What We’re Reading (Could Help You Write)

golden rule

In order to write well, you have to read. At least that’s what we take away from Mr. Gaines’ poignant saying. We make it our goal to do the same over here at DMS,  and at the same time keep tabs on what’s happening in our established literary community. Since we want to impart as much knowledge on to our community as we can (hey, it might help get you out of that writer’s block on your next article) here are five sites we keep bookmarked on our browsers:

What are some blogs/websites/social media personalities you follow to keep your self inspired? Please share with the entire class.

 

eHow Renovation Update

eHow Renovation Assignments: Coming Soon to a Find Assignments Queue Near You!

eHow Renovation Assignments: Coming Soon to a Find Assignments Queue Near You!

It’s been a few weeks since we unveiled our plans to renovate eHow, and it’s all we can talk about around the DMS offices. But since most of the work has been behind the scenes, we wanted to shed some light on what we’ve been up to.

What have we been working on? The word of the day is evaluation. Right now we are evaluating the articles that are currently on eHow to help us decide which ones should be spruced up. Some will be selected to become new writing assignments, while others will be sent to our photography community to get brand new, custom images. If you visit eHow regularly, you have an idea of how much there is for us to evaluate, but we’re making huge strides every day.

What’s next? The next thing will be making assignments available to all of you. We’re building up the bank of assignments to release to the larger community which will still take us a bit more time. But if everything stays on schedule, we expect to have new assignments available for writers within the next 2-3 weeks.

Oh, and by the way… thank you! If we haven’t made it clear already, we appreciate your patience during this transition. We know shifting gears like this takes some adjustment on everyone’s part, and the level of understanding and enthusiasm from our community has been overwhelming. We couldn’t take on a major project like this without all of you.

As soon as we’re ready to make the first batch of assignments available, we’ll be sending out an email to everyone. So keep an eye out for that and stay tuned for more information soon.

Food for Thought

libraryLA

Looking for an interesting statistic to share with your friends? Public libraries in America outnumber one of the nation’s largest fast food conglomerates, McDonald’s.

Talk about food for thought. In an age where you can download 50 Shades of Grey to your Kindle, stream Hi-Def movies on the go, and blast 140 characters (or less) to your followers via Twitter, it’s comforting to know the land of the free and the home of the brave houses more public libraries (17,000 and counting) than it does locations of the golden arches (a paltry 14,000 by comparison).

So what does 17,000 libraries, spread across the U.S., look like? Justin Grimes, a statistician at the Institute of Museum and Library Services, has painstakingly detailed all the locations of libraries that reside in the United States. Just look at that map (below). Looks like a swarm of bees protecting their hive, doesn’t it? Every single blue dot represents a public library of some sort. Even more impressive, libraries reach more than 96% of the U.S. population. Technically you can live in some of the most desolate places within the U.S., and still have access to a library–just not a McDonald’s.

libraries

Perhaps the news doesn’t come as such a surprise for most Americans. After all, according to Libraries for Real Life over 65% of Americans have a library card. Big deal, right? However, those library cards aren’t merely sitting around collecting dust. “Americans check out more than 2 billion items each year from their public libraries,” according to Libraries for Real Life. Most of those people are frequent visitors too, borrowing “more than seven books a year.” Take that Hollywood!

With more books than ever to choose from, libraries are a pivotal source for knowledge. But did you know libraries are constantly evolving, and adapting more and more to the digital age. Imagine for a moment that find yourself in a pinch, and need to access the web for a writing assignment, or to finalize a resume, or you simply want to read about Kim Kardashian’s latest celebrity gossip (why?) The good news is practically every library provides access to a computer. According to ALA.org, “Public libraries are the number one point of access for people without internet connections at home, school, or work.”

We hope you utilize your public library as much as we do ours. In fact, here at Demand Media we have a small library of our own (non-public). It currently has about 200+ books.

 

What the BLEEP?!?

shocked animated GIF

All of our lives we’ve been taught that swearing is wrong, unseemly and certainly something that should be kept out of the workplace. As of late that time honored decree has been challenged by the journalism community. Lowbrow and highbrow publications alike are using expletives in place of more florid descriptors. The “American Journalism Review” noted this trend in their article, “Watch Your Language: Swearing in News Stories,” and examined why and what this movement means for journalists and journalism on the whole.

Here are some of the article’s highlights if you’re not in the mood for a deep dive:

1. BuzzFeed.com released their very own style guide, which includes some stylistically perfected swear words.

2. The New York Times is getting on board with profanity. They updated their notoriously proper (I mean, it’s the NYTimes after all!) style guide to allow for the use of profanity — you know, when it was like, absolutely necessary.

3. Even the Associated Press aren’t batting eyelashes over the potty mouths that make up today’s pool of competent journalists. AP Editor, Tom Kent said, “Society evolves – and news organizations evolve with it,” Kent said. “The AP has evolved. A decade or two ago, we tried very hard to avoid using the word ‘hell’ if we didn’t have to. I think we’ve moved beyond that now. And five years from now, lord knows what we’ll be saying.” Who knows is right, Kent.

What do you think? Should profanity go mainstream? Do expletives have their place in content?

 

 

 

Tips From The Pros: Photography

So you bought that fancy SLR camera, and now you want to take some professional-quality pics of your kid scoring a winning goal this weekend. Luckily, our studio community has got you covered.

If you want to shoot killer action shots suitable for framing, check out writer and photographer Arisa Kim’s Samsung slideshow: Pro Tips For Great Action Photography. We love it because Kim walks us through advice on camera settings and shooting techniques to get those “money shots.”

Have any tips for getting that perfect shot? Let us know! You can also see even more photo tips on our Photography Tips Pinterest Board!

