AP Gives Nod to ‘Over’ for ‘More Than’

Argh! How could the Associated Press do this?!

Capture_AP_More ThanI am lamenting that AP has decreed it acceptable to use over to mean more than.

I’m sorry but that is wrong. That message was drilled into me in all of my journalism and English classes. The professors taught me that over is a preposition and that more than has a numerical value.

And, okay, I admit a certain smugness years later when as an editor I could point out that the writer was using over incorrectly.

I know exactly what happened. The AP conceded that it could no longer stop others from using over.

Just because everyone uses a word incorrectly or dumbs it down doesn’t mean that we need to change it.

I’m not giving up the good fight. Not more than my dead body!

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

During your work day are you solely focused on today or do you think about tomorrow?

I ask the question because David R. Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, writes in How to Think Like a CEO in the summer 2013 of The Strategist that a CEO needs to focus on today and the future. In a reflection point, he asks, “If you tracked your time, then what might the mix be of time spent on today versus the future and do you have the right balance? Would your boss agree?”

While I’m not a CEO, the point resonated with me. In my role as director of communications I need to meet specific targets today. To do so, I needed to have begun planning weeks, months or years earlier, which means I must set aside time to think about what is needed. I already have a framework of what my department should be achieving in FY15. To get there, we need to be laying the groundwork now in FY14.

Even as a reporter, I had to think about tomorrow. What were key anniversaries that I needed to know about and plan to cover? If I was working a holiday, I often planned my story weeks in advance knowing that my sources most likely would be on vacation. Although I wasn’t thinking too far into the future, I certainly couldn’t only be focused on today.

Thinking about tomorrow also is important in my personal life. If I’m going on vacation and want to keep my fitness plans in place then I need to book a hotel with a gym or at least an area outside that is suited for walking. If I want to have a grand adventure, I need to save for the future.

How to you think about tomorrow and plan for it?

What’s Your Future Job?

Are you thinking about a career change?

Have you considered productivity counselor, curiosity tutor or digital detox therapist?

3 tombstones

If you want a job of the future – such as a digital death manager – you should enhance your skills now. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

These are jobs of the not-too-distant future and some companies already have them.

Sparks & Honey, which operates a data-driven advertising newsroom that helps synchronize brands with culture (so says its website), compiled a list of 20 jobs of the future.

“More often than not, our work life will be made up of a portfolio of micro-careers,” Sparks & Honey notes in its presentation.

Very few of us will work for one company. Almost everyone I know is on their second or third company, which often leads to a reinvention or a reimagining of skill sets.

And that is what intrigues me about the jobs envisioned for the future. Whether you think you will ever have a job as a corporate disorganizer, digital death manager or privacy consultant, you will probably need to know a bit about each of those areas.

Do you know how to protect your privacy? How are you at developing content? Are you prepared to interview for a job via Skype?

If you answered “no,” it might be time to enhance your skills.

Sunshine Week Shines on Open Government

swlogo-198x300Sunshine Week, which runs March 16-22, is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. It began with a group of Florida editors starting Sunshine Sunday where they held a coordinated campaign to focus on open government.

Without an effort to keep government open we could shift to a government-run society. “We would gradually see an acceleration of initiatives intended for perfectly good reasons to keep information from the public — to protect privacy or efficiency or security or internal deliberation — to the point that the public would have to prove a ‘need to know’ to penetrate the custodian’s protective shield around the government information,” says Tonda Rush, a media lawyer in Washington, D.C., and a long time National Federation of Press Women member.

Some think we are already there in many categories of records. “When that happens, we shift from an open society to a government-run society where democracy has to apologize for asking to be informed,” Rush says.

Part of an open government is Freedom of Information, which on the federal level, “creates the presumption that all the records of the federal executive branch are open, unless closed for a permissible and exempt reason,” Rush explains.“It sets an important tone of transparency and citizen-stakeholder values in our national life.”

In addition, every state has some version of an open records law (as well as open meetings laws) that give this same guarantee of citizen-facing transparency, and in that case, opens the government that works most closely with most people in their daily work and lives.

“Unfortunately, the many exemptions, competing stakeholders and sometimes conflicting court opinions have made most of these laws something of a Swiss cheese,” Rush notes. “Also, the plethora of privacy laws coming from Congress and state legislatures have created a gaping hole where public accountability is sometimes entrapped.”

To learn more about Sunshine Week visit http://sunshineweek.rcfp.org/.



Audit Your Job

When is the last time you audited your job?

A year ago? When you were first hired? Maybe it’s time to audit it and see if it still works for you. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught in the minutia and forget what your real job is and how much you enjoy it. Sometimes, though, you fall into career coma and don’t see the writing on the wall.

