Matthew Guerrieri appears to be a perfectly competent journalist and, judging by this article, a good writer. Why, then, does he revert to juvenile trash talk in describing Margaret Fuller? Won't repeat how he describes her but ... it's typical. A brilliant, forceful woman reduced to being a trinket for the men around her. Really, Mr. Guerrieri. Made me so mad I wrote a Letter to the Editor of The Boston Globe. We shall see, we shall see...
It isn't often that a small number of people has the chance to meet, listen to, and sit so close to a force as great as this pioneering journalist, who's covered every US president since Kennedy, who was there when Khruschev banged his shoe on the table ("We will bury you!"), and who has so many firsts to her name that no American woman journalist is really her peer.
The Center for New Words sponsored a brunch with Helen today and some 75 or so people turned out to listen in the lovely Brookline home of one of CNW's board members.
Helen began by saying that "it's the worst of times for America and yet the signs of democracy are strong" with the election of Obama, allowing "black people to stand taller" and white people "to feel they've done the right thing."
She didn't shy away from the tough topics - she wants the US out of Iraq and Afghanistan now, believing that those countries have it in them to solve their own problems.
She "believes in Medicare for everyone," i.e. a single payer healthcare system. When people call that "socialism," she says, "What about roads, schools, and bridges?"
She is devastated by the demise of the newspaper industry, calling it the "greatest tragedy" of the economic meltdown, because "there's no democracy without a free press." She also pointed out what all serious reporters know: blogging is not journalism. We need editors for that and this ain't that.
"Words count," she said, more than once (how I love writers) and implored all of us, including Obama, to understand that "this is the time for quantum leaps," not careful steps.
She ended by responding to some questions about her career. "There's no such thing as making it," she said. "There's always another mountain to climb." When she came to Washington as a reporter, she couldn't join the National Press Club. It took Khrushchev's coming to Washington -- and a concerted effort on the part of women reporters -- to even be allowed to attend National Press Club functions.
Where were the women journalists invited to sit at the Khrushchev press conference? "Thirty women were allowed to sit on the floor at the National Press Club," she reported. "Everything has been a struggle. And I'm still carrying that anger."
Report on, Helen. We in your wake thank you so for what you've endured.
This is not a post aboutArlen Specter, the senator who switched party affiliations due to certain sharp turns by his part for the past gazillion years. It's about an affectionate memory I have from my early days as a reporter.
The Pottstown Mercury (according to Wikipedia, the smallest circulation newspaper in the US to win two Pulitzer Prizes and where I had my first job as a journalist) was then a "feeder paper" for the Philadelphia Bulletin (it lives no more). What this meant is that aspiring reporters cut their teeth at The Mercury, covering a wide range of stories and writing columns, before moving up to the big city 35 miles southeast of our small shtetl. The newsroom was small - and we were packed in together, leading to our getting to know one another quite well.
To this day, I remember precisely where everyone sat, as the desks were pushed together, leaving us face-to-face and side-by-side. To my left, Dolly Smith, who ran the "Social Page," what's now called "Style" in most papers; to my right, Charles Carter, who covered religion, which was quite big as it is/was in most small towns. Across from me sat Paul Levy, not the Boston one, in fact his physical opposite. In addition to his incredible output - he churned out more stories than anyone else - what was truly remarkable about him was his typing faster than anyone I've ever known with two fingers on a manual typewriter! I can still hear his key pounding.
At the next bank of tables was Bob Boyle, the editor whose shirt was always covered with ashes, the copyeditor, whose name I've repressed as he committed suicide during my second summer there, and the copyboy, Billy March, whose job was principally to rip stories off the wire machine and bring them to Bob, whose principal job, from my perspective, was teasing me.
