July Linkspam Roundup

It was my last month working full-time for the newspaper, but it sure wasn’t quiet. (As you can tell, since this roundup is about a week late.) My thoughts were much focused on the transition, as you can imagine.

On the Patreon

• An essay/travelogue from the Kansas City trip titled “Prospero’s, the magic portal” for patrons $3 and up.

• A photography array from a November shoot in Yosemite National Park for patrons $5 and up.

• “Last Week,” a series of musings on the final shifts of my daily news career, and “Goodbyes” about my farewell speech for all patrons.

• A fiction excerpt cut from an upcoming longer work titled “Banshee’s Run” that I think works as a short story by itself, for patrons $10 and up.

And other stuff, too. You might consider subscribing

In the News/Blogs

• “Should fireworks be legalized in Illinois when everyone ignores the law?

• An essay on “Annapolis,” which was cross-posted to the Patreon as a public post.

• “Our Year in Review,” a roundup for the St. Louis Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. We did more than I thought…

• A statement on “Lindenwood’s Legacy” regarding that university’s decision to shutter its print magazine after it printed stories considered damaging to the university’s reputation.

• “SIUE and SIUC had turbulent history before Dunn’s departure,” an examination of the history of the university campuses and what will be in their path going forward. Covering this controversy during my exit from the newspaper has been an interesting experience. Technically, this is my last byline from the News-Democrat as full-time staff, running about a week after my departure.

And elsewhere, I’m happy to announce that Highland Arts is now carrying my photography, both for in-stock prints and metal wall art. Stop by anytime, or go to the photography site and order directly from me. Custom orders welcome!

June Linkspam Round-up

At least my last month in daily journalism won’t be boring.

On the Patreon:

• A short story titled “Dead Heat,” for patrons at $10 or more.

• Blog post: “Goal No. 1 – Unlocked,” for patrons only.

• A short story titled “Sisyphus,” one of my golden oldies, open to all.

• Photo posts of a double rainbow sighting ($5 and up) and the MoBot glass show. (open to all).

• A personal essay on “Life After News,” open to all.

I also posted this essay on meeting a group of Chinese journalists.

You can get all this lovely content by subscribing to my Patreon!

In the news:

• Feature: A son’s gift to his father: 16 more years of life and counting

SIU board to vote on firing President Dunn

SIU meeting to fire Dunn illegal, chairwoman says

Board deadlocks on firing Dunn

• Granite City teacher resigns after allegations of affair with student

Storm pummels metro-east; 45,000 without power

Also, a public statement as president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists regarding Lindenwood University’s decision to stop printing its student magazine after controversial (and award-winning) stories.

And finally… I was not permitted to use puns in this story. I think the loss of income going freelance will be worth it simply to be allowed to pun in public.

ME: Am I allowed to say he got stuck with the bill?
EDITOR: No.
ME: Sigh. Someday I’m gonna quack you up.
EDITOR: *stare*
ME: Look, Leader Pub’s lead is, “One Six Flags patron apparently thought it was duck season.”
EDITOR 2: Are you sure it’s not wabbit season?
EDITOR: I’m about to declare a time-out.
ME: I’m not allowed to use puns. See? No puns in my story, and it is physically painful.
EDITOR 3: Since you’re leaving, does that make you a … lame duck?
ME: *points* How come he gets away with that and I can’t make a single pun??
EDITOR: I gave him the side-eye glare.

May Roundup

I spent most of May finishing a project a year in the making: a package on teen suicide prevention co-written with Alexis Cortes at the News-Democrat. Alexis and I started working on this story before I was transferred to a different team, so it didn’t really have to take a year, but it kept getting postponed during the reorganization.

It was one of the most difficult projects I’ve ever worked on, and one that made me quite nervous. I’ve written about sensitive subjects many times – a series on domestic violence, an in-depth look at shaken baby syndrome, unlicensed day care centers, LGBT rights pre-Obergefell, racist harassment, etc. All of these subjects required careful, deft handling of both sources and subject matter.

But none of  them had the blatant warning sign: If you do this wrong, people will die.

Suicide contagion is a real thing and we shouldn’t scoff at it, particularly in the news business. Several reliable studies show that completed suicides rose by 10 percent in the weeks following Robin Williams’ suicide, which was widely covered in the press. Talking about suicide doesn’t make a mentally healthy person commit suicide. But something about reading about suicide or watching depictions of suicide in entertainment has a tendency to tip a person on the edge over into an attempt.

