Barabara Ehrenreich gave the old “It’s a calling” speech to graduating students at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism a couple of weeks ago. The speech was reproduced in the San Francisco Chronicle today. Despite instructions from the Dean to be upbeat, she starts off on a rather gloomy note, no doubt making all the parents at the ceremony weep into their programs. But she’s right that there does seem to be something so compelling about the art of journalism, or the act of it, that makes people do it for free.
Here’s a chunk from the beginning:
So let’s get the worst out of the way right up front: You are going to be trying to carve out a career in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. You are furthermore going to be trying to do so within what appears to be a dying industry. You have abundant skills and talents – it’s just not clear that anyone wants to pay you for them.
Here’s my latest piece of video journalism: a post to the New York Times’ blog, The Local.The story features Tom Reingold, a resident of Maplewood, NJ who fixes up bikes in his basement and gives them away. He’s a bit of a minor celebrity in town for his prolific posts on the main town website.The video is part of my series of profiles of people doing interesting things in their basement. My theory is that it’s down underground where the suburbs get interesting.
Roxana Saberi talks about her 100 days of imprisonment in Iran to NPR. She says she was forced to confess and when she recanted her confession was rushed to trial. Saberi went on hunger strike for two weeks and only stopped apparently when her mother threatened a hunger strike of her own.
A friend of mine, a foreign correspondent, who worked with Saberi in Iran, says he warned her that the climate was getting too hot there and suggested she leave. She apparently is not a quitter.
Here’s my latest story for poynter.org. about a student newspaper, the Minnestoa Daily, using an experimental Facebook application to draw readers to its website. The application rewards readers with points for, say, sharing stories, posting them, writing a letter to the editor, and high points scorers cash them in for prizes – like tickets to see the Minnesota Twins.
It’s still in the experimental phase, but what’s interesting about Facebook is the sharing ethic which allows the newspaper to push news to readers, rather than just sitting there and waiting for readers to come.
White House reporters were miffed that they were shut out of a covering a session of hoops Prez Obama shot with a University of Connecticut basketball team visiting the White House. What particularly irked them was that the White House covered the event itself and put out it’s own video, complete with logo and all.
With all the talk of dying newspapers, I am proud to report that it was a British newspaper – The Telegraph (or Torygraph as it is fondly known in the UK for its political bent) – which exposed the scandalous abuse by British Members of Parliament of their expense accounts and has brought the British government to its knees. The speaker of the House of Parliament, Michael Martin, has finally quit amid heated calls for his resignation for mishandling the scandal. The outlandish expenses claims – which include thousands for home renovations, plasma TVs, a thousand pound rocking chair – were secret until this week when The Telegraph published details of the expenses claims which were leaked to them. Here’s the coverage in The Telegraph. Other newspapers have picked up the story, the British public is said to be disgusted by the misuse of taxpayers funds and Gordon Brown’s government is in tatters.
Check out New York Times financial reporter Edmund Andrews’ very frank confession about his personal credit crisis. It’s touching, human and undoubtedly echoes the experience of many Americans. Hobbled by alimony payments from his divorce, he finds love with an old high-school friend. They buy a house they can’t afford at a time when mortgage loans were being handed out like candy. Pretty soon his American Dream is crashing down around his ears and the creditors are calling. The article is an excerpt from his new book. You can’t help but hope the book will become a bestseller and get him out of his financial bind.
This just in from Josh Jezioro, a student of mine, who was rightly outraged that the tabloids may have sunk to a new low. Brooke Shields claims a National Enquirer reporter checked her mom out of a nursing home all for the sake of a story. The 75-year-old Teri Shields, apparently suffers from dementia. LINK.
The New York Times is going to raise the cost of each issue to $2 in June, up from $1.50. The Sunday paper will cost $5.00. It seems like a suicide bid given the straightened times, but it’s an indication of how desperate the paper is. Reporters there have accepted a 5% pay cut and sections are being axed left and right. Subscriptions are not increasing – yet, but they’re not making any promises. LINK.