Monthly Archives: April 2016

How Journalism is Evolving in a Tech Savvy World

Tech News

Just before I began journalism school, nearly 20 years ago, I attended an orientation for new students.  I was seated at a table with the Dean, an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, who asked me point blank if I thought newspapers were eventually going to disappear.  “I certainly hope not,” I answered, “I can’t imagine not starting my day with a cup of coffee and a newspaper.”  Indeed, the Internet was in its infancy, cell phones were tiny, laptops were big and bulky and analog video was still the reigning format for TV news.

But the writing was on the wall (no pun intended) and our university had just created a cutting edge, high tech program for incoming students called “Online Journalism.”  The younger undergrads and my young grad school classmates flocked to the program, eager to learn this new technology.  But me, I wanted no part of it.  I had waited a long time to pursue my passion for journalism and I was determined to rely on traditional, time honored, reporting methods.  In fact, I continued to take notes and do my writing in long hand in a spiral notebook.

Those that don’t evolve are soon left behind and after much teasing by my 20-something classmates, I taught myself to compose my assignments on my computer.  When the school built a multi-million dollar state of the art digital newsroom, I registered for classes to learn how to navigate the world of digital news reporting.  I actually enjoyed the process and was pretty good at editing.

Imagine my surprise when my first job after grad school, at a local public radio station, required me to learn how to record on and edit reel-to-reel tape!  The 50-year-old station still hadn’t upgraded to the digital technology I’d worked so hard to learn.  But in time, they also made the switch.

These days, my tools of the trade are all contained in my IPhone.  I can take notes, record, edit and upload stories to the cloud, all from a device that fits in my pocket and weighs a few ounces.  Both audio and video quality is sharp and I can produce stories anywhere at any time.  Rather than wait in a newsroom for an assignment or a call from a source, I can be on the job all the time, anywhere.  The news cycle is now 24 hours and the churn is never ending.

So how has this new digital world affected the profession of journalism itself?  Here the waters are much murkier.  Questions about what is news and who is a journalist are much more complicated now that pretty much anyone with a phone or a laptop can record and report on events.  And the quality and quantity of product also raises questions about what is news and what is entertainment.  There are more podcasts, blogs, vlogs and online programming than can be counted, and the numbers grow exponentially.  The simple question about the survival of newspapers seems quaint in today’s world where even venerable publications have laid off print staff in favor of bloggers, podcasters and online producers.  Is this bad?  I’m not sure.  The world is both expanding and shrinking as new technology connects us all in ways we never dreamed of when I started school.

What’s up ahead?  It’s unclear where this digital revolution is taking us.  My hope is that whether through formal education or trial and error, there will always be those people who are our eyes and ears throughout the world; people with integrity who can report honestly and fairly, shine a light on events and be a watchdog, a voice for those who have no voice.  For whatever form it takes, that is the mission of good journalism and there is no substitute.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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To Trim, or Not to Trim

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My friend Marina sent me a note today, and I asked her if I might share it with you.  She said, “Regular therapy and gardening therapy are about the same price range.  They both create a special type of beauty in seeing and feeling and being at one with one’s life.”  This was nice, and I agree that it is therapeutic.  For me, trimming and pulling weeds do it, and they are both free.  Now I don’t propose a replacement for regular therapy, but for a supplement, absolutely.

“When can I cut back my hydrangea? Is it o.k. to trim my crape myrtle now? “I often get asked about this around this time of year, April. I’m glad to answer these perennial questions. (pun intended) I thought you might like to hear some rules about trimming that might inspire a venture into your outdoor therapy:

1. If it blooms in the early spring, do not cut it now. Wait until just after it finishes the blooming cycle unless you are willing to sacrifice blooms this year. Examples would be Oakleaf and Hydrangea macrophylla (the old-fashioned blue or pink ones), lilac, azalea, and rhododendron. Even if you think stems are dead on your hydrangea, wait, I tell you. I have removed what I thought was dead only to realize I cut the bloom stock off by mistake.

