Archives for September 2008
From the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) website:
2005: 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners
2006: 79,000 participants and 13,000 winners
2007: 101,510 participants and 15,333 winners
A “winner” is one who actually completes the challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November.
Not a great success rate.
Last year, I gave serious consideration to participating. But I don’t write fiction and when it came time to think of a plot, premise, characters . . . let’s just say that my mind was the proverbial blank slate. And somebody stole the chalk.
The “why” of this exercise continues to intrigue me. The organizers describe the program’s purpose this way:
NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines. Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Alfalfa will be harvested like never before. And novels will be written in a month.
Part of the reason we organize NaNoWriMo is just to get a book written. We love the fringe benefits accrued to novelists. For one month out of the year, we can stew and storm, and make a huge mess of our apartments and drink lots of coffee at odd hours. And we can do all of these things loudly, in front of people. As satisfying as it is to reach deep within yourself and pull out an unexpectedly passable work of art, it is equally (if not more) satisfying to be able to dramatize the process at social gatherings.
But that artsy drama window is woefully short. The other reason we do NaNoWriMo is because the glow from making big, messy art, and watching others make big, messy art, lasts for a long, long time. The act of sustained creation does bizarre, wonderful things to you. It changes the way you read. And changes, a little bit, your sense of self. We like that.
It still doesn’t resonate with me.
The real reason might be that I am all too familiar with “the magical power of deadlines.” As a litigator, I live and breathe deadlines all day, every day. It is my job to meet deadlines or my clients suffer the consequences in the form of rights lost, claims abandoned, damages forever unrecoverable. To be totally honest, there is a big part of me that instinctively rebels. “Another deadline? Fuhgetaboutit.”
I’m all in favor of “big, messy art,” but I’m not convinced that it has to be created in 30 days. I’m also not sold on the idea that writing 1,667 words per day just to say that you wrote something is the most productive way to approach novel-writing. Or any form of writing, for that matter. So that’s the third reason I won’t be participating. For me, having to comply with the word requirement and 30-day deadline would eliminate any possibility of writing with the “gleeful, anything-goes approach” the organizers describe. On the contrary, I would feel pressured, constrained, and compelled to finish. Those emotions would squelch my creative energy.
The fourth and final reason I won’t be participating is that I simply do not have the time. I have too many professional commitments, including a lot of business travel, scheduled for November. I also have personal endeavors that I am not willing to give up in order to devote time to this activity.
That so few people are actually “winners” is, at least at first glance, troubling. I wonder how many of those who did not write the requisite number of words kept working on their novel and finished later. I wonder how many decided that the time constraint simply did not work for them, but kept writing in their own time. I wonder how many gave up within the first few days, finding that writing an average of 1,667 words per day was simply too overwhelming.
NaNoWriMo is an empowering, inspirting, and motivating program that benefits a lot of people. Instead of saying, “Someday I’m going to write a novel,” the organizers believe that “[t]he structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START.” It’s just not right for me.
I will be cheering on those bloggers who opt in and hope that the program has a higher completion rate this year than in years past.
Have you participated in the past? Are you participating this year? What are your thoughts on the number of winners vs. participants? Why do you think that so few people actually reach the goal? To those of you who plan to paricipate, what obstacles will you have to overcome to be a winner?
Alex Smith presents How to Teach Kids Self Defense Without Teaching Them Martial Arts posted at TBO-Tech.
Fiona Lohrenz presents After School Daycare Curriculum – What’s The Best Approach? posted at Child Care Only.
The folks at Sunday Stealing rip off a meme from another blogger each Sunday. They give full credit and a link back to that author’s site, of course — and invite everyone to play along. This week, the “More About Me Me Me” meme comes from Poppingbubbles’s Weblog. She lifted it from I Read Banned Books, but it was originated by avitable
More About Me Me Me
My favorite age: Current.
My best friend(s): Rob, Lynette, Barb, Jackie, Joyce, Chingle.
My celebrity crush: Current: Jon Hamm. Former: Gandolfini.
My defining characteristic: Drive.
My most evil moment: I argued Conservatorship of Wendland before the California Supreme Court on May 30, 2001. Immediately after the oral argument, media representatives descended upon us. In particular, Good Morning, America interviewed all counsel — separately. The next morning, I turned on the broadcast and saw that my arrogant, obnoxious, overly-self-confident opposing counsel, James Braden, got the opening closeup shot and accompanying soundbite: “We lost this case today.” The best revenge is victory.
1. Wearing my favorite sweaters, enjoying the chilly nights and mornings, seeing all of the changing colors of the leaves, visiting the Pumpkin Patch, and playing the piano with the Stockton Symphonic Winds on October 7, 2008, are some of the things I’m most looking forward to in October.
2. Sometimes I watch reality television programs, including Project Runway, Top Chef, and Work Out. Can you believe the way Kenley dissed Tim Gunn? What nerve! “Holler at your boy” Suede got the boot, but I was hoping she would be eliminated.
3. My career path has taken a couple of twists and turns that I initially resisted and that’s why there is a saying, “never say never”!
4. When I’m down, I spend time by myself.
5. At home is where you’ll find me most often (when I’m not working).
6. A rainy day is good for blogging, reading, and practicing my musical instruments.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to this event:
Tomorrow my plans include brunch with the brides, and Sunday, I want to practice my flute and piano music for the upcoming concert, complete online traffic school, do the laundry, and get some work finished before Monday morning rolls around again!
Pat Ruppel at Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom is one of my favorite bloggers. Recently, she wrote Defining Words, discussing a theory about language, i.e., that one, single word can be used to describe a city, the dominant mindset of its citizens or . . . an individual.
I have many writing tools to which I turn regularly, including, of course, the dictionary and thesaurus, as well as many books by an eclectic group of authors about the techniques and magic of writing.
But imagine for a moment that all of the tools upon which you rely are not available. Further, pretend that you have been asked to write an autobiography. And you must do so using just one word. Just one. One.
Consider your life right now. What is the one word that describes how you respond to the world around you, what dominates your thoughts and dreams, how you envision yourself (which may be very different from how other people might describe you)? Has that one descriptive word changed over the years? Do you think it might change in the future?
I spent some time thinking about those questions and concluded that the word I would use has not changed over the course of many years and I do not believe it will change.
The word I would use is: Driven.
I look forward to reading your one-word responses! However, if you want to elaborate on your own site, leave a link so that we can all visit and read your explanation!
Family Cooking & Recipes
Alex presents Mango Salsa Recipe Selection posted at Home Life Weekly. Alex has put together “a great selection of salsa dips which taste gorgeous on tortilla chips, chicken and fish” for your enjoyment.
Donna Freedman presents Breakfast on the fly, and on the cheap posted at Smart Spending. “Fall means that school is back in session — no more lazy breakfasts,” Donna writes. “If you’re pressed for time, or if your kids claim it’s too early to eat, try some of these do-ahead or on-the-fly repasts. They’re easy, nutritious and, best of all, a lot cheaper than those individually wrapped cereal bowls.”
Stephanie presents Quick Breads: a treat for now or a gift for later. posted at Make It From Scratch.
Family Crafts and Activities
Steward presents How to Make Your Child A Millionare! posted at My Family’s Money, offering “an interesting take on ‘saving’ for our kids.” Steward suggest that, “instead of giving our children lots of money when we die, we should give them a trust fund for the purpose of giving it all away.”
Silicon Valley Blogger presents The Only 3 Reasons Why People Go Bankrupt posted at The Digerati Life. Bankruptcy impacts and strains family relationships and can lead to the dissolution of the family. This author provides an in-depth look at the phenomenon.
Family Health and Wellness
Shamelle presents Sleep Deprived? 7 Ways To Revive Your Tired Body And Stay Energized After A Sleep Deprived Night posted at Enhance Life.
Alex Blackwell presents Seven Powerful Techniques to Ignite the Fire Inside posted at The BridgeMaker.
jill presents Down Under Where?! posted at Jungle Jill Down Under. “My middle-aged parents’ geography often gets a little muddled, to humorous effects,” Jill tells us. She shares some of “my parents’ best geography gaffs, particularly those related to Australia.”
Living By Learning presents Zoo Karma posted at On Living By Learning about “finding a friend at the zoo.”
