If It Can Happen To Nantucket...

Report: Nations Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization

The Onion

Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization

WASHINGTON—The report claims that affordable upper-income condominiums and charming faux dive bars are being replaced with the manor houses and private salons.


The Demented, The Crazed... Triscuit Makes Her Comeback


Sex & The City, With A Dash Of Metamucil

Thanks to Musty for passing this along... it's an absolute hoot! And a nice teaser for the upcoming movie.

For those of you who miss Golden Girls a little, this is a gem.


Planet Unicorn: Christmas In March?

Thanks to Ken for pointing this out... we nearly missed Episode 6 entirely!


The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia... To Show We Care

The world is speaking to us, and this is our way of listening.

Turn your lights off tonight at 8 p.m. for an hour and take a stand...


GeniusSuite Breaks New Ground In Knowledge Capture

"Genius" is defined by FreeDictionary.com as "extraordinary intellectual and creative power."

It's exactly this power that GeniusSuite, a project I'm working on, is designed to capture. Way too often today's corporations allow their talent to simply walk out the door - or stay on site, untapped - without allowing it to propel future success.

Click through to learn more or drop me an e-mail if your company fits the mold of knowledge capture.

Idol Chat: Let's Hope The Beatles Are Yesterday's News

Check out the latest craze on the Web -- Penny & Jim in "Idol Chat." They've already got a comment! This week I edited the blog for AfterElton.com, while our pal Dennis was on vacation.

Thanks to Dennis for letting me fill in!


Meet 'Basil' - A New Addition To The Family


More Medill Woes

Daniel Sinker blogs about how Medill is considering dropping the "Journalism" name from its storied institution.

One of the proposed offending monikers?

"The Medill School of Audience and Consumer Information"

Excuse me for putting it this way, but FUCK THAT.

I just spent the weekend
learning how to be a better journalist, learning how to tell better stories in every project, every article... and all I want to say is this: new media and technology should not precede journalism training, it should absolutely be the other way around.

I brought an excitement and aptitude for technology/new media to Medill, an ability that was enhanced and informed by the man-on-the-street, boots-on-the-ground science of journalism.

This is a disgrace. Even if the name changes and lands in the neighborhood of the above proposal, I'll probably renounce my degree.

I graduated Medill with honors and the school is in my heart, in my DNA. This change will cause the school I love to cease to exist.

NYTimes: Once Again, A Hideous Afront To Basic Oratory

George Speaks, Badly
Published: March 15, 2008
We’re really past expecting anything much, but in times of crisis you would like to at least believe your leader has the capacity to pretend he’s in control.

go to the story

Update On 'Quotegate'

Eric Zorn has closed the book on "Quotegate," which I'm super bummed about because he's been tenaciously digging the dirt and exposing our school for the shitstorm they have caused. I wrote a nasty-gram comment in support of his editorial.

I think the only way to stand up to this crap is to do what comes naturally to us Medillians... report and write.

More soon...

The Ivory Tower Under Attack!


The Medill School Of Journalism: The 'Craftsmen' Cometh

(BOSTON - 14 March 2008) As I make my way to the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism, hosted in Boston this weekend, my shoulders are slouched at the state of affairs at my beloved Medill School of Journalism. At stake? The journalism construct as we know it.

The one and only reason I'm even attending this Harvard-sponsored event - full of fire-in-the-eyes writers who crave the next best story, the next best assignment, the next impact phrase that might change the world - is due to my time at Medill. I picked it up off the listserv, made my reservations, and here I am.

Since graduation, I have worn the alumni badge with pride, interviewing potential students in Atlanta, giving annually to both Medill and NU, working with fellow alumni in various capacities, returning to Evanston to see my mentors and instructors - even considering returning one day long in the future as a professor.

Those days are over. At least temporarily. With Dean Lavine's sordid curriculum change, not to mention "Quotegate," his falsified-sourcing scandal that is still unfolding as of this writing, I am ashamed of a school that plopped me square in the center of a stratosphere-level talent pool, ready to take on the world.

...and it's a talent pool from the Medill School of Journalism. One more time, THE MEDILL SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM.

Yes, that's right. I'm breaking it down to repetitive, grade-school,
Bush-level communication for a reason: Northwestern University is sitting back and watching the implosion of one of the most respected *journalism* institutions in the country, the world for that matter, and there are many of us in the alumni ranks who just cant stand to listen to the noise anymore. (Some have taken matters in their own hands; I'll just do a blog post.)

