It’s Friday, yay! Hope the start of your May is going well. I’m glad to be back in the blogging saddle after a little bit of a hiatus. And speaking of saddles, I’ll also be watching the Kentucky Derby tomorrow afternoon and sipping on a refreshing Mint Julep. What a way to kick off the homestretch month before the start of summer. So, if you’re also enjoying a refreshing cocktail (or two) this weekend, here are a few posts of interest to read as well–enjoy!
Ditch the Corporate Speak from PR Writing by @ArikHanson:
I recently laughed out loud (yes, I mean LOL’d) at a press release sent by a former employer. It said so much and so little in two pages that it was clearly a case of corporate speak running over common sense.
Arik Hanson presents an interesting challenge to PR pro’s to take a stand against the over-use of corporate buzzwords in press releases.
I am guilty of committing many of those terms, as many of us are, as they’ve engrained themselves into the corporate dialect that many leaders just assume the common consumer/stakeholder uses them too. It’s more of a learning curve that PR folks need to catch their corporate clients up to speed on how to clearly communicate messages without muddying the waters with too much jargon.
Ten Most Censored Countries by @pressfreedom:
May 3 was World Press Freedom Day but not all the world’s press is “free”
This report from the Committee to Protect Journalists reminds us of the reality that many members of the international press face with limited rights as journalists or photographers. It is especially concerning since many of the countries listed are areas of civil unrest and who knows how much of the story is getting out to the world, such as in Syria
Lessons Advertising Can Learn from PR by Timothy Kane via @AdAge:
I did not expect to read this article in Ad Age of all places—from my experience, PR and advertising (or marketing) always battled over budget and were expected to “play nice in the sandbox” together. (Oh, how I hated that phrase, but that’s another topic.)
What this article does so well is help articulate an advantage of public relations- that of connecting and communicating with a community, which is directly relevant to the way social media works. Social media is more than just one-way communication of the brand to the consumer; consumers today want a personal connection or the ability to articulate what makes them prefer a product.
So, if this trend continues, and social communications makes a few in-roads for PR to have a seat at the strategic table, I think it speaks to a need for an integrated communications team composed of people from all communications aspects. I think we’re going to need a bigger sandbox!
Breaking Free of Patterns and Routines by @chrisbrogan:
Here’s a post that made me really think. Personally, I am a creature of habit, both at work and at home. I have my routines that comfort me because I know things get done when they work. But after reading Chris Brogan’s reflective post this week, it made me realize that I might also become trapped by those patterns.
It’s not easy to just say, “oh well, I guess I’ll change my pattern” because we’re human and some of those patterns are necessary (like law enforcement or utilities). However, that doesn’t mean we can’t think of creative ways to break up our usual patterns to see how it might positively affect our outcomes.
That’s a lot to think about and I appreciate Mr. Brogan for positing that consideration…I’ll see if I can get to pondering it outside of my pattern ;)
As always, feel free to share any links or posts you found this week as well. Have a great weekend!
A few months ago, I listed my favorite fictional journalism characters. I had meant to write this follow-up post about my real-life favorite journalists sooner, but I got a little side-tracked.
As many of you already know, I originally studied print journalism in the hopes of becoming a crusading, do-gooder newspaper reporter.
That didn’t quite pan out as I had expected.
Regardless of my actual career path, I sometimes remember those days of studying journalism and immersing myself in a world of mass media.
I always kept a mental list of those I consider my favorite journalists or my journalism heroes. Here are a few I’d like to share:
A reporter, an author, and perhaps one of the best storytellers I’ve had the opportunity to hear in person, Mr. Halberstam stood for the kind of reporter I had aspired to be like one day.
He reported from some of the most tumultuous environments of the 1960’s, from Vietnam to the segregated South. But he never lost his commitment to telling compelling stories that illustrated the larger picture. In doing so, Mr. Halberstam was preserving moments in our history that now stand the test of time and remind us of how far we have come.
As someone who has worked for everything in her life and has never had anything “handed” to her, I can appreciate Mr. Cooper’s dedication to broadcast journalism and to foreign reporting despite the fact he comes from a highly prestigious pedigree.
I also feel like I saw his career progress over the years—from Channel One in high school, to a foreign correspondent for ABC News, to not recognizing him as the silver-haired news anchor on CNN, to the personable daytime talk show host he his today. Mr. Cooper also demonstrated a dedication to those about whom he was reporting and raised the bar with watchdog journalism when he keeps those in power in check.
