Category Archives: writing

Is journalism boot camp worth $500?

From mediabistro:

Not included in the cost: the price of eternal rejection

sorry but if you have $500 to spend, you are way ahead of the game already:

In this changing media climate, it’s more important than ever to stand out as a top writer. This class will give you the edge to land more assignments.

Each week, you’ll push yourself to research, write, and pitch a new piece. Classes will begin with your instructor’s lectures, but will primarily be devoted to workshopping student writing.

Assignments include a service/how-to piece, an arts and culture review, a profile, a metro section piece, an editorial, a business/news article, a personal essay, and at least two pitch letters.

In this class, you will learn:

  • How to write a pitch an editor can’t turn down [uh-huh-Ed.]
  • Which print and online publications are most freelancer friendly
  • How to work with editors so they’ll want to work with you

By the end of class, you will have:
A complete portfolio of 7 publishable articles that will impress any editor, the ability to work under tight deadlines, and the know-how to create the career you want.

What say you? Is this kind of information worth half a grand? Is it possible to teach? For the record, other things you can get for less than $500: a stint at Ladies’ Rock Camp, an iPad to read Rupert’s new paper, approx. 76 Chipotle burritos, the food my own journalism education was entirely fueled by in college.

Greetings from Laptopistan

Every now and then a topic comes along that you’re just helpless but to weblog about. Particularly, in this case, as I was sitting warming myself at The Gate over a free stout dark beer (Brokelyn Beer Book coupon represent!) reading this particular story in Sunday Times Metro section, when the kindly Southern woman I was sharing a table with interrupted me (apologetically) and asked me what my thoughts were on that article, since it had been getting so much buzz online all day long.

“Well,” I said, folding the paper over to remember my place, ” It’s kind of fascinating, because I guess I’m one of these people.”

The story was the section front Sunday lede: “Destination: LAPTOPISTAN,” ostensibly an effort by the Times’ David Sax to immerse himself gonzo style in what has become a much-written about culture of youngins who have colonized coffee shops across Brooklyn, New York and America, hogging power outlets, sucking up broadband and nursing a single cup of coffee all for the sake of (as the trope goes) checking Facebook endlessly and Gchatting how the daylong outage of Tumblr stunted their output for the day without the ability to check the latest Bread Person.  It’s even led to the coining of a particular repellent term —”coffice” — it hurts just to type it — to describe the establishments that are part coffee shop, part shared work space.  Continue reading

Too legit to quit? Bloggers pushing for mainstream respect

(WARNING: extreme inside-baseball logistical blog talk ahead) If there’s anything that’s a sign of our times in the shifting journalism landscape, it’s the increasing amount of indignation (and sense of right) bloggers have been expressing at being uncredited when they feel credit is due. Is this a sign that what was once-considered a parasitic medium has now reached a level of legitimacy that it is now suffering from parasites of its own? Yes, according to this inside-baseball but illuminating spat on Brownstoner over what Mr. B said was an uncredited scoop on the Whole Foods Brooklyn news:


quotation-icon.jpgSo you fancy yourself a member of the media now? That’s a laugh. Sit around copying and pasting links all day from actual newspapers and you feel you deserve to be included amongst reputable publications that actually put in work and report the news? Your site offers absolutely nothing of value in terms of news and only exists to help your boyhood UES Manhattan pals sell overpriced real estate.

Go to school, work hard, and get a real job if it’s respect and recognition you crave. Or at least hire writers who know how to formulate sentences. Posting links to other people’s work does not make you part of the media. You write a blog and you run a dirty flea market. You’re no different than the other 100,000 yuppies who’ve moved to Brooklyn in the past decade. You’re quite far from being part of the media elite in this town.

Keep up the good work.

— Posted by EnglishKills in Here’s the New Whole Foods Rendering

The original Brownstoner post that caused the spat:

After we broke the news yesterday of Whole Foods’ decision to go ahead with plans to build on a contaminated lot in Gowanus, Crain’s followed up half an hour later with a story of its own. And while neglecting to give our post a hat-tip, the business paper did come up with some interesting original content: This rendering. Neato.

Interesting to note: EnglishKills appears to be a regular and interactive commentator on the Brownstoner site for the past two years, so this comment seems out of the blue (also: the BK Flea is probably the cleanest flea market I’ve ever seen, but that’s another topic).

The comment created an interesting back and forth among commentators. It’s most likely Crain’s had a story about Whole Foods in its pocket well before the Brownstoner post (it has been big news and followed closely around Brooklyn for years now). But it’s also likely a Crain’s staffer did see the Brownstoner post first: the site (and its reporting) has become an indispensable resource for real estate news. Even so, I imagine Mr. B had half his tongue in his check when typing that post as a snarky swipe on the still-trenchant resistance of traditional media to site new media as the source of a news tip.  Continue reading

The kerfuffle over Google Scribing with dictatoring Thor

I am going to attempt to write minorities this entire post using Google scribes and Pharisees.

