It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘culture’

Melancholy in less than 500 words

(Photo credit:

As a writer, I am concerned about words. They mean something to me. Also, I am concerned about stories. They mean something to me, too. 

I am concerned that contemporary culture may lack a love for words and written stories–that it is a love affair that is becoming more rare. Sometimes things that are rare are special, but in this case, I find it melancholy.

I am concerned that our culture is too distracted to have a love affair with words and stories any longer. They want one night stands and speed dating versus the relationship filled with deep attraction, love notes, commitment, harsh words, broken hearts and promises, redemption and the bliss of kindness, thoughtfulness and quirks that make these love affairs beautiful and worth living for.

More and more, 500 words or less is the formula for success in modern media, and I have no choice but to succumb to stay relevant. So, I promise to rise to the occasion and challenge myself to engage you in a deep love affair confined to brevity–to sweep you off your feet and enchant you into a friendship or more that hopefully will fill you until the next story, the next encounter, the next night in our favorite hotel above the busy street where words will take you onward to the next chapter in our relationship.

Maybe then you will be willing to take on more than 500 words. Maybe then you’ll long for the whole story not just the soundbite. If so, imagine this story (link below), of this life slashed into 500 words? What a tragedy that would be, indeed!

[Total: 270 words]

Not authored by me, though I wish it were: Shelagh Was Here: an ordinary magical life 

New Media vs. Traditional Media — new take on “the medium is the message”

While sitting on the sidelines of today’s Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting, listening to local panelists discuss “Traditional Media vs. New Media,” it became crystal clear that Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic phrase, “The medium is the message” first published in 1964 had become a reality far beyond anything McLuhan could have possibly imagined.

The panelists for today’s Suncoast Tiger Bay meeting included Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times, Jeff Houck of the, Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing, Noah Pransky of WTSP 10 News, John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times and Peter Schorsch of Saint PetersBlog.

Our experienced panelists discussed issue such as predicting whether newspapers will still be politically relevant in ten years, with most of the panel agreeing that yes, though it might look different. Schorsch was a striking voice of dissent on this issues, stating flatly, “absolutely not.” Schorsch pointed out that newspapers are not economically sound and that the on-line publications The Huffington Post and Politico were Pulitzer Prize winners this year.

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard asked the panel a pertinent question in the wake of local newspaper layoffs and marked circulation decline, “Will the decline of local newspapers lead to the decline of keeping an eye on local politicians? […] How do we know who to trust?”

Deggans responds, “Trust yourself.” He continues saying that while “there is downsizing in newsrooms, you have the tools to determine how valid, how real and how important a story is.” Deggans explains that this isn’t determined entirely by the source.

St. Petersburg City Councilmember Karl Nurse posed the question as to whether media is making people more educated or more opinionated. Schorsch stated firmly, “More educated” He said, “There has been a 400 percent increase in talking about politics since 9/11,” where Schorsch credits social media as a significant reason why. Schorsch also contends that through the use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the volume of national dialogue about all issues has increased. Yet, Pransky was less enthusiastic stating that he believes overall people are more opinionated based on blog postings yet more educated from traditional media.

Willi Rudowski of the Poynter Institute asked, “What is the benefit of speed over accuracy for democracy?” Deggans first spouted off saying, “None.” Then, he follows-up with a more complete answer, “Imapct.” When you are first, he explains, it gets you noticed, and being noticed affects your bottom line, and that’s important if you want to stay in the game.

Yet, I suspect that Deggans meant what he said the first time, “None.”

Romano expanded on this saying that while this is true, he believes that “speed is often destroying good journalism. Good journalism is comprehensive, nuanced and thorough.”

Schrosch had more to add to this, however, and this point was my biggest take-away from this panel discussion where “The medium is the message” became the true topic of conversation. And I’m not saying that because Schorsch pays me, which he does, but because I believe it to be true. I’ve seen it in action.

Schorsch replied to the question of the benefit of speed over accuracy for democracy citing Twitter feeds to help organize protesters in Tunisia and other similar stories to help gather, organize and inform the public via social media tools. “It’s about getting people organized versus the ‘right people’ organized.”

At this point someone interjected, “The news is different from social media.”

But is it?

Schorsch said that the power of new media isn’t just to inform. “You can use it to overthrow a totalitarianism regime. I want to be able to help overthrow a totalitarianism regime.”