Alvaro Fernandez presents Games for the Brain posted at SharpBrains: Your Window into the Brain Fitness Revolution.
Matt M presents Never Release Hobby Fish Into The Wild posted at The Pet Haven, providing an important warning. “Sometimes the family fish grow too big for the tank. It’s important not to release those fish into the local ponds.”
Laura Scarborough presents deep impact posted at Adventures in Juggling, sharing “a fresh view of the life changing events that have taken place here under the Big Top this past year. My 16 year old daughter as guest blogger shares her perspective and mama is so proud.”
Brip Blap presents how to be a good partner to a stay-at-home spouse posted at brip blap. “It’s tough being a stay-at-home parent, and tough being the spouse of a stay-at-home parent,” so Brip Blap offers some suggested ways to help.
Kelly Sonora presents 50 Divorce Blogs to Find Advice and Comfort in Hard Times posted at Soul Mating.
Vicky presents Katie in London: A Book to Introduce Kids to the Capital posted at Little Legends Blog. “If you are planning a trip to London,” Vicky says, “you will enjoy this novel way to introduce your children to some of the most famous sites.”
Parenting Tips and Advice
Thank you all for participating in the Carnival this week!
Submit a blog article for the September 29, 2008, Edition of the Carnival, hosted at Colloquium, by clicking here!
The Carnival archive can be viewed here.
Judd Corizan, from whom I acquired The Rising Blogger, operates Sunday Stealing. Each Sunday, they rip off a meme from another blogger — giving full credit and a link back to that author’s site, of course — and invite everyone to play along.
All About Me
Complete each sentence.
I am . . . hard-working.
I think . . . that I need to figure out a way to think less, especially late at night so that I can get more sleep!
I know . . . that God exists.
I have . . . a wonderful job that I really enjoy for which I am thankful every day.
I wish . . . that Alec Baldwin was wrong about the parental alienation phenomenon and am glad that someone is finally speaking out on the issue. I will be writing more on this topic soon.
I hate . . . dishonesty more than anything.
I fear . . . for this nation if John McCain and Sarah Palin are elected in November.
I hear . . . a soft Delta breeze wafting through my window — it sounds and feels lovely.
I smell . . . cheese sticks . . . Mattie-Boo is microwaving a snack.
I crave . . . some of those cheese sticks, but will not succumb to temptation.
I search . . . for truth on a daily basis. I’ll let you know when I find it.
I wonder . . . why the people who are promoting Proposition 8 — the California initiative that would overturn the Supreme Court decision confirming that the right to marry is assured to all persons on an equal basis — can’t just live their lives the way they see fight and allow other people to live theirs the same way . . . in peace.
I regret . . . nothing because regret is a useless exercise and complete waste of my scarcest resource, i.e., time.
I love . . . autumn and am delighted to see the leaves beginning to change color.
I ache . . . for my dear friend, Debra, who is undergoing treatment for a rare form of lymphoma after surviving colon cancer more than ten years ago.
I am not . . . inclined to judge others about their life choices. I don’t have enough time to thoroughly deal with my own issues . . . I can’t waste any of it second-guessing others.
I believe . . . that there is no such thing as happenstance.
I dance . . . The Time Warp every Halloween . . . just to hear my kids say, “No, Mom. Just . . . NO! That is wrong on so many levels” while rolling their eyes.
I sing . . . with the radio while I am driving.
I cry . . . rarely.
I fight . . . injustice.
I win . . . every verbal battle with BigBob. He’s a nonverbal person.
I lose . . . my composure and laugh heartily when BigBob zings me with one of his infamous left-field nonsequiturs.
I never . . . lie. Ever. Sometimes that gets me into trouble.
I always . . . tell my kids that they are smart, handsome, and capable.
I confuse . . . myself. ‘Nuff said.
I listen . . . intently when a judge is speaking to me or my client.
I can usually be found . . . in a baggy night-shirt when I am at home, so call before you come over!
I am scared . . . more about the possibility of losing my eyesight than about anything else.
I need . . . to get to the gym and work out in the pool every single day in order to be optimally healthy and energetic.
