Archive for the ‘Journalism’ category

Kate Hudson and Victoria Beckham gave birth to…

July 11, 2011

…“brand new babies,” according to Boston.com. Thank god the babies were brand new– I’d be worried if they were anything but.


Advertisements

Yup, I’m a copywriter

March 22, 2011

Around 7:45 p.m. I noticed a blunder on the Boston Globe’s website, Boston.com. Can you find it? (Click on the image to see it better.)

Yup: They wrote “Cheat eats,” not “Cheap eats.” It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but it’s too bad one of the biggest newspapers in the country had such a glaring error. Around 8:15 p.m. I checked the site again and the issue was fixed.

Small-town bars

March 5, 2011


When I was living in a country town in upstate New York, there were many of those bars where everyone knows your name. You walk into the establishment, and nearly everyone looks straight up and says “Hey Christine!” (or whatever your name may be).

You walk around, saying “hi” to everyone; hoping you’ll avoid that one guy who gives you a hard time each time you come in (you know, he tries to hug you when you don’t want a hug or asks why you don’t want to go hunting with him). You buy a drink for an incredibly cheap price (or someone buys it for you), and then shoot the breeze with the regulars.

In my upstate New York town, there were a couple of these establishments I’d frequent more than others. I remember going to the first one; being marked by the frequency with which country music was played. Single men in their 40s and 50s would be listening to a sad country tune about an unrequited love while practically crying into their Bud or Michelob lights.

I made the mistake of playing a techno song on the jukebox one evening. “What the H#@& is this?!?!?” several Carhartt-clad men shouted in unison. I looked up, realizing the error of my ways. This was NOT the place to get my techno music fix. We let the song play, however, as several regulars lined up to play their next sappy country ballad.

One night at this bar I had some especially great conversations. I don’t remember what was said exactly, but I do remember one boat salesman saying he had to play me a couple of his favorite songs. This first one will always remind me of my time in this insular yet charmingly simple country town.

I remember that whenever the chorus played, this guy would close his eyes, groove his head to the beat, and belt out the words. He’d passionately utter:

I wake up and tear drops
They fall down like rain
I put on that old song we danced to and then
I head off to my job
Guess not much has changed

Punch the clock
Head for home
Check the phone, just in case
Go to bed
Dream of you
That’s what I’m doing these days

The other song was a little gentler/more meaningful in my opinion. I’m unable to post the YouTube video to this page, so I’ll just link to it. I remember thinking it was nice that this rustic outdoorsman enjoyed such a sweet song (it’s about a love between a father and son).

At the other bar, you’d run into all sort of important people in town: police officers, lawyers, town board members, etc. Initially they knew you (well me and some of my friends at least) as the journalists who interviewed them from time to time. But then, after seeing them there a few times, you were more like a friend. Eventually you barely talked about what you did for a career. Instead, you’d join them in cheering for the Green Bay Packers, playing some darts, or discussing the upcoming dairy parade.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/3841713630

New Year’s resolution #6 (or was it #7 or #10?): Join a French conversation group

January 28, 2011

A photo from my first time in France (on a beach in Nice in 2000)

Prior to moving to Boston two and a half years ago, I pretty much spoke French every week. Whether I was conversing with a French friend over the webcam, speaking French with some fellow francophiles where I was living, or thinking out loud in French, the French language was clearly an important part of my life.

Well, since I arrived here I’ve been really bad at keeping up with the language. I initially joined a French conversation Meetup group, but I wasn’t a fan of the setting. I found that Tommy Doyle’s Irish pub in Cambridge’s Harvard Square was too loud and crowded of a backdrop. So after two sessions I stopped attending the group. I began working as a reporter, and found my evenings taken up with public meetings and article assignments.

When I stopped working as a reporter, I thought I might be able to get involved with another conversation group. But I ended up taking on a part-time restaurant job and signing up for an evening class, eliminating my ability to attend the groups I knew of. Well, my schedule is now more normal, and I see there’s a group that meets one Sunday per month at 5 p.m., a good day and time for me.

The group gathers at The Asgard Irish pub in Cambridge’s Central Square. Because they meet during the day, I’m hoping the clientele isn’t too rowdy. I’m trying out the group this Sunday, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck (I’ll surely need it with my out-of-practice French)!

Quitting your job without a new job lined up

December 8, 2010

I know several people who have recently quit their job without another one lined up. Some have saved up a lot of money, so they can afford this life change. Others have had it so much with their job they’re willing to suffer financially and even physically until they find a new one. That might mean buying cheaper groceries, losing health insurance, or ultimately moving in with a family member.