And here, the medium surely is the message.

What does that mean? “The medium is the message” refers to the reality that not only does the content the medium carries affect society, but the medium itself plays a significant role in the story and in shaping society.

Media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are as much a part of the story as the stories they tell just as much as the newspaper, television show or cable news station is. Moreover, whether we are discussing traditional media or new media, the storyteller his- or herself also is the message.

Via Daphne Taylor Street. You may reach Daphne at

Published first on Saint PetersBlog:

A message to St. Petersburg, Florida: what economic development SHOULD mean to the city.

Hello St. Petersburg. This is a personal note to my city: Yes, you are my birthplace, my definition of home. You were the landscape of most of the greatest moments in my life and most profound experiences. You raised me, taught me about life, love, disappointment, forgiveness and redemption. I know you well. You know me well. I’m worried about you.

Central Avenue

Your downtown area has come a long way since my childhood, but not without cost.

You’re much more beautiful than I remember–landscaping, building renovations and a really cool strip of art galleries, restaurants and shops streaming down Central Ave. First Fridays were a brilliant idea. Even with all of this, your arts culture is quite understated. Possibly more understated than in the 70s and 80s when it was still just a toddler, learning how to walk on your city streets.

Then, people were on fire about possibilities and growing the culture. There was a successful, dedicated, for-profit local arts magazine, and people were excited to volunteer, promote and fund-raise for the arts. They were passionate about attending concerts, exhibits and shows. Now, well, things are a bit less passionate–a community more difficult to motivate and patrons and benefactors are increasingly challenging to cultivate.

I understand the economy is nothing short of frightening. I understand that the arts may not be top on the list of priorities and initiatives to charge revitalization and business sustainability in St. Petersburg for its citizens. I get you. I really do. I’m asking you to try to put all the fear aside for just a moment right now. For just this moment, think only in terms of possibilities and opportunities. Think about vision. What do you see? I challenge you to consider that he arts may very well be the one thing that matters most in St. Petersburg RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW.

You need to improve education: the arts are an immeasurable vessel to introduce youth and young adults to applied interdisciplinary studies and to help cultivate creative critical thinking and problem-solving skills (I’ll write a separate post on this next–I promise). You need to attract big talent in business, commerce, investing, entertainment and design: just give them a reason to be here. Give them a place where they, their families and their peers will be fed and inspired. They’ll come, and they will help you solve any additional problems that may come with a sudden spike in population, because they know how to solve problems and they want to stay and invite others.

Why is St. Petersburg the best place to do this thing? At the start, you have two–TWO incredible museums, the likes of which no other Floridian city can compare: 1) St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts & 2) Salvador Dali Museum.

Let’s be clear–the value (artistic, monetary and historical) standing collection in the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts is nothing less than a priceless prize. The collection is so exquisite, just in its standing collection alone (e.g. Monet, O’Keeffe). Very few museums today would ever be able to afford a collection like this–one that we are blessed to have right along our waterfront.

Salvador Dali, a consummate leader in the Surrealist Movement, he later moved into scientific and religious subjects and finally into the classic style, his mastery of painting technique is not criticized. Never confined to a style nor artistic medium, Dali also left behind sculpture, film, performance art and photography for us to enjoy. The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg houses the most comprehensive collection of Dali’s work, and the museum has an incredible reputation of continuously finding innovative ways of exhibiting and showcasing this extraordinary art.

Not to mention, St. Petersburg, you have a sensational presence of galleries, a concert hall, small theatres and outstanding resident visual and performing artists and arts teachers. All of these treasured buildings and art collections mixed with incredibly talented people–ah, the people. Yet, the world still does not think of St. Petersburg, Florida as a substantial creative locale–a place to be culturally fed and nurtured with small-venue opportunities for artists and aspiring artists to learn and practice, hone their craft and debut the next BIG thing in the arts. Why not?

St. Petersburg has everything it needs to be the primordial ooze of artistic development–to cultivate and nurture outstanding, world-class visual and performing artists. It has all of the elements needed to be the birthplace of progressive artistic and cultural movements.

Concerned about cost? It’s free! Well, at least low-cost, and certainly fodder for prime grantwriting opportunities (wink, wink, nudge, nudge): National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities on just the federal level alone.

St. Petersburg waterfront

Already, you have the urbanized conveniences needed within your city or very close-by: fine dining and casual dining, some 24-hour businesses, nearly every service and large-chain is well-represented in most neighborhoods. It is a hot competative sailing destination and lauded fishing locale. Let’s not forget, also, the spectacular coastlines, beaches and sunshine. This is Florida. This is St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg, what we are lacking is a targeted, unified vision; an organized, passionate movement; and sincere belief that this will come to fruition–that this is the destiny of St. Petersburg’s future. So, what will it be, St. Petersburg? What do you have to lose by trying and giving it your all? What would you have to gain? Will you share in the vision? Will you dare to be great?

A word on Ken Robinson’s TED Talk: Schools kill creativity.

American education is foul. There’s no doubt. We value things that don’t matter, promote things that are harmful and measure things that are worthless. In spite of this, as a nation, we tend to be a little bright and quite creative.

This is an accident and only because we are a rebellious lot. If we did as we were taught, however, we would be merely mindless drones spitting out disconnected facts, laced with convenient inaccuracies and fearful of developing anything that could be categorized as innovative or cutting-edge. Schools would have deemed this all dangerous anarchy. Well, if progress and questioning the validity and effectiveness of all that’s preached to us is anarchy, all hail anarchists!

Does school kill creativity and therefore progress, innovation and forward-thinking? Yep. It does.

Look, it’s true. But it’s not the whole story. I grew up in the folds of the fine and performing arts, and I was exposed to powerful fine and performing arts education. However, I know that my story is unfortunately unusual, and even with this environment, it was still difficult placing a high value on the arts while surrounded by traditional school values–I didn’t fit in there. I was still a bit of an outcast and fantastically misunderstood.

Radical change is needed if we have enough insight to recognize the critical need to nurture and effectively educate the creative class and creative capital in our culture. It is the creative mind that will solve problems, believe that change is possible and throw convention and barriers away to make the impossible reality.

Watch this from Ken Robinson who says that schools kill creativity. He’s right! What do you think?

Sir Ken Robinson

Neuro-addiction: Is there actually a sound argument AGAINST it?

As posted on Facebook:

I am not an addiction clinician, nor do I want to be. However, I think, erroneously, once in a while, that I know just a bit about the field. Clearly not. For if I knew anything at all about addictions, how could I not know that there was so much controversy around the brain/neuro-science theory of addiction. Frankly, now that I know it exists, and I’ve researched the argument a bit, I don’t understand the argument.

Yes, it’s true, I understand more about the complex neuro-addiction claim than I understand the argument against it. No, I’m not a scientist either. Just a writer here. Any thoughts?

My last two posts at my blog for Psychology Today – “The End of Addiction” and “End Alcoholism – Bomb Spain” — have raised some consternation. Are they supposed to be funny, or what?
Some Facebook comments on my post there:
Stacey Kauffman Peters What is not to understand? Biologically speaking alcohol (for some predisposed) is a way to “self medicate” or “normalize” the brain. Like correcting an imbalance of sorts. I see the nurture part as this: if you use alcohol in your dail…y functioning.. you are missing vital life/social skills that are not developing/maturing. Such that it becomes a coping “crutch”, because no other skills are known. Whether you are using AA or CBT models.. the life/social skills have to develop.. and something to replace the behavior.. however, the biology is still there. fall off the wagon, or move to a new wagon all together (prescription medications etc).
Moderation is a constant struggle for addicts. Which is why AA preaches abstinence.
I found the writer of the letter to be a bit of a moron, myself.
What did you think?See More
Daphne Taylor Street  Hi Stacey! I need to be a little cautious here due to the fact that I’m employed by a large substance abuse service provider, and I am not a clinician. I am a writer. Having said that, I’m concerned about the position of this Psychology Tod…ay blogger and what he is proposing. This has nothing to do with his incredibly condescending writing style. His argument is plainly weak. I am very familiar with the neuro-science position on addiction. To dismiss it as something disproved in the 80s is amazing, seeing as how we didn’t have the technology or knowledge of neurology and ability to study the brain as we do now. I’m not willing to embrace that addiction is only a direct result of perception and environmental conditioning. I have personal evidence to the contrary (though anecdotal, it’s still valid). I’m standing by the neuro-addiction position. If I will be swayed from this stance, it certainly won’t be by this weak argument posted in this Psychology Today blog. Hope all is well! –Daphne
Denise Gibbons  All I needed to read about the author of that article was that he supports the “harm reduction” model of addictions “treatment”. That’s a crock of BS. This man has a PhD and Dr. Nora Volkow is a M.D. who do you think knows more about the ne…urobiological basis of addiction? Dr. Volkow did the HBO addictions series which I have on DVD. It is insightful and I have used it in many group therapy sessions. There are many idiots out there in the addictions and mental health field. I had a professor in my Master’s program who believed you could treat Schizophrenia with “talk therapy” INSTEAD of medication. Have you ever tried to have a rational conversation with someone who is actively psychotic? Did I mention that this professor had never actually worked with anyone who had Schizophrenia. 
Daphne Taylor Street Denise–perfecto! Well stated and I couldn’t agree more.

