January 28, 2009

Census: Foreign-Born Exceed the Native-Born in Advanced Degrees

The following reports was released by the Census Bureau Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009. It got me thinking about what the situation was in the universities in the Washington area.

Foreign-Born Exceed the Native-Born in Advanced Degrees

A larger percentage of foreign-born than native-born residents had a master's degree or higher in 2007, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationally, 11 percent of foreign-born -- people from another country now living in the United States -- and 10 percent of U.S.-born residents had an advanced degree.

These statistics come from Educational Attainment in the United States: 2007 a report that describes the degree or level of school completed by adults 25 and older.

In the West, the percentage of foreign-born who had completed at least a bachelor's degree or higher was less than the percentage of the native-born (24 percent compared with 31 percent). Among the foreign-born, those living in the Northeast had the highest percentage of bachelor's degrees or more (32 percent), which was the same as their native-born counterparts. The foreign-born in the South (26 percent) and Midwest (31 percent) were more likely than native-born residents to have at least a college degree (25 percent and 26 percent, respectively).

Across all regions, a smaller percentage of foreign-born than native-born adults had completed at least a high school education.

This is the first Census Bureau report on educational attainment to use data from both the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey. Combining these two data sets not only provides a state-by state comparison of educational attainment, it allows an examination of historical trends.

Other highlights from the report include:

-- 84 percent of adults 25 and older had completed high school, while 27 percent had obtained at least a bachelor's degree in 2007.

-- A larger proportion of women (85 percent) than men (84 percent) had completed high school, but a larger proportion of men had earned a bachelor's degree (28 percent compared with 27 percent).

-- The percentage of high school graduates was highest in the Midwest (87 percent), and the percentage of college graduates was highest in the Northeast (32 percent).

-- Men earned more than women at each level of educational attainment. The percentage of female-to-male earnings among year-round, full-time workers 25 and older was 77 percent.

-- Workers with a bachelor's degree on average earned about$20,000 more a year ($46,805) than workers with a high school diploma ($26,894). Compared with non-Hispanic whites and Asians, black and Hispanic workers earned less at all attainment levels.


Editor’s note: The report can be accessed at < http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p20-560.pdf>.


The data in this report are from the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2008 and earlier. Statistics from surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. For more information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, see Appendix G at < http://www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar08.pdf> [PDF].

Note: See <www.census.gov/acs/www/Downloads/ACS/accuracy2007.pdf> for further information on the accuracy of the 2007 American Community Survey data.

January 27, 2009

Ethics and editing

Al Tompkins at the Poynter Institute has a great lede article on the ethics of editing and what the BBC did with Pres. Obama's inagural address.

BBC's Edit of Obama's Inauguration Speech Raises Important Ethical Questions

The BBC's Newsnight show recently opened with what seemed like a single soundbite from President Barack Obama's inauguration speech. As it turns out, though, the BBC used three different parts of the inauguration speech and edited them together to create the soundbite. In listening to the audio, it's not clear that it had been edited.

Rest of blog filing.

After looking over the article and the BBC story in question, what do you think?

January 24, 2009

A wired or tired White House?

Wired magazine has an interesting article that looks at the "high" tech in the White House.

Gadget Lab

One interesting thing is that the White House still uses Windows XP!

January 22, 2009

Changes in application of Freedom of Information Act

One of Pres. Obama's first acts as president was to order federal agencies to approach requests under the Freedom of Information Act "with a clear presumption" in the face of doubt, openess prevails."

Memo on FOIA

Obama also issued an executive order changing the Bush Administration policies on the Presidential Records Act.

And issued a memo establishing a policy on transparency.

Electronic Frontier Foundation report on open government

January 21, 2009

Story idea/angle: Drop in web browsing for Obama inauguration

MerchantCircle, host for small business web sites say a dramatic drop in web activity right around noon Jan. 20. Then activity returned to normal.

CNet's Rafe Needleman looks at the situation.

And did you wonder how busy the social networks -- Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. --- were?

Here is another CNET report: Inauguration Day By the Numbers.