The road to any meaningful catharsis is always long... but allow me to take a moment and catalog some of the comments we're picking up from the Medill Listserv, articles and blogs around the country, that may help soothe the pain. They are truly extraordinary. To wit:

The "Mush Mouth" statement. Andrew Bossone (MSJ '05) has been all over this story, pointing out recently how NU president Bienen is lamely futzing his way through this entire ordeal. He cites the piece entitled "Paging President Bienen," Chicago Tribune, 8 March 2008. "I heard from a reliable source that NU President Bienen and Provost Linzer will meet with the faculty," Bossone wrote yesterday. "Apparently the page is being answered." (UPDATE: Andrew just wrote me and said the meeting's message was "put up, shut up or get out" (I'm summarizing) to the faculty. More of the same; see my comment below about the Bush administration.)

"Journalism" May Fade Away? Eric Zorn writes for the Chicago Tribune about how the name, focus and curriculum switches have been the conspicuous symptoms of a institution with a case of walking pneumonia. "They’ve shunned an open search for the truth in a controversy swirling around Medill Dean John Lavine, brazenly failed to take the basic steps that a rookie reporter would take to investigate the allegation that Lavine made up quotes in an article he published and cloaked their excuses for Lavine in dark innuendo." Zorn has compiled an amazing "Webliography" of Quotegate, available here.

The defiant, "sure"-enough dean. Dean Lavine addressed students earlier this week and once again denied fabricating quotes for a story in Medill magazine - quotes from an unnamed source that strangely echoed Lavine's own icky-everyman vernacular. The assertion that Quotegate has sprung legs because of faculty and alumni venom over his curriculum changes is partially true - you can't run an institution like Medill without holding yourself to the same standards you ask of your students. Neither can you pursue an unpopular new direction given said circumstances, especially when said Dean is attempting to cram said direction down people's throats. No thanks.

A science that "makes craftsmen." Of all the voluminous posts on the subject, Jenny Gavacs (BSJ '00) was most eloquent. In a time when our very existence as journalists is called into question on a daily basis, she argues that now is not the time for Lavine to abandon our true self-idenfication. "The science of writing naturally has slightly different rules than biochemistry, but things like AP Style, the correct spelling of names, and quote attribution are just as fundamental to us as organic compounds are in Tech," she writes. "The problem is that in biochemistry, if something goes wrong, there are explosions or disintegration that objectively announce failure. In journalism, you may fabricate entire articles for The York Times but still have a job. Sometimes journalists only know that their science is corrupted when someone else points to the standards that have fallen.

"Journalism is a social science, like psychology," she continues. "You can't control everything in a situation, but you can control three or four key variables that will yield solid results. That's why Medill exists: To teach us to be rigorous, so we can uncover truth. There used to be a debate over whether a journalism degree was necessary - after all, people without journalism training have always gotten published. But Northwestern answered that challenge by showing that there is a difference between writing and writing well.
Eric Zorn is a writer; it takes a Woodward and Bernstein, or a McPhee, or a Talese, or a Capote to be a craftsman. Medill was meant to make craftsmen."

Like Jenny, I don't disagree with all of Lavine's ideas. But it's the way in which change has been sought, and the disregard for the craft and institution; and subsequent, convoluted denials and false bravado within Quotegate, that have turned me rotten-milk sour on what Lavine is doing.

This situation is eerily similar to how I perceive the Bush Administration... mistakes that beget more ego-fueled mistakes, and the flippant disregard in their wake; changing the storied heart of a school because blogs are the new newspaper (does Lavine even subscribe to a single RSS feed?); shifting the sails because the wind is changing and yet disregarding the rudder to steer the ship. It's all bollocks. Give him the boot and do it soon.

Footnotes to a shadow Medill:

- The popular networking site LinkedIn does not provide Medill as one of NU's official schools.
- Medill has no official information about Kappa Tau Alpha on its Web site or materials, despite having awarded its students that honor. We should have a chapter manager among our ranks. We don't.
- The Medill site also has done away with its "Alumni Voices" Web section, taking away a vibrant, creative outlet for many of us who want to rant about something.
- Our site now looks like a third-rate cable company's landing page, and neither speaks to or draws inspiration from the legacy that Joseph Medill articulated. Not even close.

