What I’ve Been Reading

From the world’s greatest journeys to blogging geekery to funny accents, here’s a list of some material I’ve been enjoying online over the past months but haven’t had time to link to until now:

— Wanderlust: GOOD magazine “maps out history’s greatest journeys, from Magellan to Kerouac”

— World Hum interview: “Paul Theroux: Invisible Man on a Ghost Train”

— “25+ Tools for a Road Trip 2.0”

— ReadWriteWeb: “The Future of Blogging Revealed”

— 10, “15 Journalists’ outstanding personal sites”

— Merlin Mann: “What Makes for a Good Blog?”

— Chris Brogan: “A Sample Blogging Workflow”

Audio recording and radio journalism:
— The Freesound Project: “a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds”

— “Remote Recording Survival Guide”

Just for Fun:
“Can You Guess Where My Accent is From?”

“Average Athlete vs Olympic Athlete”

— “Bacilos – Sin Verguenza,” a post about an album from one of my favorite bands. (Aside: Best track from this album — with silly lip syncing fan vid: “Pasos de Gigante.”)

Where We Do What We Do: pics of work spaces. And nothing more.


“Journalist seeking paycheck? Try India”

Journalist seeking paycheck? Try India: As U.S. newsrooms shrivel, India’s are booming. And they’re hiring, not firing reporters and editors.

If ever there was a time to take pity on America’s journalists, this would be it.

The U.S. news industry is bleeding jobs. According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 2,400 journalists left newspaper newsrooms last year, either through layoffs or buyouts, leaving the industry with its smallest workforce since 1984. Circulation and revenue are falling across the country, as are share prices: Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper publisher, is seeing its stock trade at around one-third its value a year ago; the New York Times Co. is down 45 percent. Classified advertising revenues have dropped 30 percent over the last two years and the last quarter was one of the industry’s worst ever.

Just how bad can it get? The American Journalism Review’s Charles Layton recently concluded that “we may begin seeing, pretty soon, big American cities with no daily newspaper.”

So, what’s an underemployed journalist to do? Some move on to academia or cross over to the dark side of public relations. But a few forward-thinking souls are heading to a land where journalism jobs not only aren’t disappearing, but are more plentiful by the day: India.

(Thanks to A for the link.)


Gary Shteyngart on Travel Writing

Rolf Potts recently posted a Q&A on travel writing with author and essayist Gary Shteyngart. Here’re a few snippets I like:

How did you get started writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid in Russia. My grandma paid me in little pieces of cheese for every page I wrote. That’s how you create a writer. By paying him or her with something edible.

What is your biggest challenge in the research and writing process?

I usually don’t find this part very challenging, unless the language is very difficult (see: Thai) and the address system of the place I’m writing about is very strange (see: Seoul).

Have you ever done other work to make ends meet?

Well, I’m primarily a novelist. That’s my main bread and butter. But the travel writing is very important to me, because it gets me out of the house. I still believe that writers need to see the world to understand their own place in it.

What is the biggest reward of life as a traveler and writer?

Life is short and our planet is finite. What can be more important than seeing the totality of the human condition in this awful and wonderful world of ours?


Chicago Tribune Eliminates Help-Wanted Ads on Weekdays

Editor and Publisher:

In the most radical move from print to digital advertising by a major newspaper, the Chicago Tribune announced Monday it is eliminating help-wanted ads from the newspaper on weekdays.

Instead, there will be a listing of basic information in the business section every Tuesday. The listing, called “Careerbuilder QuickFind,” will refer readers to the full recruitment ad on through a Web ID.

“Chicago Tribune and the rest of the newspaper industry face the same challenges with shifts in help wanted advertising, and we are taking the lead on reinventing the way we present our job listings,” Ellen Glassberg, the paper’s director of recruitment advertising, said in a statement. “We see this challenge as an opportunity for us to retool our recruitment advertising offerings and fully integrate the online and print job search experience to be hyper-focused on the needs of job seekers.”

As reported, the Tribune launched its redesign Monday with a new nameplate, narrower page width, and some changes in section head typefaces.

Emphasis mine.



