Monday, October 26, 2009

To whom it may concern:

Dear major national newspaper/public broadcaster/Starbucks:

I believe I am an excellent candidate for a summer position as a reporter/chase producer/barista.

I have been a fan of your newspaper/radio or television network/coffee’s crack-like effects for as long as I can remember. My intimate familiarity with your editorial approach/network’s tone/caffeine-induced gut rot will allow me to hit the ground running.

My biggest strength is my multimedia and web proficiency/creative story ideas/ability to look at your coffee cup inspirational messages all day without vomiting. In my previous work experience, I have written stories on a wide variety of topics/worked on tight deadlines/worn a lot of hair nets successfully.

Working with your newspaper/radio or television show/franchise would be an important stepping stone on the path to my career goals as a James Bond-like international correspondent/Rachel Maddow/broke 20-something who lives with her parents.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Claire

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Subject verb object

Know what makes me laugh?

All my friends in journalism school write their emails in news style now.

One sentence per paragraph.

Sometimes two. But not very often.

All my profs do it too.

I have an academic reading review due Tuesday. I don't remember how to write any other way.

I find myself thinking "What's my lead going to be?" for 15-page research papers and cover letters.

It's a sickness.

Help.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Downtown Ottawa destroyed in birthday rampage

A 30-storey Japanese monster known only as Megababe destroyed most of downtown Ottawa in a Sunday night rampage.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life,” said Pam, a 78-year-old Ottawa resident who declined to give her last name.

“I was returning from Maxwell’s, I mean Diver’s house, I mean my bridge club meeting at around 2 a.m. when I saw Megababe stumble right into the walkway connecting the Rideau Centre to The Bay.”

Only a charred and flattened path from Kent and Lisgar to the Byward Market remains. All residents in the area have been evacuated until further notice.

Employees of a number of nearby LCBOs and Beer Stores are in treatment for shock after Megababe swiped off the roofs of their buildings and lumbered off with their supplies of gin and Max Ice. Police estimate 80 people were injured in a 157-car pile up when the creature stopped to drink her stash in the middle of the intersection of Rideau and Sussex.

Miraculously, no fatalities have been recorded.

Police air-lifted the giant sleeping creature into custody at around 5 a.m. Part of the Peace Tower, which she was spooning at the time, was uprooted in the process.

The incident has sparked a viral “Megababe for P.M.” movement on the Internet. Liberal insiders say she may be nominated for the party leadership as a result of her newfound popularity.

“A 24-year-old, 30-storey tall, binge drinking Japanese monster with purple leggings and a duff puff would be just the breath of fresh air this party needs to attract women and youth back to the Liberal party,” said the unnamed senior source.

The behemoth’s roar of “BIRTHDAY” throughout the night is the only clue officials have as to why Megababe chose this time and place to strike. Some residents claimed to have seen her jump into the Rideau Canal last year, leaving them to wonder whether she would soon return.

“I shrugged that off as just another Ottawa urban legend,” said one Ottawa police officer. “I didn’t think anyone would be crazy enough to jump into that cesspool, even a drunk prehistoric harbinger of doom.”

“Next time we’ll take those reports more seriously.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blind luck

Know what's weird? How no one in Carleton journalism ever seems to hand in something that's complete and total crap.

I'm not talking about things that aren't very good. That business article I wrote for Reporting Methods, where I used Sonya's accountant cousin as my financial expert and pulled a quote from an interview with a Rogers media relation person who told me I had no story, comes to mind.

I'm talking about things that are the product of so many things falling through at the last minute you can't pull yourself out of the hole you've dug. Articles with no sources, for example, or quotes from totally irrelevant people. TV stories with three minutes of dead gasping fish rolling behind the voice over (OK, that was one time). Radio shows with dead air filled by the host tap dancing.

It would be nice to think this is because we're all so amazingly talented and professional we wouldn't let this happen. But part of it is definitely total, sheer, statistically mind-boggling luck. Someone always calls at the last possible second. Suddenly, you overhear a couple at the grocery store and discover they're exactly the source you're looking for. Crazy things like that.

One of the hardest things about journalism is a lot of it depends on other people. If no one calls you back or agrees to be interviewed, you're out of luck. But somehow, something always pulls through. Seriously. Always. Like I said, there's never been a complete, total unsalvagable disaster.

What are the odds? Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Discovered: Awful Library Books



OK, so I discovered Awful Library Books a long time ago, but their most recent post is so hilarious that I decided now is the time to enrich your life as well. It's a blog by two Michigan librarians. Other book titles include "Those Amazing Leeches," "A Passion for Donkeys," and "Jewish Chess Masters on Stamps."

It's comforting to know that anybody can be cool.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Warning: Not for the squeamish (but why are you squeamish?)



I'm starting to feel like I blog about Penelope Trunk all the time... this is the third post where I mention her (the other two being Discovered: Penelope Trunk and my last J-School TA blog post where I link to her time management article). But I have to say, this video solidified my fan-dom.

There's been quite a bit of controversy over a tweet Penelope Trunk sent recently: "I'm in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there's a f----ed-up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin."

I have to admit, when I read that, my initial reaction was shock. I clearly wasn't alone. She says 70 people un-followed her. OK, I thought to myself, I'm all for people getting used to and getting over "unprofessional" personal stuff floating around on the internet. But that has to be crossing some sort of line.

Then I read her blog post defending it, and watched that video where she totally takes the interviewer to task (in my opinion). She points out:
- A lot of women have a miscarriage at some point in their life. Miscarriages take weeks (I didn't know this). If they're working, women can't just take the whole time off. That means there are a lot of women having miscarriages at work. Why is no one talking about this?
- Almost all the reaction was about her talking about her miscarriage in such a public way. Only one person, apparently, commented on the fact she has to wait three weeks and drive to Chicago to get an abortion. Whether you agree with abortion or not, it's a right women have in Wisconsin, and that's a huge burden.
- To all the people who are shocked at what they see as her casual treatment of losing her pregnancy, she says: "A miscarriage is preferable to an abortion. Even the Pope would agree with that." Touche.

Are we really all so totally disgusted by women's bodily functions that we rush to shut up anyone who wants to talk about them? Apparently, the answer is yes. I've never had a miscarriage. But I can imagine that sitting at work or in class for three weeks while you go through one, knowing that everyone would think you're disgusting and unprofessional if you brought it up, would be a terribly lonely experience.

You convinced me, P-Trunk. Nice work.