Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sean Holton's Half-Assed Guide to Journalism Mediocrity

Sean Holton
My former Orlando Sentinel colleague, Sean Holton, died today after battling brain cancer bravely and with an intact sense of humor. Sipping Jameson's probably helped too. Sean was a great editor, funny guy and very nice man, among many other things. He kept a funny and honest blog while he was sick and you can read it here.

Here is Sean's obituary from his friend Craig. Here is Jeff Kunerth's detailed and awesome obituary in the Orlando Sentinel. (There is also a Guestbook to sign).

In 2003, he created his "Half-Assed Guide to Mediocrity" and passed out copies to his fellow reporters and editors at the Sentinel. Thanks to Lisa Cianci and Mark Schlueb at the Orlando Sentinel for passing this along. It is good advice for my fellow journalists and my journalism students.

Your goal for today is to neither be half-assed nor mediocre. Oh and maybe to sip some Jameson's. Do it in memory of my friend, Sean.

(Version 3.0: Release date, Jan. 6, 2003)
40 ways to promote mediocrity
1. Don’t care.
2. Don’t try.
3. Be negative.
4. Tolerate mediocrity in others.
5. Rationalize mediocrity in yourself and others.
6. Hide out in your job.
7. Build up a small piece of your job into more than it is, and hide behind that.
8. Be blithe about your mistakes.
9. Hide your mistakes.
10. Make people afraid to admit and correct their mistakes.
11. Don’t connect the quality of everything you do to the quality of the overall paper.
12. Don’t connect the quality of your colleagues’ work to your professional self-interest.
13. Don’t respect deadlines.
14. Don’t learn and respect the newsroom process all the way through the copy desk.
15. Don’t make that next phone call.
16. Don’t read that story printout one last time to make sure everything is exactly right.
17. Believe “good enough” is actually good enough.
18. Dwell on the shit that flows downhill, and don’t set the fires that will burn uphill.
19. Kid yourself that mediocrity deserves an “achieves standards” review.
20. Take no responsibility for your decisions, especially the stupid ones.
21. Cultivate your own martyrdom and encourage martyrdom in others.
22. Be a duplicitous backstabber.
23. Relish the blame game.
24. Be afraid to speak your mind.
25. Be afraid to think big.
26. Be afraid to be an aggressive editor.
27. Be afraid to kick back a story when it’s not good enough.
28. Be afraid to be edited aggressively.
29. Throw a snit when a story is kicked back to you.
30. Hoard power.
31. Confuse power with leadership.
32. Manage through fear and control.
33. Kiss up to your bosses and kick down at your subordinates.
34. Treat full-grown adults like children just because they happen to work for you.
35. Forget about all the people around you who are working their asses off.
36. Don’t treat colleagues with professionalism and respect.
37. Don’t get reviews finished on time.
38. Make everything personal.
39. Take everything personally.
40. Bitch about the law of gravity.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Want a Journalism Internship

I want a Journalism Internship
by: RandomReality
Here is a funny video I made about my sometimes-silly college journalism students.

The video has been viewed nearly 3,000 times (!!!). It was re-tweeted a bunch of times and the awesome Jim Romenesko did an interview with me for his column.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Ash Wednesday Burger Protest

I wrote this in 2011 and it still applies in 2012. This morning, I ate turkey sausage.
     KQ       2/22/12

I ate meat yesterday. I was raised Catholic and knew it was Ash Wednesday but I willingly and defiantly pulled up to the Wendy's drive-thru and ordered a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger. It was delicious and according to the Church, it was a sin.

I knew that and didn't care. Here was my reasoning: If dozens of priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese can't keep their hands off the private parts of children and teens, and Church leaders protect priests over children, then I am going to eat a damn hamburger.

There I said a curse. Another sin. You know what else is a sin? Priests in a position of power taking sexual advantage of children. It is wrong and it is evil. I know that. The priests know that. Millions of Catholic all over the world know that.

The Archdiocese SHOULD know that. But if they do, why did it take so long for them to respond to these allegations? Why did it take years of abuse claims, investigations and two scathing Grand Jury reports before 21 additional priests were removed from public service this week.

On the TV news last night, I heard a nun say the discipline of the 21 priests "was a persecution of priests." HA! Persecution is what thousands of abused children went through for years, when no one heard their cries and no one stopped the abuse.

I realize my hamburger protest is small and silly. I definitely do NOT think I am going to hell for eating meat. But it is perhaps the first time in my life that I have willingly broken Lenten tradition, even if I haven't been devout in years. But it is my small protest, my personal rebellion against a screwed up Philadelphia patriarchy.

I was raised Catholic in Northeast Philadelphia and attended 16 years of Catholic school. Aside from the folksy "guitar Masses" in the 1970s, I never really experienced a deep sense of love or peace in my parish church or school. Instead, the priests (with the exception of one, who later left the Church) were stern and severe. Confession was intimidating. There were no Saturday night Masses in Philadelphia because it was "wrong." We didn't know why. Masturbation was wrong. Premarital sex was wrong. Heck, mostly everything was wrong.

In religion class, we learned that Hell was painful because we would be on fire for eternity. We were taught that our souls were like white paper dolls and when we sinned, God took a hole punch and left a black mark. Really, teachers? REALLY? Yes.

In my parish grade school, the slow learners were placed in "F" level - "F" for failure. Looking back, I am sure most of those students probably had learning disabilities. But I don't think they were ever helped.

But I kept my faith for two reasons. For one, the two priests in my family - my uncle, Father Jack Quigley of Kansas was a good and kind man. So is my cousin, Father Leon Hutton of California. My high school was St. Basil Academy of Fox Chase, Pa. run by an order of Ukrainian nuns who love their students with all their hearts and each day demonstrate the goodness of Jesus.

I went to Villanova University on as scholarship (not my first choice - I wanted to go to secular Swarthmore). At Villanova, I found a progressive and caring community where Mass was one of the highlights of the week and many students worked for peace and justice. But Villanova is run by Augustinian brother, not the Archdiocese and I bet that made all the difference.

During my years living as a reporter across the country, I found welcoming parishes such as St. Patrick's in Fayetteville, N.C. and St. Juliana's in West Palm Beach, Fl.

Now I live in South Jersey, where I went to a parish church that felt like home. Well, it did until the Bishop of Camden closed my parish. Now I struggle to reconcile my deep doubts about the Catholic Church with how I want to raise my son. I consider becoming an Episcopalian, where women can be priests and priests can marry. Or a Unitarian, since they seem to welcome everyone and judge no one.
How am I supposed to tell my young son that he needs to follow Church law when many of its priests - God's Representatives on Earth - can't keep their hands to themselves? And Church leaders cover it up.

I don't know the answer. But I do know I am eating meat all throughout Lent.