Wick Communications

What to call us geezers

In Writing on July 18, 2014 at 8:16 am

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Hey, how do you like getting older? I know I am enjoying my creaking knees and poor memory. And don’t we look great with our new crow’s feet and wrinkly everything?

What was I saying?

Oh, right. Aging isn’t always so great. Perhaps that is why so many of us wince when we’re called “senior citizens” or “elderly.” Last week, NPR ran the results of a small unscientific poll of its listeners to see how older people wish to be referred. Turns out we really don’t like being referred to that way at all. But “older people” and “senior” (without “citizen,” thank you very much) seemed to be the least objectionable.

For it’s part, the AP Stylebook says to use “elderly” and “senior citizen” sparingly. “Do not refer to a person as elderly unless it is clearly relevant to the story. It is appropriate in generic phrases that do not refer to specific individuals (such as “concern for the elderly.”)

On balance, I think I like “senior,” which to me refers to someone 65 and above. It seems to me “older people” is a relative term. I was taught that “elderly” referred to someone 80 and above, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. …

Droning on about drones

In Innovation on July 18, 2014 at 8:10 am
The scene high above the Half Moon Bay Fourth of July parade. Courtesy Steve Maller

The scene high above the Half Moon Bay Fourth of July parade. Courtesy Steve Maller

So it took exactly two years, which is longer than I would have guessed, but I turn out to be prescient on the issue of drones.

On July 5, 2012, I penned a Kicker post suggesting drones with cameras would soon be buzzing our communities. “Imagine strapping a camera to one of these things and swooping over the downtown parade …,” your idiot savant wrote.

Well, on July 4, 2014, a nice guy named Steve Maller did just that over the Half Moon Bay Fourth of July parade. Which means the future is here.

Authorities are still exploring regulations. From my reading of recent legal wrangling, business uses of drones are largely banned, but hobbyists can use them provided they keep the things in sight and under 400 feet. All of this is evolving rapidly and even people who should know the rules don’t. Just this week, a New York congressman who sits on the committee overseeing the Federal Aviation Administration, appears to have violated FAA rules by employing a drone to shoot his own wedding. And an Indiana police force suspended use of its drone after a local TV report questioned whether it was FAA-compliant. …

Good ideas for good stories

In journalism on July 18, 2014 at 8:03 am

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Williston Herald News Editor Jerry Burnes had a good question for me this week: How do you help editors and reporters develop good story ideas?

On the surface, this is softball. Reporters come up with stories from their beats, right? You go to the city council meeting and you write down what sounds important. You hear a bunch of bleeping on the scanner and run out to the fire. You look at the game schedule and cover that soccer match.

Well, true. But we all know that is the low-hanging fruit, the scheduled coverage. Much of that will be blurted out over social media before your newspaper hits the street (or before you even get back to the office). Jerry was really asking how to impart the values that lead reporters to less obvious, more important stories.

Sorry to say, I had a sorry answer for him. The truth is that story selection and knowing a meaty story when one crosses your plate is more art than craft. I don’t have a recipe for news judgment. …

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