Saturday, May 31, 2008

Remembering a media hoarde

Cross-posted from my other blog:

A reminder, in the Asheville Citizen Times, that today is the 5th anniversary of the day Eric Rudolph was caught by Murphy police officer Jeff Postell behind the Save-a-Lot on the east side of Murphy, NC.
Many Remember Rudolph Saga:

...what also stands out in (Murphy mayor)Hughes’ mind five years later is the media horde that descended on Murphy when news of the capture broke.
“I think we had 26 satellite trucks in town, and I was interviewed 15 or 20 times that week,” he said. “I think I knew everyone at CNN by name.
“It is an ill wind that blows the national media into your town. Far too many reporters wanted to portray us as illiterate, ignorant and anti-government hicks who approved of Rudolph’s doings, which was totally false.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gathering storm

Two new reports on global warming that should make lots of people think:

From the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition, a report on the future of Florida, Preparing for a Sea Change in Florida (40 page PDF).
The first and most important step, of course, is to curb emissions, but even if we do that we will need to address the impacts that are predicted to occur. We can do this by:
* Restoring coastal and marine ecosystems so they can better cope with the stress of climate change and ocean acidification.
* Discouraging development in vulnerable areas to prepare for rising sea levels, as well as restoring and protecting natural buffers.
* Preparing for extreme weather events by protecting and restoring shoreline vegetation and wetlands, upgrading stormwater management, and increasing water-use efficiency through conservation and recycling treated wastewater for irrigation and industrial use.

From another coastline I love, this report on the Great Lakes from National Parks Conservation Association and, Great Lakes restoration and the threat of global warming (36-page PDF). Some of the changes predicted without prevention:
· Daily high temperatures in the region will increase 5.4 to 10.8 degrees relative to what was typical from 1961-1990, with wintertime temperatures increasing even more than summer temperatures.
· Increased evaporation from warming lakes—particularly in winter—is expected to result in less ice cover, contributing to lower water levels and increases in lake-effect snow.
· Lake levels could drop during the next century by approximately 1 foot on Lake Superior, 3 feet on Lakes Michigan and Huron, 2.7 feet on Lake Erie, and 1.7 feet on Lake Ontario.

Lake levels have been a problem for years so adding another couple feet on to an existing problem is scary. As well as the threat of more lake-effect snow: seems that's an increasing problem already.

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A victim of polio: 58 years later

There are still people out there living with the effects of polio, I've known a few who were damaged by the paralysis, and it turns out there are a few dozen left who have had to use iron lungs their whole lives.

One of them, Dianne Odell of Tennessee, died yesterday when a power outage and a failed generator stopped her iron lung from breathing for her. Although she was able to get out of the lung for a few hours at a time when younger, she had lived in it for 58 years.

In 1951, the year after Odell, I came down with polio. I was six and spent a few days unable to speak or swallow, three weeks in hospitals and missed the first month of first grade. My parents were terrified but I was extremely lucky: if the virus had migrated a few millimeters into my brain or spinal cord I'd have been paralyzed; or dead.

You just never know. Seize the day.
(Via Knoxviews.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Florida politics, always entertaining

The Charlie Crist rumors (Bob Norman, on the Green Iguana) keep popping up, such as in this Politics1 report, repeated today at Huffington Post.

'Recount' doesn't seem to have attracted a lot of reviews, but there's an interesting recap at New York Observer: A Rendition of Bush-Gore that's long overdue.
The film, which made its HBO debut on Sunday night, presents what can accurately be labeled a Gore-friendly chronicle of the legal maneuverings that settled the election. But it is also fact-friendly. There was never really any doubt that more Floridians went to the polls on Election Day 2000 to vote for Al Gore than for Bush.

And, in the New Yorker, by Jeffrey Toobin, a profile of republican political consultant Roger Stone, who was involved in that Florida recount: The Dirty Trickster. The story opens with a visit to a Miami sex club, but gets more interesting:
Not long ago, Stone went to the Ink Monkey tattoo shop in Venice Beach and had a portrait of Nixon’s face applied to his back, right below the neck. “Women love it,” Stone said.
...Stone detests Hillary Clinton’s politics but admires her pugnacity. He wrote recently on his Web site, an erratically updated collection of observations called, “I must admit she has demonstrated true grit and Nixonian-like tenacity in the face of adversity.” Stone particularly admires Clinton’s attempt to hang the “élitist” tag on Barack Obama. “It’s a good idea,” he said.
...When I asked why he moved to Miami, Stone quoted a Somerset Maugham line: “It’s a sunny place for shady people. I fit right in.”
And lots more.

