Monday, April 20, 2009


Okay, so we all know we're in an economic depression of sorts. The news tells us the sky is falling every day. It's the worst time to quit a job, right?

I'm one of those people who hates to be stuck in a routine for too long. I don't have any desire to give my everything to some corporate company until my last dying day (or when they decide to lay me off). I've seen colleagues clean out their lockers after 30 years with a big company and it's heartbreaking. I've made my bread and butter in the TV news business, but that business is changing with each and every day. With social networking and digital access and distribution, media companies are ditching seasoned pros in news and print and hiring babes in the woods to rehash from the "wires" or worse yet, to copy and paste. Most of the facts aren't accurate. Would you let someone right out of film school direct your biggest movie? Or someone right out of flight school to pilot a jumbo jet filled with customers? Well, that's what the media companies are doing -- they're waiting for the pros to quit in disgust, or just not to renew the contracts of talented people in an effort to save money. And they will save money, but at what cost? To them and to you?

Who will speak to power? Who will reveal the next Watergate? The next lead up to an unnecessary war? Polluted water in your neighborhood? Who has the gumption anymore to ask the tough questions to the President? Who will spend their lives in other countries to tell us the hard truth about poverty, war or lack of human rights? Not many and you can't blame them. Does the public even care or are we more concerned about Ashton Kutcher's tweets vs. CNN's? It amazes me how we're such lambs for mass media -- lead us to the next trend and we'll follow, no matter how stupid or useless the latest "breaking news" banner is that flashes on screen.

Keep your eyes and ears open... and do your own fact checking. Now -- more than ever. Let's hope the theater is more authentic... but then again, playwright Neil LaBute says that corporate commercial control is changing what playwrights dare write... it doesn't matter what's in the sausage as long as you can sell it.

Until next time.
Janet Lawler
Astoria, NY

Monday, April 06, 2009


This is a year of writing for so many new platforms. My head is spinning a bit. I've written scripts since I was thirteen years old. My father brought home a used desk for me and encouraged me to write. It also kept me out of trouble. I would write scripts in my bedroom for hours and hours on end.

In high school, I wrote a couple of plays. My English teachers -- Ms. Gamache and Mr. Reinhardt -- were kind enough to let me cast them with students in the class and read the work aloud. It was a blast. I'm sure the plays were dreadful and filled with teen angst, but the teachers still encouraged me to write.

In college, I studied screenwriting and play writing and did well in both. I loved those classes. It was my passion and not considered a hardship to knock out a script assignment. Now, writing papers for my Psych 101 and Statistics courses were another story.

And now, I'm writing for TV news, the web, and the stage. They all require a different approach and style. All require connecting with your target audience and capturing their attention from the start -- a lot like screenwriting. I'm learning no matter whether you're writing a 20 second Voiceover for the News, or a web story, or a 10 Minute Play... people want information and conflict. They don't want to be bored.

So I'm learning to write more with less. Shorter sentences. More active verbs. More visual images.

Writing is writing. What amazes me now, is that we can still learn new techniques and new styles to move people. To write about our universal truths. That has never changed as my motivation for sitting down at my desk -- not the same desk my father gave me -- but just the same, he would be happy to know he started a life long tradition for his daughter.

Until next time.