The WSJ’s Informed Reader Blog

The Wall Street Journal’s Informed Reader blog (tag line: “a survey of insights from media around the world”) has quickly become one of my favorite sources for international news from a variety of publications.

Recent posts include:

“Malnutrition Plagues Peru Despite Economic Growth,”
“African Farm Boom Defies Continent’s Grim Image,”
“How Nerdy are Sports Fans?”
“Getting Vicuna Wool the Inca Way”

(Via fimoculous’s “Best Blogs of 2007 That You (Maybe) Aren’t Reading”.)

Edward Tufte on Megan Jaegerman’s News Graphics

Megan Jaegerman's News Graphic: Hockey Goalie [not my image, naturally]

Edward Tufte:

Megan Jaegerman produced some of the best news graphics ever while working at The New York Times from 1990 to 1998. Her work is smart, finely detailed, elegant, witty, inventive, informative. A fierce researcher and reporter, she writes gracefully and precisely. Megan has the soul of a news reporter, who happens to use graphs, tables, and illustrations–as well as words–to explain the news. Her best work is the best work in news graphics.

I like her graphic, above, that illustrates how hockey goaltenders stop shots.


Freelancing Overseas

I occasionally get emails from folks who’d like more information about living abroad and working as a freelancer. Here’re three good resources:

Freelancing Overseas: Casting Off the Parachute: “Notes, tips and insights for journalists who are thinking about freelancing overseas, from one writer who has been there,” by Vanessa Gezari on Poynter Online.

“I Want to Travel the World While Telecommuting. Any Tips on How to Make This Possible?” A Q&A with Rolf Potts on World Hum.

“A Year Abroad (or 3) as a Career Move,” a New York Times story from Hillary Chura.


R.W. Apple’s Bangkok Food Story

Legendary Timesman R.W. (Johnny) Apple Jr. has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Quoth the Times’s Todd Purdum:

R. W. Apple Jr., who in more than 40 years as a correspondent and editor at The New York Times wrote from more than 100 countries about war and revolution, politics and government, food and drink, and the revenge of living well, died yesterday in Washington. He was 71.

The cause was complications of thoracic cancer.

With his Dickensian byline, Churchillian brio and Falstaffian appetites, Mr. Apple, who was known as Johnny, was a singular presence at The Times almost from the moment he joined the metropolitan staff in 1963. He remained a colorful figure as new generations of journalists around him grew more pallid, and his encyclopedic knowledge, grace of expression — and above all his expense account — were the envy of his competitors, imitators and peers.

Mr. Apple enjoyed a career like no other in the modern era of The Times. He was the paper’s bureau chief in Albany, Lagos, Nairobi, Saigon, Moscow, London and Washington. He covered 10 presidential elections and more than 20 national nominating conventions. He led The Times’s coverage of the Vietnam War for two and a half years in the 1960’s and of the Persian Gulf war a generation later, chronicling the Iranian revolution in between.

In honor of his passing, I thought I’d point out his superb story about eating in Bangkok that was published this time last year. Don’t miss it.

Apple also penned an article about ten notable restaurants world-wide that was due to appear this fall; it’s been published posthumously.


Frugal Traveler Update

Organic Apple Farm in Turkey

My pal — and Malaysia traveling companionMatt Gross recently published what I think is his finest New York Times Frugal Traveler column yet: a moving story about volunteering on an organic apple farm in Turkey. Don’t miss it. (Here’s the archive of his stories from the last two months of his round-the-world journey.)

My Story on World Cup Supporters in Thailand

English World Cup Supporter

I have a story in today’s IHT/ThaiDay about international World Cup supporters here in Bangkok. I tracked down some Germans (easy), some English (also easy), an Italian (not so easy), and an Argentine (quite difficult). I tried to capture these fans’ hopes for what their squads might accomplish over the coming days. A snip from a part that I quite enjoy:

If Germany wins the title on July 9, will the Germans celebrate in any special manner? A Bei Otto patron named Klaus pipes up, chuckling. “If Germany wins, we will sit here and drink beer like Germans,” he says. “We will not dance in the street. We are not Dutch.”