Begin by writing down the reasons the job appealed to you and why you applied for it. Are those reasons still applicable? If yes, then the job is most likely still a good fit. Are you spending most of your time working in those areas? You should be, although it’s all too easy to get caught up in the busy and unimportant aspects of a job. If you find yourself doing that, take time at the start of each week and write down one to three areas on which you should focus for the week. Those three things should be your priority throughout the week, and it’s where you should spend most of your time.

Now make a list of all the benefits of the job. Don’t limit it to insurance and vacation. It should be everything about the job that you enjoy and would want to have in a future job. For example, in my current role I occasionally get to travel. When I accepted the job that wasn’t on my list of requirements, but now the travel is something I greatly appreciate. I get to see the work firsthand and I get to go to some amazing places that I probably would not have otherwise. Another perk for me is being exposed to so many cultures and ideas. Most of my jobs have allowed for learning of some sort outside of learning how to do the job. As a newspaper reporter, I learned a little about a lot of subjects. I always enjoyed the initial research to prep for an interview.

Once you have the benefits, the next step is to think about what you don’t like. If the list is too long, you may have a problem. Whatever is on the list, though, consider each item and seek to minimize the negativity. As a creative person, I get frustrated with the budget and bill paying process. One way I minimize that impact is to set aside a specific amount of time each week to handle. The other days I don’t even have to think about it. And at the end of the week, the bills are paid and I’ve ensured I’m still within budget.

Finally, think about the next position you would like to have. That position could exist within your company or elsewhere. What are you doing to make it happen? It might mean serving on a committee at work to show that you have project management skills or leadership potential.  You may need some training. Or you may have the skills and your current employer doesn’t have an opportunity for you.

Once you have audited your job, ask yourself some questions. Is it the right fit? Is it time to learn new skills? Is it time to move on? The next step is yours.

Internet, Cellphones Increasingly Viewed as Essential

I survived National Day of Unplugging, a day in which individuals are encouraged to disconnect for 24 hours.

Electrical cords connected to multi outlets

Increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential making it harder to unplug. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

It wasn’t easy. First thing Saturday morning I went to check my emails and quickly stopped myself. I also needed to send some emails to keep projects moving but they had to wait until Sunday.

I couldn’t go to the Internet to reserve my DVDs. Instead, I showed up at Redbox and hoped that my movie choice was still available.

I did find myself reading more. And because the weather was gorgeous I spent a good deal of time outside. I wonder if that would have happened if I could have been checking emails or surfing the net?

It’s a question that the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project posed. The answer is that increasingly Americans view the internet and cellphones as essential.

According to the survey, more than half of internet users now say the internet would be “very hard” to give up. And among this devoted group, 61 percent said the internet was essential to them, either for work or other reasons.

For something that didn’t exist all that long ago, the Internet has come into wide usage. Tomorrow, in fact, the World Wide Web turns 25.

Also growing in importance is the cellphone. Today if I leave my house without my cellphone, I turn back to get it. I’m not sure what I think is going to happen without the device, but I’m not alone in this thinking. Cellphone owners are attached to their phones with 49 percent saying they would have a hard time giving them up, which is up from 43 percent in 2006.

The survey also found declines in televisions and landlines. Surprisingly, the level of attachment for social media remains low. Only 11 percent said it would be hard to give up, while 40 percent said it wouldn’t be difficult at all.

Take the Challenge — Unplug

The other week I connected with three friends over dinner. We try to get together regularly, but with busy schedules it’s not easy. We had lots to catch up on but first things first…. We had to update our status and location on social media. And, of course, a few times through the meal at least once of us replied to a text message or looked something up on Google.

What does it say about us that we couldn’t go an entire meal without being plugged in?

Are you up for unplugging for 24 hours?

Are you up for unplugging for 24 hours?

How’s this for a challenge? Tomorrow beginning at sundown is the National Day of Unplugging, a 24-hour period running from sunset to sunset March 7-8.

Instead of chronicling your every move or stalking your friends on Facebook and Twitter, instead of reading a book on your Nook or Kindle, instead of texting a loved one, unplug.

Use the 24 hours to unwind, relax and reflect. You can go outside. You could meet friends for lunch, but only if you put your electronics away. You could go to the library and check out a book.

I haven’t gone so far as to sign the pledge as I’m not sure I’m going to make it 24 hours. I’m glad I was able to publish this blog today. I suspect I’ll be on Facebook catching up on the latest before going dark. But come sunset on Friday, I’ll shut down my devices and see if I can make it 24 hours unplugged.

What about you? Are you up for the challenge?