Show Your Work: Sesame Street News

• Two freelance journalists have won the American Mosaic Journalism Prize, which honors work about underrepresented groups. Dara Mathis wrote “A Blueprint for Black Liberation” for the Atlantic about growing up in a radical Black commune, and Tamir Kalifa won for his photographs of the aftermath of the 2022 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Kalifa is currently stationed in Israel covering the Israel-Hamas war. It’s not immediately clear how often freelancers have won the award, which is the largest dollar prize – $100,000 – given to journalists in the U.S.

• Cook County Ill. has dropped charges against the students who placed a parody wrap around the student newspaper at Northwestern University. The newspaper had condemned the act as vandalism, but its leaders intervened to stop prosecution. Of course, “parody” is kind of a stretch, since it was a serious protest regarding Gaza. However, at least 80 Daily Northwestern alums wrote a letter arguing that charges should be dropped on the altar of free speech.

• Speaking of which… this one takes some real gall. The Los Angeles Police Department released photos of officers after they were sued over a public records request. The officers then sued the department over it alleging violation of their privacy, and the LAPD retaliated with legal action against a journalist and a watchdog group for publishing the photos. The photos that the LAPD itself released. A public statement condemning this action has been co-signed by the Society of Professional Journalists (national and the L.A. chapter); the Asian Americans Journalists Association; Latino Journalists of California; Los Angeles Press Club; Media Guild of the West; National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Radio Television Digital News Association and the Freelancer Journalist Union.

• A reporter has finally sued over last years police raid on a small newspaper office. If you’ll recall, police raided the office and the owner’s home because a local restaurant owner was mad at the paper. Literally. That’s all they had. “Identity theft” was the official statement, from publishing public records.

• On a lighter note, Grover of Sesame Street has apparently joined the profession. His announcement on the Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Twitter that he is now a journalist was greeted by fellow journalists with predictable cynicism.

“I regret to report a hedge fund has since purchased Grover’s paper and laid him off,” wrote S.P. Sullivan, a reporter with NJ.com. “Unfortunately, Grover was fired for not hitting his three story a day quota,” said Scott Nover, a contributing writer for Slate.

Ouch. But Grover’s not the first Muppet to join the Fourth Estate. Old people like me will remember Kermit’s many years in a trenchcoat reporting for Sesame Street News. And who could forget Cookie Monster’s tough negotiations?

And now, this week in total bullshit:

• The NOAA is not “cooking the books” on climate change. Once again, TB originates with a Fox News host who alleged that NOAA was basing its temperature collection on thermometers left on urban concrete and asphalt. Politifact dealt with this.

Former President Trump alleged that Wisconsin’s 20-week limit on abortion access is “way outside international bounds.” However, the majority of European countries range from 10 weeks (Portugal) to 24 weeks (U.K.). Wisconsin is currently considering narrowing it to 14 weeks.

• Nope, Texas can’t secede from the U.S. There was kind of a little war about that, you might recall, if you live in a state that still lets you learn about it.

• No, radiation poisoning is not the cause of COVID-19. Also, Mr. DeSantis, the boosters do not make it more likely you’ll get COVID. Is it unconstitutional to require all voters to take a remedial science class?

And what was not (completely) bullshit? The U.S. homicide rate has declined significantly, with preliminary data showing about a 10-12 percent drop in homicide. However, PolitiFact research indicates some politicians are a little too quick to credit the crime reduction bill with the drop and there may be multiple factors behind it.

Show Your Work: Zappa to me

Top of the week: The Riverfront Times reports that a number of landlord corporations cashed in on COVID relief funds and then evicted the residents of apartment complexes they failed to keep up.

Eighty tenants in Ferguson, Mo. were given three days to move out of their apartments, only weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the federal eviction moratorium. The owners received financial aid to cover rent and utilities for tenants, on the level of millions. But for some reason the residents got evicted anyway.

Mike Fitzgerald’s investigation was cofounded by the River City Journalism Fund, filing FOIA (Sunshine Law) requests in the notoriously FOIA-averse state and compiling some damning evidence. Read the whole thing at the link, with names of the landlords who received the most money – as much as $1.5 million.

The River City Journalism Fund is a nonprofit paying grants and stipends to St. Louis writers to increase public-interest coverage; supporting paid fellowships and internships; and other activities to promote public service journalism in the St. Louis region.

In other news:

The 2024 First Amendment Awards have been announced: Lauren Chooljian with New Hampshire Public Radio and ProPublica. Chooljian is honored for her reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against the owner of a New England addiction treatment conglomerate, for which she was targeted with vandalism and threats as well as attempts at legal intimidation. And as you’ve seen in just a few weeks of this blog feature, ProPublica consistently funds the kind of investigative journalism we desperately need across the country.

• An employee of the Worthington Globe in Minnesota has been subject to harassment and vandalism, because they *checks notes* reported on the display of pride flags in public schools. This led to homophobic messages spray-painted on their car. The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists has issued a public statement in support of the staff for continuing their coverage and not backing down in the face of intimidation and harassment.

Freelance journalist Tim Burke’s home was raided by the FBI after he reported on outtakes of a Tucker Carlson interview with Kanye West on Fox News. Eight months later Burke has not even been given the affidavit used to secure the search warrant and his equipment is still being withheld. Burke was using publicly accessible websites to report, and SPJ is assisting with his legal team, which includes the founder of the Department ofJustice Cybercrime Unit.

Writers at New York Daily News, Forbes and Conde Nast walked off the job for the first time in a century. Likewise the Los Angeles Times had a one-day walkout, followed by a layoff of 115 employees; and then there’s the hell going on at Sports Illustrated. Meanwhile, the staff of the late Messenger have filed a lawsuit alleging a violation of the WARN Act in the sudden layoff of every employee with no notice, adding to the 500+ journalists laid off in the last month.

