Grammar Hammer: Whiling Away the Hours

blog_grammarhammer

I often see “wile away the hours” used interchangeably with “while away the hours,” so which is correct?

Technically, they both are, but there are some subtle differences one should consider.

“To while away the hours” means to “pass time idly” or to “pass time, especially in some leisurely or pleasant manner.” For example, “I spent hours whiling away on the beach last Sunday.”

While means to “pass the time, especially in some leisurely or pleasant manner”

“While away the hours” means to “pass the time, especially in some leisurely or pleasant manner” (Image by araza123/Flickr; used under CC by 2.0)

“Wile” is generally used as a noun, meaning “trickery” or “cunning” (who could forget Wile E. Coyote?); “a disarming or seductive manner”; or “a trick intended to deceive.” It can also be used as a verb to mean “influence by wile.”

In that context, wiling away the hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon could take on an entirely new meaning.

Therefore, “while away the hours” is the preferred expression. “Wile” exists as a means of poetic license to convey a particular mood or theme. For context, “Wile E. Coyote wiles away his time trying to catch that pesky Road Runner.”

Have a grammar rule you’d like me to explore? Drop me a line at catherine.spicer@prnewswire.com.

A version of this post originally appeared on PR Newswire’s Beyond PR blog.  Author Catherine Spicer is a manager of customer content services at PR Newswire.

Friend or Foe? The News Media Debate Robot Journalism

When I think of robots, I still picture Rosie from The Jetsons.

But while the robot journalism phenomenon doesn’t employ Rosie, per se, it utilizes “robots” (read: software and algorithms) to sort through large amounts of data.

The result is news stories produced in seconds.

Associated Press fully embraced this concept in July, when it released its first earnings piece with the assistance of Wordsmith, a platform of Durham-based Automated Insights.

Wordsmith truly has the capacity to revolutionize earnings coverage. Imagine, for example, covering “all 4,400 public companies in the US in real time within five minutes of earnings reports coming out,” says Automated Insights CEO Robbie Allen.

“I don’t see Wordsmith as a threat to the future of journalism,” Allen says. “We’re enabling media companies to cover things they previously wouldn’t have been able to cover. It’ll help grow the pie for media companies.”

So far, the journalism community appears to have mixed feelings about this. Consider some headlines in recent months: Robots Are Invading the News Business, and It’s Great for Journalists, It’s All Over: Robots Are Now Writing News Stories, And Doing A Good Job, Should We Be Afraid Or Excited About Robot Journalism?, and Who’s Afraid of Robot Journalists?

But AP is pretty content with its direction.

In June, AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara said in the blog post A Leap Forward in Quarterly Earnings Stories that automation technology will free up journalists from “hammering out a quick story recapping each” earnings report. Journalists also will be able to spend more time on beat reporting and source development.

It also doesn’t mean AP no longer will be providing editorial coverage of earnings.

“If anything, we are doubling down on the journalism we will do around earnings reports and business coverage,” Ferrara said, in his post. “We are going to use our brains and time in more enterprising ways during earnings season … our journalists will focus on reporting and writing stories about what the numbers mean and what gets said in earnings calls on the day of the release, identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports.”

Automated Insights began working with AP primarily for sports reporting, automating sports previews and fantasy football recaps. Finance also seemed like a logical place to partner.

“I think computers are better at sorting the data,” Allen said. “When it comes to quantifiable analysis, software is so much better than people. That’s only growing – the amount of data our programs can go through is tremendous.”

Last year, Automated Insights produced more than 300 million personalized stories for a variety of customers and corporate clients, including Yahoo and Allstate.

These personalized stories ranged from internal sales reporting to generating reports for individual companies.

Automated Insights projects that it will produce a billion personalized stories for clients this year.

So is there ever making a mistake with an automated piece?

Allen said the content could have bugs in it just like software, such as a misplaced bit of punctuation or an odd turn of phrase. But Automated Insights has an extensive quality assurance process.

“We feel really good about what’s going to come out,” he said.

And the feedback and publicity has been overwhelmingly positive, Allen added.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Reporters would say, ‘I’m glad someone is finally doing this.’”