January 19, 2009

200th Anniversaries

This has nothing to do with journalism but some good stories might come out of this.

What a year.

This is the 200th Anniversary of a poet who changed literature, a scientist who changed how we look at life and a politician who saved the Union.

The poet: Edgar Allen Poe, Born: January 19, 1809
The Scientist: Charles Darwin, Born February 12, 1809
The Politician: Abraham Lincoln, Born February 12, 1809

January 16, 2009

Google Notebook replacements

The use of online notebooks has been a great help in making sure everyone in your group/class gets the same information at the same time. Google Notebook was good but now it seems the Mountain View gang is ending it.

Josh Lowensohn at C-Net looks at some alternatives.

Worthy Replacements
Josh Lowensohn

With Thursday's news that Google is discontinuing development on its Notebook service, it may leave a few people looking for a viable replacement. The good news is that there are a handful of really solid products that do the same thing, and in some cases--do it better. Here's a list of seven of our favorites, in no particular order.

Rest of story

Not sure this approach will work, but in this economy, who knows?

My friend Nury Vittachi has some suggestions on how to land a job. (And I won't even comment on his use of "till.")

Fake it till you make it.

I am betting there are some publishers and editors where this just  might work.

Tweeting and the news

Interesting take on Twitter and the main stream media from C-Net.

And considering the SPJ is sponsoring a session
Jan. 24 on using Facebook and other Web 2.0  as is Region 2 in March, this offers another look at reactions to the new technologies in news gathering.

Let's Twitter a reaction to the overreaction to...Twitter
By Charles Cooper

Each time our little world suffers a disaster, man-made or otherwise, count on the usual suspects to rush to their keyboards and pound out yet more bloviation about the existential importance of Twitter to our 24 x 7 ecosystem.

Before some of you jump ugly on me, let me hasten to mention that I've long found Twitter to be extremely useful. But how long before we can move past this "wonder of Twitter" moment? An earthquake in China, the Mumbai massacre, war in Gaza--Twitter's proved itself as a tool to report and comment on breaking news. If you haven't been paying attention, Twitter might seem wondrous. For the rest of us, it's old hat by now.

Yet so many of the usual suspects insist on remaining awestruck. So it was that today's U.S. Air crash triggered the predictable run of worshipful commentary. Silicon Alley Insider's headline: "U.S. Airways Crash Rescue Picture: Citizen Journalism, Twitter At Work," was representative of the chatter among the TechMeme crowd.

Maybe it was a slow day for some, but I cringed at the invidious comparisons drawn between the "mainstream media" and Twitter. By now, that's simply a cliche observation. Any news-gathering organization with any hope of surviving is reorganizing its operations around the best technology possible--and Twitter naturally figures into a successful plan.

Rest of article

Eric Idle on writing

Now I know this has nothing to do with journalism but it is an interesting look and the dynamics of team efforts. And we do make our students do joint projects some times.

More on Sri Lankan editor's death -- and who done it.

Tuesday, Jan. 13 The Guardian of London ran a piece.
"We know who is behing my death": Sri Lankan editor continues fight from grave

Thursday, Jan. 14 the Washington Post weighs in.
Editor's killing underscores perils of reporting in Sri Lanka

The New York Times had a brief notice Jan. 9.
Newspaper editor is killed.

I raise this for students to look at because at Mason we have students from many different countries and cultures. Many of our students want to be foreign correspondents or at least write the occasional piece from abroad. We must never let them forget that the world is a dangerous place for real journalists.

Plus Wicramatunga's final editorial (earlier posted) is one of the best descriptions and defense of free and unfettered journalism I have seen in a while.

January 15, 2009

Facebook Journalism

Journalism groups and schools across the country are running courses or seminars on how to use online social networks in reporting. The National Press Club in Washington seems to run a course like this every month. The DC SPJ is sponsoring one Jan. 24 at Marymount University in Arlington.

So what does Facebook think about all this?

