Monday, June 30, 2008

Responsible Reporting

Abby says:

In a school assignment last week we were asked to read a recent New York Times article that talked about Wikipedia breaking the news of Tim Russert's death. It stated: "Long before Mr. Russert’s death was reported on air, however, it was flashing across the Internet via the text-messaging service Twitter and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Television networks have a tradition of allowing a network suffering a death to make the announcement first. Other news outlets, including The New York Times and The New York Post, were about five minutes earlier in reporting Mr. Russert’s death for their Web sites."

So, Wiki broke it before NBC, where Russert worked. What is wrong with this picture? Or, should I ask, is there anything wrong with this picture?

Times are a changin'. I must be a big wuss, and I don't think I have the chops to be a reporter. The thought of reporting news of a death before family members are notified is not acceptable to me as a person. While I understand the goal of news outlets breaking big stories fast and first, where is the taste level? Do we no longer care about human beings? Has the gentleman's agreement gone by the wayside? What if Tim Russert's wife and son had seen this online or heard through the grapevine before being personally notified Tim had died?

According to the article, the Wiki principle states "No Original Research" yet this site has other times, been the place where news has broken (according to the Times article).

With all the access we have to online social media outlets, the challenge is only going to grow. Citizen journalism is now at work. While I love having instant access to breaking news, is there a line we don't cross?

Sheri says:

I think the line went away and I find it scary. Full-fledged journalists compete with hackers. Everyone wants to break the story and the hackers do not abide by journalistic ethics. Tim Russert’s death is one example but sadly, there are many more.

The journalism code of ethics includes verifying a tip or a rumor with a credible source before reporting the story. Even if the source must remain anonymous, the writer must be satisfied with the truth of the information. The Internet writer does not abide by this credo. Any gossip or tidbit (true or untrue) is fair game. Many times these stories turn out to be false or at the very least, slanted, and it’s too late. The rumor is out there and it’s destroying someone’s reputation or life.

Yes, I am on the Internet every day and I do like the immediacy of the information. But, I am still grasping tightly to the traditional media outlets. My respect goes to the reporter who gives me the quote or the sound bite and then gives me the background. My interest is piqued when someone bothers to do the leg work and give me the full story.

Abby says:

Unfortunately, the good online journalists are now competing head-to-head with the "hacks" now that the worldwide web is our playing field.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Reading

Sheri says:

Abby and I are avid readers. On our previous post, we discussed how younger generations are reading less. As long as they keep publishing books, I will keep buying and reading. I like to discover new writers but like most people my age, I gravitate to my favorite authors and my guaranteed escapes. We are such dorks that we call each other and say, “So and so’s book is coming out next week.” At least twice a month, we meet in a bookstore and this is BIG FUN for us.

Time is short and we all feel the pinch. Reading for pleasure feels a little indulgent. I still squeeze it in. I am one of those people who always have a book in my bag, a book in my car and certainly a book on the nightstand. My favorite reading time is on a plane or on vacation. Sometimes I take a little trip to my neighborhood pool, plop on my sun glass readers and settle in. I don’t need a spa; I need to relax. Reading does this for me.

Lately, I’ve read:

The Last Promise – Richard Paul Evans. Schmaltzy and a great escape.
Change of Heart – Jodi Piccoult. Thought-provoking, as usual.
Charley’s Web – Joy Fielding. It resonated with me and choices we all make.
Just Who Will You Be? – Maria Shriver. It made me feel good for not knowing it all.
Mosaic – Amy Grant.
The Race – Richard North Patterson. One of my favorite authors.

I recommend them all. I have a stack that’s waiting for my attention. The dust bunnies will wait. If I can capture some time here and there, you’ll find me near water with a book in my hands.

Abby says:

Yes, I try to read every single night before bedtime no matter how late it is. On a weekend, give me a good book and a glass of wine, and I’m a happy camper for 48 hours! I love to escape and see where authors will take me and who I will meet along the way. I have even discovered my favorite restaurant and shopping haunts across the U.S. reading books. I especially love discovering new authors then reading all their old titles. Pure fantasy land.

My favorites this summer are:

Wikinomics: The Expanded Edition – Don Tapscott. Fascinating tour into the world of wikis and how big companies like P & G are thinking in today’s world and using the internet to compete globally.

Bull’s Island: Dorothea Benton Frank. Southern romance and scandal meets Manhattan excitement. A new author for me.

Love the One You’re With: Emily Giffin. A great love story revolving around what happens when you’ve already said “I do” and an old flame shows up.
Abandon: Carla Neggers. Mindless reading combining romance, police suspense, a New Hampshire lake house and a happy ending.

Sheri says:

Reading also sets a great example. If your children see you shut down the computer and pick up a book, they pay attention. When my son was in high school, he had massive reading lists -- usually the classics. I reread many of them so to his horror, we could discuss them.

There's nothing wrong with being wired in but I also like to encourage the young people in my life to unplug and crack open a book.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Net Gen Reading Habits

Abby says:
I was astonished when happening upon an article this week in USA Today regarding the reading (or lack of) habits in kids. It stated that “many kids in the U.S. are too busy, too distracted and, in some cases, to tired to read books for fun, a new survey finds, suggesting that schoolwork, homework and diversions such as YouTube and Facebook keep them from regularly enjoying a good book.”

This is somewhat appalling to me, especially because I am currently working on my master’s degree in book publishing. It’s also sad. Then again, I am trying to keep an open mind. Younger people in the Net Generation are different than I was when growing up. They have access to things we never did – i.e., the computer, the cell phone, the PDA. They rely on the Internet for their information. They are collaborators and “prosumers” in their own right.

