Young professionals: get your handshakes in order

Oh, they matter. If you don’t think they do, you missed it.

Last week, I shook the hand of another young journalist. I suppose he felt eye-contact was uncomfortable, so he looked down, offered me an awkwardly limp, motionless form of his hand for a second and pulled away.

It was a train wreck of a handshake, and I was stunned. I thought that’s knowledge of old, something a generation past figured out and has since become necessary cultural learning. But not for this young man, whose work I enjoy.

Please don’t mistake the old learning of the handshake to mean it’s outdated. All the social media in the world can’t make up for the trust and personal understanding that can pass through a firm interlock of right hands. Any freelancer or aspiring media type needs this skill down flat.

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The rules of when you can Digg yourself

I have submitted a story or post of mine to Digg three times in a half-year of membership.

I readily know that I have friends who’ll swear that number is larger.

I recently pledged to work on limiting my own shameless self-promotion and, admittedly, nothing is dirtier than submitting your own work to Digg or other sites, like ReddIt and Stumble Upon. So, I thought I’d set some guidelines for others and, well, really, myself to follow.

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Number of Views:2286

College graduates: when do you stop calling people Mr. and Ms.?

I graduated and am now, it seems, I am a professional freelance writer.

So when do I stop presuming to address editors with titles, Mr., Mrs. and the like?

I’ve had the conversation with friends and colleagues, and no one seems to have much of a real answer.

Some say using a title in an e-mail suggests I’m young and inexperiened. Others say just the opposite, that the formality gives a sense of greater age.

For now, I’ve stuck with using titles until an editor tells me otherwise; unless, I’m sending something the way of a publication with a decidedly more informal setting, most blogs, alternative weeklies and the like.

If you figure out a better rule or the absolutely exact moment I should drop the titles and go with first names, let me know.

Number of Views:5883

Inquirer: Devon Theater reopens in Mayfair

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

The Devon Theater‘s proud reopening on Frankford Avenue in Mayfair was detailed in yesterday’s Sunday Inquirer by theatre critic Howie Shapiro and me.

About 400 people, dressed for a gala, will take their seats Friday evening in what once was a dilapidated Frankford Avenue movie house. Three women in nun’s habits will pop up, administering parochial-school demands: Get rid of the gum! Flip off those cell phones!

The lights will dim, the loopy musical Nunsense will begin – and Northeast Philadelphia will have its first professional live-performance theater, in an area where many people (those in the Northeast included) may not expect to find one. Read the rest here.

Check out the genuinely interesting story, comment and then come back and see some extras below.

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Live, from the Northeast – it's theater (Philadelphia Inquirer: 3/22/09)

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff PhotographerDevon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of “Nunsense,” the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

By Howie Shapiro and Christopher Wink | Philadelphia Inquirer | March 22, 2009

About 400 people, dressed for a gala, will take their seats Friday evening in what once was a dilapidated Frankford Avenue movie house. Three women in nun’s habits will pop up, administering parochial-school demands: Get rid of the gum! Flip off those cell phones!

The lights will dim, the loopy musical Nunsense will begin – and Northeast Philadelphia will have its first professional live-performance theater, in an area where many people (those in the Northeast included) may not expect to find one.

The opening of the sparkling Devon Theater is an example both of neighborhood tenacity and of a professional Philadelphia theater community whose growth – against the economic odds – seems unstoppable.

“I welcome them to the theater community,” says Margie Salvante, executive director of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. “The theater industry, on a national level, is really focused on Philadelphia as a hot spot right now.”

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Live, from the Northeast – it’s theater (Philadelphia Inquirer: 3/22/09)

Devon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of "Nunsense," the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff PhotographerDevon artistic director Michael Pickering oversees a rehearsal of “Nunsense,” the inaugural show for the new theater. AMANDA CEGIELSKI / Staff Photographer

By Howie Shapiro and Christopher Wink | Philadelphia Inquirer | March 22, 2009

About 400 people, dressed for a gala, will take their seats Friday evening in what once was a dilapidated Frankford Avenue movie house. Three women in nun’s habits will pop up, administering parochial-school demands: Get rid of the gum! Flip off those cell phones!

The lights will dim, the loopy musical Nunsense will begin – and Northeast Philadelphia will have its first professional live-performance theater, in an area where many people (those in the Northeast included) may not expect to find one.

The opening of the sparkling Devon Theater is an example both of neighborhood tenacity and of a professional Philadelphia theater community whose growth – against the economic odds – seems unstoppable.

“I welcome them to the theater community,” says Margie Salvante, executive director of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. “The theater industry, on a national level, is really focused on Philadelphia as a hot spot right now.”

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Number of Views:2883

Newspapers should make more money with their brand

I’m betting that a revenue model for newspapers will develop in the coming years -whether it be as a nonprofit or whether online advertising can be revolutionized. Many general interest newspapers will be lost, but a tier will remain for at least some time, I think.

But, gosh, I wish more newspapers would make the most of these uncertain times. No newspaper do I write more often about, criticize or compliment more, than the Philadelphia Inquirer – because it’s big, historic, once among the world’s best, my hometown paper and the only one for which I ever personally had a subscription.

I always say, though, that these lessons can go for all newspapers.

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Number of Views:4093

Turning down the self-promotion

We are stuck in an echo chamber, a friend said to me recently.

While the digital divide is slowly lessening and more people are online all the time, there is a very small community that is always repeating itself  on whatever the social media of the moment is Рlately that has been Twitter, of course.

I’m part of it, no doubt. Because our society today demands self-promotion, or so it seems. The echo chamber is so small and there are so many people talking – mostly about the same things – that it’s tough to be heard over it all.

Your post or your story or your A1 article is getting buried, surely a big part of why newspapers are faltering. The democratization of the Web has given megaphones to anyone with an Internet connection, so no longer does your daily newspaper have the same pedastal.

So, if you want to be heard, you flee to MySpace, or Facebook or Twitter or on your blog or wherever else.¬† I believe that you have to put yourself everywhere online if you want to compete in a media field of your choice. But it’s easy to cross over from active self-promotion to incessant self-indulgence.

I’ve done it myself, so here’s my pledge to do better.

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Number of Views:2219

What is your blog's focus?

You should be blogging, even if casually and infrequently and briefly.

I’ve already said that journalists of all stripes, anyone interested in media, research or anything in which your writing, your name and your credibility is best served defended and re-defended somewhere it can be found.

One of the best reasons to traipse into this fad — and, of course, blogging is fad for now, fashion, perhaps, later, because we won’t know of its longevity for some time — is because there is no better way to develop a voice and a focus. These are, they tell me and tell me and tell me again, central qualities to all writers of note and consequence, indeed, even writers and speakers and thinkers of even relative success.

And it’s harder than you might think.

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Number of Views:2419