Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Good design means sustainability

Please watch this 20-minute video on good design and sustainability - poignant, funny, and jaw-dropping.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A note about ASAP

While at the Sacramento AAJA's careeer workshop last Saturday, I asked Tom Verdin if he knew why ASAP folded. He told me that the site didn't make enough money. I mentioned advertising and he corrected me--AP does not sell ads. It is a wire service. Not enough newspapers chose to subscribe to the content ASAP delivered.

Though it failed in a financial sense, he compared it to a laboratory because it allowed AP writers to experiment with telling a story using multimedia. It gave them experience that they can now pass on to other writers, and carry with them in the future.

During the panelist discussion, he stressed that AP reporters are not technology experts. They are expected to be comfortable with taking video and audio and other things, but "we don't get paid extra for it," he said.

Monday, March 10, 2008

AAJA Career Workshop: Sacramento pros advise students

Last Saturday I went to an Asian American Journalists Association career workshop for students, organized by Judy Lin of the Sacramento Bee. We were asked to bring our portfolios and resumes for critiques, and more professional journalists than I can name were there ready to critique.

The panelists, led by Pamela Wu, all had unique insights to the industry. The main take-home message of the day: intern, intern, intern! Every panelist except one started their career through an internship, where they worked hard and made excellent contacts.

CBS 13's Tina Macuha from Good Morning Sacramento advised about internships, "Don't complain. When you complain, you attract other negative people to you."

Sactown Magazine co-editor Rob Turner got an internship at Harper's Magazine, "one of the best things for me," he said. He asked students not to treat an internship like a nine to five job. "Stay until the story is done," he said. When other interns are going home at 5 p.m., the intern who stays to get the work done stands out.

His wife Elyssa Lee, also co-editor at Sactown, said, "Do a good job, and you'll stand out." She started her career at Money magazine, and still writes for InStyle. She also advised tailoring cover letters to the publication, because, "we can all tell when you've just copied and pasted."

Bret Burkhart, a reporter and anchor with KGO Radio, also started with an internship. He asked how many students in the room were interested in radio. When no one raised their hands, he said, "See? That's how competitive it is." For those interested in broadcast journalism, working at a radio station could be good experience for the resume.

Newsroom Tech
What technology do the pros use in today's news coverage?

AP reporters take video and audio, but "we're not experts," said Tom Verdin, AP's Sacramento correspondent. He warned against becoming so enamored with technology that you lose sight of how to write a good story.

The Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert staff writer and blogger Shane Goldmacher uses HTML reguarly in his blog posts for things like making words bold. "I'm no computer expert, but I'm the expert by comparison," he said. "If you know a little HTML you're miles ahead of everybody else."

Burkhart and Macuha both said it's important to connect with the engineers at a broadcasting station. When something goes wrong, everyone talks to the engineers; remember them when things go right, and they'll help you out later on.

Odds and Ends
The beat has become increasingly important in the newsroom, said Verdin, who advised students to chose one subject area of expertise that they love, such as politics or the environment. Covering the beat thoroughly will be evident in unique story clips. "Get a graduate degree, develop a contact list for that subject," he suggested.

Goldmacher treats his job interviews as a chance to not only be interviewed, but to interview the boss. "Don't work for a bad boss," he said.

All the panelists talked about the long hours they work each week.

"You will hit the pavement, you will get pounded," Wu said. "We all still do it because we love it."

Goldmacher loves what he does because, he said, "I get paid to basically talk to people." Reporters who aren't out of the office talking to their sources aren't doing their job, he said.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Force or fragility

My husband and I were fortunate enough to travel in Hawaii on the island of Oahu last month. We went hiking on the rain forest, swam in the most amazing clear water, and soaked up sun and moisture like a pair of sponges.

The trip for me though was a tad depressing. Oahu's nature seems so fragile. The rain forest is threatened by tourism, pollution, pavement, and foreign seeds and animals. The coral reef is destroyed basically by any contact with humans. Waikiki's enthusiasm for shopping malls strikes me as terribly corrupt. The few trees we saw in the park looked lonely, because I could so easily picture them growing into a huge forest.

I'm used to sensing Nature as a powerful force. I'm used to feeling its presence. On Oahu, it had a timid, fragile presence.

I'd love to return, but try a different island next time. Somewhere with waterfalls, perhaps, where I can mistake the sound of rushing water for natural strength against Man's strangling tyranny.

For pictures of all the neat plants we saw, please visit my Picasa album here. Enjoy!