Happy birthday to Richard K. Rein, who turned the Big Seven Oh yesterday and ruminated on the milestone in his column today, here.
Seventy’s good, from my point of view. Seven years ago I ruminated on the same number, here. The wisdom that still works today is from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
“In Trump’s America, don’t look for lurid conspiracies in the shadows. Beware of the dull ones that are right out in the open.”
So says Diccon Hyatt in a column about conspiracy theories in a November 16 column in U.S. 1 Newspaper one of the more rational of the florid post-election conversations. “The Podesta e-mails revealed a truth that was much more frightening than a conspiracy. Most of the e-mails were routine campaign strategizing, and it is in these e-mails that a picture emerges. The campaign had no idea how to beat Donald Trump.”
Politics?? I tell people I meet, at the chamber and elsewhere, that U.S. 1 “doesn’t do politics” and then I have to add “except when it does.” Back in the day we did a cover story on Rush Holt. And though the issue went to press on the DAY of the election Tuesday, Rein put prognosticators Sam Wong and David Daley on the cover.
Wrote Rein: “So if Wang is wrong in this tumultuous year, he will not only eat a bug (as he promised to do in 2012 if Romney had upset Obama), but he will surely go back to the statistical drawing board, to figure out where and what he and the collective public opinion polls had missed.”
Here is the New York Times column today where he explains why he had to eat the bug. Here is the CNN video of Wang eating the bug. It was a cricket, mixed with honey, as Wang noted, in the style of John the Baptist. Would it be unkind to suggest that his sources, the pollsters, eat crow?
I have my own story about meeting a celebrity at the Princeton Chamber event at the Hyatt but Rich Rein’s is better.
He interviewed Tommy Hilfiger about his book American Dreamer and muses on that experience in his U.S. 1 Newspaper column last Wednesday. .
For the occasion, Rein had outfitted himself in a T.H. shirt and tie from Macy’s, but apparently that wasn’t enough.
You’ll have to ask me in person about my own embarrassing story, it’s not something I want in print. But I can heap praise on the spectacularly displayed goodies at the VIP reception
and the enthusiastic crowd of 400 that filled the Hyatt ballroom to capacity. Fashion students from Philadelphia, attending on free tickets but buying Hilfiger’s book, were thrilled to be there, along with many many on the Chamber email list, some U.S. 1 readers, and people who heard about it on the radio (I polled those standing in the booksigning line that curled around the room.)
To my somewhat surprise, since I am not a fashionista, I liked the book, a tale of derring do. I particularly liked the part where one of his buddies recognized that the river would flood the town of Elmira, so they enlisted everybody — family and fellow high school students — to move inventory from the basement to the top floor. After the flood, the Hilfiger stock was the only dry clothing for sale in submerged Elmira. Everybody — grandparents and teens alike — bought and wore his tie-dyed shirts.
Hilfiger’s is a Horatio Alger story of overcoming — not poverty, but dyslexia. It’s just amazing how talent and focus — and maybe a little luck and grace — can conquer disability.
“Stories Still Matter: In Print and Online” was the theme of the Princeton Chamber’s Business before Business breakfast networking meeting this morning. Richard K. Rein, founding editor of U.S. 1 Newspaper, shared stories that only dig-deeper news people would know. His speech was informative, entertaining and well-delivered.
As a Speech Coach, I was especially taken by his smart opening which was void of verbiage. Yes, Rein opened with silence, four seconds worth (as the audience later learned). He created the “verbal white space”™ that level-sets audience attention and highlights opening remarks. Silence is often scary for societies that talk a lot.I noticed one or two people in the audience getting antsy after 2 seconds of quiet, but saw the other 90 people in the audience palpably poised to listen and patiently await the stories that would soon unfold.
Starting a speech with silence makes perfect sense. It can feel risky and uncomfortable at first, but the positive impact is quite rewarding. Silence is to speech, what margins are to writing. The ability to be present without words in speaking and in life, can be a strong differentiator.
Narratives can change opinions, said Rein, citing the late John Henderson (a former reporter who built his real estate business on the lyrical descriptions of his listings) and Jerry Fennelly, who issues real estate analytics in story form. Long form narratives can also clarify the thinking of the writer (as well as the of the reader) and help establish credibility for both writer and subject.
Then it was story time: Rein told of almost-missed stories about Colin Carpi, lawyer Bruce Afran, and Muhammed Ali (as written by himself and fellow Princetonian sports writer Frank Deford) and he related a bit of gossip about Larry L. King. (Based on observing Ted Kennedy at a party, King vowed to do everything he could to keep that Kennedy from being president.)
In a lively Q&A Irv Urken asked about the value of print in a digital world: Brandishing the articles he used in his speech, he said, “you don’t have to worry about your batteries going down.” He also cited “the science of touch” and suggested that some presentations and pictures “require a bigger screen.” That print media has a limited space means that somebody must edit it to fit the space, and when editors get to do more than just run a spell check, readers read more carefully. Then Rein gave a shout out to Urken’s offspring who have media careers — one works for Newsweek and Street, the other for Yahoo.
Former reporter Vickie Hurley-Schubert (now with Creative Marketing Alliance) asked which was his favorite story. Hard to pick, but Rein cited one early in his career, for New Jersey Monthly, on the scandal surrounding Circle of Friends.
I liked his answer about whether the media has a liberal bias: “When you spend time with people, you begin to assimilate their values. Media does have an ego, but it also bends over backwards to present other points of view.”
So — down with ‘scooplets,’ which, as Rein explained, are what Jill Abramson calls the focus on quick content that spawned $1.9 billion in free publicity to the Trump campaign.
Up with narrative journalism. Long live the long form stories in the likes of U.S. 1 and Princeton Echo.
Rich Rein (Princeton, Class of ’69) will speak at the Princeton chamber breakfast on Wednesday. I’m looking forward to my former boss telling stories old and new. And I also like the tradition, at the breakfasts, that everyone gets to stand up and introduce themselves. Perhaps I’ll see you there?
The day before (Tuesday) is the chamber’s Midsummer Marketing Showcase starting at 4 p.m. In past year’s it’s been plagued with weather cancellations, but predictions are good for tomorrow. And it’s one of my favorite Princeton Regional Chamber events, in part because it’s free.