And I can’t even bear to read this report, though I will: Illinois has lost 85 percent of its newspaper journalists, the highest percentage in the country, and 38 of 102 counties have one or zero local sources of news. (Though I often quibble with complaints that reliance on freelancers means there is no local news. We freelancers do just as well or sometimes better than we would as full-timers. Where do you think those 85 percent went?) More in-depth looks at that report when I have the spoons and bourbon to get through it.

• Speaking of layoffs, the Society of Professional Journalists has assembled a number of resources to help journalists hit with the first-quarter layoffs. Membership fee waivers, job listings, discounts for insurance, support from fellow journalists and more can be found in We’re In This Together.

• On the good side, Mother Jones has merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, formalizing a partnership that has produced a number of investigative pieces in years past: an investigation last year about how the nation’s largest chain of psychiatric hospitals harms foster kids; a report in 2022 about national efforts to restrict people’s ability to vote; and an investigation in 2021 about labor abuses at sugarcane plantations in the Dominican Republic, according to Editor and Publisher.


This Week in Total Bullshit:

• If your feed is full of whiny manbabies complaining that NFL games are now the Taylor Swift Show, you could choose to point them toward this study that shows exactly how many seconds of a three-hour football game features an image of a player’s very very famous girlfriend. Spoiler alert: it’s 25 seconds. That’s how little coverage of a successful woman is necessary to make some men lose their damn minds. The responses have included AI-created degrading porn images of Swift, complaints that “NFL Media” is”forcing Taylor Swift” on football fans, idiot vids on TikTok burning a Chiefs jersey and Swift album cover; and my favorite: allegations that Travis Kelce’s $70,000 Superb Owl bonus check is her motive for dating him. Boys, Kelce is worth about $40 million; Swift is worth $1.1 BILLION. As was wearily pointed out on BlueSky: a woman can run her own freaking entertainment empire and kick off a massive uptick in an entire athletic industry just by going to the games, and she’ll still be accused of being a gold-digger. I can’t even touch “Swift is a psy-op asset of the DoD” and “The Super Bowl is fixed to help Swift so she can endorse Biden.” I honestly gave up collecting the most ridiculous of the memes halfway through the week, because there’s only so many times I can wade into incel bullshit. Go Chiefs.

• I see it’s once again making the rounds, that infamous Frank Zappa quote where he shakes his fist at the clouds and insists that once upon a time, kids were taught civics in school, and then they took it away and replaced it with “social studies,” and now we’re a bunch of ignorant clods who don’t understand basic government. Also, it was a conspiracy.

First: There is no proof that Zappa actually said this asinine thing. Instead, it sounds very much like the sort of thing spread on the internet to cast shade on teachers, public education, intellectual curiosity, you know, things Zappa was generally in favor of.

Second, and far more important: It’s garbage. Every state in the union requires civic learning in its standards or curriculum, whether they call it that or American government etc. Nearly every state specifically says civics. More than 35 states require students to demonstrate proficiency, such as Illinois, which requires all students to pass a test on the U.S. Constitution in order to graduate high school, regardless of grades in any American government or social studies course.

The Zappa quote tends to dance in partnership with the “kids oughta learn how to balance a checkbook and change a tire and all that stuff insteada this dumb book-learnin they gotta do on the computerz” crap we get from time to time. It comes down to blaming the teachers for the sheer quantity of ignorance and gullible knee-jerk outrage we see on the internet, as people take a meme or some rando’s Facebook post at face value instead of doing a simple Google search, and finding the civic education study by the Education Commission of the States in 2016.

No, we don’t have any handy scapegoats for what we see on Facebook. The teachers were speaking. Some folks just weren’t listening.

For extra credit: Mother Jones details why teaching civics is important, and notes areas for improvement.

• Speaking of which, a particularly viral bit of nonsense is asking “why y’all aren’t mad your retirement is moving to 70?” Of course, the collective response to that from my generation is, “What’s retirement?” We grew up being told that Social Security was going to be bankupt by the time we were old enough to think about it, and nobody likes to talk about the fact that Social Security has been quietly saved by undocumented immigrants.

(Yup. Approximately 95 percent of undocumented immigrants are employed, paying $100 billion into Social Security through illicit SS numbers from 2000 to 2011 and creating a $35 billion surplus, according to an actuarial note developed by the office of the Chief Actuary that makes for good insomnia treatment. In 2016 alone, they contributed $13 billion to Social Security and $3 billion to Medicare. Say thank you.)

Back to the point: The other reason why no one’s mad about the retirement age moving to 70: it isn’t happening. Not yet, and probably not for a while. The age of retirement is as it has been for a long time: 65 to 67 for maxed-out Social Security. Also, even with the age-67 max-out, the average American retires even earlier, at age 62, even though Medicare doesn’t kick in until 65. The average worker plans to retire at or after 67, yet they actually skip out earlier – though, as USA Today points out, it’s often spurred by life. Layoffs, physical limitations, illness, etc. cause 56 percent of retirees to throw in the towel sooner than they had planned.

The only basis for this meme I can find is the everlasting GOP proposal to raise the retirement age to 70. It’s been 67 since 1983, and we live a lot longer now, they argue. Where did I see this before? Oh yeah, in 2016. And pretty much every year, including this year. GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley says people in their 20s should have a retirement set in accordance with life expectancy, while former President Donald Trump says he won’t make any cuts to the programs but will not give them additional funding, which is some interesting math with rising numbers of retirees.

So, why aren’t people mad? Because it never actually happens. Like retirement.

• The COVID-19 vaccine’s spike protein does not replace sperm in men who receive it. Add biology to the classes where people weren’t paying any damn attention. It also doesn’t “shut off” your heart, and Travis Kelce’s hand gesture doesn’t have a damn thing to do with vaccines.

• There is no secret video footage implicating former President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Bill Gates and •checks notes• Oprah Winfrey in the death of Jeffrey Epstein. I’m almost embarrassed to have to debunk this stuff.

Note: Next week I am back on the road, attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Kansas City. Daily travelogues and convention write-ups will appear on Patreon, so now is a great time to subscribe! There will be no Show Your Work or BookNotes next week due to the conference, unless I get super ambitious. But I’ll be back the next week!

