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Archive for April 2012

In memoriam Ashley Sandau

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Ashley Sandau

For nearly half a century, I have been paid to explain things to people. I am good at that.

But I cannot explain why Ashley is no longer with us. When she left us so suddenly, anger and outrage overwhelmed my grief. Men and women of faith and God sought to comfort me. They told me her passing, no matter that we do not understand it, is God’s plan.

I could not accept that. Last week was unbearable. The young should not be taken from us so, so inexplicably.

But something happened. Many students and others learned I was her adviser and professor. They asked me: “Who was Ashley?”

In my answers, I found a measure of peace. Because I found Ashley.

I told others that she embodied the German word Grundlichkeit — the quality of being thorough. I said that as a student Ashley was brilliant but reluctant to accept the spotlight. That as an athlete she endured pain beyond measure to help her team. That as a friend she made me smile. That as a good, kind, decent human being she outshone the rest of us.

At her wake, I saw hundreds of photographs of Ashley. I saw her liveliness, her eagerness to experience life, her love of her family. I shared with Liz and Shelly, her parents, our common loss.

I know Ashley better today than I did two weeks ago. And I know myself better today than I did two weeks ago.

If I become more respectful, more patient, more tolerant, more … humble … it will be in large part because Ashley showed me how.

I miss you, Ash.


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Newspaper staffs at 34-year low. And news execs want us to pay for crappier ‘content’?

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Alan Mutter, writing at Reflections of a Newsosaur, put it succinctly:

The number of journalists working at U.S. newspapers today is at the lowest point since the American Society of News Editors began its annual newsroom census in 1978.

Newspapers now employ 40,600 editors and reporters vs. a peak of 56,900 in the pre-Internet year of 1990, according to the census released today. Thus, newsroom headcount has fallen by 28.6% from its modern-day high. [See the year-by-year table.]

When an industry charged with holding government accountable — government at all levels, from village council to the presidency — loses about 29 percent of the sheriffs on the beat, we have to wonder: Who’s minding the watchdog store? Fewer reporters with less experience are asking fewer questions about government and corporate decision making (and decision makers). That means the public has less credible information at its disposal to make wiser political and consumer decisions.

Yet all’s good, say newspaper execs. We’re leaner and meaner and still on the job. So, we should think, What, me worry?

But how can management claims of better reporting be true with such high losses in the newsroom?
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

April 9, 2012 at 8:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized