stevemedcroft.com
31Oct/180

Connect With Cycling History at the Rouleur Classic

Come celebrate our 30-year collaboration with the UCI at the Rouleur Classic, November 1-3 at the Victoria House in London.

At the Santini factory, there is a memorabilia display in the lobby. The walls are covered with team jerseys, Giro D’Italia pink jerseys, national champion’s jerseys, and signed UCI World Championship jerseys from every era of our history. Standing in our lobby allows you to absorb the history of cycling in a unique and special way.

There are similar displays in museums, private collections, and cycling company lobbies all over the world (particularly in Italy where cycling has some of its deepest roots). But not everyone can tour the globe to take in this kind of immersive experience, so we’re grateful to our friends at Rouleur magazine for putting on the Rouleur Classic; a unique event that brings the greatest people, products, and memorabilia under one roof for all cyclists to enjoy.

Santini presents the Rainbow Jersey at the Rouleur Classic

The theme for the 2018 Rouleur Classic is the UCI Road World Championships. Scheduled for November 1-3 at London’s Victoria House, Rouleur has put together a full program for cyclists to connect to the theme.

Santini will be there with a pop-up presentation and exhibition about the history of the rainbow jersey. Hosted by our Managing Director, Monica Santini, lead designer Fergus Niland, and with visit from occasional guests (like Lizzie Diegnan), our display tells the story of the UCI rainbow stripe jersey, the most coveted prize in cycling.

Our UCI clothing collection will also be on display, which, as well as the rainbow jersey, includes a number of UCI-inspired designs. We’re especially proud of our Grand Campioni collection, kits that honor legendary world championship wins by Fausto Coppi, Stephen Roche, and Eddy Merckx.

The best feature of the event though (besides our booth of course) are the stage presentations. Held all weekend, speakers and panels will cover all aspects of the show’s theme, from a a discussion about the upcoming Yorkshire World Championships, to the inaugural Rouleur Hall of Fame induction ceremony celebrating Eddy Merckx and the late Beryl Burton. A long list of cycling celebrities scheduled to appear. As well as Merckx, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Fabian Cancellara, Sean Kelly, Paolo Bettini, Maurizio Fondriest, Lizzie Deignan, George Bennett, Ivan Basso, and UCI President David Lappartient are all confirmed.

Santini - The Rainbow Factory

During the show, the organizer will giveaway also 30 unique handmade posters to 30 lucky visitors. This poster is adapted from a quarter of one of those transfer sheets used for the actual Rainbow Jerseys we produced for the 2018 Road World Championships in Innsbruck and exclusively signed by Mr. Pietro Santini himself.

So come immerse yourself in Rouleur’s celebration of the UCI Road World Championships by attending the Rouleur Classic. Tickets to any (or all) of the three-days of the Rouleur Classic are available at their website.

Original appears on www.santinius.com.

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25Oct/180

Why we need reporters like Seymour M. Hersh

Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour M. Hersh

I just finished an amazing book, Reporter: A Memoir, by Seymour M. Hersh and if you are a writer or a student or fan of journalism, I recommend it highly.

I really had no idea who Mr. Hersh was, but the jacket said the book was the memoir of a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist who had worked for the Associated Press, the New York Times, and the New Yorker, who had covered some of American History’s biggest recent moments and people. Hersh’s reporting on the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the major events under every president from Lyndon Johnson to Obama, earned him numerous prizes and awards. The book promised an inside look at experiences of a veteran reporter, the real kind, the kind that dug for the truth behind stories most reporters would only scratch the surface on. The book promised to share the life of a true Fourth Estate writer, a journalist who believed he had a purpose in life to get at and expose the truth of big issues facing us as a country.

The book was interesting to me because I am working to find my own true voice as a writer. I hoped to learn from it, to be inspired by it. I wanted to connect with Hersh as a person and try to take something from his story that I could carry into my own writing. I enjoyed the book not only because it delivered on its promises, but also because of the riveting detail Hersh included about the major stories he’s worked on during his career.

A lifetime of major journalistic accomplishments

The book opens by taking us through Hersh’s decision to pursue journalism. Starting with his first at the City News Bureau of Chicago, Hersh does a great job of explaining the mechanics of news reporting and distribution. We get to see how regional wire service worked by fielding local reporters to cover issues and produce work they could sell to other news organizations. He takes us along on his first real, out-in-the-field assignments. He shares his insights into how he managed to earn freelance assignments for national papers and magazines. He does all this in an easy reading style, with quotes, context, and sourcing to move the story along quickly.

Once Hersh sunk his teeth into the job of reporting, he learned that he had an instinct for big stories. He trusted himself to chase leads that many other reporters were ignoring. He learned to work behind the scenes to build his story, to unearth inside information, to get to sources who knew the real truth, all in secret until he was ready to publish. An example: Hersh learned, as did many other reporters, about a mass-death of sheep near an American military testing facility. Most reporters accepted the official story - an illness or a localized contamination I believe. Hersh dug into the story and exposed the fact that the US Military, along with numerous Universities around the country, were developing, testing, and stockpiling all kinds of apocalyptic chemical and biological agents. The sheep kill was a result of an intentional release, a test, that grew out of control.

Hersh’s reporting led to public pressure for the US, and the rest of the cooperating world to agree that chemical and biological weapons were too dangerous to pursue. In 1975 the US Government entered into treaty with a number of prominent nations to end development and stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

Hersh’s most famous early-career accomplishment came through his investigative reporting into the Vietnam War. Information coming from Vietnam accused American soldiers of committing atrocities against the North Vietnamese. Murder of innocents. Rape. Torture. Cruelty against civilians.