I am happy about . . . too many things to list here!
I imagine . . . what my life would have been like if I had made different choices merely as an intellectual exercise. I don’t believe in regret.
Judd Corizan, from whom I acquired The Rising Blogger, recently launched Sunday Stealing. Each Sunday, he rips off a meme from another blogger — giving full credit and a link back to that author’s site, of course — and invite everyone to play along.
This week, Judd, et al. ripped off The Meme About Blogging from Momma at Momma Blogs A Lot. Actually, this particular meme bears some similarity to the What’s Your Story? exercise that was popular in 2007.
Participating in this writing exercise presents an opportunity to pause, reflect, and enunciate your perspectives on blogging. If you do not have a blog, you can adapt the questions to focus on why you write. I hope that many of you will take a few minutes to contemplate and respond to the questions. Feel free to provide your answers in the form of a comment or post a link to your own post!
1. How long have you been blogging?
I founded Colloquium in March 2005.
2. Any advice to beginners?
It it best to establish your own domain from the outset, but if you are undecided about the name or overall concept, you might wish to begin by using a free software platform like Blogger or WordPress. You can transition to your own domain later, although there are associated drawbacks.
Bloggers should acquaint themselves with prudent, conservative blogging practices and judiciously abide by those guidelines. For instance, you must pick the topics you blog about carefully,never revealing information about your employer, fellow employees, and professional pursuits. The most important things to keep in mind are: 1) You are never truly anonymous online, even if you select and utilize a pseudonym; and 2) everything you write and publish online will remain there indefinitely, even if you delete your entire blog. Caches are forever!
For more information, refer to my six-part series: Your Online Writing Life: Protect Your Reputation — and Future.
3. What are the good things blogging has brought to your life?
I have “met” some wonderful blogging friends and associates, most particularly my colleagues at Write Anything. I have improved my writing and bolstered my confidence in my abilities. I learn something new each and every day!
4. What would you consider the pitfalls?
Blogging can be time-consuming. I wish that I had more time to devote to reading and commenting on other folks’ blogs because I always enjoy and learn from what my fellow bloggers write.
5. Tell us about your blog name. Ever think of changing it? If so, to what? Why?
I founded my site on Blogger with the title “Robert’s Legacy,” because I initially wrote about my experiences litigating Conservatorship of Wendland, and the Terri Schiavo case in Florida. However, I changed the name when I began exploring other topics and eventually transferred my early, initial posts on those topics to a new site with the same title: Robert’s Legacy.
Sometimes I consider abandoning Colloquium in favor of a more descriptive title related to writing and blogging. But so far, I haven’t thought a creative title or concept. I also think it was a mistake to establish a domain based upon my real name — largely because people misspell it nearly as often as they spell it correctly.
6. Knowing what you know now, was starting a blog a good thing for you? Why or why not?
Yes! I need the creative outlet! I have an extremely stressful, demanding career and I look forward to sitting down in front of my computer after a long day, completely switching gears, and unwinding by reading and writing about anything and everything other than the topics I focus upon when working. In fact, within the next couple of days, my new personal laptop will be arriving, enabling me to read others’ work and draft posts when I have a spare moment while traveling on business.
7. How do you think blogging, bloggers, or the blogosphere has changed since you started?
When I started blogging, “Web 2.0” and “social marketing” were not yet a way of life. I recall when it was a big deal to be using the “new” Blogger and remember being very excited when my site was selected as one of the first transitioned to Blogger Beta! I shudder when I think about all the hours I spent modifying my template, implementing hacks to achieve features that we all take for granted now. The advances in blogging software that have been made in the less than four years I have been blogging are mind-boggling, and WordPress upgrades seem to be issued in increasingly-rapid succession. I can’t even imagine what it will be like in another three to four years.
8. Ultimately, what would you like your blog to accomplish for you or others?
I’m only in it for enjoyment and stress reduction. When it ceases to be fun, I will disappear from the blogosphere. But if, while I’m here, I can impart some useful information or encourage a fellow writer to keep working to improve his/her technique, I will consider my time to have been well spent.
Welcome to the Carnival of Family Life!