Yes, that cantankerous commentator deserves a place on my list. The reason being is that he inspired me to get fired up about what mattered to me and to express my thoughts and opinions. Often, after watching Mr. Rooney’s final thoughts on “60 Minutes,” I would write my rebuttal to him at my Brother brand word processor. (I realize how nerdy that must sound, but I must confess my geeky journalism past…)
I never sent any of my responses to Mr. Rooney, nor did I ever let anyone read them for fear of embarrassment. But it was always a cathartic experience to explain my feelings to him, and I realize it taught me to feel passionate about what really matters to me.
Anyone else have a favorite journalist to share? What about your particular communications field (PR, marketing, advertising, etc.)—any communications heroes you’d like to recognize?
Happy Friday, all! Are you ready for the holidays next week? It’s hard to believe this month has gone by that quickly. What I’m most looking forward to is spending Christmas with my family back home in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. I’m sure lots of you are also getting ready for holiday travels and house guests. If you have some free time this weekend in between last-minute shopping and prepping for the holidays, here are this week’s links and posts of interest to share–enjoy!
Seven Blogging Tips to Drop Right Now (by Mayra via @DannyBrown):
One blogging tip I follow frequently is to pay attention to tips other bloggers share. So, when I read something like Mayra’s column about the seven blogging tips to ditch and why, it makes me stop in my tracks and give it a read.
She doesn’t so much explain to ditch these tips for the sake of ditching them (because any blogger will recognize them), but rather, she reasons that they often tend to take the fun and organic nature out of blogging. I agree that blogging should be fun, and everyone has different time and resources to put into their blogs. And to each his or her own :)
Public Relations Perception and Messages in the Media (by @jepotts):
Sometimes, it’s hard to take the PR out of a person when you see a news story or follow a hot topic in the media. Jonathan Potts, who writes a very smart PR blog, noticed tone in the media coverage of a fight of words between a health system and an insurance company in Pittsburgh. He shared that as PR folks, we’re often analyzing the tone of a story and rating it if it is positive, negative or neutral.
But it’s also important to note if, regardless of tone, your key messages are getting into the coverage. Tone may change, but those key messages won’t, and it’s easy to get swept up in the media storm and forget the importance of message. I liked the clarity of that thought from Mr. Potts, and he gets bonus points for suggesting a content analysis of news stories, because that appeals to the PR geek in me.
Elements of Style Rap Video (via @juliemmoos):
Anyone who went to journalism school knows the Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk, Jr. In fact, I still have my copy from my undergrad days upstairs in my bookcase of forgotten books. So, it was fun to see this video produced by Columbia Journalism students to showcase their rapping styles and general journalism nerdiness. Seeing how creative these guys were, I wonder what kind of rap PR folks could come up with? (Read: open challenge for anyone who does a PR rap—think of words that rhyme with “press release” and “key message”)
Science Cheerleaders Break Stereotypes (by @allieharch on @geekadelphia):
And since I’m on a geeky kick, I feel like sharing something completely different…
I have recently started following the Geekadelphia blog, and a post from this week bought to my attention the Science Cheerleaders organization. It’s made up of women who are professional cheerleaders but also hold multiple science degrees. They work to break the stereotypes of women in many ways—that cheerleaders aren’t airheads and that women can be successful in the sciences. The video embedded in this post is very inspirational and makes me wish I hadn’t put down my pom-poms in junior high. Go, science!
Did you come across any links or articles of interest this week? Feel free to share them and have a wonderful weekend :)
Last week, a story erupted the entire “are bloggers journalists?” debate:
A judge ruled in Oregon that a blogger based in Montana was not a journalist, as she was not affiliated with any specific media outlet, and therefore, not able to claim shield law protection from revealing sources in a defamation lawsuit.
The court fined the blogger a huge, freaking fine to boot—to the tune of $2.5 million dollars.
Upon first reading this article, I felt a little enraged because I wanted to root for the blogger.
The fact that the court allowed the $2.5 million fine of a regular citizen (and not someone who actually has that much money, like Bill Gates) leads me to believe this is little more than making a case of someone for the sake of argument.
But I kept my opinion to myself as more details bubbled up over the weekend regarding the details of the case.
Since last week, I can’t say I have as much sympathy for the blogger as I did before, although I still hold that the fine is ridiculous.
Part of my opinion was swayed by David Carr’s well-researched column in yesterday’s New York Times, where he points out the blogger’s pattern of vindictiveness.
No wonder the blogger in the case had a knack for criticism.
If there is one thing that blogging has opened the door to, it’s allowing anyone to voice their negative opinions about anything—from corporate entities, to restaurants, to customer service, to whatever-you-name-it. There’s even a blog about bad drivers in L.A!
But does black-balling a company or targeting an individual online with insults to their character the mark of a journalist?
