Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice aired March 13, 2011

In this installment of Celebrity Apprentice there’s an undercurrent of racial politics of the type that play out daily in corporations everywhere. Black women claim the white women are being condescending, some of the white women are intimidated by (yes, I’m gonna say it) the seeming aggressiveness of the black women (yeah, I said it Dionne Warwick and Star Jones) who in actuality are women who are just plain not nice. Here’s the rundown of the cast of characters:

The Women

  • Dionne Warwick – queen of nasty; voice of gold, poor character display
  • La Toya Jackson – OMG!
  • Lisa “We-can-do-it-yes-we-can” Rinna – sweet, naïve, and determined to take the high road; unfortunately that road transported her into a firing
  • Marlee Matlin – smart, fierce
  • Ne Ne Leakes – just getting warmed up
  • Niki Taylor – where’s your voice?
  • Hope Dworaczyk (Playboy Playmate)  – – why are you there?
  • Star Jones – master manipulator, clearly thinks her fellow competitors don’t come close to being her intellectual league
  • Star Jones and Dionne Warwick – team Cruella de Vil: stop stuffing your faces when the camera is on you (this applies to Marlee’s translator too)

The Men

  • Gary Busey – probably a very nice man, but a good example of “Just say no to drugs”. He’s constantly dismissed by his teammates, he sees it but seems powerless to do anything about it; he’s team leader next week – God help them all!
  • John Rich – smart
  • Jose Conseco – hilarious in a dress; shows signs of steroid anger, and in spite of claiming on the show authorship of two books, he comes off dumb
  • Lil’ Jon – dreadlocked nerd…with gold teeth
  • Mark McGrath – the jury’s still out on him
  • Meat Loaf – heart of gold, not so much rock star as grandpa
  • Richard Hatch – I’m predicting he’ll be in the final three to four remaining contestants

The Boardroom

Mr. Trump is as inappropriate as always (complementing Lisa Rinna on her lip reduction while Ne Ne Leakes looks on uncomfortably); and as always he’s brilliant at getting to the bottom of what’s really going on with people’s personality conflicts and getting them at each other’s throats. (And, I must say, even after doing his firing schtick, he’s especially careful about treating the celebrities with respect.)

Don and Eric did fine, but I miss Ivanka’s reactions, or rather non-reactions in the boardroom; as has been said many times, she’s most always the smartest one in the room. (The Trump kids pecking order seems to be Ivanka, then Don, Jr., then Eric.)

Star says to Lisa in the boardroom “I told you I will have your back”… what she didn’t explain is that she had Lisa’s back so she could be the first person to plunge in the proverbial knife and twist real good.

Summary

This show just underscores that some people have a specific talent, but it’s limited to that one aspect of who they are, that talent lives in another compartment and is separate from their character.

Advertisements

Digital Journalism

This refrain is now accepted as fact: “Journalism is changing”.  So, what is a new journalism graduate to do?  Some more experienced people from the business have suggestions on the considerations for those entering the field.

Leonard Witt is a journalist and Chair of the Communications Department at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University.  He also runs the PJNet.org, described as a “clearinghouse for public and citizen journalism”.  Mr. Witt says in a blog post, Journalism wants pitcher to be the catcher too,  that graduating journalism students shouldn’t be disparaged for  wanting to be purely good writers.  He says there will always be a market for that skill, in the literary non-fiction tradition.  While he supports multimedia skills he says that if you try to be everything, writer, photographer, videographer and editor, something will suffer and it’s likely to be the writing.   Herein lies the baseball metaphor that to be truly excellent at your job you can’t be both pitcher and catcher.

On the specific topic of community/online journalism on December 15, Mr. Witt had this to say in a phone interview:

We’re in the middle of a revolution, and when you are, it’s tough to see the end. I don’t ever think citizen journalism will replace professional journalists.We know it’s demanding work, journalists are trained to interview people, connect facts.

WikiLeaks is an example of a provider of the information that previously would only have been passed on through major outlets such as the NYT. Now, this kind of information is being fed to the big outlets.  Digital journalism allows more people to amplify their voice.  Individually each contribution may be small, but collectively there’s a lot more information out there, coming from more areas, so more voices are heard, and those voices, together, are amplified.

I am an advocate of journalism, it’s important to our democracy; whether it is it the journalism of the past, or is it the new journalism.  On a daily basis we need professionals to cover issues and supply information. Amateurs can provide information that can be aggregated, but you still need professionals to do the hard reporting.

(Play video to hear what Mr. Witt says about community journalism.  )

One of Mr. Witt’s colleagues weighed in on the topic of expectations of freshly minted journalism graduates.   Journalism consultant Paul Conley says that not being able to multitask with multimedia will make you a misfit in the newsroom of today.  Here is what he says:

It is a disservice to tell any young person that he can find a job as a “writer” and not have to learn some multimedia skills too. There is NO SUCH CAREER awaiting them in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or television. Even the most talented writers among the class of 2008 will be working in places where they will be required to produce for multiple platforms and do more than write. It’s probably safe to say that no single member of the class of 2008 will spend his career working only in print and only as a writer.

No one is suggesting that a recent grad be a master of all multimedia skills. Heck, I don’t expect a recent grad to be a master of anything. What I’m saying is what I hear every day from my clients and other professionals — a college kid with a resume that could have been written in the 1970s is not worth hiring. I don’t care how well he writes. Writing well is not enough.

Mr. Jack Driscoll also says students should do what they love. I recently had the fortune of interviewing this  legend in the news business.  Mr. Driscoll is currently an Editor-in-Residence at the MIT Media Laboratory.  His work as a journalist includes a 40-year stint at the Boson Globe, seven of which he was Editor.  During Mr. Driscoll’s tenure as Editor that the Globe he oversaw the migration to an online publication.  As a result of this effort the Globe had one of the first electronic libraries in the country.  In retirement Mr. managed the Rye Reflections, a citizen-published online publications based in Rye, NH where Mr. Driscoll now lives.  He also served as an advisor for another online publication, the former Junior Journal, run by children and teenagers located all around the globe.  The book, Couch Potatoes Sprout: The Rise of Community Journalism, is based on his community journalism experience.

When asked if he would recommend or warn away young people from becoming journalists, he said, people do need to be realistic, but ultimately, he wouldn’t discourage anyone.  Mr. Driscoll said he learned that many people who become journalists have a passion and a natural inclination toward the work early on.  He said “[they tend to] have a fire in the belly, passion.”  He also recommends that young people follow their bliss. “You can’t tell where it’s going to take you.  I had no idea about becoming an editor.  Every job I had, even going up the chain, because I enjoyed what I was doing. There are a lot of opportunities when you get out there, and they’re not necessarily apparent.”

(You can read the entire Q&A with Jack Driscoll in a separate post.)

Jason Pramas, founder and Editor of Open Media Boston sees this outlet as an alternative to the major publications in the Boston area.  This independent online outlet provides an opportunity for additional coverage of neighborhoods that may not be as extensively covered as others.  In this way, Mr. Pramas and Mr. Driscoll demonstrate the openings created by the shifts in the journalism winds, but also the way the digital tools make it easier than ever to plug the gaps left in traditional media coverage by dwindling resources and among other challenges.

Several points emerge.  First, new journalism graduates should find what they love to do. The fact that they have migrated toward journalism, they can narrow their passion within that niche.  However, they will need to master the tools to be successful in this new environment.  That part is not an option.  While the new tools  may change the initial attraction of becoming a journalist for just the writing or reporting, there is an upside.  These tools make it possible for there to be more coverage. More people can tell stories, in more ways and from more places, providing coverage for the reasons that the traditional media outlets can’t.  Online journalism, no printing press needed. Find the story, take a video, pictures, click send.

Questions and Answers with Jack Driscoll

This post is a companion piece that accompanies the feature story on Digital Journalism for Reinventing the News class final project.

What drew you to journalism?

I would ask that question in my career when I interviewed people. [I discovered]Ninety percent of them were drawn to journalism by the age of 16.

[For me] I was riding a school bus on the way to a baseball game; I sat next to a reporter for the local paper and badgered him with questions.  I realized that I like to write, and why not do this. I became, in high school, as a junior, I was the sports writer’ & Correspondent for several local papers. I played in games I reported on.

How did you manage this?

Actually, my mother helped me a little bit (laughter).

Was anyone in your family journalistically inclined?

No, not really.

Did you encourage your kids to become journalists?

I encouraged my kids to do what they wanted. However my FARMER daughter writes for fine cooking magazine.  She previously worked for Cooks Illustrator. She’s a terrific writer, and she is on the consumer side of food; she and her husband are organic farmers in Albany.

She became interested in farming when she attended Stanford. She worked in college at a newspaper out there, in a farming community. She moved east and met a guy who was trained as an organic farmer.  Organic farming became a combined dream. They found a farm near Coopers Town, NY which they developed into a fine organic farm.

Which of your 4 kids had the most unlikely career?

The social worker is the one, I would say, for me it was unlikely, but for her it was natural, but that would be the one who was a social worker.   When she was in the 8th grade we lived across from a daycare center that was in the basement of a church and she would go over there every day after school to play with the kids. She loved kids from the beginning. She now runs a bilingual day care and pre-school in Cambridge. It’s more natural for her. It’s the social worker’s temperament.

Do you have sons & daughters?

All daughters, I’m a specialist. The grandchildren are more of a mix, they play well together fortunately.

My youngest daughter just bought the property behind this house. It had been sitting there empty for three years after the gentleman who owned it died at 93. He lived alone and had no close family so I was his caretaker.  She and her husband just bought it.

They have recently completed the inside of the house (gutted and rebuilt the inside in 6 months by son-in-law with some assistance from friends).  Her husband, during the day takes care of the kids, and on weekends he’s a guitarist for the band Joshua Tree, an anchor band for U2.

In the first 10 years of your career, what were your biggest lessons; what do you wish you had known then?

Early in my career I was a sports writer. That was good, because there was more freedom to write. I wish that I had learned more about reporting (which I obviously learned rapidly) –that’s the whole basis of everything. People don’t realize the intricacies & subtleties required of a reporter. That’s why I dedicated my book to reporters. I think they are the most vital part of journalism. I was only a pure reporter for 10 years.

What are the intricacies and subtleties that people aren’t aware of, that you wish you had known?

We talked about over-reporting, digging up 100 facts even you will only use 10-12. If you do surface reporting, you often go down blind alleys or jump to conclusions when you don’t have the full story. There are not two sides of a story, but there are many sides. Anyone who goes at it thinking you have two sides, is going to have a limited story. So that’s a subtlety that reporters need to learn early on.

The value of written records is valuable for the basis of any story. Ask, “how do you know?”

Why is it that sports writers are some of the best writers out there?

One thing that’s not appreciated about sports writers is that not appreciated about sports writers is how often they write under the gun. They are comfortable writing fast, and the best writers write fast. If you read books on how to write by famous authors, they say write fast. Sports writers adapt more quickly to the reality that the reader isn’t getting the score for the first time when they pick up a news paper. So they had to adjust to this reality. We told people, write about the game as though it’s a review of the game.

What makes for a good sports writer?

I think a good sportswriter is a good reporter. You can learn to write by writing, but if you don’t have the basis for the story you are not going to set yourself apart. The readers are sophisticated about athletics so you have to be on your toes, and they know more than a lot of sports writers.

Friends who are not sure what direction they’d like to go in journalism. What advice would you give people just starting out. Would you say “run”?

I would hope not. There is a common fire in the belly matters; passion. A journalist is someone who has a curiosity, but also a desire to pass on the information that they have. Young people really should follow their bliss. You can’t tell where it’s going to take you. I had no idea about being an editor. Every job I had, even going up the chain I didn’t want, but it came along and I had to take it. Because I had enjoyed so much what I was doing.  So there are a lot of opportunities you find when you get into the fray and they’re not necessarily apparent. People who are hiring and are looking for journalists in the various capacities know what good journalists are, and they need them.

So you wouldn’t discourage anyone these days from being a journalist.

No, you have to be a realist, but no, I wouldn’t discourage anyone.

Do you subscribe to the view that papers are going to be gone within 10 years?

No, I have been saying, for the past 10 years that there will be fewer newspapers. My biggest fear is that newspapers are going to close in their circulation area. For example the Boston Globe considered itself a northern New England paper. Will they even bother to come to New Hampshire any longer, sending their trucks, spending gas dollars. Even though they may charge more, will they retrench? That bothers me.

And of course the layoffs of editorial people, particularly reporters, just  blows my mind. It shows the lack of respect for the reporting that is the basis of newspapers.

I was encouraged about the group wanting to buy the Globe saying they wanted to beef up the reporting staff. That was music to my ears.

Our class, Reinventing the News, toured Global Post, and they promote global investigative journalism, then there’s also Pro Publica, do you see those outlets taking over from emaciated papers?

They have been a Godsend in many ways in that they have filled in some gaps. They have utilized reporters with experience, in these areas. And, you don’t gain experience overnight, you don’t just send someone in to Afghanistan.

So, I think that they’ve been helpful, I don’t think that they are the answer.  They are part of the picture and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately we’ve come to the place where what we need is outside funding, and frankly, what we had before, if you look at the country as a whole what you had were publishers who were willing to put their money into their newspapers because they cared about their community.

So now what you have is corporations taking over the newspaper industry so that 5 corporations now control all the newspapers and you need these foundations to supplant the publishers who cared about their local communities.

You mean the Pro Publica’s etc.

Yeah, that’s where they’re getting their funding. You can’t do this without money. When I was at the Globe as Editor, I set up at least 5 foreign bureaus. That’s a big commitment. You have to move a family to Tokyo, Mexico City, or wherever. So you’re not only paying for basic reporter costs, but you’re making a commitment to them and their families. But it was really important, you need them there.

What do you think about the practice of someone “reporting” to a writer or journalist in India, an event going on State-side. The reporter writes the story based on what is transmitted to them via [transom].

The Berkman Center at Harvard has a project going on right now. It takes training, you can’t just send someone out, telling them to go cover Parliament and give us a story if something happens. I worked in the 90s for 7 years with teenagers from around the world. We put out the Junior Journal, a monthly online publication.  We had no problem getting reporters. We were able to train them through editing.

I say we, it was all them, I provided some guidelines on how to report, how to take a photograph, the basic, kinds of things, but they learned by doing, they learned from one another. So for 7 years we had more than 300 kids from 91 countries involved in this project. Originally we had 12 Editors, one for each month.  We had one from the US, the rest from abroad. They all spoke English and chose to publish in English. Periodically they would include a piece in another language. The editors were trainers as well as editors. You need a touch point with whether citizen journalists or stringers.

How did you get involved in digital journalism? How do you keep connected? Did you start with a strong interest in technology?

I have absolutely no background in or real interest in technology. Things evolved at the Globe. In 1968 we got a visit from an MIT professor who was trying to develop an electronic library. He asked us for help by providing proofs of stories. So eventually we were developing an electronic library with MIT. By 1978 we had the first electronic library. Eventually we did obituaries where we had an electronic form.

I became involved in technology projects by necessity, but didn’t really find out what technology could do until the late 80s, Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the Media Lab called 35 of us together and TV networks and media stations and read the riot act to us, saying, You’ll be out of business if you don’t get going. So we formed a consortium called news & the future that included not Wash. Post & Dallas News.

Group was 1/3 publishers, 1/3 chief technology officers, 1/3 editors. The Globe decided to send me because they felt the need was in the news area. I was the chairman of the company’s planning committee which may have been a factor. The NJ News had their editor, the Chicago Tribune. The NYT didn’t join initially, but did eventually.

I got involved with audio, video projects.

We had a personalized newspaper. I was involved in the project, “Freshman Fishwrap”. We put out a daily electronic newspaper so that, for ex., a student from California could have stories in the order they were interested, in 1994.

Google is doing that now!

Of course, these kids were ahead of their time.  It’s give me what I want in the order we want. We did this for 2 years, and the people on campus loved it.

There was [a tool that provided] an electronic approach to covering catastrophes. It’s a bit like, if you had a flood in China on the Yangtzee River & you lived in Cambridge, it would tell you comparative data so you had context. On a map you would take the Yangtzee River flood, overlay it on the Charles River and it would show you how it went to the Somerville line. It’s still there.

I got excited about Community stuff. In Dorchester, 4 Corners in 1991, we worked with teenagers. At the Globe I’d pick 7-8 stories that were in the Globe that I thought would be useful & informative to the kids and adults. We sent it to them and these kids ran a Web site, back in 1991.

Why did Rye Reflections peter out

We didn’t have enough people take leadership roles or do technical things. We had extraordinary health issues. The group is still together. We have lunch monthly, and everyone attends.

The benefits of community journalism go beyond just the journalism. In the back of Couch Potatoes are a bunch of tutorials that I’m proud of.

I joined Facebook to communicate with the first 30 kids I worked with on the Junior Journal all of whom were now abroad. Once I joined Facebook, I found all 30 of them within a week and was able to send each of them a copy of book.


Pinyadda Experience

What I like about Pinyadda: The article recommendations; the way I’m notified by email. Also, the site design is simple, but maybe too simplistic. It does seem that you must guess your way around the site to access basic functions.

Improvements or additions I’d like t o see: There needs to be a “how to” video. I really enjoyed the “what is Pinyadda” video that Chase recorded. It’s simple fun and a good demo. If you could do the same thing with brief instructions on various topics I think that would go far with helping people navigate the site.

Not sure if all my “pins” have worked – would like to see some sort of message confirming that they have.  Instructions: do you need to separate names with commas; apostrophes; do you need to include complete email addresses? Maybe you could have “pop-ups” with instructions. There also needs to be a site map.

Finally, I’ve edited my profile “What I’m into” numerous times, and saved it, but it doesn’t ever show up.  Why is that, does it need to be approved first?

