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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CityLife: Chronicle of a death foretold


Now that it’s about to happen, it seems grimly inevitable: the closure of Las Vegas CityLife, the city’s altiest alt-weekly, after 21 roller-coaster years of reporting, snark, cultural judgment, occasional juvenilia and general cognitive dissidence. If you're a CL reader, you've seen it coming. In the paper's final zombie stagger, the masthead has dwindled to two (from seven in 2011), ads have been few, circulation's spotty. (Most frequent reader complaint: "I can't find it.") Stephens Media, CityLife's parent company, hasn't officiallyannounced the closure yet, but there's been enough down-low confirmationthat the social media eulogizing began in earnest last week. Two more issues, we hear, then the plug's out of the wall.

The shutdown is part of a larger set of changes rattling Stephens' Bonanza Road campus following the arrival of cost-cutting new CEO Ed Moss. A number of Review-Journal employees were let go last week in the company's latest round of doing more with less; and there are rumors that the View papers will scale back come spring, adding more "shopper" content and covering less of the valley. And, of course, all of this is backdropped by the ongoing American print media horror story: technology and social shifts that have led to advertiser attrition, audience fragmentation, a devaluation of the slogging craft of reporting. It was all too much for a struggling product like CityLife.

“In this fast-evolving age of glossy nightclub ads, blogs, Twitter and all the rest, CityLife could not hold its ground,” says Geoff Schumacher, the paper’s editor from 1997-2000, and its publisher from 2005-2011. “Its devoted readers were now middle-aged, middle-class, while the next generation preferred the new shiny objects.”

Add to that an ownership of traditional newspaper folks who for years couldn't quite grok how to position or support the alt-weekly in their midst. Disclosure: I edited CL from 2011 until last September and sat through more than one meeting in which a company official said, We shouldn't even own an alt-weekly. (RJ Editor Mike Hengel, under whose purview CityLife more or less falls, didn't respond to a request for comment.)

Asked for a few words on the occasion, caustic CityLife columnist Chip Mosher responded, “CityDeath. Ouch. F**k.” 

Facebook mourners say they'll miss the paper's gritty authenticity, the way it never softened its content to attract lucrative but strings-attached nightlife ads. For those readers, it filled a gap. “It was a progressive counterpoint to a local mainstream news media that are predominantly conservative and reluctant to question the status quo," Schumacher says. "CityLife was the place to go to find new ideas and different ways of looking at local issues. It also was not afraid to call a jerk a jerk or a crook a crook, a trait that will be sorely missed. Some of the city’s best writers now work for CityLife’s shimmering competitors, Vegas Seven and Las Vegas Weekly, but those pubs have no intention of delivering the progressive counterpunches needed to keep the mainstream media on their toes."

A few CityLife highlights over the years offer a hint of what will be missed: "The N-Word," a memorable package of stories and essays about racism in Las Vegas; a two-part investigation of life in the storm drains beneath the city, by Matt O'Brien and Joshua Ellis; the annual Get Out of Town and Local Heroes issues, in which the paper parsed the good guys from the bad; a cover story calling on then-Gov. Jim Gibbons to resign; league-leading coverage of the homeless, including dispatches from a homeless writer; any number of columns by George Knapp; and a welcome skepticism about some aspects of downtown redevelopment.

“Though the paper had shrunk in recent years and lost some of its independence," says O'Brien, who joined the staff in 2000 and eventually became managing editor before leaving in 2008, "it continued to hire talented writers and editors and cover important issues. It maintained some of its ancestral traits — passion, compassion, open-mindedness — and that will indeed be missed in a city that, at times, seems bereft of those things.”

Asked for a few words on the occasion, CityLife columnist Sarah Jane Woodall responded, “CityLife is pulpy, grimy and totally unsexy — an aesthetic vital to a thriving metropolis, but anathema to Vegas. Even an 11th-hour infusion of T&A in the form of yours truly couldn't save this rusted-out relic from local obsolescence ... and so it sinks to the bottom of the dead media cesspool, its eyes and genitals nibbled away by bottom-feeders and nightlife-ad salesmen.”

