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John Guilfoil Public Relations Launches

February 17, 2014

Alas, the formal end has come for PRrag.com.

The blog hasn’t been active in over two years, but it is with a great deal of excitement that I announce the creation of John Guilfoil Public Relations LLC.

I’ll be blogging JGPR.net from time to time, so please check out the site!

These are the stories I wish I could write every day

December 29, 2011

I know I haven’t blogged in ages, but I wanted to take a second here to point to a story I wrote in today’s Globe.

The story of Dieuphete Celime, as heartbreaking as it is, is one of ultimate hope. As much as I love covering breaking news/spot news, and as good as I’ve become at running out and getting the quick story, I would write Dieuphete Celime stories every day. This story is not tragic but beautiful, and photographer Eric Jacobs did a fantastic job capturing the scene.

As I turn 28 today, it’s a great gift to be able to put a story like that in the newspaper.

LNG

February 24, 2010

Today’s front page story about the arrival of the first Yemeni LNG supply in the Boston area involved a few reporters, a photographer, and lots of hours.

I sat in car with Essdras Suarez from 2 a.m. until about 6. It’s not the situation you’d expect to be a case study in gadgetry, but it was.

We used a laptop with mobile internet to access Marinetraffic.com and track the position of the 935-foot Maran Gas Coronis tanker and its escort ships. We combined with that GPS equipment to place ourselves in the best possible positions to observe the ship and take photos and videos. I also had a police scanner programmed to the marine and Coast Guard frequencies. A lot of that was encrypted, but we were able to track updates on when the ship was about to be visible from our first vantage point in East Boston.

The police scanner was also interesting, because it allowed us to hear when the police were chasing us — which was a lot. We got stopped six times and asked for identification, including three spots in East Boston, twice in Charlestown and once in Everett.

Essdras had the Canon 1D Mark IV, one of the best cameras in the world, which does stills and videos.

I had the humble Flip camera, which failed to capture any usable video in the pitch black of 4 a.m.

Haiti.

January 19, 2010

I’ve penned about six stories for the Globe in the past week regarding the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and another dozen or so reporters have been working on different angles since the 7.0 quake struck on Jan. 12.

But the real news is coming from Maria Sacchetti and now Stephen Smith, who are both in Haiti sending back, by far, the best reporting coming out of that country. Don’t miss the Globe’s coverage, whatever you do. Maria and Steve are giving everyone a blunt reminder of what seasoned, professional journalists can accomplish.

Staff.

January 11, 2010

It may not mean much to some, but the word “staff” is something young journalists seldom take for granted.

And after five years, I’m so utterly proud to say that I’m on the staff of The Boston Globe.

Today I began a night cops beat job here. I’ll be working three nights a week and will still be writing the business and fun tech stories, which prove to be a great contrast to the cops beat.

Happy New Year

January 1, 2010

Happy 2010 to everyone. Next week I’ll be posting about some exciting news in my career.

In the mean time, read about Blast’s plans for world domination.

Wanna hear a secret?

December 21, 2009

Every day I ask myself if I’m doing the right thing.

Starting a company — a news company — at age 23 was a risk. Every day I wonder if it’s going to pay off.

Beyond that, there’s the Boston Globe. People tell me all the time that I need to be at a different newspaper right now if I want to come back one day.

I still disagree.

But I still gaze at JournalismJobs.com every few days wondering. Maybe Ft. Wayne? Maybe Miami? Maybe York, Pennsylvania?

Nah. Boston.

Gotta run. I have stories to edit for Blast.

Tools of the trade

December 20, 2009

We can report almost any story with a No. 8030 Gregg Rule Reporter’s Notepad (or really any other piece of paper) and a pencil.

Not a pen. Ballpoint pens and rollerballs are totally worthless in rain, snow or extreme cold. That makes them useless for more than half of the year here in Boston.

A pencil (I like mechanical pencils) and paper will get you by. A felt pen will work sometimes, but it gets messy.

Why then, is my trunk full of extra crap? And why are my coat pockets always full of various items?

Let’s take the example of covering the scene of a fire — which is my specialty. I never hope for anything to catch on fire, but when something does, I’m at my best as a spot reporter.

