Top Reads of the Week:
Published on March 3, 2012 by Sara Foss

Real Estate: Adam Rust on the hassles of dealing with Section 8 Housing, Parts 1 and 2

Parenting: J LeBlanc on rediscovering children's music

Movies: Sara Foss on "The Iron Lady" and "Albert Nobbs"

Writing: Sara Foss on writing her biography

Top Reads of the Week:
Published on February 24, 2012 by Sara Foss

Playing an Instrument: Barry Wenig on the difficulty of finding time to practice

Friendship: Sara Foss on the joy of making new friends

Protest: A Espeseth on volunteering for the Scott Walker recall effort in Wisconsin

Parenting: J LeBlanc on a trip to the children's museum

Poetry: Dan Schneider on the trouble with poets

Movies: Sara Foss on "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy" and "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Music: Sara Foss on how some bands age well ... and others do not

Addiction, Celebrity and Ordinary People
Published on February 23, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at The Fix, a website about addiction and recovery, Maer Roshan has an interesting piece about the media's intense focus on celebrities with substance abuse problems, such as Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, and how the press seldom addresses the underlying causes of addiction.

Maer writes, "But substantive stories about alcoholism and drug addiction remain largely outside the media purview—focused on the tribulations of A and C-list celebrities, they're often ghettoized in gossip sites and channels like VH1. For all the daily hand wringing about celebrity overdoses and DUIs, there is precious little real reporting on the growing scientific understanding of the disease, the tragic lack of access to treatment or insurance coverage, or even the growing number of promising drugs that have begun to make real progress against this condition."

The whole piece provides a thought-provoking take on addiction, celebrity and the media, and you can find it here.

Top Reads of the Week
Published on February 17, 2012 by Sara Foss

Travel: Keith Ross on living in Key West

Morality: Sara Foss on sin

Parenting: J LeBlanc on being the bad cop

TV: Lesley Foss on giving up cable and watching "Numb3rs"

Movies: Sara Foss on "The Artist" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Real Estate: Adam Rust on becoming a landlord

Etiquette: Sara Foss on how to behave in a swimming pool

Men and Women in the Media
Published on February 16, 2012 by Sara Foss

Amanda Hess at GOOD magazine writes about a recent report from the Women's Media Center on the "state of women in the nation's newsrooms, radio stations, and film sets."

Basically, men still dominate these organizations, which has a real effect on coverage - what gets covered, what doesn't, and how these issues are discussed. And though overall newspapers are doing a better job of hiring women, women's voices remain sorely under-represented on opinion pages and in management positions - if you want to know what white men over the age of 60 think about something, the newspaper is a great source of information.

Thank God there's an Internet, and you can seek out a diverse range of voices!

Top Reads of the Week
Published on February 10, 2012 by Sara Foss

Music: Roger Noyes on the art of the pedal-steel guitar

Memory: Steve LeBlanc on the girl at the pool

Buying a car: Sara Foss on her new Subaru Legacy and also on how to replace a lost title at the DMV

Parenting: J LeBlanc on purchasing baby gear

Movies: Sara Foss on joining the "Mystery Team" cult

Top Reads of the Week
Published on February 4, 2012 by Sara Foss

Tornados: Cindy F. Crawford on Coping With a Tornado As a Family

Music: Sara Foss on the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Tony Are on Sandy Denny

Parenting: J LeBlanc on the pets

Housing: Adam Rust on Buying a Foreclosure

Sports: Sara Foss on the Super Bowl

The Muppets Attack Fox News
Published on January 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Top Reads of the Week
Published on January 27, 2012 by Sara Foss

Work: Tatiana Zarnowski on her favorite workplace diversion, and R.B. Austen on piecing together work

Parenting: J LeBlanc on maintaining friendships after childbirth

Sports: Sara Foss on secret weapons

Music: Eric J. Perkins on his favorite albums of 2011

Wisdom: Barry Wenig on what's really important in life

Journalism: Sara Foss on newspaper hospice

Weather: Sara Foss on exercising in the cold



Contradicting Famous Columnists
Published on January 25, 2012 by Sara Foss

One of the things I appreciate about the Internet is how it gives voice to people you'd never hear from otherwise.

