Sunday, July 24, 2011

Our LinkedIn group grows, and I eat a little crow

First, I'm thrilled to say our Aggie Journalists group on LinkedIn is growing every week, and just passed 300 members. Members have posted job info, queries to the group at large, A&M memories. Come jump in the pool at http://bit.ly/AJlinkedin!

Also, my apologies to LinkedIn, because up until recently people would ask me "How is joining LinkedIn useful?" and I would say something like, "Well, for us it's great because you can go in our group and see all the different places A&M journalism grads* have gotten to, but other than that, um..."

I hereby eat my words. Here are some very useful things to do with LinkedIn, and please add comments or send me more that you know of:
  • For job-hunters: If there is a particular company or companies you want to work at, you can search the entire LinkedIn directory by company and see if you are connected to anyone there -- your friends, and your friends' friends, show up first in search results. The Advanced Search options make it pretty powerful. (Although the person you know might not have influence over hiring, often they can tell you vital stuff like what working there is like, whether the company's in trouble or doing well, what openings might be likely in the future...)
  • For job-hunters: Or, work it the other way -- see where your old colleagues have gone. If they're at a company that's in your field, your friend's inside knowledge might give you a better shot at a job there. Are they hiring? What kind of qualifications do they want?
  • My favorite things about LinkedIn spring from the fact that people maintain their own listings. Instead of having to update your Rolodex when a comrade changes corporations, now your entire roster of contacts is constantly updated without you having to do a thing. I ran a roster of A&M jour grads for a while, and just keeping that current would be a full-time job. No more! Plus it vastly increases your contacts: People you might have lost touch with after a couple moves are still reachable.

There. Three cool things about LinkedIn. Tell us more!

* I say "A&M journalism grads," but the group is open to anybody who:
  • studied, or is currently studying, jour or ag jour at A&M
  • worked, or is currently working, at the Batt or Aggieland
  • came from A&M and wound up taking a job in a journalism- or PR-related field
  • "friends" -- which to me means anyone who'd like to help the cause of journalism education at A&M
Pretty much the only people I don't approve are people who appear to be interested in using our group as an email list for spamming press releases, promotions or other profiteering. I am adamant about not letting our group and contacts be used.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dr. Starr T-shirts, and memories of Corregidor

Some time ago, I mentioned to Dr. Starr that I'd like to put this saying of his on a shirt:
"Every time a newspaper fails, we lose a little freedom."

I finally did! Here is the early version of the shirt:

I'm ordering one to test the print quality and then I'll ship the first one to Dr. Starr. (Note: I'm slowly migrating the Aggie Journalists shirts over to Printfection, because the CafePress terms of service are untenable.)

Today being the Fourth, I offer up this bit of good reading: Dr. Starr's description of taking Corregidor in World War II, when he served on the USS Nicholas. Excerpts:
Our destroyer task group was based in Subic Bay, two hours up the coast from Manila Bay. At 0330 each morning for four days, we stood out of Subic Bay and steamed south, arriving in Manila Bay two hours later, just before dawn. Our task was to soften up Corregidor as much as possible before the paratroopers went in for the final clean-up. I did not envy them.
We bombarded Corregidor as long as it was daylight. For two days, the Nicholas and others steamed close to the cliffsides, point-blank-range close, to draw Japanese fire from the tunnel openings. The idea was to find the guns and silence them. But we had to give the Japanese first shot.
The scheme worked. We were shot at continually and we silenced quite a few of those cliffside guns.
Because it was a continuing fight, we stayed at battle stations all day every day. We took individual breaks for meals. Breakfast and supper were served during the two-hour run between Subic and Manila. Dinner was not served as such. Each unit in the ship sent one or two men at a time to eat. We ate in a hurry and hastened back to our battle stations. Mine was on the bridge, so I was witness to much of the action.
After Corregidor, the Nicholas participated in the landings at Zamboanga, Cebu, Borneo, and Okinawa, and, finally, the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

Dr. Starr is on Facebook, and you can tell from all the posts by his former students how highly we regard him. Go check him out!

My new gig! Same newsroom, totally different job

Hey, I wanted to let all my friends here know about my latest job switch: I could not be more happy to say I'm going to be a reporter for PolitiFact Texas!

During 16 years at the Statesman, I have done a bunch of different things, worked in news, business, sports, the Willco bureau and most recently features, as copy chief. But working on PolitiFact is a whole new animal, and I cannot wait to get started.

PolitiFact Texas was the first "franchise" of the national PolitiFact; there are now eight more in assorted states. I liked the idea from the get-go, and indeed somehow weaseled my way into the initial PolitiFact training held before the Texas edition launched in January 2010.

Truth! Democracy! Politics! ... Well, at least those things sometimes overlap. :) Wish me luck!