Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Press & the Presidency

. 
Oh, Donald!

“[I]f you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you. . . . Sometimes they write positively, and sometimes they write negatively. But from a pure business point of view, the benefits of being written about have far outweighed the drawbacks.”

—Donald Trump, talking hairpiece and GOP presidential candidate, in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” 1987 URL 


Editorial Comment: What a deal.


PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Wake me when it’s over












Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Monday, August 31, 2015

20! Yup, two freakin’ decades of this crap!!!

.
SOMEWHERE OFF THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST — “Are you freakin’ KIDDING ME!!?!?!” The security chief’s scream melted the guard’s iPhone6 and left ear hairs within 15 feet smoking. 

WHAT THE $%^&*(&^%$!!$$%^&*^£¢∞§¶•ª¶§∞£@!??!?!??

(Editor’s note: AP style is mixed on how/whether to report this kind of exchange. We err on the side of full disclosure to permit the reader to decide for herself. That’s how the WORD has always worked. Sorry about that.)

Yes, unbe-$%^&*(&^%ing-lievable, but true: For the 20th straight year, despite measures that have made Chief of Verbosity Containment Phil O’Shaddup, the disgraced former Guantanamo interrogation chief, reshuffle his size-14 regulation golf shoes in discomfort, The WORD is out. 

Again.

The WORD — formally “Today’s WORD on Journalism” — a pesky and recidivist quoter (some say misquoter) of pithy phrases on journalism and the “lamestream press,” language, politics, and the role of public engagement in an informed civil society (OK, OK, perfesser, move it along . . . !), today did what Homeland Security Boss Jeh Johnson and thousands of crack TSA staff have said was impossible. 

Since 1995, The WORD has tormented an already uneasy planet with statements on the press. Since first apprehended, edited and sent in to the feared hammock-strewn and Scrabble-laden maximum security facility, St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose, in 1996, The WORD today celebrated the new school year by slipping away (again. did we mention this is the 20th year?) from the remote sanitarium (or is that sanitorium?) on a remote luxury rock miles out in the Pacific Ocean 350 miles north of San Francisco.


“We really thought we had clamped down on the SOB this time,” observed St. Mumbles High Censor (or Censer?) and Comma Queen Mary Norris. Brought aboard after the embarrassing 2014 escape, apparently involving friendly borking sea lions, that it became Norris’s (or is that Norris’? or Norrises’s?) job to keep The WORD “in his goddam hammock,” as Johnson said in May.

“Apparently, there, were, Oxford, commas, involved” in this year’s escape, Norris said. 

While some in the Obama Administration (or should that be lowercase?) weasled — “Could be bad, but maybe not,” an earnest spokesman intoned — many in the larger WORD community, which has swelled to nearly 2,000 worldwide in recent years, cheered.

“YAY!!!” yelled misguided 13-year WORD subscriber Conn Jugate of Haybale, Iowa. “We’ve lost Colbair and Jon Stewie. How can we have a presidential embarrassment without good old WORDie?”
According to a thin-lipped report from O’Shaddup’s spokesperson, delivered after the failed lexicographer had flung himself into the surf, the WORD apparently spent the summer on the St. Mumbles’ veranda knitting a rubber Zodiac-style raft, and made a 6-horsepower outboard in the arts and crafts program.


“He said he was knitting an afghan for his Twitter editor,” said watch commander Mia Opia as attendants rescued a burbling sanitarium director from the froth. “Like anyone edits Twitter.”


The WORD, whose daily doses of “wisdom” on matters journalistic, political, social and cultural have afflicted decent folk on five continents since 1995, had been a, er, “guest” at St. Mumbles since May, when white-jacketed attendants collected the blathering serial quoter and the contents of his office from Utah State University.



He spent the summer convalescing at the remote coastal rest home, a dark tower where Chas. Addams once vacationed, studying up on the 5,000 new words in the Scrabble dictionary, lounging on the porch and secretly collecting new quotes on the press to torment a troubled media world.


The WORD was first admitted and first escaped from St. Mumbles in 1996 after a ground-breaking opening season quoting wise guys on journalism. Since then, the WORD’s, um, “influence” has spread worldwide, and last year the International Bloviaters League and Tribune of Hairbrained Editors & Reporters (IBLaTHER) honored the serial email pest with its coveted Electronic Junkmail Award.


Anyway, the WORD is out again, gentle and unsuspecting readers. Brace yourselves.


As usual, we launch this season with the ever-useful wisdom of the genial former colonial Royal High Potentate of the Virginia Colony, whose high regard for both education and the press rings with an increasingly popular fervor today. New WORDs begin tomorrow, and will continue through the 2015-2016 season, or until you come to your senses. Enjoy!



• • •

TODAY’S WORD ON JOURNALISM—The Perennial Season Opener

“I thank God we have no free schools or printing, and I hope that we shall not have these for a hundred years. For learning has brought disobediences and heresy and sects into the world; and printing has divulged them and libels against the government. God keep us from both.” 

—Sir William Berkeley 
Governor, Virginia Colony, 1671

• • •

Back-story: The WORD was originally concocted (“conceived” is, I think, altogether too grand) as a way to get journalism students to pay attention to their email. Strange as it may sound, email was a new and unpleasant disturbance of the general peace back in 1995, and many students did not then spend 16 hours a day online. As a professor hoping to get and keep their attention while also instructing them, my object was that the WORD would give them something to think about before class. Hope, like the WORD, springs eternal.

I think it’s fair to say that this strategy was a dismal failure. Most of my students continue to ignore their daily WORDs and gaily accept point reductions on their quizzes for not knowing the day's wordish wisdom from philosophers ranging from Soren Kierkegaard to Brian Williams to Lisa Simpson.

But the WORD has become rather frighteningly popular with non-students—purported grown-ups, mostly, who actually ask to be afflicted or who send email addresses of unsuspecting friends/colleagues/parents/bosses, so that they might be victimized as well.

When the WORD was trundled by those nice white-jacketed men into St. Mumbles last spring, 2,000 (mostly volunteer) victims subscribed to the direct email WORD list. More got the WORD by checking the website, whence it was linked and Tweeted and forwarded like a pox to many more unsuspecting victims by so-called “friends.”

• • • • •
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff. ted.pease@gmail.com. (Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff on Facebook

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pease Out

.
Tempus Fugit


All good things must come to an end, quoth the bards. I don’t know who those bard guys are, but this entirely mediocre thing doth cometh to an end as well.
Thus endeth the 19th season of the WORD season, 162 more or less daily whacks up alongside the head happily delivered from me to you.

Sad, I know. But the Class of 2015 has trooped forth into an unsuspecting land, so it’s time for the jolly men in white coats from St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose to come and lock up the WORD for another summer of rumination, cogitation and conjugation. He’ll be in the top tower, barking as usual.

It’s been a good hunt; we’ve bagged some good ones. The WORD pauses now to reflect on those that got away and to plan hot pursuit for the 2016—our 20th!—season. A roundup report of the brilliance of the past year would be in order, if I were that well organized. But alas. So, like my students, I’m slipping my last WORD under your door and fleeing.

A WORDster sent me this one, wishing only to shut me the hell up. It has nothing to do with journalism, free expression or anything else we deal with, but it would cheer my students if it were true: 

Under the sod and under the trees 
Lies the body of [WORDster] Pease.
He is not here, there’s only the pod:
Pease shelled out and went to God. 
—An 1880s gravestone on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts (lightly edited) 

No one familiar with the WORD or with God could presume any truth to that. But we are hoping for a good salmon season here, which is almost heaven.

Wishing the best to all of you, loyal, deranged WORDsters. You can anticipate the WORD’s next escape from St. Mumbles in late August. Sorry, but like the swallows to Capistrano and the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, you can pretty much count on it.   

—TP, inmate, St. Mumbles, on the porch, in the sunny spot, 2015

PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Roadtrip!








Annoy a friend! Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM stuck in his email every weekday morning during 20th WORD season, starting in late August. This free “service” is sent to 1,700 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Surviving 2016

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Oh, Jon!

“If Oprah can leave and the world still spins, I honestly think it will survive me.”

—Jon Stewart, on hand-wringing over his decision to depart The Daily Show after 16 years, Jon Stewart: Why I quit The Daily Show,” The Guardian, April 18, 2015



Editorial Comment: Everyone, check under your seats.


PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Weiner Walk












Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The White House Beat

. 
Covering the President
 
“The White House might be the seat of American and world power, but for the press, it can be a bugaboo of a beat: ‘All hype and spin.’ ‘Restrictive in every sense of the word.’ ‘Cramped and windowless.’ ‘Locked.’ 

