Man, what a long day. A morning interview, wrote a story, rejigged it a bit, met a friend for chatty lunch, went back to work on morning story and in casual process of checking some facts online stumbled onto a much bigger story, which should make tomorrow's front page of the Irish Times, double-bylined with my colleague Jamie Smyth. For us who cover tech, a cover byline is rare and always special (we live in the back-page dungeons of the business section most of the time, rarely allowed into the bright lights of Page One). Few journos, no matter how experienced, fail to tingle when they see their byline on the front, even if readers tend not to notice bylines at all. (That's OK, our moms do...).Of course if something else breaks we could get bumped back to the inside -- the ultimate disappointment.
Today's experience tends to be how a lot of front pagers happen -- a bit of luck in stumbling on a timely story, a bit of informed research and deep knowledge of a story over time giving you the ability to fit together some pieces others might not see, the time spent in the saddle establishing contacts and credibility with sources so that you can pick up the phone and get confirmations or denials that you can believe. Too often you get spin, spin, spin -- a few calls and the story someone's trying to play you doesn't check out. At the same time three people involved in a situation can see it in three utterly different ways. You try to find the right path -- or present the counterbalance and let the reader judge. (Inevitably we know a heck of a lot more than we can print, due to legal or even moral reasons. Which is why government people in particular like to take us out for drinks, to try and get the inside line and stay on top of developments in their area of interest!) The job becomes to lay out the facts in such a way that an attentive reader will make the connections. The final decision in what makes the front can often just be pure luck -- a slow news day for example may make space for something different up front. The best day to get a front page byline is Monday, because weekends are slow for hard news and thus on Sunday the news editors have a looser front page for Monday. At the same time this can make you very nervous as you can watch the editors decide to run your piece on the front, which gives it much more weight and heft than it might otherwise have -- or deserve. That's the other thing about front page stories -- they can be incredibly nerve-wracking as you know they'll be scrutinised and you'd better be darn sure of your facts.
I get a buzz off the energy in newspaper offices and have since I first worked for a biweekly high school paper -- the tension when there's a big story; the editors coming over to see what the latest line is that you're getting; that wait while a story is faxed over to be "lawyered"; the big fish source who passes you some inside info or offers up the glimmer of a lead; the rewrites and rewrites and rewrites. To paraphrase the Irish poet Seamus Heaney you sometimes get to sing "very close to the music of what happens".
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The Zero Launcher and the Zero Blaster launch 2 to 6 inch diameter non-toxic fog rings that sail up to fourteen feet. Easy to use, they are great stress busters and with practice you'll be able to create bigger and better rings.Link Discuss (via Wired) >>
From [Boing Boing Blog]
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New Scientist: Speed of Light Broken with Basic Lab Kit: "Electric signals can be transmitted at least four times faster than the speed of light using only basic equipment that would be found in virtually any college science department."
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Scandinavian cheap WiFi: Telia HomeRun drops prices precipitously: <<Telia HomeRun is a Wi-Fi-based hot-spot service with hundreds of locations throughout Scandinavia. In this short article, it's noted that they have dropped ther monthly rate from $31.86 to $4.25, and what's called the traffic rate--per minute charge?--from 25 cents to 21 cents. The price for signing up has been reduced as well, from $52.58 to $21.24.>> [80211b News]
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