Fisking from the Folger – Old News With Timely Relevance

Fisking is the practice of printing someone else’s writing with comments and rebuttals to the original opinion stated.

As we contemplate life without print newspapers as we’ve known them, and as everyone from ferry agencies to delicatessens publish print newsletters, the exhibit at the Folger Library in Washington D.C. offers the comforting thought that journalism is evolving, not dying. A new era of accessibility, (including comfort and reflection) and interactivity is dawning in civic journalism.

Regarding these developments, Philip Kennicott, Washington Post Staff Writer wrote on Monday, January 5, 2009:

If you learn about the world primarily from newspapers, the Folger Shakespeare Library‘s exhibition documenting the birth of journalism in the Renaissance will be a wistful affair. It’s like looking at baby pictures of a distinguished old relative who is now on life support. Look how vibrant, how youthful, how full of vinegar the old man was. Once upon a time, before the plummeting circulation, the shrinking ad revenue and the highly leveraged corporate owners.

But if you get your news primarily from the Internet, there’s nothing sad here at all.  Continue reading

Not going to take closing of paper lying down, Denver journalists start website

From the NY Times, Dec. 22, 2008
In Denver, a Web Site Tries to Save a Newspaper
DENVER — On Dec. 13, a group of staff members from The Rocky Mountain News gathered at the downtown Denver Press Club and agreed that they would no longer stand idle as their beloved paper careened closer and closer to a dire fate.

And they decided to use the Internet — widely credited with hastening the demise of newspapers — to get the job done.

The paper, known informally as The Rocky, had recently been put up for sale, with the distinct possibility it could close next year. The group of about 30 met for two hours trying to figure out how they could save one of Colorado’s oldest businesses, which has been churning out news here since before the Civil War. “The overall attitude at the meeting was that they weren’t going to sit around and do nothing,” said David Milstead, the paper’s finance editor.

In what staff members said was possibly the first effort of its kind, they decided to start a Web site,, so that readers could voice their support for the paper and The Rocky’s own employees could publicly make the case for its survival. Continue reading

Comfort, newspapers and electronic reading

NOTE: This post is written in an attempt to draw out factors that make electronic reading more comfortable and accessible. We welcome your comments to further this conversation.

Comfort has always been a primary element in my reading. I no longer read paperbacks, unless they’re the larger-sized “trade paperbacks,” as the tiny print and packed pages are not comfortable to read.

But now, sustainablility — the ability to continue to do something in a way that is protective of all our environment, including our economy — has become as important a consideration as comfort.

So let’s consider the pros and cons of paper vs. electronic news reporting and opinions: Continue reading

Blogs morph journalism

From print to blog, uncomfortable change. Forty years ago, I delivered our weekly neighborhood newspaper. I wanted to be a journalist, but my mom discouraged me, saying it was a rat race. When I looked into graduate school journalism, my state university only offered courses in television journalism. When I lived in NY City, and worked for an insurance annuity company, headlines from corner newsboxes announced the earth-shaking developments of Watergate. Just emerging from my apartment to the street every day was a thrilling adventure as the headlines screamed: EHRLICHMANN AND HALDEMAN RESIGN.

Finally, some 45 years later, after working for trade journals, video production companies, medical labs, publishers and internet marketers, I got my “dream job” as editor of my small-town newspaper.

I covered County Council, School Board, Fire District, and local Plan Review Committee meetings regularly. Our “local” issues are national issues too — immigration arrests, the crisis in public education funding, the environment and water supply, employment and the cost of housing. Not to mention breaking news incidents of eco-terrorism, neo-Nazism and personal rescues. I also reported on local stories that inspire for a lifetime — innovative new businesses, cultural exchanges, highly-renowned music and writing festivals, sustainable farming, and graduation from high school, alternative schools, and trade schools.

When I was lucky enough to get a reporter, we covered sports and more of the above stories. When I didn’t have a reporter, I relied more on community press releases and regional wire services. The Sounder website continues to be plagued by technological glitches and dated postings from spotty archives.

