April 19, 2013, was the last time I uploaded a blog entry to The Z Section. It was around the time of the Boston Marathon bombings. At the time, whatever I had to say did not seem important.
So, The Z Section went silent, and remained silent until now.
The motivation to begin again was the new year. You know, new year, new things, set goals, make resolutions, and change. New year = blank page. Go for it.
What’s kind of ironic is that in December, my wife, Wendi, and me went to Boston area to visit my side of the family. On one of our trips into the city, we ended up at Copley Square, the site of the finish line of the Boston Marathon. When we got there, Wendi said, “I bet you want to get in the middle of the street and take a photo.”
Of course, she was right. She always is.
I took the photo you see above, and then we said a short prayer. Normally, the finish line would have been cleaned from the road’s surface, but a decision was made to leave it.
When I started this blog, I was all over the place. I wrote about leadership, technology, faith, social media, family and other things.
However, when I originally started a blog called The Z Section, is was a take on newspaper sections. Since 1988, I have been a journalist. When I first started the blog, which was hosted on a blogging site, it was designed to be a place where I could empty out my reporter’s notebooks, so to speak.
Whenever I am at an event or an interview, I always take down more notes and quotes than what appears in the news stories in The Daily Record, where I write. Some of it is interesting stuff, but just does not fit in the story I am writing at the time.
As I embark, again, on this blog, I feel compelled to return to the original intent. As a blogger, you want to offer readers something they cannot get anywhere else, and the notes in my notebook fit the bill.
This past March, I had the honor of receiving a fellowship from the Association of Health Care Journalists to study health care reporting at the group’s annual conference. This year, it was in Boston.
I had the opportunity to attend a presentation in which Seth Mnookin shared insights into how to turn complex topics into compelling stories. Here is one of the things I wrote down:
Seth says to think of what you write as a detective story. Tension and drama is not what happens, but how you get there.
I was shocked to learn this morning on Twitter how Mnookin became intricately tied to the events unfolding at MIT and Watertown, Mass., late Thursday/early Friday involving the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
I was so intrigued by Mnookin’s adventure on Twitter that I wanted to capture it. You can read it here (via Storify):
I had the good fortunes of traveling to Boston twice in 2013. Once for business, the other for pleasure. Ironically, on both trips, I had the chance to meet two Massachusetts governors.
In the photo above, my wife, Wendi, and I are with former Gov. Michael Dukakis. Wendi and I were visiting the Museum of Fine Arts Boston near Northeastern University in December 2013. We were traveling all over town and were hungry. We were heading for a burrito joint near the university, but opted to pop into University House of Pizza.
When we sat down, I looked to the group of three in the table across from us (the restaurant is small, but very good), and I thought I recognized the governor. I told my wife, “I am going to talk to the man over there before we leave.” She wanted to know why. “You’ll find out.”
When I went to pick up our order at the counter, one of the men at the table was settling the bill. I knew I had to act, and act fast. Seizing the opportunity, I stood up, walked to the table and said, “Excuse me, are you Gov. Dukakis?”
He said he was.
When Dukakis ran for president, I liked him. After all, we were both from Massachusetts. I grew up in Revere, Mass. We talked about the presidential campaign, and he apologized, saying if he had done better there would have been “no Bush 1,” and without a George H.W. Bush presidency, there would be “no Bush 2.”
Dukakis was gracious and engaging, asking about where we were living and what we were doing. He told us for the past 22 years, he has been a professor at Northeastern University.
It was a pleasure running into Dukakis and spending some time with him. Incidentally, one of the guys at his table looked like former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. He said he was not.
I was also in Boston earlier in the year. I was honored to receive a fellowship from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to attend the Association of Health Care Journalists convention.
On that trip, Gov. Deval Patrick welcomed us to town. After he spoke, I left the room where he was speaking to follow him. I was with a reporter from California, and she was assigned by the AHCJ to cover it for the organization’s blog. When I looked to my right, she was gone.
Thinking the reporter was going to chase down the governor and ask some additional questions, I wanted to get a photo of her interviewing Patrick. When I caught up with Gov. Patrick and his entourage, he was surrounded by local media wanting to press him about potential improprieties by a state worker.
After his run-in with the local TV crews, I was able to introduce myself.
With my job at The Daily Record, I get to meet a lot of elected officials, which is nice for a political junkie.
One of the things I have been fortunate to do at The Daily Record is to shoot video at Josh Krajcik’s concerts. These concerts have become events with Lydia Gehring handling the interviews and stories, Dan Starcher shooting photos and me capturing video.
The first Krajcik concert I went to was at House of Blues Cleveland in which he and his band, Mitch Pinkston (bass), Corey Gillen (drums) and Eric French (guitar). I was blown away when they performed their version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues.
I have had the opportunity, thanks to Lydia, to shoot video of Krajcik’s concerts in Wooster (at McGaw Chapel twice and once at the Wayne County fairgrounds), in Canton when he did a promotional concert at the Best Buy there and in Orrville at the Rib & Music Fest.
I sat listening to Boston’s debut album this morning as I prepare to head to the home of the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins and Patriots (if you consider Foxborough Boston) to attend the Association of Health Care Journalists’ annual conference.
The trip was made possible by a generous Rural Fellowship awarded to me by the organization and funded by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The agenda is impressive; you can see for yourself here (be sure to click on the events for Friday and Saturday, too).
I am looking forward to this incredible opportunity. I regret that, at times, there will be more than one presentation, and I will only be able to attend one. I am looking forward to learning about using social media and other technologies to aid my reporting; learning more about the challenges of coordinating senior care; how to analyze financial and other documents related to hospitals; how to take complex issues and turn them in to compelling stories; as well as networking with health care journalists.
Gov. Deval Patrick
I will also get a few hours with my family, though not much. The conference organizers have packed a lot into the four days (it runs Thursday-Sunday), including a welcoming reception by Gov. Deval Patrick. However, despite the ambitious schedule, I truly am looking forward to this opportunity to learn more about health care reporting.
I have access to many top health care professionals, not only because of the Cleveland Clinic’s presence in Wooster, Ohio, where I write for The Daily Record, but because of Wooster Community Hospital, which garners a lot of recognition for the work it does; plus Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital, which I also cover for the newspaper.
Because of the trip and conference, I am unsure of what will happen with this blog over the next few days. It might just sit, or it might be full of good information I learn at the conference.
Which will it be? The only way to find out is to check back regularly. Thanks for reading The Z Section blog.
Oh, and while I have your attention, is there any subject you would like to read more about here? I would appreciate hearing from you.
In the early days of Twitter, I got a kick out of those who dubbed themselves social media experts and purported to have a strategy to gain followers.
I have come to learn that even though someone says he is a social media expert it does not him one. However, tell me what social media expert, pundit, purveyor or fill in the blank ____________ would embrace a strategy of following absolutely no one; never engaging anyone in any real way; and only tweeting links directing you to his blog?
It wouldn’t work for me. Not today, anyway. Maybe after a decade of building a platform and creating engaging content and attracting followers to the blog and subscribers to my RSS feed and email notifications. By that point, maybe I could do it, but I would have been so engaged with my audience that I would not dream of turning off the spigot.
However, today, the strategy works quite well for Seth Godin. Do what he did, and you should get 250,202 followers, too. Perhaps.
I think what this demonstrates is that there are some pretty broad guidelines that might work for most of the people most of the time, but you might have a better alternative. If you break away from the pack, express yourself in a way that is authentic to you, then perhaps you will become a star on Twitter and have your very own 250,202 followers, or, then again, maybe you won’t.
Seth Godin’s clothes don’t fit you, and your clothes don’t fit him. Don’t try to be the next Seth Godin. We have him already. We need you to be you. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just you. That’s good enough for me.
*This blog sold by weight, not volume. Some settling might have occurred during shipping. If you think you can follow Seth Godin’s path to 250k followers, then give it a try, but results are not typical.
Soon, and very soon, my wife, Wendi, will have her Christian-themed fairy tale available worldwide through Amazon’s Kindle store. We have been working toward a Valentine’s Day release date. Here is an early version of the cover art:
Wendi originally wrote it in 2008, and after hiring an illustrator to bring some of the scenes to life, she began rewriting her work. Part of it was to incorporate elements of the universal storyline, and part of it was expand on what she wrote.
I think the story conveys a wonderful Christian message about God’s nature, his love, his wisdom and his desire for all of us to come home to be with him.
The fairy tale has all of the elements you would expect: A handsome king and prince, a beautiful princess, a castle, a forest, a wicked man, a desolate village and hope.
I understand people will see my comments as biased, and that is fine, but let me tell you, as I was editing Wendi’s rewrite, my heart was racing toward the end. It is a good read, and it is a quick read.
Now that the illustrations are done, there still needs to be some more editing, some final work on the lettering for the cover, formatting the book for Kindle (which includes making sure the illustrations come out properly and not pixelated) and getting it uploaded to Amazon in the best category and in the Kindle store for sale and distribution.
There is a lot to do between now and Valentine’s Day, but we are hopeful.
There were times when the project hit some snags, but it fell together beautifully.
You might say, Wendi’s project went from “Oh, my, what are we getting ourselves into” to “happily ever after.”