Show Your Work: January is off to a banging start

A long, long time ago in a social medium far far away, I did a daily Linkspam post that covered all the major headlines of the day with my own particular snark. It eventually morphed into an annual Show Your Work post, in which I would highlight the best journalism of the year. Problem: Life gets busy, I get distracted by shiny objects, and I was always forgetting to add to my Show Your Work list, so it generally fell to the award winners.

But there’s a whole lot of journalism that flies under the national radar, the kind of serious, important work being done by the reporters right around the corner from you, and they never get the credit they deserve for shining the light on the badness. They get angry emails and they get death threats on Twitter – excuse me, X – and when bad guys are finally brought to justice, no one remembers that the scandal started when a journalist got curious.

More to the point: I am furious beyond the reaches of metaphor at the number of people from all political and socioeconomic backgrounds who whine that “the media” is a giant Borg hive-mind of automatons spitting out what corporate masters tell us to say, and other highly offensive nonsense that clearly shows the person saying it has never set foot in a newsroom. Show Your Work was intended to collect all the best of us in one place as a metaphorical shotgun blast to open people’s minds to the work being done in their local and national newsrooms, which has little to do with hairdos bloviating on cable news networks.

So I’m bringing it back, as a regular feature on this too-quiet blog.

What do I look for in Show Your Work? Basically, I’m looking at pieces where journalists step in to do the work that regulatory agencies and law enforcement should be doing, highlighting injustice and malfeasance that would not come to light without the work of the media, and especially those that made an actual difference. Accompanying that will be “This Week in Total Bullshit,” because if I see people reposting that copypaste paragraph that will totally cut off your Facebook ads and eliminate their primary revenue, my head may spin around and fly around the room.

So this will be a recurring feature, to the point that I can manage it. I want to promise a weekly post, but let’s be real: Advocating for my profession and the ethical practice thereof is my passion, but not work I get paid to do. Rent is due. So… as much as I can?

• First up we have the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Riverfront Times, both of which published photos this week taken by an attorney inside the St. Louis Jail, which has had enormous problems and allegations of misconduct and there’s a bunch else we reporters and the lawyers in this city could tell you if we were free to do so. Apparently Kevin O’Schaughnessy is being held in the jail and has developed a hernia the size of a cantaloupe, which allegedly is not being treated. The attorney took the photo as evidence, and in response they… outlawed cell phones by attorneys. O’Shaughnessy, by the way, was shot by police multiple times while having a mental breakdown, is partially paralyzed with a traumatic brain injury, and is being held in the jail without a wheelchair and little access to clean clothes or a shower.

• Former president Donald Trump did not sign an oath of loyalty promising not to overthrow the government when he filed for election in Illinois. The oath dates back to the McCarthy era and can’t be formally required because it would be unconstitutional, but Trump had no problem signing it in 2016 and 2020. This was discovered by a joint analysis of candidate petitions conducted by WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times. President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the oath with their petitions.

And this week in Total Bullshit….

No, Florida is not removing Democrats from voter rolls. Approximately 1 million people were removed, half of them were Democrats, and you get removed from the rolls if you have two election cycles of inactivity.

No, T-Mobile is not fining its customers $3,500 for text messages involving sex, hate, alcohol and tobacco. Which, by the way, the TikTokkers blame on Biden, who I guess is running T-Mobile in his spare time. The prohibition applies to commercial advertising via text messages and they are not reading your secret texts to your side piece, dudes.

• Duh, Jimmy Kimmel was NOT on Jeffrey Epstein’s lists, and he may be suing football player Aaron Rodgers for making the claim with no evidence on an ESPN show. Then the internet was off and running with fake documents on iFunny (seriously, people, check your sources) and none of it is in the actual court documents. For what it’s worth, the “big release” turned out to be mostly a nothing burger, with names named that everyone already knew.

• Do I need to say that the social media brigade declaring that the shooting in Perry, Iowa was faked are totally full of it and their “false flag” claims are pathological and damaging? Fine then, FactCheck.org (which is operated by the Annenberg Public Policy Center) confirmed it.

• Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo announced this week that we should stop using the COVID vaccines because *checks notes* they will alter our DNA into frogs or something. Annenberg has assembled approximately a gazillion experts saying it’s nonsense. Who you gonna believe, your doctor or a TikTok scare video? (Don’t answer that, Florida.)

And finally…. my favorite meme pile-on of the week, because it’s just that hysterical. I tried to pick just one and I couldn’t. Paging Gene Roddenberry circa 1966…

Did you enjoy this? You can buy me a coffee! To find me on social media and elsewhere on the net, click here.

This week in jailing journalists…

“First, they came for the journalists. We don’t know what happened after that.”

It’s a meme, a play on the famous poem by Martin Niemoller, but it’s not wrong. It hasn’t taken long for arresting journalists to become something about which we shrug and scroll on down the feed to something more interesting. After all, there’s still plenty of shouting to be done about playing Christmas carols before Thanksgiving.

At least there was plenty of attention a month or two ago when police flagrantly ignored a boatload of laws and raided the Marion County Record in Kansas, including the home of the publisher’s mother, an elderly woman so distraught by the raid that she died the next day. Law enforcement is supposed to subpoena records from journalists, not raid their offices, but neither police nor the judge seemed to have noticed that part of the law.

It’s news because it’s unusual, right?

Not so much. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker found more than 90 incidents of police raiding offices and homes of newspapers and journalists for work generated in the performance of journalism. They seize phones and computers, and even if the newspaper eventually wins in court, they’ve lost a huge amount of time and productivity, not to mention money. Small organizations can’t fight it, though groups like the Society of Professional Journalists help with the Legal Defense Fund.

A Black reporter interviewing people on a public sidewalk is arrested and accused of harassing people. A bystander recorded the arrest: the reporter clearly identified himself as journalist, but he was arrested anyway and police threatened the guy doing the recording. I heard about it at the Society of Professional Journalists’ media law briefing last month; it hasn’t exactly gone viral on social media.

