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Archive for December 24th, 2006

E-mail professionalism when contacting sources

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

I came across an article, A Primer on Electronic Communication, at Inside Higher Ed that discusses basically the way you should approach professors when making first contact with them. From some stories I did this summer where I needed expert advice from academia, I don’t think I did too bad following the general guidelines. Also, I think these guidlines are worth remembering for anyone you contact:

  • Write a clear and descriptive subject line.
  • Address the person politely.
  • State your reason for contact.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Explain what you have already done.
  • Restate your question, elaborate if necessary.
  • Say thank you and sign off with a formal signature.
  • Read your letter.
  • Get in touch again in a week if you receive no response.
  • Think about the larger context.

Seems like a few universals for e-mail professionalism, especially when contacting potential sources.

Apparently, I was wrong

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

So, as some may recall, I previously posted about why nobody would buy an MXZ saw because nobody sits around thinking, “If only I could cut through that cinderblock.”

Well, apparently, I’m wrong.

I checked the stats on this site today and saw one of my refers was a Google search. The words entered? how to cut cinderblock. LOL.

Spit what?

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

What would you think if you were driving down the street and saw this guy hunched over a few inches off the ground, moving his head across the pavement while spewing water on the ground?

You’d probably think, “What the hell? This is why I live in the suburbs.”

Or, you could think, wow, it’s a cool new trend called “spit art.” Somehow, I don’t think it will catch on. But even so, you do have to admit, though gross, it is kind of impressive.

Vanishing Americana?

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

So, as I previously blogged about the NY Times ongoing series American Album, this MSNBC multimedia project (Vanishing Americana) is another reminder of the power journalists have to tell the untold or un-thought about stories. Seriously, when was the last time you considered the average age of barbers? (It’s 57.) And did you even know that milkmen still exist? (I didn’t.)

It’s something to think about. I like the idea behind this package/series in that MSNBC is taking a look at cultural icons everyone knows and many identify with and holding up a mirror to ask, well, whatever happened to?

It could be an interesting project for any newsroom. Either a quick and dirty 10-inch ditty on the topic/person or something more. (It seems MSNBC did both. Though, there’s no real explaination why.) Maybe a day-in-the-life-of for several different jobs or people or places? (Full disclosure: For feature writing a few summers back, I spent 12 hours riding around in 90+ degree weather on an ice cream truck. It sucked. But the story turned out to be pretty humorous and the reporting experience was something worth doing. Would I do it again? Probably, but I’d rather take on the day in the life of something entirely new.)