Want to weigh in on the robot journalism issue? If you plan to attend SXSW 2015, you can vote this panel discussion up or down: When Robots Write The News, What Will Humans Do?.

Both Allen and Ferrara plan to speak.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her @cpcube.

Blog Profiles: Lifestyle Blogs

Lifestyle Blogs We Love

Lifestyle Blogs We Love

Welcome to Blog Profiles! Each week, PR Newswire media relations manager Christine Cube selects an industry or subject and a handful of sites that do a good job with promoting and blogging about the space. Do you have a blog that deserves recognition? Tell Christine why on PR Newswire for Bloggers.

This might be a little belated, but I just want to thank all of you for your blog submissions through PR Newswire for Bloggers.

I look at each and every one of them, and I keep a list (and sometimes I check it twice).

The most common blog type I receive definitely goes to lifestyle.

So, it’s time to look at some great lifestyle blogs.

Lux & Concord is a daily lifestyle blog written by a team of 20-something ladies in Boston, Chicago, and New York.

This is an incredibly attractive site. It covers people, places, and things “we find to be interesting, useful and fun.” It also features stories on successful and inspiring women, namely a former Top Chef champion, a few start-up founders, an editor at Allure magazine, and Anna Wintour’s former assistant.

Each month, Lux & Concord explores a timely happening, such as weddings, fitness, and self-improvement, and dedicates more in-depth coverage.

Some of my favorite posts include 20 Ways to Wear Stripes, From Basic to Bold, The 15 Best Places to Find Cute Home Décor, and 8 Healthy Summer Recipes From Pinterest (Wait. Frozen blueberry yogurt skewers?).

I also was pleased to read this post, We Tried It: Chia Seed Pudding. My sister got me into chia pudding. I concur. It’s pretty delicious.

Follow @LuxandConcord on Twitter.

Healthy is Happy is the lifestyle blog of Jessica Corson in Cleveland. The site presents “inspiration for a balanced and beautiful life.”

“I’m on a mission to live a healthy and active lifestyle, follow my heart and pursue my passions, and find the balance and beauty in life along the way,” Jessica writes.

The site is full of fun pictures. One recent post that featured shots of Corson was Nautical night out: Lake Erie Style.

I also appreciate that Corson keeps her readers informed about what to do around Cleveland, including where to go for free yoga. And, a couple of interesting guest posts included beach bag essentials for the summer and How Melanoma Changed my Life.

Follow @HappyHealthyCLE on Twitter.

Cheap is The New Classy is a family and lifestyle blog that aims to help readers find ways to live a good life for less.

Running the ship is Dawn McAlexander, who loves home decor and DIY projects, organization, and travel. Cheap is The New Classy covers beauty/fashion, food, DIY, home and garden, family, pets, safety, and technology.

I liked several posts on this site. But my favorites were 10 Family Fun Activities (Hello, lawn Twister. Sign me up, pls), 10 Things You Need to Know When Serving Jury Duty, and Planting, Growing, Pruning: The Ultimate Guide to Fresh Herbs.

There also was this extremely tempting post on 10 Decadent Cupcake Recipes. Honestly, I could just keep going on here.

Follow @TheNewClassy on Twitter.

Mocha Man Style is an online destination for “modern, sophisticated men who like fashion, cars, travel, fine dining, and music.” The site is managed by publisher and editor-in-chief Frederick J. Goodall.

“Our mission is to deliver valuable content that resonates in the lives of our audience,” the blog says.

This site covers a lot of territory. Some fun posts include 5 Indie Artists You Should Hear, Two Fun Days in Miami Beach, FL, and Ammo&Amor Combines Luxury and Simplicity in New Line of Street Wear.

Follow @MochaManStyle on Twitter.

Lifehacker offers “tips, tricks and downloads for getting things done.”

It’s managed by editor-in-chief Whitson Gordon.

I like Lifehacker because it’s no nonsense.

The Best Ways to Make Healthy Food Taste Better? Sure, I’ll take that. I also liked Compile a Bare-Bones Budget Alongside Your Normal One, and How to Deal With a Difficult Landlord.

The latter includes tips like be a good tenant, communicate your needs clearly, document everything, and talk with other tenants. All good information.