This week, the publisher and a reporter of the Atmore News in southwestern Alabama were arrested after publishing an investigative piece on the local school board’s payments to seven former employees. They were arrested and charged with… felony journalism? Seriously, with revealing grand-jury proceedings. This is a felony – if you’re a juror or a witness. However, it’s been black-letter Constitutional law for decades that the press can publish grand jury material as long as they weren’t the ones breaking the law. Apparently such fine points as Constitutional rulings no longer matter in Alabama.

Meanwhile, Calumet City, Ill. has issued municipal citations to a reporter from the Daily Southtown for… wait for it… asking questions of public employees. Reporter Hank Sanders had written an article revealing that consultants had told the city stormwater facilities were in bad shape before a major rain caused flooding. The “violation” notice says that he keeps calling city departments and employees via phone and email. You know… JOURNALISM.

EDIT: As of Nov. 6, Calumet City has declared they will dismiss the charges. After hearing from the paper’s lawyers, and since they’re part of Tribune Media, that was the Chicago Tribune’s lawyers, and no word yet on whether they will be compensated for the legal costs involved in getting the city to drop flagrantly illegal charges. I might also note the mayor, who was apparently a driving force behind this charge, is also an Illinois state representative.

A freelance photojournalist was detained and cited while covering a rally for crossing a roadway outside of a marked crosswalk. A freelance journalist shoved and arrested while filming police in Yuma, Arizona, charged with “resisting arrest” after asking an officer for his badge number (on video). A reporter covering the Ohio governor’s news conference is charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest – they claimed he was “disruptive” until body cam footage was released, then charges were dropped.

Eight arrests or criminal charges this year. More than 30 assaults. Nine incidents of prior restraint – the once-rare act of government ordering that information not be published, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which was ordered not to use a mental health report in a murder trial even though it was made available to the public (by mistake, it turns out). Once upon a time, prior restraint was only used when lives or national security was at stake.

All of this has happened this year, in the United States. It used to be we would hear tales of jailed or threatened journalists, of attacks on journalists in person and in court, and it was tales from faraway lands without our much-vaunted protections of the free press.

Now it’s happening right here. I thought you should know about it, while we can still write about it.

Report from Lost Wages: Updates in Media Law

I am attending the SPJ national conference this week in Las Vegas, and one of the highlights today was a briefing on media law that was scarier than any horror novel I’ve written. While I generally do travelogues for my Patreon, I decided this was more relevant to my nonfiction blog here, so you get my summary of the annual media law roundup offered by several media lawyers at the conference.

Have you ever wondered why so many news organizations repeat phrases like “repeating the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen” or “falsely stated that COVID was caused by flying monkeys”? It’s a relatively new device, one that we usually wouldn’t do because it’s supposed to be neutral language – you get to decide who’s full of it, not us!

Well, it’s been black-letter law for decades that repeating a claim you know to be false can leave you legally liable even if your source is the one saying it, not you. Usually this doesn’t involve presidents, but here we are.

Dominion Voting Systems v. Fox News was a major topic in the roundup. In short, President Trump said Dominion rigged the voting machines, Fox played it like a cheap drum for months, and Dominion sued Fox for $1.6 billion. With a B.

Fox argued that they had a responsibility to report on what Trump and other GOP leaders were saying, which – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – they had a point. People scream and yell about “why do you give these people a platform” and frankly, we’d all love it if the good people of the U.S. of A. would stop electing lying assholes so we could stop talking to them. I have a list.

However, New York Times v. Sullivan established that a news organization has to have displayed “actual malice” toward a public official in order to be liable, i.e. they had to know they were printing false information and did it anyway with the intent of hurting the subject. The key for Fox News was the release of internal memos and communications revealing that they knew it was all false information, but kept running it because it kept moron eyeballs on the screen. 

The judge in the case issued a summary judgment that no reasonable person could conclude that the statements were true, which is a rare step judges don’t often take. Fox settled for $787 million, the largest defamation settlement in history. I would have added a copy of the SPJ Code of Ethics stapled to every editor’s forehead, but I wasn’t on the jury.

So in short, Dominion didn’t sue CNN et al, because they said “Trump falsely stated” and didn’t repeat his words as if they were true, but sued Fox because they portrayed information they knew to be false as fact. So expect to see that phrase a whole lot in the coming Presidential Silly Season.

The debate within the profession is now centering on slippery slopes and the line between journalistic responsibility and fact-checking vs. arrogantly taking the voters’ place in determining who should be elected. There is concern that this will have a chilling effect on coverage. We are all stretched tight, we have all interviewed liars, and there will be a strong pull by cash-strapped publications to reduce coverage in controversial topics for fear of defamation suits.

That’s the overt level. The subtle level is that Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch indicated interest in overturning Sullivan after a vehemently anti-journalist judge insisted Sullivan makes it too hard for public figures to win defamation suits. Of course, he insisted it was because news organizations are totally controlled by cackling evil liberal cabals (paraphrase) and praised Fox for being owned by “one man and his son.” 

The upshot is that if Sullivan was overturned, we could all be sued to oblivion by any public official who didn’t like the reporting on their race. That is… not good for journalism.

Also coming up in media law: 

The Marion County Record in Kansas was raided by police – including the home of the publisher, whose elderly mother was so distraught she died the next day. This raid was allegedly because the paper was researching DUI reports for a local restaurant owner (whose DUI would mean her liquor license was illegal), and they had been accused of illegal hacking even though they never published the damn story. It always amuses me that they are quick to accuse us of hacking, since most journos I know have trouble attaching a document to an email. Even if they had done it, the raid was a violation of a boatload of laws requiring law enforcement to subpoena records from journalists, not raid them and confiscate their equipment.

Question asked: What do we do as journalists if police show up with a warrant? First of all, in Illinois we have shield laws, but I’m honestly not sure what I could do. The lawyers say we can tell them they cannot enter, and request speaking to a lawyer before warrant is executed because federal and state laws forbid it. They also acknowledge there’s a bit of privilege there, as a white man in a suit might be listened to and a Black man runs a serious chance of getting shot. (One of the questioners later made this point: “As a Black man in America, my number one rule in any interaction with the police is don’t get shot.”

Also, this is not one isolated incident of police overreach. In multiple cities we have seen these warrants blindly approved by cranky judges (or sometimes magistrate judges who are barely lawyers) and haven’t read the federal Privacy Protection Act, then police go to town. Worse: small independent news organizations rarely have the money to fight these things, which is where organizations like SPJ and other First Amendment advocates come in to help support the legal battle.

Finally, we need better training and education of law enforcement, and even of judges. I will say that in times I’ve seen flagrantly illegal actions of public officials – I have a list – many of them could have passed a lie detector declaring that everything they did was absolutely legal and appropriate. But ignorance of the law is not an excuse, and I have little patience for “systemic antagonism against the concept of journalism” as justification for wildly illegal attacks on the press. Certainly I’d be favor of requiring some kind of education program, but let’s face it: law enforcement is not going to voluntarily seek this training unless required by court order.

Most disturbing: A Black reporter interviewing people on a public sidewalk was arrested and accused of harassing people. A bystander recorded the arrest: the reporter clearly identified himself as a journalist and they arrested him anyway (and threatened the guy doing the recording). We don’t hear about this because it’s journalists, and when we are the subject of violence, no one cares. But it’s happening a lot more than you know.

I have a list.

September 2023 Linkspam

The image above was a sign on the wall of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, one of the five host hotels for Dragoncon. I was delighted to return to Dragoncon after an absence of eight years, which was just long enough to remember where the food court is, and completely forget which level you need to find the habitrails. 

And if you’ve ever been to Dragoncon, you know why that sign is hilarious.

I had a delightful time at Dragoncon, plus or minus the usual exhaustion and realizing I am too old for late-night partying (but not too old to hobble about the site). Capping attendance has eliminated some of the congestion – certainly better than it was in 2015 – but it’s still one I wouldn’t recommend for people who have problems with heights, crowds or noise. 

A full daily travelogue of my return to Dragoncon posted on the Patreon for all Patrons – and why haven’t you subscribed yet? If you want to see Obi-Wan KENobi, Starlett O’Hara and other awesome costume pics, you should totally sign up
 

Publicity/Appearances

Appearances slowed down a bit in August, what with Dragoncon and the launch of the fall semester. I’m teaching four classes this fall, which kind of takes a little time and attention. But there’s plenty on the way for the Fall Deathmarch! 

Added to the schedule: I’m honored to be hosted by the Martin (Tenn.) Public Library this Saturday! For those who don’t know, I did my first two years of high school at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore and the second two years at Martin Westview High School, and this weekend is my 30th (!!!) reunion. The library is hosting me for a signing before the reunion, and I’m honored to be there.

Then there’s the Spine Book Fair in St. Louis on Sept. 23, followed by a signing at the Society of Professional Journalists conference in Las Vegas on Sept. 29. Also coming up this fall: the Melting Pot in Granite City on Oct. 7 and Writers of the Riverbend on Oct. 14.

As previously announced, I will not be at Archon as it conflicts with SPJ, but the Literary Underworld will be there under my husband’s supervision, so you should be sure to grab books from us at the show! 

Note that my workshop for Plethora of Pens originally slated for Sept. 11 is being rescheduled. I’ll announce the new date when I know it. 

Added to the schedule: presenting at the RWA/St. Louis Writers Guild conference hosted at the St. Louis Central Library on Oct. 21, and I am confirmed as a guest for Midsouthcon in Memphis next March.

Finally: Don’t forget Leclaire Parkfest! It’s not an official author appearance, but I run the St. Andrew’s charity book fair in Edwardsville and we do an extra sale at Parkfest to benefit the American Cancer Society. The festival is Sunday, Oct. 15 at Leclaire Park in Edwardsville, Ill. and it’s a lot of fun! Come by and say hello.

Whew! 

2023 calendar:
• Martin Public Library, Martin, Tenn. Sept. 9 
• Spine Book Fair, St. Louis, Mo. Sept. 23 
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter/book signing)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• The Melting Pot, Granite City, Ill. Oct. 7
• Writers of the Riverbend, Alton, Ill. Oct. 14
• Leclaire Parkfest, Edwardsville, Ill. Oct. 15 (charity sale only)
• RWA/St. Louis Writers Guild, St. Louis Central Library, Oct. 21
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Nov. 10-12 (solo and LitUnd)

2024 calendar:
• Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Kansas City, Mo. Feb. 7-10
• Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 23-25
• Midsouthcon, Memphis, Tenn. March 22-24 
• Sigma Tau Delta conference, St. Louis, Mo. April 3-6 (tent.)
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. May 31-June 2 (tent.)


Journalism

• What’s causing enrollment to drop in Highland schools? (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo News)
• Construction gets underway at Highland’s new primary school (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo News)
• U.S. Steel rejects buyout proposal (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Lemon House Bakes crafts artful sugar cookies (Feast Magazine)
• Speakeasy Parlor taking reservations (Feast Magazine)
• Union resistance stalls sale at Granite City Works (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Community helps Highland police end burglaries (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo News)
• Installation of solar panels projects millions of savings for Highland (Highland News-Leader)
• AFSCME Council ratifies contract with Illinois (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Illinois establishes hubs for ‘clean jobs’ (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• AFSCME Council reaches tentative agreement with state (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Rebuild Illinois includes millions for construction (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland provides escape from deadly heat (Highland News-Leader)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Blogs

• Fall Deathmarch (Elizabeth Donald)
• Signing added in Martin, Tenn. (Elizabeth Donald)
• Dragoncon Schedule (Elizabeth Donald and Patreon)



Fiction

I’m happy to announce that my short story “Azrael” has been picked up by parABnormal Magazine at Hiraeth Publishing! Details are here on the blog

• Flashback: Silent (Patreon)
 

Patreon/Medium

• Review: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Patreon)
• Archival evidence (Patreon)
• Free to wear pink (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: Everybody walk the dinosaur (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: 100,000 of your closest friends (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: A roomful of readers (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: Hi Barbie! (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: The roar of unbridled avarice (Patreon)
• Dragoncon: Denouement (Patreon)
• The whispering woods (Medium)

Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to its launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.


