Archive for April, 2008

Fri 11 Apr 2008 9:00 am   //   Posted in: Media

I’ve had it with these mother-loving fish

Some New Yorker cartoons are a little opaque, or make obscure references, or just aren’t funny. Then there’s this one by Danny Shanahan on page 30 of this week’s magazine.

You’ll love my mother.

Am I an idiot? Does this make any sense to anyone? If you get this cartoon, I beg you, please leave some kind of explanation in the comments. Or maybe (in the spirit of the cartoon caption contest) you can suggest a better caption.

Thu 10 Apr 2008 2:22 pm   //   Posted in: Media, Misc

To all concerned:

Yes, I still have a job, thanks for checking.

Thu 10 Apr 2008 11:00 am   //   Posted in: Photos

How can you not love this building?


Chrysler Building, Manhattan, 2007

Thu 10 Apr 2008 7:32 am   //   Posted in: Media

A journalist at the top of his game

Is this the least-controversial Pulitzer Prize ever? — Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post for Pearls Before Breakfast. Take a half-hour at lunch to read this story if you haven’t already. So much fun.

Wed 9 Apr 2008 12:00 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Technology

Some things just don’t work

At work, we use an e-mail and calendar program called Microsoft Entourage. It’s supposed to tell us when and where our meetings are. Problem is, it always displays the meetings one hour prior to when they are scheduled. This problem seems to be an incorrect time zone setting on a server somewhere, but no one at the company has bothered to fix it. So rather than use the calendar program on my computer – since it fails hopelessly at the single task it is designed to do – I keep my schedule in a massive, ungainly Word document. Hooray computer!

Tue 8 Apr 2008 10:42 pm   //   Posted in: In the news, Transit

The sinking of the redbirds

I love this slide show about old subway cars being dumped into the ocean.

(Bonus: The accompanying story contains the second reference to DeLoreans in the newspaper this week!)

Tue 8 Apr 2008 10:00 am   //   Posted in: Over!, Technology

Twitter: Life’s too short

I may be wrong about Twitter, but I’m pretty sure it’s over. We’ve given it long enough. We’ve been patient. It’s not poised to break out of the nerd community. It’s not the next big thing.

Why is Twitter doomed to be a niche player? It takes too much work to sort through all the noise. Twitter represents the purest form of Web 2.0’s biggest problem: A crowd of people unsure what they want to hear matched with a crowd of people with nothing interesting to say. As a communications tool, it offers very little that the average person can’t get from a blog or Facebook or MySpace.

When Twitter was new, I started an account for lurking purposes. Work-wise, it has been of no help to my reporting. The sources I care most about – the ones who are well-informed about my beat, which is professional photography – are not on Twitter. They don’t know about Twitter. They are too busy. If you explained Twitter to them (“You post just a sentence or two at a time, even a text from your cell phone, telling people what you’re doing all day long”) they would think you were a loser. And they’d be right.

Apart from work, I don’t have any urge to share a minute-by-minute account of my life. When I have something that deserves a mention, I put it here on this blog (via text message if appropriate).

Even though I have never posted anything to my Twitter account, nor told anyone about it until now, 18 people have signed up to follow me. I don’t know who most of them are. I think a few of them are spammers. If you’re one of them, let the record note that I actually do a lot of things. I’m just not one to Twitter about it.

Counterpoint: Charles Cooper: For some reason, Twitter hasn’t yet taken the journalist community by storm.

Update: I had this post cued up in advance and failed to notice my friend Bret was blogging about the same thing. He’s in the Twitter camp. Like I said, I could be wrong about this one.

Mon 7 Apr 2008 11:18 pm   //   Posted in: Misc

Things of interest on my work blog

At work, I appreciate having both a blog and a reporting-driven Web site as a vehicle for news. The blog is great for quick-hit things that ought to be published immediately. Today I was able to post a fast blog update within a minute or two of the Pulitzer announcement (followed by a longer and more thoughtful story on the main site), and I posted a short summary of an auction I attended tonight (but won’t have time to research and a write full story about until tomorrow). Plus there were some stray things going on that didn’t warrant a full story but were interesting enough to share with our readers.

12:11 p.m.: Jury: Photogs Share Blame For Diana Death
12:55 p.m.: Absolut Ad Campaign Backfires Horribly
3:13 p.m.: Breaking News: Pulitzer Prizes Announced
4:25 p.m.: Andrees Latif On His Pulitzer-Winning Picture
9:03 p.m.: Weston Print Fetches $1.6M At Auction

Mon 7 Apr 2008 11:00 am   //   Posted in: Videos

Original video: Raccoon in the park

Saturday was a beautiful day here in New York. I was in Central Park and saw a raccoon walking around like it owned the place. Very unusual. A small crowd of people stopped and gawked. I shot a couple of shaky videos, which I edited into the short clip you see below. Background music is Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, from Musopen. Enjoy!

(If you can’t see the video, try this link, or try the low-res YouTube version.)

Sun 6 Apr 2008 5:22 pm   //   Posted in: In the news, Media

I assure you I am not blogging myself to death

Sheesh. Check out the topic du jour: Death by blogging.

It begins today with Matt Richtel writing on the front of the New York Times: In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop:

“A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.”

The story describes three bloggers who have recently had heart attacks, two dying. It quotes several others discussing how hard blogging is on their physical and mental health.

A couple of quick thoughts.

First, the subject is not really blogging, but online journalism. Just like any kind of reporting, doing it right is difficult and stressful. I sometimes have unsettling dreams in which I have a big story ready to go, but my fingers gum up and I can’t type fast enough to write it. But the work is satisfying most of the time, and I think stress is OK when managed properly.

Second, cry me a river. You want a tough job, try being an emergency room surgeon, or slaughterhouse worker, or the guy who repairs downed power lines during ice storms, or a school teacher.

Third, I’m fortunate that the company for which I write does not evaluate me based on page views, or click-throughs, or any other dubious popularity metric. I worry this may change in the future. One thing about reporting is that it’s very hard to predict what kind of impact your work will have. Sometimes the stories you work hardest on and are proudest of get no traction, no feedback. Other stories you consider quickie throw-away pieces become more popular than you’d ever have predicted. I love getting hits, but I’ve learned not to look at traffic stats as an evaluation of how good my work was. As an example, Matt Richtel’s Times article is probably getting tons of hits – because it’s about blogging, not because it’s great reporting.