Posts Tagged ‘media’

Photo Credit: Miserteacher @Flickr

Photo Credit: Miserteacher @Flickr

There are lots and lots of lists profiling bloggers that would be cool to read or the best of 2009 or are considered the most underrated

Those lists utterly annoy me because time and time again, it’s like rating the best foods or the places to raise kids.

They can be totally irrelevant…to the reader, that is.  Not to mention, taken out of context.

And – stop – I know that they’re only suggestions. Or, voter’s choices. Or…whatever. I think in the blogosphere, it may not always be a good idea to have such rankings – because rankings are just opinions.

And, I think the blogosphere is too big  to separate – and rank – out a few from the million.

I much rather have someone tell me why they like something, why it would be relevant to me and – that’s it. None of this best, top, worst of the year crap.

Furthermore, these compilations lack purpose. And some bloggers forget to clarify whatever that purpose is in their lists. How is that?  For example, they tell me what the blog is about and why they read it. As a reader, I could care less about that – how do you think it will benefit me?

It sounds contradictory.

In fact, it is.

Yet, that’s the point. And, perhaps the blogs I list below have made lists elsewhere and I’m not saying anything differently about them. I’d like you to keep in mind that this list is made for people who want to gather bits of information from everywhere for everything.

I hope I add something a little bit new to that gathering.

I know I sound like a total hypocrite because I am writing a blog post on blogs that I read. Yet, I’m thinking if you follow my blog – you have the same kinds of interests (and peeves) that I do. You may like children’s literature, but you’re not only (and always) going to read stuff by Kate DiCamillo.

I like to peruse stuff that appeals to certain moods I’m in. And just like you, when I want to gain a certain perspective on the world or inflate a certain mood – I can’t just got to one place, I go to several:

My Human Rights Muses/NPO work/Social Change

Nicholas Kristoff/On the Ground

I think a lot of people are seriously out of tune with what goes on outside of the United States – well, in the world, period. And NO, you can’t get all your news from the Daily Show – even though I’ll be the first to try. Generally, there is a very weak grasp of the political machinations in our own country, therefore, understanding stuff beyond that can be overwhelming. We’re also at a disadvantage because we are distanced (or better yet, create the distance).

Nick writes about those various (dis)connections and bridges the gaps, specifically on human rights issues.

Allison Jones/Entry Level Living

I have not come across too many (good) blogs that detail the work of twenty somethings in the NPO world. Nor, I haven’t run across as many that are as insightfully opinionted and as well-informed as Ms. Jones. If you are a twenty something looking to understand social change (as a profession), please visit her blog.

It’s well worth the time.

Karyn/The Fabulous Giver

What can’t be more great than finding chic ways to do charity?  Karyn’s writing is sweetly engaging. The site fosters a lot of opportunities to learn new things about wonderful philanthropic social events and causes. If you are interested in seeing how advocacy turns into action, The Fab Giver should be one of your places to start.

Beth Kanter/Beth’s Blog

This is kind of the “grown up” version of a blog about NPO work and social media usage. Ms. Kanter is pretty straightforward and her advice is practical. I may not always know what she’s talking about – but her blog is like the individual contrast (perspective?) to K Street Cafe.

Career: Good, Bad & Funny

Marci Alboher/Hey Marci

I had just begun following Ms. Alboher’s blog, Shifting Careers, before she got booted from the NYT. Her blog focuses on the multiplicity of careers and jobs. You’ll enjoy it too if like to read about workplace trends and the redefinition of career life.

And, she’s a nice contrast from Ms. Trunk – I can only handle one career blog that details the sex life of the author.

FFN/Fired for Now

This is a fairly new blog. I hope it sticks around. FFN writes about the realities of getting canned from a rigidly honest and insightful view point. The definition of unemployment is changing and this blog seeks to challenge the assumptions of its “social meaning.”

In other words, this blog doesn’t make me feel so bad about getting fired – ever. I suggest this become a must-read for all people still griping about being canned, worried about getting a job or otherwise happy with their career (read: EVERYONE).

Lillit & Ashley/Save the Assistants

This blog appreciates admins from across the world. The Bossary should be the first stop for anyone visiting. Administrative work can be tough – and mind crushing (if you let it). This site can be your saving grace. If you feel you are wasting away your soul in a crappy administrative job, read this blog and become inspired.