If NU's president (or board or someone) does not relieve Lavine, I will permanently cease all gifts, stop my interviewing and just plain give up. Our reputation has been trashed and we're all sick of the distraction. Let's restore and keep and polish what makes us great:

Much like our country. A return to greatness awaits.
- WP


Keith's Clinton Special Comment

Whether or not you agree with the content, it's worth a look. Thanks to MediaBistro for doing a post about this.

I like both Democratic candidates. But I don't like the way the Clinton camp responded to insinuations about Obama's religon, about his electability ("if you can't win Pennsylvania you can't win the general election) and about Ferraro's comments.

Take a look, see what you think.


'The World Offers Itself To Your Imagination'

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

- taken from "Dream Work" by Mary Oliver, published by Atlantic Monthly Press; photo courtesy of panhala.net.

Bizarre, Twilight-zone Moment Of The Week: Geraldine Ferraro

In choosing our next president, are we in the business of ego, or of hope? Of true credentials or gender- and race-based double-standards?

You are about to watch the combative, partial meltdown of a social and political trailblazer who remains enraptured by her own comments - to the point of sticking by the conceptual argument that
Obama is "lucky" to be in the position he's in. Not because he's qualified, not because he brings new energy to the equation... because he's black.

This is exactly the type of misplaced candidate loyalty that is allowing the new direction of our country to slip away.
Ferraro is diminishing herself in the same breath, as if Mondale only chose her as his running mate to make a statement - not for the content of her character.


New Stuff

Check out new features:

• A tab that will lead you to my LinkedIn profile
• A bit of a tab re-org that more suits the site
• The addition of "folio," which shows some samples of writing and photography
• Updated "captures" page
• Updated Jump pages
• More videos on YouTube

The header capture this month was made possible by Rob & Patrick, since they invited us down and CB came across our friend the salamander.

...Users Of Georgia 400 Rejoice


The Zainy-mals Among Us...

Some of my favorite animals, acting up like nobody's bid-ness.

Watch how Zoe is in Wayne's clutches, and how Triscuit goes nuts when she sees animals on the TV.


How Else Would My Foray In Editing Go But With Penny?

Thanks to Dennis at AfterElton for giving me the chance to cut my teeth on digital editing.

This is a practice/rough cut of
Idol Chat, a video blog that Penny is doing with former American Idol contestant Jim Verarros.

I'm hoping more vids will follow later on...


Triscuit Ain't Just A Cracker Snack

I shot this the first day of the house renovation... Triscuit, Charley's dog, was watching me from the front-door screen.

Go to the Web video
here, or take a look below. Many more of Triscuit to follow I'm sure.


If This Doesn't Get You To The Voting Booth...

Courtesy of Aunt Denny.


'Sleepwalking Into The Abyss': The Media Have Failed On Iraq

Salon.com has a spot-on piece today about the five-year anniversary of the Iraq conflict... how the media has not only blown coverage of this blowhard and foolish war, but enabled it from the beginning.

Even as recently as our much-ballyhooed escalation, we in the media are reluctant to speak ill.

Consider this tight passage by Salon writer Greg Mitchell:

"In early 2007, with the announcement of the "surge" of troops in Iraq, TV commentators punted at the most crucial moment since the invasion of Iraq -- and not a single major newspaper came out against the escalation until after it was announced. They were all sleepwalking into the abyss. Even if the "surge" proved relatively successful, it would guarantee at least several more years of heavy U.S. presence in Iraq, and the deaths of thousands of more Americans."

I've loaded the full story to my Facebook profile, but you'll need to log in to read it. Try getting Salon.com here, too.

Photo/graphic courtesy of Salon.com/AFP Photo/Stephen Jaffe


Remember... Words Can Kill

I am reluctantly posting this rant because it's important to remember the type of people out there who think they are doing God's work by hating those around them.

This brilliant oratory was brought to light by the brave people at
VictoryFund, so make sure to check them out.

At the risk of giving this lady more of a platform than she deserves, it's seems important to expose people like this and risk undue elevation. It's words like hers that get people beaten up and killed, despite her right to say them.

So... if you have the stomach for it, take a look below, and reply to some of the posters.


Good Thing It Wasn't 'Grumpy'

"How the fight got started," passed on by Lou.

I rear-ended a car this morning. So there we are alongside the road and
slowly the driver gets out of the car. . . and you know how you
just-get-sooo-stressed and life-stuff seems to get funny?

Yeah, well, I could NOT believe it. He was a DWARF!

He storms over to my car, looks up at me and says, 'I AM NOT HAPPY!'
So, I look down at him and say, 'Well, then which one are you?'

...and that's when the fight started.