Photography

It’s all on the Patreon! So many awesome costumes at Dragoncon. You should really subscribe

August 2023 Linkspam

Let me start with the big one: my screenplay for “Infinity” was finalist at the Imadjinn film festival, complete with a nifty little trophy for my office. This was the first screenplay I ever wrote, as part of a workshop at the university under Professor Valerie Vogrin, and I was so pleased at its warm reception. 

It’s August, which means travel and fun is winding down in favor of preparing for the fall semester. I’m teaching at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville this fall. The semester starts in two weeks, so if your professor friends seem mopey and distracted (well, more distracted than usual), have sympathy on them. Bring them coffee and sugary treats. Soon, it will be the running of the bulls, and resuming our recitation of “it’s in the syllabus.”

July 27 was Freedom Day, the five-year anniversary of becoming a full-time freelance writer. Of course, those five years were also grad school, but I’ve always loved being my own boss and I’ve deeply enjoyed writing the projects I choose. Each year I’ve written a reflection on Freedom Day, and this year I didn’t, because so much of my career is in flux right now. But we still marked the occasion with ice cream, as my family chooses to celebrate. No regrets.
 

Publicity/Appearances

July was busy! First, I spoke to TechWrite STL on the thrilling subject of grammar. Look, you can make almost any subject interesting with enough snark and memes. By the audience response, they found it a fun exercise and we managed to cover the major pitfalls of the English language without resorting to diagramming sentences.

Next was Imaginarium, where I was honored to share a dinner table with Terry Brooks and had a terrific time catching up with my fellow authors. The Literary Underworld was there in force, and so was the Traveling Bar (always the highlight of the event for us). 

I also joined my fellow members of Cuppa Words at the Alton Night Market on July 20, which saw the collapsing end of my poor traveling table. It was also the Mississippi Valley’s version of OMG are you kidding why do I live here hot. As I have frequently complained as the summers get hotter: If I wanted Tennessee weather, I would have stayed in Tennessee. 

Next up is Dragoncon! It’s been a long time since I joined 75,000 of my closest friends in the Hotlanta marathon. I’m delighted to return and am looking forward to my panels and catching up with the Atlanta crew. My full schedule will be posted on ElizabethDonald.com as soon as I have everything confirmed. If you’re going to be at Dragoncon, please come by my reading! I’d love to see you. 

Sadly, I have had to cancel my appearance at Archon this year. I haven’t missed an Archon since 2007, and that only because my father and stepmother were holding their wedding celebration that weekend. But this year, Archon conflicts with the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual conference. I am still president of the St. Louis Pro chapter, and thus am obligated to attend. I’ve offered to participate in any virtual panels at Archon, should any take place. I have also had to cancel the Edwardsville Book Fair, as I will be running the St. Andrew’s charity book sale during that weekend. 

However, please note that the Literary Underworld WILL be present at Archon! The show can go on without me. My husband Jim Gillentine will be running our booth at our usual table, with the assistance of LitUnd Underlords Sela Carsen, Nikki Lanahan, Mary Koppenhofer and others. Please drop by and say hello! Sadly, we will not be able to offer the Traveling Bar, but we promise to come back in a big way next year!

Added to the fall schedule: the Spine Book Fair in September; a book signing in Las Vegas during the SPJ conference; the Melting Pot in Granite City, Ill. on Oct. 7 and Writers of the Riverbend on Oct. 14. And that’s in addition to the previously scheduled stuff! Whew.

2023 calendar:
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 31-Sept. 4 
• Edwardsville Book Fair, Sept. 9 (charity sale only)
• Spine Book Fair, St. Louis, Mo. Sept. 23 
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter/book signing)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• The Melting Pot, Granite City, Ill. Oct. 7
• Writers of the Riverbend, Alton, Ill. Oct. 14
• Leclaire Parkfest, Edwardsville, Ill. Oct. 15 (charity sale only)
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Nov. 10-12 (solo and LitUnd)

2024 calendar:
• Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Kansas City, Mo. Feb. 7-10
• Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 23-25
• Midsouthcon, Memphis, Tenn. March 22-24 (tent.)
• Sigma Tau Delta conference, St. Louis, Mo. April 3-6 (tent.)
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. May 31-June 2 (tent.)


Journalism/Blogs

• AFSCME council reaches tentative agreement with state of Illinois (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Next phase of Rebuild Illinois includes millions for local construction (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland offers places to escape dangerous heat (Yahoo! NewsSportsCanada and Highland News-Leader)
• Budzinski urges grants for pro-union contracts (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• After four years in restoration, Highland’s bell tower is back in place (Highland News-LeaderSportsCanada and Yahoo!News)
• Speakeasy Parlor now taking reservations in Maryville (Feast Magazine)
• Conservation plan will save soil, pollinators and tax dollars, city says (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo!News)
• St. Louis Public Radio votes to form union, first in state history (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland sues developer over proposed amenities (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo!News)
• Worker dies in Olin plant explosion (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Imaginarium! (ElizabethDonald blog)
• Night Market at Alton (ElizabethDonald blog)
• Medium changes ahoy (Donald Media blog)
• Two pieces go national (Donald Media blog)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Fiction

• To Protect and Serve (Patreon)
 

Patreon/Medium

• The original guilty pleasure (Medium)
• Review: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Patreon)
• The whispering woods (Patreon)
• Everything wrong with The Flash and comics movies (Patreon)
• Runner-up (Patreon)
• Wearing the pants in my own damn life, or the IDGAF jeans (Medium)

Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to its launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.


Photography

• Paris Je T’Aime: Notre Dame (Patreon)

July 2023 Linkspam

The Summer of Job Hunting has definitely been a challenge to my patience and stress management, on a number of levels. But that isn’t to say I’ve been sitting around my living room breathing into a paper bag, either! 

June kicked off with the long-awaited Paris trip, which was an amazing experience happily shared with my mom, stepdad, and sister. Patreon readers got a daily travelogue of my adventures in Paris, and a full travel essay on Notre Dame is pending. Check out the links below for more details! (What, you’re not a Patreon subscriber? My dudes, it starts at $1 a month and I really feel it’s some of my best work. Make with the clicky and join today!)

In the meantime, I received the incredible news that I’m one of five finalists for the Knost Award. The Michael Knost Wings Award is granted to a writer who is either a new, up-and-coming voice or someone who’s been around for a while and hasn’t gotten the recognition they deserve. I can only assume I’m in the latter category, because 20 years is a long time to be up-and-coming. (What’s the old saying? It takes 20 years to become an overnight sensation?) I was uncharacteristically speechless at the nomination, and very grateful to the committee for considering me – and I’m in fine company, as well. 

To add to the fun, my first screenplay made the finalist list for the Imaginarium Film Festival’s screenplay competition. This screenplay, titled “Infinity,” is based on a novella I wrote several years ago and was developed in workshop during my final semester of grad school under the guidance of Prof. Valerie Vogrin. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the ceremonies next weekend in Louisville!

At the moment, I’m working on the next couple of books for Falstaff, doing as much freelancing work as I can scrounge, and continuing the Great Job Hunt as the fall semester looms. Wish me luck! 

P.S. I am still on Twitter as both author and journalist, as well as Facebook and Instagram with very rare postings on YouTube. I’ve now added TikTok with guidance from my son, who is much hipper than I am, because apparently it’s required. I think that’s enough social media for the moment… 
 

Publicity/Appearances

June kicked off with ConCarolinas, which was a delight as usual. It was great to see old friends like Rachel Brune and Nancy Knight and my awesome publisher, John Hartness. I always enjoy the show, though I keep meaning to schedule an extra day sometime so I can actually see something of Charlotte, N.C. besides the airport and the hotel. 

Paris came only 24 hours after returning to St. Louis, and it wasn’t technically a work trip except I wrote travelogues the entire time, so it counts! Highlights of the trip included Shakespeare & Co., the Opera Garnier (also known as the hangout for the Phantom of the Opera), the Musee d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower and much more. Again, check out Patreon for the details!

Coming up this month is a presentation for TechWrite STL, followed by Imaginarium in Louisville on July 14-16! Terry Brooks is the guest of honor and the film festival is rocking, so if you’re in the vicinity, come see us! We will be bringing the whole Literary Underworld and the Traveling Bar, so you know it’ll be a blast.

2023 calendar:
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis. July, 11. (presenter)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (guest author)
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 31-Sept. 4 (guest author)
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Date TBA. (guest author)


Journalism/Blogs/Essays

• Olin worker dies in plant explosion (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• SWIC expands manufacturing training program (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Multi-family housing approved for Highland (Highland News-Leader and YahooNews)
• Highland officials trim budgets from local groups (Highland News-Leader and YahooNews)
• Staffers at St. Louis Public Radio to vote on unionization (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Illinois unions made significant gains in recent legislative session (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Aging Highland swimming pool closes nine days after opening (Highland News-Leader and YahooSports Canada)
• Bill to address Illinois food deserts could grow union jobs (St. Louis Labor Tribune)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Fiction

I’m happy to report that the much-delayed annual bonus is finally on its way to my Patreon subscribers! Watch your emails for your survey, Patrons. 
 

Patreon/Medium

• Wearing the pants in my own damn life, or the IDGAF Jeans (Medium and Patreon)
• Con Report: ConCarolinas 2023 (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 1.0 (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 1.5, sipping champagne at Notre Dame (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 2, or adventures in ordering (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 3, the farmer’s market (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 4, of bravery and beauty and books (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 5, “I specifically said Box 5 was to be kept open” (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 6, or dreaming beauty in pictures (Patreon)
• Paris Je T’aime: Day 7, always moving forward (Patreon)
• The MFA Reading List (Medium)

Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to its launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.


Photography

Just about all of the important photography this month happened in Paris, with the best shots on the Patreon. Some of them will appear on the photography site soon and will be available for purchase! Stay tuned.

June 2023 Linkspam

We were prepared for some time that there would be what the bigwigs call a “gap in employment” once I graduated. May was the first month of my hiatus. Yet somehow I ended up almost as busy as I was in grad school!

Of course, the month kicked off with the graduation and celebrations, all of which was detailed in last month’s newsletter. We had more than 50 people at the big graduation barbecue, and I didn’t think I knew that many people, much less could fit them in my house! 

Then came figuring out this whole don’t-have-a-job thing. Which isn’t really true: I have my freelancing work, and as I’ve always found, you get out of freelancing what you put into it. To be honest, I didn’t put in as much as I anticipated, because I’ve been kind of in recovery mode. I’ve been sorting out my house, doing my physical therapy, cleaning out my inboxes, covering my meetings and so on. I’ve been reading books – for fun! I remember what that was like – and crunching on some long-delayed deadlines for fiction work. I caught up on the nonprofit/volunteer work – sorta – so that Eville Writers, St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, Relay for Life, AWP adjunct caucus (proposed), and the St. Andrew’s Book Sale all got some attention.

We also had a long-awaited visit from the Awesome Stepkids, and so I was wrangling the most energetic twentysomethings in the Central Time Zone last week. 

Publicity/Appearances

No public appearances in May – like I said, recovery mode – but June is kicking off with ConCarolinas! As I write this, my plane is delayed, but I’ll be in Charlotte sooner or later to run my mouth about various topics and hobnob with my fellow wizards. 

Unfortunately this means I’ll miss Relay for Life this Saturday, which was rescheduled from April due to an unplanned tornado. The Awesome Husband will be running the show in my absence, and my team has already raised more than $3,000 for the American Cancer Society (some of which is not showing, but it exists). If you’d like to kick in a last-minute donation, you can find us here.

