Category Archives: social media

I’m published all over again!

Some how or another, somebody thought my loveless love life would be good fodder for a magazine. So, I’m a columnist for Two Day Magazine, an online magazine “dedicated to bringing you excitement and romance in a format that is compelling, user-friendly and free.”

My first column is titled, “Ending A Marriage Affects Your Friends, Too.” Please click the link, read it and comment.

Move over Ann Landers and Dan Savage!

Two of them

It’s nice to sometimes be recognized for the work you do.

On Wednesday, I was informed that my newspaper’s website, YourSewickley.com, received two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Newspaper Excellence in Cyberspace Awards. Overall, our company took seven first-place awards. The list of winners can be found here.

My newspaper received first-place awards for “Best Application of Social Networking Tools” and “Timeliness.” It was the second consecutive year we received the top spot for the social networking award.

The “Timeliness” award came from our coverage of the death of a wastewater treatment plant worker and other examples of how we utilize our website for breaking news coverage. In the instance of the fatality at the wastewater treatment plant, Kristina Serafini and myself were the first two reporters on scene, filing updates to Twitter from my iPhone. Those tweets quickly became a breaking news story for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, meaning we were the first news outlet in the region to offer coverage from the scene.

Because of how quickly we were able to get to the scene, Kristina and I had a viewpoint no other media outlet had.

Similarly, when an explosion occurred in December at a facility in a nearby town, we were the first on the scene and were offering updates no other outlet had.

Something to note from these two awards — the Sewickley Herald’s site was nominated in the 75,000 and over circulation division, meaning we were competing with large, daily newspapers. In 2010, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg received first place in the “Timeliness” category. Last year, the awards were not divided by any circulation figures.

I love what I do professionally. My dream of being a reporter came true when I accepted this job four years ago this month. Since then, it’s taken an entirely different path than what I expected.

I knew the Internet would play a big role in my life as a reporter, but I never imagined just how important that role would be.

I’m extremely passionate about my work and the product we deliver to residents of our coverage area. Am I the greatest writer ever? Hell no. But I’m able to understand our readers and provide them with news content they’re looking for. And I’m always striving to do a better job.

Everybody at work keeps congratulating me on the awards, but it’s really a team effort that goes well beyond my ability to arrive on the scene of a story and offer an update from my iPhone. None of this would be possible without an editor, managing editor and Web staff who saw a greater vision.

I like to tell people that we’re a daily community news organization who publishes a printed edition once a week.

It’s winter. It snows.

Fact: It snows in winter.

Fact: It snows in western Pennsylvania.

So why do so many people continue bitching and moaning and acting like it’s just the end of the world because of snow falling from the sky?

News flash: It snows in western Pennsylvania in winter. Deal.

When the snow started following Monday, this is what my Twitter feed looked like:

  • OMG I HATE SNOW! WHHYYYYYYYY IS IT SNOWING?
  • AHHH! SNOW! BOO!! I NEED WARMTH. IM SO OVER SNOW!!!
  • LIFE SUCKS! WHY IS IT SNOWING? DOESN’T MOTHER NATURE KNOW I NEED TO BE SOMEWHERE!
  • OMG! ROADS SUCK. PENNDOT SUCKS. CLEAR THE ROADS! CLEAR THE ROADS!!!

Look at how stupid all of sound who bitched about the snow. Is your life so important that you can’t deal with a little snow?

Anywhere between 7 inches and 9 inches appear to have fallen. That’s nothing for other regions in the country in a similar time period.

And then the roads… first, let’s look at some of the issues with a level-headed process:

  • Snow plows: PennDOT and other road crews couldn’t clear roads or salt because so many drivers had clogged roadways. Think about what a snow plow looks like going down the road. The driver is cruising along clearing snow. Now think about how a snow plow driver could have done that yesterday?
  • Speeds: Driving along a snow-covered road at anything under 20 mph is unsafe. Driving a long a snow-covered roadway going above the maximum speed always is illegal and wrong. But let’s focus for a moment on drivers who think it’s OK to go under 20 mph. Why? You’re on I-79 and you’re going 10 mph? Get the hell out of my way. You go slow and you’re going to get stuck!
  • Going up a hill: If you go up a hill at anything under 20 mph, you’re going to get stuck, spin out and/or slide back down the hill. You’re also going to cause more wrecks. Go up the hill as fast as you can so not to get stuck. Trust me.

Look. I drive an old rust bucket. I don’t drive some vehicle with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. I don’t have a Hummer or some honkin’ SUV. I drive an old Chevy Cavalier that if I told you how old it actually is, you’d laugh at me.

My tires aren’t the best (they’re also not the worst). I tell you this so you don’t think I am one of those drivers who thinks that because I have four-wheel drive that the snow doesn’t affect me.

I’m telling you what I drive so you understand that I’m not some cocky ass on the road in a snowstorm. When I was able to cruise along by myself on I-79, I was going no more than 35 mph and no less than 20 mph.

When I was going up hills, I gunned that sucker.

But what I was dealt with were drivers who freaked out, panicked and otherwise lost any amount of common sense they had. Rather than calm down and take each move one step at a time, all I saw were people who had no clue what to do on the roads.

I guess your iPhone and Twitter can’t help you in every situation, eh?

Twitter and Facebook don’t help, either. Both of those sites help increase the hype surrounding a snowfall. People tweet and pass on information with false messages.

I heard a few people say that they were shocked at the amount of snow since meteorologists didn’t forecast that much. So what? SCIENCE IS FLUID. IT ALWAYS CHANGES!!! A forecast isn’t a legal contract. It is a prediction. If a meteorologist says it might snow, then plan for snow. If it snows, then it snows. If it doesn’t snow, then it doesn’t snow. Move on.

It boggles my mind how people freak over snow. Why? What does it solve to act like a complete fool on the roads? Why panic when a flake flies?

Instead of panicking, learn to drive in it. You can’t push a button and turn it off, so you deal with it, like you do everything else life throws your way.

I really wonder what everybody would act like if we truly had a catastrophe. I fear for the future of our civilization if we can’t even deal with a little bit of snow.

It’s winter. It snows.