Perhaps when it comes to political reporting, when things can get kind of messy.
All these details aside, it still doesn’t help solve the question of whether or not bloggers can be considered journalists if they employ the same news-gathering tactics and publish content for an interested public.
Think about it—if I could be considered a journalist by employing the same tactics, but with no affiliation to any news entity, then why did I bother studying journalism in college?
Why do we study anything if we can just get jobs based on experience and skills?
I know, there are a lot of rhetorical questions in this post. And per usual, I’m not coming across clearly in my opinion on the matter.
The reason being is that I can clearly see both sides of the argument, with maybe a little bias toward the journalists, because I paid good money to be trained and educated not only on the skills, but also on the ethics and law involved in journalism.
Maybe journalists can take a page from PR and attempt at developing a more clear definition of the position. It’s obvious that the current definition, if you look at Merriam-Webster, is open to interpretation.
The PRSA has started an initiative to define public relations, and it’s spurred a discussion among PR professionals.
It would be interesting to see a journalism professional organization follow suit, take up the momentum of this blogger case, and work toward a more cohesive definition of the term journalist.
Until then, it may be up to case law to define it, as did the judge in Oregon.
Either way, this discussion is far from over, so it will make for an interesting next couple of years as it churns some more.
What do you think, either of the blogger vs. journalists definition or of this case in particular? How would you define a journalist?
Image courtesy of this blog post on the topic of journalism vs. blogging.
Ms. Avines’ post struck a chord with me because I’m both a movie geek who happened to study journalism.
Being as it is, it’s fun to see heroes/heroines of the Fourth Estate on the silver screen, mostly because of the dramatic overtones and exaggerated scenarios.
Even the films based on fact have to be inflated a little to add to the theatric experience.
If there was ever a movie based on my experience as a print reporter, it might be kind of boring—scenes of the reporter in front of a computer, the phone interview, driving to and from City Hall, maybe stopping at Starbucks, waiting for the managing editor to stop gabbing with the sports writer so he’ll finally get around to reviewing my story that’s due at 4:00 p.m…oh, the drama!
Inspired by the films of journalism, I thought it would be fun to list a few of my favorite fictional journalism characters from film (both big screen and little, so there’s more room for the “fictional” term).
Murray Slaughter, News Writer (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)
You’d think a girl from Minneapolis would have picked Mary Tyler Moore. Did you know there’s a statue of her in downtown Minneapolis in front of the department store where she threw her hat in the opening? I digress…
I always sort of identified with the forever-suffering Murray, who wrote wonderful news copy that Ted Baxter would butcher night after night. I liked Murray because he was the content creator and a writer like I aspired to be one day. Since I never wanted to be in front of the camera, I decided if I went into broadcast, I wanted be the “Murray” behind the scenes instead.
Murphy Brown, Investigative Journalist (Murphy Brown)
Talk about a great fictional role model for young women! I was too young to get most of the social overtones on this program, but I was old enough to recognize that Murphy Brown was a smart, dedicated, and passionate journalist.
Sure, she had a child out of wedlock and couldn’t keep a secretary or seem to finish painting her house, but Murphy Brown symbolized how far women had come in the field of journalism. She could hold her own against the boys club and still show her vulnerability as a mother or as a sympathetic friend to her colleagues.
Hildy Johnson, Reporter (His Girl Friday)
As a huge fan of classic Hollywood films, I fell in love with this movie and its heroine, who attempts to shrug off working as a reporter in favor of marrying away.
Slapstick and stereotypes aside, I liked how the male editor antagonist, the dashing Cary Grant, needed Hildy in order to get a huge scoop. He knew she had the skills and the drive to pursue the story. And Hildy discovers she actually thrives on reporting and investigating stories (and occasionally getting into sticky situations, like this film’s main premise). I guess by getting Cary Grant in the end, she gets the best of both worlds as a wife and a reporter.
Harrison Lloyd, Photojournalist (Harrison’s Flowers)
I’ve always had a deep admiration for war correspondents, perhaps because they endanger their own lives in order to tell a story for others. This film centers on a photojournalist whose life we see through his wife’s journey to find him in the war-torn former Yugoslavia. In doing so, we learn about his dedication to capturing moments in time, as horrific as some may be.
The film also depicts how photojournalists band together in war zones and explains how they do what they do, a topic all too real when photojournalists are injured and even killed in combat zones.
And although he didn’t make the cut, I couldn’t help but include a shout-out to Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman” as probably the funniest portrayal of a fictional television news anchor (no disrespect to Ted Baxter):
So, these are a few of my favorite fictional journalism characters. What about you? Who are your favorite journalism characters in film?