Now, I watch a bit of CNN, and a bit of Fox on TV. Every Friday, I watch Washington Week (a panel of journalists) on PBS. I read the NY Times and the Seattle Times Business Digest online, often after printing the articles out. I regularly read the print version of my community’s newspaper, and that of our two neighboring communities. Whenever I travel, I read the community newspaper.

I began a local, personal blog on Orcas Issues — not print journalism, in that it contains my personal reflections on public and civic matters. The perspective and promise of traditional journalism — to present a comprehensive, accurate, fair view of what’s happening in the world — is conveyed better through good print journalism than through television or internet media. This applies to local, regional, national and international news coverage.

Would we know about the conflicts in the Near East, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan or the conditions at Walter Reed Hospital or the firing of U.S. Attorneys if it weren’t for national and international news coverage?

We need a free press to be a free country. The business model of print journalism supported by advertising needs to advance into a more accessible form than the corner newsstand or even home deliverty, but it also needs to be more comfortable than glued to an electronic computer screen or, heaven forbid, a handheld device with minscule print.

What’s in your briefcase?

Emphasize “brief” when approaching new markets. Like a one-minute “elevator” speech that you use to introduce your work to serendipitous connections on an elevator, your portfolio should be easily accessible.

It should also contain material that you can bring out should a potential buyer want to see more.  I think it’s important to rehearse your approach before going into a store or a meeting, and it’s equally important to phrase your language, even to yourself, in attractive terms. So, don’t say, even to yourself, “I’m making a cold call.” Instead think, “I’m going to tell someone about a really good experience for them, getting to know me and my product.”

And I love to remind myself that, in Italian, that most romantic of modern languages, “work” is translated as “opera.”

I still use the expandable file folder with the book cover for “Fisherman’s Quilt” on the outside of the “briefcase” or portfolio that I greet new contacts with (with which I greet new contacts — I’m no preposition-dangler!)

Here’s what’s in my file:

My business card and tax registration business license in small plastic holders on the inside cover of the file;

sell sheets or one-page synopsis of my book and contact information;

extra book covers sent by the printer, with blurbs printed on the reverse, to leave with store owners for their display purposes;

press releases from publications;

order forms indicating discounts, purchaser information, ISBN number, contact information, delivery dates and amounts due (I leave one with purchaser and take the signed delivery copy with me for accounting);

a copy of my resume and marketing efforts listing websites, radio and cable interviews, newspaper articles, vendor accounts, tradeshow appearances, classes and presentations;

targeted promotional materials such as brochures for quilt shows or book fairs, signs for festival discounts, Amazon comment solicitation letters, individualized store posters;

8 x 11 inch poster for tabletop display during book signings and collapsible book display stands;

a copy of “The Fisherman’s Quilt” and the first volume of Port Gamble Publishing’s Newsletters.

Enjoy the opera!

Remembering John Lennon: “indelicate, but spot on”

From the New York Times, Nov. 25, 2008 a letter by Peter Brown:

“Church Forgives John Lennon ‘Boast’ ” (news article, Nov. 23), on the Vatican’s “forgiveness” of John Lennon’s 1966 remark that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” missed an important point. Apparently so did the Vatican.

John’s remark was not a boast or a blasphemy. He was pointing out the absurdity of the Beatles’ fame, which at that point was at its madding zenith. For anyone who knew John Lennon, the observation was typical: indelicate, but spot on. He neither sought nor required forgiveness, only understanding.

Peter Brown

New York, Nov. 24, 2008

The writer, the Beatles’ personal assistant and manager, was best man at John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s wedding in 1969.

With everything else going on these days, print journalism threatened by electronic news blogs that don’t have the same standards of impartiality and accuracy as traditional journalism, hats off to Peter Brown for reminding us of the divergent worldview of John Lennon, a flawed genius who set the tone for the late 20th century.

Letters to newspapers (online and print) are so important to set the record straight, add personal feelings and give voice to supportive and divergent views.

When I was editor of the Islands Sounder, I was so proud of the letters section in the paper that showed an informed, responsive, involved and appreciative community.

Let your voice be heard — it doesn’t have to be perfect to be eloquent.