Hydrangea paniculata varieties like Annabelle and Limelight bloom on new growth. Trim those in late winter, before new growth appears. February in Middle Tennessee works well. The paniculata grow stronger when trimmed back from 4” to 12” above the ground. Leave the sturdier stems up to 18-24” long on the Tardiva hydrangea.  You may also allow it to be taller and tree form shaped.
2. “Can I cut my crape myrtle now?” Yes, even though the leaves have begun appearing, is not a terrible thing, if you must. They won’t die however, we have a term for the look of wholesale trunk decapitation: Crape Murder. You see these all over the place, flatly cut off. Yuck. The plants are prolific foliage producers and burst back out at these points, but I don’t like it. I prefer to leave the branching alone. Simply thin out the smaller trunks, and remove spindly branches from the heads in favor of larger ones. In this way, that elegant line leading your eye from the ground to the tip end, uninterrupted. Artistry in nature.
3. When can I trim my boxwoods? Preferably, late winter but if it has gotten past and you must, trim them anytime before August 1. The reasoning is that new growth will have time to get tough before the freezes of winter come. This is also true about holly, and most hedge type plants. Freeze damage looks yellow, dry and dead, and nobody wants to see that.
4. “What do I need to do about my azaleas and rhododendron to make them bloom better?” Fertilize them three times, May 1, June 1 and July 1. I know, it’s not about trimming, but it is a frequent question. There are other plants that use those dates in a different way: Chrysanthemums. If you have these late summer beauties in the landscape and want them to bloom prolifically in the fall, cut 1/3 of the plant off each time at those same calendar intervals and you will have a bounty of blossoms. Don’t forget to fertilize. I like organic everything so bone meal, worm castings, or both if you are serious. All of my blooming shrubs and perennials do well with these.

This spring I’ve taken hundreds of photographs for possible paintings later. The bright colors of blooms and light green foliage on the trees is irresistible. The photo above shows a Flame Azalea, which is a rhododendron, and also a native. I am partial to orange, a fun, and social color.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

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The Other Side of the Couch – Down, Down Below the Street


Sesame Street


When my daughter was small one of our favorite activities was to watch “Sesame Street” together.  This wonderful Children’s Television Workshop program was designed to engage both children and adults on a number of levels.  I often found that I learned things from watching the show, and I certainly loved watching my little girl learn about the world.  A favorite segment was called “Down, Down Below the Street,” sung by the acapella group 14K Soul.   The song introduced the idea that lots of things are going on in the sub-structure of a city, like all the various pipes and connections that bring light, heat and water and that allow for messy things to be discarded.   It’s a below-the-surface process that works without the folks above the street being completely aware of what is going on.

It seems to me that this is a lot like what goes on in our relationships.  Things just go along, seeming to work themselves out without many hitches, and we are not really consciously aware of the process – until the pipes break or the electricity fails (metaphorically speaking), and we suddenly find ourselves in the relational wilderness of broken expectations and destroyed trust.

One of the hardest hurdles that I experience in working with couples is that of the repeated “I’m sorry” that does not result in behavior change.  One partner does something that is hurtful to the other, and in the best of all possible scenarios, the couple is able to talk about this in a non-blaming way (This is what happened for me when you did “x” and “this is what was going on for me when I did “x”).  Both come away from the conversation with a deeper understanding and compassion for each other.

However, the next time that “x” happens, things are not going to go so well – and if “x” keeps on happening, even though promises are made to refrain from “x” or do something other than “x”, trust is eroded.

When that happens, one has to dig a little deeper to understand what is really going on – because it isn’t what is on the surface.  What is “down below the street” in the relationship has to be addressed.  Maybe one partner has been holding out on saying something about an issue that is really bothersome, or maybe someone has strayed beyond the agreed-upon boundaries of the relationship, or maybe the chores aren’t being done – it could be any content issue, but the REAL down-below-the-street issue is WHAT REACTIVE BEHAVIOR DOES THIS BRING UP IN ME OR MY PARTNER?  How does the way I respond to this issue bring me closer to or farther away from my partner?  And is that distance what I want, or is it a reaction to stuff I haven’t addressed in my own life?

Relationships are full of “sunny days” (“sunny days, chasing the clouds away”) and at the same time Down-Below-the-Street is always part of life on any street we take.  I hope you will take the time to be curious about your own reactive behaviors, and I wish you lots of sunny days.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at

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