A Panel on Ethics for Columnists, Other Writers

Here are links, annotated, mentioned in my portion of a Panel on Ethics at the 39th annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, in Indianapolis.

Ben Pollock (left) and Steve Keys, executive director of Indiana's Hoosier State Press Association, discuss ethical issues for columnists and others Friday, June 26, 2015, at the 39th annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. It met at The Alexander in Indianapolis. Photo by Dan St. Yves.
Ben Pollock (left) and Steve Key, executive director of Indiana’s Hoosier State Press Association, discuss ethics June 26, 2015, in Indianapolis at the annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Photo by Dan St. Yves.

These were prepared with the assumption the room would have a projector etc. Wrong. I had a Plan B — always have a Plan B as well as a C — so the program went well. I did not have slides but websites to show. Links to them might be of interest to those attending and others.

The other panelist was Steve Key, executive director of Indiana’s Hoosier State Press Association. He is well-versed in all sorts of journalistic concerns — he’s an attorney and a former news reporter — and a clear and engaging speaker.

Here is my bio from the conference program: “Ben Pollock has had a 3 1/2-decade journalism career, including stints as columnist, editorial page editor, copy editor, metro editor, reporter and page designer, mainly in newspapers. As a freelancer, he has been a reporter and editor as well as a web designer and content manager. Ben was 2010-12 NSNC president and now serves as the society’s director of media. He was 2014-15 interim assistant director of the new University of Arkansas Center for Ethics in Journalism. He lives near the Fayetteville campus with his wife.”

OK, let’s watch a little TV

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Principles of Journalism Pay

I have a real full-time job, near ideal actually, its long title notwithstanding.

UA Lemke Department of Journalism door
Credit UATV, University of Arkansas Television

On June 12, I signed a formal offer to serve as 2014-15 Interim Assistant Director of the University of Arkansas Center for Ethics in Journalism and Instructor of Journalism.

It comprises the same responsibilities and term as assistant director, without the “interim,” for which I applied back in December.

Mainly, I am charged with managing the ethics center. Also, I am to redesign the center’s website then maintain it as well as oversee social media outreach. Last is teaching up to two classes for the Lemke Department of Journalism each semester. The nine-month contract is renewable.

This first term, though, runs 10 months, July 15 to May 15, 2015. So, not even a month left as a full-time freelance journalist and web content guy.

My “interim” status comes from how the inaugural director is an interim appointment for 2014-15.

The UA Center for Ethics in Journalism began only in fall 2013 with much-honored newspaper editor and professor Gene Foreman as its first Visiting Distinguished Professor and overseen by a Lemke faculty committee. The second visiting distinguished professor has been chosen but not announced.

For UA and its J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences to have created the center a year ago and now dedicating to it renovated office space and professional staff including a graduate assistant is an important endorsement. Journalism ethics centers are count-your-fingers rare, making UA’s a potentially strong voice for resilient and fair journalism in America.

Ben and Christy Pollock with Old Main of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, October 2013.
Ben and Christy Pollock with Old Main of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, October 2013.
Stephen Ironside photo.

Careering. Among others, I was laid off as a news copy editor / page designer some 22 months ago from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Labor Day weekend 2012, in a “Reduction in Force” of the Northwest Arkansas Edition. Freelance writing, editing and web work since have been eye-opening, more successful at it than expected but still it just made scratch.

I know I am writing drily. That is to contain the delirious excitement I’ve felt since being informally offered the position in late May.

While no confidentiality was asked of me back in May, I refused to jump and shout until I had a contract.

Continue in journalism. Dedication to journalism ethics. Website design and content. Optimize Facebook and Twitter. Close enough to bike, bus on bad days, drive in on busy ones. Teaching journalism. Indeed.

WordPress for Geniuses (in other fields)

Write what you know. What a load of rubbish. “Write what you don’t know” (Ken Kesey wrote that), that’s more like it, if you want to be good at it.

WordCamp Fayetteville 2012But when you teach, you do teach what you know. That’s the way it seemed when we were children.

Once one has spent years, days and ticking seconds in classrooms and lecture halls and auditoriums, not to mention tense dining tables and rowdy restaurant booths, it’s obvious even very good teachers teach what they know so far.

When you consider lecturers (and preachers and pundits), you see living wizards of Oz, at various points of expertise.

My moments at a blackboard, whiteboard or screen — or just a stand with my notes on it — prove that at best, I also teach what I know so far, and sometimes folks learn.

At 9:15 Saturday morning,  July 28, 2012, I will teach “Quick & Easy WordPress.com,” on the WordPress 101 Track at the 3rd annual WordCamp-Fayetteville.

UPDATE: The class has been presented, with people saying nice things about it. Lots of details, including Keynote/PowerPoint presentations, are at my WordCamp 101 page.

My presentation is described as:

The beginnings of a do-it-yourself, no-domain, free website. Templates, posts vs pages, and how to have a static home page, with the dynamic blog in a sidebar or not at all.”

The proposal the organizers accepted reads:

The session will cover the basics of using WordPress to create — for free — both blogs and conventional websites for personal and business projects. WordPress.com will be the basis of demonstrations to create a site then create individual pages and posts. WordPress.org details will be integrated into the presentation.

What do I “know so far”?