Fortunately for us Rory O'Connor interviewed Randi Zuckerberg, who is part of the network’s creative marketing organization on this very topic

Facebook Journalism

ROC: With slumping public approval, journalism is facing a crisis of trust. We’re looking at how people can find and share credible news and information in hopes of regaining this trust. Do you think Facebook plays a role in this process at all? If so, how?

RZ: The concept of “the trusted referral” is integral to the success of content sharing on Facebook. We’ve found that it is tremendously more powerful to get a piece of content – an article, a news clip, a video, etc – from a friend, and it makes you much more likely to watch, read, and engage with the content.

Rest of article.

The Russian-Ukrainian Gas Mess

There is lots of coverage about the current pissing match between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas. For my part I am watching what it is doing to the global ammonia market. (Does the word "disaster" ring a bell?)

The problem with many of the stories is that they either refer to "Europe" or a specific country. As with everything, there is more to it. Some areas of Europe are being hit really hard and others are being inconvenienced.

The BBC posted a great map of the affected areas and how they are being affected. A good example of how graphics really help explain the story.

January 14, 2009

Passport holders in the USA

There is a running statistic that only half of the members of Congress hold passports. Whether that is true or not I cannot say. (It's always one of those things that bug me every now and then but never enough to go out and actually do the research.)

But, thanks to  GOOD magazine, we can easily see the percentage of passport holders state by state and nationwide.

You are free to leave

As expected, Washington, DC has the highest percentage of people with passports -- almost 30 percent. New Jersey is next at 6.37 percent. The national average (2006) is 4 percent.

Virginia is at 4.4 percent and Maryland at 4.86 percent.

Interestingly in the middle of the country Illinois (4%) and Minnesota (4.3%) lead the pack.

Story ideas I can see off the top of my head:
  • The obvious: How does proximity to a border affect passport issuance?
  • The next obvious: How does the presence of large immigrant communities affect issuance? (Americans -- new or otherwise -- wanting to visit relatives in the "Old Country.")
  • How does wealth in a state affect passport issuance?
  • How does foreign investment in a state affect issuance?
  • How does education levels in the state affect issuance?
  • How does the presence of the headquarters of US companies operating overseas in a state affect issuance?

January 13, 2009

The Obama Effect -- Part 2

The other day I posted a link to an NPR series on how other countries are dealing with their minorities.

Here is the link for part 2 of the NPR series: Immigrants forced to margins of Italian society.

Plus, I ran across this story from Brazil on GlobalPost: For which it stands.

The following pull quote is indicative of Brazil:
“Blacks in the United States had the opportunity to grow socially, culturally, and politically,” Gomes de Jesus said. “So much so that today white Americans elected a black man president. That indicates that whites in the United States came to the conclusion that if you’re capable, you can have power, whether you’re white or not.”

Most Brazilian whites, he believes, do not feel the same way. He suspects that “white Brazilians find it absurd that a black man is president of the United States.”

Hooray for radio

Today, January 13, marks the 99th anniversary of the first demonstration of radio.

January 13, 1910

First radio demonstration

Lee De Forest, the American inventor of the vacuum tube, broadcasts a live performance of Enrico Caruso from the Metropolitan Opera. The broadcast over a telephone transmitter could be heard only by the small number of electronics hobbyists who had radio receivers. De Forest started regular nightly concerts in 1915, increasing interest in radio receivers, which at the time depended on the vacuum tubes manufactured by De Forest's company.

Rest of story

The price of free media

Thanks to Bob Webb, immediate past president of the DC SPJ, for bringing the last commentary by Lassantha Wickramatunga, editor of the Sri Lanka Sunday Leader, to my attention.

Wickramatunga was killed January 8 by four gunmen who surrounded his car. This commentary was published the Sunday following his murder.

There is a lot here that should resonate for journalists around the world. The ideals of journalism often butt up against governments that fear free media and unfettered reporting.

Unfortunately for the advocates of free and unfettered journalism Wickramatunga was killed by a hit squad last week.
And if anyone thinks what is happening in Sri Lanka is just "too far away" for Americans to worry about, let us not forget that the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere is immediately south of our border. Journalists are being killed, maimed and otherwise threatened throughout northern Mexico by drug lords and corrupt local government officials.

