Multimedia journalist and his 40,000 tweets

Multimedia journalist and his 40,000 tweets

 

I started my own Twitter journey a year ago on the quest to manage @MarketStar‘s corporate account. While I’d been a skeptic, I soon preferred the 140-character platform. That’s where I meet brilliant folks like @nicknewman801, today’s featured writer. Nick Newman rocks the Twittersphere, and you’ll soon see why he’s so passionate about it. #GoNick!

Q. You’ve managed social media platforms for a major regional bank in the past. How do you see social media changing the scope of business?

I think in this “I need it now” age we’re in, it’s no longer good enough to advertise in traditional ways and just have a customer service number. You’ve gotta be involved in the conversation about you and your company’s products. It has to be a conversation, no matter what it’s about. And you have to get to customer service fast. Those that do this will find higher customer loyalty and possibly better sales.

Q. In your waking hours, you tweet every 20 minutes (or more). What about Twitter is so appealing to you?

Yup, that’s a funny story. When Twitter first came out, I didn’t see the appeal. I was one of those stodgy, old-school journalists, and refused to even try it. It wasn’t until I was forced to be on Twitter as part of my Grad program at Arizona State that I really “got it.” So since August 2010, I’ve tweeted over 40,000 times. It’s crazy.

What I like about it is the immediacy of it all. Whether you’re just following breaking news locally or on the other side of the word, or tweeting during a game, it’s happening NOW. I know what’s going on without having to wait for the news or anything else. I also like that, for the most part, the twitter crowd is a little more intelligent than what you get on Facebook. Whether you think so or not, it takes intelligence to form a coherent thought in less than 140 characters.

I also like what it’s done to barriers — those put up by “famous” people, as well as those that are put up by businesses. Seriously, there are none. I’ve been able to have conversations with NY Times editors, celebrities, athletes, all sorts of people. And if they want, they can talk back. I know a friend who got her internship at the Washington Post merely because she was brave enough to talk to an editor on twitter. They ended up bumping into each other at a conference, and she got the internship!

Q. You’re on the job hunt. (Companies, listen up!) What would be the ideal position for you?

I’m not sure if I have an “ideal” position. While I’d love to work in social media for a company or university, my skills in multimedia journalism, editing, design (web & print), photography, writing, and social media branding make it so that I can work in a lot of different fields. I just really want to make a difference to people by using my talents to communicate or tell stories.

Q. As a multimedia journalist, what do you want your career legacy to be?

That’s a hard question to answer, but it’s something I’ve put a lot of thinking into: What I want to do is use my talents to tell people’s stories somehow. And for most of my life, that’s been through journalism. But I’m finding that you can do that same thing with companies. Call it humanizing corporate America. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just know I can’t write my life in pen. It’s gotta be in pencil.

Religious Weigh God’s Law Against Country’s Law

BY NICK NEWMAN
Cronkite Borderlands Initiative

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – It’s a call to serve the poor. And for many of Christian faith, Matthew 25:40 is a mandate to do as Jesus would do.

But in the Dominican Republic – where birthright citizenship has been outlawed and left thousands of Dominican-born residents of Haitian descent without a country to call their own – doing so has fueled a conflict between this country’s law and what some see as God’s law. Read the rest of Nick’s story in full color here.

 Connect with Nick

Twitter: @nicknewman801

Blog: www.nicholasrnewman.wordpress.com

E-mail: nicholasrnewman@gmail.com

Feel words all day in Wilde atmosphere

Feel words all day in Wilde atmosphere

September 8, 2012 |  by  |  Spotlight Saturday  |  , , , ,  |  No Comments

 

Welcome to Wilde country. It’s an honor to introduce my writing friend, Amy Wilde. She’s finished her memoir (cue the happy dance!) and currently seeks an agent for her book. She’s a budding novelist who also happens to be one part tech-savvy career woman, one part cowgirl. More than 50 articles boast Amy’s byline, including coverage of Sundance Film Festival. Someday soon I’ll say, “I knew her when…” Those who know Amy personally see her words reflect her inspiring, real-life beauty.

Q. Your Twitter bio shares: “I feel words all day long. They reach inside me. Tug at my heart. Make me think. Want to share.” What beautiful phrases – what do you mean by that?

