Don’t Blame the Messenger

It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. And a sad one for journalism.
Least of all, the restructuring and bankruptcy of the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the publications I–used to–write for.

All over the country, and the world, newspapers have been especially hard hit by the tough financial times. Sadly, it’s the general public paying the price.

With little to no money for writers, and a skeleton crew staff so sparse were it human it would be missing limbs, newspapers’ content has pretty much gone to hell.

One person who has noticed is none other than Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who apparently took the media to task on the floor of the House last week.

I get his point, I really do. When I earned my master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University, I certainly had no intention of doing anything else.

But alas, American businesses–no matter what the type–have to follow the bottom line. And when executives run publications like any other business, an editorial department full of staff probably seems like a big, useless expense, especially when it’s primarily advertising that pays the bills.

But this short-sightedness has resulted in the current media environment–crappy news coverage, little local input, and barely enough pages to cover the dog’s wee-wee pads.

You cut the writers you lose the readers. It’s as simple as that.

And Kennedy does have a point–it’s deplorable that there aren’t more reporters running around the capitol or embedded in the Middle East.

But when you’ve got no staff, and the bankruptcy judge isn’t about to okay sending writers all the way to Afghanistan or Iraq, lowest-common-denominator coverage is what you get.

Massa’s an easy story–he’s stateside and sensationalism sells ads.

And if Kennedy and his cohorts are that upset, why not toss some of that bailout money reporters’ way?

I will jump at any chance to write, and I’m sure my equally un- or under-employed peers will do the same. It’s just not possible when no one’s wiling to pay the uncomfortable–and unpopular in the board room–price.

But really, the answer is simple: Put your money where your mouth is and let the watchdogs get back to work.

 

 

The End Result

Another byline in print, another clip to add to the roster, and a lot more information learned.

Such is the end result of my information-gathering expedition on CIOs and CTOs, the dudes (and dudettes) who run the technology show at just about any company modern enough to own a computer.

(Not sure what company wouldn’t be digitally hooked in at this point, but I bet they exist … and they’re probably a lot less pressed for time!)

You can catch my newest article in Certification Magazine’s May issue.

And now, as always, back to work!

CIO & CTO a-go-go!

They say March comes in like a lion. Well, it brought work with it this year, a blessing in this economy.

One of the projects I’m working on is a magazine article about the challenges facing CIOs and CTOs in the current economic and business climate.

I’ve tapped some great minds who occupy these positions. But, as I look at the overall piece, I realize I need more.

More voices, more experiences, more examples of what those in charge of wrangling a company’s technology in today’s workplace are going through, and how that might be different from what they’ve experienced before.

The other thing I want to know is who, exactly, holds these positions. When it comes to the latest in technology, so much of what’s the latest and greatest is scattered in hard drives of young geeks across the country. But, CIOs and CTOs occupy the C-suite – positions traditionally held by those with the most tenure.

With the exception of the youth-led dot.coms, who holds these positions, and why?

If you or someone you know has CIO or CTO in his/her job title, I want to hear from you. I’m putting a call out to the network for anyone interested in becoming part of my article, or just giving me background info, to email me at esbrath@gmail.com. And soon – I’m wrapping the piece up in the next few days.

Thanks! Now, back to work…

Another Year Uploaded!

Pop the cork, it’s time to celebrate yet another year of crazy copy writing and editing for my favorite long-term client, Bodek and Rhodes.

For those of you not in the know, I left my 9-to-5 corporate gig in the spring of last year to go all freelance, all the time. B&R made it possible with its annual project, a behemoth catalog featuring the corporate, casual, performance and activewear the company sells and imprints for countless companies around the globe.

This year’s paper catalog clocked in at a whopping 417 pages, of which yours truly put her personal stamp on each and every number, character and space on each and every page! It’s a massive project, but the people at B&R are some of the most wonderful, talented and truly amazing people I’ve ever had the good fortune to work with.

And continue to work with. So, I’m about to take a long-needed break for my pixel-shaped eyes, but it won’t last long and I’ll be back to the ol’ freelance grind … in between preparations for the upcoming holidays, of course.

I may be a word nerd, but my first love is art, which I’ll be expressing in the form of hand-made gifts for all my loved ones.

My beloved puppy Bunny, in the first sweater I crocheted for her.

My beloved puppy Bunny, in the first sweater I crocheted for her.