I am a WordPress enthusiast — paraphrasing my proposal — who’s found code projects as addictive as writing ones, just prefer the latter. I am Director of Online Media for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, run on the WordPress.org platform. I run the Ozark Poets & Writers Collective‘s site via WordPress.com I’ve worked on a few other sites. My Brick has resided at benpollock.com’s Mirthology: A Loose Leaflet since 2003; WordPress, of course.

The title I gave is “WordPress for Geniuses (in other fields).” Sure, it is a play on the Blankety-blank for Dummies series of books, but the point is people in other endeavors can create and maintain blogs — yet more than that, have a sophisticated website under your name or title of your enterprise. You can do fine ones at essentially no cost and with no more knowledge than sending email.

That actually is the starting point of WordPress, to let the programming and design specialists work their hearts outs for people like us to just click some buttons and bring our projects to life.

Check out what’s being offered at WordCamp Fayetteville 2012. It’s affordable. And all the cool kids will be there!

Stone’s Throw from Campus

Copyright 2011 Ben S. Pollock

Catherine Wallack, a University of Arkansas interior design professor, deserves praise for curating a comprehensive exhibit of furniture produced by the Fulbright family’s wood business and designed by Edward Durell Stone. Wallack is credited with putting together the show, but University Relations leaves unsaid who’s responsible for honoring him after years of convenient memory loss.

The record snow storms kept me from seeing the exhibit until last weekend. It closes today. I would’ve walked uphill on roads of ice if if the mess had continued, rather than risk missing it.

Expected was the cool 1950s furniture — chair, footstool, sofa, chaise longue, bench, coffee table, screen. The pieces properly fit in the era of Eames and Le Corbusier. The seating and screen were woven by the area’s Gibson family of split-white oak weavers. Terry Gibson gave a demonstration at the gallery Feb. 8, just as the last snowstorm began. (Conflicts prevented me from seeing it and the Jan. 27 lecture by Hicks Stone, a son of Durell Stone.)

The local pieces are clear and sunny, not the black leather and the stained, molded plywood of the contemporaries. Eames pieces are comfortable and durable, and Le Corbusier’s certainly are sturdy if not always ergonomic. Durell Stone’s chaise would be great in my house, but I’m not sure about his others. We were not allowed to sit much less touch the pieces. My practical knowledge comes from the wood-wove rocker that my sister lent over two decades ago. I’ve had the seat replaced once, and in the last year the new one is showing stress, but maybe that’s what cushions or blankets are for, to mask breaks and prevent splinters to the thighs.

The Edward Durell Stone pieces were manufactured by Fulbright Industries, the family business of late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright (1905-1995), run in its last decades by his progressive mother, Roberta Fulbright, Bill always being in public service, including UA chancellor. Sen. Fulbright and Stone were contemporaries growing up in Fayetteville. Stone studied at UA then moved on to Harvard and MIT.

The wall cards and a couple of farm relics proved the origin of Stone’s plan. The felloe is a short length of curved wood that put together with other fellies becomes the outer rim of a wagon wheel. Side by side, fellies top the Durell Stone footstool. The primitive plow handle forms the legs and bottom supports of the chair, sofa and chaise. if Le Corbusier was inspired by the Industrial Revolution, Durell Stone paid homage to the hardscrabble family farm.

Privy to Bauhaus

It’s this last bit of art history for which Wallack should be commended in directing our attention. She could’ve stayed with a Bauhaus narrative and kept us Arkies proud of yet another native son. Meanwhile, there’s the Fine Arts building itself, and the unlamented, razed Carlson Terrace apartments. Continue reading

GOP School Talk Response

Copyright 2009 Ben S. Pollock

DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — Republicans are grateful that Barack Obama released a transcript early for his speech today to American schoolchildren. Rather than responding to what he might say — as they usually do in drafting responses to the weekly presidential radio address and the yearly State of the Union, and perhaps missing by a mile — now the GOP can counter point by point in the opponents’ traditional follow-up.

Children who might miss the president’s speech because school district administrators fear parental complaints, now can view the best of both: Obama then Palin, or Obama then Limbaugh or Cheney or McCain or whomever the Grand Old Party suits up for the camera this morning. In the case of educators who planned alternatives to live viewing, like posting a link to the speech video on district Web sites or airing on community access cable stations, now they can add the rebuttal.

While the president’s complete text can be found at whitehouse.gov, the Republican National Committee has not uploaded it yet. Fortunately, Brick was availed of a copy left on a bench near the Confederate statue at the downtown Bentonville Square.

Want a peek? Here are some excerpts. To help guide responsible parties, the conservative speech will be preceded by portions of Obama’s.

The President: “Hello everyone — how’s everybody doing today?”

Counterpoint: Punk, you over there! Tuck in that shirt!

Prez: “When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother Continue reading

Pig Skinned

As all Arkansans who keep up with the news know, Razorback Coach Houston Nutt received a golden football to resign this past Monday. Reports indicate he received more than $3 million to end his contract. Essentially all of the payout comes from the athletic foundation, not tax or otherwise educational dollars. Hours later, or hours earlier (maybe even thousands of hours), Nutt was hired to coach football at the University of Mississippi at Oxford (not England’s, Faulkner’s), in a four-year, $7.4 million contract.

It takes a lot of money to play football and entertain the big donors, who give money mainly for more football, and the rest of us who enjoy those Saturday afternoons at the stadium or on the sofa.

The University of Arkansas now has to find a new coach. Money won’t be an issue, but winning games is. A good man has just become available, and not only can he get ball games won but he won’t be as expensive, even though money Continue reading