A few people on social media expressed the certainly vain hope that another scrappy paper would rise up to fill the void left by CityLife, but that seems unlikely. The economics of print-based publications are unforgiving. Readers have moved on, anyway, into the brave new media world.

"The increasing fragmentation of the business and the way we can now tailor the news to our individual preferences is, to me, chilling," says Bill Hughes, who was the paper's photographer for much of its lifespan, and who also edited it for a short period. "Despite the disdain some people have for journalists, most don't know how much work it takes to produce good journalism, or even mediocre journalism. Most don't even know that just babbling about current events isn't journalism, it's just babble." 

As for CityLife, he says, "It's going to be weird living here without it. Even when I didn't have time to read it or couldn't find it, it was a comfort to know CL was out there, its staff fighting the good fight."

Links for the study of Speech


American Rhetoric
http://www.americanrhetoric.com/
This site features text, audio, and video for thousands of speeches given over the last several decades. You can explore the vocal delivery of various speakers by listening to the audio of the speeches provided, and the videotaped speeches give you an opportunity to see many different examples of physical delivery.
History Channel Speeches
http://www.history.com/media.do
Browse for speeches by topic, or review the entire list of speeches available on the site. What effective delivery strategies do speakers on this site use?
Martin Luther King Video Gallery
http://www.mlkonline.net/video.html
Part of the MLK Online website, this section features videos of Dr. King's speeches. Listen to and watch these speeches to learn how Dr. King used various delivery techniques to motivate his audiences.
PresidentialRhetoric.com
http://presidentialrhetoric.com/
Communication professors Martin Medhurst and Paul Stob developed and manage this website that focuses on information and resources related to the study of U.S. presidential rhetoric. The site includes speeches, links to online resources, and an annotated bibliography of scholarship related to presidential rhetoric.
Taming Anxiety when Delivering a Speech
http://www.hawaii.edu/mauispeech/html/speechanxiety.html
This site, hosted by the University of Hawai'i Maui Community College Speech Department, provides some useful tips about how to manage your anxiety while you’re delivering your speec

Headshots, Goal Setting, Strategic Planning for ACTORS free workshops and videos


UPDATE
Upcoming LifeRaft Live Stream Events

[1] The Heads Up on Headshots, Jan. 23
[2]
Goal Setting and Strategic Planning, Jan. 27

[1] The Heads Up on Headshots, Jan. 23
Panelists will discuss what are the elements of a quality headshot. Hear as photographers and casting directors discuss all aspects of the headshot process from preparing for a session, working with a photographer, and what casting looks for in a professional headshot. The first half hour will be moderator led questions, the second half hour panelists will be talking specifics about audience headshots that they submitted in advance, and the last half hour will be audience questions.

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014
7 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. CT / 10 p.m. ET

Meet the Panelists:
Joanna Brooks-DeGeneres
Photographer
Chris Game
Casting Director
Peter Konerko
Photographer
Rob Mainord
Photographer
Lindsey Weissmueller
Associate, Nancy Nayor Casting
Moderated by Lauren Donoghue

To watch by live stream you DO NOT have to log in.
Just go to 
http://www.sagfoundation.org/livestream.
Email questions to 
LiveStream@sagfoundation.org or tweet to #SAGF.
Video will be archived immediately after the event at http://youtube.com/sagfoundation.

[2] Goal Setting and Strategic Planning, Jan. 27

How do you define a successful year? What goals do you still have on your list from 2013? Do you have clear action items for each goal? Panelists will discuss methods of goal setting and strategic planning to set up for a successful 2014. 
Monday, Jan. 27, 2014
7 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. CT / 10 p.m. ET
                                                                                                    
Meet the Panelists:
Oona Mekas
Daisy Swan
Ben Whitehair

To watch by live stream you DO NOT have to log in.
Just go to 
http://www.sagfoundation.org/livestream.
Email questions to 
LiveStream@sagfoundation.org or tweet to #SAGF.
Video will be archived immediately after the event at http://youtube.com/sagfoundation


The Communication Process












For Notes related click here. To find out more and view additional PowerPoint slides, click on "read more" below. For models and more on the communication process, click here.