Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
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The Daphne Project: 45 journalists will continue the slain Maltese journalist's work

April 23, 2018

Tags: free speech

The Silencing of Daphne (Stephen Grey, Reuters Investigates, 4-17-18. Valletta, Malta) Last October, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated by a car bomb. This is the inside story of a murder that tarnishes Europe. That bombing last October did more than kill Daphne, as she was universally known on the island. It ripped open the dark side of Malta. The brazen assassination and the lawlessness it implies appalled not only Daphne’s friends and family, but also political leaders across Western Europe.
The Daphne Project: 'Her voice will not be silenced' (Will Fitzgibbon, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, 4-17-18) A team of 45 journalists from 15 countries will continue the work of Malta reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia. Forbidden Stories plans (more…)

A short history of the Association of Personal Historians

March 27, 2018

Tags: personal history, APH history

Revised. For twenty years, members of the Association of Personal Historians (APH, which folded in May of 2017) met at a popular annual conference, where people originally from many other fields met to talk about a new type of business: helping others tell their life stories. Here below is a brief history of the organization for those who may be curious about it; former members of the organization are invited to join the conversation through the Comments section. The term “personal historians” never became a household word, but personal histories (usually by other names) are still being produced and local groups of personal historians still meet (more…)

What's not to like about The Republican Tax Bill

December 10, 2017

Tags: income inequality, labor unions, competition, automation

I asked Wise Elder what he thought of Your financial shock wealth: Understanding money, inequality, and why the tax bill is important by Yonatan Zunger. He replied:

Overall it makes sense.* The tax bill is indeed a naked power grab by the wealthy and powerful to become even more wealthy and powerful, even though they tell us (and themselves) they are doing it for our own good. I was surprised that he didn't say anything thing about the role of unions in the reduction of inequality between 1945 and 1970; the unchallenged economic power of the US at a time when Europe and Japan were prostrate (more…)

Where to Celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept. 24-30) 2017!

September 23, 2017

Happy Banned Books Week! The annual celebration of the freedom to read is running all this week, and the Banned Books Week Coalition invites you to participate by getting involved in the incredible activities (see below) brought to you by our sponsor organizations! From theatrical performances, bookstore parties, and online advocacy, there’s lots of ways you can help (more…)

Books about wrongful conviction and related issues

August 30, 2017

Tags: The Innocence Project

I've posted this list of books about wrongful convictions and related issues as a resource for book groups and those studying the criminal justice system. These books have all been recommended by the deeply worthwhile Innocence Project, which works nationwide to free the innocent and reform our criminal justice system. "DNA testing has exonerated more than 345 innocent people in the United States – and others are still waiting for justice." Do let me know of any other worthwhile books in the comments section. Donations to The Innocence Project are 100% tax-deductible.*

Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer (2000)
Adams vs. Texas: The True Story Made Famous by the Highly Acclaimed Film The Thin Blue Line by Randall Adams, with William Hoffer and . (more…)

Scanning many letters to get a searchable digital archive

July 24, 2017

Tags: ScanSnap iX500, Scanner Pro, scanning letters

Joella Werlin and Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner (via Pat McNees)
When Joella Werlin used a small wireless scanner to scan a multitude of letters for a major project, she praised it to a group of personal historians, one of whom asked if it did two-sided scanning. With her permission and Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner's, I post here what both of them wrote:

Joella writes: Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner convinced me to buy ScanSnap iX500 (Fujitsu's wireless desktop scanner). To answer your question, yes it scans a two-sided doc in a flash! When it creates files, it eliminates blank pages. Settings enable you to control how you set up files. At Elisabeth’s suggestion, I also have hired (more…)

Will journalism survive? In what form?

July 23, 2017

Tags: journalism, digital journalism, future of news

by Pat McNees (updated 4-17-18, orig. published 10-2-15)
The days of "the internet wants to be free" are ending. As the advertising-pays-for-print-journalism model stops working, will the blog-for-free-because-it-will-give-you-exposure-and-a-platform model replace it in the name of "citizen journalism"? What are the alternatives? Here are links to some of the debates and articles circulating on this topic -- most recent at the top:
Industry Insight: How a New Breed of Billionaire Owners is Shaping the Newspaper Business (Matt DeRienzo, Editor & Publisher. 4-17-18) Certain points are highlighted in this review of Dan Kennedy's book The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry Are Remaking Newspapers for the Twenty-First Century. Basically: "Hoping a random billionaire buys your local newspaper and makes everything great again is probably not a solid plan for saving journalism in most of America. But examples of just that in Boston and Washington, D.C., are providing room for experimentation." Kennedy's book "explores turnarounds at the Washington Post and Boston Globe, failed attempts elsewhere, and the overall limits and pitfalls of the 'billionaire savior' model....Instead of a Jeff Bezos, you could end up with a Sam Zell, whose leadership of Tribune newspapers was disastrous, or a Warren Buffett, who has taken a hands-off, wind-down-the-business approach similar to the most-criticized corporate newspaper chains."

Journalism’s New Patrons: Newspapers deepen embrace of philanthropy (David Westphal, CJR, 2-8-18) On January 30, the Charleston Gazette-Mail staff learned it would receive philanthropic support for two news-side reporters in 2018. The money, from Report for America and ProPublica, will cover about 15 percent of the Gazette-Mail’s news reporting salaries (excluding features and sports reporters). And it becomes the latest example of how philanthropy is becoming an ever-larger part of the revenue streams of newspapers and other for-profit news companies. The West Virginia paper is one of seven news organizations being subsidized by ProPublica to intensify investigative reporting over the next year. Separately, it’s one of three participants in a Report for America pilot program that will shine a spotlight on life in Appalachia.
Bikini slideshows and other click bait: Do paywalls usher in better content? (Mollie Bryant, Big If True, 2-1-18) An interesting discussion of online ads, paywalls, clickbait, slideshows of bikini contests, and other approaches to declining revenue for journalism. "Wired’s new subscription package is a helluva deal. For $20, readers get a year’s worth of the magazine’s print and digital products, including online access. To sweeten the deal, the package offers a rarity in online subscriptions – no website ads. That means no standalone ads thrust in your face like a jack-in-the-box while you’re mid-sentence. What a concept!" But it’s not going to save print journalism.
Learning from the New Yorker, Wired’s new paywall aims to build a more “stable financial future” (Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab, 2-1-18) “People who have studied the information age at this point recognize that there were a bunch of problems and side effects to the fact that people weren’t asked to pay for content in the early years of the internet.” "Wired’s brand and mission may align it closely with the koan of the internet revolution that “information wants to be free,” but the days of unlimited free content at Wired.com are coming to an end." Wired editor-in-chief Nick Thompson, who joined the magazine last January after seven years as editor of NewYorker.com, said that developing a Wired paywall topped his agenda from the earliest stages of taking on the job because “it is my strong sense that paywalls are an essential part of the future of journalism.
Paywalls make content better, Wired editor Nick Thompson says (Eric Johnson, Recode, 2-1-18) Wired’s wall goes up today: Four free clicks, then $20 a year.
The Problem With Journalism Is You Need an Audience (Hamilton Nolan, Gawker (more…)

Is it still a great time to become a personal historian?

May 14, 2017

Tags: personal history, memoir, memoir coach, family history, Association of Personal Historians

by Pat McNees (updated the month the Association of Personal Historians filed for bankruptcy--but individual personal historians are still at your service)

Since 1990 I've been helping people and organizations tell their life stories. If you're nosy, love to do interviews, like shaping them into a compelling narrative, and either know how to produce and independently publish a book or are willing to learn and/or subcontract some stages of the process, (more…)