Liveblogging My Day With Two Toddlers

Hello from Baltimore, Md., where about 1,000 data journalists and the-people-who-love-them have converged on an EveryMarriott for NICAR 2014. It’s the annual gathering of the best nerd journalist/technologists in the land, convened by the National Institute of Computer Assisted Reporting (which needs a name change, yes, we know everything is computer-assisted).

We (my fam) and the Bowerses (another fam with a similarly-aged tot) are staying at a lovely row home appointed with lots of doilies somewhere between Federal Hill and Locust Point neighborhoods of Baltimore. All four adults are journalists — the husbands are both on the NPR News Apps-turned-Visuals team — so in order to free up the guys and Becky B. to attend the conference, I am in charge of the toddlers today.

“You’re not very maternal,” my spouse says, citing my general dude-like sensibilities. But a girl can try! Since the girls are napping, I’ll offer my “live-ish” blog of the day and attempt to continue throughout. This will be really different than that day I live-blogged jury duty, that’s for sure:

8:47am: Becky, Stiles and Bowers leave me alone with a pair of one-and-a-half-year-old girls. After they leave, Eva runs to the window and puts her nose to the glass, looking out. After about two minutes of standing there, she goes, “Bye bye!” (I’ve been working on a bit where I deliberately laugh at jokes WAY after the punch line. Perhaps it is rubbing off on my daughter.)

9:15am: I dispatch with Eva by putting her down for a morning nap. She talks to herself for the first 15 minutes. I hear her trying new consonants while Amelia (a.k.a. The Squeezle) and I read Goodnight, Moon downstairs. We tried to play with one of those books in which you push on various buttons for different songs, but I discover Eva has destroyed it somehow, and it’s now cutting off songs after a few notes and/or buzzing. downdog

9:53am: Squeezle is also down for the count, after she and I played some serious Simon Says. I did a downward facing dog yoga pose to see if she would do it, she one-upped me by reaching her head to the floor. I subsequently tried several times to down-dog my head all the way down to the floor but could not match her flexibility.

10:07am: Toddlers tend to phase out morning naps at this age, but both girls awoke earlier than usual this morning (sometime around 6:30am instead of 7:30am). So I think I might have at least an hour to myself. Should I open my work email or watch last night’s Scandal episode? Besieged as I am with SXSW-related pitches lately, I think I’m going with Scandal.

10:17am: Don’t judge me, but since I want to save Scandal to watch with a friend — that show is much better when you can trash talk it while watching — I’m going to watch Grey’s Anatomy instead. Again, don’t judge. I realize it’s bad.

11:35am: After finishing most of Grey’s Anatomy, I hear Eva stirring. Then she calls “Mama! Mama!” Rest time is over. Sounds like Squeezle is still asleep, so I feed Eva lunch, first. She has now downed a bowl of cooked tofu, a blueberry pancake and a pouch. This may not be enough to satiate her, however. She has the appetite of Michael Phelps.

11:54am: I have just ordered a cheesesteak. And seasoned fries! Should be delivered in 30 mins. I do not plan on sharing these with the girls. ALL MINE.

12:15pm: Started jamming some Mariah Carey’s greatest hits in the kitchen. Eva is only somewhat interested into it, despite my great hopes that she’d enjoy “Dream Lover.” We then had a pretty raucous pillow fight in the guest room.

12:22pm: My cheesesteak/fries arrives at the same time Eva poops her diaper. Moment of decision: change her or down cheesesteak? I did the responsible thing.

Lunching with the Squeezle.
Lunching with the Squeezle.

1:03pm: First toddler-destruction of the day is at the hands of my daughter Eva, who yanked the open cheesesteak wrapper off the table, releasing all my unfinished cheesesteak bits with it. At least I was able to finish the fries, first.

1:19pm: Amelia’s awake! She’s pretty groggy from her long slumber, but I’ve distracted Eva with a Sesame Street episode on my iPad while I feed Amelia some lunch. She’s into it.

1:49pm: Eva’s got some sweet dance moves, as you’ll see in the clip. She’s entertaining herself while Amelia and I finish lunch.

2:18pm: Eva keeps trying to hand objects to Amelia, who is skeptical of all these giveaways. The only thing she happily accepted was her pacifier, when Eva stuck it right into A’s mouth.

2:19pm: I’m now deejaying the dance party with classic The Cure songs, such as “Just Like Heaven.” Both girls dig it. Friday, I’m in love.

2:37pm: Eva started crawling up the stairs, indicating she was ready for her afternoon nap. So I’m back down to one kid. Amelia and I continue our dance party.

2:44pm: I smell poop.

2:45pm: I was right. Okay so we know both babies have excellent gastrointestinal systems. All healthy.

She didn't do it.
She didn’t do it.

3:11pm: Tiny humans are pretty hilarious play friends. It’s kinda like hanging out with your grownup friends when everyone’s punch drunk at 3am. For instance, Amelia just found some leather gloves in the house and we take turns trying them on. Every time it’s my turn, I try to do my best Johnnie Cochran “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit” impression. Amelia doesn’t understand why I keep cracking up. OJ jokes really are generational.

4:15pm: After the Squeezle (Amelia) and I had a lovely quiet hour of reading together, Eva awoke ready to destroy some stuff, as usual. She ripped apart her Doctor Maisy book (which is one of her faves) and now I’m quizzing both girls on their IDing of objects in a “First Words” book. It’s a bilingual experience. Eva’s saying the things she recognizes in Mandarin Chinese, while I’m quizzing Squeeze in English.

4:54pm: One of my girlfriends, Skyler, just called.
Me: I’m with two toddlers right now.
Skyler: You’re with two tacos right now?
Me: Toddlers.
Skyler: Two tacos?
Me: No, toddlers.
Skyler: Oh, wow. It’s just a lot more natural to assume you’re with two tacos.

And with my spouse on his way home soon to relieve me and dinner to prep for the girls, I should wrap up this liveblog. All in all, not a bad day. Eva’s saying a new word — baby, and Amelia is CRUSHING IT at playing the xylophone. Thanks for reading along. Until next time…

SXSW 2011: Bloggers vs. Journalists

@JayRosen_nyu and Lisa Williams from Placeblogger.com are here to talk about bloggers versus journalists. The pitch:

I wrote my essay, Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over, in 2005. And it should be over. After all, lots of journalists happily blog, lots of bloggers journalize and everyone is trying to figure out what’s sustainable online. But there’s something else going on, and I think I’ve figured out a piece of it: these two Internet types, amateur bloggers and pro journalists, are actually each other’s ideal “other.” A big reason they keep struggling with each other lies at the level of psychology, not in the particulars of the disputes and flare-ups that we continue to see online.

I’ll try my best to liveblog the action.

3:35pm:“You learn to wear the mask, if you want to join the club,” Rosen says about the psychology behind journalists and the “club” we’re part of.

3:36pm: Disruptions by the internet threaten to expose conflicts within the press. Internet exports inner conflicts to the world outside the press.

3:39pm: On Bill Keller’s piece, which ribs aggregators like Huffington Post and others for “derivative work”, Rosen concludes that there’s something about bloggers vs. journalists that permits the display of a “preferred” or idealized self among people in the press whose work lives have been disrupted by the internet. “Spitting at bloggers is closely related to gazing at your own reflection and falling in love with it again,” Rosen says.

3:40pm: Yikes, I feel like I’m back in journalism school. Jay’s quoting people from Europe and stuff. This is so … academic. My brain is too small.

3:42pm: We’re focusing a lot on this notion of bloggers “replacing” journalists. That there is, or was, a view by mainstream journalists that bloggers versus journalists is a mutually exclusive arrangement. I’m assuming this builds toward the argument (now pretty widely accepted) that we’re not one or the other, but both.

3:47pm: What do bloggers get from hanging on to this divide? “By raging at newspaper editors, bloggers manage to keep themselves on the outside of a system they are in fact, part of. It’s one internet, people. The system now incorporates the people formerly known as the audience.” Bloggers and journos are each other’s ideal “other.” The conflict, for bloggers, helps preserve the ragged innocence by falsely putting “all” power in “big media.”

3:49pm: The press is us, not them, Rosen argues. Bloggers and journalists who refer to the word “traditional” — that tradition is 80-90 years old. But our experiment with is is 250 years old. Whole chapters of that history were rejected in order to claim “elevated status.” “With blogging, they have come roaring back,” Rosen says.

Not Jay Rosen. Lincoln Steffens.

3:52pm: “Something dropped out of journalism between 1902 and 2002. The bloggers are the return of the repressed,” Rosen says. He argues bloggers are the return of muckrackers like Lincoln Steffens and bring back what was lost in the transition from journalism to a business.