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News coverage: politics, Iraq, and more

In the Houston Chronicle, a story out of a National Press Club conference: Journalism old-timers find campaign coverage disturbing. Jack Nelson, Jules Witcover, Hal Bruno and others seem appalled at the state of journalism these days.
Jules Witcover, who began covering Washington in 1954 and has covered every presidential nominating convention for the past 44 year, agreed. "To an old geezer like me" he said, " I find it very disturbing and distorting."

The American Journalism Review asks, Whatever Happened to Iraq?
For long stretches over the past 12 months, Iraq virtually disappeared from the front pages of the nation's newspapers and from the nightly network newscasts. The American press and the American people had lost interest in the war.

Guess it's not just the press that isn't keeping a proper eye out: in Wired's Danger Room blog, Pentagon Watchdogs Swamped by Military Spending; $152 Billion a Year Goes Unaudited.

And, on a completely unrelated topic, but one of interest to me since over the last 28 years I watched the water over the reefs off of Miami and the Keys deteriorate, in National Geographic: Swimmers' Sunscreen Killing Off Coral. Just one of many things, I'm sure.

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Little fights against Islam

This new form of 'political correctness' is getting scarier:

Is Rachel Ray a secret Muslim? Does that sound ridiculous? Well, not to Michelle Malkin, who has caused a stir over a Dunkin' Donuts commercial in which Ray wears a scarf. Just a scarf, but it's black and white and might -- just might-- look like the one Yassir Arafat always wore. Dunkin' Donuts has pulled the commercial. More on the story, at Epicurious' Epi-log blog: The Perfect Hate Storm.

(Oh, and: Note this Gawker entry about John McCain's daughter's Kaffiyeh.) Comments are flying at Metafilter, too.

In the Miami Herald, a story about The Nation of Islam and a city contract: Muslim group to help keep peace in Miami's Overtown . Think this one isn't raising a stir? Just read the comments on the story.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Link journalism at the Times

Wow, I didn't even know this was going on. Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 says the New York Times Embraces Link Journalism and cites an example of a blog entry at
The Lede that's full of links to other papers.

Is this true of Times stories and other blogs? I usually don't click on Times links because they usually go to Times stories by category. As in this story, about the new Firefox Web browser. The link to Microsoft goes to Times stories on Microsoft, et cetera.

A good sign, especially if it's not just happening at The Lede.....from Karp:
...the Times has clearly gotten over the red herring fear of “sending people away.” The Lede has helped readers make sense of what they read elsewhere, helping to make the Lede more essential than those other source.

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A good cartoon for Memorial Day (and all other days)

Clay Bennett at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Times Machine

Over the last few years, several newspapers have made the expensive investment of scanning their microfilm to make stories available online that are older than their text archives, started in the early 1980s or later.
ProQuest has done several newspapers, as well as Olive, Heritage, and Cold North Wind. Some are available online, by subscription, or through the newspaper's Web site, downloaded for a small fee; some public libraries offer access to ProQuest papers, too.

The New York Times is one of those papers, and you can search and download individual stories from their older archives in PDF ProQuest format.

But now the Times has launched Times Machine, where you can actually browse scans of an entire newspaper. If you're a home delivery subscriber you can use the full service, covering years from 1851-1922. A few papers are available for non-subscribers, covering major events and '100 years ago today'. (Note the page also suggests checking if your local library has access.)

The Times' Open blog discusses the project, which uses Amazon Web Services. Video description via Scobleizer. The software is not perfect: on the first 1851 paper, in a story about Lancaster, PA the summary spells it Laucaster.