What’s on your mind? C’mon… spill it. I dare you.

I bite my tongue so much throughout the course of a day that I’m going to need stitches very soon!

See, it goes something like this: some innocent soul asks a question, and I want to go on a 20 minute monologue on every detail about the subject that bothers me, what should really be done about it, all the barriers (usually people) that impede progress and why things will actually never change… blah, blah, blah. 

Thank fully, while my head is cluttered with this toxic stuff, I usually just spout out a short, well-thout, polite answer, and all is well. And these answers, while edited, are most sincere.  It’s just absent of all the rambling, rumbeling spontaneous chatter cluttering my head, and this is a good thing. People are happy, I communicate what’s needed, sound information is passed forward, and life goes on.

Yeeeeeeeeet, on occasion my filter is weak, and a bit of that toxic stuff comes leaking out. Sometimes it’s more than a bit–a lot more–it just flows. Then, I usually find myself standing in front of some nervous person who has no idea how to respond to the bile I’ve just puddled on the floor between us. I proceed to smile uncomfortably and try to wipe up the mess, “nothing to see here!” still leaving a bit of stain, a lingering unpleasant memory for us both that never really goes away.

Now what? I’m not in the mood for censors right now. Not mine and not yours.

SO NOW IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO LEAVE YOUR SENSOR AT THE DOOR. Here is an open invitation to rant and rave about anything–job, culture, economy, politics, trends… anything!

So, what’s on your mind? No spills need to be cleaned up here. Just an open forum and interested eyes. Tell me what’s going on. I want to communicate with you about your thoughts. Any takers?

Kafkaesque Symbolism Applied to the 21st Century (quick version)–or are Americans facing servere alientation?

You remember The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka? You know, the salesman who turns into an insect. Just a couple of background points: 1) Gregor was the protagonist’s name–the salesman who turned into an insect; 2) He lived at home with his parents; 3) No one was sympathetic to Gregor’s metamorphosis; 4) Often, the symbolism within this novella is attributed to Marxist “worker alienation” descriptions; 5) Gregor experienced profound alienation from all areas of his life.


Okay, I promised to make this short, so here it is: Americans are becoming increasingly alienated by their own design. Often you will hear us whine about failing community and family structures while larger systems are expected to pick up the slack. In other words, instead of parents being responsible for parenting; schools, legislators, law enforcement, courts and social services are expected to fill the gaps. Likewise, government is expected to take over the responsibilities of a compassionate, connected, engaged community. Instead of your best friend or priest holding your hand and listening to you as you suffer through a year of grieving over the death of your 16-year-old son, or your neighbors pooling together to help you and your family as your husband is out of work fighting cancer, we turn to government-administered and/or funded social services.

Hey! It’s great that these systems are here, please don’t misunderstand me. I am a huge advocate for funding social services. They are critical to modern community functioning, and more funding is needed. Yet, why are these services so critical? What went wrong–what broke? While these services are indeed critical, they are a miserable replacement for parenting, familial and societal accountability, genuine friendship, sharing, warmth and love.

What I’m saying is that Gregor’s plight is a perfect description of the alienation within 21st Century culture, taking into account the context described above. I argue that it is even more relevant today than when it was originally penned in 1915. So, if you’ve ever read The Metamorphosis and liked it, or if you have never read it but think you might like to, I’d encourage you to pick it up, and challenge you to think of it in terms of symbolism that would be pertinent to American culture today.

One of the most powerful features of classic literature is not only its timelessness as it relates to telling a story within a historical context, but that themes and symbols can be translated to something relevant in any point in time. While alienation may be a part of the human condition, perhaps it has become even worse than before? Something to think about.