I told Alexis several times during our efforts to report on teen suicide that I’d rather we did it in a boring way or not at all than do it wrong and have suicide attempts on our hands. Both of us took extreme care in the reporting of the piece, and we were backed up all the way by our editing and audiovisual team.

Our first instinct, of course, was to focus on a family that had lost a teen to suicide and the impact it had on them. But I made a habit of asking every expert we interviewed one question at the end: “Do you have any suggestions for how we can approach this subject without doing more harm than good?”

And they all said, “Please don’t focus on a grieving family, or the memorials, the damage they leave behind.” Apparently that is one of the things that tends to kick off suicide contagion – along with graphic depictions of suicide methods, or words like “unsuccessful suicide attempt” as if suicide itself is a success. Or, as they told us, everything that 13 Reasons Why did in both seasons.

The show was part of the reason we looked at the issue, tracking the number of completed suicides in our region compared with state and national rates. With the guidance of counselors and experts, we focused instead on a young woman who survived, on ways schools are trying to cope with teen mental health, and on paths to heal and get better.

I’m proud of the work we did, and just as happy that we managed to do it ethically and responsibly. Would it have been a more compelling piece with a grieving family weeping into the camera and sad pictures of a grave? Perhaps. But it would not have been a responsible piece, and that’s more important than the hit count.

There are signs your teen may think about suicide. Here’s how you can get them help.

Teachers on the front line for teen mental health concerns

Parent Guide: Know the symptoms, and find them help

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

Also published in May:

SIU board will not support campus split

Swastika vandalism suspect refuses to speak in court (Yes, that’s in reference to this incident.)

Scarlet Letters: Memorial Day, or look out, it’s another food post!

 

Watch this space Monday for a major announcement.

March-April link roundup

It’s been a busy couple of months, with some neat changes pending I can’t talk about yet, and my appearances at Midsouthcon, the SPJ Region 7 Conference, and a couple of fun photo shoots I’m looking forward to sharing with you.

I particularly enjoyed my jaunt to Ames, Iowa, with side trips to the original Field of Dreams and the world’s largest (concrete) garden gnome. Of course, the highlight of the trip was the opportunity to talk ethics with some terrific journalism students, and I am very grateful to SPJ Regional Director Kari Williams for allowing me to speak.

Photos are in the processing queue, and I hope to have a new batch up on the photo site in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, enjoy some of these articles and a handful of blog reviews!

News/Features

Hospice patient had one wish, and a Fairmount horse made it come true.

Police investigate Wanda Cemetery for allegedly double-selling plots

Two dead, more than 50 hospitalized due to contaminated cannabis

Police believe they have solved the mystery behind local woman’s 2010 disappearance – murder.

Major Case Squad disbands without filing charges in murder of track star

 

Blogs

CultureGeek: Linkspam Hears the Verdict

CultureGeek: Linkspam defies Hollywood physics!

CultureGeek: Barnes and Noble’s ‘Red Wedding’

January-February Linkspam Roundup

We fell a little behind here at Donald Media, so here’s some of the work from the last two months. Cheerio!

News

‘Myth-maker’ of Collinsville High leaves legacy of storytelling

Flu outbreak has killed 16 children in the past week

Mabel the Pilot found after disappearing from local park

Here’s how to avoid scammers this tax season

Toddler was alone with mother’s body after murder, police say

Maull’s BBQ sauce may be sticking around after all

Don’t feed the swans, neighborhood says

Blogs

CarZeus and the Female Surcharge

To dust we shall return

My valentine

Walking with the dinosaurs: Vic Milan

Reason 42 why some animals eat their young

Voices in the dark

MovieGeek: Winchester

Superb Owl 2018

 

Linkspam roundup

Here’s some of the work I’ve had out lately:

• News: “Racist message found on blackboard at SIUE,” and its follow-up.

• News: “‘A 1940s news aggregator’: Family donates World War II scrapbooks to SIUE.”

• News: “Study: Historically black colleges boost local economy, grads’ earnings.”

• CultureGeek: “You can see Justice League with a clear conscience.”

• CultureGeek: “RIP: Robert Guillaume, a voice from another era.”

• Blog: “Giving thanks,” of loss at Thanksgiving.

• Blog: “A literal sucker punch,” a tale of bereavement and getting punched in the head.

• Blog: “A man with no statue,” a personal obituary of Rudy Wilson.

As always, you can find extensive samples of my work at Contently.