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Message From the Publisher
Published on December 23, 2011 by Sara Foss

We are on vacation through New Year's. Happy holidays!


Bests of 2011
Published on December 20, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I list my favorite music and movies of 2011.

Click here to read it.


Top Reads of the Week
Published on December 16, 2011 by Sara Foss

Music: Brian McElhiney on album reissues

Sports: Sara Foss on college sports

Comics: Eric J. Perkins on the year's best comics

Parenting: J LeBlanc on hunger

Movies: Sara Foss on "The Descendants"

Etiquette: Sara Foss on what not to say to someone giving a speech


The Year in Hackery
Published on December 15, 2011 by Sara Foss

Over at Salon, Alex Parenee is listing the biggest media hacks of the year. Click here to find out who in the punditry really sucked in 2011.


What Not to Say to Someone Giving a Talk
Published on December 11, 2011 by Sara Foss

I gave a talk the other day to a friends of the library group affiliated with a local university. I don't enjoy public speaking, although I generally find it interesting and rewarding. Which might explain why I always accept invitations to speak to groups. I don't get a lot of them, so that makes it easier. Anyway, my speech the other day, which focused on my job as a reporter and column writer, went fairly well.

What I didn't appreciate, though, was having the person who introduced me essentially say that nobody in the audience reads the newspaper for which I work. Now, this could very well be true ... that I was invited to speak to a group of people who are almost completely unfamiliar with my paper. I have no way of knowing. But even if it is true ... why would you say that in your introduction? Why wouldn't you just omit that part? Out of politeness, you know. Of course, if someone says something like that in an introduction, you have to understand that you're dealing with a person who has no idea that they're being rude. Also, how hard is it to give an introduction that's informed and complimentary? Take a half hour, and put together something that doesn't make you sound like an idiot. After all, the person giving the speech probably spent some time preparing to speak to you - you could do the same for her.

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Top Reads of the Week
Published on December 9, 2011 by Sara Foss

Music: Tony Are on Christmas music

Literature: Dan Schneider on contemporary love poetry and Sara Foss on the magic of books

Movies: J.K. Eisen on "A Serbian Film" and Sara Foss on "Hugo"

Parenting: J LeBlanc on having a baby after 30 and Cindy F. Crawford on hosting one big birthday party for her kids

 


The Definitive Thomas Friedman Hate Piece
Published on December 4, 2011 by Sara Foss

I always enjoy reading a vicious take down of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and this piece, posted on Guernica, is pretty good.


Top Reads of the Week
Published on December 2, 2011 by Sara Foss

Travel: Kristina Ingvarsson on why you should go to Guam.

Work: R.B. Austen on working Black Friday.

Parenting: J LeBlanc on regulating her son's TV watching and A Espeseth on teaching her son to be a good consumer

Movies: Sara Foss on "The Muppets."

Pets: Sara Foss on how you cannot win a war of wills with cats.


My New Hero
Published on November 30, 2011 by Sara Foss

My new hero is Emma Sullivan, the Kansas teenager who tweeted that Gov. Sam Brownback "sucked."

You might think the governor's office would have ignored this missive, having better things to do, like run the state of Kansas, but no. Brownback's office noticed the tweet, and the governor's spokesperson said that it "wasn't respectful." Sullivan was summoned to the principal's office for an hour-long tongue lashing, but remained unrepentant, and refused to apologize. Apparently she understands the concept of the First Amendment better than her elders.

The most idiotic response to the controversy came from Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. You might think Marcus would have more important things to write about, but now. She devoted a whole column to Simmons' bad manners. "Emma Sullivan, you’re lucky you’re not my daughter. (Dangerous sentence, I know: My daughters might agree.) If you were my daughter, you’d be writing that letter apologizing to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for the smart­alecky, potty-mouthed tweet you wrote after meeting with him on a school field trip. ... More to the point, as I constantly remind my daughters, parents are not bound by constitutional constraints. The Constitution does not grant teenagers the fundamental right to have a cellphone or use foul language on it. The parental role is to inculcate values of respect for authority — even those you disagree with — and the importance of civil discourse. It’s not to stand up for your little darling no matter how much she mouths off." 

