Monday, November 26, 2007

Shoeless Joe Jackson

What's the truth about Shoeless Joe Jackson, possibly the greatest baseball player ever to come out of South Carolina?

A friend of mine, Thomas K. Perry of Newberry, S.C., has written an engaging book about Shoeless Joe. I recommend it strongly.

Meanwhile, click on the above link for breaking news/discovery about Shoeless Joe and others involved in the 1919 Black Sox World Series scandal.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Media tycoon makes Web sites free

If you're a researcher or journalist, Rupert Murdoch's recent decision to make the Wall Street Journal's Web site free and accessible to anyone (including the site's archives) comes as good news. The NYT has already done this.

Increasingly, newspapers are coming to grips with the idea that readers of online content don't want to pay for it.

The trend will be for advertisers to carry the freight.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Newspapers--important OR interesting?

Too many newspapers are too important and not very interesting.

Too much tactical news and not enough info. that really rocks readers.

Will Atkinson, my former student and a May 2007 graduate of Winthrop University, sent me this piece about most e-mailed stories by readers.

They're not, apparently, e-mailing many pieces about the Iraq war or the budget or city council meetings or police reports.

What they're sharing with each others, is, well, stories about nuns, parrots, people eating out of dumpsters, sex...

When will newspapers start to "get it"?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hillary: Did she or didn't she?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, front running Democratic candidate for president of the U.S., recently ate at the Maid-Rite Diner in Iowa.

First reports were that she did not tip the waitress for a $157 bill.

Then that changed that "her retinue of advisers" left a $100 tip on that bill.

Decide for yourself.

Read about it in the NYT.

Regardless, news about her personal life spreads like wildfire in the media. What she wears, what she doesn't wear, how much she tips or doesn't tip...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Job skills aren't the whole picture

If you're looking to hire someone today, they better have good skills for your company.

But maybe even more important that knowing how to do a job is this: you have to get along with people, have the right personality to work in a team and have the right work ethic.

Skill in and of itself doesn't get it.

A few companies in America are beginning to "get it."

Some of them are even conducting day-long (as in 10-12 hours) interviews with applicants.

Really screening them.

Read about it in the hyperlink above.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Campus newspaper ran what I wrote

Well, anything to get published...

When you hurt, write about what's hurting you.

See my guest column in The Johnsonian, the student newspaper at Winthrop.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Newspapers on a downward spiral

I train people to work in print journalism, and sometimes I have misgivings about that--given the direction (down) that newspaper circulation is going.

Print isn't dead (yet), but the signs are ominous: online is where it's at when people look for sources of news.

But maybe I'm an old-fashioned reader who likes to hold newsprint in his hands and get ink stains all over me.

What can we do to save newspapers?


Man reclines in bathtub with 87 rattlesnakes

I didn't believe this when I read it, but Jackie Bibby, the "Texas Snake Man," set a world record for consorting with rattlesnakes--87 of them to be exact.

Weirdly strange and scary.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Are TV ambush interviews ethical?

Should the journalist who did the TV ambush interview recently in Texas be fired?

Watch this clip and decide for yourself:

Arlecia Simmons, a Ph.D. candidate at the GREAT University of Iowa, sent this clip to me.

Arlecia is a graduate of WU (mass comm./journalism major).

She may be coming back to Winthrop to take my place when the old guy checks out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Media owners may get even more powerful

What if a company that owns a big newspaper in a particular city could own/buy as many radio stations or TV stations it wanted to in that same city?

Not possible under current FCC rules.

But concentration of media ownership in America could get even more concentrated if the chair of the FCC gets his way.

The rules--they might be a changin.

But I hope not.

Monday, October 22, 2007

$ for Duke Univ. students?

Three Duke University lacrosse team students wrongly accused of raping an exotic dancer have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities in North Carolina.

But whatever they win won't be sufficient salve for the suffering they endured while this emotionally riveting case unfolded.

What a word--"salve."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oldest son, Crawford, just got married

...and here I am all decked out in my outfit for his wedding in Melbourne, Fla.

Vain I'm posting this, I know, but how many times does a guy get to wear a tux?

Larry and friend Jock Lauterer

As promised earlier, here's my picture with Jock Lauterer of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Jock and I presented research on community newspapers a few weeks ago at a national conference in Norfolk, Va.

He's probably the foremost expert on the community press in America.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Great trip to Norfolk, Va.

A few weeks ago, my friend, Doug Fisher, and I presented research on newspaper Web archives at the 13th annual Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium (sponsored by the National Newspaper Association and the Huck Boyd Center for Community Media--directed by Gloria Freeland of Kansas State University.)

Fisher is an instructor at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He's also an ace copyeditor and long time (former) journalist for the Associated Press. Read his blog at:

Also helping us: Will Atkinson, a May 2007 graduate of Winthrop University (mass communication/journalism track) major.

When the paper is posted on the Web, I'll put the link in this blog. For now, you can find the title of our paper at

(Scroll down the page till you find title of our research paper.)

Soon, I'll upload a few pictures from Norfolk.

By the way, the correct prounciation of "Norfolk" is "Norfuck." (Accent on first syllable.)

Really. No kidding.

Monday, October 8, 2007

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Arlecia Simmons

I've blogged about her before--a few months ago--but I got this informative update from Arlecia Simmons, an alumna of Winthrop University, where she majored in mass comm./journalism track.

Arlecia is a Ph.D. candidate at the GREAT University of Iowa, where yours truly got his Ph.D.

The Texas cowboy preacher says it well

Heard a good sermon yesterday in church from Mike Lowery, pastor of West End Baptist Church in Rock Hill.

Lowery, incidentally, is somewhat of a "Superman" preacher; he's on duty (meaning he's combat ready) at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday at The Connection--an off-campus ministry of West End. Then at 11, you'll find him at the big main church (West End), which has grown tremendously throughout his tenure there.

At The Connection, Lowery--who came to Rock Hill from Texas about 10-11 years ago--wears jeans and an untucked in shirt. Casual looking, relaxed (have a cup of coffee and sausage biscuit with me) guy; you could mistake him for a rancher or truck driver.

He usually finishes his Connection messsage about 10:30 or 10:40 and then races, I'm sure, to the big church (about 4-5 miles ways), where he preaches at 11 (or shortly after 11) when the introductory singing is over.

At the big church, you'll see Lowery in a suit and tie.

That's why I've dubbed him the Superman preacher; the guy changes clothes and is faster than a speeding bullet.

Plus, his message might be more powerful than a locomotive.

Okay, all that aside, these are some of the main points he made in his sermon yesterday morning at West End Baptist Church.

Seven ways we can transform ourselves so that we're more in line with God's ways:

1. Focus on changing only one (behavioral) defect at a time.

2. Focus on victory one day at a time. Bible says: "Give us this day (not this month) our daily bread." Or, put another way: The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

3. Focus on God's power, not on your own willpower (which is weak.). We can't transform ourselves for the better on our own. Change can only happen through God's power.

4. Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. Focus on good things, not bad things. Resist the temptor, not the temptation. Focus on what's good, pure and perfect.

5. Focus on doing good, not on feeling good. Be guided by the spirit and not by your need for self-indulgence. The Devil will try to get you to not do the right things. Do the right thing, even if it doesn't feel good.

6. Focus on people who help you, not hurt you, in making positive changes in your life. (If you don't want to get stung by bees, stay away from bees.)

7. Focus on progress, not perfection. Anytime we make steps in the right direction, God is pleased. Sometimes just taking baby steps is a good thing.

Well put, Superman preacher.

Ride 'em cowboy.

Friday, October 5, 2007

More about those brave monks in Myanmar

Here's more about how Buddhist monks and others who are not "professional journalists" use the power and reach of blogging in beseiged Myanmar.

Again, pasting this entire article into my blog window here, because I fear the Wall Street Journal link will go dead:

'Citizen Journalists'
Evade Blackout
On Myanmar News
Blogs and Shaky Videos
Find Way Into Mainstream;

September 28, 2007; Page A1

As Myanmar's regime cracks down on a growing protest movement, "citizen journalists" are breaking the news to the world.

