Oh, what a night! Osama bin Laden is dead!

I’m not going to spend a lot of time typing this post because, frankly, I want to concentrate on watching news coverage of the al-Qaida leader’s death. But I’d like to point out that the news broke and spread quickly on Twitter, before the television anchors told us (particularly CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who metaphorically seemed to be the last person to arrive at the party). Yesterday I wrote about the news value of Twitter and its varied acceptance level by print reporters (you can read that post by clicking here), and the way so many people learned about bin Laden’s death is a perfect example of why all reporters should be on board with the use of social media.

As I tweeted earlier tonight, “I hope all the print journalists who don’t buy into the news value of Twitter are paying attention to how the bin Laden news broke/spread.”

Finally, I’ll end this post with the sentence I tweeted immediately after President Obama finished his speech tonight: “If I could type the sound of America clapping, I would.”


It’s my observation that there are three types of newspaper reporters when it comes to Internet use beyond searching for information: those who “get” it and totally embrace its use as a way to report news; those who don’t understand the Internet’s value as a media source and, as a result, resist its use as much as possible; and those who fall somewhere in the middle (they essentially understand or accept the value of online media methods but don’t use them quite right).

The first type is self-explanatory. If you understand the power of online reporting and the use of social media to further the reach of a reporter’s words, you know a reporter who “gets” it when you see his or her work.

The second type is still too common. A great example of this type can be found locally. There are two smaller daily newspapers that primarily cover La Salle County — The Times and the NewsTribune — and they both have reporters who “get” it and reporters who resist having to do anything beyond writing and occasionally shooting a photo for the print product. Reporters at both newspapers obviously were directed to create and use Twitter accounts, and as best I can tell, all the NewsTribune reporters embrace this to varying degrees, but there are still some Times reporters who don’t use Twitter at all — one reporter even locked his account so you can’t follow him unless he approves you doing so! They obviously don’t understand the value of reaching out to a wider audience through such newfangled means.

An example of the third type works for the Chicago Sun-Times. Lynn Sweet, a columnist and Washington bureau chief for the newspaper, uses Twitter and blogs, but she doesn’t do it quite right. Earlier today, she tweeted a reminder that the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner is tonight, and that people can follow her at @lynnsweet for notes and photos from it. That is a good use of Twitter. But when I clicked on the link she included in her tweet, I found her accompanying blog post, which began as follows:

WASHINGTON–The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner is tonight, with Saturday Night Live headwriter and comic Seth Meyers the headliner. Meyers–I locked eyes with him for a mini-moment at the New Yorker party Friday night–speaks after President Obama, always a hard act to follow.

That is an example of Sweet trying too hard to impress and not quite “getting” it, which she tends to do on her blog. Believe me, nobody cares that Lynn Sweet locked eyes with Seth Meyers for “a mini-moment.” Another example of her trying too hard on her blog is the many instances of her writing “as I reported earlier” or a similar phrase. Newspapers have a long tradition of patting themselves on the back for reporting something first — and I have no problem with that — but when it’s done often by the same reporter in the first person, the writer can come across less favorably.

With that said, at least Sweet is using social media, and she gets credit for that. Too many reporters still resist using social media, and that’s a real problem in the journalism industry.

As you surely know by now, President Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate Wednesday to prove to Donald Trump and the birthers that he was born in the United States.

I wish I could say with any certainty that this will end the birther movement, but I think it’s more likely those people who hate Obama so much they wouldn’t believe he was born in Hawaii now will find something else equally ridiculous to believe and pester the president about.

And while Trump is not to blame for those people believing such nonsense, he is responsible for stoking the fire that fuels their craziness. (Incidentally, Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” said “NBC has created a monster” in Trump. I agree with him.)

Since most of us who are sane are tired of hearing about the birther nonsense and Trump’s feeble attempts at logic, the president’s action Wednesday was most welcome (and sad that a sitting president had to produce his birth certificate to prove again that he was born in the United States). I just wish Obama would’ve done this on Friday so there would be something big to report that day other than the royal wedding that’s being covered way too much in this country. I’ve already accepted that the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, which will be attended by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (the shooting victim whose husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, is helming the Endeavour’s final voyage), will practically be ignored by comparison.

