In this interview, Deryck Richardson talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, Go Play: The Ultimate Road Map to Winning the Game of Life.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Deryck Richardson on Why We Should All Go Play and Get The Ultimate Road Map to Winning the Game of Life
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Jim Taylor on How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen
In this interview, Dr. Jim Taylor talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen: 9 Steps to Cultivating an Opportunity Mindset in a Crisis.
“Look at your life. Look at things that you might want to change. Then take action.” ~Dr. Jim Taylor
Dr. Taylor has never been driven by fame or money, doing things he is passionate about, particularly by sharing ideas with others. “Writing is a part of my being,” Dr. Taylor also says, adding that, if he doesn’t write about something, he’s not being authentic to himself. His main philosophical objectives are being true to oneself, following one’s passions and being willing to do the hard work. Dr. Taylor also remarks that, if one is driven by fame or work, one might achieve success with it, but there won’t be passion, meaning or joy in doing so. Where he is concerned, fame or recognition follows from doing what one is passionate and joyful in doing.
Where words are concerned, Dr. Taylor notes that these are descriptive of what one is communicating, as well as creating a shared understanding. Where the word, “crisis,” is concerned, he defines it as “a situation or event that arises suddenly, which disrupts lives and threatens the status quo.” Crises also have long-term effects on individuals and groups, and he notes that, psychologically, human beings don’t like the following things:
Crises thus create instability, which threatens the main human need to survive, and trauma, which has physical, psychological and social elements to it. Where the present situation (December 2020) is concerned, Dr. Taylor points out that there are several crises that are presently and simultaneously taking place, creating a “perfect storm of crises:” Covid-19 (both a personal and global health crisis), a global economic crisis, a personal financial crisis for those who have lost their jobs, a political crisis and a climate crisis, each of which are serious in themselves.
Where humans are concerned, humans are, evolutionarily speaking, hardwired to react to crises, but not in the way that the present situation demands, Dr. Taylor notes. Back when human beings emerged, the crises that they faced was an immediate, physical threat, and to resolve this, humans resort to a “fight or flight” response, which is triggered by the amygdala, whose purpose is to filter incoming information as quickly as possible, to create an immediate reaction. Modern crises, he notes, are different, as these are distant and indirect in nature, as well as beyond our immediate control, and require a different response, a different approach, one which employs the human prefrontal cortex, in what Dr. Taylor calls an “opportunity mindset.” The prefrontal cortex is the thinking part of the brain, one of the things of which it does is to weigh risks and rewards in the long term. This enables us to:
- create a “can do” attitude (“This is a tough situation, what can we do?”;
- be calm and purposeful;
- be deliberate and focused in response.
Dr. Taylor refers to the present situation with Covid-19, pointing out that, with an opportunity mindset, humans will focus on what they can do, to help regain control of one’s life; and where Covid-19 is concerned, Dr. Taylor notes that such measures include wearing a mask, staying at home, taking care of oneself (eating and sleeping well, exercising, looking after family and community) in a conscious and deliberate way, and physical distancing. (Dr. Taylor prefers to use “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing,” as we human beings, he points out, need to speak with other people - something which wouldn’t be possible, if “social distancing” were to be strictly followed.) This, he notes, “takes effort,” but it is possible.
Dr. Taylor also notes that, psychologically, humans like routine, as this creates a sense of familiarity, control and predictability, and that this has been disrupted in the present environment. Social isolation is also harmful to humans psychologically and socially, he remarks, as we are social beings - even moreso because we need to connect to solve the present crisis. Boredom, which is due to lack of stimulation is something which, he also notes, drives bad behavior, such as having too much screen time or drinking or eating excessively.