While they might not be reading a book, they are perusing and actively participating in online forums and other arenas I am just now learning about. They choose to get their information in different ways than I ever knew. When I was in grade school and high school, you could not keep me out of the public library – especially in the summertime. I could not get enough of books and still cannot to this day. Will I ever migrate to an “E-Reader” device? Not likely. I like the touch, smell and feel of a book. For me, it’s part of the overall experience. It’s a stress reliever from toiling over my office, my computer and my PDA all day long.

Sheri says:
I read the same article and it freaked me out. The journalist in me insists that I ask questions and I often ask young people, “What are you reading?” I am appalled at how often they say, “nothing.”

Abby is correct that we grew up in a different era. No Internet; no cable. But, we had our own diversions. They just didn’t involve a screen.

About 11 years ago, we remodeled this house. Our son was 8-years old. We made sure he had a window seat and a comfy pad to recline and read. He will turn 20-years old in August and I still find him curled up in that spot. Of course, he also has the cell phone nearby and the iPod in his ears.

Cracking open a new book fills me with excitement. Where will I go? What might I learn? I prolong the anticipation. I read the acknowledgments and dedication. Then I flip to page one and settle in.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We’re thrilled to have our first guest blogger, Rosemary O’Brien. In addition to running a small business and being an accomplished writer and author, she manages to raise children and run a household. She resides in Connecticut with her family. Welcome Rosemary, and please visit her blog as well.

Rosemary says:

The other night, I prepared dinner while simultaneously sending an e-mail to a client. The computer was running very slowly due to a scan that goes on automatically when I have the least amount of time to work. As I flew back and forth between office and kitchen (other office, it seems!), I realized how inconvenient dinnertime is for me. The family likes to eat around 5pm or so, and I need to stop my work to get it going most of the time since my husband does not cook and usually arrives by 5 if we are lucky.

Anyway, I would happily eat a piece of cheese and a cup of coffee at my desk just so I could continue my train of thought or current project. I don’t know about anyone else, but give me a chance to work through the night and sleep all day the next day, and I’m on board. The problem is this: kids have to eat. It’s a rule. Besides, they will migrate into my office and start chewing the legs of my chair if I wait too long to put dinner on the table.

So every day, I stop what I am doing to put a nutritious dinner on the table and wish I was able to continue working for a few more hours without breaking my stride for such an extended period of time.

Is this a “Mom Thing?” Is it a “Woman Thing?” Perhaps it is just a “Workaholic Small Business Owner Work-At-Home” thing?

Oops. ‘Gotta go start dinner again.

Sheri says:

I no longer worry about a nutritious meal for a family. It’s a huge relief. Like Rosemary, I could gnaw on a hunk of cheese and a piece of bread. I figure that since our kids are grown and the husband is an adult with many commitments, he can grab something with a client or friend. He can make himself a sandwich. He can punch a few buttons on the microwave.

But, it is ingrained in us. My husband likes to show off as the chef, and he’s good at it. Nobody seems to notice that someone else did the grocery shopping, the chopping, made the salad, etc. My least favorite phrase is, “Oh, we’re just going to throw something together!” Somebody has to make it happen with the prep work.

I love the holidays. I decided long ago that my mother had served her time. She’s a fabulous cook and always helps with everything, but I have been doing holiday meals and celebrations for quite some time. I’ve been known to throw a mean dinner party for the husband’s clients or friends.

Abby loves to peek in my fridge. She often teases me about whatever food stuff is in there. I still cook occasionally. I enjoy it because it’s not an obligation; it’s my choice.

Abby says:

I have no children, so my microwave gets more use than my shower, toilet and garage door combined. When I was married my husband often relied upon me for a meal, so I used to actually cook food on the stove and in the oven. I enjoyed it. Now, my fridge typically has some food items with mold growing wildly. I need to be more diligent about keeping track. I don’t know how working moms like Rosemary and Sheri have done it. Sheri always has some nice leftovers in her fridge. I often wish I had the time to cook.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Unimportance of "Stuff"

Abby says:
A few posts ago, Sheri and I talked about clutter and accumulating too much stuff. Over the last couple weeks, I have truly learned the meaning of "life's too short" and how insignificant material items and "stuff" really are.

Two weeks ago, my dad took a very bad spill (face first) and really hurt himself. We are lucky. He is ok.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we had a near family tragedy. Luckily those involved are alive, but it was one scary road in the emergency room and days later at the hospital. We were amazingly spared.

Two days later I had a personal health scare. It turned out to be a false alarm. Phew!

This past weekend, massive storms and a tornado hit Indianapolis. I lost my power for half a weekend. Big deal, no harm done. My friend and colleague Cheryl lost part of her house -- as the tornado swept through her neighborhood -- which is only 5 miles from where I live. Her house sustained damage. Her neighbors lost their roofs. She and her dog are remarkably ok. She said the comparison of a tornado sounding like a "freight train coming through" is more true than you can ever imagine.

While I have struggled on and off over the years with organized religion, I have never once doubted the power of God. The events of the past two weeks just strengthened this belief 100 fold. It's also a reiteration for me, "the queen of stuff", that material things just don't matter. At all.

Sheri says:
What is that saying? “Sometimes God taps you on the shoulder. Then, he throws a rock. Next you trip over a boulder.” I don’t know if that is true but I think about it.

That reference is aimed at me, not Abby. If I had been through what she’s been through in the last week to 10 days, (or few years,) I’d have folded like a house of cards. She’s strong and lots of people count on that.

God does allow bad things to happen to people. Is it a test? I don’t know the answer but I know it happens every day.

Abby says:
Life can be over in a nano-second. It hit home the last two weeks. I am thankful and grateful in a brand new way.