photography, ridiculousness

Scenes from a Holiday

Three interesting holiday visions, caught on the old camera in the last few days.

1. The upside-down tree, a short walk from our place.
upside down christmas tree

Crowning angel:
upside down christmas tree angel

2. Tom and Jerry’s Christmas tree, a longer walk from our place. Requires a building permit from the city.
Tom and Jerry's Christmas Tree

Beach ball ornaments.
Tom and Jerry's Christmas Tree detail

3. Eighth night of Hanukkah, our place.
lighting the menorah

journalism, ridiculousness, television

Produced by Sonia Narang

Television news tends to hide the credits for stories. Take this little report from Coney Island:

Although the story is dominated by the so-called “talent,” the story was pitched, shot, and structured by Sonia Narang, who has a year-long fellowship at NBC. She produced it. (If you want to hear funny stories about your favorite television news personalities, by the way, talk to a producer.) Or as they say at NBC, Sonia DJ’ed the piece. “DJ” standing for “digital journalist,” which is what we all are turning into, I hear.

If they include a credit for caption writer, maybe I can get a little nod. I took a stab at the early version of the script and, this being national television news, tried to write something appropriately clichéd and bombastic. A few relics of that since-buried text were used in the online story caption, which can be rather hard to find, actually.

Update: Aired on Today show last Saturday, December 27th.

really?, ridiculousness, technology


Since the screen on my cell phone has been broken for months, that’s been my latest excuse for holding off on signing up for Twitter. No more. So now I’m on Twitter. And what do you know, my first so-called “tweet” is about the last post I put on my so-called blog. And now I’m posting about that tweet. If I do this enough, I’ll create some kind of feedback loop that could perturb my little section of the internet to unknown but probably incredible effect. What hath [choose individual] wrought?

So here’s the link:

I can’t wait to start forgetting to update that thing, too.

P.S.: My phone’s still busted.

dissipation, journalism, money, ridiculousness

Quantity Through Quantity

It’s easy to babble. It’s hard to write short. Writing short is a decent thing to do; it saves your reader’s precious time. But once you’re in that mode of writing, it seems even harder to write long. I usually inject a lot of “very”s. I find that very effective.

Or, you have to be a better reporter, so that you’ve learned enough worthy material to earn the length. What if you don’t have the time to report, but still need to write long?


Kinsley remarks on a Tribune Company executive’s plans to measure the productivity of his company’s reporters at papers like the Los Angeles Times. It’s worth reading. The executive will do it by counting each reporter’s column inches of text. More words equals better employees.

But better reporting?

Does it even matter at this point?

ridiculousness, San Francisco

Everybody wins.

So I missed the big event in San Francisco today due to other commitments. But I’ve been hearing things over the ether. I’ve heard that the protest groups say they succeeded by creating such a ruckus that Mayor Newsom and the Chinese organizers had to sneak the torch onto a completely new route (supposedly at the last minute). Fair enough. But then again, the Chinese government has a great photo-op courtesy, it seems, of Newsom and Co.: a pleasant jaunt through beautiful San Francisco, ending up at the Golden Gate Bridge. Everybody wins.

Except, maybe, for those people who wanted to see the torch, no matter what their political inclinations. The papers found a few of them, all disappointed.

Good hustle, everybody.

anticipation, India, photography, ridiculousness

Meanwhile, India Waits

Sorry for the delay on the India photos, for those who’ve been asking. I hope now that the FLW project is done (will believe it when I see it), will have time to take care of all the India, Shanxi, Liaoning stuff. As for the above picture, my understanding is that this building exists purely for the sake of symmetry.
India, international, journalism, ridiculousness

Return from India

This weekend I finally made it back from India, where I was ostensibly working on a couple of stories. “Greetings from India, Land of Complications,” I began to write in my e-mails, though those were infrequent, internet access being one of the complications. Still, the longer I was there, the more I liked it. I look forward to going back. Though I don’t look forward to the Delhi Airport.

Through some airline mishaps, my return trip took about 60 hours rather than the planned 22 hours. So now I’m jet-lagged and exhausted. That means I’m asleep when I should be awake and asleep when I should be asleep. So much for being productive.