Dr. Taylor notes that a crisis hits one with “a tsunami” of negative emotions, which is why mental health issues - anxiety, depression and the like - have spiked during the pandemic. Doing something to create positive emotions - joy, excitement, fun, meaning - is important to answering the challenge, as positive emotions “turn the volume down” on negative emotions, making one less overwhelmed with what is going on; and positive emotions make one feel better, which has physical, psychological and emotional benefits. Social support and connection is also very important, as such support mitigates stress, and such support could be personal (such as from friends and family) or technical (such as receiving information from doctors who give proper information on what Covid-19 is all about and what to best do about it). Being grateful, according to Dr. Taylor, has been shown in studies to make one feel happier, by giving and receiving thanks.
Where the present pandemic is concerned, Dr. Taylor notes that we should all stay vigilant; look for ways to make one’s life as good as it can be, given the present situation and mandates given; and don’t get complacent or “fatigued.”
(Those interested in getting in touch with Dr. Taylor can do so at his website, drjimtaylor.com, from where his podcast, “Crisis to Opportunity,” can be accessed.)
Purchase from Amazon:
How to Survive and Thrive When Bad Things Happen: 9 Steps to Cultivating an Opportunity Mindset in a Crisis by Dr. Jim Taylor
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
James Buckley on Soccer and the Math Behind the Perfect Goal
In this interview, James Buckley, Jr. talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, It’s a Numbers Game! Soccer: The Math Behind the Perfect Goal, the Game-Winning Save, and So Much More!.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Melissa dela Cruz on Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy (The Chronicles of Never After 1)
In this interview, Melissa dela Cruz talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her novel, Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy (The Chronicles of Never After 1).
Monday, December 7, 2020
Nicholas C. Nicholas on How His Novel Pericles and Me: A Novel of International Intrigue Was Based on Real Life
In this interview, Nick Nicholas talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his novel, Pericles and Me: A Novel of International Intrigue.
“If you’re full of life and can laugh at yourself, you’ll get along pretty well overseas.” ~Nick Nicholas
Early during his career, Nick was an engineering officer in the first simulated Apollo flight, which meant that he wore a pressure suit and did all the tasks that the astronauts would go through during their mission proper. The work gave NASA a good idea of what to expect during the mission, including such factors as fatigue amongst the astronauts.
One of the places Nick went to was Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis requested the National Science Foundation name him the Senior Program Manager for the Middle East. As such, he got to know quite a few high officials, and while he was well-treated, as he was a visitor in a culture that was hospitable to guests, there were some aspects of middle Eastern culture that “perplexed” him. One of the things he noticed was the easygoing willingness (in Western eyes) of those he worked with to delay projects if needed, telling a story to highlight this. He also learned Arabic, and some of his efforts to do so, as he remarked in a story, made him a minor celebrity in the city.
Another place Nick went to was the Ukraine, shortly after the Soviet Union broke up, and his partner suggested they help the Ukrainians decommission their nuclear weapons. The pair went to the main Ukranian diplomatic representative, and their intended original 30-minute meeting extended to three hours, which ended with their being invited to Ukraine to decommission nuclear weapons there, starting about February, 1992. It was also here that he met a three-star general who told him that the Soviet Union was terrified of the United States’ nuclear arsenal, stating that, if the Soviet Union, which cared only about winning and not about how many people would actually die, had the same numbers in their nuclear arsenal that the United States did, they would be the ones to launch a first-strike nuclear attack. It was also here that he befriended a man who was assigned to follow him around, and that man, who was just trying to do a job, became his adviser.
Nick also was in Germany, working on the Pershing missile system to tweak these to be better effective against the Soviet missiles that were then pointed against Western Europe. The United States had 600 nuclear armed missiles in Western Europe at that time, and it was also while he was in Germany that Nick was approached by a spy and approached to be a spy for the Soviets. Nick promptly reported the contact with security, which ended that situation.
Nick was at a meeting where the cost of nuclear strikes was analyzed, and it helped when he thought of casualties in terms of stadiums full of people, to bring the full impact of such strikes home. He also noted that it was President Regan who supported the nuclear arms race that kept the Soviet Union in check until its economy collapsed, with the Soviet Union being disbanded on December 31, 1991.
