Lessons from a nasty blog commenter

A nasty commenter really got me riled up today.

I was reading his comments on my blog piece on our country’s tourism policy–or the lack of a cohesive, effective one–and I got offended and upset over his below-the-belt, derogatory remarks (including calling me “sweetheart”). I am usually a pretty patient and tolerant person, but I found this person’s comments to be personal, and so I reacted as strongly as my sense of civility would allow me. I wanted him to know that I wasn’t ignoring his comments or “backing down” from his attacks, and I wanted him to know that I wasn’t some lightweight doormat that he could bully while hiding behind his cryptic username. Looking back a few hours later, I realize that I may have over-reacted to his statements, or even reacted the wrong way altogether, but in some twisted way I liked it because it made my blood rush and I felt ALIVE.

That’s when I realized: I miss writing about things that matter to me so much that it hurts when people react the way that this @#$! did. I miss caring about something so deeply enough that I would treat the subject as personally as I could. That doesn’t mean shunning objectivity in my writing, but tackling a piece so passionately that I would inevitably give off a real piece of myself in my words. I hadn’t done much of that lately. I realize that I’ve been writing pieces that were safe, sanitized, straddling in the middle–in other words, lifeless and boring.

Que effin’ horror.

What have I done to myself and my work??

This realization comes in consonance with a realization that came to me over the long break (in which I ate and slept as I pleased, slept some more, didn’t mind my emails, and read the latest issue of Esquire Philippines): If some of us can edit, design, and build magazines, books, and other cool things from scratch, then we can definitely edit, design, and build the details of our lives. There will be some givens and limitations, just as a magazine editor will give you a word or space limit, but we actually have more control over the outcomes of our lives and careers than we care to admit.

I, for one, would like the details of my life to be filled with things, issues, ideas, and people that really matter to me. Not just those squeaky-clean stories that make us yawn and say, “Okay, nice… Hmmm, next!”, but those ideas and narratives that make us form definite ideas about something or someone. I remember something that I used to tell myself and my peers during our student council days in the Ateneo: “They may love us or hate us, but at least they’ll give a damn.” It’s exactly how I feel about the words that I’d like to weave. Readers may love me or hate me for what I say and write, but I’d like them to care enough, to give a damn enough, to form definite opinions. I may think, for instance, that that nasty commenter is a total @$$ for writing the things that he did, but I can also thank him for taking precious time to read my piece and post comment after comment–even if they had been insulting and hurtful. What matters is that I made him care enough to read; I made him care enough to take stand. (And if he has managed to make an @$$ if himself in the process, then that’s this problem.)

But, see, for that to happen, I first need to be fearless and to learn to put myself on the line once more. I need to risk; I need to give a bit more of myself until it hurts (at least, that’s what I think); and I need to be true to my own voice. I can’t keep hiding behind some other person or name and play it safe–at least not all the time. To do so would be to erode my own integrity and, in my book, “sell out.” And then what I would I have to offer the world?

I believe that I was put here for a reason–and my gifts and my words are part of that equation. If all I’m going to do is waste precious space (and people’s time) with the kind of writing that doesn’t make a dent in the world, then I might as well choose another career.

But, see, I was born to do this. And if it means getting more @$$es to care enough about what I write to throw nasty, derogatory remarks my way, then so be it. At least they’d care enough to read and comment–and then I’d feel alive all over again.

We can do this in the Philippines: “How a ‘Facebook nation’ might change reporting on government” (via IJNet)

Here’s another great excerpt from IJNet, about how the United States’ new Chief Technology Officer, Steven VanRoekel, wants to create “a Facebook nation.”

Dubbed “Future First,” among its aims are to bring more transparency and interactivity to the federal government, which outstrips any corporate budget with $80 billion in annual IT spending.

 

“The American people expect us to use technology to provide the same level of service they experience in their everyday lives. They pay bills online and buy plane tickets on smartphones,” he said. “And it’s not just the millennial generation – with 80-year-olds now using Facebook to keep in touch with grandchildren across the country – expectations have reached a critical point even faster than anticipated.”

 

… His first steps include consolidating government websites – there are currently 1,700 .gov sites while only about 500 are heavily trafficked, he noted – and standardizing and updating systems across the board, with emphasis on moving from data centers to cloud computing.

 

Making various systems talk to each other is also a priority that would affect how easy it is to obtain information.

 

VanRoekel said he had just visited a local branch of the U.S. Geological Survey and found some earthquake data still available only on magnetic tape. As an example of how outdated some systems are, he joked about a college COBOL class coming in handy when reviewing data from the Social Security Administration and that the USDA had 21 different email systems, at cost of $24 per person per month just so employees could “talk to each other.” A cloud solution slashed that cost down to just $8.