Go ahead and be saved (no worshipping of another g-d required).

John Henion & Tania Khadder/Unemploymentality

Weird. Slightly offensive. Scathingly sarcastic. Those are the first three descriptions that come to mind about this site. And, it’s hilarious. It’s an extremely fun read – and the best thing?

You can actually laugh in the face  of joblessness (er…maybe).

Jodith Allen/Administrative Arts

Kind of cheating on this one because I already mention a blog that profiles admin work. Yet, I think this is a good blog to read for anyone no matter what stage of their career they’re in. Admin work is part of any job you do –  from being  the president of a company to the mail clerk. Paperwork is paperwork  – don’t fight it.

Ms. Allen’s blog talks about time management, technology and various facets of (admin) career development. You can try that or the Crabby Office Lady (bonus!).

Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down – Inspiration Blogs!

Alexander Kjerulf/The Chief Happiness Officer

Being happy is important (especially at work) – ’nuff said.


Besides having the same name as my little sister  – this blogger and I have another thing in common: an appreciation for all things beautiful and appetizingly sensual. Stephanie’s blog is absolutely gorgeous.

And, it’s not nearly as terrifying as GOOP.

Erinn/The Happy Living Design Blog

I’m a big fan of having peaceful spaces. I admit, I just go here to check out whatever photos might be up, but the writing is very interesting, as well. Go here to get ideas on (inexpensive) interior design for all types of abode living.

Not to mention, her blog’s layout has a “soothing” quality.

Cheryl Porro/ The Cupcake Blog

Ok, this blog has been “closed.”  But you can still view recipes, photos, etc. Furthermore, anything featuring a cupcake is bound to make you feel better.

No matter what.

Ev-Yan/Apricot Tea

Besides being ridiculously cute, Ev-Yan is a sensibly chic fashionista. If you like reading about fashion, Ev-Yan can be your muse. She also writes about married life, vegetarian and vegan eating habits and ripped shorts.

She posts photos quite a bit of the various outfits she wears, she pulls off the androgynous look quite well – better than most.

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Lynsey Addario
Photo Credit: Lynsey Addario

Jimmy Briggs is telling a story about a Congolese woman he is interviewing.

The woman is describing how she was raped twice in one day.

In the interview, the woman explains that her brother, husband and children were present when she was first attacked in the morning by the Congolese government army.

When they were  finished, the army left the house.

Later, that afternoon, non-government soldiers arrived. They are more brutal. The woman’s husband ran away.

Her brother tried to hide on the rooftop. The militia shot him. The group of men (5 in all) proceeded to rape the woman inside her house. Her children began to call for help outside the home.

The militia men stop the attack and proceed to leave. The woman follows them out. Then, one by one, they shoot each of her children in the back of the head. They proceed to finish the rape.

They leave.

I heard this story while at the Congo/Women opening reception this past Thursday (curated by this organization). The room is surrounded in black and white photos of Congolese men, women and children.

There are huge color photo displays detailing the life and violence in the Congo.

It’s beautiful. Yet, it is also tremendously tragic.

The room shudders with a very still quiet. Mr. Briggs tells the crowd that he wants us to remember this woman’s story. Do not be afraid to remember it. Be brave enough to keep it in your mind.

He wants us to remember that we have the power to change the world if we remember to tell each other’s stories.

Sometimes, the only power you have is simply telling someone else’s story.

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newspapersLast night, I attended the Association of Women Journalists annual meeting. Initially, I was there to promote my NPO, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. 

In hindsight, it may have not been the best venue to pitch our organization, but I got some great information that I want to share with you.  

Jane Hirt, newly minted Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune, served as the event’s guest speaker. As she centered on the crisis of newspapers and media, Ms. Hirt gave the expected “anti-hunker down” pep talk.

Essentially, journalism is changing. Get used to it.

Wanting information will never go away, but how that information is accessed will always evolve. If that includes moving from one platform to another, then I consider it a small (albeit, inconvenient) change. 

Nonetheless, her suck it up speech was palatable. Mostly, it was because she didn’t sound like a jerk. Nevertheless, how can you sound like a jerk when you have a smile like that?

If you dislike change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.