“There are a lot of true events in this,” Nick remarks about Pericles and Me, “and I challenge readers to separate the true events from the fanciful ones,” particularly because some of the most “outrageous” things were true. One of these events was when he and his partner spent a night in an insane asylum because they couldn’t find hotel accommodations. Writing the novel was actually a cathartic act for him, as some of the things that he saw and experienced during his career bothered him, such as the disjunction between what was actually saw, on the ground, and what American higher-ups believed what was going on. He just “started writing,” with no plot outline, and it took him three months to write 400 pages, with an ease of flow that surprised him greatly. He then had it reviewed, edited and published, and the resulting story has several facets in it, as well with most of the characters in the book being based on people Nick actually knew. He found writing a novel to be more “relaxed” compared to writing technical papers, and he found the advice he learned from one of his college professors - “By God, you’re going to be able to write simple declarative sentences” - to hold true when it came to diplomatic conversations, as different languages have different nuances, which result in a lot being lost in translation.
Nick acknowledges that he’s “not F. Scott Fitzgerald,” but since the story of Pericles and Me is entertaining and reasonably humorous, “that is good enough for me.” He is presently working on two books, How I Won the Cold War and I’m Not a Greek, I’m from Pittsburgh, with the latter playing on the dual cultures that most Americans have, with one part of their culture being American and the other being the ethnic group that they descended from.
Purchase from Amazon:
Pericles and Me: A Novel of International Intrigue by Nick Nicholas
Saturday, December 5, 2020
Susana Stoica on Healing with a Loving Heart
In this interview, Susana Stoica talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Healing with a Loving Heart: Discover the Power of Energy Healing.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Dr. Mark Schillinger on Young Men's Ultimate Weekend (YMUW) Adventure Camp
In this interview, Dr. Mark Schillinger talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his workshop, Young Men's Ultimate Weekend.
“Go out of your way to listen to what they are trying to say.” ~Dr. Mark Schillinger
Mark moved to California from New York and hurt his back while working in a bakery. He found the experience of working with a chiropractor to heal his back fascinating, and this led him to becoming one. As a chiropractor, Mark delved into the nervous system, which he remarks is something which what chiropractor works with, as every cell in the body is connected to a nerve. The job of a chiropractor is to loosen up the body so that the nerves could work properly, and from there the body to likewise work properly; and this knowledge was what helped him out when he was having some problems with his own son’s nervous system. His work with the nervous system was also what got Mark into working in stress management, focusing on the neurology of that concern, to the point that he is now a registered instructor who can help clients relax.
Mark notes that all people love to connect and need people to connect with every day. Where the present pandemic (Covid-19) is concerned, Mark notes that humans are “innately wired” to know how to deal with such pandemics, given that such are a feature of human history, but that the present culture and societal setup doesn’t allow for the connection and relaxation necessary to deal with it. Mark’s work thus involved first teaching people how to relax, and then connecting with their own, personal values to consequently equip them with the tools and routines necessary to live their life in such a way that they can handle the stresses they encounter.
The Performing Stars of Marin was the first non-profit organization that Mark got involved in. It was set up to help primarily underprivileged children develop their artistic and creative skills, which he points out is necessary for them to handle the demands that their culture will place on them.Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend was conceived by Mark as a way to create a “rite of passage” for young men. He notes that this is important nowadays, given all the distractions that are available today, as young men lose their natural drive to strike out and be their own man. This also helps parents help their children lead into the young adult world at that time of the latter’s lives (12 - 14 years old) when they start to “tune out” their parents and work things out for themselves. Such developing kids need to live in a community that reinforces that their parents know what they are talking about, where lifetime values are concerned, so that the kids can become responsible and capable members of the community, while simultaneously discovering who they are and realize that the universe doesn’t revolve around them.