I expect to take a day off from watching TV news on Friday because of the royal wedding overkill. I’ll stick to the Internet (Twitter and websites of news organizations) for my news that day so I can avoid the royal wedding as easily as possible while still staying informed about whatever important is happening.

Jury selection continued today for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s retrial on an array of corruption charges.  One man asked to be excused from consideration because “I’m supposed to start a new job today. I’ve been unemployed for 16 months. I have documentation that I’m starting today, or suppose to start today,” he told Judge James Zagel in a note.

That caught my attention because something similar once happened to me. The last time I was unemployed, after The Times laid me off, I went nine months without being called for jury duty. Then as soon as I landed a job to help launch Ottawa Delivered, I received a notice for jury duty — for the week the first issue of Ottawa Delivered was scheduled to hit newsstands and launch online.

The county clerk let me off the hook, though I got another notice for jury duty just a few months later. The second time my jury pool didn’t get called in, so I didn’t have to serve that time, either.

Now a couple years later, I find myself on the unemployment line again (victim of another newspaper layoff), and I sort of wish I would get called for jury duty. I haven’t so far, but both my wife and her brother-in-law have been called for jury duty — and served on a jury — while I’ve been off work. Go figure.

But that’s OK. I’m pursuing a book idea that should keep me busy this summer. As a result, I probably won’t be blogging at The Bread Line as much as I did the first time I was unemployed — but that’s OK, too, if that means I’ll finish writing a book. But I’ll still be posting here semi-regularly — I certainly expect to blog about the Blagojevich trial — and when the time is right, I’ll reveal more about my book project.

The world’s oldest man, Walter Breuning, died Thursday of natural causes. The Montana resident was 114.

Coincidentally, ABC World News aired a segment the same day about 97-year-old Agnes Zhelesnik, who is still a full-time preschool teacher in New Jersey.

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated with people who live to be centenarians (or at least come close). I may even be married to a future one, considering my wife’s great-grandmother Ethel lived to be 107.

My fascination comes from considering how much change and notable events these “golden oldies” have seen in their lifetimes — and the ages they were when those things took place. For example, Breuning was born before baseball’s American League was organized (1900), Teddy Roosevelt became president (1901), Thomas Edison invented the modern battery (1902), the Ford Motor Company sold its first automobile (1903), the Wright brothers’ first flight (1903), the New York City subway opened (1904), and Scouting was founded in Britain by Sir Robert Baden-Powell (1907). He was a teenager when the Titanic sunk and World War I began; in his 20s when Prohibition was enacted and American women won the right to vote; in his 30s when the Great Depression began; in his 40s when the Hindenburg blew up, Amelia Earhart was lost at sea and World War II took place; in his 50s when the Supreme Court outlawed racial segregation in public schools, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned and Sen. Joseph McCarthy waged a libelous war against alleged communists; in his 60s when the Soviet Union sent the first man into space, President Kennedy was assassinated, and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones started playing; in his 70s when Martin Luther King was assassinated, men landed on the moon, and the Watergate scandal took place; in his 80s when John Hinckley shot President Reagan and the space shuttle Challenger exploded; in his 90s when the Exxon Valdez dumped more than a million gallons of crude oil into the Alaskan waters and the first Iraq war took place; in his 100s when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place; and in his 110s when America elected its first black president.

So what’s the secret to long life? Reporters always ask that of centenarians, and according to the Washington Post, Breuning’s answers to that question were:

Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. (“Every change is good.”)

Eat two meals a day. (“That’s all you need.”)

Work as long as you can. (“That money’s going to come in handy.”)

Help others. (“The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.”)

And the hardest of all: Accept death.

“We’re going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die, because you’re born to die,” he said.

Zhelesnik’s keys to staying active well into your 90s are keeping busy and having a sense of purpose.

In August 2009, I wrote about Freyda Siegel, a Massachusetts woman who had recently turned 100. You can read her tips for living a long life well by clicking here.

