Monday, December 15, 2008

Alums on camera

Magazine alums are comfortable in video format. Wendy Naugle (’96) was on the Today show December 15, comfortably telling Al Roker how to make smart choices with Christmas eating. Wendy was amazing, of course. Even made Al laugh. And gave great information.

Meanwhile, Abbey Klaasen (’02) introduces the “3-Minute Ad Age,” a daily video news show on Abbey is the cool, crisp, lively anchor of the program. My favorite was the December 5 segment with NBC’s Brian Williams who spoofs new media hype.

Nice work, Wendy and Abbey.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time's Top Ten Magazine Covers of 2008

In what so far appears to be a successful attempt to appeal to every magazine junkie in the country, Time has selected the top ten magazine covers of 2008.  

Writer Arthur Hochstein offers a background and an interpretive narrative on each selection.  Cover number one was The New Yorker, November 17, 2008.   Number four is Entertainment Weekly's delightful parody of The New Yorker's controversial Barry Blitt cover showing the Obama fist bump.   Number seven is Interview's September 2008, a glittery pop-art illustration of Kate Moss.

We have the EW and Interview covers in the Center's current display in Meredith 111. 


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Waste trees; save your career

A recent grad shared the following experience and thought the rest of you might benefit from her perspective:

As a research editor, I fact-check articles, making sure everything is fair and accurate. I've learned that the best way to communicate changes or concerns to editors is usually through e-mail. Why? Because then there's a written record that I've done my job. If I tell an editor something really important over the phone, but it doesn't get changed for whatever reason, there's no record of that phone call. If there's any issues, I'm left stammering to my boss, "I swear I told the editor about this. Really." I've become a little insane about my e-mail habits: I save or "bcc" myself on almost everything now. Furthermore, I print out e-mails that are especially important and put them in my file for whatever story I'm working on.

This all sounds super paranoid, right? But honestly, if something goes wrong and an editor doesn't want to look bad, guess who's a really easy scapegoat? The young, fresh-out-of-college fact-checker. It sucks, but it happens.

And it almost happened to me earlier this week. Two editors called me down to talk about a story. I grabbed that story folder and headed into the office, and they started being all like, "Why didn't you tell us about XYZ earlier? Why is this just coming up now?" And I very calmly said, "I sent you an e-mail about that a week and a half ago." Blank stares. So I opened my story folder, and—this was so awesome—a copy of that e-mail just happened to be the very first thing in the folder. I whipped it out, set it in front of them, and then they were the ones left stammering. Bam! Awesomeness. I tried really hard not to gloat as one of them was muttering, "Oh, yeah, um, I must not have read this carefully at the time." Later the other one sent me an e-mail to apologize.

Would it have been as effective if I didn't have a hard copy of that e-mail? No. So I'll keeping using up paper and killing trees as long as that habit keeps saving my ass in ridiculous situations like the one above. And this comes in handy in other situations besides fact-checking. If you're writing an article or helping to set up a photo shoot, it's nice to have the instructions and later communications in writing, just in case there's any confusion later on. Sometimes after a meeting or lengthy phone call, I'll type up the summary and e-mail it to the editor with a note like: "Just want to make sure we're on the same page here and I'm understanding everything."

The only exception to my e-mail rule is if the information is legally sensitive. If I write something in an e-mail that says, "I don't think we should print this because it could be libelous for x, y, z reasons," that e-mail could be used against me and my company in court if we got sued for that story. Even if I didn't save or print it and everyone I sent it to deleted it right away, it lives on in the company's server. E-mails can never be completely destroyed, so I always have a verbal conversation with editors about legally sensitive matters.

Fun stuff, right? But you'll be surprised by how professional little things like this can make you look.