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Random bites

Over the weekend, a few things have caught my eye and I wonder what they mean:

At HeraldWatch, there's a rumor that the Miami Herald may be getting ready to lay off 230 people. Not surprising, but sad anyway. Things aren't good at newspapers these days. The Herald recently had some buyouts and lost long time senior reporter Martin Merzer, photographer Nuri Vallbona, and business writer Susana Barciela, among others. I guess it wasn't enough. Even more disturbing to a former Herald library employee, there was an earlier posting reporting on a memo from editor Anders Gyllenhaal suggesting the library functions may be outsourced.

(Update:) a new blog, Papercuts, is tracking newspaper layoffs. There was such a thing several months back is this the same one? (Via Buzzmachine.)

(Update:) More on the Miami Herald from Random Pixels, who has been keeping an eye on editing on the Web site, and other Herald matters.

Lots of interesting discussion going on about the future of journalism. I've not been linking to much of it since there's plenty of places out there to find it all. I like Alltop: Journalism for a quick overview of what's there. But a couple things this weekend seem worth pointing to:

I'm intrigued by this Carnival of Journalism question (via Ryan Sholin), What should journalism organizations stop doing to make room for innovation? I've been seeing answers to it on several blogs, like Jack Lail's, but the original posting links to all of them. Some of the ideas seem good to me, like dropping (locally produced) features stories for more local news.

One of the pioneers in journalism innovation, Rob Curley, has announced he is leaving the Washington Post online operation with several of his staff to join the Las Vegas Sun. This is big news and another example of how hard it is for real innovation to work at a major media operation. Derek Willis, who worked with Curley and his staff while at the Post, and who is an innovator in newsrooms, discusses.

In the wake of HBO's 'Recount' broadcast last night, Eye on Miami shines a spotlight on the 'Miami riot' that ended the recount in Miami-Dade County and which was orchestrated by the Republicans with congressional staffers playing the part of outraged residents. Wow, what a blast from the past it was watching that movie, hard to relive that terrible month that I spent looking up laws, tracking lawsuits, chronologizing, linking and linking and linking and wondering who really won that election. (Note so far 81% of respondents on the HBO website say they believe the election was stolen.) I loved Laura Dern as Katherine Harris (but I hope she wasn't really that ditsy -- was she?) The casting and makeup was brilliant.
It was this election that started my blogging. I had so many links that so many people were asking me for, so I created a website and put them online. Updating weekly led to blogging. I wish I still had the 2000 election links online now, I was asked for them just last week. But I'm afraid they're long gone.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Background on the news

Combing the journalism blogs is one of the best ways to find collections of links for researching background information on news of the day. A couple good examples today:

Poynter's Al Tompkins has pulled together lots of background on Sen. Ted Kennedy and brain tumors.

And this Guardian Newsblog entry on Mourning China earthquake victims online is really interesting for finding sources of opinion and links on China that might not otherwise show up. Lots of links here to online blogs, tweets, and videos, with some discussion of press coverage of 'mourning day'.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Food blogging becomes a movie

Somehow I think I never got around to reading anything of Julie Powell's blog, The Julie/Julia Project, which she started in August 2002 as an attempt to reproduce all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I heard about the blog, and meant to read it, but somehow found other cooking blogs and never got back to it.

Julie Powell went on to make a book out of her story: Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (on sale right now at Amazon). And now it is becoming a movie. Screenplay by Nora Ephron, who also directs and produces, and Julie is played by Amy Adams and Julia Child by....Meryl Streep! Apparently the movie will also tell the story of Julia's years in France, with Stanley Tucci playing her husband Paul. Julie & Julia, 2009.

Hmmm. Another blog leads to a huge success. There may be something in this thing.....


Sunday, May 18, 2008

A few research links, and a last note on the Bush/Obama flap

  • UN Data: search or browse all the statistics, including latest news.
  •, unofficial guide to DMVs in all 50 states.
  • VINcheck from Natl Insurance Crime Bureau, find if a vehicle is reported stolen.
  • Canadian Police Information CentreHas a similar search for Canada.
  • Using to create dynamic Web links pages: great presentation showing steps to making links and feeding them to populate subject guides. Newsroom intranet editors, take note. This could be really useful and is well explained.

  • This headline caught my eye on Memeorandum today: from the L.A. Times, Negotiating isn't Appeasement, by J. Peter Scoblic.
    ...if there is anything that has been discredited by history, it is the argument that every enemy is Hitler, that negotiations constitute appeasement, and that talking will automatically lead to a slaughter of Holocaust-like proportions.

    (updated:) And one more, from Patrick Buchanan: Bush Plays the Hitler Card.
    ...Eisenhower, Nixon, Gerald Ford and Reagan all met with foreign dictators with blood on their hands, without loss to America, and sometimes with impressive gains.
    What has Bush's refusal to talk to Hamas, Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran done to make either Israel or America more secure?

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    40 Years Ago

    (An occasional reminiscence on the events of 1968)

    On May 14, The SCLC's Poor People's Campaign began its Washington marches for equal justice and economic aid to the poorest in America. Resurrection City was coming to be. On 15 acres of West Potomac Park, the grounds around the Lincoln Memorial, marchers had arrived by convoy, sometimes in wagons drawn by mules, wearing denim overalls and country clothing, and they were building a shantytown near where the Vietnam memorial would rise years later. Rows of shacks made of plywood and plastic created a 'main street'. About 2600 or so residents, from cities and small towns in the South and in the North, would live here in squalor as the May rain turned the grounds to mud.

    I know we went to see, as did many other Washingtonians and tourists. You couldn't get in without proper credentials, but could view from the snow fence around the outer limits. I wish I had taken pictures, but it was probably hard to get anything without getting close. It was probably a rainy day, anyway. It seemed to rain the whole month.

    There isn't much history of this event on the web, even the Wikipedia entry is sparse. The Washington Post hasn't yet done an anniversary package, either. A public radio program has some remembrances by participants. Lots of photographs are out there, though. Lots of photographers went there to take pictures, and many are available now in online galleries, or for sale (links to some are on the radio package).

    There is an original story on the Harvard Crimson's website, though, from 1968: The Poor People Take Over the Town.
    ...there it is, fans, just like Martin Luther King said it would be--400 A-frame shelters made of plywood and plastic. And poor people from Mississippi and Alabama right before your very eyes.

    On that day the primary was held in Nebraska. Kennedy got 51.5 percent of the Democratic vote, McCarthy 31 percent. On the Republican side, Nixon won with 70% of the vote to 21% for California governor Ronald Reagan and 5% for Rockefeller. Reagan was undeclared but still was becoming Nixon's leading challenger; he wouldn't declare until the convention in August.

    On May 17, nine people entered the Selective Service Offices in Catonsville, Maryland, removed several hundred draft records, and burned them with homemade napalm in protest against the war in Vietnam. The nine were arrested and would be tried and sentenced to jail.

    Among them were two brothers, also priests, Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit, and Philip Berrigan, a member of the Society of St. Joseph and a World War II war hero who claimed to have been "a skilled and remorseless killer." according to his brother Jerome.

    The previous October Phil, with three others, had entered the draft office in Baltimore and poured blood -- their own blood -- on some of the files.

    This event struck home for me, as the Berrigan brothers had given talks, and conducted Masses, at Marymount College during my senior year there. I had taken communion from one of them.

    Even more, Phil Berrigan would leave the priesthood to marry Elizabeth McAllister. Sister Elizabeth had been a Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary and taught at Marymount: I took her class in art history senior year. She was a joyous person who was involved with the students and who cared about causes like poverty and peace.

    They were a stirring example. Although Phil spent much of the next several years in prison, they would raise three children and found Baltimore's Jonah House.

    More at Investigation of a flame, a documentary film on Catonsville. Jonah House has remembrances, photos, Phil Berrigan's obit and tributes.

    (It had been an interesting time of change at Marymount. The reforms of Vatican II were sweeping through the church, and nuns like Sister Elizabeth were bringing in new ideas, inviting controversial speakers like the Berrigan brothers. Sometime around my senior year many of them gave up the nuns' habit for street clothes, and there were evening folk music masses where everyone drank the wine, from jugs. I remember walking back to the dorm from those masses and passing young nuns on their way back to the convent, singing. Very different from my first year there when you had to wear white gloves to mandatory chapel and the teaching nuns wore elaborate habits and were called 'mother' to separate them from the sisters -- working nuns, often from Latin America, who cooked and cleaned.)