Now, imagine how outdated OUR own systems and data are in the Philippines–and what something like THIS could do for the country! It’s ironic, though, that for a country who’s on the Top 10 list of countries on Facebook and which has recently been dubbed the “social media capital of the world”, our own government actually dissolved the Commission on Information Communications Technology (CICT) in July. We also have yet to pass our own Freedom of Information Bill.

So I wonder what’s next for digital information in the Philippines, and how creating “Facebook nations” can change governance worldwide. We’ll just have to stay tuned online, I suppose!

Business Insider says “People who use Macs at work are richer and more productive”

I don’t use a Mac for work–not yet, at least. I have an iPad that my husband and I share when we’re at home, then I use an office-issued Lenovo and a Blackberry for work. This article by Business Insider, however, makes a clear case for the Mac for work productivity. And it makes me even more determined to get a Mac for work–SOON!

Here are some interesting excerpts:

In a report released yesterday (October 27, 2011), analyst David Johnson recommended that IT departments should formally support Macs as well because the best employees prefer them and are bringing them to work anyway.

As Fortune first reported yesterday, Johnson called Mac users the “heavy hitters” and “heroes” in organizations, and said that they hate Windows PCs because they slow them down and look cheap. “Stand in the way,” he warns IT departments, “and you will get run over.”

The same article cites three reasons why Microsoft and its PC partners should be “nervous”:

  • Mac use is growing. 22% of organizations expect Mac use (not iPad use) to increase at their place of business within the next 12 months. Only 3% expect it to decline. (Based on a survey of 590 IT departments and decision makers in the US and Europe.)
  • Companies may not be willing to pay the Mac premium, but employees are. IT departments don’t usually buy Macs, but high-level employees who can afford to bring their own computer to work are often choosing Macs. “There is a strong correlation between higher corporate average salaries and the number of Macs purchased by employees and brought to the office.”
  • These employees tend to be the richest and most productive. Forrester suggests that the typical Mac user fits in the segment it calls “power laptop” users, who work an average of 45 hours a week and make 44% more money. “Most of the Macs today are being freewheeled into the office by executives, top sales reps, and other workaholics.”

Read the full story on “Business Insider” HERE.

A screen shot from Apple.com
A screen shot from Apple.com

Happy November! Here are some top journalism & writing opportunities from IJNet

A new month is upon us, and here’s a good load of opportunities from IJNet to start off November:

Street photography contest open UNTIL TOMORROW (Nov 2)

Street Reverb Magazine and Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Studio present ‘Reality Remade,’ a contest recognizing street photography that captures art in everyday life.

“Five finalists will be chosen from applicants who submit a project proposal, short biography and a portfolio supporting the proposal…

“‘One overall winner will receive UK£2,200 (about US$3,509) and one community-voted winner will receive UK£500 (about US$798).”

Deadline: November 2, 2011.

Click HERE to view more information on the IJNet website

Year-long knight journalism fellowship open at Stanford University

“The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship enables international and U.S. journalists to conduct research at Stanford University.

“Twenty fellows will be chosen to receive a US$60,000 stipend, plus all tuition, housing, moving, health insurance, books and childcare expenses will be covered.

“Ideal candidates will have at least five years experience and an interest in journalism entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership.”

Deadline: December 1, 2011

Click HERE to view more information on the IJNet website

Reagan-Fascell democracy fellowship open for journalists and civil society professionals

“Journalists and other civil society professionals from developing and aspiring democracies are invited to apply for a full-time residential fellowship.

“Also open to democratic practitioners and scholars, it is organized by the National Endowment for Democracy at the International Forum for Democratic Studies in Washington. The Forum hosts 16 to 20 Reagan-Fascell Fellows every year.”

Deadline: November 8, 2011

Click HERE to view more information on the IJNet website

Opportunities in specialized journalism

Reuters opens fellowship for business news workshop

“The Thomson Reuters Foundation is organizing a course about writing financial and business news. The course begins with five days in London and continues with ten units of online study.

“Applicants chosen from developing countries or countries in political transition working for organizations with no training resources will have travel expenses, accommodation and living costs covered. Reuters will waive tuition fees for applicants from developing countries with only limited training resources available.

“Journalists must have at least two years professional experience and have a good level of spoken and written English. Journalists from other countries are welcome to apply but chosen participants must cover all tuition fees and costs.”

Deadline: November 25, 2011

Click HERE to view more information on the IJNet website

Investigative reporting award seeks entries from young journalists

“Emerging journalists can apply for an investigative reporting award of up to US$10,000.

“The Investigative Fund announces the I.F. Stone Award, a new effort to support graduate journalism students, recent graduates, journalism interns and entry-level reporters at least 21 years old.

“Reporters based outside of the United States can apply, but the grants go to stories that will appear in U.S. media outlets. However, organizers are also open to co-publishing arrangements in which a story appears both in a U.S. and a foreign outlet.

“Recipients will receive between US$2,000-10,000 in funding to undertake an in-depth reporting project, editorial guidance, access to subscription-based research services and publishing assistance in print, broadcast or online outlets.”