Beyond that bank of desks - and the point of my indulging this reminiscence - was Gordy Griffiths, hands-down the best reporter for the paper, and one of the consistently happiest people I'd ever met. Although everyone was nice to me (I was only 16 when I started and thus a bit of an oddity, being one of only two "women," if you could call me that at that age, in the newsroom), Gordy stood out. He was interested in my ideas, gave me suggestions, and once wrote a lovely essay, expounding on one of my stranger ideas: dry rain.
Simply put, there are two kinds of rain - the drenching kind that requires protection and the drop-here, drop-there, not-very-wet-kind, which I believe to this day exists. Now there's probably a real science to explain this but Gordy listened to my exigesis one day as if what I was saying made actual sense. The next he presented me with his interpretation of my thinking, which I still have somewhere on crumbling newsprint and which was called something like, "The Theory of Dry Rain."
I don't know how old Gordy was at the time - maybe early thirties, much, much older to the eyes of a 16-year-old, and his engaging with me as a peer meant a lot. And I loved his work, which was consistently good and creative. He covered the hard news of our small town and wrote columns.
I worked at the paper for four summers, going back to high school in between, and when I came home for vacations, always stopped into the paper to say hi, sometimes writing columns on my adventures during the year. Which brings me to explaining the title of this post. One day when I came back to visit, there was Gordy, as usual, with his adorable grin, the kind where lips are tight together and the side of the mouth scrunches down, as if the person is about to burst out laughing. On his lapel a button: "Specter, of course."
Being about 18 at the time, I barely knew who Specter was, but it turned out he was the now-famous senator, running for DA in Philadelphia. I did know that he was more conservative than my parents, Roosevelt Democrats, and I remember saying to Gordy, "Specter?" And he said, with that smile, "Of course."
Gordy was managing Specter's first campaign, or at least that's how I remember it. Perhaps he was just his press secretary. Regardless, he was deeply involved, thought "Arlen" was great, and, as was the case in those days, suffered no job consequences at the newspaper for being involved in a political campaign.
Gordy died young. I can't remember when or how and a search on his name brings up no information at all. But every time I see Senator Specter - and walk in dry rain - I think of Gordy.
Photo of Tom Winship, editor of The Boston Globe for 20 years, from Intl Center for Journalists, which Winship helped found, posted here in honor of the Globe's truly remarkable heritage
Happened again. The morning newspaper actually arrived. The daily reports in the Boston Globe indicate that negotiations between The Times Co. and the thirteen unions, that's right, thirteen, continue. I hope they've brought in some people from the Harvard Negotiation Project (i.e. the "Getting to Yes" experts) or, lacking that, at least a few folks with well-honed street-smarts who know really quick ways to give some and get some. Newest deadline is midnight, tonight, with large concessions from unions being reported in today's paper.
While the recent unflattering profile of Arthur J. Sulzberger, Jr., in Vanity Fair clearly was settling a few scores, it offers some background on the leadership schema against within which all of this is playing out. I wouldn't want to be a newspaper executive right now but as we're seeing in other industries, some leaders have the touch for leading in difficult times while others are just plain flat-footed.
I wish everyone involved in the Globe negotiations a great deal of equanimity today, as things come down to the wire, and my heart is really with the reporters, editors, designers, pressroom folks, indeed, everyone who makes their living as a result of what happens in the storied building on Morrissey Boulevard.
For those who question the power of networks, consider this. It was Mexico's "network of 11 disease surveillance units" that noticed the surge in cases of flu. Through simple pattern recognition across the network--when a critical mass of nodes shared information, epidemiologists were able to project doubling rates. See James F. Smith's article, "Network alerted Mexican officials to flu" in The Boston Globe's April 28, 2009, issue. (Long live the Globe, lest we forget that important story, i.e. tomorrow is May 1, deadline day, so to speak.)
Just wondering as the rhetoric of the past week seems pretty "showdown at the O.K. Corral" (although, as with many such things, apparently, according to the 'pedia, the original shootout didn't actually take place at the O.K. Corral...which, using my strange logic, might indicate that the paper won't be shuttered come Friday, May 1, after all???).