As an example of a rite of passage he observed, Mark cites the example of a rite of passage he observed in a small Samburu tribe in Kenya. Although he wasn’t told the details of the rite of passage, he observed that the result was that the young men of the tribe were proud to be the protectors of their tribe, to be the ones responsible to ensure their tribe was safe and secure, and proud to offer their skills to the community and its well-being. The purpose of a rite of passage, Mark notes, is to allow parents to release their children into the community, so that the latter takes care of them and reminds them of their various responsibilities. Establishing such, Mark adds, creates a calmer, safer and more cooperative community - something which is lacking in present culture, Mark notes, resulting in young men feeling isolated and alone and, from there, creating “all sorts of wacky stuff” about what their role in the world is. Such young men, he adds, are usually good young men who lack leadership, more than anything else. Mark also remarks that, if young men feel respected, and if the proper respect is given to them, then the young men will respond by respecting themselves, rather than regarding their elders with hatred and distrust, which results in those same young men acting out destructively and aggressively.
Mark also does rite of passage activities for parents, pointing out that, in today’s society, parents themselves are under so much stress that they need to learn how to let go of their son as a boy and relate to him with respect as a young man. He notes that parents need to have the skills available to relate with their son, and learn how to create an atmosphere of respect, and Mark notes that his training is based on consequences, which parents and young men alike appreciate, after which he gave an example of how a pair of modern-day parents learned enough skills which enabled them to deal calmly with a temperamental son whom they would otherwise have dealt angrily with.
Where modern-day devices are concerned Mark also notes that these create an atmosphere of instant gratification, rather than getting in touch with their drive to succeed in the outside world, contrasting this with how kids, fifty years ago, lived. The “old ways” no longer work, and he adds that young men who know how to bring their gifts and talents into the community, and who know how to be at peace with themselves, to be true to themselves and know who they are, are more likely to contribute to their families and communities.
Mark would advise people who see any young men to consider that these are the future, and to greet them and know that they have been seen to be friendly and worthy of respect. He also recommends that people interact with young men with respect, and they will become those that society needs.
How to contact Dr. Schillinger:
BUY on AMAZON:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens Paperback by Sean Covey
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Sandy Tolan on His Book, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East
In this interview, Sandy Tolan talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book, The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East.
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Wendy Teasdill on Integrating Philosophy in Yoga Teaching and Practice
In this interview, Wendy Teasdill talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Integrating Philosophy in Yoga Teaching and Practice: A Practical Guide.
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Paul Schulte on the Race for 5G Supremacy: Why China Is Surging, Where Millennials Struggle, & How America Can Prevail
In this interview, Paul Schulte talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about his book which he co-authored with Austin Groves, The Race for 5G Supremacy: Why China Is Surging, Where Millennials Struggle, & How America Can Prevail.
“If you’re gonna compete, compete!” ~Paul Schulte
The idea behind The Race for 5G Supremacy is: what would it take for the United States to create an “Apollo Program” so it could catch up with China in 5G implementation? Paul’s digging into the program, along with co-author Austin Groves, brought up sociological challenges that need to be addressed for such a program to be successfully implemented. According to Paul, millennials have high levels of anxiety and depression, and a proportionately large number of them are dropping out of employment with Fortune 100 companies, which are the ones who are in the best position to launch 5G technology.
The Apollo Program came out of the United States’ national drive to win the so-called “space race,” placing a man on the moon before any other nation - particularly the then-Soviet Union - did. This involved not only technologically related companies but also the public funds necessary to develop the aspects of the program for which there were not yet any technologies or solutions available. The three main aspects of the Apollo program which are still presently influencing the world today are:
- The development and present deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles
- Technological innovation, with companies born out of the program, such as Intel
- A massive PR drive which showed the world that “America can,” which caught the imagination of the world and developed American soft power throughout the world
China didn’t have a legacy technological infrastructure that relied in copper, which meant that they could start from scratch, rather than deal with established interests which would want to keep the old technology viable. This meant that their movement into digitizing the physical world, using such technologies as the Internet of Things (IoT) and creating technologies to handle and process the enormous amount of information necessary to analyze peoples’ movements as well as how to operate cars, buildings, traffic and to create smart cities.