Follow @lifehacker on Twitter.

P.S. Ever wonder how we come up with ideas for the blog profile topics? Our handy list of industries and subjects on PR Newswire for Journalists stays top of mind. If you’re a blogger or journalist looking for consumer and lifestyle news, let us know. We’re happy to customize that news feed for you on PR Newswire for Journalists.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager with PR Newswire and freelance writer. Follow her @cpcube.

Did You See That Press Release? Streisand Releases New Album and Smokey Celebrates a Birthday

With thousands of news releases published each week on PR Newswire for Journalists, no one can possibly keep up with every one of them. Here are some of our favorite releases from the past week that you might have missed.

If you’re not already a registered member of PR Newswire for Journalists, you can register at www.prnewswire.com/media. Customize your profile to get the news releases you want before they make headlines. It’s free and takes only a few moments.

Source:  PRNewsFoto/Columbia Records

Source: PRNewsFoto/Columbia Records

Barbra Streisand’s Partners Album to be Released Sept. 16

Columbia Records has announced the upcoming release of Barbra Streisand’s Partners album, to debut on Sept. 16, featuring 12 inimitable new Streisand duets with the world’s greatest male vocalists. Streisand took to Instagram Aug. 11 to announce the official Sept. 16 release date for Partners. Fans can pre-order Partners now.

All those who pre-order the album will receive a new downloadable song “New York State of Mind,” with Billy Joel. The Lionel Richie duet of the classic “The Way We Were” also will be made available to pre-ordering fans on Aug. 26. The third track, the Michael Buble duet “It Had To Be You,” will be downloadable via pre-order on Sept. 2. See the full release to learn more.

Want to make sure you don’t miss releases like this? Sign up for PR Newswire for Journalists and create a free profile to have releases emailed to you about new music and other topics you cover. Get started now.

Pandora Jewelry and Disney Announce New Strategic Alliance

Pandora Jewelry announced on Aug. 12 a new strategic alliance with Walt Disney Co. that will give the brand a presence in Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, beginning with the sponsorship of this fall’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida.

In addition, Pandora, in collaboration with Disney Consumer Products, is creating an original collection of Disney-themed jewelry launching at retail locations this fall. See the full release to learn more.

Interested in receiving more jewelry and fashion news like this? Sign up for PR Newswire for Journalists and create a free profile to get releases sent to you by email on the topics you cover. Get started now.

Source: AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed

Source: AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed

Knights of Columbus Announces Fund to Help Christians Threatened with Extinction in Iraq

The Knights of Columbus announced Aug. 12 that it is establishing a fund to assist those – particularly Christians as well as other religious minorities – facing horrific and violent persecution and possible extinction in Iraq and the surrounding regions.   See the full release to learn more about what you can do.

Don’t miss other foreign affairs and religion news like this. Sign up for PR Newswire for Journalists and create a free profile to get releases sent to you by email on the topics you cover.  Get started now.

Cutrale Group and Safra Group Propose to Acquire Chiquita for $13 Per Share

The Cutrale Group and the Safra Group on Aug. 11 proposed to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding stock of Chiquita Brands Inc. (NYSE: CQB) at a price of $13 per share in cash to Chiquita shareholders. This proposal represents a premium of 29 percent to Chiquita’s closing share price of $10.06 as of Aug. 8.  See the full release to learn terms of the offer.

Want to make sure you don’t miss releases like this? Sign up for PR Newswire for Journalists and create a free profile to have news emailed to you about finance, the beverages industry, and other topics you cover. Get started now.

Source: PRNewsFoto/ US Forest Service

Source: PRNewsFoto/ US Forest Service

Smokey Bear Celebrates 70th Birthday and Reminds Americans … ‘Only You Can Prevent Wildfires’

Smokey Bear, the icon featured in the longest running public service campaign in U.S. history, turned 70 years old on Aug. 9.

Since 1944, Smokey Bear and his trademark phrase “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” have helped reduce the number of acres burned by wildfires from 22 million annually in 1944 to an average of 6.7 million annually today. See the full release to watch a video marking the event.