Thugs -- whether they be government leaders, so-called freedom fighters or gangsters -- have a great deal to fear of free media because that is the only way the horrors of their actions are made public.

And we, in the United States and other democracies have a moral obligation to stand up and support the brave journalists who stand up to the thugs of Beijing, Sri Lanka, Nuevo Leon and elsewhere.

Too bad these battles are getting so little coverage. In fact, a quick GOOGLE check of the Wickramatunga case shows that the only American publication to report the story and follow up demonstrations was a newspaper in New York aimed at the immigrant Sri Lankan community.

And Then They Came For Me
By Lasantha Wickramatunga

No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.

The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.

Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic... well, if you need me to explain why that is important, you'd best stop buying this paper.

The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let's face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For example, we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka's ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors, and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.

Many people suspect that The Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition it is only because we believe that - pray excuse cricketing argot - there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the UNP was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred. Indeed, the steady stream of embarrassing expos‚s we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.

Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tigers. The LTTE are among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations ever to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

What is more, a military occupation of the country's north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self respect. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showering "development" and "reconstruction" on them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever, and you will also have an even more bitter and hateful Diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen - and all of the government - cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.

It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government's sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended. In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, Mahinda and I have been friends for more than a quarter century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining who routinely addresses him by his first name and uses the familiar Sinhala address oya when talking to him. Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President's House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.

Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the SLFP presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air. Then, through an act of folly, you got yourself involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal.

It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, at the same time urging you to return the money. By the time you did so several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.

You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well that my sons and daughter do not themselves have a father.

In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry. But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life, but yours too, depends on it.

Sadly, for all the dreams you had for our country in your younger days, in just three years you have reduced it to rubble. In the name of patriotism you have trampled on human rights, nurtured unbridled corruption and squandered public money like no other President before you. Indeed, your conduct has been like a small child suddenly let loose in a toyshop. That analogy is perhaps inapt because no child could have caused so much blood to be spilled on this land as you have, or trampled on the rights of its citizens as you do. Although you are now so drunk with power that you cannot see it, you will come to regret your sons having so rich an inheritance of blood. It can only bring tragedy. As for me, it is with a clear conscience that I go to meet my Maker. I wish, when your time finally comes, you could do the same. I wish.

As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most of them are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your Presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice. I feel sorry for you, and Shiranthi will have a long time to spend on her knees when next she goes for Confession for it is not just her owns sins which she must confess, but those of her extended family that keeps you in office.

As for the readers of The Sunday Leader, what can I say but Thank You for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I - and my family - have now paid the price that I have long known I will one day have to pay. I am - and have always been - ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remains to be written is when.

That The Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be - and will be - killed before The Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your President to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish. Not all the Rajapakses combined can kill that.

People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niem”ller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer of Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niem”ller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niem”ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.

January 12, 2009

Internship off the beaten path available

The National Interest in Washington is looking for an editorial intern.

Here is the information as provided to Foreign Policy Association.

Contact Person: Rebecca White
Phone: 202-467-4884
Email: editor@nationalinterest.org


The National Interest, a bimonthly magazine offering in-depth but
accessible debate and commentary on today's critical foreign-policy
issues, is now accepting applications for a semester-long internship.
Interns will gain experience in all aspects of the publication process
— from editing to research and publicity to production.


- Researching potential articles/authors and fact-checking submissions

- Maintaining media and other databases

- Supporting webmaster

- Assisting with issue layout

- Reviewing and copyediting articles


- Currently enrolled in a Bachelor's or Master's program

- Experience with, or at minimum an interest in, international affairs and foreign-policy publications

- Strong organizational skills and attention to detail

- Ability to multitask within deadlines and work well with others

Qualified candidates may email a cover letter, résumé and unofficial transcript to editor@nationalinterest.org.

The Obama effect around the world

Right after Barak Obama won the election in November 2008, minority groups in Brazil pointed out that maybe it was time for black Brazilians to have their rights respected in Brazil. Needless to say, just days after the Brazilian elite -- mostly white or at least light skinned -- were praising the election of Obama, they were sweating bullets that they might have to start sharing more power with minorities within their own country thanks to Obama.