A. Words are the mortar in memories, they are the feeling in a song, and the intimate touches of communication. The day my dear Gram passed from this life I was just minutes too late to say goodbye to her. I sat there in the hallway of the care center with my head in my hands crying harder than I ever have. Yet, her words rung clear in my mind that moment. I could feel her telling me how much she loved me, and that she would miss me too. Words, strung together like poetry, contain power to move the soul.

Q. What inspired your first memoir about your experience with cleft lip palate, White Bees?

A. My mom inspired me. She told me I had a story to tell, and she was right. She and I had gone to the movie, “The Help” and in the parking lot after the movie we spent the better part of an hour talking about my book. I was so excited to get home to write I could hardly drive the speed limit. For a year my memoir was all I thought about, spending every spare minute at night and on the weekends writing. When I presented her and my two sisters with the first draft of “White Bees,” bound and shiny, during a Mother’s Day luncheon, it was hard to hold back the tears. My older sister Jeannie, who protected me from the bully and taught me inner strength read the book cover to cover in one sitting that night. She called the next day to tell me I had written something most novelists only dream of: a page turner. Writing about personal pain and triumph is a difficult process. I am currently finalizing revisions on the book.

In the near future I hope to become a spokesperson and advocate for cleft palate repair, and work with parents of children born with cleft lip/palate to help them overcome initial fears.

Q. As a career woman, mom of three, columnist, freelance writer, you work all day, then write from 9 to midnight. What motivates you to push yourself?

A. The person who said you should have balance in your life was likely not a working mom with aspirations to be a writer. The truth is my life has very little balance, but lots of choices. To make time for writing I choose to skip the TV shows I used to watch, and I turn on my words— and write. But I do so only after my children have been put to bed and my day job completed. Writing at night is my vice, and as such, no pushing is necessary.

Q. With 14 years’ experience in geography, what started you on a writing path?

A. I love my career of geography and target marketing (working with great people is the added bonus!), and have invested over 30,000 hours of my life in sharpening my GIS (geographic information system) saw. However, two years ago when I had my third baby, Maggie, I realized that I wanted to do more. Say more! Be more. And influence others! I was moved to become a writer. I nervously went into the local paper with a stack of writing samples and left them with the editor. She called me a few weeks later and wanted to meet me in person—and when we had that meeting she offered me the chance to have my own monthly column. Of course, I was beyond excited and went right home and wrote my first edition of “Atmosphere.”

Q. You’re an inspiring woman. What inspires YOU? Please share your personal motto.

A. Cowboys! (Which is probably why I married one.) I love that they have a connection with the land—and that they find a solution when the going gets tough. One of my favorite cowboy characters is Augustus “Gus” McCrae. “It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” – spoken by Augustus McCrae

“A Boy and His Horse”

(dedicated to Amy’s cowboy husband and his best friend, Tory)

There was a horse, born 26 years ago on hill below the mountain. This horse was tough, but small in size, and nobody wanted her. There was a boy who wanted the horse, the horse nobody wanted. He needed this horse, and she needed him, and so it was decided. She was his best girl, his companion of the outdoors, and the magic in his childhood. The boy rode the horse high and low, whispering in her ear, telling all his stories. They went places, just the two of them, all over the face of the mountain. They grew up together, the horse nobody wanted and the boy who wanted her. They went to college, to rodeos, and miles and miles of hunting.

The years went by and the horse got sick. The boy was a man, and knew the time had come, but didn’t want to face it. The man and the horse walked together— to a special place on the mountain, and the man and his horse looked at each other. One last time. The boy hesitated. The man was brave. And the world stood still. For a moment, it was just the boy and his horse, and all those miles of trails. It was her shiny coat, her warm smell. It was all the years of loyal friendship, and all the memories, remembered in a few perfect moments.

Then the thunder clapped, the sound rang strong, and the mighty girl went quiet. The boy and the man fell together and drowned in the sorrow, aching over the bond that could never be broken. Because the boy loved the horse, and the horse loved the boy. He buried her in a safe place on the mountain, next to a rock that will never be moved, and a buckle never to be worn again. A place they both called home.