Maybe journalists take themselves too seriously. Perhaps, so seriously that change seems too ludicrous to even consider. Change, however, is about the ridiculous. There’s very little room (if any) for staid conformity and static values.

In a world where it’s possible to meet your lover or wife online, how can journalists not expect to have their own medium do the same?  Being productive involves remaining relevant. Remaining relevant has nothing to do with the phrase “staying the same” – no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise.

The world likes to fall into this trap of thinking when it comes to success, “Well, that was them and we’re not them.” But, you  know what? They were not always who they were. In other words, Oprah wasn’t always Oprah (as she is now) and online journalism wasn’t always online journalism (as it is now).

So, if you insist on believing that change involves some instantaneous and overnight boom of recognition, creativity and wonderfulness – then close your eyes and wait. While you’re at it – hold your breath.

Widen the scope of your competition.

Ms. Hirt mentioned that when she started RedEye, she wasn’t just competing with other newspapers. She was competing with how people chose to spend their time. Books, sleep, ipods and blackberrys were her competitors as well and factors to consider when launching a newspaper geared toward the 18 to 34 set. 

Consider that the “spirit” of competition is not just about becoming the next Google or Apple. You aren’t just competing with other bloggers or journalists. Remember what you are vying for: people’s time or money (or both) and how they choose to spend it.

Insist on riskiness if you insist on longevity. Manage reinvention…and stay on your toes.

People mistake that if you’ve been around for a long time, you probably don’t have to reinvent yourself. Or, shouldn’t need it. This reminds me of a podcast with Guy Kawasaki and Penelope Trunk mentioning the “democratization” one can enable.

In other words, what are you freeing up (or locking down)?  What ways are you creating access to your product or information? Are you (re)inventing opportunities for people to access it?

Simply, are you a connector or a disconnector?

Reinvention involves risk. But, everyone knows that. And, people like to take what they call “calculated risks.” But, those are iffy too, because the payoffs can be so variable. Even failure can be the better reward.

If you got everything right the first time, how do you know if you are doing anything truly meaningful?

Millennials and a woman’s style of management. Common sense meets youth?

As Millennials enter the workforce, baby boomer-esque management styles will inevitably need to transform. Gen Y’s are less tolerant of the once-a-year performance evaluation and the Big Boss you never see 25 floors up. 

We want collaboration, less hierarchy and to be treated as peers (not wage slave underlings). We take soul searching to the edge because we cultivate our own fulfillment to the maximum. We give ourselves space to grow and opportunities to grow it. That’s where our loyalties lie.

Ms. Hirt mentions that a woman’s style of management appeals more to the Gen Y job seeker. Yet, I like to think that a desiring collaboration has little to do with the womanly style of management (and more to do with common sense). 

It can mean all the difference between a dying industry and a dead one.

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gwyneth-paltrow2I am a subscriber to Gwyneth Paltrow’s oddly monikered newsletter GOOP.

When GOOP made its inaugural appearance, Paltrow gave teasing tidbits about the newsletter’s forthcoming niche with six plain verbs: MAKE, GO, GET, SEE, BE and DO.

While Paltrow effortlessly floats an easy sense of quiet cool and has been christened as one of many style icons – her trendsetting sophistication online comes across as over inflated and a tad vapid.

The same persona that stretches across on the movie screen recoils into an unattainable (Paltrow deems it “inspirational”) chic via the GOOP’s pages.

One can guess that GOOP’s intended audience should consist of madcap, independently wealthy sophisticates, the Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsens of the world who have the time (and, obviously the money) to embark on Paltrow’s suggestions of purchasing $800 Giuseppi Zanotti boots or jetting off to London to try out the Hempel Hotel.

Given the current economic crisis, dropping demand for luxury and the squelching of available airline flights – Paltrow’s newsletter seems (dare I say it?) ill timed.

That get-away to Paris to see the Alexander Calder exhibit doesn’t have the same ring as it used to in maybe…2005?

GOOP is not all empty fashionista musings, the section BE concentrates on personal development in which several advisors from different helms of psychology, religion and personal growth add their perspectives on how to deal with pessimism.

But she’s Gwyneth Paltrow – she can do that, right? The famously wealthy have those options – it’s the privilege that comes with swirling in such lusciously lavish territory.

Yet, what puzzles me about Ms. Paltrow’s newsletter is the aloofness that comes within its own context.

In other words, why does nourishing the inner aspect (GOOP’s tagline) have to be so obviously and unabashedly rich?

Perhaps, I’m answering my own question.

The abundant, snazzy, swanky good life spills from GOOP and you can’t help but feel ridiculous. The idea of inspirational chic wanders into a distant memory compared to current nightmare of  mass job layoffs and dwindling consumerism.

Even Ms. Paltrow’s gift ideas are laced with a naïve politeness to remind that even as the holidays descend upon us, it’s quite appropriate to purchase a $75 cake knife or $45 cashmere socks – it’s all about the intention (even the luxurious ones).

Ms. Paltrow does not have to clip coupons, investigate clearance sales racks or maybe even suffer buyer’s remorse. Her advice about living life to the fullest requires knowing that eating the upper crust will taste as rich (and cost as much) as she makes it appear.

She provides recipes detailing her love for turkey ragu and buckwheat banana pancakes – she even suggests that we live holistically and get enough sleep (everyone needs more sleep!).

GOOP’s had quite a few critics, and yet I’m not sure how Ms. Paltrow would respond to such cynicism. After all, a life as fabulous as the one she lives has to be shared, no?

Ms. Paltrow only wants to inspire, whether or not the inspiration is more for her benefit than it is for others.

And no, I’m not calling Ms. Paltrow ridiculous – but her newsletter is quite so in every sense of the definition. While it’s fine to show us hoi polloi what a wonderful life is all about – I think GOOP is missing a bit of reality from its simple verbs.

I may not cancel my subscription to GOOP anytime soon, I just don’t take it nearly as seriously as my addiction to Life Hacker.

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???My name has two realities. In one, I am a lawyer living in Chicago who specializes in commercial litigation. In another, I’m a writer living in Chicago who enjoys blogging.

The two realities are separate and real – I find it eerie all the same.

While still in high school, I applied to get my state ID and was forced to bring my mother and a yearbook to verify my identity.

It seems that the other Raven Moore’s picture was mistakenly connected with my information.

So, instead of my information popping up in the system, some “other” Raven Moore would pop up with my personal information attached to their picture.

Another time, a few years ago, I went to my alma mater’s yearly alumni event. A fellow alumni noticed my nametag and commented that he worked with a “Raven Moore” – but thought it was funny I wasn’t actually her.

“Small world,” he says.

Is it really a small world when someone else has the same name as you?

When I make appointments at my salon, they have to ask me which Raven Moore I am. They have several.

Another time, while working with a Chicago literacy program, I received an email detailing a list of volunteers and members. The email asked to make sure name spellings and bio information were correct.

I complained that my information was wrong – hey, I’m not a lawyer!

In reality, the aforementioned attorney Raven Moore, was a member of the organization as well – they forget to put the other Raven Moore (me) on the list.


And annoying as hell, too.

Besides feeling like my life is occasionally re-enacting that weird X-Files episode where Kathy Griffin played a psychotic twin, I don’t really have any interest in differentiating my name.

I think it would just get even more confusing: R. Moore, Raven A. Moore, Raven A.M. Moore (yes, I have two middle names) – it’ll just make things unnecessarily complicated.

Briefly, I thought about changing my name to a symbol like that guy Prince, but even he got wise to how stupid that seemed.

And, what’s even more disturbing is when I Googled my name last year, the first few sites that popped up linked to a porn star and kindergarten beauty pageant queen.

What were my parent’s thinking?! This takes hating my name to a whole new level.

Despite otherwise, I do like my name. It suits me. It’s also memorable, easy to spell and poetic.

I haven’t thought much about the other Raven Moores in Chicago who get confused for me (if ever).

It’s enough trouble trying to keep my hairdresser from dying my hair blond because the other Raven Moore liked it so much.

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iheartbloggingFor those of you interested in blogging, the venture can be a mysterious, weird process. You may go to a site like Blogger, WordPress or Typepad, go through the motions of setting up – and now what?

And now that you have your blog about [subject to be inserted later], you are at a loss for (written) words.

How can you make your voice heard in the chattering mass of the blogosphere?

What can you do (besides write good posts)? Well, it depends on what you want to talk to about. Everyone talks about niches, personal brands, the essence of what your blog should be about – it gets overwhelming.

So, in any event, you need a niche, but you don’t know how to figure that out. That’s OK, we all had to start somewhere.

Start a blog. Fall in love.

In order to enjoy blogging, you need to fall in love with your subject. And no, not the honeymoon love where there are no flaws and everything is perfect. 

When you do choose a subject, you have to be willing to uncover its secrets, its flaws, its inconsistencies and its hypocrisies. The unappealing, sees-you-first-in-the-morning reality that takes your blog to a new depth is what gives it pop.

Don’t be afraid to uncover its ugliness – it gives your blog credibility (as well as relevancy).

It may be awkward at first, but you’ll get better as time goes on.

And, no, you may not blog about your pet bunny. Unless your bunny does something really interesting. And you’re in love with it.

So, we’ve narrowly covered what your niche should be and eased your fears about what a blog could be about.


Randomness – the godsend of unexpected ideas

It’s fine to be a little random in your blog, but not quite so at the beginning – but keep it intriguing. 

An example of randomness can range from something seemingly off-topic from your niche or discovering an edgy idea and applying it to your blog.

It’s alright if you switch topics or ideas throughout the life of your blog – expect it.

Blogging and your virtual community. 

A blog should reflect you.

Unlike getting a book deal, or publishing in other print media, the way in which you edit and revise your ideas is much more transparent. 

You change your mind, tweak your opinions and engage your audience in a much more interesting way with a blog than you ever could with a book.

However, stick true to your (well-researched) opinions and don’t become wish washy.

Whatever your blog is about, make sure you can have enough content to keep the blog going. Be specific enough to attract your intended audience but make it accessible enough to capture attention of new readers.

Do you want to talk to farmers, lawyers, doctors, Gen-Yers, baby boomers, Stay-at-home moms, Working Mothers, Stay-at-home Dads, college girls who want to become fetish models?

Look at your surroundings.

The initial conversation is in your head

Blogging is just as much about a dialogue with yourself as it is with others.

In other words, the reason why blogs are considered to be about conversation is because they offer a sense of immediacy. If someone (dis)likes what you say, they can engage you (or not read your blog anymore, but let’s stay positive).

Pick one. Any subject. Don’t know where to start with that either? Who do you like talking to? What kind of friends do you have? What kinds of stuff do you like to do? What kind books and magazines do you read?

If you can’t answer any of the above questions or have nothing in which to draw inspiration, you probably have no business trying to create a blog and should spend more time developing a social life instead.

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Earlier this week, Harold Washington Public Library hosted a panel discussion titled, “Journalism: New and Now – How to Tell Our Stories.” For all you fledgling (or not so fledgling) journalists, filmmakers, writers, bloggers and whatever else – check out the podcast featuring Allison Cuddy, Luis Alberto Urrea, Steve James, and Alex Kotlowitz.

The central topic of discussion revolved around Tom Wolfe’s essay, “The New Journalism.” Wolfe declares that non-fiction storytelling would always trump fictional storytelling. The moderator began the discussion by questioning the relevance of the term “new journalism” as well as circling topics related to the guiding principles of journalism, information immediacy versus the process of storytelling and differences in narrative abroad. The panelists touched upon new ideas associated with storytelling with respect to the explosion of narrative in media, the natural progression towards varied types of storytelling and the inter-connectedness of audience, writer and subject.

The grittiness that resides in non-fiction narratives will, in most ways, always surpass fictional ones.  This is not to imply that fiction doesn’t garner attention towards serious subject matter, or can’t (in its own way) tether itself to ideas that compel its audience to understand various realities.  Philosophically, Wolfe’s opinion originates from the idea that fiction focuses on the question of “What if?” whereas non-fiction is openly centered on “What is.”  This single factor is the driving force of non-fiction narrative and the singularly most confrontational component in “new journalism.”

Comparably, as in film, there is a necessary suspension of disbelief obliviously applied to fictional stories that cannot be justifiably directed to non-fiction. As such, readers are confronted with a very real and true situation that, whether they like it or not, are forced to imagine because it actually exists. The acknowledgement of this existence is what gives non-fiction its trump – its intrinsic value hinges on being cognizant of recognizing the story within the real.

For all those aspiring writers, journalists, etc. in the universe – how do you feel about the idea that truth will always trump fiction?

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