ahhh LJ!
 My long-lost LJ! I don't want to lose you, so I'll update you. 

More in-depth posts to come!

A perfect example of interns doing work that paid people should do!
WMAZ 13 is the NBC affiliate in Macon, and well, um, I'm sort-of speechless about it at this moment. I'm not sure if the station is trying to get their audience more involved in their broadcasts or if this was just a big whoops-y, but Google news picked up this supposed "story" from there site which actually ended up being their 6 o'clock broadcast script. (If they read this and go back and fix it, I've taken a screen shot for y'all also.)

It pretty much looks like the person who uploaded this "story" (an intern, I presume, being an intern many times myself) just didn't pay attention to the fact that EVERYTHING WAS IN CAPS, there were quotes, throws, ots's and all of the elements of a script included. I won't be totally judgmental; based on the little that I know about broadcast script writing, it's very well done. DOT-coms and letter abbreviations punctuated correctly in most places.

Really, there are two big problems here.
1. It's on their web site like this....posed in story form.
2. Google picked it up like this and is broadcasting it to the WORLD.

I remember, as a GPB news radio intern, being asked to blog stories. "Okay. Sure," I would say. Often, I would just want to be lazy and copy and paste the AP report exactly how it was from the wire to our blog on blogspot and be done with it. Can I go home yet? Well, that came back to bite me in the behind. Periods would be missing. People's names would be spelled wrong. There would  be broadcast lingo or incomplete sentences. Really, readers don't need to be getting their online news in ALL CAPS. Not even readers in middle Georgia. Okay, yeah, that GM may be trying to involve people yadda yadda innovation, but it's just a news formality. I think that a lot of TV stations are going to be dealing with this sort-of cross-over from TV to internet, or print, really. Even CNN has trouble with it sometimes. Yes, you have to write a story to go to air, but then when you attempt to put the story online, readers need more details, people's full names spelled correctly, a headline, etc.--all of the elements that come into play with print. I would love to be able to say that this will promise us print people more jobs when newspapers go out of business, but obviously TV stations don't care enough to give the effort to get it right both ways.   

Try not to be missLEADing

Usually I spend my time on the AJC.com scoffing at the poor editing, less-than par headlines and odd placement of stories. Today, however, I found something that I actually liked and agreed with.

To me, a straight news lead is pretty easy to write. It usually goes something like this: What, who (depending on who the story is actually about, if prominent person, then who probably goes in front of what), where, when, why (if important, if not, that goes in the next paragraph). Really, lead writing, to me, is more like a math problem; there is an equation and you plug in the variables. But sometimes I read a lead that really makes me feel something other than disgust. Not only is this a rare occasion, but it's often not found on the AJC.com.  Often, the act of feeling something instead of just learning information, sets a good lead from a great lead. And often, these great leads are found in soft news, or timely features, and have the real lead after the eye-catcher. 

A story today from the AJC about how 3 Georgia Tech grads will get to watch the Miami/GT game from Space tonight:
"Three Georgia Tech grads will have the ultimate nosebleed seats for pre-game activities before their alma mater’s big football game with Miami tonight."

A story about a university restricting smoking on its campus from BizJournal:
"Smokers at the University of Buffalo should get ready to take their puffs elsewhere."

A story about the price of oil from the Times:
"Oil dropped briefly below $50 a barrel for the first time in 22 months, shedding close to $100 in four months."
It tells us everything we need to know, but we don't really feel anything. It's just like "meh...okay."

A story about some prisioners being release from a war prison from the Times:
"After the first hearing on the government’s evidence for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled on Thursday that five of the prisoners are not being lawfully held and ordered their release."

A story, believe it or not, about the Zune media player found on Ars Technica via Google News:
"Subscription music models have always been a "better" solution than à la carte models, at least in theory."
What??? That sentence, the first sentence, the MOST important sentence, tells us nothing! What, exactly, does "better" mean? What, exactly, is the theory about subscription music models? And...most importantly...what the hell do we care?