Then it’s off to Paris! This is a family trip, a very kind gift from my mom and stepdad, who will be meeting me in the City of Lights next week. I’ll be tweeting as possible @edonald and @edonaldmedia, and full travelogues and photo essays will be on the Patreon. Subscribe now for the whole thing and all my backlist, starting at $1 a month! 

In other news, the TechWrite STL grammar chat has been set for July 11, and there’s a possible trip back to the old homestead in Tennessee in September. Stay tuned…

2023 calendar:
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4 (guest author)
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis. July, 11. (presenter)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (guest author)
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 31-Sept. 4 (guest author)
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Date TBA. (guest author)


Journalism/Blogs/Essays

• Cafe Birdie’s menu evokes the casual, coastal feel of a beach cafe (Feast Magazine)
• Child pedestrian injuries surge in summer, Highland police warn (Highland News Leader and Yahoo Sports Canada)
• Paramedics get a raise, new contract in Highland (Highland News Leader)
• Renovation of Highland City Hall delayed by higher-than-expected bids (Highland News Leader and Yahoo Sports Canada)
• Ceremony honors fallen workers in Madison County Federation (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland’s oldest structure, a bell tower, donated back to city (Highland News Leader)
• Illinois launches pre-apprenticeship program for climate-related fields (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland student disciplined for airsoft gun on campus (Highland News-Leader)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Fiction

• Infinity, Pt. 1 (Patreon)
• Infinity, Pt. 2 (Patreon)

Patreon/Medium

Coming soon: this is the Summer of Bond, as I received a boxed set of all the Bond movies for Mother’s Day and I’ll be unpacking the action, awesomeness, misogny and racism with bonus snark all summer long. Watch for that on Patreon! 

• Be water: Neil Gaiman on comics, craft and a cup of tea (Medium and Patreon)
• Traveling Woman (Patreon)
• Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (Patreon)

Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.


Photography

Not much to report, but I expect that will be significantly different when I get back from the June travels! There is a pair of cardinals nesting right outside our dining room window, and it is the great frustration of my life as a photographer that I simply cannot get a good angle to see into the nest without going outside and therefore disturbing them. Other than that – and a whole bunch of silly candids from the Awesome Stepkids Weekend – it’s been mostly taking pictures of food for my culinary writing exploits and some spot news photography. 

May Linkspam: Graduation Edition!

Cue the pomp and circumstance, don the World’s Silliest Hat. I am graduated.

This, by the way, is why the newsletter is a week late. As you know, it was right up the wire catching up all my schoolin’ after my illness in order to graduate in time. When I got out of hospital, I had ten significant pieces of academic writing that needed to be completed in five weeks. I defended my thesis on Monday, turned in the final seminar paper on Wednesday, taught my last class on Thursday and graduated on Friday. On Saturday, there was barbecue and laughter and more than fifty friends and family gathered to celebrate with us. 

In short (too late), it’s been a hell of a ride.

Below is the usual list of appearances and publications, but graduating was pretty much the highlight. Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that’s it’s been five years, fourteen semesters, an M.S. in media studies, an M.F.A. in creative writing, a plethora of students, a myriad of classes, more than 130 books, a gazillion papers and an infinite number of Starbucks Tripleshots. It’s been quite the journey over the last five years, learning to be a teacher while re-learning to be a student again, and launching a full-time freelancing and creative writing business from my “side gig” all these years. 

But the best thing I’ve learned on this ride is that we’re always students. Graduation is an accomplishment, to be sure, and hopefully a gateway to better things. But there are always new things to learn, new perspectives to consider, new books to fall into, new ideas to try on for size. We never graduate from that lifelong journey, and we are the better for it. I know that I am. 
 

Publicity/Appearances

I canceled most of April’s appearances, but I did keep a couple of them! I spoke at the annual SIUE Mass Comm Week on April 20 for my usual ethics discussion, which this year featured A.I. and its implications for journalism. My thoughts on this subject continue to evolve, and I imagine I will be writing more about it in the months to come. Mass Comm Week also featured the First Amendment Free* Food Festival cosponsored by the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, as well as many other panels, roundtables and events. 

I also took part in a group reading for this year’s edition of the River Bluff Review, which accepted two poems, a short story and a photo from me this year. It was a great reading and a lot of fun to hear the diverse voices in this year’s edition. The video is available on Patreon.

I was also honored to speak at the Second Life Fantasy Faire, a two-week event in metaverse that raised money for the American Cancer Society. I gave a short craft talk and read a short story, which was very generously received. I was asked if I would consider returning to do a writing workshop, and I informed them that VRaze The Bar will be scheduling me for an in-world workshop in the near future, rescheduled from the one that was canceled when I was in hospital. I’m really enjoying the events in Second Life and look forward to doing more in metaverse in the future. 

No formal readings or appearances are planned for May – still trying to take it easy – but June will kick off with three weeks on the road, so that makes up for it! Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you wanted to see the graduation for some strange reason, the livestream was saved here.

In addition, the Banned Books Roundtable in the last week of March was uploaded to YouTube as well. If you can overlook my pneumonia voice, I thought it went off very well. It was also posted to Patreon.

2023 calendar:
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4 (guest author)
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis. July, TBA. (presenter)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (guest author)
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 31-Sept. 4 (guest author)
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Date TBA. (guest author)


Journalism/Blogs/Essays

• Documenting family’s immigration leads to discovery, award for author (Highland News-Leader)
• Historic hotel is ‘hopeless,’ will be torn down (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo!Sports for some reason)
• Paid leave is now the law in Illinois (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Repeated complaints lead to charges against Highland man (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland schools struggle with staffing problems (Highland News-Leader)
• Ten tips for attending AWP (Medium)
• Once more unto Second Life, dear friends (Elizabeth Donald)
• RBR reading (Elizabeth Donald) and SL reading (Elizabeth Donald and Patreon)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Fiction

• The Good Samaritan (Patreon)
 

Patreon/Medium

• Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (Patreon)
• MFA Reading List (Patreon)
• River Bluff Review reading video (Patreon)

Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.


Photography

Nothing new in the art department, so you get silliness from the graduation!