Wick Communications

Time to win a Wicky!

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm
This is not a Wicky Award. But it's cool, no?

This is not a Wicky Award. But it’s cool, no?

Ah, the birds are chirping, baseball’s all-star break is nearly upon us and the kids are … hey, where are the kids anyway? Haven’t seen them since school let out. That means it’s time once again to announce the coming of the Wick Editorial Awards.

This year, as last year, there are six categories – Community Pride, Enterprise, Breaking News, Feature or Sports, Editorial Comment and Online Reporting. I’ll spell out the criteria for each categories, the deadlines and so on in a separate email.

Today is about convincing you that it’s worth your while.

Last year, about three in four Wick newspapers sent entries. That’s good, but I want you all to seek this recognition. The re-imagined Wickies are in their third year. It’s been an honor for me to serve as a judge and I’ve been blown away by your work. I’ve seen a real commitment to lead your community in your opinion pages. I’ve seen enterprise entries that took weeks to report and write and brought unique stories to readers that are surely famished for them.

But this isn’t about treating me. This is about recognition for your work. Again this year we plan to show off the winners in a special edition of The Eagle. It will be distributed to all of your peers in the company and rest assured the company brass is paying attention. …

Happy Watergate Day

In journalism on June 18, 2015 at 1:14 pm


Watergate changed my life. That is true despite the fact that I was only 11 when the break-in occurred on June 17, 1972, 43 years ago this week. it is true even though I lived a continent away when Richard Milhous Nixon resigned from office, stepped up to that Marine helicopter, flashed a weird peace sign and choppered off into the sunset.

Actually, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Ben Bradlee changed my life. It wasn’t the first time investigative journalism had uncovered illegal behavior in government, but it happened at just the right time in the course of human events to drive thousands of kids like me into a profession that seemed if not saintly at least on the right side of history. Sometimes that’s enough.

Sadly, on this anniversary of the Watergate burglary that kind of journalistic will is in short supply. At the risk of sounding a bit hyperbolic, I think that our business and our nation are in grave danger as a result.

Getting our mojo back will take many things but none more important than swagger.

To this day, reading the very first story of the break-in, under the byline of Woodward and Bernstein, leaves me breathless. It’s a barking dog of a story. It’s relentless in the telling of facts that some might consider irrelevant. Together, the facts signal that these two guys on the Metro desk were not going away. Consider that this was before information was available with a keystroke. Every bit of this story was gathered by hand, by getting out of the office and finding sources. These were two young reporters who didn’t really know anyone in political circles. The hard work evident in these few graphs is typical of the dogged pursuit that came to define a generation of American journalists: …

Mining government waste

In Writing techniques on June 18, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold

This one comes with a shout-out to former Half Moon Bay Review intern and current badass investigative reporter Amy Julia Harris of the Center for Investigative Reporting. She turned me on to this guy named David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post. Holy moly is he good.

Amy posted the link to this 2-year-old story on Facebook and it’s a marvel, all about how Congress continues to pay “temporary” subsidies for things like small farms and small airports, often for decades after they were supposed to end. For instance, this farm aid program that was supposed to end in 2003? It’s now paid out $46 billion – with a “B” – to people who include absentee landowners who have never farmed a day in their lives.

It’s just the sort of story that Fahrenthold craves. Government largess run amok in ways real people just can’t understand. He’s great because he tells great stories in just the right way.

Amy points out that most investigative journalism is grave, somber and sort of like eating vegetables. But it doesn’t have to be.

I can virtually guarantee that these kinds of stories are waiting to be plucked in your neighborhood. Some ideas: …


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