Thursday, December 29, 2005

Indulging in an update

It's snowing in Burslem and the mother town is looking very pretty indeed. Here's me suffering from Mac block - yes, the keyboard is working (see conversation, below) but the Mac remains a distracting, though lovely, thing. I find it extremely difficult to actually think on the computer. I will recommend Freemind, a mapping tool that also looks very pretty, but beyond that I don't seem to get a lot done once I enter the wonderful world of Tiger.

A holiday update: Christmas was very relaxing, almost comotose. Sadly swiftly followed by myself and the poor scooter Warhorse* breaking down simulataneously. I'm still on the lemsips and Warhorse is still in the scooter doctors waiting for a replacement pump, uphold her in the light and hope with me that it won't cost an absolute fortune and wipe out my Christmas no-train travel savings. I had many lovely presents including a New Yorker Cats diary, which I've actually wanted for two years and which has a lovely birthday planner, meaning that I hope to remember people's birthdays** for the first time since 1992.

2005 is nearly over, a year in which I have travelled around 90,000 miles, give or take a trip to Central Africa. An adventurous year for most, myself included and an exciting one to come. Should I not post again for a few days, Happy New Year!!

* Named Warhorse after a slightly higher than average number of bruises, knocks and scratches. O come back my pretty silver beast & I will not treat you so badly again nor let anyone else knock you over with cars, other bikes or hands, o no
**If, you have a birthday, please remind me of it unless you are Jess or Chloe in which case you come under the 1992 rule.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wasting my life away with Apple-V

I promised 'many' people that I would update by blog on my lovely new iMac and so I will. Sadly on day 2 of the holidays, most of which I fully intended to waste on my new iFriend, the spacebar has broken. Having accepted that there are no free speech-to-text programmes (unless anyone can enlighten me?), typing has taken on a new zen-like quality as I am forced to copy-paste all my spaces. Yes, it is very tedious, but you get used to it.

Otherwise, iFriend and I are getting on famously. Trust nobody who says they wouldn't touch one (Riaz) for they are living their lives in a dark tunnel of PC madness. Tiger gives you Dashboard! Widgets! RSS feed screensavers! A squeezable mouse! Movies and tunes played from the other side of the room with a cool swoosh!!

That's just all I can be bothered to write.Pleasecananyonerecommendawayroundthebloodyspacebar?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Citizen journalism vs the professionals

It’s been a bad week in the office, one of those weeks where my nice readership turns into a schizophrenic monster and my building feels a bit like a Stalinist state. Anyway, the following was written in response to a particularly knotty story we have had to deal with, which again showed my basic unsuitability for ‘proper’ journalism and made me write ‘Never Trust A Quaker’ in large post-it notes above my desk. My piece won’t go in for a while now what with Yuletide stampeding into view, so I’ve adapted it:-

Citizen journalism has been one of the buzzwords of 2005. The Friend, of course, has been a journal for citizen journalists for the Quaker community since 1843. But where exactly should citizen journalists fit into wider news reporting?

A rising problem is that citizen journalism runs the many risks of cheapness. The rise of such projects as Wikinews, where anyone can write the news, leads many, myself included, into thinking that ‘everybody’ can be a journalist. The immediacy we are becoming used to means we might rush to print something, knowing that other ‘truths’ or sides will come in time. This works better on the internet than it does in print. When it comes to tricky stories the need for training, old fashioned investigation, allowing a story to brew quietly and giving all sides the chance to have their say, no matter how clear it might look to start with, is revealed. Wikinews has an excellent synthesis of news, but it is difficult to say when this large group of dedicated volunteers, with huge trust issues, will be able to do original reporting as well as it does rewrites.

Even in a relatively small community like the Society of Friends, truth is multilayered and complex and Friend readers have greater ownership of their magazine than most. They also expect greater professionalism than is necessarily fair. We are a small team reliant mainly on what comes to us from our readers and, moreover, we operate in the same climate of trust that the Society as a whole expects. As someone who just doesn’t have the cynicism to be a ‘proper’ reporter, I find the multitude of entirely conflicting stories very difficult to deal with.

Citizen journalism does not mean free journalism: it cannot replace all the skills that journalists have to gain over many years and neither should paid journalists be shuffled out by cost-cutting editors. However, it does have the power to shift our society in a vital way. The People are now be empowered to share what is going on around them, ask questions of authority, to draw attention to their concerns and be a greater part of the dialogue of society. It can only be a good thing if opinions can be read from a greater variety of sources than the suited individuals in their London towers.

Tragically in the industry as it is now, you can either be unpaid and write what you want, or you can be well paid and write bile. Hopefully the rise of citizen journalism will lead people to have greater expectations of professional journalists, raising standards across the board. Newspaper readerships will continue to drop until editors realise that their nonsense is very quickly exposed online - perhaps. And at The Friend, the readers who are our eyes and ears will report what is going on around them, leaving the journalists we do have to untangle the more difficult issues the Society faces.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Take off!

Wo! Just got my new iMac, happy happy days!

So expect me to be blogging and timewasting far more, possibly...