And where did we ever see this reported in the USA? No where that I saw.

Until now.

NPR started a three-part series on minorities in other countries and their struggles for equal rights.

Part one aired today (1/12/09) Read and hear the first installment here.

News Team Dance Time

And some wonder why local news is not taken seriously.

January 9, 2009

For more widgets please visit www.yourminis.com

GU student editor in Gaza/Israel

Here is a report from Israel via the Huffington Post about a group of US college editors visiting Israel.

Seeing that one of the members of the visiting team is from the DC area, I thought it might be worthwhile to see this report.

Georgetown U Newspaper Editor Reports on Sderot-Gaza and Recording with Rockets.

Media Mad Libs

Great piece in the CJR that adds a touch of humor to an otherwise humorless situation.

10,000 ways to bid farewell to a (colleague; great reporter; car pool organizer)

By Steve Daley

FROM: The Executive Editor

TO: All

As you may have
heard (in the newsroom; at Caribou Coffee; on somebody's blog), John P.
Zenger will be leaving his role as (chief investigative reporter; TV
critic; ombudsman) at this newspaper.

John came to us (four years ago; in 1981; last month) from (the Bugle; the London School of Economics; a think tank...

Rest of article.

Agencies Move to Restrict FOIA Access in Last-Minute Regs

Pro-Publica and the Columbia Journalism Review looked at how U.S. government agencies have been tightening the rules of access to information via the FOIA.

I came across this article thanks to a posting on Max Cacas' Facebook site.

Agencies Move to Restrict FOIA Access in Last-Minute Regs
by Jennifer LaFleur, ProPublica - January 5, 2009 2:07 pm EST

As one of the most secretive presidential administrations in history gets ready to close up shop, it's closing a few more things -- records. Over the past few months, some federal agencies have issued rules that would eliminate public disclosure of information -- or, in some cases, make it more difficult for requesters to get information.

While the federal Freedom of Information Act regulates what government information may be withheld from the public, internal rules determine how that law is carried out at the agency level. Those rules also may restrict access to information.

Rest of article.

January 7, 2009

Story ideas: Air Force Releases 'Counter-Blog' Marching Orders

The US Air Force has decided that enough is enough. They are now taking on a counter-blogging strategy.

WIRED reports that to make sure the USAF counter-bloggers know when to speak up and when to keep quiet, they came up with a flow chart.

More and more US government agencies are understanding the impact blogs can have. Some, like the Defense Department, hold roundtables for bloggers and encourage discussion. Others, like State Department, use blog postings to put faces to foreign policy. And then there is the Department of Commerce that does not appear to have any blog presence.

And then there is the HHS secretary's blog. TBH, this is a sure cure for insomnia. The most recent addition was back in November 2008.

Just wondering how effective are these blogs? Especially when the agencies in question use the blogs more for spin than discussion. (I will say this for the State Department blogs, they do allow space for comments and some of those comments are not very nice to the US foreing policy. The question is, Is anyone listening?)

But what got me started was the very orderly and oh-so military chart the USAF put out.

Don't you just love flow charts?

January 6, 2009

January 5, 2009

Mike Peters: Another look at the newz biz

Click to see full version

Offline classes using online technology

For some of us this is old hat. But...
You all might be interested in this story on the use of online services for regular "in classroom" classes from Arstechnica.

College Courses: even "offine" classes are online now.


January 3, 2009

Story idea: Passwords -- Top 500 Worst

Nothing about journalism but there might be an interesting story about what companies and government offices do about passwords

Here is a list of the 500 worst passwords of all time.

There are some interesting passwords on this list that show how people
try to be clever, but even human cleverness is predictable. For
example, look at these passwords:

ncc1701 The ship number for the Starship Enterprise

thx1138 The name of George Lucas’s first movie, a 1971 remake of an earlier student project

qazwsx Follows a simple pattern when typed on a typical keyboard

666666 Six sixes

7777777 Seven sevens