A story about a stem cell transplant from Telegraph.co.uk:
"The pioneering windpipe transplant carried out by doctors in Barcelona was jeopardised by easyJet when airline staff refused to allow the transportation of stem cells needed for the operation, it has been claimed."
It has been claimed, huh? Why aren't you claiming it? You're telling us!

Opening an email
I know that this post won't count for class, but I just had to post this screen shot.

I saw this vagina review today while shopping for a new cell phone, and um, it seems like this guy didn't quite properly clear his email before checking it on this phone in front of millions of people. Seriously, dude?

Break out your red pin, Eddy!
I know that I probably sound like a clichéd broken record, but I cannot, not, not emphasize how news organizations can not give enough attention to copy editing. Obviously it's a big deal to me, but seeing your comments in my other post, it only solidifies the point: copy errors take away from the story! On a recent trip to CNN.com, I was intrigued by a story about a mass murdering in Long Beach, Cali. Often, the web editors at CNN will find news on other sites and post links which go directly to those stories. In this particular case, CNN linked to a local ABC affiliate in Los Angeles. The story told about the discovery of bodies at make-shift homeless camp. The story goes on to chronicle the polices' story. At one point, it states that the one informant may, "know more about the murders then they let on."

Now I think that any person who paid even the slightest of attention during school would know that thEn refers to a sequence of time and that thAn is a grammatical tool and often serves as a conjunction. Okay. Okay. Yes, this mistake is often made. And obviously no, not everyone is going to use it correctly every time. But should it be tolerated in news print? Not in the least bit! I just cannot grasp the concept that these stories pass right by native English speakers day-in and day-out and go to the public looking like this. Honestly! You don't need to have been an English or journalism major in school to apply these rules; they're universally understood! It's like the too, to, and two rules, or even their, there, and they're. Lately, I've seen a lot of people my age posting "are" for "our" on Facebook or MySpace and even in text messages. I just....don't understand. Is it ignorance or just plain stupidity? It's just frustrating when I'm trying to concentrate on the message at hand, and I can't get past the fact that this person just got that word wrong! Ah! And while I'm on one of my favorite media pet peeves, I may as well mention a new one.

Recently, print news has started a trend that not only strikes me as lazy, but unnecessary. As I most often see on Ajc.com, hard-hitting, investigative stories which require a number of interviews have, at some point in the story, this line: “The AJC attempted to contact so-and-so and has not yet received a call back.” Or as stated on CNN.com: “CNN is attempting to gain access to the remaining portion of the tape.” Well you better be! You’re the journalists here! To me, this should be understood. Like we know you're probably trying to get information to make a good story. I’m sure the conversation between writer and editor was much like this:
“Where’s your story?”
“Uh oh I’m waiting to hear back from Officer Dolittle. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse. I called him like an hour ago.”
“Well we need the story now.”
“I’ll go check my voicemail.”
“No, just say he hasn’t gotten back to you.”

All I want is for these journalists to be putting in timely calls and proper media requests. If that person hasn’t gotten back to you and he/she is a reliable source, then do not print your story. If you don’t have all sides, you’re not reporting fairly! “So and so has not called us back yet,” is not sufficient! I, as a reader, do not care who hasn’t gotten back to you or why or how long ago or whatever else the dog did to your homework. I want to know that you’re doing your job, getting all of the sides, and reporting it properly. That’s what smart journalism is, man. And if it’s been too long and you’ve put in your FOI request, then you’ve got an even bigger story. I just don’t think that simply saying that someone hasn’t gotten back to you is fair reporting. I mean…I don’t know the conditions. What if you gave group A three days to comment, group B two days to comment and group C two hours, and your story goes on in two hours? Just as the listener/reader, I do not know those details. And even when someone like Adam Murphy goes on air and talks about Karen Handal and how she won’t get back to him about voting lines and says “Well we tried….” I’m starring back at him saying, “Well…trying isn’t good enough. Now go do your job.”

As a former editor, I understand that there is a time crunch. But the only time I let this go into The Sentinel was when a statistic or other data was not complete or available on the day we went to press. Take, for example, a charity event. If we wanted to report how much money they had raised, and the organization had not yet finished counting, we would simply print “At press time, the organization had raised $4,000.” Or something like that.

