Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's WORD: Social Necessity

Don’t Let Newspapers Die

“[T]oo many of us fail to understand what that death would mean, believing newspapers provide no service they can’t get elsewhere. But there is a reason [Larry] Craig and [Kwame] Kilpatrick were not taken down by CNN or the local TV news. Local TV news specializes in crime, weather and sports. CNN has a national purview. Even the Internet primarily synthesizes reporting done in other media.

“No, only the local paper performs the critical function of holding accountable the mayor, the governor, the local magnates and potentates, for how they spend your money, run your institutions, validate or violate your trust. If newspapers go, no other entity will have the wherewithal to do that.”

—Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist,
The Mi
ami Herald. Click here for this column.

Editorial Comment: Ignorance ain’t bliss.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Today's WORD: Good Gloat

Reader Research

“I bought The Salt Lake Tribune this morning for the first time in six months because of the lead front-page article ‘Are Newspapers Sinking?’ The San Francisco Chronicle is finished, and subscriptions are falling from The Los Angeles Times to The New York Times.

“The Tribune can blame the Internet and talk radio, but you won’t face the truth. Your big problem is blatant, one-sided leftist liberalism. Your editorial pages are predictably leftist and full of falsehoods, and it seeps into the rest of the reporting.

“I’ll be delighted when you go bankrupt and [are] forced to close your doors. Utah won’t miss you much.”
—Jay Reid, proud non-subscribing reader,
in letter to the editor, The Salt Lake Tribune (3/24/09)

Editorial Comment: There. Feel better?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Today's WORD: Christian Science Monitor

‘New Clothes’
“As of today, we are shedding print on a daily basis. But the Monitor itself . . . is becoming more daily than ever. No longer inked on wood pulp, no longer trucked from printing plants to your mailbox, no longer published only five days a week, the daily Monitor is now a dynamic online newspaper on all days. . . .Think of it this way: We are putting on new clothes for a new era, but we are the same Monitor, committed to the same objective we have adhered to since we were launched a century ago: ‘to injure no man but to bless all mankind.’”
John Yemma, editor, The Christian Science Monitor,
whose final paper edition is published today

“I’ll always remember the Monitor as a liberator, a polite agitator, an open-minded newspaper that gave voice to many writers in many places around the world. It is only a small stretch to describe this newspaper as an early successful experiment in ’open-source’ journalism—long before the Internet and Linux.”
Ralph Nader, political activist, who began his writing career as a stringer for the Monitor

• And click here for a collection of reminiscences by Monitor old-timers.

(Thanks to alert WORDster Brad Knickerbocker)

Editorial Comment: Next, a computer screen in the john.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today's WORD: Old Farts

Uh-oh. We ARE Our Fathers’ Generation!

“The problem . . . is not the net generation but befuddled baby-boomers, who once sang along with Bob Dylan that ‘something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is,’ yet now find that they are clueless about the revolutionary changes taking place among the young.”
—The Economist, “The kids are alright,” 2008
(Thanks to alert WORDster Adam Ward)

Editorial Comment: The times, they are a-chan..gin'...

Barbie Update: It was SRO at the REINVENTING BARBIE BASH at Utah State University on Tuesday, as awards were presented for the most moving, funny and inventive repurposed Barbies. More than 160 dolls (not counting animals and vehicles) were part of the month-long exhibit celebrating Women's History Month, and Barbie's 50th birthday. Click here for story and photos from the Deseret News.

BARBIE MAKEOVERS—As part of the REINVENTING BARBIE BASH at Utah State University on Tuesday, the Women & Gender Studies team received makeovers by Broadway makeup artist Gary Arave (second from left). The newly Barbified are (from left) Katie Reeves, Arave, GLBT director Maure Smith, WGS director Brenda Cooper, Katie Jo Matekovic, Amy Mattson and Jess Collett.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's WORD: Fish Wrap

Here’s Why I Read the Paper

“I love going out in the dark, finding the paper and reading it over breakfast. It’s just not the same online. Here’s why I read the paper:
1) I want to know what’s going on. An uninformed citizenry is an opportunity for corrupt politicians. If we don’t buy the paper, journalists can't afford to produce quality reporting. No one is out there arguing used cars want to be free—the same is true for quality information.
2) Coupons and sales. I make more than the cost of the paper back in savings.
3) Reuse: I don’t buy wrapping paper. I save the Sunday comics. Half the time my children stop and read their presents before opening them.
4) Fire. That stuff is great for getting a fire going. You can only do that once with a laptop.”
—Matthew Flitton, journalist, on his Facebook yesterday

Editorial Comment: And the time I used my Macbook to wrap a salmon! Euuuuh.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Today's WORD: Barbie Bash

Teach Your Children Well

“Barbie is . . . held up as a paragon of femininity, an unachievable ideal for young girls to mimic. She is a princess, a dentist, a lawyer, a movie star. She is demure and always smiling, always pleasing to the eye, ready for anything. She is heterosexual. She is patriarchy’s ideal tabula rasa, an always-already perfect female form onto which anything can be inscribed. All you have to do is buy her. And what's worse, she teaches little girls to be the same as her.”
Thinking Girl blog, “because women are people too,” 2006

Editorial Comment: And what’s with Ken, anyway?

