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Monday, November 16, 2009

5


Another year has passed, and today is the 5th anniversary of the blog here at WNEP.com.

As is tradition, I'm going to torture you with the same story I drag out every year-- the genesis of the blog.  It's like Johnny Carson showing the Ed Ames tomahawk clip on every "Tonight" anniversary show, except this isn't as funny or interesting.

Our news director in 2004,  Dennis Fisher, was looking for ideas on adding more original content to the web site.  I saw some anchor written columns on tv station web sites in other cities, so I suggested a weekly column.  Dennis asked for a sample.  Before I had a chance to supply one, then-webmaster Mark Sowers noticed the blog thing taking off around the country.  One thing led to another, and here we are.

As I've said in the past, I think I get more out of this than you do.  It's a pleasant diversion-- an opportunity to do a little analysis, play with some bad photography and horrible graphics, and let you know what I'm all about (within reason).  I also have to get over my current fascination with the "anklepants" font.

Don't ask me why, but I've been thinking a lot about the craft of writing recently.  I can't believe my high school teachers and college professors would approve what they see here.  The sentences are choppy, short, and pedestrian.  Sentence fragments pop up on a regular basis, and I know that.  Too much first person.  Tenses switch.  I'm not stupid.  I should add that I was lucky to be taught by Stanley Evans at Mid Valley and Diane Lubniewski at Marywood.

The legendary David DeCosmo gave me some great advice a long, long time ago, when I was a young pup:  Keep it simple.  The best question is the direct one.  The best sentence is the shortest.  Make every word count.

The seeds were already there.  A high school history teacher once told me I was the only student who could express two thoughts in one short sentence.

The also legendary Kevin Jordan once told me he became a better reporter when he stopped trying to impress the other news directors and reporters in town.  The only ones who needed to be impressed were the viewers and listeners.

My blog is not a job audition.

Have I dropped enough names today?

I've been writing news, in one form or another, since my college days, in 1979.  This isn't Shakespeare.  I envy those who have a flowing and lyrical style, but that's not me.

I've seen college professors terrorize students into not making mistakes.  The kids were so afraid of errors in style and grammar that the writing was timid, bland, and boring.  Remember, this was in the typewriter days.  You'd do a couple drafts on your Smith Corona before handing in a project.  It's a lot easier now.  Computer word processing programs make revisions a snap.  I can accept something a little less than perfect as long as its entertaining.  Yes, there are some basics we all should follow, but let's not lose sight that we're here to inform and enlighten.  Write what you feel.  Then, go back and make sure all the rules are followed.

A lot of blogs have come and gone over the past five years.  Thanks for sticking with this one.