One example of an existing Chinese technology is the Super App, which is one, single application which a user can use to do such things as paying fines, borrowing money, dealing with the government, getting a wedding certificate, buying insurance, reserving at a restaurant - the things that people in other nations can do only by physically going to such places. Paul notes that none of the present Western tech companies created such systems. “You ever heard of Google Pay, or Amazon Pay?” Paul asks. “No, because there isn’t.”
Paul notes that China is years ahead of all other nations in such technologies as quantum space technology, digital currency, autonomous car research, smart cities, among others. By comparison, the American Federal Reserve is only now starting to venture into digital currency (which China has been doing for six years), Facebook is now only starting to venture into digital blockchain currency (which Alibaba has been doing for fifteen years), and China’s been working on smart cities for at least four years. Tesla is the only Western company conducting research on autonomous cars, compared to several Chinese ones. China has also rolled out 5G in several cities, placing them a few years ahead of the United States.
Paul notes that technological companies are the ones who are in the best position to benefit from rolling out such technologies as 4G and 5G. “If you create the rail, companies will go on the railroad,” he analogizes. Because China has the first-mover advantage with 5G, Paul opines that the United States is presently blocking China’s implementation of 5G in other countries to buy time for the United States to catch up.
5G allows for far speedier data transfer - ten to twenty times faster - than what is available with 4G systems, using equipment that is physically far smaller than what is presently being used in 4G systems. Paul notes, however, that the average consumer might not be willing to pay extra so he or she can download an entire movie within a few seconds, so the ones who would greatly benefit from this would be such organizations as logistics companies and cities, and would be used for such things as managing traffic, as 5G enables processing of a large amount of data, such as that gathered where all kinds of human movement are concerned. Companies and organizations that would be able to make the most of 5G will be port companies, taxi companies and urban planning organizations, just to name a few. Paul also notes that China has put up 50,000 5G stations across that nation, covering 80% of China, creating connectivity with even some of the most rural areas.
One of the sociological aspects involved creating a technological “Apollo Program” is the belief that China has stolen all the technology it presently uses, rather than recognizing that they have innovated a sizeable amount of their presently working technologies. This belief creates the mindset that the United States is a victim and that China must be punished, which also creates an antagonistic atmosphere that hinders innovation. He also points out that pushing the idea that government is all bad will get the United States “nowhere,” because the government has to be involved, in the same way the United States government was involved in the Apollo Program.
Paul notes that several events have made their mark on the mindset of millennials (which is the cohort of the population born from 1980 onwards), some of which are:
- Oxycontin (Oxycodone) being launched in the United States, which started off the present opioid crisis, one of the results of which was parents being addicted while their children were growing up (1996)
- The Asian financial crisis (1998)
- The Columbine massacre, which was the first of the many school shootings which still continue to this day (1999)
- The September 11 attacks launched by al-Qaeda, which brought down World Trade Center Towers 1 and 2, as well as damaged the Pentagon (2001)
- The Iraq war (2003)
- Hurricane Katrina, which brought an awareness of the potential destruction that could be caused by climate change (2005)
- The global financial crisis of 2007, which was when people started to lose faith in the financial system
- The largest percentage of population in the United States, to date, which is presently incarcerated
These events, and others, have “traumatized” the millennial generation, creating in them the mindset that institutions cannot be trusted and in governments that deny climate change - and it doesn’t help that millennials likely know someone who is addicted to opioids or who has been incarcerated. This mindset is the reason that millennials don’t like to work for Fortune 500 companies, particularly since they are likely to leave the company the moment they see something that isn’t right.
Paul remarks that, if someone who is presently working in a company thinks that the way a company is doing things is “stupid,” that person should get around five other people, leave the company and set up their own company, using their better system, and “make a lot of money,” as companies aren’t going to change on their own. Paul remarks that this is a reality, adding that he has worked with banks who have paid lip service to changing their systems for decades and which have, de facto, not changed.