TODAY: REINVENTING BARBIE BASH! More than 160 Barbie and other iconic dolls try out new roles and looks as part of an exhibit, “Reinventing Barbie,” in celebration of Women’s History Month and Barbie’s 50th birthday—by students and community members at Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library, sponsored by the USU Women & Gender Studies Program. “These dolls shape girls’ lives,” said one student, “and not always in good ways. We’re giving Barbie—and all women and men—new perspectives.” The “Reinventing Barbie Bash
is today, 3-5 p.m. See blog.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Today's WORD: Political Journalism

Leave It to the Professionals

“I shall not often meddle with politics, because we have a political Editor who is already excellent and only needs to serve a term or two in the penitentiary to be perfect.”
—Mark Twain (1835-1910), A Biography, Galaxy magazine

Editorial Comment: Good advice: Know your limits.

Barbie News Note: More than 100 Barbie and other iconic dolls try out new roles and looks as part of an exhibit, “Reinventing Barbie,” in celebration of Women’s History Month and Barbie’s 50th birthday—by students and community members at Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library, sponsored by the USU Women & Gender Studies Program. “These dolls shape girls’ lives,” said one student, “and not always in good ways. We’re giving Barbie—and all women and men—new perspectives.” The “Reinventing Barbie Bash” is Tuesday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today's WORD: Jester

Taking Refuge Behind the Jester

“John Knowles wrote that ‘sarcasm is the protest of the weak,’ and the popularity of The Daily Show, Gawker, etc., over the past decade has been a kind of mass refuge-taking from the abuses of the powerful in the sanctuary of the court jester. To a point, that’s healthy; the problem becomes the poverty of ideas behind all the mockery. The court jester never usurps the throne because he doesn’t pose a serious threat to the reigning orthodoxy, and in fact is subtly dependent on it. The solution isn’t to encourage somber scolds—there’s a happy medium to be found since true wits are also great moral teachers beneath the brilliant surface—but to encourage genuine ideas.”
—“Austin,” blogger response to James Marcus book review,
Columbia Journalism Review
, 2009

Editorial Comment: Well, oh yeah...?

Cultural News Note:
More than 100 Barbie and other iconic dolls try out new roles and looks as part of an exhibit, “Reinventing Barbie,” in celebration of Women’s History Month and Barbie’s 50th birthday—by students and community members at Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library, sponsored by the USU Women & Gender Studies Program. “These dolls shape girls’ lives,” said one student, “and not always in good ways. We’re givin
g Barbie—and all women and men—new perspectives.” The Reinventing Barbie Bash is Tuesday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today's WORD: Sounds of Silence

NEWS NOTE: 11,250 U.S. journalists lost jobs between January 2007 and mid-February 2009 (Source: CJR)


“Across our industry it is harder to find managers and proprietors who grasp the essence of journalism. It is difficult to reconcile that somehow, with all our communication skills, we fail to convey, even to our own employers, the worth of what we do.”
Chris Masters, Australian author and TV journalist, 2008
(Thanks to alert Kiwi WORDster Charles Riddle)

Editorial Comment: Voices in the wilderness


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today's WORD: Blog Therapy

Blogging Off Steam

“Blogging . . . offers journalists instant gratification at little cost. . . . Journalists love doing this in part because over the years they have been pushed to squeeze more and more of the viewpoint and analysis out of their writing in the name of objectivity. So the blog lets them cut loose. It gives them a satisfaction that’s hard to get from doing original reporting, and it’s much easier than doing original reporting as well. And it lets them feel like they’re part of a community, ‘the blogosphere.’”
—Mark Gimein, business journalist and some-time blogger, 2007

Editorial Comment: Filling those empty retirement hours, when you've lost your old, real community...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today's WORD: Goodbye, Seattle

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

“Can Seattle’s oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age?
The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck’s.
If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word.”
—Joel Connelly, columnist, in today’s final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Editorial Comment: Another death in the family.