At 1:30 yesterday afternoon, a cellphone buzzed with news for Soe Myint, the editor in chief of Mizzima News, a publication about Myanmar run by exiles in New Delhi.
[A video of the Myanmar protests on YouTube.]
A photo, provided by the National League for Democracy-Liberated Area, from Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday, the site of a protest crackdown.

The message: "There is a tourist shot down" in Yangon, the center of recent protests by Buddhist monks and others against the military junta in Myanmar, formerly Burma. Troops there were clearing the streets, telling protesters they had just minutes to go home -- or be shot.

The text message wasn't from one of Soe Myint's reporters. In fact, he doesn't know who sent the message. He believes it came from one of the more than 100 students, activists and ordinary citizens who have been feeding him reports, images and video of the violent events unfolding in recent days.

In the age of YouTube, cellphone cameras and text messaging, technology is playing a critical role in helping news organizations and international groups follow Myanmar's biggest protests in nearly two decades. Citizen witnesses are using cellphones and the Internet to beam out images of bloodied monks and street fires, subverting the Myanmar government's effort to control media coverage and present a sanitized version of the uprising. The Associated Press reported yesterday that soldiers in Yangon fired automatic weapons into a crowd of demonstrators as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters converged in the capital. Wire services have reported the number of dead at nine, citing the state media. (See related article.)

Here are some blogs and media outlets with video and pictures of the protests in Yangon. (Some are in Burmese.)
• Mizzima News
• The Irawaddy
• Democratic Voice of Burma
• Justice & Injustice
• Today Burma

• Jim Carrey's Youtube call to action
• Anti-march warning broadcast from Burmese state broadcaster MRTV, via BBC.

The BBC, which has a Burmese language Web site and radio service, is encouraging its audience to send in photos, like the ones it received of a monk's monastery that had been ransacked by authorities. A shaky video, now on YouTube, shows a sea of chanting and clapping monks draped in red robes marching down a street, past Buddhist monuments. One blog features a photo showing two abandoned, bloodstained sandals.

Another blog was updated at 3 p.m. Myanmar time yesterday with a few English lines: "Right now they're using fire engines and hitting people and dragging them onto E2000 trucks and most of them are girls and people are shouting." Below the post is a blurry photo of trucks with the caption, "This is how they come out and try to kill people."

Who produced these reports -- or how the information got out of Myanmar -- hasn't been established. But that's the point in a country where people caught protesting or writing against the government risk years in prison.

The last time there was a protest of this scale in Myanmar was 1988, when a pro-democracy uprising was crushed by the military and more than 3,000 people died. First reports of that event came from diplomats and official media. "Technology has changed everything," says Aung Zaw, a Myanmar exile whose Thailand publication Irrawaddy has been covering events in Burma hour-by-hour, with reports gathered online. "Now in a split second, you have the story," says the editor.

According to the AP, on Thursday Myanmar's state-run newspaper blamed the protests in Yangon, formerly called Rangoon, on "saboteurs inside and outside the nation." It also said that the demonstrations were much smaller than foreign media were reporting.

The events are a trial by fire for so-called citizen journalists, who cover events that professional journalists can't get to. The Myanmar government has successfully kept out many reporters, some of whom are filing their stories about events in Myanmar from India and Thailand.

The AP, Reuters and other media have been retransmitting photos and reports given to them by exile media organizations like Mizzima, Irrawaddy, and the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma. Those outfits are acting as a clearinghouse for images and reports produced by people in Myanmar.

Time Warner Inc.'s CNN, which had its own reporter in Myanmar on Wednesday, has also been airing 65 clips and pictures from tourists and Myanmar residents sent in via its "ireport" citizen-journalist system.

"When traditional methods and professional journalists can't provide footage, and personal safety allows, citizens rise to the challenge time and again, often with remarkable material," said Ellana Lee, the managing editor of CNN Asia Pacific in an email. "Even in countries like Myanmar, the spread of the Internet and mobile phones has meant that footage will always continue to get through and the story will be told, one way or another."

Still, working with inexperienced journalists can be a challenge for news organizations that want to publish credible, balanced information. Reuters, which has a reporter stationed in Yangon, says content from citizen journalists is rigorously checked for accuracy.

Speaking of his correspondents, Aung Zaw, the editor of Irrawaddy, says, "They are doing their job on the ground, and nobody is even giving them the assignment. It is our job to check again with our sources, to see how close to the truth it is."

For example, he says his staff had a long discussion on Wednesday night about how many deaths had occurred during that day's bloody protests. The government was reporting one death, but his sources were saying possibly three, six or seven people died. In the end, after counting known specific cases, Irrawaddy made the "very difficult call" to say there were six deaths, says Aung Zaw. "We also said this number couldn't be confirmed."

After Mizzima's Soe Myint received his text message about Thursday's tourist shooting, he asked one of the 10 reporters who work for him in Myanmar to verify the claim. An hour and a half after the initial report, Mizzima reported on its Web site that a 30-year old foreigner was injured in gunfire, and that an American flag was found with his bag. Security people also seized his video camera, the report said.

Soe Myint says his grassroots reporting system is in place because his organization has been building a base of supporters in the country for years: "This is not the work of one day. We have been getting ready for this for the last nine years. People know our work and how to reach us."

The safety of everyone trying to report from Myanmar now is cause for concern. Yesterday, a Japanese photojournalist was killed, and another foreign reporter was injured, according to reports. State media yesterday reported 11 people were injured in Yangon on Thursday, but it didn't specify who they were.

One blogger dubbed "Moezack," whose photos and descriptions of the protests -- sometimes posted minutes after events occurred -- were picked up by the international press, had stopped blogging. His "Today Burma" blog is currently empty, and his whereabouts are unknown to several international groups, though he might be blogging under another name.

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders says that many of the people sending reports out of Yangon are former journalists and activists, some of whom have at some point been jailed for their work. "They do it because they are part of the struggle," says the group's Asia program director, Vincent Brossel.

Myanmar is hardly a technological hub. Cellphones are expensive, and the Internet penetration rate is less than 1%. Even before the recent clash, the government has taken serious steps to censor Internet content, blocking access to popular foreign news and email services. A 2005 report by the Open Net Initiative, run out of several universities, said that Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council has implemented "one of the world's most restrictive regimes of Internet control."

Yet activists and students in Burma have become particularly skilled at using technological tricks to bypass those restrictions -- some of them borrowed from China, where the government also censors the Internet. These include using proxies, which create a hole in the censorship network by connecting directly to one computer outside the country.

Reporters Without Borders says that at 3 p.m. yesterday, authorities disconnected most of the country's cellphone lines, preventing journalists and demonstrators from reporting on events. Authorities have also closed some Internet cafes in Yangon, effectively shutting down many blogs and Web sites.

The Internet has slowed so that it has been difficult to send out photographs and video. It took several hours for pictures to emerge of Wednesday's shootings, says Mr. Brossel.

So now groups determined to get news out are turning to costly but independent satellite phones, which can't as easily be monitored by the government.

Irrawaddy's Aung Zaw remains confident. "The more they try to suppress information, the more will come out."

Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler at

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Internet in Myanmar turned off

I don't usually copy and paste an entire article into my blog, but I feared the link to this story, from yesterday's edition of the NYT, might go dead after a few days.

It seems the people of Myanmar (used to be called Burma) are challenging an extremely repressive regime; the power structure in that small country (which borders China, I believe) has thus shut down the Internet.

Freedom of expression: It's precious. Don't believe that? Ask the beleaguered citizens of Myanmar.

Also: Here's a link to a blog about what's going on in Myanmar:

BANGKOK, Oct. 3 — It was about as simple and uncomplicated as shooting demonstrators in the streets. Embarrassed by smuggled video and photographs that showed their people rising up against them, the generals who run Myanmar simply switched off the Internet.

Until Friday television screens and newspapers abroad were flooded with scenes of tens of thousands of red-robed monks in the streets and of chaos and violence as the junta stamped out the biggest popular uprising there in two decades.