Purchase from Amazon:
The Race for 5G Supremacy: Why China Is Surging, Where Millennials Struggle, & How America Can Prevail by Austin Groves & Paul Schulte
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Sharkie Zartman on Winning at Aging & Staying Fit, Free, and Loving Your Retirement
In this interview, Sharkie Zartman talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about her book, Win at Aging: How to Stay Fit, Free, and Love Your Retirement!
“We have been given the gift of time.” ~Sharkie Zartman
Writing books are an extension of her teaching, Sharkie notes, adding that she started out because she needed textbooks for her courses and couldn’t find the right ones which would fit what she taught. Sharkie decided to focus on ageing because she realized the “poor attitude” present society has towards ageing. “Ageing is inevitable, but we can control how we age and the rate at which we do so,” she remarks, adding that her work involves changing people’s perceptions about ageing, particularly now that the senior population is increasing. Writing books on ageing also is a way for her to help seniors live their senior years productively and more positively, as she notes that seniors feel that they can’t do what they want to do, and use the excuse that they’re too old to not do that. Sharkie, however, points out that there are people today, in their 70s and 80s, do the same things that people in their 20s and 30s do. “We can control our choices and attitudes, and that’s huge,” she remarks. “And I want to remind people of that.”
“Exercise isn’t optional, as we get older,” Sharkie remarks, noting that our bodies and brains need to be active and mobile, adding that activity increases the amount of oxygen the brain receives. “Ageing is an individualized process,” she notes, adding that, if one wants to live to the fullest in one’s senior years, then one has to step up and be active and empowered.
Where Win at Ageing is concerned, Sharkie looked at athletes as well as such aspects as nutrition, and analyzed the mindset these athletes had. She thus came up with the acronym RAP, which are important attributes for anyone trying to reach their goals. These attributes are:
Resiliency - not getting upset and down and complaining, stepping up and doing what needs to be done
Accountability - being responsible for one’s own choices, particularly when some of the symptoms that come up when one ages could be due to the decisions one made in the past
Passion/purpose - that which makes one want to live life, as well as looking at what’s positive in life
“Our quality of life is our responsibility,” Sharkie remarks, where wellness is concerned, “because doctors can’t be with us all day.” Where the mind-body connection is concerned, “this is huge.” Sharkie, for her part, focuses on the mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of ageing to enable her clients and students to lead active senior lives, using the story of a person who got into an experimental cancer drug study as an example of how powerful the mind-body connection actually is. This connection, Sharkie notes, might not give people “everything,” but it does give people the opportunity to live the best lives they can.
Sharkie admits that the spiritual aspect is probably the most important part of how to live a fulfilled life. This is also the most difficult aspect to teach, as a lot of people believe that they need to be religious to be spiritual, and she best links this up as spirituality being part of the human experience. She recommends some sort of yoga or meditation to get in touch with one’s inner self, and staying away from watching the news, as the latter “is depressing.”
“You can have a full and vibrant life regardless of age,” Sharkie remarks, adding that, while it will take work and persistence on one’s part, it’s worth it.
Purchase from Amazon:
Win at Aging: How to Stay Fit, Free, and Love Your Retirement! by Sharkie Zartman
Friday, October 16, 2020
National Geographic Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg on Breaking the News: What's Real, What's Not, and Why the Difference Matters
In this interview, Susan Goldberg talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by alvinwriter.com, about the National Geographic Children's book, Breaking The News: What’s Real, What’s Not, and Why the Difference Matters.
“We tell stories every day that can help make the world a better place.” ~Susan Goldberg
“Journalists are the eyes and the ears of the public,” Susan says about what journalists are, writing out stories on subjects and places that the general public has no access to. “I think it’s one of the most important functions of our democracy,” she adds, as this enables people to become informed consumers. Where stories are concerned, Susan notes that the best reporters have “a million and one ideas,” and that reporters work with editors to prioritize what stories are more important.