Sit back, relax, and enjoy all of the wonderful posts included in this end-of-summer edition. There’s a chill in the air in the mornings and evenings — the Delta breezes are bringing relief from the still-hot, sunny California afternoons. But autumn is definitely on its way . . . and we’ll celebrate its arrival next Monday!
Rose presents When it sounds too good to be true, save your money posted at Learning at Home.
“Where were you when the world stopped turning?”
That’s what Alan Jackson asked us in song shortly after September 11, 2001.
Each year, the anniversary brings back the memories, images, and sense of being unable to awaken from a horrifying nightmare.
For us Baby Boomers, there have been a lot of moments during our lives which cause us to periodically query each other about our memories and perceptions of world-altering events. Where were you when . . .
- John F. Kennedy was assassinated?
- Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated?
- Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated?
- Neil Armstrong walked on the moon?
- Nixon resigned?
- John Lennon was murdered?
- Ronald Reagan was shot?
- the space shuttle exploded?
- the 1989 quake hit?
A writing exercise makes its way through the blogosphere periodically: “Pick a book of fiction you’d never read (e.g., if you read sci-fi, pick a romance). Open to a random page and read the last couple paragraphs of the page. DO NOT TURN THE PAGE. Now continue writing the story. Feel free to change the genre as you write.” On blogger asked:
Should I close my own writing off . . . ? Pigeon-hole myself in one genre? Most writers do find themselves working mainly in one or two genres. Is this because they can only write in those genres? I don’t think so. A good writer can write well in any genre. I believe writers wind up in one genre over others because it is the one they personally enjoy the most as a reader and a writer. [Emphasis added.]
Do you believe that “[a] good writer can write well in any genre?”
I consider myself a good writer. In fact, I will take that a step further. As to a couple of specific genres, I consider myself an excellent writer. One is legal writing. Over the years, I have achieved a degree of competence and success drafting legal products such as briefs, motions, and memoranda. I have received recognition for my efforts and always feel empowered and capable when I sit down to draft such documents, even though I might feel less sure of the legal theory for which I am advocating.
But there are numerous genres or writing styles with which I am not at all comfortable and, indeed, for which I do not feel that I have any aptitude. One of them is fiction — in any form, but particularly fantasy or science fiction. It certainly isn’t due to a lack of exposure to good fiction because I’m sure that if I counted up all of the wonderful novels I have read over the years, they would number in the thousands. I have read the work of some of the world’s most renowned authors and studied their technique as part of various English and writing classes I took in college.
Still . . . I could never sit down and write a novel. I just don’t have the ability. I lack the imagination.
I am of the opinion that writing is an art. And because I am a musician, I analogize. I have known countless musicians over the years, some of whom approach the craft in a very workman-like manner. They achieve technical success, able to perform extremely challenging music flawlessly. And yet, there is something missing from the performance. Although note-perfect, a musician who lacks the ability to transcend the notes and rhythms in order to communicate the emotional message of the piece will never be deemed a truly great musician. He/she leaves the audience with a nagging sense that the performance was neither complete nor satisfying.
And so it is, I believe, with writers who might study the craft and master the technical aspects of putting together a particular written product. Unless a writer — like a musician, painter, sculptor, photographer or any other artist — is able to evoke an emotional response, the result will just be a series of words placed upon the page in a technically proficient manner. Nothing more.
After experimenting, I decided years ago that there are certain types of writing that I will never master. I am comfortable with that knowledge and have chosen to strive for excellence in the genres and styles where I believe that I have legitimate potential. Specialization is required in many professions, including the practice of law and medicine, and I highly recommend it for writers, as well. So I won’t “genre-jumping” any time soon.
What do you think? Do you agree with Paul or have you found that you are able to write in any genre or style that you attempt?
Welcome to the Carnival of Family Life — Harvest Edition! This is a very special time of year here in “Livable, Lovable Lodi” that, as a child, I always looked forward to with great anticipation and excitement. This coming Thursday through Sunday is the annual Lodi Grape Festival and Harvest Fair!
For the past 74 years, Lodi has boasted its very own festival and carnival, the purpose of which is to “promote the agriculture and agricultural products of San Joaquin County, and to offer diverse forms of agricultural education. The Festival strives to present unique, family–oriented exhibits that not only entertain, but educate and enlighten.”