3:55pm: So, people become journalists largely for some social justice reason, i.e., making the world a better place. But then the professional codes in place often prevent this. “It’s hard to fight for justice when you have to master he said, she said. Voice is something you have to take out when you want to succeed in the modern newsroom,” Rosen says.

3:56pm: Bloggers, on the flip side, jump straight to voice. Points to dumping on Dave Weigel by WashPo staffers as an example of bloggers vs journalists struggle absorbed into newsroom.

3:57pm: Rosen gives us a helpful heads up that he’s almost done with his general expository talk. “I’m coming in for a landing. Five minute and we’ll have questions.”

3:59pm: In pro-journalism, the terms of authority have to change. The practice has to become more interactive, and this has to happen during a time of enormous stress. The story the press has been telling itself has broken down. It no longer helps journalists navigate the conditions today. We have to tell ourselves a new story about what we do and why it matters. Bloggers vs Journalists struggle is a refusal to change. “It’s fucking neurotic,” he concludes.

4:04pm: HEY it’s Q and A time! He says he’s for “mutualization.” We have something to contribute to journalism (as we’ve seen with all the video of the earthquake, etc), and journalists have something to contribute, namely, discipline, to bloggers.

4:06pm: Rosen: If you are accurate, and fair, and deal in verifiable information, you can write with voice or practice institutional voice. There’s no separation from truthtelling and attitude. The people telling us about the world must understand importance of accuracy, transparency, intellectual honesty. “Whether or not you voice your opinion in my view is a stylistic question.”

4:08pm: On the rise of Fox News’ agenda-driven journalism: We have to hope for building trust is more important than grabbing mindshare. This is a permanent tension.

4:11pm: Are we ever going to get beyond the conflict between bloggers and journalists?, Stacey from Paid Content asks. “In psychology, you don’t get over the things that have wounded you. You don’t dismiss the neuroses that formed you. Instead, what we can hope for is to create a lot more room for maneuvering so we aren’t trapped by these things anymore. By going right at this conflict, I’m hoping we can transcend it.”

4:16pm: We’re on shield law now and how the law should protect acts of journalism instead of journalists. Unpacks the notion that the journalism profession is the only one protected by the First Amendment.

4:18pm: This is so meta. Clay Shirky asking a question of Jay Rosen. Question is about the role of journalism schools. Rosen essentially argues there are two kinds of journalists – those educated in j-school, and those educated in the school of life. “[Journalism school] about taking something that was a working class trade and elevating it to the status of a profession,” Rosen said. “That’s where the notions of objectivity come from.” … Then we get a comparison to the phone sex industry.

4:21pm: A question from Twitter on the projection screen is about “the NPR vs. sting video fracas”. Waiting…

4:25pm: Rosen says James O’Keefe is a blogger in terms of using tools of self publishing. But he thinks of O’Keefe as a performance artist whose work objective is to create panic in institutions. “NPR gave into his performance by panicking and firing its CEO,” Rosen says. (See his argument on PressThink.) Rosen argues that if NPR doesn’t realize there are enemies out there, they won’t do enough to counteract it. “I think there’s lots of people in public media who know that, but it’s the people at the top who don’t know how to reconcile that.”

4:29pm: Rosen gets a paywall question. He says he’s not religious about it. He thinks it’s a practical question. “It’s really hard to tell people who are producing commodity content that they’re producing commodity content, so that’s a huge barrier right there. He says we need journalism to bring attention of something to the community of the whole. But paywalls threaten to make journalism, which is about informing the public, more like private newsletters. That then creates the “insider class.” What’s at stake is that if we go to a world where newsletter model supports professional journalists, then we say that informing the public as a whole is something we’ve left behind.

4:34pm: More Rosen advice for NPR, namely to embrace transparency of individual views and “pluralism,” which is explained in his post linked above.

4:38pm: With our remaining time, we look at how money relates to blogging and bloggers. “What makes a big difference is whether you need to keep doing what you’re doing. An accidental journalist who doesn’t need to continue to do that, is in a different position than a person who’s trying to make their living at it. The investment needing to pay returns changes the relationships with the user.”

4:41pm: Something about phone sex workers again. AND WE COME FULL CIRCLE!

I think that does it for me … off to SXSW parties galore. More to come tomorrow.