Having trouble choosing which India photo I should include here.

anticipation, dissipation, education, irony, journalism, politics, really?, ridiculousness, unfortunate

Instant Void: When it comes to the Journalism School’s Dean, you’ve got questions, but we’ve got no answers

Wrote this on Tuesday:
John Peabody has a nice rundown of the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s meeting on the surprise withdrawal of Dianne Lynch as incoming dean. She is, and will remain, dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. To recap: Lynch was the favorite candidate among the finalists for the job to succeed Orville Schell. She withdrew late in the game. Provost George Breslauer discussed her reasons for withdrawing with her and convinced her to accept the position in May. Breslauer and the search committee got the UC Regents to approve what they felt was a generous compensation package and official appointment in the summer. Then they started the faculty review. Breslauer said they waited until they could be sure the money was in place before they initiated the review. And then she withdrew, again, last week, about two months before she was set to start, about 5 months after she accepted the job.

Breslauer, along with Vice Provost Shelly Zedeck, and interim dean and professor Neil Henry, a former Washington Post reporter, met with students, faculty, and staff for about 40 minutes Monday evening.

The meeting, according to an e-mail from Henry, was “to discuss the withdrawal and the school’s immediate future with the full school community.”

The discussion of the withdrawal consisted mainly of variations of the phrase, We can’t tell you what happened.

The school’s immediate future was never substantially addressed either. Professor Cynthia Gorney got Breslauer to confirm that program funding would continue, though how much, for how long, and for what was not completely clear. But there’s a promise. In any case, in the same e-mail that Henry sent informing us of the meeting, Henry wrote: “With much School planning and decision-making on hold in recent months pending Dianne’s arrival, I will now move to secure university financial support for various curricular and program initiatives during our continuing transition.” So no surprises there.

There were a handful of notable moments in the meeting, including Henry’s admonition that we should not be curious about rumors, nor should we ask questions about confidential information. Sometimes a person will kick away the dirt to reveal the bright shining line that exists between journalism and bureaucracy.

But all of this secrecy and uproar may have a more pernicious effect. Granted, Breslauer, et al., are bound by the University’s rules of confidentiality related to personnel matters, and thus can not tell us what happened. But Breslauer was careful in describing the timeline of this process (which I summed up above). And he noted that it was during the faculty review process, when materials presumably relating to a candidate’s professional history, are scrutinized by faculty, that she withdrew.

And that’s where the questions start pouring in.

Look at it this way. If one went through the process of getting a high profile job in one’s field, only to withdraw during the professional evaluation–when people are examining your work, maybe calling up a few old colleagues–the casual onlooker might then wonder if something unpleasant was discovered. If it were enough to disqualify someone from being a dean at Berkeley, one might wonder if it might be enough to disqualify that person from being dean anywhere. Yet due to the confidentiality surrounding personnel matters, that other school might not be similarly informed. (Or it might not have seen a problem where others did.) Meanwhile, the reputation of an accomplished administrator and new-media star hangs in the balance.

That’s the uncomfortable situation that Lynch is in, and since there is a void of substantial information, rumors and assertions rush to fill it.

Worse, it may all be the result of bad timing. So Lynch withdrew during the review phase rather than the salary phase. Her motivation may have had nothing at all to do with the review. But because it happened during her professional review, it’s difficult to shake the implication of impropriety. And that, inevitably, is where many questions are headed.

But wait: What if Lynch’s withdrawal didn’t have anything to do with her record? Why withdraw then? Family, yes, which is what she’s told us. (When Karl Rove resigned, citing family reasons, Sara Schaefer Munoz mused about the popularity of the family reasons reason on the Wall Street Journal’s The Juggle blog.)

Could it be the Journalism School, itself? Possibly. Over the course of this whole dean search, a fair amount of dirty laundry has been aired, most of it having to do with the usual departmental politics endemic to any academic institution, though some of it has to do with the nature of journalism and journalism training. If you had a good thing going at your current job, and saw that the new job was rife with vitriolic, internecine feuding, maybe little Ithaca College isn’t so bad, after all. Why leave upstate New York, four seasons, reasonable cost of living, for the big time at Berkeley, if that means trading it all in for a two-season, earthquake-prone den of dysfunction?

Or maybe it’s something else. But I guess that’s the point here.

As long as the confidentiality rules hold, then both sides are technically protected from any potential revelations that they’d just as soon keep hidden. But in the process, both sides risk losing face.