    Also in the news that month, Drew Pearson's 'Washington Merry-go-Round' column reported on May 23 that Robert Kennedy, as Attorney General, had authorized FBI wiretaps on Martin Luther King. The story, of course, caused an uproar and cast a negative cloud over both King and Kennedy.

    On May 28, the Oregon primary gave McCarthy a win over Kennedy (McCarthy 44.7 percent, Kennedy 38.8), giving Kennedy his first loss and making the coming California race even more important. Nixon won on the Republican primary there with 65 percent.

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    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Appalachia and politics

    In the Cleveland Plain Dealer's poltics blog: Analysis: Obama's is an Appalachia problem, not a white problem. Fascinating stuff. Another good reason why Jim Webb ("Born Fighting") would be a great VP candidate on this ticket.


    Presidential criticism

    You'd think, in the last year of an administration, the president would keep a steady hand and try not to rile the waters. But that's not happening here. Two comments by George W. Bush have angered a lot of people.

    Will Bunch and Keith Olbermann have a lot to say about this: Olbermann on Bush's interview with, including the comment that he's had to give up golfing out of respect for the mothers of dead soldiers, Mr. President, the war isn’t about you — or golf.
    President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and John McCain lurk.
    ...You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn't give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.

    Bunch reacted to Bush's speech to the Knesset, where he charged Democratic leaders (meaning Obama)with 'appeasement': President Bush committed political treason today.
    And you, Mr. Bush, are the leader of us all. To use a diplomatic setting on foreign soil to score a cheap political point at home is way beneath your office, way beneath your country, and way beneath the people you serve. You have been handed an office once uplifted to great heights by fellow countrymen from Washington to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Eisenhower, and have plunged it so deeply into the Karl-Rove-and-Rush-Limbaugh-fueled world of political destruction and survival of all costs that have lost all perspective -- and all sense of decency.
    Tough words.

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    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Future of News

    Some days it seems the future of news is secure, especially when you see something like the list of Knight News Challenge winners, projects all listed here in a PDF. There's some good stuff here.


    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    FIU's J-school, and Nixon blog

    A post at Daily Pulp called attention to the budget cuts at Florida International University: J-school in peril; newspapers silent.
    South Florida's only public journalism school could be closed.

    Over the years I've had a lot of interaction with the FIU's j-school, and have several friends on the faculty. One, Neil Reisner, posted links in a comment in Pulp, to an article in E&P magazine (reprinted on the school's web site, and which lists several prominent alumni -- and friends), a column in this weekend's Naples Daily News, and an April story in Miami New Times.
    The comments on this post have multiplied since this morning, and are discouraging.

    On another topic, I keep finding links to this blog, which I'd never heard of until a couple weeks ago but find strangely compelling: The New Nixon. I'm at a bit of a loss on how to describe it. There are several writers, connected to the Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation and Nixon Center, it appears.
    The posts are a bizarre mix of comments on the presidential race, nostalgia for Nixon and the Nixon years, and other politics, occasionally punctuated by cultural posts, like this one by Frank Gannon on Steve Stills' song by the Buffalo Springfield, For What It's Worth.

    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Memories of stories past

    In the Miami Herald, Carol Rosenberg is covering the Guantánamo trial. She may be the only reporter who's been covering Guantánamo from the beginning.
    Glitches mar debut of Guantánamo war court.

    But over at the Los Angeles Times, they have a couple stories that I don't see linked from the Herald's front page: Miami Beach home of Versace reopens as a restaurant-hotel. The memories of that day when Versace was shot and the hunt for his murderer, who it turned out had had a cross-country spree that ended up on an empty houseboat, are chilling.

    And this: Luis Posada Carriles, a terror suspect abroad, enjoys a 'coming-out' in Miami.
    Terrorist or hero? Depends on where you're from, I guess.

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    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    If you don't read anything else this week...

    Please read this story about one soldier killed in Iraq and how his death affected everyone who had anything to do with getting his body home to be buried in Indiana.

    In Esquire, The Things That Carried Him, by Chris Jones.