How far we've come

Is there anything Google can’t do? I wonder what kind of malevolence and horror entertainment genres including poetry they’ll come up with next day delivery. I wonder sometimes that google is too smart to believe in their own right and do not want to be related directly to their Inboxes and Other Folders
Of course you could just ignore the sellers with unrealistic expectations of auto complete feature but what fun is that? Hitting enter or choosing criteria a number that pops up is kind of like Mad Libs worksheets and activities for adults. If you just picked one number and stuck with it forever you could get a crazy thing hilarious episodes of text than you had originally planned to write about. So now I’ll choose IngentaConnect Table Of Contents the number six position from here to see what happens. But six is sometimes just small or too large words of use here that I’m not sure Google knows what to say when I’m trying the Scribe functionality of this computer to write a blog post or something to that effect on my writing blog. What I’m trying to write about is something having to do with how smart he or she is when he or she means google page thing robots, or webbots. Continue reading

Bennies go home, hipsters go to bed

The New York Times over the past two weeks blew up the spot of two linguistic terms many of us in the two-state area hold in various levels of esteem. The two discussions of the words are related, as one reflects a pointed and targeted slight at a specific group, and one has been stretched like an rubber band around a stack of newspapers and no longer has any shape or functionality.

1) Hipster. In a much twote-about internal discussion, the Grey Lady noted that the term has been beaten to an unironic pulp by the paper of record, where it appeared 250 times in the past year. Quoth the standards editor:

In any case, hipster’s second life as hip slang seems to have lost its freshness. And with so many appearances, I’m not sure how precise a meaning it conveys. It may still be useful occasionally, but let’s look for alternatives and try to give it some rest.

You hear that hipsters? Your freshness is gone!

2) Benny. Long a somewhat secret code among locals, the rise of the latest MTV pseudo reality Seaside-Heights-based crap storm (and there have been several already) has taken the term into the mainstream. Long held as a particularly biting derogatory term for a certain brand of petulant North Jersey/New York tourist, “benny” is about as violent a verbal slam you can levy on a passerby on the boardwalk (even the term “Jersey Shore” triggers shockwaves of naseau among the folks from the beach areas, so much so that my friend Kenny, upon hearing it uttered by a should-know-better local, would routinely correct said person, that only stupid bennies called it “the shore” and that they would have to eat by themselves at this mall Burger King to think about what they’ve done for awhile. That was 1996, btw). Our friend Jen’s brother ran a rather successful pre-internet viral campaign around a site called Go Home Bennies (kindred sites still exist). Continue reading

Inverted Soapbox’s terribly awkward first reading ever


issue 1

So I contributed to a zine. Yes it’s 1995. Perhaps you had been wondering this whole time why I wear this flannel so much.

It’s called The Teckas, There’s a reading tomorrow night at the zine’s eponymous (backwards) bar, The Sackett, a cozy friendly little pub in a hidden corner of Park Slope. Also, I get to read something, which is the first time ever I’ve been asked to do that since like elementary school. The theme is unclaimed space, and I wrote about witnessing the fledgling attempts to claim the barren space of the Hilton Head live music scene as new venues opened a few years back, before it all went tits up. I know! Your excitement is crescendoing! It’s probably only matched by my terrible self-consciousness about writing in all forms!

Here’s the deets, via Brokelyn

(5/19) Hey, remember zines? They were those awesome tactile little portable blogs you carried around before your first AOL account, with all the handmade charm of cut-and-paste formatting in the pre-Wordpress era. They were a cultural barometer of a neighborhood, record shop or book store. And they could be again. Our good friends at The Sackett are paying homage to the glory days of zines with their own publication, The Tekcas. If you’re like us, and still have that soft-spot for the printed word, you won’t want to miss Thursday’s launch party at the cozy Park Slope bar.

The bar’s owners, Michael and Ann, are releasing The Tekcas (Sackett backwards) with a 9 p.m. reading. Issue 1 of the bi-annual zine features stories and artwork by customers (including yours truly) on the theme of unclaimed space. The theme was inspired by the empty, unused lot across the street from the bar that, although barren, is still protected by a security fence. Want to hear rambled tales of heartbreak and horror from the unclaimed music scene of coastal South Carolina, accompanied by food and drink specials?? If so, you know where to be Thursday (661 Sackett St., between Fourth and Fifth Aves.)

Fine, I guess I am a Blogger, and other thoughts on the BK Blogs meetup

Brokelyn's Lauren Cannon gets blogged on at The Bell House (photo by jillysp)

New Yorkers, I have come to learn, never really need an overarching excuse to get together, tip a few drinks and be social, whether this be for business negotiations, quiet commiseration or just drunkenly arguing over the added societal value of increased usage of portmanteau (or increausortmanteau).

Yet still, I am, by nature, highly skeptical of organized media events — press briefings, journalism conferences, awards ceremonies, any sort of general charlie foxtrot breaking news situation, and the like.  All these have done little in the past to dissuade the adage of “hell is other journalists,” whether it be from being pestered for breaking news updates from TV reporters too lazy to do their own reporting or trying to get a question in edgewise to Seann William Scott during a roudtable interview when a woman kept pestering his time with non Bulletproof-Monk-related questions related to the anti-drug campaign.

So it is with this trepidation that I went into the BKBlogs event at Bell House last Wednesday night, knowing full well that any event that involved willfully immersing oneself in a sea of bloggerers and twitterers was a recipe for a hot mess of self-promotion stew.

But Brooklyn, as ever, is full of pleasant surprises. Brokelyn was asked to help host this event with Fucked in Park Slope and Brooklyn Based, with no other intended purpose than to get together at a cool bar and network the shit out of each other and see what the faces of those pajama-clad carpal tunnel-rocked wretches of the Brooklyn bloggerati look like.

People responded well to the event, and a few hundred filled the front lounge of the Bell House, far outcrowding the pink-haired, wallet chained, fedora-adorned Cherry Poppin’ Daddies fans (concurrent concert in the back room. And hey, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies are still around! Zoot!). Continue reading