Independent Publishing Retrospective

January 5, 2008

A retrospective and a look forward seem called-for in this issue of the Port Gamble Publishing newsletter. Since last I wrote, I attended several conferences, speaking on self-publishing. Although my trips off-island have been severely curtailed by the time crunch in getting the weekly newspaper that I edit to the newsstands (my days “off” are Sundays and Tuesdays), in September and October, I traveled to the mainland four times to attend five book publishing and/or book selling events: Book Publishers’ NW “Business of Books” conference at Discover University in Seattle The Whatcom Association of Writers monthly meeting in Bellingham Pacific NW Booksellers Association in Bellevue Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds La Conner Quilt Festival At the BPNW Business of Books conference, (where my assigned topic was “Genre: memoir or novel”), I engaged in one of my favorite pastimes – predicting the future. Here’s what I see as upcoming trends in books: Travel morphing into multi-cultural consciousness a la Marty Essen Cool Creatures, Hot Planet, written “to entertain and enlighten my readers and to defend animals who aren’t considered warm and cuddly;” and Small World Productions’ new video series, Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Purpose Little books Animal stories, building on the Marley and Me phenomenon Tom Master, author of Blogging Quick & Easy: A Planned Approach to Blogging Success presented recent innovations in publishing, with strong emphasis on Internet “inventions” such as book trailers, widgets, blogs, RSS feeds, as ways to approach new readers and build an audience. He suggested exploring such sites as Digg (for web content) Lifehacker and Techno Easy (for managing websites), and blogs such as Frank Warren’s and
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A Season of Nostalgia

August 28, 2007

This has been a season of nostalgia, as I attended a family reunion and a school reunion and worked on my memoirs, The Wild and Holy Child, (you can see its progress at

Summer began with my purchase, at Jennie Pederson’s Darvill’s Bookstore in Eastsound, of Lincoln’s Sword – as in “the pen is mightier than.” As a journalist and author as well as publisher, I was inspired to read that Lincoln could return immediately to his train of thought after being interruptedWeeding out interruptions is for most of us a vital part of writing discipline, but it’s both reassuring and inspiring to know that as masterful a writer as Lincoln could, either naturally or by training, turn back to the task at hand after being interrupted. (He also apparently was a comma addict.) I can never learn enough about Lincoln, and it always arouses new admiration for him.
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Fulfillment of a Lifelong Dream

May 31, 2007

For the past six months, I’ve been challenged in managing my time like never before, with the fulfillment of a lifelong dream – I’ve become the editor of the community newspaper. With this position, I knew my marketing time and travel would be severely cut, but I resolved that my two oldest friends, writing and singing, would not be abandoned. I was warned that my new job would “eat me up” and I determined to set benchmarks to prevent that from happening. The first was to eat one meal a day with my husband. Three months later I added the “privilege” of taking two days off in a row at least once a month.
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An Earnest Winter

January 12, 2007

Our winter started in earnest late November, with a heavy wet snowfall that broke the limbs off our huge grandfather evergreens, followed by a day of fierce northeasterly winds, and then a day of temperatures in the teens. In the middle of December winds hit down Sound the week before Christmas, and many were without power for a week. Finally on December 21, winter officially began. Today, after another snowfall, temperatures are below freezing, the wind is howling again and it’s as grey, vicious and gloomy as it can get. People have been grieving the sight of many stripped, broken, and uprooted grand trees, as if one of the few things we could count on was missing. The storms did set many people back in their holiday bustle, which may be a good thing. People had an excuse for not decorating to the hilt, or sending out cards “On time.” As if there’s an exclusive period to wish each other peace, cheer and good fortune. I’ve been hearing more about the “Season of Peace,” the 64 days from Jan. 30, the date of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, to April 4, the date of Martin Luther King’s murder. This observance began in 1998 by Gandhi’s grandson, and has been organized by the Association for Global New Thought in Illinois. Sydney Salt, the national coordinator for the Season of Nonviolence said, “It’s not just about honoring those who are working to make peace, but also about actually taking the action in your own hands and doing your part to live a nonviolent life.”
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