Key points, with which I agree: big hairy topic categories are old-fashioned, become extinct quickly, and are too all-pervasive for people to use them. Further, untended forums, i.e. without some kind of gentle prodding from bloggers (or moderators) generally dwindle to nothingness quickly. In the event "Director of Community Publishing Teresa M. Hanafin and her team miss the message," Ian republishes his thinking in his post.
For those following the Blog Rally to help the Boston Globe and the life-threatening diseases plaguing the newspaper industry, try this with your morning coffee: Erica Smith, who does multimedia and print design for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, provides a public-service project on her own time/dime, Paper Cuts. She's tracking the dwindling numbers of newspaper employees through pink slips and buyouts. (Thanks, Erica.)
The running total for the first 99 days of 2009? 8091 or approximately 82 jobs per day. That would mean about 30,000 jobs by the end of the year, excluding jobs that dissolve after someone leaves but is not replaced.
Paper Cuts' total "does include all newspaper jobs, from editor to ad rep,
reporter to marketing, copy editor to pressman, design to carrier, and
anyone else who works for a newspaper."
OK, you say, what's the news here, Jessica? We all know that the newspapers could be spokespeople for some miraculous diet drug, would that newspapers were people and they wanted to shrink.
Here's the scoopy part: Journalism school applications are up! Significantly! According to Lauren Streib's Forbes article, Journalism Bust, J-School boom, "Columbia, Stanford and NYU applications increased 38%, 20% and 6%,
respectively, from the previous year. Same thing at state schools. The
University of Colorado (up 11%), University of North Carolina (up 14%) and University of Maryland (up 25%) all saw gains."
And, ready for this? "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2016 the number of
positions for entry-level reporters and news anchors will increase 2%,
while those for experienced writers and editors will grow 10%. Expect
trade publications, freelance work and digital media to supply the bulk
of the jobs."
(Concerned as I am about the fate of newspapers, I'm joining "links" today with other bloggers who want to keep our hometown paper alive. My other posts about newspapers here.)
We, particularly those of us in New England, have all read recently about the threat of possible closure faced by the Boston Globe. A number of Boston-based bloggers who care about the continued existence of the Globe have banded together in conducting a blog rally. We are simultaneously posting this paragraph to solicit your ideas of steps the Globe could take to improve its financial picture:
We view the Globe as an important community resource. And, we think that lots of people in the region agree and might have creative ideas that might help in this situation. So, here's your chance. Please don't submit nasty comments or sarcasm: Use this forum for thoughtful and interesting steps you would recommend to the management that would improve readership, enhance the Globe's community presence, and make money. Who knows-- someone here might come up with an idea that will work, or at least help.
Thank you from the community of bloggers (and please feel free to pick this up and put on your blog).
Those of us living in the Greater Boston Globe area learned yesterday that the most familiar of sounds, the morning paper tossed into the driveway (or dropped on the front step or brushing our apartment doors) may soon be permanently silenced.
Yes, very grim. When the NY Times Company bought the Boston Globe back in 1993, some forward thinkers feared what was then perceived as the worst: that The Times management would turn the Globe into a regional paper.
And indeed not many years passed before that proved mostly true (though there remains, almost against all odds, some fantastic "Global" reporting going on). Foreign bureaus were closed and the non-New England news seemed to increasingly bear the label of a news service, often The New York Times News Service.
Another yes: all print media are suffering yaddayadda. But as others are saying, a newspaper is not just a business. It's a way to keep a society honest through investigative reporting, informed through plain old good journalism, and together through speaking with an unmistakable voice.
There are ways to solve this, New York Times Company, that fall outside the traditional means, axing everything in sight or demolishing the whole thing. We've already lost many of our best Boston reporters.
Thinking caps on, please. Fast. Yesterday's story gives the unions 30 days to make concessions. Make that 29 days. The response to yesterday's news is reflected in an article today and in the hundreds of comments on the Globe site itself.