This and that

Sorry, I was busy sabering the kid we assigned to interview the baby bears at the zoo. I was hoping some limpid clarity would spill out. You were saying?





(Philippine Star)



Rock star? No.

“The movement to the suburbs is really about people moving to opportunity,” said john a. powell (he spells his name with lower-case letters), a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and director of the Hass Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.


Not if I’m editing this.

 (He spells his name in lowercase in the belief that we should be “part of the universe, not over it, as capitals signify.”)

(UC Berkeley)

That’s nice, but, at least in the news columns, “capitals” signify no such thing.

AP is pretty much on board with this.

Q. What do you do with a person who uses unconventional capitalization on his/her name? For example, we have a local artist who wants to be called, let’s say, joe smith. Should we use Joe Smith or defer to his wishes? – from Mason City, Iowa on Thu, Jul 21, 2011

A. AP doesn’t spell names lowercase unless formally recognized: e. e. cummings, k.d. lang. A story might note a preference: The local artist Joe Smith, who signs his works lowercase, etc.

(AP Ask the Editor)

But AP is wrong about E.E. Cummings:

Cummings’s name is often styled “e.e. cummings” in the mistaken belief that the poet legally changed his name to lowercase letters only. Cummings used capital letters only irregularly in his verse and did not object when publishers began lowercasing his name, but he himself capitalized his name in his signature and in the title pages of original editions of his books.

(Enclyclopaedia Britannica)

We’ll leave “Encyclopaedia” for another day.


This and that

The author recounts when, early on, his copy was butchered, and an editor barked: “No good writing above the fold.” This was short-hand for the professional wisdom that, especially on page one, clarity ever trumped style. So Mr. Greenway learned to craft spare and vivid sentences that did not annoy his editors. On deadline, he evoked the misery of Pakistani refugees in 17 words: “They bring the cholera with them, and when they die by the road no one buries them.” On the illusion of close-at-hand victory in Vietnam: “The US military was always upbeat, and if you stayed in Saigon you might think the war was being won.” That sentence should be read by journalism students everywhere.

(Wall Street Journal)


13th Amendment latest

You would think that, since Hemingway’s time, reducing lead emissions into the atmosphere has benefited the developing brain. You would be wrong.

Anyone who has read Carlos Baker’s definitive biography of Ernest Hemingway knows Papa Hemingway was obsessed with making money. He wanted to wring as much income as possible from every short story and novel. Hemingway expected to be compensated for his work since that was the only thing he did to make a living.

However, in this brave new digital world of ours, all the rules about payment have changed.

Now, writers, scholars, and consultants contribute to several websites, such as the Huffington Post and Forbes, where they have the privilege to write… for free. That’s nada, zilch, nothing—but they can, as some cunning marketers suggest, build personal brands.

Actress and activist Marlo Thomas contributes to HuffPo. So does American Prospect editor Robert Kuttner, Hollywood Life editor Bonnie Fuller, and Columbia University scholar Lincoln Mitchell. Some HuffPo writers are gainfully employed elsewhere, but they also write books, give speeches, and run consulting companies.

One important difference between the HuffPo contributors and the freelancers of the world is these consultants are not full-time scribes. Those who rely solely on income from writing deserve a fair wage that the Huffington Post won’t give them. For those who can afford it, a timely column can theoretically turn into cheap advertising for a business, service, or cause.

(Contently) Hat tip: Jim Romenesko.


History lesson

This grammatical gallimaufry comes courtesy of Gizmodo. Presumably the writer didn’t mean that mankind moved out of the trees and out of the caves and immediately into large-scale tomb construction, or that the Egyptians invented distressing.

Thousands of years ago, a minority of ancient Egyptians set a majority to work building some of the oldest human-made structures in the world.



The Times didn’t have one very good Page One photo one day. Neither did the Washington Post. So, falling back on their Photo Editing 101 training, both papers grouped smaller photos together, four each. For some reason this is notable. Hat tip: Jim Romenesko.





Wrong Attenborough

Nice art, but David didn’t die Sunday. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)



Scared and confused

Acetyl fentanyl is an opiate analgesic with no recognized medical use. It is five to 15 times stronger than heroin.

(“News Medical Net“)

Acetyl fentanyl is a relative of a powerful prescription painkiller called fentanyl and is five times more potent than heroin as a painkiller, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Fox News)

 An independent lab contracted by The Inquirer found fentanyl in the residue – another death involving an additive about 100 times more potent than heroin that is showing up around the country, especially here.

(Philadelphia Inquirer)

Acetylfentanyl (acetyl fentanyl) is an opioidanalgesic drug that is an analog of fentanyl. Acetylfentanyl is 40 times more potent than heroin, 80 times more potent than morphine, and 15 times less potent than fentanyl.


Let’s just say it packs a wallop and leave it at that.


Remember the Neediest!