Das ist alles.

As if I needed you to light my fire

I thought I'd start this post with a few words about my last. I decided to x-post the blog about Dave FM trying out music in the mornings in the Atlanta community on livejournal.

42. That would be the number of comments that I got on it there.
12. That would be the number of comments that actually had something to do with the subject at hand.

The rest? Well, those all had to do with falsely accusing me of grassroots campaigning for Dave FM. *ahem*. First off, let me say THANK YOU. Comparing my writing to that done of some already-professional public relations practitioners is a total compliment. Another THANK YOU to those people who thought that my writing was "sly" enough in the grassroots sense to be effective in pursuing people to listen to that radio station. And lastly, THANK YOU for reminding me why I never post in the Atlanta community. You're all just a bunch of big-headed, bored, rung-out 30-somethings with nothing else to do but make false accusations about a college student's work.

And when I told them I was not grassroots campaigning, they didn’t believe me, arguing that if I were, I still wouldn’t come out and say it. And why, exactly, would I waste my time trying to lie to some LJ community? That seems silly. “Oh…oh…gee…okay. You caught me! I was really trying to be sneaky about something that I’m not affiliated with what-so-ever. Gosh darn it!” You, mister, get the prize for making yourself look like the biggest asshole of the day.

I think that what stood out to me as being the most ignorant was when someone called my writing awkward and sloppy. It's a blog, people! If you're so caught up on LJ that you're critiquing people's non-professional writing as professional and comparing it to your own -- you're in the wrong spot. This is my opinion. I felt like expressing something exciting to me. Whether you think it's sloppy or not is neither here nor there.

And if I were to be grassroots campaigning for them, which I’m not, who is to say that it's wrong? Companies are desperate in these economic times. Contract-hiring and freelancing are at the highest they've ever been It's cheap and if you can get someone who's good, effective. Unethical? Maybe. But if I were doing it, I would identify myself in some way. It's just like on Yelp.com/Atlanta. There are a ton of employees on there from successful PR firms and Restaurant Groups. But they all call each other out. It's actually quite hilarious. They're marketers! They get the word out about their product/service/organization. It's what they do. Who is to say they're wrong? Oh yeah. The bored 30-something stuck in his parents' basement watching Adult Swim re-runs all day drenched in McDonald's wrappers. 

On that note, I end with: Has anyone heard about the sudden closing of the Barnacles in Kennesaw?

Music to my ears

I was extremely excited this morning when I turned to Atlanta's some-what new Dave FM and heard music playing at 9 a.m. The obvious absence of some goon babbling on and on about Paris' new BFF befuddled me, and I was tempted to tune in. Soon after David Grey was finished swooning me with his brilliant Britishness, I learned of a new segment: Music Mornings with Holly Firfur. 

Believe it, people! A popular Atlanta radio station is replacing its morning show with music. Of all things? Now every morning, from 5-9 a.m., we can enjoy some tunage instead of the Zakk Tyler morning show. (Honestly, did his mother really spell his name like that? Or is he just way too cool to use these "common-man" spellings? Even Zak would look less-douchy. And I'm not the only one feeling that vibe. Just ask Inside the Sprawl.)  

Morning radio talk shows are the reason that I had XM radio installed into my car. Now a proud, extremely satisfied owner of satellite radio, I have been almost entirely absent from the world of AM and FM...and justifiably so. "Well then why were you on an FM channel?" You ask yourself. Well it just so happened to be that I was, at the time, in a parking deck. And instead of listening to the sizzles that are concrete-satellite interceptions, I chose to switch over.

It seems to me that some suits sitting around a table at 1201 Peachtree St. may have thought, out-loud, of the outlandish possibility that, "Hey! Maybe if we shut these idiots up, people will enjoy music more than talk." Personally, aside from NPR, I have never been a fan of talk radio. If I wanted to hear some white 40-something talk about last night's reality tv show happenings, I'd start attending church again. No, Niel Bortz, I don't care about your opinion. And stop brainwashing my boyfriend about the Fair Tax already! Poor guy doesn't know who to believe anymore -- you or himself. And neither Steve nor Viki could grab my attention with their morning PTA meetings. I already have two parents who remind me almost hourly how I should be conducting my life versus how things were like "when they were my age."