Is this something any of you out there do as well? Especially in light of the current economic climate, is this the first year you’ll be exploring the adage, “It’s the thought that counts” and forgoing the mall, or is this something you do every year?

I’d love to hear from readers out there. In addition to holding a BFA, I’ve always dabbled in a variety of arts and crafts, and these days it’s primarily for my own enjoyment.

But lately, with sites like Etsy.comout there, I’ve been toying with the idea of going legit and selling my creations online. Has anyone had any success, or has maybe thought of taking your creations public, for fun and/or profit?

As someone who has always followed her passion while others followed the money, I’ve had some truly hard times. In the end, however, keeping true to what inspires me always works out. Many people I’ve known have had other reasons or responsibilities that kept them from following a so-called less traveled path. But as 401ks falter and jobs seem to simply disappear into thin air, has anyone taken the opportunity to say, “Well, now what have I got to lose? There’s nothing holding me back any longer: I’m going to do XXX, something I’ve always wanted to but never was able to.” ?

I’d sure love to know, because in all the gloom-and-doom tales pervading the news today, there must be at least a few silver linings. Or, if nothing else, a few holiday creations that would otherwise have been lost in the hustle and bustle of 9-to-5.

Roxborough, Pa., Revitalization, Part II

I wrote recently about my local ‘hood’s impending transformation from, well, a wee bit run down to the next go-to destination, thanks to an infusion of cash from various grants.

I wrote about Roxborough again, only this time I talked to a few business owners who envision the area as a green corridor, replete with sustainable businesses along the main drag. And who can be against that? Recycling, wind power, organic goods and local owners all making the area a better place for everyone. I, for one, would love such a place.Hell, I lived in San Francisco for five years. It would be like East Coast nirvana… well, sort of!Anyway, check it out, and keep posted for more stories from yours truly.

And, if anyone has any ideas for a story you think I might want to be looking into, I’m always open to ideas. It’s how I make my living. Throw it my way at esbrath@gmail.com.

Roxborough, Pa., Revitalization, Part I

They always tell you to write what you know…

So what better place to start than in my own backyard? A few weeks back I was trolling craigslist, checking out the community boards for yoga studios. I’ve taken on the form of human Jell-O in the last year, thanks to a crazy work schedule, some surgery and the resulting hiatus from roller derby.

So I figured I’d better get moving and, considering how hectic my schedule is, I figured getting all Zen-pretzel-like a few times a week would do me a world of good. I found what I was looking for: a new yoga studio opening right in my neighborhood! I wandered over there, chatted with the owner and started  looking through the information pamphlets and sheets she’d given me. And one jumped out at me.Apparently she and a group of other like minded individuals were attempting to get more “green” businesses to move to the area.Now, I should begin by stating that the main drag ’round these parts has seen better days. While it’s nowhere near as trash-strewn and dilapidated as my old stomping grounds in West Philly, it’s also not the kind of place that screams, “Stop! Hang out here!”

It’s not crime: there’s very little of it here. And it’s not all that bad. It’s just not as good as some other places that have, for example, a place to buy locally-grown organic food, books and magazines, or clothes and shoes. 

After a bit more talking, I discovered there’s a contingent of people who want to make it that kind of neighborhood. Cool!

Needless to say, the journalist in me took over, pitched the piece, and the first results can be found online.  

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Okay, not really. In fact, it’s snowing outside, which I have to admit I’ve been looking forward to.

I know I’ll be verbally bludgeoned for saying such a thing here in the land of trash trucks as snowplows, but I’ve missed the winter white. It’s true! Granted, years of hoofing it through knee-deep expanses of the stuff, or straining my eyes driving through flakes that begin to resemble warp speed, should’ve left me wanting no more.

But I must be a glutton for punishment. And should we get some real accumulation, I’ll be out there in my mittens, taking a break from the hectic pace I’ve been keeping.

I’m absolutely thrilled that I’ve been working my tail off, but the breakneck speed I’ve been going at for the last few months has left me aching for a vacation.

That won’t be happening anytime soon, however. In addition to a slew of articles in the works, I’m up for a national gig authoring a food website. I’m gunna’ keep it mum for now – it’s me and four other kitchen geeks – but should it land in my lap, I’ll be sure to let y’all in on it.

Until then, enjoy winter, stay warm, and before you know it, we’ll have the heat to whinge about! J