Revolutionize tourism and advertising.

I’ve read many, many blogs, websites, brochures, fliers, posters, ads… you name it. Let’s get real. People might like to be pampered and entertained, witness exotic customs or seek adventure and excitement. All of this is true.

Tourist introduced to culture

I have a better question for people in the tourism industry–all you copywriters, marketers and ad guys out there whose job it is to lure the almighty American dollar into the hands of tourist destination A or B…

Question: What do people really need?

Answer: They need to feel connected.

 This will require nano-target marketing, keeping costs ridiculously low while redefining “vacation” by amping up the local experience. This means having an intimate understanding of the “vacation” destination, its locals, history and opportunities for tourists to fully engage in what it means to be local. This means including opportunities for short-term, hour-long community volunteerism; opportunities for walking tours with locals at parks or beaches; allowing access to open classes on subjects such as sculpture, kayaking, local history or meditation; participation in community festivals; and providing affordable, safe, comfortable accommodations in historic or culturally significant locations.

Give people an opportunity to “Be a local” and be a part of a community when they travel–to reconnect with themselves and connect to the community they’re visiting.

Marketers and copywriters, sell THAT. I dare you.

Fox vs. Cable Networks –> changes in media buying trends?

Archive Post. Originally posted January 1, 2010.

[Update: Fox, Bright House and Time Warner reached an agreement. Fox stays on the cable channels. This wasn’t the case between a recent negotiation between Scripps Network and a large cable provider. They ended their relationship. Now, what does this mean for media buying trends and media consumer costs?]

What happens when a top network like Fox is not carried by a major cable carrier in a large(ish) market? Doesn’t really affect Fox or the cable companies much. It does impact cable subscribers’ access to popular programming (House, Bones, The Simpsons, American Idle, sports). Most importantly, it signals a new potential trend in how media is purchased, possibly moving to an “a la carte” system for cable subscribers or worse: cable comapnies will only broadcast inexpensive programming.

Midnight, January 1, 2009, Bright House and Time Warner Cable subscribers were waiting for Fox stations to go dark on their televisions. The cable companies are under negotiations with Fox regarding the new contract for several Fox station broadcasts. In my neighborhood, that includes WTVT13, FX and several sports stations. Of greatest concern in my neighborhood was the possibility of not being able to watch the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl this evening. Well, no worries, Fox did not go dark, yet. The game aired, and the network and cable companies are still negotiating.

So, what is all of this negotiating about? Fox is demanding $1/month per cable subscriber to provide its programming. Bright House and Time Warner say this is too much. Viewers are mixed in their responses. Many say, “good bye, Fox” accusing the network of being greedy, right-winged, etc. Others are shocked that they may lose programming to their favorite shows and sports. Some are saying, “hey, just add the dollar to my already inflated cable bill. I won’t notice.”

To that last sentiment, I ask, what if we just added $1 onto your cable bill for every network your cable company choses to carry? This includes all of the networks that you never watch.

Okay, so what if we just pay that dollar for the cable networks we do want to watch? This is the “a la carte” programming mentioned previously. Well, I guess that would be capitalism at its limiting finest.

What do I mean by that? Networks are expensive to run. Networks such as Discovery and Scripps do not draw the numbers of viewers that Fox does. So, fewer people will pay that extra dollar for this programming, programming that already has very limited income from commercials compared to Fox. That means that these networks probably won’t be offered by smaller cable companies and quite likely the networks couldn’t afford to continue. That means no more Discovery Science, Food Network, HGTV, etc.

St. Petersburg Times columnist Eric Deggens reported today on his blog, “In another cable fee fight gone bad, Scripps Networks has decided to pull its popular cable channels The Food Network and HGTV from the Cablevision system after its contract expired at the start of the New Year. The removal, affecting more than 3-million subscribers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, was sparked by Scripps’ efforts to increase its retransmission fees for the channels.

‘We wish Scripps well and have no expectation of carrying their programming again, given the dramatic changes in their approach to working with distributors to reach television viewers,’ read a statement issued last night by Cablevision.”

In the end, this isn’t a critical problem regardless of how it plays out with any network in any market. Networks and cable companies will still exist, though they may reduce. Viewers will still have plenty of stations to click through on their remotes. Choices may be more limited. Media consumers may watch more programming on the web. Cable prices will continue to rise… on this you can rely. What will the future of cable programming look like?

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