Spotlight on Demand with Richard Lally

We had a chance to go toe-to-toe with our very own Richard Lally, aka Mr. Popular (and quite possibly “Mr. Slick,” according to the picture, at least.) We tried our best to catch him off guard with our offbeat questions, but our brawn was no match for his brain.

Image

Birth Name: Richard Raymond Lally
Current Residence: Somewhere between here and there
Years with Studio: Eight (that’s 45 in dog years)

All right Richard, summarize your life in a Tweet (140 characters) Actor and stage manager in my first life, author and editor in my second life, working toward enlightenment for my next life. I hope to return as a waterfall.

so close

Fail! A few too many characters, Richard.

You wrote a book about baseball. You must have an opinion on the best ballpark? Most modern ballparks, crammed with diversions as they are, resemble demented pinball machines in which the action on the field unfolds as an afterthought. Fenway has retained its integrity and, concomitantly, its function, and it reeks with history. When you visit a classic park like it, such as Wrigley Field, or the newer parks constructed along classic lines, such as Camden Yards or the latest iteration of Yankee Stadium, you must arrive prepared to actually watch the ballgame. I like that.

Speaking of historical ballparks… I now want you to close your eyes and recall your earliest personal memory. What is it? Shoemaker’s shop in Brooklyn. Sweltering afternoon, no air conditioning, the room redolent with the scent of shoe polish, tanning emollients and old leather. The Mills Brothers harmonize through radio static. They recorded hits in every decade from the 30s to 70s, so that doesn’t help me place the year, but I couldn’t have been older than two, and I was probably quite a bit younger.

New York is home to a number of famous delicatessens. Describe, in explicit detail, your ideal sandwich. Grilled organic chicken breast, large slice of tomato, thinly sliced avocado and red onion on toasted whole grain ciabatta bread, with both slices slathered in black olive tapenade.

Sounds tasty. Who would you have a steak dinner with? Can be fictional, a figure from history, or current.
How about a dinner party? Henry Miller, Louise Brooks, John Cassavettes, Georgia O’Keefe, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Jean-Pierre Melville, Eleanora Duse, Karen O and Marlon Brando. Rosa Lewis, the real “Duchess of Duke Street,” would cater.

New Yorker’s also don’t put up with a lot of crap. What would you say “grinds your gears”?
Mendacity and hyperbole, which should qualify as dead languages.

Speaking of language, what’s the most challenging aspect of being a writer?
Joan Didion once wrote that she awakens most mornings thinking she suffered a stroke in her sleep, and the event has eradicated that part of her brain responsible for communication. So, she wants to write, but has forgotten where to begin. That’s the daily challenge, finding where to start, which is why I think it’s best to end your writing day while you still have something to convey. Then, you can pick up with that the following morning.

Now to put you on the spot! Write a Haiku
Convention killer,
Renegade saint in slouch hat,
Henry Miller winks

That’s kind of dark! Can you provide context for the last time you said “I’ll be right back.”
I’m not sure when it was, but I’m certain that I wasn’t. Right back, that is.

Let’s lighten things up a bit. Fill in the blanks (underlined).
I am incredibly relieved someone invented music. Without it I might wither.

All right Richard, let’s finish things up with a quick this or that (pick one). *Bolded selections are Richard’s picks.
Dogs or Cats
Pancakes or Waffles
• Sweet or Sour
• Shaken or Stirred
Old People or Babies
• Bad Drivers or Delayed Flight

New Additions

Credit: Ashley Gove/Demand Media

Credit: Ashley Gove/Demand Media

We might be a little too excited about Spring here at Demand Media Studios.  More specifically about Spring’s flowers. We’d apologize, but our community is whipping up too many seasonally delicious articles (and accompanying images) to resist — like the one above! It also calls attention to our expanding photo studio and as of late they’ve made one more leap — their very own Pinterest page where amazing Demand Media Studios photos reside for all to ogle. Neat, huh? To check out all of the images click here!

 

Refreshing Your Florals

Image Credit: Famous Footwear

Image Credit: Famous Footwear

Time to ditch those flannel shirts, heavy coats and boots. Spring has arrived.

To help us re-imagine our spring wardrobe beyond that flowered sundress, we turned to this Famous Footwear article: Freshen Up Your Spring Florals. Writer Mary Avant offers some great tips on our partner’s site on experimenting with new colors, patterns and accessories for a spring-ready look. We will definitely take her advice on mixing things up with a floral blazer with jeans at the office.

Which floral trend do you plan on adopting?

News on News

A few months ago journalist and Washington Post regular, Ezra Klein announced that he would be leaving the publication to start his very own news outlet called Vox.

You might be scratching your head right about now. Why would a seasoned journalist leave such a gig? After all, isn’t Klein’s career the stuff of journalistic dreams? Turns out Klein isn’t satisfied simply toeing the journalistic line. He’s passionate about the news and how that news is consumed by readers.

Vox’s mission? Present objective news in a way that people can understand it — not just get the facts, but grasp the back story of the story and said stories future implications. Revolutionary people.

Vox launched officially yesterday — check it out here!

Tell us how you feel about this new take on news. How do you consume your news?

10 Tips To Make Your Workday Great

Image credit: gusssygirl.blogspot.com

Image credit: gusssygirl.blogspot.com

Sometimes it’s the simple things — like leaving yourself a little pick me up note on the bathroom mirror — that can have a great impact on your day. While there are a multitude of tips on making big changes to your attitude and environment, we thought we’d focus on the small things that can make your day better (and hopefully, more productive). Check out this Forbes list of “10 Ways To Make the Most of Every Day.”

And when you’re done reading that, and anxious to find some killer quotes to motivate you during your morning routine at the sink, here is a list of inspiring quotes to ponder.

Do you have a quote that makes you feel inspired and excited about the day? Please share it with us.