    Joe Montgomery was only one of more than 4,000. This is essential reading for anyone who thinks the deaths of soldiers is not important to every American.
    Sergeant Dunaway sat in the jump seat between the pilots, Sergeant Montgomery's paperwork and medals on his lap. As they approached Freeman Field, Jones and Linton circled, high in the bright blue sky. From the ground, it looked as though the pilots were offering a sweeping final salute. They were only getting their bearings.
    After they touched down and taxied toward the open-sided hangar, they took stock of the waiting crowd. This is going to be tough, Linton thought. "It just seems the smaller the town, the bigger the turnout," he said later.

    ...Karen Giles tells a story about another young airman, who was polishing the brass on a dead soldier's uniform jacket. He was using a little tool, a kind of buffer, to make sure that every button shined. A visitor complimented him on his attention to detail. "The family will really appreciate what you're doing," the visitor said. But the airman replied, "Oh, no, sir, the family won't know about this." The airman told him that the family had requested that their son be cremated, and just a short while later, he was.


    40 Years Ago

    (An occasional reminiscence on the events of 1968)

    In May, the turmoil continued:

    On May 2, in France, the university at Nanterre was shut down by its administration after several weeks of student protests. The next day, students at the Sorbonne held a protest of the events in Nanterre, and police responded by surrounding the campus and shutting it down. The National Union of French Students and the Lecturers' Union called a strike, and on May 6 they marched to the Sorbonne. Police charged the crowd and the students created barricades. Rioting and conflicts with police would continue, including an all-night riot on the rive gauche on May 10. The Communist Party responded by calling for a national one-day strike on May 13. That day, a million people marched in Paris. Workers continued the protests, shutting down factories, around the country. The situation would continue through the month.

    On May 7, the Indiana primary gave Robert F. Kennedy his first big win, with 42 percent of the Democratic vote (27 percent for McCarthy, 31 percent for Indiana governor Branigan, standing in for Humphrey, who wasn't running in primaries.) He had spent lots of time in Indiana, motorcading across the state and giving a memorable impromptu speech the night King was shot. There had also been a whistle-stop campaign on a train following the route of the Wabash Cannonball. Richard Nixon easily won the Republican primary, and had barely campaigned there.

    That day Alabama governor Lurleen Wallace died of the cancer that had been diagnosed after she agreed to run as a stand-in for her husband George, who had to give up the office because of term limits. She took the office in January 1967; George Wallace became a candidate for president on the American Independent Party ticket.

    On May 10, peace talks began in Paris but soon stalled as the U.S. insisted that North Vietnamese troops withdraw from the South, while the North Vietnamese insist on Viet Cong participation in a coalition government in South Vietnam. It was the first diplomatic discussion between the two sides in the Vietnam war but would only lead to on and off talks over the next five years.

    On May 11, the first marchers in the Poor People's March began to arrive in Washington DC. Led by the late Martin Luther King Jr's deputy Ralph Abernathy, nine caravans had started from different sections of America on May 2 and picked up demonstrators along the way. In Washington, they would begin setting up a shantytown-style campsite, called Resurrection City, on 16 acres of the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King had spoken in 1963.

    More on the events of the year at the Guardian: 1968, year of revolt.

    Meanwhile, at the Washington Post's library, I was learning the ropes and the news archiving and research systems, in the days before computers.

    I'd long been a hoarder of news clippings, especially political cartoons, so the job appealed to me: It was a simple system of clipping and filing. Every day several library staffers would organize several copies of each page of the newspaper, and mark each story with the date and one of several different file headings. A story about Bobby Kennedy's campaign in Indiana might be marked with headings like "Kennedy, Robert F: presidential campaign", "Kennedy, Robert F: Speeches", "Presidential Campaign, 1968: Indiana primary", Presidential Campaign: Democratic Party", "Indiana: politics", etc.

    Then another staffer would take a metal bar and strip each story from the pages and fold into envelope size. Next several other staffers would alphabetize the clips, and file them into envelopes in file drawers.

    It was tedious, particularly the filing. New envelopes had to be labeled when it was a new category or when the old ones got too full. Typewriters were kept on carts in the aisles for this. Since filing was the most boring job, it got put off the longest.

    There was always a backlog of clips to be filed. Of course, the second part of the job was finding those clips for reporters. Since the latest weren't always filed yet, sometimes they had to be retrieved from several places. The specific clips requested were pulled from the original envelopes (which didn't leave the library) and placed in check-out envelopes, and logged. Copy boys (or girls) would pick them up and deliver to the reporters or editors who requested them. Hopefully in a day or two they would be returned and refiled.

    If a reporter needed other sources of information, there was a book collection, mainly reference books like encyclopedias, almanacs, Who's Whos, etc. Plus a large magazine collection. Sometimes the only way to find a specific piece of information was to use the New York Times' index, in book form, the only one available. Or Facts on File, a monthly report of news from around the world, collected in book form at the end of the year.

    Several of the library staff specialized in answering reference questions. As a new employee I was relegated to the files. But I was interested to watch as the others went through the research routines.

    Some jobs were specialized: for example, one staffer, an ex-Navy submariner, answered the military questions. He also had the job of calling the Pentagon each Friday for the Vietnam 'body counts' (both U.S. military and VC/NVA) which would be published over the weekend. Another researcher specialized in local politics; she was active in the northern Virginia Republican organization.

    The library was tucked in the far northwest corner of the newsroom, in the old Post building facing south on L St. (It would be a couple years until the construction of a new, larger addition facing 15th St.)

    The library's front counter faced rows of reporters' desks, with editors' offices on the far side. Just near the library corner were the offices of cartoonist Herblock and political reporter Chalmers Roberts.
    (In the photo, the only one I have from the old library, Joe Wright answers a research question at the front of the library facing into the newsroom. One of the reporters standing at front: Hollie West.)

    I was getting to know the staff, and meeting some of the reporters. I was getting a regular paycheck, somewhere around $120 a week, which seemed like a fortune to me at the time. Some time during these first few weeks my boss, Mark Hannan, took me to meet Howard Simons, assistant managing editor. He was a wonderful man who would encourage my advancement at the Post over the next several years. I was feeling pretty lucky to be there.

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    Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    Links potpourri and research update

    I haven't posted a research update for a couple weeks as I haven't been collecting links. I am browsing the usual places but haven't seen much to save. I'm definitely not collecting nearly as many links as I did in the past. But I've always thought one day everything you'd need to find would be linked somewhere. Are we reaching that point?

    So here's a random collection of things I've found over the last week or so (but mostly today):

  • Drew Pearson's Washington Merry-Go-Round copies of all the columns from 1935-1961, with a few columns from 1969. From American University, part of the WLRC Libraries Special Collections, from DC-area universities. Other interesting collections: Clifford Berryman's cartoons, student newspapers, historical photographs and postcards, lots more.
  • The Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, a work in progress.
  • Defence Image Database: official photos from UK Ministry of Defence.
  • Conversation with Tim Rozgonyi of the St. Pete Times, on newspaper libraries in a time of change.
  • The 33 Biggest corporate implosions. Ever. from HR World. In this ranking, Enron comes in 11th. Did you even hear about Baninter, ranked 6th? Parmalat? Very interesting list.
  • Chemical Cuisine: A Guide to Food Additives, PDF from Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  • Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 2007: updated.
  • The Myth of Free News, fascinating column by Peter Osnos at Century Foundation. Is news on the net really free? People pay a lot of money for their access to news, in internet, broadband, cable or satellite, and mobile subscriptions.
  • There is a great deal of money being generated by the transmission of news, but very little of it is going to the providers of that news, which is no longer tolerable. News is no more free these days than the “complementary” bag of pretzels you get on a plane, after you’ve paid for the ticket.
    ...editors should let readers know that they are paying, handsomely, for the news they get on the Web. It’s just not going to the people who gather it.
  • And, via an email from Simon Owens at Bloggasm: Study shows conservative blog coverage of Obama largely focuses on non-policy issues.

  • Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    A good day for voting

    It's good to be a North Carolina voter today. The couple-mile drive to the polling station at the rural firehouse was in the middle of a glorious spring day, with leaves out on most of the trees and lush green grass; even the wait for the paving crew redoing our little state highway was pleasant. There's a friendly reception at the station, where only a couple other people were voting at 2:00, and the poll workers said lots of folks from our road have voted today too.

    There are lots of races on the ballot, at least statewide, and several interesting candidates to vote for.