Why I will continue to go on Pinyadda, right now: I like the concept, that it is one stop shopping for many topics. Also, now that many of my classmates are on the site, I’d like to continue receiving their “recommends”.

Ultimately, I’d have to say A for concept, C+ for this user’s experience.

My profile link:  http://www.pinyadda.com/profile/2843/

Global Post

Visiting Global Post and hearing from Charles Sennott was interesting. Our class was able to hear how Global Post harnesses information from journalists globally, many who are contributors to the media outlet. They may have already been in the field, living and working and are well-informed about the countries they cover and the cultures.  This is significantly different from “parachuting” in and covering the latest crisis which arguably provides a limited, skewed vantage point.

Global Post Senior Editor Andy Meldrum wrote a wonderful article, Africa’s middle class: striving to develop a continent. The article, as Mr. Meldrum pointed out, focused on aspects of the continent often overlooked by journalists who drop in for the latest crisis and leave. The article focused on the rise of those who are doing well, particularly through high education levels and an increased ability to purchase material comforts.

My only quibble with this article probably has less to do with Mr. Meldrum than with an accepted practice of many western media outlets. The term “Africa” could be used in the same way as the term “North America” (incidentally, Mexicans considers Mexico to be part of North America).  Imagine eastern or other media sources calling Canada, the U.S. and Mexico North America and describing events and the people in those terms.  Crazy, isn’t it? Well that’s the same feeling Africans get when they hear western journalists opine on “Africa”. To be fair, although Africa is used as a catchall term, Mr. Meldrum does highlight individual countries and the specific ways in which the middle class matters.

It’s encouraging to be able to say one of the media outlets that is drilling deeper into global issues, more so than can be done by traditional newspapers that are now forced to close foreign bureaus, Global Post is right in our midst in Boston, itself a melting pot for people from all over the world who settle here.

California Pizza Kitchen

A visit to the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) will  introduce you to a well-lit pleasant atmosphere.  It’s the type of place where, unlike your typical pizza joint, you are seated by a host person. The restaurant displays yellow and black décor  to go along with the CPK yellow and black branding.  Plexiglass separates booths to provide a sense of privacy between dining parties.

California Pizza Kitchen does not sell slices; it’s more of a finer dining experience. The pizzas may be ordered in small (around 10 inches), or large or kiddie  (around 8 inches) pies.  The pizza crust is soft and the pizzas are not overwhelmed with cheese.  The cheese pizza is good, the pepperoni, delicious. There isn’t an undue amount of cheese, grease, nor is there on the pepperoni excessive oil.  There is a sweetness to the dough.  The restaurant also serves thin crust pizzas. 

The Barbeque Chicken Pizza is a popular item, and there are discounts for students, 20 percent off.  Each store has store-specific discounts.

There is a CPK restaurant in the downtown business district near Emerson College and Suffolk University Law School. One can easily get there by taking the MBTA’s Green Line and getting off at the Boylston Street T station.  This restaurant is nestled in the state’s transportation building complex among other restaurants as well as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, with one entrance in a courtyard off Boylston St. and the other on Stuart Street.

On a scale of 1 to 5, the cheese pizza gets a 4, the pepperoni gets a 4.5. This is as much for what it is not (greasy, too much cheese and dough) as much as for the taste.  Ultimately, the CPK earns a “recommend”.

California Pizza Kitchen

Address:                      

California Pizza Kitchen                                                                                                              137 Stuart Street                                                                                                                               Boston, MA 02116                                                                                                                           Phone:(617)720-9999                                                                                                               Web site: www.cpk.com

Hours:                                                                                                              Sunday – Tuesday 11:30 am – 9:00 pm                                                                           Wednesday & Thursday 11:30 am – 9:30 pm                                                                     Friday & Saturday 11:30 am – 10:30 pm

First Tweets

This past Saturday I posted my first series of tweets http://twitter.com/#!/peanutfiles from the 2010 Boston Vegetarian Society Food Festival. It felt very empowering-can’t explain why.  Although I didn’t think there’d be anything worth sharing…once I started I couldn’t shut up. 

More than anything it seems like a text version of an insta-diary.  Yet another addictive reason for being distracted from the event at hand…Yay! So far I have Aron Good and Mister Alfred following me! Let’s see if I can keep this up!

Also, a funny thing happened on my way from the BVSFF, I saw Boston City Councillor Chuck Turner holding a re-election rally the day after his corruption trial conviction. I spent some time listening to his speech with approximately 100 onlookers, supporters, and boston-are press, and did a tweet about the event. Talk about opportune timing.