Some Songs For Summer (Part 1)

Given the sultry summer we’ve been having thus far, a very appropriate song. It is so evocative of a timeless feeling

But it leads me to a more important question: Is Bruce’s voice starting to lose its power, its strength. I have maintained since this album came out that the people who produced this album were trying to hide that his voice has lost a little oomph as it has aged or this mixing that was done on it wasn’t up to snuff.

I keep waiting for Bruce to let it rip during some passages of these songs and it’s just not happening. And the stellar piano work of Roy Bittan gets buried in the mix of this particular song. Thoughts?

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Ridin’ The Storm Out…

An occupational hazard of being a journalist is occasionally having to work when most people are hunkering down for bad weather.

This is one of those weekends for me. I’m working tonight,  Saturday afternoon and evening as well as on Monday night.

The only break I get is Sunday, when my wife and I are going to see former President Bill Clinton speak on behalf of Congressman Chris Murphy at Waterbury’s Palace Theater. I’m just waiting for the Man from Hope to say (with his right thumb strategically wedged between is index and middle fingers), in his best  sounding voice, “I did not have sex with that woman … Miss Hurricane Sandy.” 🙂

In the spirit of trying to keep things light as we wait to see what happens, I’m thinking I need to come up with a playlist of Sandy or Hurricane related songs to get me through this weekend. So far I’ve got:

“Rock You Like a Hurricane” by the Scorpions.

“4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)” by Bruce Springsteen.

“Sandy” by John Travolta (from Grease sound track).

–  “Down at The Twist and Shout” by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

–  “Ridin’ The Storm Out,” by REO Speedwagon.

Feel free to add your own suggestions as comments to this post.

 

Henry Kissinger And The Full Monty

Nobel Peace Prize Winner and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the nude?

Not exactly an image you want stuck in your head.

But that was the inescapable conclusion I came to after seeing countless tweets on Monday that said “TSA Agents Conduct ‘Full Monty’ Pat-Down On Henry Kissinger”

The media likes nothing better than being able to turn a memorable phrase or write catchy headline. But should that desire out-strip (no pun intended) the need for clarity and accuracy?

Absolutely not.

Here’s the problem. Although the Oxford English Dictionary describes the British slang term as “everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible,” the phrase has taken on a new meaning since the 1997 movie of the same name. And since the story of “The Full Monty” movie was about a group of average English blokes becoming male strippers, I think it is reasonable to argue that most people view the term as a euphemism for nakedness.

None of the accounts that I’ve seen of the encounter between Kissinger and the Transportation Safety Administration officers at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Friday says anything about him being forced to strip down to his birthday suit.

The debate over somebody as well-known and easily recognizable as Kissinger should be subject to TSA pat-downs can be left for another day or another blog. But at the risk of traumatizing countless readers with the image of the naked old man, let’s be a little more precise when describing what went on here.

Be My Guest….

This post originally appeared on the New Haven Register’s “Your Open Newsroom”  blog:

Guest post: How to fit blogging into your work life

A Digital First approach to news requires learning about a variety of new tools. One that our reporters have been urged to consider is a “beat blog”—a blog that complements and augments their regular news coverage. One challenge is time. So I asked Luther Turmelle to give us some guidance on how he manages to handle it all. Luther has kept up two beat blogs for a while—one on the towns he covers, Cheshire and Wallingford—and one on his third beat, utilities and energy. While he wrote this for our reporters, there’s great advice here if you’re thinking of starting a blog or looking how to improve yours. Thanks, Luther, for finding the time to write this.

–Ed Stannard

By Luther Turmelle, North Bureau Chief
lturmelle@nhregister.com / Twitter: @lutherturmelle 

Ed Stannard asked me to write a blog post about …. blogging.

Ed said he thought it would be a good idea for me to share my thoughts with all of you because I write two blogs for the Register, “Life In Two Northern Towns,” which is about the two towns that I cover (Cheshire and Wallingford) and “Power to The People” which is an energy blog. Advice coming from somebody, who doesn’t have an overabundance of spare time, either within the work day or outside of it.

I don’t claim to be an expert or anything, but I have some definite opinions about blogging, some of which I’ve developed on my own and others which I’ve read about that claim to be best practices.

