When a press release is like a friend who talks too much

herald-messy-desk.jpgOne of the troubles of being ‘the intern’ at a newspaper is having to handle press releases. The fear of God keeps me from tossing anything out without a look, so I spend too much time reading press releases that just make me wonder who wrote them and who thought that writing them would benefit anyone. Want some examples from today alone?

Elizabeth L. Bennett, Esquire, gave a presentation on the collaborative family law process at the March meeting of the Montgomery County Bar Association Family Law Committee.

 

An email attachment of one sentence,  just needless information. Elizabeth L. Bennett’s husband doesn’t care enough to hear about that, so why would I or any news outlet care about that? 

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Multimedia coverage of Hillary Clinton at Temple

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Last week, I posted about The Temple News covering Hillary Clinton holding a rally in McGonigle Hall at Temple, in front of a crowd of several thousand.

LeAnne Matlach, the assistant News Editor, reported there; Chris Stover, the Chief Copy Editor, filed an audio story, and Sean Blanda, our Online Editor, edited down video highlights of her 40-minute speech. In a pinch and without a photographer, I took photos, rounding out a complete multimedia package, though my photography is less than up to the normal standards of The Temple News.

Check out a slide show of those photos here on Flickr.

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My coverage of Barack Obama in Philadelphia

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There was a huge media crunch for Barack Obama’s Philadelphia address at the National Constitution Center today, though I did cover the event as best I could. (You can also see it here on The Temple News Web site)

I fought my way in, was escorted out twice, before finally get 30 seconds to take as many photos as I wanted in what was a rotating photographer system. A fire marshal enforced an occupancy limit as the second floor room was overfilled, there was a lot of frustration and perhaps as many as 80 journalists watching Obama’s speech on race from a overfill room, broadcasting a closed circuit video of the presidential candidate.

I was told some 250 media credentials were requested for 50 spots, as more than 100 tickets, mostly for city Democrats and high profile party leaders of the region, were only privately distributed.

Though the event’s locale wasn’t announced beyond media circles, still many supporters of Obama, perhaps more than 30, gathered to try to get in.

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My grandfather waits: excerpt

george-wink-as-infant.jpgMy grandmother died on the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 2006, two months beyond my father’s parents celebrated 54 years marriage.

The thought of the weight of loneliness, left after a half century of practiced, dependent love, made me shiver one night, then a continent away, studying in Tokyo. I made an effort to call my grandfather more once I returned in December.

The conversations after her death were always the same. He’d answer my questions with as few words as possible, as if he was waiting for a bus. I guess he was waiting for a bus.

This is a short excerpt. To read the rest of this piece and other writing, go here.

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Covering Barack Obama tomorrow in Philadelphia

There has been plenty of speculation about where Barack Obama will be tomorrow.

It has been announced that he will be speaking somewhere in Philadelphia, but the location has been kept limited, for reasons I don’t entirely understand. The speech has been described as a major address on race in politics, so expect historic words.

Still, I have been granted the privilege of reporting on his appearance tomorrow for The Temple News. All will be posted tomorrow afternoon. Check back for coverage.

See him in Philadelphia last May below.

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Mike Schmidt launches wine for charity… seriously

What fun to cover. This a brief for the Philadelphia Business Journal today.theslugger.jpg

Mike Schmidt, the Hall of Fame former Phillies third baseman, has taken to wine-making for charity. Along with two other members of the 500 Home Run Club, former Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks and standout switch hitter Eddie Murray, Schmidt has teamed with Eos Estate Winery in California to produce three wines, each using one of the major leaguers’ names and career home run totals. All of the proceeds will go to a philanthropic cause of the athlete’s choosing. Schmidt has decided his profits will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, based in Maryland. There is the Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, the Ernie Banks 512 Chardonnay, and the Eddie Murray 504 Cabernet. They can be preordered now, though they won’t be available in stores until May. A bottle is expected to cost $17.”

We’ll have a carafe of the Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, maybe something in a 2009.

But, I couldn’t possibly top the press release I received.I happily shared with just about everyone one quotation I read while filing the story. It came from Liz Banks, wife of Ernie Banks and president of the 500 Home Run Club.

With 548 home runs, Mike Schmidt was such a quality ballplayer that for him to launch a quality wine for charity seemed a natural fit.”

Natural fit, indeed.

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Medical ailment interrupts interview

Evdoctor.jpgery once in a while, the grind of reporting throws you a gem.You may see only frustration when someone cancels an interview you were going to conduct for a story you were writing. Indeed, at first, I did, too. But then, I got an email from the company’s communications director explaining why, and his words were, indeed, far more meaningful than a 25-minute line of questioning.

Christopher

We have a problem. [Name] has an emergency doctor’s appt [sic] this morning as he either has a broken foot or gout. I couldn’t even make this up and don’t even know what gout is…

…I am not making this up. Seriously. Hilarious.

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My grandfather waits

By Christopher Wink | Mar 18, 2008

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My grandmother died on the Monday before Thanksgiving, November 2006, two months beyond my father’s parents celebrated 54 years marriage.The thought of the weight of loneliness, left after a half century of practiced, dependent love, made me shiver one night, then a continent away, studying in Tokyo. I made an effort to call my grandfather more once I returned in December.

The conversations after her death were always the same. He’d answer my questions with as few words as possible, as if he was waiting for a bus. I guess he was waiting for a bus.

“I don’t know anymore, Christopher,” he’d tell me. “I just don’t feel well anymore.”

“It’s okay, grandpa,” I’d answer. “I’ll talk to you soon.”

Maybe he wanted to say more. Maybe he didn’t. I never knew how to offer to help shoulder his burden. We so rarely know how to help shoulder another’s burden. We so rarely know how to shoulder our own.

My grandmother, his wife, had died, quietly, though troublingly near the beginning of the holiday season. It may have been the only time she was ever a burden. The burden of death is a particularly heavy one.

My grandfather was born Oct. 26, 1923 in Cambria Heights, then a safe, working class neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. My grandmother shared her birth with that of the year 1928, welcomed into the world on Jan. 1. They met a church social and were married at St. Albans the Martyr Episcopal Church in a leafy stretch of Turin Drive in Jamaica, Queens on Sept. 20, 1952.

My grandfather’s courtship of a single-mother divorcee is unknown to me. Similarly, all I know of most of their marriage is that they decorated the living room of their Levitt-style home in 1973, with all of that year’s fashionable colors, styles and comforts and never got around to changing it.

I know casual stories of his past, though their veracity is unquestioned enough to merit more scrupulous investigation. In the Second World War, before meeting my grandmother, he sat in a watchtower on some island in the Pacific Ocean, listening to Tokyo Rose and firing his issued firearm just once, to see how it sounded one clear and boring night. In 1963, he purchased a handful of .22 rifles, and took to brandishing them on his front steps, race riots plaguing the country, and two black communities – a suburban one to his east and a quickly changing Queens not far west – surrounding the home he had made.

What I know best, though, is how terrified he was after my grandmother’s death. He was never a great man outside of 15 Windsor Street in Hicksville. Those types you have read before, no picture in the newspaper, no great accolades, nor speeches in his honor. Just a small family and a woman with whom, for whatever reason, he spent the better portion of the last 54 years of his life. Before her death, he was smilingly oblivious, immersed most in maps, and history, stamps and coupons. He tended to repeat himself, but was coherent and kind enough that it was charming. After her death, too much was missing from his eyes, like he was removed, sitting on a bench, waiting for a bus that was already late.
By March he was dead, found by my aunt, turned over and gone in the bed of the home he had made with a woman who had already left.

“I don’t know anymore, Christopher,” he’d tell me. “I just don’t feel well anymore.”

As if that bus was four months late.

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