I think it’s really a slap in the face when one of your employees quits without another gig. It’s like the person disliked working for you so much that he’d rather have no source of income than one of your paychecks. Sometimes, though, it’s totally worth it to leave a company without any immediate work plans. If your job is so stressful or time-consuming you don’t have the motivation or opportunity to look for another job at the end of the day, then you’ll be stuck with this job forever.

If your job is so mindless or frustrating you are depressed each day you have to show up, then continuing with this job is probably not the best thing to do. It’s probably better to quit, improve your mental state, and figure out what you want to do next. You’ll have the time and proper disposition to identify your objective, apply for jobs or grad school, and do what else it takes to achieve your goal. (more…)

He seemed so happy

November 19, 2010

This post is way overdue. It’s about an incident that took place a few years ago. A guy I wrote a couple of news articles about shot himself inside his trolley car home. Here’s a link to the article I wrote about his historic trolley car in November 2006.

In August 2007 I wrote an article about his upcoming Habitat for Humanity trip to Romania. For that interview, he had me over to his trolley car for lunch. We sat at his outdoor picnic table, in a wooded area beside a bubbling creek. It was quite a picturesque scene, and one reason neighbors had complained about pest control trucks driving back and forth in this neighborhood (I wrote about this topic, too; the article is at the bottom of the page).

For the Romania interview, Mr. Trolley made delicious chicken salad sandwiches, and served them with strawberry wine. He also had me taste some special cheese he had ordered from the West Coast, where he used to live. As a reporter I wasn’t supposed to accept gifts or meals, but this was one of the few times I did. I felt it would be rude to turn down his nice gesture. In addition to telling me about his planned trip to Romania, he told me about a recent spinal cord injury that was really impacting his daily life. He seemed very distraught about this, but I thought he’d be OK.

A  few months later I heard he had shot himself inside his trolley. He was dead. I had never personally known anyone who committed suicide. This was a shock. I didn’t know what to think. I figured his injury may have played a role in his despair. I also knew he had been through a tough divorce and his daughter was siding with her mother (according to him). He had been involved with contracting work but maybe that work had dried up. Maybe he was at the edge and some incident occurred to push him over. Or maybe he had been planning this. I’m not sure.

I remember when I went to his trolley to interview him for the trolley story. He was so jolly and proud to show off his special abode. He had it all lit up in a beautiful way. He had put so much care into restoring it, into making sure the home was well insulated, repainted, etc.

I remember he loved the story. He called me up right after he read it and said it was perfect. I remember I got a lot of positive feedback from others as well. They like the historical aspect. Anyway, I’m saddened to think that such a good person was prompted to end his life. Maybe he was in such pain, though, that he’s in a better place now. Either way, it makes me realize that life is so fragile and anything we can do to to make others happy is energy well spent. You never know when someone is right at the edge.

Boston.com Facebook “like” feature can be inappropriate

August 21, 2010

I was chilling on vacation this past week when I came across a Boston Globe article online (on Boston.com) about Philip Markoff (the alleged “Craigslist killer”). It was about how he had scrawled his ex-fiancee’s name  in blood on the wall of his cell before killing himself.

This article shocked me, as I hadn’t previously heard Markoff had committed suicide (due to being in Montreal/away from my computer).

It also surprised me because there was a Facebook “like” feature toward the top of the article (it has since been moved below the article).

By clicking on the “like” button you could “like” the article. It showed that 18 people had already “liked” the article. Reading this gave me a bad taste in my mouth. Boston.com was advertising that 18 people had liked how an allegedly twisted man had supposedly performed this twisted act during his suicide, and encouraging others to do the same (like the article)?

I know there are always sick people out there, but why does Boston.com have to seemingly go out of its way and expose/support their strangeness?

Anyway, my boyfriend, an avid Globe reader (buys a copy EVERY day), emailed Boston.com about this feature. His main points were that the feature “devalues and de-emphasizes the seriousness of a story of this nature.” He said it’s not the Globe’s fault that people would “like” such an article, but that it shouldn’t be promoting that more people do so. He said he understands that news outlets want to embrace social media, but that in some cases the like feature isn’t appropriate.

Just like Boston.com doesn’t allow people to comment on certain articles, it shouldn’t let people “like” certain articles, he argued. He got a response thanking him for his feedback, and stating that his comments have been forwarded to the editorial and product teams for review.

Since then I’ve noticed the “like” feature was moved to below the article where’s it’s less prominent. That’s a start I suppose. Though now one can see that the number of people who’ve “liked” the article has increased to 38!