Connect with Amy

Twitter: @wildeatmosphere

Amy Wilde Atmosphere (blog)

Email:  Wilde.amy@gmail.com

 

Peek into a freelance writer's word-savvy soul

Peek into a freelance writer’s word-savvy soul

sam_circle 

Meet Samantha, called Sam, a freelancer who writes a blog called Scarlett, Called Scout. I knew Sam and her boyfriend-now-husband when she was Samantha Strong, student columnist extraordinaire at BYU. Sam’s mesmerizing way with words draws you in, and I’ve always admired the sheer honesty in her writing. She’s also a talented photographer and has an eye for publication, as you can see on her blog. I see no limits to her career potential. Get to know her in this Q & A and her essay titled “Wedding Demons.”

Q. Scarlett, Called Scout gives me a peek into your soul. How does it feel knowing many others read your personal thoughts, especially those you’ve never met?

A. I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. I love that it encourages me to write regularly, but I hate that I feel obligated to write when I don’t feel inspired. If you look back in my archives, you’ll see that there are times when I’m downright prolific and there are times when I’m silent for weeks. I love the feeling of fulfillment that comes when I know that what I’ve written reflects what I think and feel, and I hate the countless times I’ve felt like my abilities of expression have fallen short. I love the thrill of making myself vulnerable to an audience, because I truly believe it’s the best way to improve my writing, but it is, at times, a terrifying thing. Inevitably, I end up worrying about the things I say and the things I censor.

That only half answers your question. We bloggers are too accustomed to doing whatever we want.

Q. To create your thought-provoking phrases, do you have a quick concept-to-words writing process, or do you belabor over edits and refining?

A. It’s either there or it’s not. I have a file full of blog posts I couldn’t finish, because the words just didn’t come. I do belabor a bit over editing, but only because I want a lot of my writing to have a specific audio quality that can be a little tricky to achieve sometimes. I make my husband read the posts back to me and if they sound different out of his mouth than they did in my mind when I wrote them, I shift the punctuation around until I get it right. I’m definitely a descriptivist when it comes to grammar. I don’t hesitate to break the rules if it gives me the effect I want.

Q. With your deep wit and sassy way, you sometimes share honest specifics about your relationship with your husband. I guess this is more a question for him, but I’m curious: what does Trent think of these confessional-type pieces?

A. Trent has a love-hate relationship with my blog as well. He loves that it makes me happy, but hates that I have to be robustly honest to get there. People tell me constantly that the blog makes him sound completely endearing, but he thinks I make fun of him too much. In blogging, as in all things, we compromise a lot.

Q. After your journalism degree and being Associate Editor at a magazine, you’re now embedded in the freelance scene. What’s the best/worst parts of freelance writing?

A. For a long time, I thought freelancing was a myth, a euphemism for “unemployed.” I was wrong. I’ve been extremely blessed to find so much freelance work with so many fantastic publications. The best part is that it requires that you give your absolute best with every piece you write. There’s no guarantee you’ll get another job with any publication, so the stakes are always high. It’s incredibly motivating. Making my own hours is also fantastic. Most full-time writing gigs are 9-5, but I’ve always been a night owl. Most nights I tuck Trent in bed and then get to work. The worst part is probably that my personal hygiene has suffered. I’ve got a professional wardrobe in my closet going out of style and a blow dryer in my drawer collecting dust.

Q. Think back and tell us: When did you first know you wanted to spend your life writing?

A. I went through a major “Harriet the Spy” phase when I was eight or nine. Trent always jokes that I never left it, that I spend my days at home in Atlanta spying on our neighbors and writing my observations in a composition notebook. He might just be right.

 

“wedding demons”

I have wedding demons.
Like my own hell-bent ghosts of Christmas past, they follow me, haunt me, shame me. They keep me company.
The dress — cheapest one I didn’t hate — picked to prove something.
The flowers, rushed.
The cake, expensive and tasteless and who cares about cake?
The tables, sloppy vision, blah and blah.
The photographer, perfect. Just perfect. But it’s hard to forget my misplaced pickiness and bridezilla moments with her — ugly moments hovering in retrospect.
The organization at the reception, messy timing, needless waste.