I carry the following things “on my person” when I’m at a scene:

  • A camera: Either my Flip camera for video or my Canon Digital Elph for stills and the occasional video. They’re not professional cameras. The real news photos can jump in and take three shots that will be better than then 20-30 I’ll snap away, but most newspapers aren’t equipped to have photographers at every event. So I have on ready, and my photos have been published, which is pretty awesome.
  • A Sony Digital voice recorder: No matter how cold it gets, or how much it rains, the recorder will be there … as long as the batteries are charged. I highly recommend a Sony. Mine plugs in directly to the computer, like a USB stick, and can send instant MP3s.
  • My scanner: I own five police scanners (though I only use three). It is an incredibly versatile tool. I can monitor the police, fire and emergency goings-on everywhere in the region. I was the first reporter on scene at a plane crash last year, and I’ve gotten to the scenes of shootings before the ambulances. This was something I learned from news photographers like George Rizer. If you have the scanner going, you know what the news is. My Icom scanner is portable, but I plug a better antenna into it when I’m at my desk at the newspaper, and I have a stubby antenna that I use when I’m on the road. At a fire, you can keep track of who’s in charge, where the main body of the fire is, if there’s some kind of rescue, if anyone gets hurt, how many alarms the fire goes to, and if the fire gets out of control.

I also find its best to wear winter boots all the time when I’m at work in the cold months. That helped covering the ice storm in Lawrence last year. You also have to carry gloves and a wool hat. If you’re caught in the cold without proper protection, you absolutely will get sick. I once went out in a snow storm to cover a protest without a hat on, and I had to run inside a bank to defrost. I also keep a set of Hot Hands hand warmers with me. They’re great for extended periods outside. They work great inside your shoes too!

What about my car? Most of the things I keep in my car, I’ve learned to keep from regrettable experience.

Things like bug spray. You ever cover a story at a lake in North Andover in July? Yeah.

Sun screen works good in the summer too.

Back to winter for a second. I carry a few pairs of socks, a change of clothes, a spare hat, an entire case of Hot Hands, a pair of shoes, a complete first aid kid, a Mag-Lite, and several sizes of batteries. I also carry lots of spare writing implements, notebooks and I think there’s even an AP Stylebook in there.

Things I could use: Those fingerless gloves sound cool. A real hat. Who the hell decided that hats had to be super small all of a sudden? Also: some kind of outdoor fold-up chair for long stakeouts. I’ve also been meaning to get a cell-based laptop Internet card, but it’s a decent-sized expense, and WiFi is almost everywhere now.

Media on Ft. Hood shooting: Wrong, wrong and wrong again

November 6, 2009

This is indeed what the 24-hour news cycle is doing to us in the media.

Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who is also a psychiatrist, went on a shooting rampage in Ft. Hood, Texas. At the end, 13 people were dead, and 30 more were injured. Three other soldiers were detained, questioned, and released after it was determined they were not involved in the shooting. Hasan was wounded in the rampage and is in a coma, breathing on a respirator, but he is expected to live.

That’s the story. That’s what happened in Texas yesterday.

In an effort to produce nothing more than speed, every major media outlet from ABC, to CBS to CNN reported the story wrong several times before the dust settled yesterday. “Seven dead.” “Nine dead.” “Dozens dead.” “Eleven dead.” “The gunman, dead.” “Two guns used in the shooting.” “Another shooter is at large.” “Two other shooters are at large.” “A police officer who shot at the suspect was killed.”

All of these reported “facts” are wrong. Thirteen people are dead. The gunman is not dead. He only used one handgun in the shooting.

We should be ashamed, as a profession, after that display of speculation. These aren’t dominoes or poker chips falling. If we can’t get a firm number on the number of human beings killed, then we shouldn’t speculate, and we shouldn’t allow grandstanding politicians, like the Texas Senator and Congressman we heard yesterday, to go on the airwaves speculating either.

This was awful, awful reporting all around, and it’s nothing more than a product of over-excited news producers rushing to be the first with the scoop. Because God-forbid we err on the side of accuracy.

That was quick

October 16, 2009

Installation was less than 20 minutes.

I’ll be reviewing Windows 7 for Blast. Stay tuned.