The Media and the Arts

It’s Culture Night tonight. For anyone who’s going to an event, enjoy. You certainly can’t have missed the coverage, as the media has been giving it a generous splash. Morning Ireland devoted seven or eight minutes to it this morning – a hefty slice of coverage for a flagship current affairs show.

Amid all the grim gurning of the economy, the media is spreading small rays of sunshine with its coverage of the arts. Hardly a week goes by without a writer or musician appearing on a mainstream daytime programme. Given that the media is still largely word-based, writers of all disciplines tend to be better-represented than the rest. Emma Donoghue’s shortlisting for the Booker merited a story on the Six-One News.

And it’s not all warm, fuzzy stories either. The media weighed behind the petitioners in the campaign for the arts that was staged last year, when the arts sector faced massive cuts in the budgets. Writer Colm Toibin gave an extensive interview on Morning Ireland. Though it’s hard to quantify, the media may well have played a role in ensuring that the axe didn’t fall quite as heavily as it could have.

Why is the media giving so much acreage to the arts? Is it because of journalists’ frustrated dreams of artistic genius? It’s more likely to be because Ireland’s outpouring of artistic expression is the only good news story we have. And it can be turned into real economic gold. Artists have begun to capitalise on this trend and to recognise the importance of making themselves available in the media, which can only be good for sales.

But there is still more that the media can do. There are other art forms which deserve to be captured more frequently, like dance, street theatre and experimental music. And arts organisations are still experiencing a death by a thousand cuts. Coverage of this year’s National Day for the Arts came to no more than a whimper. The media needs to keep its foot on the pedal. After all, the arts is what makes us a society, a civilisation, rather than an economy.

If you are an artist, how do you feel the media treats artists? What do you feel the media can do to give more coverage to the arts?

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How Not to Network

Having just attended a very successful women’s conference in Waterford, where there was lots of networking, I’m taking a different tack with this week’s blog. I’ve discussed the subject of networking before, http://bit.ly/bqefQW, but this week’s post will actually show you some networking don’ts. Follow these tips to make the most out of networking events.

This is a collaborative effort. Some tips are my own and some come from contributors to the forum at http://www.irishbusinesswomen.com

  • Don’t stand in the corner of the room by yourself. The reality is, people will not come up to you. I know it’s a scary prospect, but people won’t bite. After all, they want to meet you too. The coffee counter is a good place to start. Begin by talking about your need for a caffeine fix and take it from there.
  • Don’t ignore the loner. People don’t tend to go over to the person standing by themselves, but we’ve all been there. Make them feel welcome. They could be your next customer.
  • Don’t spend all your time with people you know. It’s tempting to use them as a security blanket, but you’re there to meet new people. Instead, use the people you know as a launch pad. Start a conversation with the people they’re talking to and then you’ll have the confidence to take off around the room.
  • Don’t rubberneck. It’s very offputting when you can see that the person you’re talking to is swivelling their head to see who else is there. If you want to talk to someone else, find a polite excuse to leave: ‘I just want to get some more coffee. ‘ ‘I’m just going to catch up with x over there.’
  • Don’t be afraid to help people. You may end up talking to someone who you know won’t do business with you. How can you make the encounter work? By offering them advice. They’ll see you as a trustworthy expert and will recommend you to their contacts.
  • Don’t let your business cards get dog-eared. Get one of those slick little plastic cases for your cards, so you can hand people a pristine card that will spread the message of your business more effectively.
  • Don’t forgot to follow-up. You’ll be ahead of the pack if you send out an email next day. Most networkers don’t do this, but the follow-up is the best way to maximise the meeting. A short note making reference to your conversation is enough. If you’ve had a particularly fruitful conversation, arrange to meet for a coffee.

If you obey these don’ts, you’ll be on your way to conquering the networking jungle.

Why Copywriters Make Typos

I have a confession to make. Copywriters make typos. Or should that be tpyos? No matter how carefully we check, little errors slip through the net. With the advent of the Typo Eradication Advancement League in the US, it’s clear that many people still care about maintaining high standards of English. And they’re quick to hold people to account if they spot an error in an article or in web content.

Some copywriters try to shrug it off if they get caught out. They figure that their eagle-eyed critics have nothing better to worry about. Yet those same copywriters wouldn’t give a presentation with a stain on their shirt. A typo has the same effect as a stain. It’s all the audience can see. And even when a copywriter tries to bluster their way out of it, if they care about their jobs at all, they’ll still blush.

Copywriters care about the English language even more than most. They can spot errors in other people’s content a mile away. So how come their own copy becomes blotted? It’s quite simple. Copywriters are too close to their own work. They are so immersed in it that they can’t see the errors staring them in the face. If it’s a pet project, they may be so excited by it that they can’t be objective. Sometimes, deadlines can be so tight that they may not have the luxury of checking their work as thoroughly as they’d like. Other times, they may have slotted every apostrophe in the right place, only to find that a printer has inputted the copy incorrectly.

These are good reasons, but in the end, they are excuses. Copywriters put a lot of effort into their content. It’s a shame to have its impact lessened by a careless error. There are tricks copywriters can use which help them achieve the necessary distance from their copy to weed out those pesky typos.

  • Read it out loud: This gets rid of most clunky sentence structures.
  • Read it twice: Even if you think you’ve spotted all the typos, go again. There are always a few that get away.
  • Read it backwards: This is best if you’ve working on a big project that you have a lot invested in. It lets you see each word clearly and errors soon come to light.
  • Get someone else to read it: If you have a friend, colleague or family member with a good command of English, they can act as your eyes, because they’re coming to your content with a fresh perspective.
  • Good old spellcheck: Still useful for spotting superficial errors.

What do you think of typos? Do they set your teeth on edge? Or is it a case of ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone?’