Judd Corizan, from whom I acquired The Rising Blogger, recently launched a new site, Sunday Stealing. Each Sunday, they rip off a meme from another blogger — giving full credit and a link back to that author’s site, of course — and invite everyone to play along.
Have you ever . . .
Each Friday, Kailani posts a simple question or topic of conversation. Visitors leave a comment on Kailani’s site and then post a question or short discussion topic on their own site. Participants visit each others’ sites and respond with a comment! Even if you do not post a question or topic on your site, you can still play by simply leaving a comment!
Here are my questions for this edition:
Did you watch Governor Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech? What did you think of it? What do you think about her candidacy? Is she qualified and prepared to occupy the Oval Office?
Judd Corizan, founder of The Rising Blogger, the site I recently acquired, has launched a new site, Sunday Stealing. Each Sunday, they rip off a meme from another blogger — giving full credit and a link back to that author’s site, of course — and invite everyone to play along.
This week they lifted the “Finish This Sentence” meme from PT-Law Mom, who stole it from A Woman in Law School. Given the credentials of the criminals involved in this caper, I am playing along as a show of solidarity to my future fellow female barristers and, of course, Judd.
I hope you will become an accomplice and link back to all of the co-conspirators!
1. My uncle (by marriage) once told my father and other uncle by marriage that he believed all African-Americans (that’s not the word he used) should be “shipped back to Africa — heads in one boat and bodies in another.” I will never, ever forget that moment. I was about ten years old and we were spending a couple of weeks in South Dakota visiting relatives and friends. My father did not say anything in response as we were guests in my aunt and uncle’s home. I was so stunned and horrified by his words that I never, ever forgot them. I consider it one of the defining moments in my life that ultimately led me to choose a career as a civil rights attorney. Until this moment, I have never written or spoken about that incident.
~~ One of the Top 5 Picks of the September 5, 2008, WOOF Contest Contestants ~~
I saw it coming, but made up my mind I would hold out until BigBob said something. And then, a few weeks ago, he asked the question: “Is there really any point in continuing to subscribe to the newspaper?” We were standing in the kitchen looking at several editions of the Lodi News-Sentinel that we had tossed on the counter in recent days, still folded and bound by those trademark red rubber bands.
I could not remember the last time I had actually picked up an edition of our local newspaper and read it. For years now, I’ve been reading it online. In fact, it is my custom to read the Stockton Record and Sacramento Bee online. I scan the headlines, read the articles that interest me, close the browser window, and move on to the morning’s next task. Often, because I am a Type “A” multi-tasker, I skim a few stories while listening to voice mail messages and returning phone calls.
But until a few days later, when I screwed up my courage to apologize profusely and inform our hard-working carrier that we were canceling our subscription, there had never been a time in my life when, as a resident of Lodi, the sole newspaper published in our little village didn’t land on my doorstep six days each week. And for many years, we faithfully subscribed to the Sunday edition of the Stockton Record.
Our carrier was not surprised. In fact, she told me she had processed several cancellations by long-time subscribers in recent days. “A sign of the times,” she sighed.
Last Saturday, August 23, 2008, the publisher of the Lodi News-Sentinel, Marty Weybret, wrote a column explaining Why your newspaper, and local Web site, are struggling:
It’s time to share a not very guarded secret: This newspaper company is not immune to the industry’s illness.
We’re fighting two wars: the economy and the Internet.
Business is bad in the newspaper industry. In fact, Marty’s dad, Fred, who purchased the newspaper and took up residence in Lodi in 1949 at the urging of my mentor, the late Nat Brown, Jr., says the current advertising slump is the worst he has ever seen. Some of the biggest retailers in the area — Costco and Wal-Mart, among them — do not buy advertising at all. It’s another indicator, along with soaring foreclosure rates, record gas prices, massive layoffs in numerous industries, etc., of economic stress.
