Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Monday Check-In

Hey Gang,

A busy weekend filled with exciting things such as yet another trip to the mechanic kept me away from my computer, so I wanted to steal a brief Monday moment to get you up to date on things in unionland... there's been plenty of things going on lately, so I'll just serve you up the highlights.

First off, regarding automatic dues deduction. It looks like the savings account I set up through Building Trades Federal Credit Union has begun its automatic deduction from my paycheck, so provided that the first dues withdrawal goes smoothly (which I expect it will), I'll get you all applications so you can set up the same thing. It seems to be the most hassle-free way to pay, so assuming all continues smoothly, hopefully we can all make the switch.

In the meantime, if you could follow the same old drill of making out your May checks for 2.25 times your hourly wage to CWA 9400 and sending them to: CWA local 9400, attn: Vicki Di Paolo, 7844 Rosecrans Ave., Paramount, Ca. 90723, that'd be great. Many thanks, as always.

Secondly, I've got a nice update from our former members Howard and Mariko Beck, who stopped by briefly last week when Howard came to town to cover the NBA playoffs. They brought with them their tiny little daughter, Talia Mirei Beck, who's a wide-eyed, beautiful child. Howard's loving the New York Times and thriving there; Mariko's focusing on Talia at the moment, but will no doubt be back in the journalism game in no time. It's always nice to see your friends and coworkers go on to bigger and better things, which they've certainly both done.

But speaking of good things, I was listening to a radio program the other day where these stuffy sounding NPR types were clearing their throats and wringing their hands about the future of journalism. "Is there going to be anything left?" they clucked. "Can it survive in today's bottom line corporate culture? How much worse can it get?"

Dude, get over it-- that's all I can say. We work for one of the most bottom line-oriented companies in the biz and we still put out some damn good work. Perhaps the days of two-year projects and $50,000 expense accounts are numbered, which don't get me wrong, is a terrible thing. But just because we don't have a company plane doesn't mean the business is dying.

If you want a good example of what we can do, given a little time and a little creativity, look at all the different ways people ran with the Valley at 60 project. I'm biased, of course, because I was one of the writers on it, but look at the talent that's just busting out of Kerry's story on palms, Brad's take on architecture, Rachel's examination on race, Lisa's business piece or David's photos. Everyone who had a hand in it, from the editors to the people who put it together, made it a true collaboration. And if you wanna see some real brilliance (and the future of this business), look at Armando and Jon's interactive graphics, which totally blew my mind.

That's good ol' fashioned community journalism, narrative writing, long-form storytelling, interactivity, creative design-- everything that makes this business relevent and interesting-- all in one package. Our challenge is to take that approach and that creativity and apply it to more stories and different projects.

It's not easy, we've rarely got the time or the resources to do really ambitious work. But we do have the talent and the imagination. Looking at the final product, I saw a lot of things that we need to work on and a lot of things that we did really well-- it made me feel good to play a role in something like this and made me itch to do more. And before the year's up, we're all supposed to get a chance to contribute to that project at the same time we're coming up with new ones. Whether you work in sports, features, news, biz, photo or anywhere else, we've all got a chance to play a role in the projects that make people want to read the Daily News.

So that's why I don't buy all this gum-flapping about the dying future of our industry. Yes, it's changing, yes, it's losing important resources and investments every time some corporate accountant takes their pen to a newsroom budget. But what makes this business worthwhile is the people and the collaborative process. We've got to work harder and more creatively these days, but when we do, we can really turn out some impressive material. As a union, we'll keep fighting our dual battles, ensuring the money's there to support that work and that the commitment to quality continues to promote such enterprise.

Alright, enough of my own gum-flapping for one evening. Thanks for your time, as always-- we've got to have both a strategy meeting and a happy hour sometime soon. I'll get the ball rolling on both and will check in with you soon. In the mean time, keep up the good work...



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