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Thursday, May 19, 2005

I shoulda gone to law school

Oy! What the heck day is it? This week has been something of a blur. I’m not really sure what I’ve done this week. Feels like nothing, but it can’t be because I’ve been awfully busy doing nothing. Oh wait, I think I can reconstruct.

Earlier this week my time was spent making heads and tails out of an $18 million settlement between major publishers and databases and freelance writers whose work they posted without permission or compensation.

So after interviewing a past president of ASJA (a party to the suit) and wending my way through the 90-page legal document, I crafted a column for the June/July issue of Quill magazine.

As if that weren’t enough legal mumbo-jumbo for one week, I then received an e-mail asking for my opinion on language that would expand the definition of “covered persons” to include freelancers and bloggers though the use of a “function” test in the proposed federal shield law legislation.

I now know that there are two such bills currently introduced in Congress. But there’s no question that giving carte blanche protection to bloggers will not occur in this administration. Hell, we’ll be lucky if one of these darned things passes at all. And if it does, I wouldn’t be surprised to find something heinous attached, such as a national security provision. We’ll shield you from revealing your sources except in the matter of national security, which shall be evoked by the administration at will.

On June 10, I’ll be returning to the Ted Scripps Leadership Retreat in Indianapolis where I’ll be discussing chapter programming, funding and leadership continuity with many SPJ leaders. Along with my co-presenter, I worked up an outline for our presentations and shipped it off to national HQ.

Got a call from a frantic freelancer in south Florida who had an ethical question about work he was doing for an online magazine. When he told the publisher he needed more time on a series of articles about prisoners with disabilities in Florida’s penal system, she apparently had decided it was time enough and demanded his notes and research. Talked him through with the proviso that I’m not an attorney and nothing I say can be substituted for legal advice.

As immediate past president of the Cleveland Pro Chapter, it was my job to find replacement board member for an outgoing member. And so I’ve just completed my nominations report in time to go out with our weekly newsletter, Writer’s Week.

Somewhere during this week I managed to read yet another religion book for review (I can’t even recall the subject), and I’ve done some researching for magazine pitches, but need about 80 hours of time to send out queries that actually make some sense.

(Danny, close your eyes here.) In terms of my week’s end balance sheet—this week belongs to SPJ and therefore no income, save my book review.

That’ll change soon because in between the madness, I’ve managed to begin assembling a labor of love project on Thomas Merton. It’s one of those pieces without a deadline. “Just send it in when you get it done.” It’s clear to me that I do not function well without deadlines. Just give me a drop-dead date and I’m all set. Open-ended deadlines are the kiss of death.

Over the summer, I’ll be working on a book project about pain management with the Cleveland Clinic Press. The outline is finished and I’m waiting for final changes from the doctor with whom I’m collaborating.

The manuscript is due at the end of July, so there’s a good chance that for the next two months I’ll be largely out of sight. And then I’ll be on vacation, which is worth dreaming about. The Outer Banks, a beach house, feet in the sand, no books I have to read, no laptop, plenty of fresh seafood, daily cocktails on the deck at 5 and lots of laughs with the fam. Ahhh, I can smell the saltwater already.

1 comment:

Amy Green said...


I'll be at the Scripps leadership retreat, too, as a student. Looks like I'll see you in a few weeks!