I could go on. I do go on — in my head in moments of weakness, too frequent moments these past 20 months. I stew and regret and then hate myself for caring — and for still caring — and for seeing no end to the caring in sight. Click here to read the rest on Sam’s beautiful blog.

 

 Connect with Sam

Scarlett, Called Scout blog

Facebook 
Twitter 
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Game on, sportswriter

Game on, sportswriter

August 25, 2012 |  by  |  Spotlight Saturday  |  , ,  |  2 Comments

 

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to ruuummmbble! (Insert NBA pump up music.) Meet Matt Petersen, Phoenix Suns fanatic and sportswriter for The Daily Herald. Matt and I go back more than a decade, and I’ve always been impressed with his slam-dunk way with words. He gets paid to cover sports, and has interviewed the likes of  Steve Nash. Talented beyond his years, his words sport more than the essence of games, but also the humanity. Bonus tidbit: Matt happens to be married to my sister. 

Q. Matt, you’ve got the passion, the voice, and know-how for sportswriting; both in writing and in person. I remember you announcing games in high school. How’d you first know you’d want your professional life to revolve around covering sports?

A: Honestly, I had no intention of sports being a part of my career until my mid-20s. The announcing was just wasy/fun side money while I was in college. Sports writing was my mom’s idea after I hit a point where I had no clue what I wanted to do. Computers? Change too often. Accounting? BORING. (Note: That sister of mine he’s married to? She’s a talented accountant. They balance each other well.) Mom told me to try out sports writing at the college paper for a semester. BINGO.

Q. Describe your favorite experience so far as a press-badged reporter.

A: Hands-down, interviewing Steve Nash after the Suns-Jazz game in 2012. I was on assignment for the Daily Herald. Frankly, it was a one-night stand with my dream job. Nothing is more surreal than having someone you’ve watched for hours on TV make eye contact with you, acknowledge you, and give you sincere attention/time/words.

Q. As a lifelong Suns fan, you created wearesuns.com with a friend years ago. Tell us, what prompted you to launch that site and has it fulfilled what you hoped it would?

A: It was my friend’s idea. He was a visual guy, I was the content guy. It hasn’t taken off like we’d hoped due to school taking up our free time, plus lack of access. I moved to Utah, he couldn’t secure credentials. It’s an on-again, off-again project at this point.

Q. What advice do you offer for someone who longs to be in your professional sportswriting shoes?

A: I’m not there yet? In other words, it’s a process. Experiences like interviewing Nash and Larry Fitzgerald are few and far between. Know that covering high school games and other lesser-known teams/sports are unavoidable and necessary stepping stones to make it. Part of those stepping stones is tedious: tracking down info. not readily available on the internet, awkward interviews, and plenty of trial-and-error along the way.

If you can live and even love the experience (and the low-level salary that comes with it), “the big time” is worth the wait.

Q. Where do you see yourself, and your writing, in 10 years?

A: So much for trying not to get my hopes up. Ideally, I’d be covering an NCAA university athletic program or an NBA team. While I get some of that now, I’d love to do that exclusively in 10 years (a.k.a. be a “beat writer”).

Timpanogas falls in 10-inning title game classic

By Matt Petersen – Daily Herald

After three weeks’ worth of defying the odds, historic batting performances and a 10-inning saga of championship baseball, Timpanogos didn’t want second place.

So there the trophy stood, on the ground in the middle of everyone, acknowledged by no one.

“I guess it would look bad if we just left it here,” head coach Kim Nelson finally said.

Instead the Timberwolves acknowledged only each other’s tears of regret and emotion following an epic 8-7, 4A state title loss that needed three extra innings to be decided.

After Skyline’s game-winning hit finally ended a seemingly endless game, Timpanogos players and coaches tried to find comfort, but it was — and likely is — slow in coming after a game either team could havewon multiple times.

Click here for the rest of this story.

Connect with Matt

Read Matt’s latest sports stories

Twitter: @TheMattPetersen

Sliding down the fire pole, here she comes

Sliding down the fire pole, here she comes


Sometimes you come across a writer who fills a void you didn’t know you had. Katie Elizabeth Hawkes, blogger at katilda.com, surely is on my list. We’ve only met online recently, and let me tell you: This girl’s got pizzazz. She’s a pop culture devotee, blogging queen, and writer extraordinaire. Below you’ll see her article, “If Hunger Games Tributes Owned iPhones.”

