Why I write for The Digital Journalist by Ron Steinman

Note: I am sure many of you have no idea about Dirck Halstead”s “The Digital Journalist,” a pioneering digital publication and a powerful, thoughtful journal of fact and opinion in the pursuit of the truth. I wrote for TDJ for many years. Dirck once asked me if I would write a column about why I wrote for TDJ. I did and here, these many years later is an edited version of my response to his request. For anyone interested, the archive is online and available to those who seek its scope and wisdom. So this is for you, Dirck Halstead, as I recall that wonderful past we shared.

2003. Out of the news loop for several years, writing books and making documentary films, I had been looking for a home for my ideas but I did not know where to go. It was difficult to break into publications, either online or in print, where well- established writers already were in residence. I did not want to write a blog because I did not think I had that much to say. My ego was in check; I had no need to fill it further. However, I wanted a structure similar to the one I had had all through my professional life — deadlines, form, and purpose. .
Until my editor at the University of Missouri Press told me about The Digital Journalist in early 2003, I did not know it existed. I was not a devotee of the Internet. I used the Web for research, for staying updated on news, for checking the weather and getting sports scores. On my editor’s advice, I looked at the site and liked what I saw. Here was a community of journalists serious about their work, and though specific to photojournalism, the magazine seriously cared about all aspects of the profession. It was not a blog. It was a solid newsmagazine run by journalists who cared about journalism. I liked the idea that it contained pieces about how journalism in the modern age happens. These pieces had substance, the photos were sharp and interesting, and, more importantly, working journalists contributed to the site. It had a serious tone and I liked the idea that it was a mix of the practical and the theoretical. I decided I wanted to be part of The Digital Journalist. But how would I do it?
A germ of an idea came to me about what I might contribute. I contacted Dirck Halstead, whom I had met in Saigon, and he agreed to publish parts of the introduction to my memoir, “Inside Television’s First War,” about how NBC News covered the war in Vietnam. After the piece appeared, it was good to see myself in print, though only in cyberspace. After my first long piece, Dirck offered me a column. Originally, I thought I would contribute sporadically, not every month. I had no thoughts about what I would write. Ideas I talked to friends about became columns. I found a home for feelings that had been percolating inside me about the state of broadcasting, about TV, film and photography, even about books, and
especially about coverage of the war in Iraq. Once I started writing and contributing, there was no turning back.
Too many sites allow the writer to go on forever. We know that reading blogs is an endless endeavor. Most of the pieces on The Digital Journalist, thankfully, do not go on without end. Fortunately, though on the Internet, the old model of print in newspapers and magazines still prevails with this publication. It is a good model and a challenge to keep from writing everything you know every time pen goes to paper. That requires discipline and knowing when to stop.
I continue to read newspapers and magazines online and off, and to watch TV news. I respect the reporters who cover the news every day and help get me the information I use for my columns. My loss would be great without those who find and report the news. The culture would lose because of the infinite darkness that would follow if the people who gather the news did not exist. This is not heartening. Being able to watch this ever-changing world closely enables me to turn an increasingly critical and disappointed eye on an often-fragmented media, one often devoid of ethics and one that has no sense of purpose other than to make money and get ratings. Many news operations are second-class, especially local TV news. It is increasingly the same at the networks. Blame the excess of mammon on the conglomerates that run all news businesses and you might be right. Blame it on the people who today choose news as a career, and you might be right. Blame it on the rapidly changing landscape of news, and you may be right.
All that is fine with me, for now. It just gives me more to write about in a venue I am proud to have as a home for my ideas.

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Filed under Internet, Journalism, Memoir and Journals, New Media, New Media, Journalism, Film, TV, Photographers, Photography, The Press, TV, TV criticism

Latest Editions of my Books by Ron Steinman

Most of my books are still available at very low prices on the usual internet web sites.Here are the titles and where you can find them.

“The Soldiers’Story: An Illustrated Edition,” newly published in a large format, hard cover with much new written material, beautifully illustrated with more than 400 photos, graphics and maps. In book stores, also on Amazon, at Barnes&Noble and many other platforms as an e-book.

“The original edition of “The Soldiers’ Story” in hard cover from Sterling Publishers at Barnes&Noble book stores and as an e-book online. Considered one of the best oral histories of the Vietnam War told in the words of the men who were in the war.

“Women in Vietnam.” An oral history in sixteen stories in their own words from American women who were in Vietnam during the war. An Nook e-book online at Barnes&Noble.

“A Saigon Journal:Inside Television’s First War.” A new, updated edition from KCM Publishing as an e-book and hardback on demand. Also on Amazon and Barnes&Noble, it includes much previously unpublished material.It is my memoir of the Vietnam War about my time as bureau chief for NBC News.It is the only book from the Vietnam War by a television bureau chief.