So, I feel like I owe something to the suits at 1201 Peachtree. You may be starting a new trend. You may just begin to collect some followers. Respond, Atlanta! Tune your dial to 92.9 and tune in! This could be the radio revolution we've been waiting for!

Now, I may be more inclined to, at times, adventure back into the world of terrestrial waves. Thanks, Dave! Here's to Music in the Mornings bringing much success in the form of ad revenue back to the station!

Let's talk about pan(duh)s

After the last post, I feel that it may only be appropriate that I do a post about the pandas at Zoo Atlanta!

Well...not so much just the pandas, more about the folks who write about them.

The Zoo has been so with-it since the birth of Mei Lan back in 2006 that they set up a Panda up-date blog-type thing to keep those who are interested in the progression of the new pandas in the know. Many of the keepers of the pandas (the people who train, feed, and watch them) make daily updates about recent happenings and the latest panda news. Some of my favorite updaters are Dr. Rebecca Snyder, who is the Curator of Giant Panda Research and Management, and Kate Roca, a Giant Panda Keeper. Zoo Atlanta is good at creating fancy zoo titles.

I was upsest last week to find that one of my favorite blogs had been updated with one of the silliest posts yet. I'm not too sure what Debbie Forde is responsible for around the Panda Building, but I have to say that post makes her sound like one of the old rambling guests that the zoo sees day-in and day-out. "I am prone to ponderings...."? What does that even mean? Lady, get wtih it! This is a blog, not your personal diary where you can insert all the crazy philosophical talk you want. We're talking pandas here. What'd they eat today? Did the new cub do something especially cute this morning? We don't want to read about your meaningless ponderings. We want to read about pandas!  

I'm not sure how they assign particular panda workers to write the blog. I doubt there's a process to what to write about or how to go about it. I do know, however, that blogs are informal, informational, and need to stick to the subject matter. I know that mother-offspring relations do pertain to pandas, but let's get real here: no one visiting this blog wants to hear that crap. We want to hear about Lun Lun's latest feat in mothering and Yang Yang's latest romp in the moat or Mei's longest nap record.

What it boils down to is the idea of KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. If you're submitting something to a journal about pandas, then maybe that type of language is appropriate. If you're updating a blog for the masses about the latest happenings inside the panda den, give us the good stuff.

And so now I will leave you with one of my favorite panda keeper entries. One of the best ones, if I may say. It was done by Jay Pratte, Giant Panda Keeper III when Mei Lan was a cub.

Enjoy!Collapse )

knock; knok. whose their? ajc copy editorz.

A story about the new panda cub almost being able to open his eyes grabbed my attention today on ajc.com. This interest, of course, was distracted by repeated patterns of inadequate (or just lazy) AJC copy editing. Unfortunately, this hasn't been my first run-in with such a trend on ajc.com. And to be honest, I am fed up with grammatical errors making me lose concentration and distracting me from the story.

First, I will present the evidence, then I will tell why I think copy editing is extremely important to a publication, especially one trying to stay afloat.
Exhibit A: Verb/tense agreement.
Exhibit B: spelling....I think?
Exhibit C: incomplete series of three.

We'll start with exhibit A. "Storms backs up airport..." Really? If you don't see a problem with this then say it out loud to yourself. Anyone who is an English speaker...rather, a correct English speaker...will stumble on themselves. Storms can back up an airport but, no, sorry, storms cannot backs up an airport. I read that headline and just shook my head. It was on the front page too! You don't even have proper English speakers working on your site who read the front page? I don't even want to read this story! I'm just so ashamed that Georgia's largest newspaper would make such a blatant mistake. Even more, other online outlets could be picking it up like Google, Technorati...it's just *sigh* bad.