Interested in receiving more federal agency or advertising industry news like this? Sign up for PR Newswire for Journalists and create a free profile to receive releases by email on the topics you cover. Get started now.

Larry Grady is online content manager at PR Newswire for Journalists. He has worked in business media for nearly 30 years and enjoys reality TV and daydreaming about travel and wine.

Around the Wire: BuzzFeed’s $50M Opportunity, 22 Tips for Creating Niche Content & More Media News

Welcome to the latest installment of Around the Wire, PR Newswire’s round up of journalism, blogging, and freelancing stories from the past week.

Photo of BuzzFeed HQ by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid; used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo of BuzzFeed HQ by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid; used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

1. With $50M, BuzzFeed Growth Calls for Sharper Lines Between News and the Other Stuff (Nieman Journalism Lab)

With $50 million in new venture funding, BuzzFeed has the opportunity to clarify its different roles. Its content now will be more clearly split into three groups – Buzz for it’s socially-oriented content, BuzzFeed Life for lifestyle content, and BuzzFeed News. This distinction will help develop BuzzFeed’s internal groups and show its audience it has moved past listicles.

While Nieman delves into BuzzFeed’s latest developments, this essay on Medium by Felix Salmon explains how the media’s coverage of BuzzFeed demonstrates why the distinction is needed.

2. #IfTheyGunnedMeDown Challenges the Media and How It Portrays People of Color (Poynter)

Mainstream media’s coverage of teenager Michael Brown and his death at the hands of police has received pushback on social media. The hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown challenged the images selected to portray Brown and the biased narrative that typically surrounds stories about black men and women.

In Philadelphia, readers’ tweeted reactions helped motivate the publishers to change the front page of Thursday morning’s Daily News not once, but twice overnight.

Poynter offers advice on how journalists can cover Ferguson and similar situations in a way that’s not just accurate, but provides true, multi-dimensional context to the story.

3. 22 Tips For Creating Great Content When You Don’t Have a Clue (KISSmetrics)

The challenge to create new — and fantastic — content never ends. And if you cover a niche, there may be days you stare at the computer screen thinking you’ve exhausted your topic. The next time that happens, check out this Copyblogger infographic on KISSmetrics that features 22 ideas for creating compelling content when you don’t have a clue.

4. Why Newsrooms Shouldn’t Do Video Just to Do Video (PBS MediaShift)

Videos on news sites aren’t producing direct revenue; however, their costs are justified by providing a “point of entry” for outlets’ online audience. For effective videos, news organizations need to have a strategy in place that identifies what news is best suited for video. PBS MediaShift looks at The Seattle Times, Vice, Frontline, and other newsrooms and examines how they’ve found success through video.

5. First Look Runs Headlong into Journalism’s Two Big Problems (Columbia Journalism Review)

When First Look Media was launched at the beginning of 2014, lofty expectations surrounded the venture. Backed by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar and featuring Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, First Look promised an innovative alternative to online media.

But a recent post by Omidyar acknowledges that “nine months in, First Look is still very much a startup.”  CJR reports that despite its funding and marquee name, First Look’s struggling with the same issues other news startups face: how to make money and how to be distinctive.

Subscribe to Beyond Bylines in the sidebar or add our RSS feed to get media trends, journalist interviews, blog profiles, and more sent right to your inbox or feed reader. 

Amanda Hicken is a media relations manager with PR Newswire for Journalists. Follow her at @ADHicken for tweets about the media, comic books, and her love of Cleveland.

Journalism and the Web@25: Notes from Poynter’s Digital Media Panel

web25

It’s hard to believe the World Wide Web has been around for a quarter century. Many industries have been impacted, and the media industry is no exception.

“The Web has rocked our world, and we’re still feeling the aftershock today,” said Barbara Raab, program officer with the Ford Foundation.

I recently took a trip to the Ford Center for Poynter’s “Journalism and the Web@25” event. The audience, which was packed with media and communications professionals in all stages of their career, listened intently as an all-star panel of journalists provided their insight into the past, present, and future of media.