Q. You admit on your blog you have a “life ambition to slide down a fire pole.” After you check that one off the bucket list, what’s your next big goal in life, particularly when it comes to writing?

A. Oh, the fire pole! I will conquer it someday. I read some articles online to make sure I know the proper sliding technique when the time comes. I can’t botch that moment! But on to your real question, I think one major goal, like most bloggers out there, is to gain a legitimate following online. I could write all day and night (oh wait, I already do), but having an audience is incredibly validating. As for my content writing career (shout-out to my incredible company!), there’s always more to learn and more ways to improve — I just never want to stop educating myself. And then there’s always the question of writing a book. I’m thinking maybe something about a school for wizards, and one of them has a lightning…oh wait, nevermind.

Q. Katie, you’re a creative writer at Skyhook Marketing, a contributor for the Huffington Post, and faithful blogger – looks like you’re quite delighted to write. What do you love about writing?

A. Writing is like art to me! (Probably crayon art, since that’s all I can handle in that realm.) But really, I love just pouring the words onto a page and then moving phrases around, tweaking punctuation and balancing it all out until it just clicks. There are few things more satisfying than thinking about something and putting it on paper exactly right. It’s like this ultimate moment of expression, and makes me want to run out my front door and with my fist in the air, yelling, “I did it, universe!”

Q. Originally you named your blog “Scruples,” after your favorite word – when and why did you change to katilda.com?

A. As a marketer, I’m involved in creating strong brand identities for my clients. I just decided one day that I wanted to solidify my own personal brand and commit myself to building a stronger, more memorable online presence. I love the word scruples (I think it sounds like a bowl of cereal), but I wanted to create a more seamless brand from my URL to comments I leave on other people’s blogs. Unfortunately, there are a zillion bloggers out there named Katie — so I needed to differentiate myself. My dad called me “katilda” in an email one day, and it delighted me so much that I decided to run with it.

Q. I’ve seen all lower-case writing popping up more and more lately. I notice you opt for it on your blog. I pin you more a trendsetter than follower, and I’m wondering – what was your thought process deciding to go lower case?

A. I appreciate you pinning me as a trendsetter — does this mean overalls are really going to catch on? (I’m involved in a very committed quest to bring them back into fashion.) As for the lowercase thing…I just liked having the more informal feel on my blog. Although I am generally obsessive about grammar, I usually write my personal emails to close friends and family without bothering with capital letters and such. That habit just carried over into my blog one day and decided to stick around, I suppose!

Q. You’re a word maker-upper. What word gems are you most proud of?

A. Excellent question! Well, I’m a big believer in referring to spandex pants as “spants.” I’m also quite proud of “hooligang,” which I use to refer to any group of delinquent youth. Another favorite habit is using “bieber” as a euphemism, aka “oh my bieber” and “what the biebs.” If you read my blog regularly, you’ll also pick up on the fact that “hooverdam” is my prime swear word of choice. I might say something like, “Good biebs, did you see the spants on that hooverdam hooligang?”

“If Hunger Games Tributes Owned iPhones”

They’ve changed the way the average person lives daily life, so it’s worth wondering — what would happen if popular fictional characters had access to iPhones?

It certainly would have a legitimate effect on The Lord of the Rings (I imagine Frodo would have killed for a solid GPS system and some Face Time with Gandalf) or High School Musical (imagine the limited number of takes if the cast could have practiced auto-tuning themselves beforehand), not to mention Twilight (all it would have taken is a simple “vampire symptoms” Google search and we could have skipped a lot of hemming and hawing on Bella’s part).

Because it’s the hottest thing on the pop culture radar these days, let’s take a look at this issue in relation to the smash hit The Hunger Games trilogy and upcoming film.

SOCIAL MEDIA

It seems like The Capitol pretty much has it covered when it comes to broadcasting the games to the districts on the outside. But any good social media follower knows that some of the best news comes via the tweets and posts of people on the inside — not from the glossed-over version available on major broadcasting networks.

