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.

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.

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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Quiet Saturday Afternoon

July 15, 2006

The first quiet Saturday afternoon in ages, I look back on the past six weeks at the publishing and musical activities that have consumed my time. It feels like a forest fire has swept over the landscape of my life. It’s nice to know that back home, I can still crawl back into bed on a sunny summer day at noon to read and doze, and once again recall some of the book publishing and musical activities of the past month and a half. Continue reading