The panel, which was moderated by Poynter President Tim Franklin, consisted of:

  • Rob King: ESPN’s senior vice president, SportsCenter and News
  • Brian Stelter: host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and senior media correspondent for CNN
  • Melissa Bell: co-founder of Vox.com
  • Kathleen Carroll: executive editor and senior vice president of Associated Press
  • Jeff Jarvis:  founder of media and news blog BuzzMachine.com and professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

Sam Kirkland, Poynter’s digital media fellow, provided an in-depth look into the topics discussed during this lively discussion. You can read Kirkland’s full recap as well as watch a replay of the discussion here: 8 digital media lessons from Poynter’s ‘Journalism and the Web@25’ panel.

Angela Smith is a community services specialist with ProfNet, a service that helps connect journalists with expert sources. To read more from Angela, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect or follow her @AllYouKnead11.

The Accidental Journalist: 3 Lessons from a Freelance Writer’s Career

Freelance Journalist Eileen Beal. Photo by Steve Zorc.

Freelance Journalist Eileen Beal. Photo by Steve Zorc.

Many journalists come to the craft the traditional way. The desire likely started at a young age, so they attended J-school and began their chase for jobs and assignments.

For freelance journalist Eileen Beal, the journey was not quite as simple.

Beal started out as a teacher.

But fiction was her passion, and she eventually left teaching. Prior to ebooks and blogging, it was even more difficult to break into the fiction market, so Beal turned to non-fiction.

For the last few decades, Beal has written for local and national publications, including Crain’s Cleveland Business, Healthcare News and Hospital Report, MD News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and The Charleston Gazette. She also served as associate editor/special sections editor with Cleveland Jewish News and managing editor of Western Reserve Magazine.

“It took me four years to think of myself as a writer and not just ‘used to be a teacher,'” she acknowledges.

Without formal journalism training, Beal learned by doing, and in an interview with Beyond Bylines, she shared some of her journalism lessons.

Tap into your personal interests and expertise

“I never pitched something I was incapable of doing,” says Beal. She began writing features on what she knew best.

While education and travel assignments were a natural leap from her previous experience as a teacher and historian, they also unexpectedly helped her when she wrote about healthcare.

As she delved into health writing, she realized how similar the human body is to a building. Her study of architecture and the connection between a building’s bones and skin added a unique insight into her reporting.

When you’re engaged and passionate about something, she says, it’s not only easier to write, but the end result will also be stronger.

Study your edits 

Beal adapted her personal writing style to journalistic best practices along the way.

“Editors helped draw the best out of me,” she admits.  For example, she had a habit of providing many examples to make a point, but learned to narrow her focus.

She listened to editor feedback and compared the original and final drafts of articles. She highlighted changes and adapted future assignments to reflect them.

As the industry changes, though, she worries about new journalists trying to make a freelance living. There are not as many jobs, and editors don’t have much time to work with inexperienced freelancers.

It was a sentiment echoed by a recent Press Club of Cleveland panel, where four editors discussed how to develop a lasting freelancer-editor relationship.

Keep looking for the next door

Although a freelancer can look to their passions as a starting point, it’s not enough. You must develop a specific expertise to make yourself marketable to publishers.

Beal describes the refinement process as walking through a series of increasingly smaller doors.

When she started writing features for The Plain Dealer healthcare section, she wrote about a number of topics including massage, aromatherapy, and alternative medicine. But then she looked closer at the industry and realized “there’s a universe of health topics, and I can’t know it all.”

So she focused on what interested her the most – geriatric medicine and aging. This led to writing for news outlets such as Aging Today and Arthritis Today, as well as in-house writing for Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging, Kaiser-Permanente, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and other organizations.

“I think the next door I open within aging is the caregiving door,” says Beal. “I’m always still trying to figure it out.”

In fact, as she continues to figure it out, she finds her writing career is coming full circle. Although she will continue with some freelance assignments, she’s currently preparing for a return to fiction.

Are you a freelancer? Register for PR Newswire for Journalists to customize multiple newsfeeds around the different topics you cover, or use our ProfNet service to quickly connect with sources for research and interviews. It’s free and takes only a few moments to sign up.

Amanda Hicken is a media relations manager at PR NewswireFollow her at @ADHicken for tweets about the media, comic books, and her love of Cleveland.