So, as Casey Kasem likes to say, on with the countdown:

1) Pick a time that works in your schedule to blog and stick with it: I prefer to blog at the end of the day, after I’ve filed my daily stories. But that may not work for you, so go with what makes you comfortable because you’re going to want to post as frequently as possible.

2) Set a reasonable goal for the number of times you plan to post each week: In a perfect world, we’d all be able to make blog posts every day. But breaking news and our personal lives have a way of getting in the way of meeting a goal that is so ambitious. So start slow. Two or three times a week is better than once a week and there may be brief periods in which you can handle a one-a-day regimen.

3) Vary your content: The space that we have to blog in lends itself to a variety of uses.  One of the best are meeting and event announcements that come in a few days before they are scheduled that you know are unlikely to make it into the print edition. It’s better to get something online and then promote it with Facebook or Twitter than to not give it any mention at all.

But don’t turn your blog into an upcoming events bulletin board. Some posts could be what radio anchorman Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story.” Given print edition space limitations, we’re sometimes not able to squeeze in the kind of detail that might interest some readers. So use the extra journalism real estate that a blog provides to go beyond “all the news that fits.”

Another possibility is commentary or news analysis, as long as you label it as such. As reporters, we have to be objective, but in my humble opinion, nobody on the face of this earth is totally objective. We are all shaped by life experiences that give us opinions on everything. In order to keep the lines of communication open with sources on your beat, it’s probably not a good idea to take one person to task, particularly if it’s someone you have to deal with all the time. But if your council or board of selectmen repeatedly keeps revisiting an issue and never resolves it, you ought to be able to come out and say so. I think a blog makes the perfect forum for that.

4) Use hyperlinks and pictures if you can. Anyone who needs help learning how to do this should come and see me, because if done properly, hyperlinks can help better inform our readers on the subjects we’re blogging about and pictures can make a blog post look better. If you use a photo or an image you track down in an online search, you should credit where it came from. If it is a photo from a politician’s web page, you should say that.

It’s probably a good idea that if you’re writing a blog post about a company that may seem a tad controversial to stay away from using their corporate logo. Companies are very protective of their logos and you want to stay away from doing something that is more trouble than it’s worth. But if a company is donating a check to your local food pantry and that business has a logo, by all means use it.

5) Use your writer’s voice: View a blog as an opportunity to put a little bit of yourself in any post that you can. People read a reporter’s work either because it is a topic they are interested in, is about a somebody they know or who lives in their town, or because they like the way a journalist reports and writes.

6) Keep it reasonably short: I know, we’ve all seen blogs that go on for pages at some web sites around the country. But when you can, stick to keeping it at a couple of paragraphs. That’s not to say you can’t write long if the situation really warrants it. Just don’t make every paragraph into “War and Peace.” Make use of links to other stories to help make the point that you’re writing about. That’s the beauty of the web.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me. Again, I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’ve blogged for a while (and that doesn’t include my personal blogs).

Final Project Video and Script

And here’s the script…

For many of us, radio is the soundtrack of our lives. From the time we get up in the morning, until the time we go to bed at night, a radio station, or one that streams live on the Internet, is on in the background.

 And while some people prefer to listen to stations that play only music, news and talk radio have an equally important place in the mix. Get into any cab, in any city in the country, and you’re as like to hear talk radio as you are a music station.

 Before the arrival of the Internet, bricks and mortar radio stations, or what some people call terrestrial radio, had a significant limitation in our increasingly nomadic society. The broadcast signal that those stations produced could only travel so far.

 So for somebody that had once lived in Boston, but was now living in California, they could no longer hear stations like WBZ, WAAF or WFNX.

 But now with the Internet, we can hear programming from any station around the world, just as long as that station chooses to stream its broadcasts online.

 Being something of a media fanatic, it occurred to me that there would be a real value to having an easy to use site that would serve as a directory of stations across the country with audio streaming feeds. And because stations change formats from time to time, I think it would help to be able to search for stations in a particular market that play a specific format, such as classical music or alternative rock.

 My research yielded at least a half-dozen sites that would qualify solely as directories of terrestrial radio stations offering streaming audio. That’s as opposed to Internet-based radio that has no broadcast component.

But even the best of these sites – Newslink.org and Radio-Locator.com – are not especially user-friendly, even though they do offer a comprehensive listing of traditional broadcast stations that have web sites.

