Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
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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 2-8-18, 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:
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…)

Kinds of editors and levels of edit--what every writer should know (updated)

March 17, 2017

Tags: editors, editing, levels of edit, line editing, copyediting, beta reader

If you want to hire (or be) an editor, it is important to know the difference between what different kinds of editors do. There are developmental or substantive editors, assignment editors, story editors, production editors, photo editors, line editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders, among other specialties? Read up on the different functions in these stories (more…)

Where journalists get their medical news and information

March 3, 2017

Tags: medical news, health beat, health policy coverage, morning rounds

On the "Top of the Morning" page of the Center for Health Journalism, prominent health journalists and experts write what sites, newsletters, and social media feeds they turn to first every morning and why. Below are links to those sites and others, in alphabetical (more…)