For instance, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff recently wrote a column lamenting the fact that Americans are losing faith in free markets and the financial industry, and how on a trip to a college campus he was surprised by a student who asked him if it was immoral to seek banking jobs. Kristoff's column was dumb, but I'm not going to go into all the reasons why, because the student he spoke to, Jon Emont, has already written a piece on Slate explaining why Kristoff is wrong.

Pre-Internet, Kristoff would have written his column, and that would have been that. We never would have heard a peep from Jon Emont, unless he wrote an angry letter than happened to get printed in the paper. But now, thanks to the Internet, the likes of Jon Emont have options, and places to tell their side of the story.

Newspaper Hospice
Published on January 22, 2012 by Sara Foss

Every once in awhile, I try to imagine what else I could do for a living besides work at a newspaper. It's not that I don't like working at a newspaper. I do. But it isn't exactly a healthy industry, and the caliber of talent is suffering as a result.

My most recent alternative profession? Hospice work. I actually think I would be good at this. I really sympathize with people who are dealing with death, and I could draw upon some of my own experiences to help other people in similar situations.

But when I mentioned my alternative career as a hospice worker, a friend of mine scoffed. "Hospice isn't exactly a high paying field," she said. Well, that's true. But how much worse could it be than newspapers? And hospice isn't exactly going anywhere. There are always going to be dying people, and grieving families. Whereas newspapers are dying a slow death.

Which makes me think I should create a new field, called Newspaper Hospice, where hospice workers counsel and comfort reporters devastated by closure, buyouts and layoffs. Much like traditional hospice work, I think I would be good at this. I sympathize with journalists working at struggling papers (i.e., all of them), and I could draw upon some of my own experiences, such as my brief tenure at the Birmingham Post-Herald, a newspaper that no longer exists, to help other people in similar situations.

So, yeah, newspaper hospice. It might sound crazy, but I think it's a growth industry.


Top Reads of the Week
Published on January 20, 2012 by Sara Foss

Music: Brian McElhiney on his jam band problem and Sara Foss on guilty pleasures

Turning 50: Barry Wenig on aging and making mixes

Travel: Kristina Ingvarsson on her holiday in Singapore

Humor: Steve LeBlanc on how to scare a stranger

Movies: Sara Foss on "The Adventures of Tintin"

Top Reads of the Week
Published on January 13, 2012 by Sara Foss

Music: Tony Are on the best albums of 2011

Poetry: Dan Schneider on poets who tweet

Parenting: J LeBlanc on being sick and Cindy F. Crawford on potty training boot camp

Movies: Sara Foss on "Young Adult"

Is Journalism About Facts?
Published on January 12, 2012 by Sara Foss

New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane has been getting a lot of flack for wondering whether reporters should make an effort to check whether public officials are telling the truth. In his post, titled "Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?", Brisbane asks:

"I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about. ... This message was typical of mail from some readers who, fed up with the distortions and evasions that are common in public life, look to The Times to set the record straight. They worry less about reporters imposing their judgment on what is false and what is true. Is that the prevailing view? And if so, how can The Times do this in a way that is objective and fair? Is it possible to be objective and fair when the reporter is choosing to correct one fact over another? Are there other problems that The Times would face that I haven’t mentioned here?"

As you can imagine, a lot of people think journalism is about presenting facts, and calling out lies. The prevailing attitude is pretty well summed up by Erik Loomis' response to Brisband's post over on the blog Lawyers, Guns & Money:

"Your modern media, ladies and gentlemen! It’s no wonder that climate change lies can be spread through the media so effectively. The nation’s paper of note wonders whether journalists should challenge what people say? Isn’t that the definition of journalism? Is this a serious conversation? Amazing."


Top Reads of the Week
Published on January 7, 2012 by Sara Foss

Books: Tatiana Zarnowski on book guilt and Sara Foss on "Motherless Brooklyn"

Laundry, Art and Spirituality: Annalisa Parent on hanging the clothes out to dry

Movies: J.K. Eisen on "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" and Sara Foss on "My Week With Marilyn"

Parenting: J LeBlanc on surviving the holidays

Pregnancy: R.B. Austen on being pregnant at the holidays

Nicknames: Sara Foss on what's in a nickname



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