You get what you pay for, maybe. Do you really expect Huffington Post to support its newsgathering empire by looting TV stores?


What happens in Ferguson and the St. Louis metro area the day after everybody leaves?

It’s a question on the minds of nearly every resident, who know the camera crews will eventually fold up their sticks and pack up their vans, the West Florissant McDonald’s will transform from an international media filing center into a trivia question. But the local police will still be there, along with the structural inequality and racial disparities that sparked the crisis.

We plan to be there as it all unfolds. For The Huffington Post, this’ll involve a first-of-its-kind collaboration with readers, the local community and the Beacon Reader to create what we’re calling the Ferguson Fellowship. With reader support, we’ll hire a local citizen journalist who’s been covering the turmoil and train her to become a professional journalist.

Local resident Mariah Stewart has been covering the Ferguson protests as a citizen journalist with the support of readers through Beacon’s platform. With HuffPost readers’ support, we can make sure Stewart can continue her work.

Stewart will work directly with HuffPost’s criminal justice reporter Ryan Reilly to cover the ongoing story of Ferguson, tracking the federal investigation into the killing of Michael Brown and reporting on the empaneled grand jury. She’ll monitor the activity of the local and county police forces once the national spotlight dims, and will learn the intricacies of public records requests in an effort to divine the funding sources and uses of military gear in the county.

Click here to make a contribution and to learn more about Stewart and the Ferguson Fellowship.


Always look on the bright side of life

The sky is always falling and newspapers are always dying.

For more than a decade, that has been a common and constant refrain.

While working at, the Guardian US, and now, the Newspaper Association of America, I have been asked frequently about the state of the industry as people search for the worst.

Though newspaper media is enjoying the largest audiences ever as well as continuing to play a unique and critical role in our communities, there is one fact that always tends to be obscured or outright ignored – newspapers are still making money and newspapers remain a good investment.

A year ago at this time, John Henry and Jeff Bezos made high-profile acquisitions of The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, respectively, which confirmed that newspapers are viable investment options with record web traffic for July as well as hiring more than 60 people in the first seven months of the year.

A company hiring 60 people in seven months sounds like a healthy one to me.

(Caroline Little, Newspaper Association of America)

Why, at that rate, things should be hunky-dory all across the industry in less than three centuries.



(Poynter, 2013)




This and that

When my brother started with what was then Ma Bell, he went through mandatory sensitivity training, required of all new workers. One thing he learned, he told me, was to refer to manhole covers as “subterranean cable vault covers.” (If he told me that the generic term for the Princess phone was anything other than “pink phone,” I’ve forgotten it.) But I’m reminded of the SCVCs every time I see a Bell System logo, which is every day, because cast iron is durable and only stolen covers are replaced. Hat tip: Headsup The Blog.








From the self-love beat

You’re not Stanley. No one paid you to find Livingstone.  So after you’ve written this, crumple it up, too.


FERGUSON, Mo. — Protesters have clashed violently with police here, the looting and gunshots have terrified residents, and I have witnessed many things that don’t fit neatly into stories about this community’s prolonged period of unrest.

For me, the didn’t-make-it-into-a-story notes are extensive. They sit crumpled up in the glove compartment of my rental car. Wet notebooks soaked by rain store stories about the looter who asked me if I needed help filming, the intimidating officer in riot gear who asked me if I needed a ride back to my car, and the peaceful protesters who guided me to the best spots to take cover while being tear-gassed.

Covering Ferguson’s protests has been memorable, exhilarating and downright exhausting. I suspect many people — reporters, protesters, looters, law enforcement officials — are working on the same two to three hours of sleep I am getting.

Yet I don’t want to sleep. This is too important.

(USA Today)


Help wanted (13th Amendment latest)

A chance to get in on the ground floor, and stay there. Hat tip: Jim Romenesko.


Are you the Anne Fulenwider, Cindi Leive, Franca Sozzani or Anna Wintour of the next generation?

A.N. Publishing is looking for a long-term Managing Editor of Sommet Dame, the millennial generations, women’s lifestyle online magazine. The Managing Editor position is unpaid, part time and will be based out of your residence, as the site will have an all-volunteer staff of writers to start. Well, here is a chance to get in on the ground floor of a media start-up.


(A.N. Publishing)


This and that

“Our”? Wrong Times literary supplement, mate.

When our present queen succeeded to the throne in 1952, Churchill recalled that his youth had been passed under another queen, amid “the tranquil glories of the Victorian era,” but “tranquil” was an unlikely word for his own experience. Before he was elected to Parliament in 1900, aged 25, Churchill had fought in or witnessed no fewer than four savage imperial conflicts.

(New York Times Book Review)



Worst ‘gate’ ever

The cast of “Downton Abbey” is embracing what they’ve dubbed “water bottle-gate.”

(ABC News)


The less things change, etc.

Has some wise guy flipped a switch and thrown the news into summer reruns?