 According to Radio-Locator, which is affiliated with the WMBR-FM, the MIT radio station, there are over 2,500 stations worldwide that offer streaming audio. So, clearly, people have an interest in listening to terrestrial radio stations that stream online and finding out more information about those types of stations.

 Newslink.org is operated by American Journalism Review and has a directory of radio station web sites. But many of the links it has listed are outdated. And since not every station that has a web site necessarily has streaming capability, you really need a quick and easy way to find those that do.

 What I’m looking to create is a site that would be streaming radio station guide for Dummies. It would be ultra-focused; stations that don’t stream their programming on-line simply wouldn’t be listed.

 Links would lead directly to “Listen Live” portion of a station’s web site. That way, if someone knew the call letters of a given station that they wanted to listen to, they could access the live feed within a maximum of three clicks once they came to my site.

In terms of visual elements, I envision the dominant image on the home page of my site being a large map of the United States with large radio towers on the right and left hand sides of the map. To begin their interaction with the site, visitors would be instructed to move their cursors across the city or state in which the station they are looking for is located.

As the cursor crosses a different city, a list of stations that have streaming audio would pop up, complete with direct links to the stream. One click on the link would bring the visitor directly to the audio stream.

For those who want to search using a musical format, the bottom of the page would have two interrelated pull down menus. The first one would list the variety of stations formats while the second one would have a list of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

 So a typical search might read: Radio stations that play classical music in Maryland. And if someone chose that kind of search, a new window would open up with a list of stations in Maryland that play classical music.

 Each station listed would include a link directly to the audio streaming component.

 In terms of the nuts and bolts of developing the data base need to make this site work, the Federal Communications Commission has a data base of all the country’s AM and FM radio stations. That data base would have to be reviewed and checked online to determine which stations have streaming audio capability.

 Only those stations, with their live audio stream links would be included on my site.

Taking Aim at Target

The best example of a current social media campaign that has proved to be highly effective is MoveOn.org’s video urging a boycott of retail giant Target. Since it debuted online on Aug. 15th,  the video – called “Target Ain’t People” has attracted over 1.2 million views.

 What makes this video so effective is its use of a flash mob at an unidentified Target location as a form of guerilla theater. Throughout the nearly five-minute long video, viewers are left to wonder how the performers pulled this off this musical dance number/protest so professionally in just one take and why only one person working in the store attempted to put a stop to what was going on.

This is effective social media not only because the concept for the video attracts and holds your attention , but because the message is simple.

 It doesn’t get into any nuance – like why Target chose to donate $150,000 to a group that backing candidates in statewide political races in Minnesota, including one who is pro-business, anti-same sex marriage. Nor does it address that Target has a track record of supporting gay causes.

Details would detract from simplicity of the message, which is that what Target is doing is bad, even though the Supreme Court ruled in January that it is legal for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in elections.

Nuance is the enemy of effective social media because many tools of the trade – like Twitter and Facebook – simply don’t allow enough words or characters to go into detail.

Tossing a Few Pitches…..

Assignments for ICM 506 DE class:

One sentence pitch – Visit MediaMatters.com and a let seasoned news professional give you a better understanding of the newsmaking process.

Elevator pitch – If you’ve ever wonder how some stories end up on your local television newscast or find their way into your daily paper, then you need to visit MediaMatters.com. Produced by veteran journalists Luther Turmelle, the web site offers news consumers an insiders guide to what makes news as well as some things that probably shouldn’t.

This is one blog about the media that doesn’t shy away from controversial subjects. Here’s Turmelle’s take on how sex and death are used by the media to hype ratings and maximize profits:

Whenever I watch television these days, it’s difficult not to come to the conclusion that sex isn’t the only thing that sells.

As disgusted as you may be by this conclusion, I’m here to tell you that death sells as well. At least in the entertainment part of the medium and to lesser extent, in the news as well.

And when you can combine the two elements – that is to say sex and death together – well then, the public’s interest goes off the charts. An attractive corpse, particularly an attractive female one, gets them every time.

Before for you prepare to flog me for even thinking such thoughts, consider how much coverage the death of an attractive young woman gets compared to how much attention the death of a hooker or bag lady gets. The attractive woman’s passing gets all the attention and hooker or bag lady get forgotten.

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