On to B. Now, I do not consider myself to be obsessed with the pandas at Zoo Atlanta. But some of my friends may say I'm close. (They're adorable, who could resist? But that's beyond the point.) Nor am I a trained panda zoo keeper. Leon Stafford may be; I don't know that either. However, using the means I do have, I am willing to bet that the not-nearly 50 day-old cub weighs far less than a ton. I'm not saying. I'm just saying. But Stafford should be the expert here -- after all, he is the one who the AJC has assigned to do proper research and to present a copy. If I had to guess, Stafford was trying to say that the cub was "born on Aug. 31". Now that would make sense. But again, I was distracted and felt almost betrayed. What’s the one thing you do to copy before you turn it in, Mr. Stafford? Read it out loud!

Finally, exhibit C. I’m not sure where Stafford went to J-school or even if he did. What I do know, however, is that grammar and writing were seriously beaten into mine and my colleges’ heads during my four years. Thanks to that, I know that in a series of three the first verb, or “set-up word,” has to match the three items in the list. I have diagrammed the screen shot to show you how he flubbed up (twice!) The sentence reads: “In the months to come, the cub will begin getting his teeth, use the bathroom by himself and crawl.” No…seriously…that’s what it says. “The cub will begin getting his teeth.” That’s fine. But the next item is incomplete. “Use the bathroom by himself.” Now if Stafford were intending for that to be one of the things that the cub is beginning, then he needs to re-write the first item to say, “The cub will begin to get his teeth.” That way we know that “begin to” can be applied to the last few items. Ergo the new cub will begin to do these things. The last two items are just simply incomplete. If read like they’re printed, the last item says he will “begin crawl.” I don’t even know what that means. “Begin to crawl” or “begin crawling” would make much more sense.   

I know that some of you may be thinking to yourself that I’m just being picky and one-word slips here and there are to be expected. They’re okay. In some cases, yes. A once-in-a-while misspelling is okay. But when your publication is as “prestigious” and widely read as the subject at hand, not only can you not afford to be at the top of your game, but must act as the living example that students and other journalists around the world think you are. COPY EDITING IS A BIG DEAL. Spelling, grammar, organization, flow, all of the things that we tutor students on in the writing center matters in news! And when one-time slips turn into everyday occurrences and happen to be on the front page, then it’s just annoying and distracting. Not only that, but it really affects your publication’s reliability.

I understand that the AJC is subject to an epidemic of cost-cutting that is sweeping the nation right now, but I think that copy editors (or just better writers) should be taken more seriously when planning a staff budget.

The moral of the story is: What is a story if you don’t read it?  

 The council rests.  

The dominating dot com
I can't help but to not think about CNN's web coverage of Ike over the weekend. I know CNN is not local *Atlanta* media, but one of their headquarters lie in our beautiful city, so I am awarding myself the right to brag on them. I mean, hey, there's not much Atlanta media to brag about -- so I have to dig where I can.

Solid. Impactful. Artistic. Encompassing. Stunning. Those are all words that come to mind when I think of how they covered this disaster. The web team actually changed the front page to a format which included a larger-than-normal "above the fold" photo/headline match-up that was constantly being updated with a new picture and story to follow. This was just one of my favorites: A headline about a death count, and a picture of now-floating caskets. Not just informative, but it plays your emotions. What a statement. Not only that CNN has the editorial judgment to combine such a beautiful story/photo, but that CNN has the web presence and know-how to take it to the Internets.

I loved how they let the large picture take president over anything else. It was all about impact and showing with big pictures just how big Ike was to our country's largest mainland state. CNN's usual three-column (left to right: lead story, headlines, videos) look can often be awkward and hard to concentrate on. While, yes, overall, they have one of the better national broadcast news sites, Cnn.com has a lot going on. And I know that most of the scrutiny goes to on-air talent, producers, commentators, etc. But the web team definitely deserves a pat on the back. I harped on this talking about the AJC.com, but web presence has to be a priority for news organizations right now. They need to especially take advantage of "high news" weekends like these where more and more viewers, depending on their situations, could be going to the web. 

(And plus, I couldn't help but take advantage of a screen shot with my school in it!)  


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