Last day paper.
Managing editor’s goodbye.
P-I memories.
Introducing the nation’s largest daily online newspaper: SeattlePI.com
David Horsey, the P-I’s 2-Time Pulitzer Prize winner.
Announcement, w/ video
Reax: Peter Kafka Media Memo

David Horsey, Seattle P-I

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today's WORD: Savory Verses


“Poetry, you want to read over and over, to get as much savor and meaning from it as you can. When you read newspaper reporting over and over it’s usually because there’s a snag in it somewhere.”
—Roy Blount Jr., humor writer and author of Alphabet Juice, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Herb Strentz)

Editorial Comment: Honey, get me rewrite!

More from Unka Roy:

According to scholars of linguistics, the relation between a word and its meaning is arbitrary. In proof, they point to pigs. Steven Pinker, in Words and Rules, observes that pigs go oink oink in English, nøff nøff in Norwegian, and in Russian chrjo chrjo. That may look arbitrary.
As if it went something like this:
English committee member #1 What’ll we put down for pig noise?
Member #2 (whose motives are unclear) Let’s name it for my uncle Oink.

News Note: Forced merger between the journalism and speech departments @Utah State on temporary “hold.”

Monday, March 9, 2009


Dear Wordies:

The WORD regrets that it is offline until Monday, March 16. We have been furloughed without pay because of budget shortfalls at Utah State University stemming from cuts ordered by the Utah Legislature. It’s not that we don’t have words or work to do—Lord knows we DO!—but the university is shut down this week.

Until we return, we revert in all hope and good faith to Tom Stoppard, who wrote, “Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you can get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”

Keep nudging, WORDsters!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Today's Word—Hey, Grammer!!

National Grammar Day (was yesterday....oops)

“We owe much to our mother tongue. It is through speech and writing that we understand each other and can attend to our needs and differences. If we don't respect and honor the rules of English, we lose our ability to communicate clearly and well. In short, we invite mayhem, misery, madness, and inevitably even more bad things that start with letters other than M.”
—Martha Brockenbrough, grammarian and founder, National Grammar Day and SPOGG The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar

Also, From the (gender-specific) Fun-With-Grammar Dept.:
“Constructing passive sentences is a way of concealing your own testicles, lest someone cut them off.”
—Sir Ian Holm as the psychoanalyst Dr. Ernesto Morales in the film “The Treatment,” 2006

. . . and From the Nit-Picking Pedantry Department:
“Ancient attitudes to grammar still survive: many people are in awe of it, know little about it, tend to fear or dislike it, often find it baffling and boring if exposed to it at school, and yet a minority is fascinated by it: a field in which precise scholarship and nit-picking pedantry have coexisted for centuries.”
—“Grammar” entry in The Oxford Companion to the English Language, 1992

Editorial Comment: Conjugate this.

News Note: Debate over journalism@Utah State

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Today's Word—Society's Arc


“Look history over and you will see. The missionary comes after the whiskey—I mean, he arrives after the whiskey—I mean, he arrives after the whiskey has arrived. Next comes the poor immigrant with ax and hoe and rifle; next, the trader, next the miscellaneous rush; next the gambler, the desperado, the highwayman, and all of their kindred in sin of both sexes; and next the smart chap who has bought up an old grant that covers all the land; this brings in the lawyer tribe; the vigilance committee brings the undertaker. All these interests bring the newspaper; the newspaper starts up politics and a railroad; all hands turn to and build a church and a jail—and behold, civilization is established forever in the land.”
—Mark Twain (1835-1910), social observer,
quoted in Stephen Longstreet, The Wilder Shore:
A Gala Social History of San Francisco, 1849-1906

(Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1968)
(Thanks to alert WORDster Dwight Teeter)

Editorial Comment: And when the newspapers die....

News Note: Debate over journalism@Utah State.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Today's Word—A New 'Pencil'?

Dan Schorr, 92, All A-Twitter

“I’m becoming familiar with it, even as I listen now. It really is another generation. I’m agape as I learn about how people can communicate with the outside world. It somehow reminds me ... of something in ancient Greece, the agora, the marketplace. You come out and you say things at the marketplace and everyone can hear. And every person now seems to be a network.”
—Daniel Schorr, senior correspondent, National Public Radio,
tries out new technology. See&Hear NPR story.

Editorial Comment: New tricks, old dogs.

News Note:
Debate over journalism@USU.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Today's Word—Radioman

The End of the Story: Paul Harvey

“As a boy, I fell in love with words and ran away from home and joined the radio. And it really was something. . . . You trust me to paint pictures on the mirror of your mind, and I will let you feel such agony and ecstasy ... as you would never be able to feel by looking at it.”
—Paul Harvey (1918-2009), radioman
See video clip.