Category Archives: howl

Howl! Give Us More Information!

In the recent article in the Daily News, “Philadelphia art galleries add bands to their exhibits,”  by Molly Eichel stands out to me, mostly because of personal interest. Eichel talks about a new phenomenon of art exhibits in Philly – putting on concerts in art galleries.

This isn’t new in Philly. I have been to art exhibitions where there were bands performing and alcohol serving.  The reason Eichel brought up the topic is not clear, but considering what readers would like to see and to know, the article lacks appeal.

Upon seeing the title of the article, I was expecting to see something exciting, something descriptive and full sounds and scenes. When I started reading the article, I disappointedly found out that other than the quotes of information from many sources, there is not much going on in this article. It reads like a piece of promotion for different art galleries and bands than an informative piece of writing.

It would be great if readers who have never been to one of these venues or events can have the desire to go out there and find out more after reading this article.

As of balancing the news and opinions, Eichel didn’t provide much about the pros and cons for this specific practice. What readers would expect to see is why it is a good thing to bring music into arts, what the downside is to have a group of spectators who don’t really go there to enjoy arts but free concerts and drinks, what about other cities, successful/failed examples, etc.

This could be a better piece if the writer considered expanding the angle of the story and the way of approaching the readers. Overall, it does not serve the purpose of introducing the topic to reader, especially an interesting topic like this.

– Text by Ning Shao. Image via


Hoot & Howl: The Reporter As Critic (And Vice-Versa).

In its very essence, the recent Philadelphia Inquirer article “Art poised for eager crowds” is a hard news/ general arts piece, announcing the May 19 opening of the new Barnes Foundation on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

In the way typical of hard news reporting, the article delves into various concrete facts about the museum. For example, when it mentions the operating budget for the museum, the article notes how 20 percent of that budget will come from endowment money. The article also notes the number of visitors the museum expects to have in the first few years. It notes the number of membership subscriptions the museum has been able to take in so far. The article even goes so far as to state how much those memberships and entrance tickets cost.

Striking, then, is the way this hard news reporting is actually embedded in a larger story that is more art criticism than general arts reporting. The larger story is about the Barnes and more specifically about the significance of the Barnes collection itself. As such, this article by Stephan Salisbury represents a hybrid of general arts news reporting and art criticism.

Continue reading

Howl! Are Men Really Watching Downton Abbey? Really?

PBS’ Downton Abbey has been a boon for a network known more for “Sesame Street” and pledge drives than for arresting dramas, and with the British series’ season finale coming up this weekend, it’s no surprise that journalists have been looking for new ways and angles to feature the show.

Case in point: Molly Eichel’s recent piece in the Daily News, which asks the question: Are men watching Downton Abbey? Her answer: Yes — but her research into the question falls far short of supporting the 724-word article that follows. Continue reading

Hoot! Bloomberg Staff Teaches Me How to Write for Business. Howl: Bloomberg Teaches Me How to Ignore the Skinning of the Earth.

Depending on what streams on your Twitter, you may have heard about the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

In a January 19th web article posted in The San Francisco Chronicle but written by Bloomberg, a pro- Keystone appeal is made.  The Obama administration has denied the construction of the pipeline and to assuage the readers, the article’s lead and title asserts that Keystone will forge ahead.  Even investor appetite is whetted when management gurus say that Keystone is the “biggest infrastructure project on the continent.” (Really, this quote is gravy!) Continue reading

Howl, Though It Could Have Been a Hoot.

For most of Randy LoBasso’s Philadelphia Weekly article “Iraq War Veterans Turn to Marijuana for Managing PTSD Symptoms,” the writer does a good job of humanizing PTSD sufferers, shining a light on the military’s failure to explore adequate treatment options for former servicepersons suffering from the condition.

The highlight of the article is Lobasso’s depiction of Iraq War veteran Jason Mays’ (pictured above) personal struggle to manage the fear and uncertainty that comes with PTSD in his civilian life. LoBasso constructs this part of his story primarily out of direct quotations, allowing Mays’ powerful account to speak for itself. Continue reading

Howl: A One-sided Web Post, Heavy on Cop Info.

This web post on is about the three suspects who allegedly killed a recent Temple University graduate (pictured at right) in Old City.

This piece of news is written from a very governmental point of view. Police are the only source of information. In the first paragraph, the news includes the five Ws. Like most of the crime stories, the first paragraph  starts with the name and identity of the victim, when and where does the event happened. Continue reading

Howl: A Review That Doesn’t Review?

Agatha Christie’s famous whodunit “The Mousetrap” is currently running up rave reviews at Walnut Street Theatre but readers hoping to get an idea about the quality of the performance from Toby Zinman’s “review” in The Philadelphia Inquirer from January 25 will be disappointed.

Zinman sets the scene ably enough, laying out the characters, which actors and actresses are involved and the basic plot, as well as a note about the play’s epic sixty-year run in London.

Then she sets the scene some more, and some more. And then the review ends.

Well, not exactly. Zinman manages to include two sentences at the end of the piece praising the set design and Malcolm Black’s direction. Beyond that, though, readers are left in the lurch.

Zinman enjoyed the play – that much is clear. And while one could maybe forgive her for not wanting to give away the precious plot turns of a mystery play, she easily could have given the reader something else. Were the actors’ and actresses’ performances any good? Did any performance stand out? Did the play feel long or short? Is Walnut Street the best venue for a play like this, or would another playhouse in the city have been better suited for the performance?

Though 300 words is not a lot to work with, Zinman’s “review” is still more of a preview than anything, and readers hoping to get a better sense of what aspects of the performance are done well will need to turn elsewhere or see the play themselves.

Text by Dan Wisniewski. Image from the Walnut Street Theater.