ProGen Study Group #9

Wednesday, 4 Feb 2009 | by Mark Tucker

The ProGen Study group assignment for December 2008 was to simply read two chapters and then later talk about them with your group.  There was no practical assignment this month.

The chapters that we studied in Professional Genealogy were:

  • Chapter 19 - Genealogy Columns by Regina Hines Ellison, CGRS
  • Chapter 21 – Book and Media Reviews by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG

Genealogy Columns

This chapter talks about how to get your first job as a genealogy writer for a magazine or newspaper and gives tips about writing a column.  I am fortunate to have had the chance to write for both Digital Genealogist and NGS Magazine.  I found the tips in this chapter helpful.  It some ways the content is a little dated as it only briefly mentions online journals and news magazines.  Since the publication of this book, we have seen an explosion of blogs, micro-blogging (ex: Twitter), and social networking sites (ex: Facebook) The world of blogging has opened avenues where genealogy writers can easily self publish online.  When the revision of Professional Genealogy is done, I suspect this chapter will need a major rewrite.

Book and Media Reviews

This chapter warns would-be reviewers to avoid the easy road of being either a Charitable Reviewer or an Overworked Reviewer and to instead take the path of the Conscientious Reviewer.  The first type of reviewer “produces a noncommittal review – a mere book report.”  The second type of reviewer is too overworked to do a proper review so publishes a blurb pulled from the publicity flyer or book cover.  These are sometimes referred to as “sweetheart reviews.”

The Conscientious Reviewer produces a good, honest review.  This is time-consuming to write but actually provides a service to those reading the review.

“Reviewers exist to serve readers. Ideally they do it with sensitivity, scholarship, and style – though not necessarily in that order.”

Blogs often spread the news around the Internet by creating posts and linking to web sites or other blog posts.  Twitter does a similar thing via a Retweet.  There are some that choose to simply pass along what they discover while others take the time to analyze and comment.  It is interesting to think about blogging and tweeting and see how it relates to the role of being a Conscientious Reviewer.

Any thoughts?

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