The games might take on an entirely different flavor if the people had access to a constant Twitter stream from within the arena or some disgruntled Facebook statuses from an angsty tribute or two. And imagine the repinning power of a mockingjay image!

Not to mention, it would add some serious flavor to the romance situation if the audience could follow Katniss’ relationship status from “In an Open Relationship with Gale” to “It’s Complicated with Peeta” and everything in between.

You can read the rest of Katie’s article here at moviefone.com.

  Connect with Katie

Check out her blog, katilda.com

Follow Katie on Twitter @K8EHawkes

Email her: katildablog@gmail.com

Get her pro writing assistance at her site: seekatiewrite.com

 

Meet the man behind 2002 Olympic News Service

Meet the man behind 2002 Olympic News Service

 

With the Olympics wrapping up (and haven’t they been incredible!), you need to meet Phil Mickey. He knows what it’s like to write for world’s spotlight, as he covered athlete bios for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In fact, Phil’s had many once-in-a-lifetime career opportunities, and you’ll get a glimpse of his communication mastermind in the Q & A below, followed by his personal entry from the Olympics titled, “Bawling on the Bus and the Reporter Who Overslept.”

Q. You served as Olympic News Service Editor on the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Games. Dying to know: What was the best part of writing/editing for the global event?

A. The best way to answer this question is to tell a story. After spending a day at the Ice Sheet in Ogden (curling), I bumped into a journalist from AFP (Agence France Presse) who had a login question about our Info2002 system (our news intranet). I ran him through it and I told him I was one of the editors and pretty much built the site and the team that ran it. He told me Info2002 and the ONS team were his lifesavers. He had backbreaking schedules issued by his editors and our system helped him cover multiple events in one day without travelling from venue to venue. He was able to piece everything together for a story based on our core coverage, and did it for multiple events — even simultaneously. That was proof our coverage was a success, which was very gratifying.

On top of that, just being able to cover the Olympics alongside the greatest journalists in the world – and have them rely on you – was a great experience. I’ll never forget it, way too many stories to tell!

Q. What an exciting ride you’ve had in your communication career – Community Relations Director for the Utah Grizzlies, Director of Publications at the Utah Jazz, news writing for the Olympics, leading communication efforts for Lifetime Products, and now Channel and Product Manager at MarketStar. What do you recommend to writers going after their dream job?

A. Always keep it in your mind and within your sites. I honestly believe if you dream out loud, you will consciously and subconsciously drift in that direction. But, be careful what you wish for — dream jobs can turn into nightmares very quickly. Prepare yourself for the reality version of your dream. You can always hold something in a dream state, but when things come true, the reality version is ALWAYS much different, so learn to adapt.

Q. I’ve heard you have strong feelings about the word “irregardless.” Why’s that?

A. Because even though irregardless is a word according to Merriam-Webster, it tells you not to use it! It says to use regardless instead. How cool is that? How many words (including the most depraved swear words) does the dictionary itself tell you not to use? Irregardless is the most rebel word in the world! If you think about the word long enough, it actually blows your mind. It makes sense, but it makes no sense! Because of the “ir” prefix, it should make the root word the opposite of what it is — think irrelevant or irresponsible. Not this word, it means the EXACT same thing as regardless, in fact, it becomes like triple-dog regardless. It makes it EVEN MORE regardless than it is. It’s completely unique, completely confusing, and IRREGARDLESS of what you think about it, it doesn’t care.

Q. You’re quite the wordsmith. Professional or personal – what writing are you most proud of and why?

A. My personal writing that not very many people see. My talent in writing is being able to take a complex idea and make it easy to digest. I have spent hours and hours trying to write my feelings about certain ideas or philosophies, and when I hit the perfect tone with one, I sit back and read it over and over. I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoy my own writing, and my personal observations on politics, faith and self-realization are my favorites. All of that will be a gift to my children. Hopefully through these random musings they will truly know who their father was and what he believed.

Q. I’m often wowed by your cleverly packaged phrases in conversation. How’ve built your extensive vocabulary?

A. You’re sweet…but I wish I could do better. What I do know comes naturally. I wasn’t a great student, but I always wanted to be well-spoken (and written). I am a voracious reader, and have been from the time I learned to read. I think a lot of it comes from reading the news. I may have been the only kid in Junior High who liked to read The New York Times.

