Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jill Carroll released

I'm sure everyone already knows, but here's the article:

I'm elated. There are other journalists who have died, been captured and have been wounded from this war. However, I'm not too sure why this case moved me more than others. Most of the journalists over there are not there for the fame - they're there to cover a war that puts them in danger just as much as soldiers and civilians. Many journalists are saying that they are unable to do their jobs because the security situation is so bad that they can't venture out of the 'safe' areas, such as the Green Zone.

One of the criticisms about the war coverage is the wealth of attention spent on covering "the bad news" but not enough covering the good. However, using this logic, if a car bomb detonated near a major marketplace in Chicago or Los Angeles, do you think the press should be criticized if they covered this event extensively and not other events going on in that city at the time, such as a school being opened or a church-sponsored food drive?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Help Me Decide What Book To Read

I spent about five months plowing through all six of the Harry Potter books. I usually like to balance my non-fiction reading with fiction reading. However, the books I have read since Harry Potter have been the amusing memoir/essay line - specifically Sarah Vowell's Take the Cannoli and Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live and Sex, Drugs and Coco-Puffs. Not exactly Sun and the Northern Star or American Theocracy.

So, that said - I'm looking at my 'book to read' list and I'm at a total impasse. Here are my choices:

The Tender Bar - J.R. Moehringer

What's the Matter with Kansas - How Conservatives Won the Heart of America - Thomas Frank

Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser

The Osama Bin Laden I Know - Peter Bergen

...any thoughts, suggestions?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tools of the trade

Someone just gave me a style guide for the music review Web site they write for. In regards to interviews, the editor requires a person to use a tape recorder.

Fair enough -

But the writer sluffed it off, saying he was glad tape recorders were required because that meant no note taking.

If you're a reporter, you should be laughing - or at least snickering. I kept thinking of the great reporters I read about in Gay Talese's book The Kingdom and the Power. Much of the events Talese documented happened before 1960. The most prominent journalists we learn about in journalism colleges usually had to rely on their notetaking abilities.

I've had my share of recording screw-ups. Be it batteries that fail, or beginning a recording with the end of the tape or those phantom happenings where it records, there's plenty of tape, but when you play it back, you receive absolutely no audio. Tape recorders are invaluable, especially when you're dealing with fast-talking subjects. However, I try to use it only as a supplement.

Sort of like the Internet -

I'm not a knuckle-dragging, anti-techno crusader. I inevitably use the Internet when I'm doing stories. Still - all you have to do is conduct a random search on something you want, but you can't seem to find (e.g. lyrics to Neko Case's "The Needle Has Landed"). You look at all the information that's available and the Internet probably documents less than half of all the stuff you need as a reporter. In some ways, it's more accurate than interview sources because you can easily double and triple-check information. Still, you think of people who are extremely knowledgeable on any topic - and most of them probably don't have the capacity to post a blog because computers "aren't their thing."

Some folks believe the Internet makes reporters lazy. I agree with this to some extent. Tight deadlines and reduced budgets force reporters to remain in the newsroom and not outside - where stories are happening. But doing stuff the "long way" doesn't necessarily make a person hard-working either.

Current listening selections:
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Wire - Pink Flag
Verve - The Complete Verve/Remixed Boxed Set