    And, every time the phone rings the last couple days, it's Bill or Chelsea or Hillary herself on the other end.

    It's nice to be wanted. A few months ago it looked like this primary would have no meaning in the presidential race. How things change.

    (Updated: Well, to be fair, there was one call from a candidate for state treasurer. But nothing from Barack, sob.)

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    Friday, May 02, 2008

    Some good news for a change

    A couple of encouraging stories at the New York Times:

    As Gas Costs Soar, Buyers Flock to Small Cars. Yaris, Fit, and Focus are the big gainers.

    Detroit needs to build more. Yeah, been saying that for about 40 years now. In the 60s I loved VWs, Austins, and drove my family's Falcon whenever I could borrow it. Aside from an occasional small pickup, almost all the cars I've owned have been small. (Currently a Subaru Forester, a bit bigger, but still gas-friendly.) I've never understood the mind-set that has women driving around alone in Suburbans and Expeditions -- because 'it's safer'. Besides, the more small cars on the road, the safer all of us will be. Those big SUVs are a menace.

    Well, more nostalgia, in this story about Kodak: At Kodak, Some Old Things Are New Again. Did you know that the first digital camera was invented by a Kodak engineer -- in the 1970s? I didn't. As the daughter of a Kodak research chemist, it's been sad to see the company changing so much. In Rochester's Kodak Park where Dad worked, lots of the buildings have been demolished. I went to a Kodak 'family day' once with Dad and was amazed by the pitch dark rooms where women loaded film into cassettes, the vaults filled of silver to make that silver bromide, and the massive labs and tanks and piping to handle all the chemicals. Better to be done with all that, I guess.
    So this story, is encouraging, although Kodak is a shell of the company it once was:
    Kodak, which once considered itself the Bell Labs of chemistry, has embraced the digital world and the researchers who understand it.

    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    What happed to feminism?

    Back in the '60s, a lot of us really believed that women would control their lives and their sexual power would work for the positive as feminism spread around the world.

    Well, what happened? Women spend their lives, their youth and their family's fortunes on weddings, showers, proms, cruises and other fripperies that end up meaning nothing as everything falls apart a few years later. Nothing matters but the image and the dreams of a 'princess land' that's unobtainable. Many women have no control over their lives at all, and examples abound, from Britney to Paris to, now, Miley.

    Doug Thompson has some choice words about parents who ask him to photograph their young daughters in sexual images for the chance for 'fame and fortune': What are these parents thinking?

    Just in today's news from Florida, a school teacher loses her job because it was so easy to make money wearing a bikini on a sleazy fishing boat to titillate rich 'sportsmen'. (Via Daily Pulp.)

    And the 'DC Madam' commits suicide after being convicted in a case that lets her rich, powerful patrons continue in their licentious ways.

    Thompson quotes from a new book on this phenomenon, Girls Gone Skank:
    Instead of advancing women's social and professional empowerment, popular culture trends appear to be backsliding into the blatant sexual exploitation of women and girls at younger and younger ages.

    So much for the Age of Aquarius and Women Power. Those of us who took control of our own lives seem like a dying breed right now.

    Under the Bus

    Joel Achenbach finally puts words to the uncomfortable feeling I've been having about the Obama stories recently. What's with this 'throwing under the bus' thing?
    The Obama-Wright relationship has incited a massive outbreak of the phrase, which we can now officially declare to be overused. That doesn't mean that those who used it in recent days were guilty of cliche-mongering -- because this one congealed into cliche status with astonishing speed.

    Dave Winer wonders too, and has a lot more to say about why the Jeremiah Wright story is blown out of context: I see Rev Wright in a whole new light. I still can't say one way or the other if he acted appropriately in his sermons, but that was not how you address the media. They're too dangerous. That's the way you talk on your front porch on a hot weekday evening, hanging out with your friends, arguing politics and gossiping about a neighbor. Not in front of cameras that are broadcasting your words around the world, when you're talking about someone you supposedly care about, someone who not only is your friend, but is likely the next President of the United States, your country, which you have served, that you say you love.

    Also on the campaign, James Wolcott analyzes the rift between Clinton/Obama supporters and why Daily Kos is fueling the Democrats' downfall, in Vanity Fair: When Democrats Go Post-al.