But then the images, text messages and postings stopped, shut down by generals who belatedly grasped the power of the Internet to jeopardize their crackdown.

“Finally they realized that this was their biggest enemy, and they took it down,” said Aung Zaw, editor of an exile magazine based in Thailand called The Irrawaddy, whose Web site has been a leading source of information in recent weeks. The site has been attacked by a virus whose timing raises the possibility that the military government has a few skilled hackers in its ranks.

The efficiency of this latest, technological, crackdown raises the question whether the vaunted role of the Internet in undermining repression can stand up to a determined and ruthless government — or whether Myanmar, already isolated from the world, can ride out a prolonged shutdown more easily than most countries.

OpenNet Initiative, which tracks Internet censorship, has documented signs that in recent years several governments — including those of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — have closed off Internet access, or at least opposition Web sites, during periods preceding elections or times of intense protests.

The brief disruptions are known as “just in time” filtering, said Ronald J. Deibert of OpenNet. They are designed to quiet opponents while maintaining an appearance of technical difficulties, thus avoiding criticism from abroad.

In 2005, King Gyanendra of Nepal ousted the government and imposed a weeklong communications blackout. Facing massive protests, he ceded control in 2006.

Myanmar has just two Internet service providers, and shutting them down was not complicated, said David Mathieson, an expert on Myanmar with Human Rights Watch. Along with the Internet, the junta cut off most telephone access to the outside world. Soldiers on the streets confiscated cameras and video-recording cellphones.

“The crackdown on the media and on information flow is parallel to the physical crackdown,” he said. “It seems they’ve done it quite effectively. Since Friday we’ve seen no new images come out.”

In keeping with the country’s self-imposed isolation over the past half-century, Myanmar’s military seemed prepared to cut the country off from the virtual world just as it had from the world at large. Web access has not been restored, and there is no way to know if or when it might be.

At the same time, the junta turned to the oldest tactic of all to silence opposition: fear. Local journalists and people caught transmitting information or using cameras are being threatened and arrested, according to Burmese exile groups.

In a final, hurried telephone call, Mr. Aung Zaw said, one of his longtime sources said goodbye.

“We have done enough,” he said the source told him. “We can no longer move around. It is over to you — we cannot do anything anymore. We are down. We are hunted by soldiers — we are down.”

There are still images to come, Mr. Aung Zaw said, and as soon as he receives them and his Web site is back up, the world will see them.

But Mr. Mathieson said the country’s dissidents were reverting to tactics of the past, smuggling images out through cellphones, breaking the files down for reassembly later.

It is not clear how much longer the generals can hold back the future. Technology is making it harder for dictators and juntas to draw a curtain of secrecy.

“There are always ways people find of getting information out, and authorities always have to struggle with them,” said Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of “A History of News.”

“There are fewer and fewer events that we don’t have film images of: the world is filled with Zapruders,” he said, referring to Abraham Zapruder, the onlooker who recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Before Friday’s blackout, Myanmar’s hit-and-run journalists were staging a virtuoso demonstration of the power of the Internet to outmaneuver a repressive government. A guerrilla army of citizen reporters was smuggling out pictures even as events were unfolding, and the world was watching.

“For those of us who study the history of communication technology, this is of equal importance to the telegraph, which was the first medium that separated communications and transportation,” said Frank A. Moretti, executive director of the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning at Columbia University.

Since the protests began in mid-August, people have sent images and words through SMS text messages and e-mail and on daily blogs, according to some exile groups that received the messages. They have posted notices on Facebook, the social networking Web site. They have sent tiny messages on e-cards. They have updated the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

They also used Internet versions of “pigeons” — the couriers that reporters used in the past to carry out film and reports — handing their material to embassies or nongovernment organizations with satellite connections.

Within hours, the images and reports were broadcast back into Myanmar by foreign radio and television stations, informing and connecting a public that hears only propaganda from its government.

These technological tricks may offer a model to people elsewhere who are trying to outwit repressive governments. But the generals’ heavy-handed response is probably a less useful model.

Nations with larger economies and more ties to the outside world have more at stake. China, for one, could not consider cutting itself off as Myanmar has done, and so control of the Internet is an industry in itself.

“In China, it’s massive,” said Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project and an adjunct professor at the graduate school of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

“There’s surveillance and intimidation, there’s legal regulation and there is commercial leverage to force private Internet companies to self-censor,” he said. “And there is what we call the Great Firewall, which blocks hundreds of thousands of Web sites outside of China.”

Yet for all its efforts, even China cannot entirely control the Internet, an easier task in a smaller country like Myanmar.

As technology makes everyone a potential reporter, the challenge in risky places like Myanmar will be accuracy, said Vincent Brossel, head of the Asian section of the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders.

“Rumors are the worst enemy of independent journalism,” he said. “Already we are hearing so many strange things. So if you have no flow of information and the spread of rumors in a country that is using propaganda — that’s it. You are destroying the story, and day by day it goes down.”

The technological advances on the streets of Myanmar are the latest in a long history of revolutions in the transmission of news — from the sailing ship to the telegraph to international telephone lines and the telex machine to computers and satellite telephones.

“Today every citizen is a war correspondent,” said Phillip Knightley, author of “The First Casualty,” a classic history of war reporting that starts with letters home from soldiers in Crimea in the 1850s and ends with the “living room war” in Vietnam in the 1970s, the first war that people could watch on television.

“Mobile phones with video of broadcast quality have made it possible for anyone to report a war,” he said in an e-mail interview. “You just have to be there. No trouble getting a start: the broadcasters have been begging viewers to send their stuff.”

Mike Nizza contributed reporting from New York.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How to work more effectively and waste less time

Don't we all want to waste less time and get our work done more efficiently?

Here are strategies to reclaim two hours of your life every day from Jerry Bellune's self-study course on Time Management. Bellune, a retired community newspaper publisher/editor, is head of The Bellune Company, 131 Swartz Rd., Lexington, S.C. 29072. He's also a member of the executive board of the S.C. Press Association. His Web site is:

1. Get organized. Quit wasting time looking for things you’ve hidden from yourself.

2. Buy an appointment book. There are a number to choose from at any office supply store.

3. Choose one with a two-page calendar for each month so you can see your schedule a month at a time.

4. Make sure your choice of appointment books also has a daily sheet for each day for you to jot down projects and appointments and a way to prioritize each by importance.

5. Make it a habit at the end of each day to go over your schedule for tomorrow, adding any projects that you were not able to complete today and prioritize everything in order of importance.

6. Turn off your cell phone (or leave it on at only certain times during the day/night.)

7. Have a regular time (or maybe two times) each day that you check and respond to e-mail.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Keyboard shortcuts on the Mac

No link to this blog entry, as I'm copying and pasting it from a blog post written by Nancy VanderBrink, a student in my Media Writing class this semester.

Thanks, Nancy, for sharing these keybd. shortcuts:

Hi everybody,
I forgot to publish this before now, but I figured since I had a minute to spare, I would indeed post.

Some of the things we noted were a few useful commands I have discovered by accident.

One useful one I think is: Apple (Command) D- use this in Mictosoft Word.
This key command brings up the dialog box where you can change the font attributes, ie: size, style, etc.

It is a good key command to use after apple A, which selects everything on the page. Follow this by apple D and you have all the font selected and can change the font attributes.

Another interesting MsWord command, is apple #1, and apple #2 (on the number row).
These two key combinations change the spacing between the lines instead of having to click with the mouse.

I know for a fact that the PC equivillent for apple D, is Control D. This does the same things and it works. As does the spacing equivillent, Ctrl 1 and 2.
1 is for Single spacing between lines on both Mac and PC, and 2 is for double-spacing.

These are just a few quick, easy, time saving key commands that anyone can use whenever there in MsWord.

Good luck and happy surfing!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Secret shoppers--Glorified spies?

Ever thought it would be neat to do some "secret shopping"?

You might re-think this after reading a piece from "Shameless" magazine.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lancaster, S.C., blogger gets lots of traffic

This blogging thing still fascinates me--how far it reaches, how much of an impact it can have.

