum?
Photo courtesy of Flickr user kevindooley.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Okay, putting aside for a moment the sublime cliche that is New Year's Resolution season, I'm going to make a simple one that I think applies across the board: resolution itself.
I've come to the conclusion that most anything can be accomplished by ingenuity mingled with a great amount of sheer will. Getting a job after graduation, maintaining my stable relationship, finding a decent place to live, continuing to wade into the waters of community theatre, reconnecting with and fostering old friends and expanding my network of people, all of these can happen with simple willpower and energy.
I therefore resolve to have resolve. When I commit to something, I will follow through on it, regardless of what it may be.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user vaXzine.