“Death in Saigon,” is an adventure/mystery novel set in Saigon during the Vietnam War.Only available as a Nook Book from Barnes&Noble, Coming soon with the same central character as “Death in Saigon”: “Death in Manila.”

“Notebooks” is my coming of age memoir. Vivid. Moving. Strong. Only available as a Nook Book from Barnes&Noble.

“Survival Manual: A Memoir of Near Death, Illness and Survival.” A tough minded, no holds barred, powerful autobiography and memoir of a life in journalism that changes when illness forces its way into my life and nearly kills me. Available as an e-bookat Smashwords.com, Barnes&Noble as a Nook Book and on other platforms.

Thanks for reading.

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The DanceGoodbye: A Book

For those of you who have an abiding interest in ballet, and, of course the gifted Merrill Ashley and her search, as with many women, for a second act, we are working on a book. Based on our film, “The Dance Goodbye,” the book will have in it the material, interviews, photos and other images we could not fit into our film. We will let you know when we have a publisher. Meanwhile, the DVD of the film is still available on Amazon.

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Filed under Ballet, Dance, Dance film, Film DVD, George Balinchine, Memoir, Merrill Ashley, New York City Ballet

The Dance Goodbye: A Book

For those of you who have an abiding interest in ballet, and, of course, the gifted Merrill Ashley and her search, as with many women, for a second act, we are working on a book. Based on our film, “The Dance Goodbye,” the book will have in it the material, interviews, photos and other images we could not fit into our film. We will let you know when we have a publisher. Meanwhile, the DVD of the film is still available on Amazon.

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A Great Review of “The Dance Goodbye”

From: Wolf Entertainment Guide by William Wolf. With permission.

“Dance Goodbye” honors and spotlights great ballerina Merrill Ashley after she retired and moves on to new vistas.

The inspired career of Merrill Ashley, a great ballerina under the mentorship and direction of the late George Balanchine, is spotlighted in “The Dance Goodbye,” directed by Ron Steinman, which takes a look in on Ashley upon her retirement and follows her life afterward as she moves on to a new phase as a teacher of Balanchine’s legacy.

The film was among the 20 features and 16 shorts shown at the 44th Dance on Camera Festival (February 12-16, 2016), co-curated by Joanna Ney and Liz Wolf and presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Film Association which was celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding.

One need only see clips of Ashley in her full ballet glory to appreciate what a great star she was with here exquisite form and movement and the intense feeling she could convey with each step and gesture. After 30 years with the New York City Ballet, and a plethora of injuries, she faced the fact that it was time to retire.

How painful the decision was is reflected in the film through her comments candidly expressing her conflicted feelings. The night of her final performance in 1997 and the accolades she received is movingly shown. Throughout the film Ashley reflected on her work, the problems with her injuries and her great admiration for Balanchine.

But although her performing career ended, Ashley has found nee challenges as a teacher with the mission to further the work of Balanchine and provide inspiration to would be ballerinas the world over. She travels extensively and the film shows her in action in many countries,imparting her knowledge from her own experience and from what the master taught her. It becomes clear that Ashley still has so much to give, as well as gaining fresh pleasure from what she accomplishes. We also learn much  about her personality and her insights about the art form.

The film shows the problems she had to endure through injuries, and she makes the point that every ballerina faces injuries sooner or later. For her walking was affected as well as performing. Surgery was required, but she has come through that period with courage and determination.

Director Steinman has packed the film with clips and comments from those admiring her work.But at heart is a moving portrait of a ballet great, which gives the film historical impact and makes it a fascinating document as well as a moving experience.

Over the years the Dance on Camera Festival has provided many such treats. C0-curator Ney has said,”Celebrating dance in all its many shapes and colors is this festival’s mantra. Diversity, passion and commitment are, as ever, the watchwords of the Dance on Camera Festival.

C0-curator Liz Wolf asserted,”Dance on Camera allows for a legacy in dance to be honored and preserved,” pointing out that this years’s event highlighted “some of the great males dancers and pioneers.”

 

 

 

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The Soldiers’Story: An Illustrated Edition

My latest book on the Vietnam War, “The Soldiers’ Story: An Illustrated Edition” is now in its second printing. With more than 400 photos, maps and illustrations, and stories from veterans in their own words, the large format book is available in bookstores, through Amazon and Barnes&Noble and all other platforms.Take a look. Get a copy. Thanks. Ron Steinman

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“Survival Manual” by Ron Steinman

“Survival Manual” is back on sale at Smashwords.com and other platforms, if you can find it, for only $1.99. If you are willing to gamble, ¬†enjoy a unique work. Thanks. Ron Steinman

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