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V.19 No.32 |

journalism, education

Support your local school paper

Crazed journalist allowed access to school children

I was given the opportunity to poison young minds this morning.

The first meeting of the newspaper class at Albuquerque High School met today and I came in to show them how it’s done. I brought along a colleague, Ali Patterson, a copy editor at the Albuquerque Journal, because it is important to show the neophytes that not all newspaper people are disheveled miscreants who mumble a lot and look like they haven’t slept in days. Ali calls the two extremes of journalistic types “type A” and “type B.” There doesn’t seem to be anyone in the middle between the organized A’s and everyone else.

I have spoken with a high school journalism class once before. It had six editors-in-chief. That doesn’t work. A newspaper has to have a mafia-style paramilitary command structure with a supreme commander at the top. Otherwise, nothing will get done. A newspaper is a machine and must run efficiently, even if some of us end up spinning in the gears.

I told the class to select a leader and warned the leader not to be a douche. It is important to get the job done but not to alienate the troops. I’ve had pompous, arrogant editors, and everyone in their employ will eventually undermine them. It’s apparently hard to have power and not abuse it.

A girl in the class rose at the end and identified herself as editor-in-chief. I have no idea if that had already been decided upon or if she was taking the mafia analogy too literally. She certainly seemed to have what it takes.

Ali and I mulled over a few more topics: design, lede writing, learning the devil Associated Press Style, the importance of getting facts right, and the joy of pissing off the powers-that-be.

Ali spoke about checking names, places and all the small things that can screw up an otherwise perfectly good newspaper. I told the kids about the demon readers who only live to find mistakes in newsprint. They’re out there, and they suck.

One kid asked, “What if I get in trouble for a story I write?” I told him to get his facts straight, be fair and tell the truth. They can, and will, get mad, but they can’t do anything about it.

I was a student journalist in college and it changed my life. When I was a kid I was a mark for bullies and mean people. Now they are my collective bitch. Journalism has been a godsend for me, has taught me how to use my words.

The paper was, and is, a place for word nerds to obtain glory they are otherwise denied. Support your local school paper.

We’re going back in a month or two to check out a few issues and offer some critique. I can’t wait.

V.19 No.31 | 8/5/2010
El Oso and former employer

commentary

Mal Oso

It’s good to be me again.

My last employers didn’t allow freelancing, something about “owning” my brain. Their other reason was that I represented their paper with my name and would apparently besmirch their good name were I to write for other papers. Does the word “hubris” come to mind, anyone?

Since writing for the Weekly Alibi was and is an irresistible temptation, I resorted to pen names. Freedom of Expression, what a novel idea.

First there was “Juan Maloso.” Maloso came from a Mexican coworker, Chuy, at a bad New Mexican restaurant I won’t name where I washed dishes during my formative years. Young and stupid, I regaled Chuy with tales of my recent bad behavior while drunk. He nodded his head in disapproval and muttered, “mal oso.” Since I hung around people who used monikers in those days, I became Dr. Maloso. I added Juan for pen name purposes.

Juan Maloso lasted exactly one column before I switched back to John Bear. I figured I have worked several years trying to get my name out in the universe and hated the anonymity of a nom de plume.

So I was John Bear. Of course, I was discovered. My former editor took me in the office and slapped a pile of Alibi columns in my hand. It was not unlike “To Catch a Predator.” For the record, I had never said I was going to quit.

But I did try to compromise. That meant another pen name. I first considered John Mitotero. “Mitotero” means “a gossip” in Spanish. I get called that frequently down in Valencia County. It pisses some people off. I considered it a term of endearment.

But it didn’t roll off the tongue. So I went for “Movida.” That means “side job” [snicker].

I couldn’t be John Movida, as apparently a pen name has to be absolute, so I called another reporter in Oklahoma and said “I need a first name.”

“Pete,” he said.

So I was Pete Movida.

For one more column. They found out before the ink was dry, and I was canned. The same “To catch a Predator” set up—them handing me the column, and me glancing down at it and laughing at my own jokes. It was worth it.