Deadline: November 25, 2011

Click HERE to view more information on the IJNet website

UNICEF opens two-year New and Emerging Talent Initiative (NETI) recruitment program for mid-career professionals

“NETI participants will spend one year at UNICEF’s New York headquarters working in a functional areas of need. Participants will then be deployed internationally on assignments related to their projects.

“Applicants must have an advanced university degree, proficiency in English and another official UN language, at least 2-5 years relevant work experience and must be willing to accept an assignment to any UNICEF office worldwide.”

Deadline: November 4, 2011.

Click HERE to view more information on the IJNet website

New this week: Fellowships, grants, scholarships, and competitions for journalists and media practitioners

I thank my weekly IJNet email subscription for this list, but to make it easier for journalists and media practitioners from my side of the globe (and with similar interests as me) to filter through the clutter, I’ve narrowed the opportunities to these:

Competitions

National Geographic’s 2011 photography contest

“In addition to the ($10,000) cash prize, the grand prize winner will receive a paid trip to National Geographic’s photography seminar including airfare, hotel accommodation and a behind-the-scenes tour of the magazine’s headquarters.” Sounds cool? Click on the link above and find out how to enter. Deadline is November 30, 2011.

Multimedia journalism contest asks, “Which are the next walls to fall?” 

According to the post in the IJNet website, “‘Today there are still many ‘walls’ that should be knocked over to achieve a better life for individuals and communities as well. They can be actual and real walls, or even invisible, walls but nevertheless they are cumbersome,’ organizers note.

“Those walls can be identified and described through a number of online storytelling formats: video, audio, photos, drawings, comics or essays. Anyone with a videocamera, a cell phone or a computer is welcome to tell his/her own story. Video entries should be under three minutes; all entries should submitted in English or Italian.

“The contest is part of the Falling Walls Conference, an annual global gathering of forward-thinking individuals and world’s leading scientists presenting their current research projects.”  Deadline is October 28, 2011. Click on the link for more information.

Fellowships, Grants, Scholarships, and Free Classes

John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships now open for 2012-2013

“The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships (at Stanford University) is an ambitious program embracing innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. Accomplished journalists from the U.S. and overseas spend a year at Stanford, absorbing knowledge, honing skills and developing ideas for the betterment of journalism. They set their own course, leveraging the resources of a great university, Silicon Valley and the widely diverse group of journalists in their fellowship class.

“Fellows receive a stipend of $60,000, plus Stanford tuition and supplements for moving expenses, health insurance, books, housing and childcare. All program activities, and most classes are open to spouses and partners of Fellows.”

Deadline for international applicants is December 1, 2011. Click on the link above for more information.

Deutsche Welle Fellowship accepts applicants for 18-month fellowship in Bonn, Germany 

Deutsche Welle is hosting a fellowship program worth approximately EU€27,500 (about US$37,500) for young journalists to receive professional editorial training for radio, television and online media.

“Applicants must have native fluency in Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Kiswahili, Spanish, Portuguese, Pashto, Dari, Urdu or English, as well as good working knowledge of German with language certification.”

Deadline is October 31, 2011. Click on the link above for more information.

The Fund for Investigative Journalism opens applications

“The average award is US$5,000, which should cover out-of-pocket expenses such as travel costs. The Fund does not cover grantees’ salaries or equipment. The first half of the grant is given once an application is approved and the second half is paid when the project is complete.

Recent grants include investigations on the effects of federal stimulus money in Florida schools, tobacco harvesting in Malawi and India’s ‘Berlin Wall.‘”

Deadline: November 1, 2011.

Fellowships to MA Journalism (Ateneo de Manila University) open

“Asian journalists with a strong commitment to journalism, leadership qualities and an excellent professional and academic record are encouraged to apply for a fellowship for the 2010-2011 M.A. in Journalism at the Philippines’ Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University (ACFJ).

“A grant covers tuition and other expenses for the two-year M.A. Journalism program, which is offered by the Ateneo de Manila University with ACFJ’s support. Since the program’s inception in 2003, 126 journalists from 15 Asian countries have received grants. Among them are mid-career and senior journalists from Asia’s largest dailies including the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Star (Malaysia), Kompas (Indonesia) and news agencies such as Malaysia’s Bernama and the Indonesia’s Antara.”

Deadline: January 14, 2012.

Berkeley J-School offers free multimedia reporting class 

“The Digital Storytelling Workshop, sponsored by the Knight Digital Media Center and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, offers intensive training that covers all aspects of multimedia news production; from basic storyboarding to hands-on instruction with hardware and software for production of multimedia stories. Fellows will work on structured training to learn skills for multi-element stories and then apply new skills to a story for his or her publication.

“The workshop is open to professional print, broadcast and web journalists who want to develop multimedia skills to support their publication’s web publishing effort. The deadline for applications is November 7; The course will be held December 11-16.

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