Case in point: Stephen McCaskill, 37, lives in Lancaster, S.C., and has been blogging about crime (especially unsolved crimes) for two years.

His blog site address:

He's helping law enforcement put the clamps down on fugitives from justice.

With the Internet there's no place to hide anymore.

Because Stephen blogs about it, and about 25,000 people each month visit his site.

Check it out.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My dog, Roadie, got published

Some publications still like to run pictures of dogs. Click on the above link.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A new kind of Internet

Okay, I’ve been blogging recently about Web 2.0 (from the book “Web 2.0,” by Mark Briggs.

But what do we mean by Web 2.0?

Think of it this way: Web 1.0 was the original, for all practical purposes read-only old Net—with home pages and lots of limitation.

Web 2.0 is much more open and powerful, with “open-source software allowing users control and flexibility.”

That means users (folks like you who are now reading this posting on the Net) cannot only read; you can change what you read, add to what you read with your opinion or comment…

Examples of Web 2.0: Wikipedia, MySpace (most popular Web site on the planet), YouTube, Amazon, eBay, Flikr (where you can upload and share photos),, (a Web site with your favorite bookmarks—organized just as you like)

So Web 2.0 is about open back and forth communication—between posters and users, between users and users (you get the idea).

It’s about conversation, not lecture (as was the case with Web 1.0).

Meaning of all this for readers?

We’re no longer only RECEIVERS of messages on the Internet; we can CREATE and SHARE messages.

News and other kinds of messages are conversation, not lecture.

Enough for now. More later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Okay, here's my story about Michael Vick

I guess I just love dogs so much that I had to write my own story about embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael (I hanged, beat, tortured, electrocuted and drowned) dogs.

The photo shows me with my beloved sheltie, Roadie.

Read what I wrote on the S.C. Press Association Web site (by clicking on above link.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Using the Web to find a crashed pilot & his plane

If you have some time on your hands (and even if you don't but want to explore something cool with the Web) try using something called Amazon's Mechanical Turk (on the Web) to help find Steve Fossett, the millionaire pilot who mysteriously disappeared, along with his airplane, in/over Nevada on Sept. 3.

Did he crash? Is he hiding out at some young woman's farm house? Was he so entranced by the desert scenery that he couldn't concentrate on flying? Did a UFO accost him?

Use AMT and Google Earth to help scour the terrain and locate him.

(See above link on how to do this.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy birthday, cloggers, oops I mean bloggers!

There are so many bloggers today that the blogosphere might be turning into what some call the blogorrhea.

Blogging is 10 years old this year.

Happy birthday, clogging (oops--I mean blogging.)

Blog away, baby!

And many more happy birthdays.

Read about how blogging started and what it's doing today (surprise: it's helping change our culture!) in the link above.

FTP those huge files...

More stuff from “Journalism 2.0”:

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Want to transfer a huge PDF, digital audio or video, or PowerPoint file?

E-mail, with the exception of Gmail, has a tough time handling files bigger than 1MG.

Solution: Go with a free FTP program (FireZilla, Coffee Cup or Ace if you’re working on a Windows platform; Fetch, Cute FTP or Cyberduck if you have a Mac.)

If Firefox is your browser, download FireFTP plug in so that you have FTP capability.

What you will need to send a big file: the account info. of the server where you want to send the file. If you want to upload a large file to your Web server, get the account info. from your Web staff.

It will appear as:

Account name: Newspaper FTP (this is optional—you create it for yourself)
Login: crazyfiles
Password: !secretstuff%

Most FTP programs save the info. the first time you enter it so you can easily return and send more files with 1 or 2 clicks.

Setup for most FTP programs—folder layout on the left side of the interface reflects file structure of your computer; folder layout on right side shows file structure of FTP server.

Go to the folder where you want to copy the target file (if that folder is not already visible), then find the file in your file structure, click and drag it across.

That’s about it for FTP—easy as 1, 2, 3!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

About getting info. fed to you...

TTT#3—from “Journalism 2.0”

A cool Web site to access and get registered on is:

What is “delicious”?

Think of it as a Web site to store all your favorite URLs.

Yes, you can bookmark your favorites on your home or office computer.

But what if you’re away from your computer? What if you’re working in Shanghai or Baghdad or Baguio (in the Philippines)?

Go to “delicious” and find your bookmarked sites—really a big time saver.

Yes, you can look your favorites up via Google, but why do that.

Enough about “delicious.”

Let’s switch to RSS feeds.

RSS=Really Simple Syndication. (And it’s free, to boot.)

Allows you to keep up with what several people or sources are saying about a particular topic.

Allows you to subscribe to info., and it’s similar to bookmarking a Web site but is much more powerful.

Instead of visiting several different Web sites each day or doing the same Web searches over and over, let an RSS feed do that for you.

Easy way to set up an RSS feed:

Sign up for an acct.

Select the info. you’d like to get automatically, and then arrange the feeds on your page the way you want them to appear. Move them around by clicking and dragging the boxes. Each time you return, the links will be updated automatically with the latest info. from those Web sites.

How to find a feed: Locate a link to RSS on the Web site with the content you want to be “fed” automatically. (Little orange icon will show the availability of RSS).

Click on the link to obtain the RSS URL (notice it in the address window of your browser.) Copy this URL into your acct. at

Be well fed with info. you’re interested in. Be fed while you snooze or play. Set up RSS feeds!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More geeky stuff from "Journalism 2.0"

The following info. is distilled/stolen from “Journalism 2.0” by Mark Briggs, assistant m.e. for Interactive News at The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.:

Web browsers—what they do:
Search and find info and bring it back to you

A copy of the pieces of a specific Web pg.—stored on your computer. Think of a cache as temporary storage of all files you download during your Web browsing.

Good idea to clear your cache often. Doing this deletes unneeded temporary files from your computer and helps your system run better.

Translation: A cluttered cache is sign of a cluttered mind (even maybe more cluttered than some of our offices.)

Managing your cache:

Firefox 2.0: To clear the cache, select Tools, then Clear Private Data. To limit size of the cache, select Tools, then Options and click on Network tab.

Safari: Click on Safaris in top menu; then select Empty Cache.

Internet Explorer 7: To clear the cache, select Tools, then Internet Options, then click the Advanced tab. Scroll to Security and check “Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed.”

Another tip:
Quick way to update/refresh a Web pg. you’re looking at is to hit the F5 key.

Finally, if you’re not using Firefox (free download) as your browser, you’re dragging behind the times. Lots of people are switching to it; by end of ’06, about one-third of Net users had Firefox as their browser (amazing considering that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is preloaded on all Windows machines.) But then, who on earth is using Windows or would want to?!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

TTT#1 (about geeky digital stuff

TTT #1 (Timbs' Top Tip #1)--about Geeky digital stuff

I've been reading "Journalism 2.0: How to Survive and thrive--A Digital Literacy Guide for the Information Age," by Mark Briggs

From time to time, I'll share key points from that publication. Some of these you may already know; others will be a refresher on what you think you know.

Here's TTT #1:

1. The larger the file size, the longer it takes to download over the Net.

2. Bits and bytes (each byte has 8 bits) are key units of measure for digital info.

When we talk about bytes, remember:

Kilobyte is roughly 1,000 bytes

Megabyte is roughly 1 million bytes

Gigabyte is roughly 1 billion bytes

Terabyte is roughly 1 trillion bytes

Then we have a petabyte, which is the equivalent of 250 billion pages of text; or imagine a 2,000-mile-high tower of 1 billion diskettes!

Key point to remember: You should NEVER send an e-mail with an attachment larger than 1MB, or you will clog your server and the server of the person you are sending it to. Instead, burn such a large file on a disk or upload it to an FTP server (more about this later.)

Enough for now.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Brave journalist murdered in Russia

Her name was Anna Politkovskaya.

She wrote some true stuff.

She died a violent death (murder).

Now Russian prosecutors say they know who killed her.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

More magic from 1967--Mammas & Pappas

The song is: "This Is Dedicated to the One I Love."

One of my favorites from the late 60s--from a great band!

Play this and dream of the late 60s

You're never heard of the Mommas and Pappas, or maybe you have?


Click on my favorite song of all time. Song I heard when I enlisted in the USAF (Vietnam War era).

Song that kept me wanting to return safely.

Great song!

Monday, September 3, 2007

ASU pulls off miracle win at Ann Arbor

This is what college football is all about.

ASU: 34

Michigan: 32

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The North and the South--big differences

Not a link to this one--one of those forwarded e-mails. Saving it here for a few laughs:

The North has Bloomingdale's, the South has Dollar General.

The North has coffee houses, the South has Waffle Houses.

The North has dating services, the South has family reunions.

The North has switchblade knives; the South has Lee Press-on Nails.

The North has double last names; the South has double first names.

The North has Indy car races; The South has stock car races and mud boggins.

North has Cream of Wheat, the South has grits

The North has green salads, the South has collard greens.

The North has lobsters, the South has crawfish. (NOTE: Louisiana has crawfish or mudbugs.)

The North has the rust belt; the South has the Bible Belt.


In the South: --If you run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in a four-wheel drive pickup truck with a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them, just stay out of their way.
This is what they live for.

Don't be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store.
Do not buy food at this store.

Remember, 'Y'all' is singular, 'all y'all' is plural, and 'all y'all's' is plural possessive

Get used to hearing 'You ain't from round here, are ya?'

Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later on how to use it.

Don't be worried at not understanding what people are saying. They can't understand you either. The first Southern statement to creep into a transplanted Northerner's vocabulary is the adjective 'big'ol,' truck or 'big'ol' boy. Most Northerners begin their Southern-influenced dialect this way. All of them are in denial about it.

The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper!

Be advised that 'He needed killin.' is a valid defense here.

If you hear a Southerner exclaim, 'Hey, y'all watch this,' you should stay out of the way. These are likely to be the last words he'll ever say.

If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the smallest accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It doesn't matter whether you need anything or not. You just have to go there.

Do not be surprised to find that 10-year olds own their own shotguns; they are proficient marksmen, and their mammas taught them how to aim.

In the South, we have found that the best way to grow a lush green lawn is to pour gravel on it and call it a driveway.

AND REMEMBER: If you do settle in the South and bear children, don't think we will accept them as Southerners. After all, if the cat had kittens in the oven, we wouldn't call 'em biscuits.

Send this to four people that ain't related to you, and I reckon your life will turn into a country music song 'fore you know it.

Your kin would get a kick out of it too!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I love my dog

Michael Vick apologized for his cruelty to dogs yesterday and entered his guilty plea in a courtroom in Richmond, Va.

It now falls to the judge (who has a dog) to decide M.V.'s fate.

I love dogs.

I despise what this famous, wealthy, powerful "role model" professional athlete has admitted to doing.

Read all about his guilty plea and his contrition in the above link.

And this just in from Dr. Jo Koster of the English Dept. at Winthrop University, who notes that Ted Sorenson of the Charlotte Observer wrote a piece, with "a nice tone," published this morning that went like this:

Vick apologized to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and coach Bobby Petrino, apologized to his Atlanta teammates and, more than once, to children.

He called dogfighting "terrible."

He blamed nobody but himself.

He made a mistake when he said he "found Jesus."

Maybe Vick has. But a man who wants to get out of jail or stay out of jail always says he has found Jesus. Find me a man who stands before a judge who has not found Jesus.

It's a cliche. It was one too many.

"I told a judge once that my client had found Jesus," says George Laughrun, a Charlotte criminal defense attorney for 26 years and the rare attorney people like. "The judge said, `I didn't know he was lost.' "

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More and more Vick bulletins

Blogging a bunch about Michael Vick, lately, but his situation SO intrigues me.

America definitely has a love affair with dogs. Plus, who knew that dog fighting, illegal in every state, is such a blood sport and is so prevalent.

I've never known (to my knowledge) anyone connected with dog fighting.

But informed sources say that up to 40,000 Americans engage in it--in some form or manner.

Don't harm our dogs!

Continuing sad saga of M.V.

If you're a professional athlete and you brutalize or kill a dog, your playing days (and your career) may come to a screeching halt. If you don't believe that, re-read what the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has ruled--regarding Michael Vick.

Goodell is extremely angry and disappointed.

And M.V. will be hard-put to ever get his good name back.

Friday, August 24, 2007

New media approaches to journalism

They say newspapers and the people who work at them are going down the tube.

Not really--especially if you're a journalist who's Web savvy or with digital media skills.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Why don't people read?

I read myself to sleep practically every night. Now reading a historical novel, written by a man from Newberry, S.C., about Shoeless Joe Jackson and his wife Katie.

Learning a lot about probably the greatest baseball player ever to come out of the Palmetto State.

Many people, however, don't read books.

Sad and puzzling.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Farewell (at least for a year or so) Michael V.

Americans love their dogs.

Count me as one of those dog-lovers.

You do not hurt or kill dogs.

Michael Vick learned that the hard way--losing tens of millions of dollars from his endorsement and NFL contracts.

Michael Vick has a passing arm like a rifle.

Michael Vick runs like the wind.

Michael Vick apparently has no love for dogs.

Too bad, M.V.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Murders in Newark, N.J.

Here's to not forgetting about Iofemi Hightower, 20; Dashon Harvey, 20; Terrance Aeriel, 18, and Natasha Aerial, 19.

The first three were executed (shot in the back of the head while kneeling down in a playground near Mount Vernon High School in Newark, N.J.). The last (Natasha, sister of Terrance) was injured but survived.

Police have made arrests in this apparent hate crimes case, but it won't bring back the victims.

Why so much hate in this country? When will it end?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life decaffeinated or KISS

I don't usually blog about church sermons but I heard a danged good one this morning--at the Connection, an off-campus ministry of West End Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C.

The guy delivering it was Pastor Mike Lowery, who came to Rock Hill several years ago from Texas.

Lowery, who happens also to be the minister/clergy person for the Winthrop University men's basketball team, spoke about "getting rid of the iClutter in our lives." Catchy title of his sermon: "Life Decaffeinated."

In religion, getting rid of the clutter--that breaks us down, tires us out or needlessly complicates our life--is called living the decaffeinated life.

In journalism, we call this writing in line with the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple, Stupid."

Highlights from Mike's message this morning (that I need to revisit from time to time to keep my priorities straight).

1. Time is our most valuable commodity--not money, possessions or worldly accomplishments. Despite the digital age, with all its electronic gadgets, that we live in, we can't seem to make time for quality, meaningful time with the people we love most. Our "relationships," many times forged with cell phones, text messages or Blackberries, tend to be shallow and superficial.

2. Lots of things work against our changing this negative tendency, including: addiction to speed--we try frantically, for example, to beat others in the checkout line at the grocery store, and we allow ourselves an inward smirk if checked out first or beat the crowd; talking to much and listening too little (reminds me that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason); having too much clutter in our lives (homes, offices, cars, wherever) which tends to burden us, just by its sheer volume; trying to impress others with our "toys" (cars, houses, computers) and worldly accomplishments ("My kid is a straight A student at Mountain City Middle School") or "I'm a big shot CEO who works 80 hours a week."

Lowery's prescription--Biblically based:

1. Jesus had time for God. So should we. At the very least, we should not work on the Sabbath, which is supposed to a day of rest, relaxation and reflection.

2. Quit saying "Yes" to so many things just to be loved or respected in our culture. Learn to say "No" to those people or things that weigh you down.

3. Quit being rushed, tired and fatigued. Change your lifestyle if you're in a rut that keeps you running like a Tasmanian devil. Stay away from doing so much "multitasking"!


Lead and live the decaffeinated life.


Good advice, Mike Lowery.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

No First Amendment right in Lebanon

It's easy to take freedom of expression for granted. But take no such thing for granted it you're living in Beirut or elsewhere in conflict-torn, dangerous Lebanon.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why do people blog?

Blogging (rhymes, curiously, with clogging) has been called playful, spontaneous, unfiltered communication. Others think it's a waste.

I think it has value, of course.

Here's a link from the NYT (about how men insult women) that also has a video link on the right of the page about "How much does the president matter." Click on that link, here about the president, and then click on link next to it (for an encapsulated defense of blogging.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hackers attack iphone

Alas, all is not well with Apple's new iphone. Hackers have found a way to compromise the phone's security, making it possible for anyone (with the right computer savvy) to access someone else's iphone and retrieve all of his/her text messages, e-mail messages, phone contacts...

But Apple will figure this all out, I predict. Very soon the iphone's security will be unflappable (what a word!)

Read about all this in the above link from the NYT.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I want my iPhone!


Okay, we've all heard the buzz about Apple's new, revolutionary iphone. If you're like me and sport an Apple decal on your VW Beetle, as well as brag about your Macs at your office and at home, you gotta have an iPhone!

Read about how long folks stood in line outside an Apple store in downtown New York City. They, too, had to have it:

"Gave Up Sleep and Maybe a First-Born, but at Least I Have an iPhone"

By Richard Perry/The New York Times/June 30, 2007

Outside the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. Not just in New York, but across the country, some shoppers waited in line for days. More Photos

Dozens of photographers hovered outside Apple’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue near East 59th Street, waiting to snap pictures of the elated, often sunburned faces of the first iPhone owners. Some Apple faithful had waited in line for days.

At 6 p.m., their patience paid off.

“I guess I didn’t need to get in line because they have thousands of them in there,” said Norbert Pauli, 52, who had waited since Wednesday morning outside the Fifth Avenue store. The sweaty tangle of people who lined up there included a customer service representative for a trucking company who took a vacation day to make her first Apple purchase; a jazz musician who declared, “I don’t stand in line for anything”; and a tourist from Argentina who said he was not even sure the phone would work once he got it home.

At Apple stores across the country yesterday, there were the so-called iCultists, the Internet entrepreneurs and technology consultants who would have surprised you if they said they didn’t wait in line all night.

“If Apple made sliced bread, yeah, I’d buy it.” said Andrew Kaputsa, who waited outside the Michigan Avenue Apple store in Chicago. “It’s just good stuff. Everything they touch.”

But then there were the iConverts, the not-so-savvy customers who did not know much about the iPhone other than that they had to have it.

“Have I drank the Kool-Aid?” said Marc Falato, 42, a Broadway producer who got in line at the Fifth Avenue store around 8 a.m. yesterday. “I think maybe to a certain extent. After all, you can order it online tonight and get it delivered in three to five business days. So I guess I bought into the hype.”

Tracy Carroll, a 42-year-old Internet consultant who waited in line just a few steps ahead of Mr. Falato, said, “I’m buying it sight unseen, and that’s kind of rare for me.” Later, as he was walking away from the cash register with two iPhones in hand, he said, “Oh man, it was so worth it.”

The iPhone, which sells for $499 or $599, depending on memory size, is a huge step for Apple. But it is also critical to AT&T’s growth. The telephone company has an exclusive contract with Apple in the United States to sell the phone and provide wireless phone service, and is betting on an influx of new customers. Of course, that would mean that people who already have cellphone service with other carriers must be willing to pay the hefty fees to break their contracts.

Indeed, there were several T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless customers in line yesterday in Manhattan. “That’s not even an issue. I want the phone,” said Cassie Tran, a 25-year-old who does public relations for a high-end fashion designer in New York. Ms. Tran has a contract with Verizon that she said she would “pay whatever” to break.

Some had clearly been following everything about the iPhone for so long, that they spoke as if they were reading from Apple’s talking points. “What Steve Jobs cited in his keynote in January was that everybody was looking for a device that brought it all together,” said Gene Lewis, 34, the owner of a Web site development company.

Mr. Lewis, who got in line outside the Fifth Avenue store around 7 p.m. on Thursday and slept all night in a folding chair, used words like “elegant” and “beautiful” to describe the phone, which at that point he had seen only in pictures.

Josh Topolski, 29, a blogger for the technology blog who waited all day outside the Fifth Avenue store, said Apple’s ability to generate such intense interest was remarkable. “Apple, they’re masters of hype and keeping people waiting. This line is proof of that.”

But the mania surrounding the iPhone’s debut has created somewhat of a backlash among bloggers and comedians, who have reveled in mocking all the hoopla.

“It’s going to do for phones what the iPod did for pods,” Rob Riggle, the “senior technology correspondent” of “The Daily Show,” said in a sketch on Thursday night. Mr. Riggle then asked to see the hands of an unwitting blogger who tested the iPhone and he then sniffed them. “Man, it’s still warm,” he cooed. wrote under the headline “Nerd Party,” “Do you wish you were hanging out in line at the 5th Ave Apple Store, but are stuck with a pesky job that won’t let you bum around with a bunch of nerds on a weekday?”

So exactly what type of people can take all day, and in some cases several days, to wait in line for a cellphone? Well, the mayor of Philadelphia, for starters. John F. Street waited much of the day yesterday to buy an iPhone. A spokesman explained that Mr. Street was conducting city business by cellphone and BlackBerry while he waited.

Then there are the people who were being paid to wait in line for others. Dan Zabar, a 23-year-old production assistant for a company that produces television commercials in New York, was making about $150 to wait all day in line for his boss. Others got in line early to try to sell their spots. Along 58th Street, where the line for the Fifth Avenue store had spilled over, one young man was offering his place for $160 in the early afternoon. By late afternoon, he had raised the price to $180.

There were also the so-called early adoptors, the technophiles who habitually rush out to buy first-generation electronics. “I’m everyone’s guinea pig,” said Christopher Kokinos, a former Apple employee who now works for a marketing communications firm in New York. He spent a total of six hours in line outside the Fifth Avenue store yesterday. “All my friends say, I’ll wait until you buy it so I know if it’s any good.”

But not everyone was so enthusiastic.

Near the Chicago store on Michigan Avenue, Sara Bafundo, a guest services agent at the Wyndham Hotel across the street from the Apple store, looked at the long line and said, “I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it. The hype just doesn’t make sense.”

Eric Taub contributed reporting from Los Angeles and Eric Ferkenhoff from Chicago.

E-mail: It's good AND bad


I've been wondering a lot about e-mail lately. Ms. Ephron seems to have hit the nail on the head with her op/ed piece in the New York Times.

Published in the NYT: July 1, 2007

Stage One: Infatuation

I just got e-mail! I can’t believe it! It’s so great! Here’s my handle. Write me! Who said letter writing was dead? Were they ever wrong! I’m writing letters like crazy for the first time in years. I come home and ignore all my loved ones and go straight to the computer to make contact with total strangers. And how great is AOL? It’s so easy. It’s so friendly. It’s a community. Wheeeee! I’ve got mail!

Stage Two: Clarification

O.K., I’m starting to understand — e-mail isn’t letter-writing at all, it’s something else entirely. It was just invented, it was just born and overnight it turns out to have a form and a set of rules and a language all its own. Not since the printing press. Not since television. It’s revolutionary. It’s life-altering. It’s shorthand. Cut to the chase. Get to the point.

And it saves so much time. It takes five seconds to accomplish in an e-mail message something that takes five minutes on the telephone. The phone requires you to converse, to say things like hello and goodbye, to pretend to some semblance of interest in the person on the other end of the line. Worst of all, the phone occasionally forces you to make actual plans with the people you talk to — to suggest lunch or dinner — even if you have no desire whatsoever to see them. No danger of that with e-mail.

E-mail is a whole new way of being friends with people: intimate but not, chatty but not, communicative but not; in short, friends but not. What a breakthrough. How did we ever live without it? I have more to say on this subject, but I have to answer an Instant Message from someone I almost know.

Stage Three: Confusion

I have done nothing to deserve any of this:

Viagra!!!!! Best Web source for Vioxx. Spend a week in Cancún. Have a rich beautiful lawn. Astrid would like to be added as one of your friends. XXXXXXXVideos. Add three inches to the length of your penis. The Democratic National Committee needs you. Virus Alert. FW: This will make you laugh. FW: This is funny. FW: This is hilarious. FW: Grapes and raisins toxic for dogs. FW: Gabriel García Márquez’s Final Farewell. FW: Kurt Vonnegut’s Commencement Address. FW: The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. AOL Member: We value your opinion. A message from Hillary Clinton. Find low mortgage payments, Nora. Nora, it’s your time to shine. Need to fight off bills, Nora? Yvette would like to be added as one of your friends. You have failed to establish a full connection to AOL.

Stage Four: Disenchantment

Help! I’m drowning. I have 112 unanswered e-mail messages. I’m a writer — imagine how many unanswered messages I would have if I had a real job. Imagine how much writing I could do if I didn’t have to answer all this e-mail. My eyes are dim. I have a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. I have a galloping case of attention deficit disorder because every time I start to write something, the e-mail icon starts bobbing up and down and I’m compelled to check whether anything good or interesting has arrived. It hasn’t. Still, it might, any second now. And yes it’s true — I can do in a few seconds with e-mail what would take much longer on the phone, but most of my messages are from people who don’t have my phone number and would never call me in the first place. In the brief time it took me to write this paragraph, three more messages arrived. Now I have 115 unanswered messages. Strike that: 116.

Stage Five: Accommodation

Yes. No. No :). No :(. Can’t. No way. Maybe. Doubtful. Sorry. So Sorry. Thanks. No thanks. Not my thing. You must be kidding. Out of town. O.O.T. Try me in a month. Try me in the fall. Try me in a year. can now be reached at

Stage Six: Death

Call me.

Nora Ephron, the author, most recently, of “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” is a contributing columnist for The Times.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Trashing your wedding dress. . .


One of my former students, Dudley Brown, is a staff reporter for the daily newspaper in Spartanburg, S.C. Apparently at that newspaper, the print reporters are also shooting video to augment their newspaper stories. Dudley sent me this link today. wants to share this video with you:

Personal Message
Hey Timbs,

We're being encouraged to shoot video with some of our stories and here's one that I did. I shot everything and our online people edited it. We also sprinkled a few of the photographer's shots in. I had a lot of fun doing this. I also wrote a story about this trend.

Trashing A Wedding Dress

Spartanburg photographer Amy Wood has introduced a new service to clients - "trashing" their wedding dress. Wood photographs clients in their wedding dress in unusual settings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Another student says thanks...


Interesting and reassuring when students write to me and say thanks. Here's a message I received today from Brian Troutman of Orangeburg, S.C.

Brian earned his degree in mass comm. from Winthrop about three years ago:

Professor Timbs,

Just wanted to let you know that of my professors at Winthrop, you were the one I learned the most from. Wanted to give you a shout. I just put a new blog entry on our website – Liars Club. I witnessed it!! I am still laughing to myself recalling stories you told in your classes and references you made to the Liars Club. Anyway, check out our website when you get a chance and my blog.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rattlesnake rattles S.C. beach goers


Some stories in journalism almost write themselves and command instant strong reader interest, especially if you're writing about TTT (Timbs' Top Topics) for journalists.


1. UFOs or extraterrestials (I'd love to break the story about our first visitors from another planet or galaxy. Even the speculation that they're already among us generates a lot of tantalizing intrigue and mystery.)

2. Death

3. Sex or sexuality (We all want to do "it" or are interested in "it," so why not explore "it" as journalists?)

4. religion and/or spirituality

5. dogs (That's right, dogs, not cats)

6. snakes (pray, if you're a journalist, that someone in your community encounters a poisonous snake)

7. health, fitness or nutrition

Concerning #6 on my above list, a story in yesterday's Charlotte Observer, about a man who nearly stepped on a giant rattlesnake at a S.C. beach, caught my attention.

Danger other than sharks lurks at our beaches.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Student testimonial


Every now and then in teaching, you get an inkling that you've nudged a life in a positive direction.

A student (May 2007 graduate of Winthrop University) e-mailed me the following today:

For the past month I have been working at a 10,000-circulation weekly paper
in Greer, a growing town right outside of Greenville, where I grew up.

I am a general assignment reporter, covering a wide-range of stuff. I have
written stories about a new Dunkin Donuts opening, locals athletes moving on
to careers at the college- level or as professionals, a dog theme park,
peach shortages, and town hall meetings. I've only been at if for a month,
and it seems like I've done it all.

I enjoyed taking your classes, even though I wasn't always the most diligent
student. I would like to thank you for teaching me the skills I needed to
be able to find a job in the field, and put to use once I was hired.

I hope your summer is going well, and that your up-coming semester is just
as good.

Thank you,

Hale McGranahan

Barry closes in on Hank


Is Barry Bonds the greatest or is he a cheater?

Folks in the know in the baseball community in Chester, S.C., vent about him in a column I recently got published in the hometown newspaper there--the Chester News & Reporter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reputation tarnished online?


What if someone said something negative, defamatory, or, at the very least, unflattering--about you--and put it on the Web?

What could you do, if anything?

Well, maybe a Web company called "Reputation Defender" could help.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Jock Lauterer: resource for community press


Who is THE leading voice of authority on community journalism in the United States?

Might be my friend, Jock Lauterer, who does a great job at UNC-Chapel Hill; Jock also helps improve journalism throughout North Carolina. Nice going, good guy!

Blogging dissident sentenced to prison--4 yrs.


They're trying to rein in bloggers all over the world. One recently went to jail for blogging (critically) about the president of Saudi Arabia.

Four years in a prison for blogging!

Long live the First Amendment.

Pot story engages readers in small town in S.C.


Not to be so overoccupied with media coverage of marijuana eradication (law enforcement term) but here's the link to a story which appeared
last year in the Chester (S.C.) News & Reporter, a twice-a-week 7,500-circulation community newspaper in rural S.C.

Key questions:

1. Why or why isn't this quality community journalism?

2. What tools does the writer employ to engage his readers?

3. Should marijuana be legalized? (Joking on this last one.)

The link to the pot story from last year, worth reading, is:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

My research paper on blogging


The blogosphere and those who post to it or explore it continue to intrigue and fascinate me.

A few months ago, I interviewed about a dozen journalist bloggers (as well as others in the know about blogging), trying to discern what they do, why they do it, how it's changing themselves as journalists and how it's impacting their readers.

Read my research paper on blogging at the link for this post.

When you click on the link, scroll down to: Symposium XII info--2006

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Watch what thy says...


Okay, I usually blog about First Amendment topics and stuff about the media or in the media, but today, just for the fun of it (and for the sake of diversity), here are a few words of wisdom about what to say and what not to say on that first date (as in relationships and trying to understand and connect with one another.)

For one thing, don't try to break the ice with that old, tired, predictable question: Where to you work?

Instead, ask: "What do you do for fun?"

Read the other pearls of wisdom in the link to this post.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Blogsphere touches a court case


Be careful what thy blog about: seems to be the lesson from a court case involving a key player who blogged about himself pseudonomously--but was unmasked just the same.

Read about it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Grass grows in Chester, S.C.


If you believe marijuana plant tending is a lost art, read what recently happened in Chester County, S.C.

Personally, I was always afraid of marijuana--even in its hey day of the 60s, 70s and early 80s. Grass everywhere, it seemed. At parties, on university-sponsored trips in vans I took during graduate school, sprouting up in basements.

The weed isn't dead--by a long shot.

Read about it in the headline link above.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Seen on the wall at the Veterans Affairs Hospital


I had to go to Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Hospital in Johnson City, Tenn., today.

Spent about half a day there getting poked, listened to (heart beat), drained (urine sample), pricked (blood sample) and photographed (X-ray).

Results not in yet. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, noticed something interesting--from a slide in the hospital orientation Power Point presentation I sat through:

"It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.

"It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

"It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble."

Well put.

Bloggers keeping watchful eyes on murder case

If anyone doubts the power of blogging (as well as how bloggers are keeping the mainstream media on their toes,) they should read about the horrific double murder-rape case unfolding in Knoxville, Tenn.

Seems that a young couple (who happen to be white) were sexually assaulted and mutilated.

The five suspects, each charged with first degree murder, happen to be black.

So some are saying this is a case of a too little publicized black on white crime.

