Why provide free advertising?

Do you ever wonder why people who have spent thousands of dollars on a car insist on providing free advertising for the dealerships?

Just because they gave you a license plate frame for free with the car, doesn’t mean you have to keep it on. After paying $15,000 – $30,000 or more for a car, do you really want to provide free advertising for this dealer for the next four or five years?

 

I say no. I don’t have a frame at all. I don’t like it when information is hidden from your license plate. I like to know what county you live in (Kentucky has this) or just be happy to see which state you live in. License plates have a purpose. It is not to provide free advertising for that car dealership that already fleeced you enough.

Some people may like a frame.  If so, I’d rather see a frame that shows some personality or some affiliation to something you believe in — whether your favorite college team, favorite place or even your profession. This costs money, but if you want a frame,  you can buy a plain silver one for as little as $7-8 on Amazon. The UK  one above was $6.78 and I’m sure you can find one to support a cause or something better than a car dealership.  Etsy has some cute flower ones and funny and custom ones for $10-20. If you are really on a budget, I bet your can find cheaper ones at flea markets.

Car dealers have other ways to advertise that help out others — whether newspapers websites, or billboards. That at least creates some revenue. Your free billboard on the back of your car is their way to cheat the system. And you are probably an accomplice in that.

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A sad time for journalism…

I’ve wanted to write about the state of journalism and how it is perceived by many today for a while. The shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis  stirred up so much emotion, so here I go.

When have reporters become the enemy? The old adage “Don’t shoot the messenger” comes to mind.

Journalists are messengers. They tell stories, give facts and let the public know what the government is doing. They are our eyes and ears in places we can’t be.

They are NOT political operatives and should never be promoting political agendas.

I’m a traditionalist in journalism. Just the facts, ma’am. But the lines have gotten blurred on the Internet where everyone can be a journalist and you can’t tell the editorial page from the front page.

A journalist friend posted on Facebook that he disagrees with the advent of first-person journalism that millennials seem to favor. He used a quote by Jill Abramson, the former editor of The New York Times, who told a reporter this week about the students she teaches at Harvard.  “… They mostly want to write first-person, highly personal narratives about themselves… I think there’s too much of that in journalism. It’s not about us. It’s about the world, and covering the world.”

The first-person narratives outside of a magazine are not the only problem with journalism. The commentators analyzing the news who try to sway people’s opinions on TV are not journalists. They are part of the media, but shouldn’t call themselves journalists.

Dave Barry wrote in his column in The Miami Herald today about those talking heads and how they are a small percentage of journalists who work for newspapers.

“There are newspaper journalists who seem far more interested in getting on TV, and jacking up their Twitter numbers, than being fair or accurate,” Barry writes. “There are incompetent, dishonest people in this business, as in any business….But these people are a minority — I think a tiny minority — of news people, especially of newspaper people.”

Overall, journalists are an important part of this country’s structure. Some call us the “Fourth Estate” as we are seen as the fourth branch of government. Journalists are just working hard, often for very little money and with little job security, to shed light on what the other three branches of government are doing.

My colleague at Miami who also teaches journalism, Rosemary Pennington, wrote this on her Facebook page:  ” The attacks on journalists — rhetorical or physical — make a difficult job even more difficult. …Our job, as journalists, is to highlight the good in our communities, but it is also – and perhaps more importantly – to expose all the ugly things we don’t want to confront. The ugly truths about people we look up to, histories we hold dear, realities of the communities we live in.”

So don’t shoot the messenger — especially not in the literal sense. Just don’t blame the journalists for the hateful rhetoric in our society coming from politicians and talking heads on all sides of the political spectrum.

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My European adventure on WOW

wowlogMy family and I recently returned from a trip to Europe. It was amazing in so many ways that it is hard to tell you about everything. But I do want to share some observations about taking WOW Airlines. WOW Airlines just started flying out of the Cincinnati airport last month, so I was nervous about taking it.

We took WOW Airlines because it saved us $2,000 for four tickets over Delta. I was a little weary about using this airlines because of some of the chatter on the Internet, but everything turned out just fine. I did research and convinced myself the worst that could happen is that we would be stuck in Iceland — and that would give us the opportunity to see another country for a day.

But I still had some other fears:

  • I was nervous about the lack of documentation — no e-ticket, just a receipt. I felt better once I had checked in each time, but I wish WOW did a better job with their customer service. When you reserve, you get an email that asks you to pay. I had to call Iceland to pay because the website wouldn’t take my credit card. That also meant that I had a confirmation number with only letters and the American website wanted numbers… Do download the WOW app as you can see your trip details on it with the confirmation letters.
  • I was nervous about the lack of seat space and leg room on the airplane. This was true, but we knew ahead of time, so we dealt with it. My 6 foot — 3 inch son was not comfortable, but he was a trouper.
  • I was nervous about the lack of services onboard and that my family would be thirsty/hungry. This was OK because we bought bottles of water and a snacks to eat on board. And the first flight was overnight, so we weren’t really hungry till we got to Paris.
  • I was nervous about making the connection in Reykjavik because we had less than an hour to transfer to our next flight. Both ways. We ran the first time to make sure we could catch our flight to Paris because within that hour, you also had to go through a passport check. We shouldn’t have worried, because WOW will hold airplanes to make sure all passengers make their connection. We took it easier on the way back and easily made the second flight.
  • I was nervous about our baggage being lost. You will see many posts online about people losing luggage and then having a hard time getting reimbursed by WOW. This also didn’t happen to us thankfully.

So would I fly WOW again? I would do it again in a heartbeat. The flight was broken up because of the stop in Iceland, so it meant we flew almost six hours and then three more to get to Paris. I got up a lot to stretch during the flight. I slept some, but mostly just read.

It was worth the cost savings so we could do more sightseeing once in Europe. We saw so much in our 16-day trip and made memories for a lifetime. My suggestion before planning your European adventure with WOW Airlines, is do your own research so you know what you’re in for. And maybe upgrade to an XL seat or exit row.

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Recycling at Christmas: Use shoe boxes instead of shirt boxes

For years, I would recycle at those shirt boxes that everyone wraps clothes and other items in at Christmas. Often in our messy basement, they would get smashed, lose their shape and even get torn. So I started using more sturdy boxes — shoe boxes.

I love to use shoe boxes to put items in to wrap for numerous reasons. I’ll list a few here:

  • More sturdy (I can’t say it enough).
  • Way to recycle those shoe boxes instead of trashing/recycling them.
  • You never know what’s in the present, because most packages under the tree look the same.
  • It fits all kind of presents — clothes, toys, electronics, books, etc.
  • The same as shirt boxes, it’s easy to use with a roll of wrapping paper.
  • The thrifty Dutch woman in me loves the price for shoe boxes — they come free with shoes!

Those folks who fill shoe boxes for children around the world for Christmas already found out a long time ago they make great containers. And of course, you can do lots of crafts and make storage bins out of shoe boxes too. Just check this Pinterest page.

So save your shoe boxes — you know you have them — grab them out of the bottom of your closet and start wrapping for the holidays. Merry Christmas to all!

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Journalists and political opinions

Someone I really respect posted this question in a journalism educator’s group on Facebook: “When, how, if it is acceptable for college journalism educators to express their political opinions?”

I responded right away: “I do not express my opinions. I’m still old-school and consider myself a journalist.” 

Some people agreed and other didn’t. One wrote: “Can you envision a time when it would be wrong to stay silent? When your role as a U.S. citizen would supersede your role as a journalism educator?”

I will consider myself a journalist until the day I die. Not just a journalism educator. Others who teach journalism don’t feel that way. If they don’t practice journalism, they feel they can go to protests, write about how they feel about Trump on Facebook and Tweet their little hearts out to express opinions about this or that.

I might respond to someone’s opinionated posts with a question of my own or play devil’s advocate as journalists have been known to do, but I rarely express outright opinions about the news or politics. It’s in my DNA.

Am I taking the coward’s way out? Is there a time my role as a citizen supersedes my roles as a journalism educator? I don’t think that time is here now. But I’m be proud to be part of the profession that keeps people honest, brings light to all issues and plays a major part in our democracy today.

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Plagiarism is real

The press and people created a lot of hoopla over Melania Trump’s “reuse” of Michelle Obama’s speech eight years ago.

And rightly they should.

It was pretty obvious the speech was copied, whether it was accidental or not doesn’t matter. I guess we’re now in a period where only intent matters. “I didn’t mean to do it,” sounds like something a 10-year-old says. It’s not an excuse for adults and certainly not for speech writers.

I see plagiarism in my class almost every semester. Some of it is by accident, but I don’t find that’s an excuse. In the beginning of my writing courses, I outline this problem of attribution in a class and in a written memo to the class and I have them read Jimmy’s World to show what making up information can do to your journalism career. And yet, students each semester still make up information and steal stuff off the internet without attribution.

It’s ingrained in our society that everything on the Internet is for the taking. It’s free and clear and there for us to use, whether it is for a project in class or for watching or listening to.  I guess that idea has caught up to professionals in political campaigns too.

But it’s not free. People worked hard to write those words you use, to get that information you need, to take the picture you like, to make the music you want to listen to or to act in the shows you are watching. They should get credit for that work.

Plagiarism is wrong, regardless of who does it. It should be nipped in the bud immediately. If anything Melania Trump gave me a lesson to help explain plagiarism to my students next semester.

 

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Big, bad news media

With this Presidential election, the mistrust of the news media has reached an all-time high. This saddens me, because most people’s idea of what is news is so wrong these days.

Gone are the days of the 6:30 nightly news and the morning and afternoon newspapers. They’ve been replaced by social media, where a majority of people get their news, according to the Pew Research Center.

To be a good consumer of the news, you have to check to make sure your news source has done its job. Is the information on social media from legitimate news sites that do reporting, use sources and check their facts? Or is it from a site that promotes a certain point of view? Or even worse, did that news site steal someone else’s stories?

So when people say they hate the news media and are talking about getting rid of the first amendment rights for media, which media are they opposed to? Do they really want to get rid of the Fourth Estate as journalism was branded many years ago? The idea is that the media is the fourth part of our government, independent to keep an eye on the other three parts. Journalism is more important now than ever to keep track of what the government is doing. A good story will always be a good story, especially when it is about how the government spends its money.

Part of this is the media’s fault. Some of the networks (both cable and traditional) have blurred the lines between news and commentary on TV shows. Even the commentators on TV and radio don’t distinguish when referring to traditional media stories, by not specifying whether the story ran on the editorial pages or the front pages. There is a difference.

When you say journalism on TV and radio is biased, are you referring to  Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow ? They are not journalists. They are commentators.

Real journalists check their facts, cover all sides of the story, provide sources for the information they gather and will chomp at the bit at a good story, regardless which side of the political aisle might be impacted by it.

Some journalists are lazy and only cover the easy stories. But the ones I know are working hard to provide you with objective news. Maybe the public should look a little harder for those stories and news sources  — instead of just finding news on social media — before calling all of the media bad names.

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