Books

A novel about the newsroom

Journalism may be a dying art, but novelist Tom Rachman breathes life back into the newsroom in The Imperfectionists, his debut novel. But don’t be mistaken; journalism has never seemed more unappealing than in Rachman’s chronicle of misfits. The book is set in Rome, the site of an international English-language newspaper, which was founded in the 1950s for mysterious reasons. Now, long past its heyday, the paper is host to a bevy of characters who limp along in their work and in their personal lives.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular character and member of the staff. Some of them include copy editor Ruby Zaga, who hides from her loneliness in hotel rooms, Editor-in-chief Kathleen Solson, a woman dealing with her husband’s infidelity, and publisher Oliver Ott, a recluse with an obsession with his dog.

The novel is all about character development, and Rachman’s portrayal of each journalist allows the reader to piece together an image of the quirky newsroom. The character development extends to the paper itself—the chapters are interspersed with flashbacks from the beginnings of the publication, when it was a bit more glamorous. Finally, the fate of the paper is revealed in the last chapter, along with why it was founded in the first place. Read the New York Times Sunday Book Review right here.

V.19 No.30 | 7/29/2010

Bear With Me

I, Fired

A small-town reporter goes for broke

I’m a tumbleweed; you’re a micromanaging fascist.

In a case of irony invading my life, I was fired from my newspaper job for writing.

I had been working as a crime reporter for a twice-weekly paper, which means I was broke but also working as feature writer, city council writer, question-of-the-week writer, parade correspondent, photographer and Lunch Boy.

Lunch Boy (one who fetches the editor’s lunch) wasn’t offered as a class in college, so I learned on the job. Actually, I have no journalism degree, either, and learned how to be a reporter by being a reporter.

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V.19 No.29 |

News

Daniel Schorr dead at 93

The fearless journalist who famously made Richard Nixon's shit list—and leaked the Pike report to the Village Voice when his then-employer CBS was too scared to run with it—is dead at age 93. He never backed down. The world needs more guys like him.

V.19 No.25 |

News

The Daily Word 06.28.10: Gun laws, free speech, oil spill

The Daily Word

Labor unions support immigration reform as a result of Arizona's oppressive law.

Insipid South African reporter babe Lara Logan insults Michael Hastings and demonstrates the current wackness of journalism.

U.S. Supreme Court protects the right to bear arms.

NM police can make DUI arrests based solely on third-party tips.

Oil washes ashore in Biloxi causing tourists to flee, and a tropical storm complicates matters.

FDIC closes a failed NM bank.

Is the world entering a "third depression?" Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman thinks so.

Chinese government claims to support free speech, bans soldiers from using social media.

An amazing nineteenth century tale of a couple's escape from slavery—it involves gender bending.

The Cooking Channel "boasts a worldly feel, not unlike the international aisle at Safeway."

Learn to make cooling gazpacho and variations thereof.

See beautiful beaches, scorn the desert.

East Mountain residents (including bears) should be bear aware.

Lindsay Lohan is to star in a graphic non-porno about porno.

Vince Neil arrested, apparently didn't learn his lesson when he killed that guy from Hanoi Rocks.

Weather: Possible rain today, regular/hot throughout the rest of the week.

V.19 No.11 | 3/18/2010

Shameless Self-Promotion

The Alibi Wins 7 First-Place New Mexico Press Women Awards

Competing against newspapers across the state, the Weekly Alibi swept the New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest with 9 awards. The Alibi's food writing, arts and entertainment coverage, news reporting, features, columns and editing were chosen as superlative in New Mexico.

Seven of the entries are first-place winners and will go on to the National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest, where they'll square off against every other Press Women chapter in the country. (The NFPW is a nationwide organization of professional women and men in the press and media fields.) We expect to do well there, as we've done every year that we've entered.

Here's a list of the Alibi's winners:

First Place: News reporting, Marisa Demarco

First Place: Enterprise reporting, Marisa Demarco

First Place: Feature story, Erin Adair-Hodges

First Place: Section edited by entrant, Erin Adair-Hodges

First Place: Food articles, Ari LeVaux

First place: Publications regularly edited by entrant, Laura Marrich

First place: Single page regularly edited by entrant – Lifestyle or Entertainment, Laura Marrich

Second Place: Columns, Alex Limkin

Third Place: Arts and Entertainment articles, Erin Adair-Hodges

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