April Notes: Teen Vogue, a reader's rights, S-Town, and kids in the archives

Rebecca Pitts Newsletter - April 2017

I'm writing about a few of my favorite things over at Teen Vogue this week: media literacy, high quality independent journalism, and the superheroes in the war against fake news (librarians, obviously). It's a guide for truth-seekers in a digital wild west of falsehoods, fake news, biased opinion pieces, satire, and advertorials. I amazingly had the opportunity to interview On the Media's Brooke Gladstone — who offered the best, and possibly most challenging advice — and caught up with a long ago acquaintance from Rare Book School, Sarah Murphy, who generously contributed her expertise to this piece.

Teen Vogue is a dream byline for me, and I'd like to think that this brainstorming map, completed in the company of good friends back in early November, was the germ that channeled my fury into words (with a dash of lady-like persistence for good measure). I did land this one with a "hey, just checking in to see if you received my pitch before I move on." So I guess this sort of a tactic is in fact a thing that does actually work, on occasion.

And in case you haven't been exactly keeping up with the teen 'zine scene these days, there was this amazing piece (Donald Trump is Gaslighting America by Lauren Duca) which led to these warranted accolades (Teen Vogue's political coverage isn't surprising) which led me down this rabbit hole, reminiscing the pre-internet days of my youth in the mid-90s, when one might—oh, I don't know, definitely not speaking from experience here—kill an entire afternoon pouring over yearbooks and the latest issue of Sassy magazine. 

What I Read

I'm slowly reading Tools of Titans and In the Company of Women—just a passage or two each day as a sort of secular meditation in the morning. My copy of the The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac is completely dog-eared, thanks to this reader's bill of rights I stumbled on hereAn archival homecoming for James BaldwinThese investigative high school reporters break a story causing their principal to resign. And speaking of young adults, I love this case study of students using archives for the first time. How educational children's books are explaining Donald Trump. A minimalist in spirit, and sometimes in action, I am intrigued by this writer's decision to opt out of coastal madness to live a low-overhead lifeWomen at work. Make a donation to a progressive non-profit and get free, beautiful art created by collage artist Clare Celeste Börsch.

What We Read

People by Peter Spier. A Nest full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz Jenkins. Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner. My Vida Loca (Sofia Martinez) by Jacqueline Jules and Kim Smith. Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz. [For links to these titles and others, explore our family's preschool and school-age digital libraries.]

What We Saw

Applauded, and admittedly teared up at the finale of Girls. Veep is still the best television around, but is anyone else finding the trajectory of Serena Myers presidential loss completely cringeworthy? Gilmore Girls, Louis CK 2017 and yes, somewhat embarrassingly, there's more (despite Game of Throne's failure to return for the 7th April in row) — Fargo is back with two female leads who somehow manage to top Peggy Blumquist.

What I Heard

Sundial wisdom from S-Town: "Your life is tedious and brief." And: "I've done nothing good today. I have lost a day." Sarah Menkedick candidly talks about 'writing for free' for years, and admitting to writing terrible crap, too, on the Long Form podcast. I can't say that I agree with the idea that "college is irrelevant," but this discussion is worth the listen, if only for the acknowledgement of the immovable fact that our children are separate beings from us, with their own journeys and ideas. (And if that journey includes the cost of tuition in 2030 — whatever astronomical number that may be — perhaps they should start saving some of their allowance today).