Everywhere you look in your news feed is a story you’ve seen before. In northern Iraq, conquering jihadists have the Kurds calling on the United States for more help. North Korea is again stating its desire to nuke the White House. A virulent contagion abroad has Americans worrying when it will break out on our shores. And, in a rerun of a rerun, a Gaza war of tunnels, rockets, invasions, ceasefires, withdrawals, broken ceasefires, and shuttle diplomacy is claiming a record harvest of headlines.

At home, Hillary Clinton has commenced another presidential campaign as her party’s presumptive nominee. A new iteration of the iPhone has the press jabbering, and police everywhere seem to be overreacting to imagined threats by killing citizens. Even ancient stories, such as the Rwandan genocide and the start of World War I, have yo-yoed their way back into the news, but only because they are marking anniversaries that end in zero (Rwanda’s twentieth and the hundredth of the start of WWI).

Sometimes the news actually repeats itself, as in the case of Clinton. Such man-made cycles as elections, the Olympics, and wars lend themselves to retreaded coverage, as do the natural cycles of hurricane and tornado seasons, droughts and floods, and summer forest fires. Reporters and editors pack new events into old, familiar templates.

But the periodicity of the news has another cause, as press scholar Jack Lule discovered more than a decade ago in his book Daily News, Eternal Stories. Lule proposed that the news was less a pure journalistic creation than it was the modern expression of ancient myths.

Like many all-encompassing formulas, Lule’s reduction of news into myth suffers by attempting to explain too much. But after reading his book, you can’t help but notice how many front-page stories collapse into the seven master myths he assembles (which will sound familiar to anybody who has brushed up against Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces): the victim, a casualty of randomness or a villain; the scapegoat, who is punished for straying outside the social order; the hero, who smites evil; the good mother, who “offers maternal comfort and protection”; the trickster, the rogue who disturbs the social order; the other world, typically foreign countries; and the flood, or any other disaster.

(Jack Shafer in Slate, August 12, 2014)



(A.J. Liebling, “The Press,” 1961)


True that

Paul Krugman, Times columnist and Nobelist, likes to refer to himself as “yours truly.” A lot.








13th Amendment latest

Of course you won’t be paid for it. (Hat tip: Jim Romenesko.) I suppose that falls under “acts of kindness,” at least from Block’s viewpoint.


Portfolio is a showcase for quality essays related to Western Pennsylvania, up to 750 words in length about concrete experiences rather than opinions. Send submissions fitting the following topics by email to; or write to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Back to School: Convey your most memorable educational experience, good or bad, from anytime between kindergarten and college.

Steelers Nation: If our favorite football team has created a bond among relatives, friends or strangers in a unique way, let us know.

Storytelling: Reminisce about something meaningful — an event, a location, an experience, a job, etc. — with a Pittsburgh-area connection.

Biography: If a deceased person lived an interesting life worth others reading about, describe how.

Raves: Sing the praises of some present-day local setting or activity you believe others should know about.

Animal Tales: Describe an interesting relationship with a pet or an unusual encounter with others in the animal kingdom.

Out-of-Towners: We’re eager to hear non-Pittsburghers’ impressions of the city, positive or otherwise.

Local Dispatch: A catch-all category in which we’ll showcase good writing connected to Western Pennsylvania.

Random Acts of Kindness: Tell us the good deeds you’ve seen strangers do, either for you or others.



Modern times

The secret to getting published, because it’s so tough getting anyone to regurgitate a handout nowadays.




This and that

Dear Bosses: The Almighty put newspapers on this planet to raise hell, provide a paying job for authors of literary productions of fewer than eight words, and tell the reader when the movies start. Indiana was put there to grow wheat and raise pigs.

Recently, we began to sketch out concepts for a newsroom of the future – for a new kind of Indy Star built on a great history.

As a starting point, we relied on this long-held principle at The Star: Our mission is to serve the greater good of Central Indiana. To enrich lives and help our communities succeed, to expose what’s wrong and reveal what’s right, to confront our failings and celebrate our triumphs, to convey a deep sense of place and understanding of Hoosiers and the place we call home.

Like any business, we must evolve to succeed. We’ve responded over the years to the demands inherent in the growing consumption of news on smartphones, tablets and desktops, and in social media, while continuing to deliver newspapers to loyal subscribers seven days a week. Just in the last year, you’ve seen the launch of our enhanced website, the continuing rollout of new apps for mobile and tablet and the addition of 70-plus pages a week to print.

But we must keep strengthening our bridge to the future. So we are taking steps to significantly recast our newsroom in coming weeks. We will expand our reporting staff, further sharpen our focus on being responsive to the interests of our readers in real time, and deepen our community connections. We are creating jobs focused on topics and issues that readers tell us are meaningful to them, and providing that information in ways they want. Our goal is to better serve our rapidly growing digital audience, and the many younger readers in that space, while enhancing the value of print.