The current state of the American economy and information explosion are not challenging just small newspapers and magazines. On the contrary, all of the major newspapers have been struggling to update their business models in order to survive. The Sacramento Bee announced on Tuesday, August 26, 2008, that it offered “voluntary buyouts to the majority of its full-time employees Monday as its advertising slump continues and the newspaper scrambles for additional ways to cut costs.” Similar offers were made to employees of the Modesto Bee, Fresno Bee, Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, Kansas City Star, Wichita (Kansas) Eagle and Fort Worth Star-Telegram, all also owned by McClatchy. Just two months ago, The Bee “eliminated 86 jobs as part of an across-the-board layoff ordered by its parent, The McClatchy Co. of Sacramento. A companywide wage freeze was imposed by McClatchy two weeks ago. In July, The Bee unveiled a smaller print format, another way to save money. But the economic downturn has deepened, and The Bee, like other papers, is still experiencing declining revenue.” Among the factors cited by the Sacramento newspaper were the recent bankruptcies of major advertisers like the Room Source, Linens N Things, and Mervyns.
This crisis in the newspaper industry is also due to the way in which we communicate with each other these days. We are no longer satisfied to wait until the morning edition is delivered to find out what is happening in the world. As a child, if we heard sirens or a neighbor stopped by to tell us of something happening in town, my father always said, “Well, we’ll read about it in the newspaper in the morning.” Not any more.
These days, we just open a browser window and expect to find up-to-the minute coverage of any newsworthy event. Most of us have Internet and television-enabled iPhones, Blackberries, and cell phones so we don’t even have to be near a computer to check the headlines.
All of which leads us to consider the people whose lives are impacted by these industry transitions, many of them writers — reporters — who are losing their livelihoods. What will become of those “200 of the 240 full-time-equivalent news staffers” at The Sacramento Bee who were offered buyouts so that the paper can “focus more intensely on ‘the most important areas of coverage?'” Will they find other jobs in the newspaper industry? Perhaps some of them will. Others might find employment working for online publications. It’s a good bet that many will have to earn their daily bread doing something other than writing.
Weybret acknowledges that the local newspaper’s misfortunes have impacted its work force, as well. “We’ve left some positions unfilled as people have left, and we’ve even had a couple of lay-offs,” he wrote. But there’s reason for hope: “We’re not in as bad shape as the big chains in our area who all seemed to buy out competitors using wheelbarrows of borrowed money just before the mortgage crisis hit.” Still, the Lodi News-Sentinel is “losing a little money.” So its employees have to be anxious about their futures.
I could easily have been one of those employees because when I was entering college, I gave serious consideration to a major in journalism, given how much I enjoyed being a member of my high school’s newspaper and yearbook staff. Ultimately, though, I segued into accounting and, finally, a legal career in which my love of writing has translated into success.
I will never read online newspapers and magazines with quite the same eyes, however. I will be thinking about the folks who labor to bring me the news, hoping that their employment futures are secure and they are able to provide for their families.
Have you read similar headlines in your local newspaper? Do you know someone who has been the victim of downsizing in the news industry? If so, have they secured other employment? What do you think the future holds for newspapers and magazines? Are they dinosaurs headed for sure extinction or do you believe they will be able to ride out the current economic downturn through creative marketing plans and re-envisioning their missions?
Presenting the finest of the writer’s blogs by the bloggers who write them: Top 5 Picks Chosen by the September 5, 2008, WOOF Contest Contestants
- Justin – Sentence Length
- Writing Nag – What Don Freeman Taught Me About Story
- JHS – Signs of the Times
- Penelope Anne – Sweet Fortunes, Bitter Truths
- Jennifer M. Scott – Before Today
Brought to you by Plotdog Press. Want to participate in the next WOOF? The next contest ends September 12, 2008. Submit a link to your best writing post of the prior two weeks using the form at the bottom of this page.
I heard about Rick Rolling from . . . who else? My kids! Mattie-Boo Rick Roll’d me one night a few months ago and then rolled on the floor himself in a combined fit of hysterical giggling mixed with revulsion when he realized that not only did I remember “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, I also remembered all the words and could still bust a move!
Tonight he told me one of his friends Barack Roll’d him so I checked out You Tube and sure enough:
I don’t usually blog about politics, but I will say this much: Yes, I am supporting Obama Biden. My mind was made up after the Vice Presidential picks were announced.