When I wrote that blog post, I asked readers to share their own tips for living life well, even if they’re still young. I’m making the same request now. Share your thoughts in the comments section, and of course, live your life well.

As I noted in a post yesterday, today is the 5th anniversary of when then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed a universal healthcare bill into law for Massachusetts. But that’s not the only — or even the most important — anniversary of significance to be marked today.

Of course, the most significant is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. I began to commemorate the day this morning by dusting off my Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusion II CD and playing it, beginning with the first track, “Civil War.” Then my wife and I hiked at Starved Rock State Park, where there weren’t many people today, giving us the opportunity to truly appreciate the solitude of nature and, at one point, reflect on how far we’ve come as a society since the Civil War — and even since the 100th anniversary 50 years ago.

You don’t need me to explain all that, but I do wish to take this time to mention a few Civil War-related books I’ve read or that are on my to-read list: Jay Winik’s “April 1865: The Month That Saved America” (about the final days of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath); James L. Swanson’s “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” and “Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse”; David O. Stewart’s “Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy”; Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln”; and George B. Kirsch’s “Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Pastime During the Civil War.”

If anyone has suggestions to add to my reading list, I’d love to hear them. Also, if you have any Civil War sites you recommend I visit between northern Illinois and Atlanta, Ga., during a road trip planned for later this year, I’d love to hear those, too.

* * *

Today is also the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight (by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin) and the 30th anniversary of the American space shuttle program’s first flight. NASA celebrated by not giving one of the retiring space shuttles to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium — but at least the planetarium will get the flight simulator used by astronauts during their space training.

The four space shuttles were assigned to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum near Washington, D.C.; the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Orlando, Fla.; the California Science Center in Los Angeles; and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York.

I’ll also be visiting the Kennedy Space Center during my aforementioned road trip planned for later this year. Suggested stops in the TOM (Tampa-Orlando-Miami) triangle are welcome, too. (Baseball games and Everglades National Park are already on the agenda.)

* * *

Finally, today is the 1-year anniversary of when the Chicago Cubs front office started its official Twitter feed, @CubsInsider. This isn’t very notable, except to illustrate a point.

Lately I’ve noticed a few people in my Twitter timeline mention that they’ve been on Twitter for a year now. I’m glad they’ve been on Twitter that long, but I’m not sure why they think the anniversary is a big deal. I’ve used Twitter since early 2009 — proudly ahead of the curve with this form of social media — but I don’t know what day I tweeted for the first time. Nevertheless, if you’re on Twitter and don’t already follow me, I hope you will change that! I’m @thebreadline.

Tuesday is the fifth anniversary of then-Gov. Mitt Romney signing a universal healthcare bill into law for Massachusetts — a law that Romney used to be proud of, but now is a mark of shame for him (derided as “RomneyCare”) among the Republican base he needs to win over to get the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

President Obama and other Democrats have said that Romney’s 2006 universal healthcare law helped set the stage for the national healthcare reform law passed last year. That has led to some significant Republican backlash against Romney, because the former Massachusetts governor is now seen as basically having enacted the same law that is one of the GOP’s biggest criticisms of Obama.

While Romney likely will ignore the anniversary as best he can, Massachusetts Democrats will shine a spotlight on it by throwing a party to mark the occasion. The politically-motivated celebration will include a “Thank You Mitt Romney” cake made specially for the photo opportunity moment.

That’s the sort of political theater that makes me love politics.

* * *

With the fifth anniversary of RomneyCare tomorrow, it is puzzling why Romney chose today to announce the formation of his presidential exploratory committee. The fact that he will run for president again is no surprise, but the timing of his announcement is.

Romney is not the first Republican to announce his 2012 presidential aspirations with such peculiar timing this year. Remember Newt Gingrich made a similar announcement with a potential government shutdown looming, and it didn’t make sense why he would risk reminding people that he helped shut down the federal government in 1995.

At this rate, I expect Sarah Palin to announce she is running for president on the anniversary of her interview with Katie Couric.