Where her experiences as a female journalist are concerned, Susan notes that journalism was very much a man’s world when she started in the 1980s. “I didn’t see very many female editors,” she notes about the journalistic environment at that time. She remarks that journalism is still very much male dominated and that, despite “great strides” being made in the end of the 20th century, the momentum for female advancement in journalism has stalled out at the moment. Where leadership is concerned, she hopes that her style is collaborative, and she works to give “a hand up” to the next generation of journalists, coaching them and speaking with them on how to advance in their profession. She also adds that it is a journalist’s role to “shine a light in dark places” to bring forth that which otherwise would remain hidden, and that this is one of the things that makes her proud to be a journalist.
The term “fake news,” Susan points out, is a term used by the present and 45th President of the United States for news items that he doesn’t agree with. What is presently included under the blanket term of “fake news,” Susan notes, was called, in previous years, consisted of such things as hoaxes, conspiracy theories and propaganda - stories that appear factual, but which can be outright lies. She remarks that, in the past, news came from a limited number of channels, so people knew where the stories came from.
At present, people are bombarded with information 24/7, thanks to social media and the Internet, and the sources are legion. Thanks to social media, information can be quickly spread, “almost like a game of ‘Telephone,’” though the story spread might not be a real one. Susan notes that people nowadays need to pause and make sure that they pass along real stories, rather than fake ones.
People “need to be curious and be skeptical consumers,” Susan remarks, adding the journalistic truism: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” adding that this truism underscores the need for people to be sure where information is coming from and if that information is real. She also notes that a third of young people admit that they have passed on stories that turned out not to be true, noting that bad information not only misleads but can also do harm. Susan also notes that half of the information that young people receive nowadays comes from social media and the Internet, which makes their being smart and skeptical consumers vital, where discerning the difference between real and false information is concerned.
Author Robin Terry Brown had been writing books for kids for over twenty years. She is likewise a journalist who had assembled a panel of journalists from various news organizations, as well as journalism professors, to talk about the history of news and journalism, the kind of stories that people read, and how to evaluate whether a story is real or false (which includes such things as how to tell if pictures are doctored).
Susan notes that some of the stories printed by National Geographic can take years to finish, and that, while these stories can be as long as books, the process of investigating and writing a story in that magazine is different from the process of writing a book. What is important, Susan emphasizes, is the discipline necessary to present truthful and accurate information which has been ethically gathered.
“I don’t think any one of us want to believe things that aren’t true,” Susan remarks, adding that it is hard for one to behave if one doesn’t know the basic facts. Lies, she also adds, can spread far more quickly than truth and the facts can, particularly in the Internet age. She also notes that it is just as easy to figure out what is real and what is not, as checking on stories is likewise just as quick on the Internet. One good way of checking on whether big and outrageous stories are real or not is to check if other people are covering said story, she explains, as a lot of people, particularly in the established media outlets, will be covering the same story.Breaking The News is a fun and easy read, Susan remarks, be the reader an adolescent or an adult. The journalist’s code of ethics is included in the book, and this includes making sure that one is meeting with an expert on the field, and being transparent with one’s mistakes whenever these occur. There are several examples of falsified information in the book, and one of the best ways to determine if the information is false is if a headline that one reads makes one emotional, so that one doesn’t go into the story itself to see if the story is real or not. The book includes a “Truth Toolkit,” and one of these tools, Susan shares, is for determining if the story feels like it belongs “on a supermarket tabloid,” (all caps, lots of exclamation points, includes aliens, etc.), while another aims to determine if the story is full of typos (spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, sloppy and messy, bad punctuation), as no legitimate news site puts out news in that condition. Yet another is if the website that the news comes from is a website of a legitimate news organization.
Susan admits that the book makes her proud to be a journalist, as it explains what journalists can do and the impact of what good journalism can do. It is a very excellent material for those who are studying journalism and for those who dream of becoming one in the future.
Purchase from Amazon:
Breaking The News: What’s Real, What’s Not, and Why the Difference Matters by author Robin Terry Brown (with Mary Newton Bruder & Jamie Terranova) and published by National Geographic Children's Books with Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg