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.

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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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Number of Views:4539

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.”

Continue reading

Number of Views:2559

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:2383

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:2003

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:2212

PSPA: Eleven Ways to Improve Your Student Publication Today

Speaking to a few dozen high school newspaper staffers at the PSPA conference on Friday.

Speaking to a few dozen high school newspaper staffers at the PSPA conference on Friday.

On Friday, I was a highlighted speaker at the at the 76th annual Pennsylvania School Press Association conference.

Below I’ve shared the notes I handed out during my first presentation. I also shared ChristopherWink.com/Improve-Student-Newspapers.

I chose to speak on, “Eleven Ways to Improve Your Student Publication Today,” for the following reason:

I always think the best value of a conference like this, particularly for high school kids (I remember being bored out of my mind at these), is immediate take-away. I’ve collected some awfully simple, but delightfully practical items a student newspaper or magazine might implement right away and improve the product. I’m focusing on online promotion and dissemination, multimedia organization and Web presence.

Below see what I listed during my presentation.

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Number of Views:3690

PSPA Conference speaker: Maybe I'm in over my head

other-speaker-highlights

A portion of the PSPA conference guide.

Today I’m in State College, Pa. perhaps making a fool of myself at the 76th annual Pennsylvania School Press Association conference.

I was thrilled when someone asked me in December if I’d like to speak to high school kids about multimedia storytelling and online publications. (Apparently people do read this thing!) I thought it even neater when I was e-mailed a draft of the conference guide.

Then I saw just below the first-page biography of keynote speaker Tim Harrower, an author and newspaper designer, two speaker highlights. The first is of Steve Manuel, a Penn State professor, former Department of Defense spokesman and, um, apparently a buddy of comedian Dane Cook.

The second name? Well, it was this young freelancer. I’m humbled and excited. See what I’ll be covering after the jump. If you’re there, well, gosh, let’s do lunch.

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Number of Views:2795

Redundancy: the art form of the freelancer

"Redundancy" by Will Pate.

I wrote a story for Philadelphia Weekly on theatrical performance commissioned by the Village of Arts and Humanities. I also blogged it for uwishunu and pitched it to friends at KYW News Radio and the Inquirer.

Though KYW covered it on its own, and the Inqy will do the same for another round of the performances, I took a single story and group of interviews and sent out different pitches with separate angles on the same subject.

With a little more effort, I got more pay, clips and contacts — without needing fresh sources.

In the increasingly difficult game of freelance writing, redundancy is a skill you need to know and we all need to improve.

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Number of Views:2019