Thursday, November 19, 2009

Volunteer journalists, the new wave

Liz Vozz who has done some good work chronicling the new world of journalism has this from yesterday. It's about how many out-of-work writers are working for free. It mirrors a little the post I put up yesterday about blogging.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two years and still blogging

It's hard to believe, but it has been two years to the day that I started "Free From Editors" with this post. On December 1st it will be a full two years that I retired from the reporting job I truly loved.

For me, and most writers, we have to write. It's not an option, it's how we breathe and live. So whether or not I get paid for it, I will always have a desire to write. Some people like talking on the phone, others like to sit on a bar stool and talk, but for a writer there is simply only one satisfying, and sometimes frustrating outlet, and that is at a keyboard.

Most writers knew from early on that writing was in their blood. My stepdaughter Elin has a gift and I hope she continues pursuing it. I'm the lucky one who gets to read the chapter proofs of her novel.

Most newspaper reporters will get what I'm going to talk about next.

While some people have a gift for writing, others of us, me included, have to work at that part. I liked writing, but it was work. Finding the right word, phrase, or proper organization was always difficult for me. For others it came easy.

Others have a different gift, the one that endears you to sources, gets them to tell you things they are not supposed to tell you and then lead you to others who will flesh out a story. If I had a gift, it was in this area. People found it easy to tell me things and they trusted me to tell it honestly and straight.

While I sometimes failed, it was not because I didn't try. And I proudly can say I never betrayed a confidence, not even to a demanding editor. I have scrapped stories rather than reveal a source, even to my editor. I always felt a promise, was a promise.

When certain editors demanded I give them source cellphone or contact phone numbers, I ignored them. I didn't tell them I was ignoring them, but I did ignore them. I wasn't sharing those hard won numbers with anyone.

Good editors didn't ask, the bad ones weren't smart enough to figure out that the numbers that I did supply them were the same numbers they could have gotten themselves - out of a phone book.

The dirty little secret is that reporters are often lone wolves, which is an apt description on a number of levels, and good editors honored them by turning them loose to hunt. Bad editors tried - and mostly failed - to domesticate and leash them, which is frankly impossible.

So while I admit to pretending to go along with some editor stupidity during my last few years, I did so just to survive and when I was out of eye and earshot, I returned to the wild.

This blog has had a pretty narrow focus, although I occasionally stray into non-journalism areas, and therefore a pretty narrow readership, about 22,000 different individuals have stopped by.

On any given day there will be between 350-500 people stopping by to check in. On my highest day, the day last March I broke the news about the Flint Journal, Bay City Times and Saginaw News dumping the daily product for the three-day-a-week product, more than 2,000 individuals stopped by during a 24-hour period.

Ultimately, this is my blog and so far it has earned me $29.42 in ad revenue and nothing else. But it has kept me writing and for that I'm grateful. To the extent that some of you enjoy the blog, I get pleasure from that. And thanks to all of you for stopping by and being part of the conversation, even when it was to disagree.

Hopefully, we'll keep on, keeping on.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mammogram decision just the first for rationed medical care

So a government panel now says routine mammograms are not necessary for women 40-49.

My late mother, who died at 59 after a 15-year battle with breast cancer would completely disagree if she were still around to hear the news.

So this is how the government will save money for its managed government health program. It will just scale back life-saving tests and procedures.

The only reason my mother had a few extra years was the early diagnosis of her breast cancer about 1972.

Before the onset of the beloved government health care option we're already seeing that the government can't deliver enough flu vaccine and now this insane advice to women. Stay tuned, it will only get worse.

Detroit Daily Press: How to subscribe

If you live in the three county Metropolitan Detroit area the Detroit Daily Press will deliver a daily newspaper - 7 days a week (what a concept) - beginning November 30. To subscribe go here.

I'm hoping they have a strong start and build on it.

A satirical look at "distracted" pilots

A loyal FFE reader sent me the link to this. Enjoy

Monday, November 16, 2009 offers free Internet, comfy couches

Made my monthly stop over on and found out they now have free Internet and comfy couches available. Apparently, it has been slow so far. The comments on the article are pretty brutal.