Phil’s Entry: 2002 Olympic Update

20 February, 2002 | Bawling on the Bus and the Reporter Who Overslept

What a dreary morning. The rain is just coming down like crazy. This morning I finished reading my book. One thing that has given me a great escape is reading on the buses in between venues. I’ve been reading “Where the Red Fern Grows.” Today was the final two chapters…I don’t know if any of you have read this book, but I recommend you do. I bawled my eyes out on the bus-ride in. A Bulgarian journalist kept looking over at me; I can only imagine what he was thinking. Anyway, my thoughts are of Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann and their adventures, so I’m melancholy today.

At 11 a.m. today there was a press conference for the women’s bobsleigh team. Watching Jill Bakken and Vonetta Flowers win the gold was just awesome. Skeleton proved to be huge for the U.S. today. Jim Shea won the gold. The best moment about his win was afterwards when he took off his helmet and pulled out a picture of his Grandfather Jack Shea. If you’re not familiar with the story, Jack Shea, his son James and his son Jim are the first three-generation Olympians in U.S. history. Jack Shea was the oldest living American medalist before he was killed by a drunk driver in January. He was supposed to light the torch at the Opening Ceremony, but that’s life I guess. Perhaps the memory of his grandpa was what Jim Shea needed to win the gold. What a great moment. Tristan Gale and Leann Parsley won gold and silver as well. Tonight at the Medals Plaza we will see the National Anthem three times! It should be a great night for all!

All around the MMC people just look like zombies. There was a Chinese journalist asleep on the couch right outside our office for a long time. I saw him at 9:30 this morning, and no kidding, he was still there at 4 p.m. This is no joke. He just took his shoes off and away he went. We were betting that he was dead, but he did stir every now and then. So funny!

We also had an outrageous “caper” unfold, all at the expense of the IOC. Here at the MMC there is a large exhibit from the Olympic Museum. It’s basically a bunch of glass cases with a few artifacts in them and a really ornery Swiss girl making sure everything is perfectly stuffy. In addition to all of this, are four three-foot high Snowlets. The Snowlets are the mascots from Nagano, and the museum has four of the original costumes. Anyway, they have been sitting there around this display the entire time, but two days ago, an announcement was made that one of the Snowlets has turned up missing and it should be returned immediately…no questions asked. You thought the Swiss girl was ornery before, now she’s just plain nasty. It’s actually been quite funny because there have been sightings. It has been sighted on the set of Australia Channel 7; it has been sighted at the Dead Goat Saloon in downtown SLC; it has been sighted at the Phenix House (Norway House) in Park City; it has been sighted at the Austrian House, and someone said they saw it at the Salt Lake Ice Center, but I find that one hard to believe.

The IOC has been freaking out about this whole thing, but everyone else thinks it’s pretty funny. I would imagine that some broadcaster “borrowed” the Snowlet and took it on a tour of the Games. Kind of like the people who stole the ceramic gnome from their neighbors and sent it on a tour of America, only to send pictures of the gnome at places like Mt. Rushmore, the St.Louis Arch, Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. The other theory is that it’s the Russian delegation trying to get back at the IOC for all the “foul play” that has been going on with the judges and referees. Our idea was that the IOC gets a nasty note saying “give us the medals we lost or the Snowlet gets it!” It been pretty funny to walk by the museum and see just three Snowlets…all lonesome and missing their buddy. Well, yesterday the Snowlet was returned. It just sort of reappeared in the same spot it was missing from. The girls at the museum were a little bit more cheery, but that’s not saying much. As I walked by this morning, the Snowlets were being packed away for the long trip home to Switzerland. I will miss them.

I was paid the ultimate compliment today though. A reporter from The New York Times called today looking for some press conference highlights from the Skeleton. He said he overslept and didn’t make it to the track. His editor called his cell phone and he lied and said he was on the bus back. He told me he absolutely NEEDED to have me fax the highlights to his hotel so he could have quotes for his story. I did it for him and he called back saying the ONS is probably the best thing ever at any Olympics — and he has covered 13 of them. Another great moment.

It’s off to the Medals Plaza — only a few nights left to enjoy the Olympics.

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