“That’s how just four reporters described the job in Politico Magazine’s second annual survey of the White House press corps, with nearly 70 journalists weighing in on what it’s really like to on the presidential beat.”


—Politico Magazine, The Truth About Covering Obama,” May/June 2015 AP photo

Editorial Comment: When White House correspondents refer to their “beat,” they’re referring to their heads in repeated contact with the press room wall. 


PeezPix by Ted Pease 

The Beach Stair








Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

The News Package

. 
Text Technicians


“One of the things that has been bad for American publishing was the invention of the person called a copy editor, an expert who knows grammar and can spot inconsistencies: a technician of text. Many copy editors are very good at what they do, but the creation of that function has taken away from the principal editor a basic interest in the text. Most editors, with some notable exceptions, have become packagers now, rather than close editors.” 

—John Hersey, (1914-1993), journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, “John Hersey, The Art of Fiction No. 92,” The Paris Review, 1986

Editorial Comment: News packages, shrink-wrapped and styrofoamed, viral and Tweetable.


PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Coltish











Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Movie Night

. 
Violence Rules


“The MPAA needs the teen market. Tougher than most other national ratings boards on sexual images in movies, it’s far more lenient when it comes to violence. . . . The argument may be that sexuality is real and disturbs kids more than pretend maiming. But these ratings teach that sex is forbidden and killing is cool. They also tell the world that America is a place where violence rules.”

—Richard Corliss, (1944-2015), film critic, “The big picture: Blood on the Streets,” Time, 2007

Editorial Comment: True story. Movies, a window on the world.


PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Beach Morning











Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Workplace Violence

. 
Just Shoot Me



“News photographers tend to be tough, able to survive being shot at, both for real and verbally. The way I grew up in the business, the photo editors weren’t polite people. You were afraid of not getting the picture because the consequences of getting yelled at by an editor were way worse than getting attacked on the street by rioters—you could get shot at, beaten up, they didn’t care. They just wanted to see the pictures. They didn’t have HR in those days to complain to. I got better at taking photos out of sheer fear.” 

—David Hume Kennerly, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, “‘I Want to Be With the Circus,’” Politico magazine, April 2015 

Editorial Comment: Ben Bradlee used to call that “creative tension.” I had an editor who called it “management by terroristic threatening.”

Related: See Kennerly’s great photo-essay on 50 years of campaign photography, “‘I Want to Be With the Circus,’” Politico, April 2015


PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Ticked-off Kelp Crab











Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rarified Airtime

. 
. . . and Dumb Human Misteaks



“There are certain professions that we in society put on a very high pedestal in terms of honesty and integrity — like teachers, doctors and journalists. We assume they’re breathing rarefied air. 

“All of those people are just human and prone to be human and making dumb human mistakes and falling prey to envy and lust. Anything less than absolute perfection, we condemn. . . . [P]eople lie and cut corners, whether (they) work at Taco Bell or as a reporter.”

—Gabrielle Union, who plays a cutthroat cable news host on BET’s “Being Mary Jane,” in “News Flash: Flawed reporters abound onscreen,” USA Today, April 13, 2015

Editorial Comment: What? Brian Williams and Taco Bell, too?




PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Tom, Couch Potato








Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is Anyone Listening?

. 
Short Attention Span



“The writer of an article for a magazine of general circulation is in the position of a man who undertakes to make a speech at a picnic. The people have all gathered around to have a good time, but their attention is vague, wandering and uncertain. It has to be captured on the fly and transformed quickly into definite interest.”


  —Harvey V. Deuell, editor, Liberty magazine, 1937

Editorial Comment: Wait. What were you saying, again?

PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Church











Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day

. 
Love your mother


“I am constantly impressed with the progress that has been made since that first demonstration 25 years ago. Millions of Americans participated in 1970, and now millions more around the globe are showing their concern for the condition of our planet and demanding that their leaders make decisions that will protect the environment now and for future generations. There has been a sea change in the degree of environmentally educated people in our society. They, in the end, will make the difference.”
—Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005), Earth Day founder and former Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator, on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1995
Editorial Comment: And that sea change is still rising.

Related: 45 Years of Earth Day: How Environmentalism Has Evolved,” NBC

PeezPix by Ted Pease 

Hippie Bus







Get TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM in your email every weekday morning during WORD season. This is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to ted.pease@gmail.com. Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Trinidad, California.
(Be)Friend The WORD

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard
.