Yawn. I've already expressed my views on civil discourse. Basically, I'm not sure it's as important as Ruth Marcus is. Could Emma Sullivan provided a more fully articulated explanation as to why Governor Brownback sucks? Sure, I guess. But I'd say that the governor needs to develop a thicker skin. And that there's room for all kinds of commentary - including the more juvenile kind - in this great land of ours.

Esquire's Charles Pierce has more.

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Message From the Publisher
Published on November 20, 2011 by Sara Foss

Posting this week will be sporadic and light.


Top Reads of the Week
Published on November 18, 2011 by Sara Foss

Music: Tony Are on The Beach Boys' "Smile"

Travel: Sara Foss on whether people really like going on vacation and her Caribbean photo gallery

Parenting: J LeBlanc on why playgroups are a parent's best friend

Movies: J.K. Eisen on Harold and Kumar and Sara Foss on "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

 


TV News Needs More Famous Kids
Published on November 14, 2011 by Sara Foss

So Chelsea Clinton has been hired as a special correspondent by NBC News.

As Glenn Greenwald points out in Salon, Clinton is just the latest in a long line of famous children with powerful parents to be hired by a so-called news organization. In recent years, we've also seen Jenna Bush, Luke Russert and Meghan McCain land TV gigs, supposedly as journalists.

I guess I should roll my eyes and complain about how the practice of hiring famous kids with no real journalism experience is undermining TV news and taking jobs away from people who actually deserve them, but I'm going to adopt a more contrarian attitude. In my opinion, the networks should hire as many famous kids as they possibly can.

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When Newspapers Close
Published on November 13, 2011 by Sara Foss

An article in CommonWealth magazine asks "What happens when a community loses its newspaper?", and suggests that residents of Holyoke, Mass., still mourn the loss of their paper, which closed in 1993.

Writes Tom Fiedler:

"Nearly two decades have passed since that day. In Holyoke babies have been born, raised and sent off to college or war or other adult responsibilities without ever seeing their names in a T-T article taped to a refrigerator. Thousands of local deaths weren’t recorded in obituary pages. Congressmen, mayors, and city councilors have been elected, served, and retired without knowing a hometown daily’s beat reporter. In short, all the fundamentals of civic life have continued as before, but, like ghosts, they’ve left no trace of their passage.

Holyoke is not alone in facing life without a daily journalistic record. In New England alone, 13 daily papers have closed or gone to weekly publication. Most of those have been in Massachusetts, where six dailies have converted to weekly publication—the Clinton Item, Dedham Daily Tran­script, Haverhill Gazette, Marlboro Enterprise, Hudson Sun, Melrose News, and Waltham News-Tribune—and three—the Beverly Times, the Peabody Times and the Transcript-Telegram—have closed.

All but one of the surviving daily newspapers in New England have seen dramatic drops in circulation, some as high as 70 percent. (The exception is the St. Albans Mes­senger in Vermont). They’re part of a national story about the decline of local newsrooms. The Federal Communi­cations Commission’s recent report entitled “The Inform­a­tion Needs of Communities” estimated that newsrooms have eliminated 13,400 jobs in the past four years, reducing reporting ranks to about the same level as in 1970. A similarly dire study by Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute, an independent journalism research center, concluded that annual spending on news gathering also plunged by $1.6 billion. In a sentence, communities across the nation are being covered by fewer reporters armed with fewer resources.

And yet, does it matter?"

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Top Reads of the Week
Published on November 11, 2011 by Sara Foss

Travel: Sara Foss on eating in the Caribbean

Parenting: J LeBlanc on her lack of parenting experience

Unemployment: R.B. Austen on navigating the unemployment bureaucracy

Comics: Sara Foss on the death of "Family Circus" cartoonist Bil Keane

Sports and Scandal: Sara Foss on the mess at Penn State


Top Reads of the Week
Published on November 4, 2011 by Sara Foss

Movies and TV: J.K. Eisen on "Red State" and "Beavis and Butt-Head"

Parenting/Family: Cindy F. Crawford on working from home and J LeBlanc on dealing with the pain of labor

Music: Eric J. Perkins on his favorite Halloween songs

Poetry: Dan Schneider on poetry blogs

Self-Improvement: Steve LeBlanc on his effort to be a better person

Manners: Sara Foss on why civility is overrated

Hometown Pride: Sara Foss on why hometown pride is complicated


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