That said, bloggers are attacking the mainstream Tennessee media for not making a bigger deal of the race factor. After all, according to the bloggers, look what happened year (with the extensive local, state, national and even international mainstream media coverage) when an alleged white on black crime rocked Duke University. This was, as you may recall, the case where three white Lacross players at Duke were indicted on charges of sexually assaulting a young black exotic dancer.

Why all the hullabaloo about race in the Duke case and so little mention of it (by mainstream traditional news media) in the murders/rapes of University of Tennessee student Channon Christopher, 21, and her 23-year-old boyfriend Christopher Newsom?

Good questions.

Monday, May 7, 2007

My memorable encounter with Tiger


Two days ago, I sat within 40 feet of Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer on the planet.

I'm perched in my canvas chair on the edge of the third green at the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte.

I'm waiting, waiting, waiting...

From the early afternoon (about 12:30 p.m.) I get to green # 3 and figure my strategy.

Sooner or later Tiger will prowl that green.

Turned out, because of a rain delay, my Tiger sighting occurred in about four hours. (As I waited, got to see the likes of Phil Mickelson, V.J. Singh, Rory Sabbatini, Sergio Garcia and others.)

Will never forget it.

The guy is tall.

He appreciates his millions of admirers--thousands of whom were at the Wachovia Championship. It's a thrill when he tips (ever so slightly) the bill of his cap--letting us all know that he sees us.

He's quiet and focused. Never seemed to blink an eye. Never uttered a word, far as I could tell, on the green to his caddie or to anyone else. Walked all over that green, surveying and feeling it, kneeling down and staring--taking measure of his challenge.

His ball is about 35 feet from the whole. Downhill, tricky putt with contours between the ball and the whole. Very difficult. Can't hit it too softly, I figured.

He didn't sink it, but came ever so close--settling the ball on the edge of the cup, within a fingernail. . . within a breath of dropping.

A beautiful putt from our world's best golfer.

That day, he wore a white Nike cap and a white Nike shirt.

Yesterday, when he won the Wachovia Championship (by 2 strokes, earning $1.1 million), he wore red.

Always does.

If I'm alive next year, I'll be at the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte at Quail Hollow--working to get another Tiger sighting.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My friend Terry Nelson says it all...


About that sad scenario at Woodlan High School in Indiana--concerning a journalism adviser who has taken a lot of heat, and now has been transferred to another school, apparently, because of a student written newspaper column (on tolerance toward gays): Here's what my good friend Terry Nelson wrote and had published (a few days ago) in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, newspaper.

Right on, Terry!

I was a stranger in a strange land.

“You’ll be teaching the students from 9 until 5 each day,” Luba, the Slovak
administrator, whispered to me.

“Will I have an interpreter with me all day?” I whispered back.

“Yes, and he will help translate any handouts you want to use,” Luba said.

As I leaned in to catch the quiet conversation, I looked around the public
restaurant and heard women laughing, dishes clinking, doors opening and
closing. Why were we whispering in a public place?

Luba explained to me this was an old habit from the time her country was
under the Communist regime. She told me that you could not speak freely
during that time; that you could not trust anyone -- not even the person
drinking coffee next to you. It was ironic we were still whispering as I
was there to teach freedom of speech and fact-based journalism to the high
school students now that the country was under a different, political

My Slovak students were so excited that summer. They were empowered to use
their lessons in communications to write stories of consequence and
interest to other teens. They researched their topics tirelessly and ran
down various individual news makers and experts for information and
quotations -- even the president of the Republic, whom they found in the
stands of a tennis match.

They became better informed, more engaged in their education and in their
country, and they realized that they could make a difference in their world
through the study of journalism. They were active, involved citizens of the
Slovak Republic.

Freedoms we treat so casually, the freedoms of speech and press, were
enthusiastically embraced by a group of teenagers halfway across the globe
to whom this freedom had only recently been made available.

Fast forward a half dozen years to Woodlan High School and the conflict
between the Board of Education and the high school’s newspaper staff. I’m
sure the principal meant well when he said he was disturbed after reading
an editorial regarding better treatment of students who believed they were
homosexual. After all, he is the administrator in charge of the high school
nd answerable to the community. I’m sure the adviser was sincere when she
said she never thought the column’s topic would upset the principal or the
school’s leadership. After all, she has been trained in journalism
education and is responsible for the protection of the students’ First
Amendment rights. Most importantly, I’m sure the student writer was earnest
in her positive message of respect for all students at school -- regardless
of their sexual orientation. After all, what other message would anyone in
the Woodlan school district expect?

In most other school districts, this student column would not have caused
the brouhaha and carnival that has erupted as a result of several knee jerk
reactions -- perhaps from fear of a perceived negative public reaction to
the column’s content or the school board’s need to extert control over all
players under their “regime.”

As one school board member remarked recently, “This is a school board
meeting, you can’t talk about free speech here.”

I mean, come on now.

Underneath the hastily-concocted restrictive publication policy, the
punitive administrative leave for the teacher and now a recommendation for
her termination, there is much at stake: a public school system’s
integrity, a young teacher’s livelihood and most importantly, the lesson
being taught to all students of Woodlan High School that you are not
American citizens, your opinions do not matter and you should not expect to
be treated with respect.

The conflict at Woodlan High School has an eerie feel of deja’vu for me.
As a journalism educator myself, I experienced a similar situation nearly
30 years ago when I was fired for supporting the students and their First
Amendment rights. I too was not yet tenured. I too was considered
insubordinate for not following an “order” that I felt would be unethical.
Following 21 hours of an open hearing over a period of four days, my school
board met privately -- in violation of Indiana’s Sunshine Code -- to decide
how they were going to vote in front of the public and media. So they
offered me a deal: Drop the lawsuit I had filed charging the administrator
with censorship of the student publication and I would keep my job. When I
sked if the principal would stop punishing the students who also wrote
letters to the editor or who commented on anything perceived by the
administration to be negative, the response was that the school board
backed the principal in whatever methods he used.

I said, “No deal.”

Enraged that a young teacher would turn down their offer, the board marched
in and voted 4-1 to support the principal and superintendent in their
recommendation of my firing. That summer, the school board reconsidered
after realizing the legal problems ahead, reversed their decision and
publicly reaffirmed freedom of speech and press for all students of
Yorktown High School.

It was a long, difficult year, but the conflict and the overturned
recommendation for my removal was a moral victory for the school system’s
students and an education on the First Amendment for the community members
of the small town.

I returned to teaching journalism and advising publications and am now
concluding my 31st year of teaching students about their rights and the
responsibilities to research, report, problem solve and tell the truth. I
try to impress on them that they must have knowledge and ownership in their
communities and in their world. Students have read the books of what
happens when citizens fall asleep: George Orwell’s 1984; Fahrenheit 451;
The Communist Manifesto.

Former students call to tell me they serve on their city’s councils and on
various committees. They volunteer for not-for profit organizations and
other humanistic causes. They are empowered as a result of their
publications experience in high school, and continue in their civic
undertakings now as adults. Exercising First Amendment rights and
responsibilities through the school’s publications is the best civics
lesson that can ever be offered in a school’s curriculum.

I’ve read that early Christians sacrificed their lives to get the word of
Jesus Christ out to the dismay of King Herod. I’m sure King George wasn’t
happy about the pamphlets advocating the dumping of tea in the Boston
Harbor. And the unpopular notion of freeing the slaves probably distressed
more than one plantation owner prior to the Civil War.

Speaking out about injustices, inadequacies and unpopular ideas is part of
our history. And part of the reason why problems get solved and unfair
practices revealed.

The East Allen County school district has an important decision to make
that hangs in a delicate balance. Will they model “bullying” and discharge
a young teacher who supported her student for writing a mature and
responsible column over a controversial subject? Or will they step back and
realize that true education involves an element of risk and trust in their
teachers and students to discuss a variety of subjects in the school

Now that’s something to shout about.

Terry Nelson
Journalism Teacher and Publication Adviser
Muncie Central High School, Muncie, IN
2001 Dow Jones National Journalism Teacher of the Year