Hersh picked up on an account of a soldier being court martialed for killing 109 civilians in a village of My Lai 4. The official story being that this one lone soldier had gone crazy and committed an atrocity. Hersh hunted down the accused killer, who was being hidden away at a US base waiting for his trial. who said he’d participated in a sanctioned act alongside his comrades. Hersh was able to chase responsibility and knowledge (and cover up) of this, and attacks like it, across the Vietnam battlefield, all the way up the chain of command.

Hersh exposed that this captain was being setup to take the fall for something that was the American Military’s standard operating procedure. Top-level Pentagon officials knew of the on-the-ground evil being played out in Vietnam, even encouraged (or at the least allowed) it to happen. Hersh’s reporting exposed that the war was a rotten effort, that it corrupted young men, that it put our child soldiers into an impossible position that had lasting, negative mental impact on many (if not most) of them. And that the US, in the name of democracy and righteousness, were committing war crimes against innocents.

The story was picked up nationally and internationally. In 1970, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for breaking and pursuing the story. He later published a book summarizing his reporting. That led to a job at the New Yorker and, his stated ultimate goal, as a staff reporter for the New York Times.

Over his career, Hersh has been enmeshed in every major American new story and it is fascinating to see them develop from inside his narrative. Watergate, Henry Kissinger’s influence on world politics, the Gulf war, 9/11, the killing of Osama bin Laden, he wrote about them all. And not always without controversy.

Irascible at times - he speaks of editors and officials he ran contrary to, who apply pressure for him to drop stories and or change tone - he remained true to his core mission to dig for the un-pursued and important stories. Sometimes, when his current editor would not get behind a story he developed and believed in, he would sell it to another publication.

He has also been widely criticized widely for using anonymous sources, and his too-close-for-comfort reporting on issues government officials would rather remain secret was also often called into question by critics and competitors. But throughout the book, Hersh explains who the sources actually were (whenever he is able) and tells us how he determined what to pursue and map with him to the conclusions he came to. Hersh had an internal sense of integrity and compass that led him to do the right thing, as best as he could.

A masterclass in journalistic integrity

I loved this book because besides being entertaining as hell, I was able to take away a couple of major observations that, I think, will help me as I work on my own writing.

First, his sense of purpose as a writer is inspiring. Once he found journalism, he accepted it as a calling. He dedicated himself to being good at it, to standing out, to looking for ways to pursue stories that other reporters were ignoring. When his colleagues would rush pieces into print on only the perspective and assurance of the authorities in command, he would question. Does it smell right? What is the total truth? The killing of Bin Laden is a great example of this.

The official story of the killing of Osama bin Laden is that the US Government, acting on intelligence gathered by following known Bin Laden couriers, discovered him hiding in a compound in Pakistan. Then, without tipping the Pakistani military, raided the compound and killed him. Seal team Six then buried his body, within 24 hours in keeping with Muslim tradition, at sea to not give our enemies a worshipable grave. Hersh reported that the Pakistani military essentially and knowingly held Bin Laden prisoner in the compound for six years. Someone with knowledge of the arrangement tipped us off in exchange for a cash reward. Hersh writes that the team that executed Bin Laden tore his body to pieces with rifle fire and tossed some body parts out of the helicopter to scatter him over desolate mountain terrain. All a narrative of luck and unflattering brutality that runs counter to the official story.

I was also taken by how apologetically in control of his writing choices Hersh was. He executed to his own vision of what stories to chase and what conclusions to draw from his reporting. If he chose a story to write, he would write it. Which makes Hersh an admirable example for anyone pursuing journalism as a career.

Reporter: A Memoir by Seymour M. Hersh, was published by Knopf this year. I highly recommend it for any writer, fan of journalism, or for anyone who wants to learn from someone who is self-determined and accomplished at the thing they chose to do with their life.

Filed under: About Writing No Comments
21Oct/180

When is it time to hire a writer?

I am a freelance writer, for hire, to work on content-production projects ranging from short, evergreen web articles to book-length non-fiction. Contact me for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

If I told you I was a writer for hire, you might ask yourself why on earth would anyone want to hire a writer? Isn’t writing something anyone who is literate knows how to do? Don’t we write our own text messages, emails, notes to family, Facebook posts, Yelp reviews, Instagram hashtags? Don’t we write constantly? Communicate every day in a hundred ways?

Acknowledged. Not everyone *needs* a writer. I assume you’re capable of putting across your own thoughts in written word. But, there is an argument that writing is a skill that needs to be developed when applied to specific tasks. When you have a need for properly planned, focused, and easy-to-read content, a writer-for-hire can make written-word products that suit your need. A professional writer can ease the burden of completing the task yourself and give you a more polished final result.

Here are six types of writing projects I do for clients. If you could use help on a project that fits one of these categories, contact me.

Web articles: Usually short and punchy, I’ve written web articles for all kinds of publications and clients over the years. I’ve written how-to articles, blog posts, and in-depth analysis into the various types of bicycle chain lubricant, for example. The client briefs and word-length requirements vary, but writing for the web is about getting to the point quickly, covering a subject that fits into its online home, and delivering to the allotted space and time. Do you have a website? Need content developed?

Catalog copy: Writing for product can be as important as the imagery. I work with clients in Europe that produce two or three product catalogs per year. They create the first English-language version (usually a translation from their primary language) and have me to tighten and smooth the language so it flows naturally for their English-speaking distributors and customers. I might also be asked to produce summary paragraphs for the introduction to the catalog. I am then tasked, at times, to write longer-form web content for the same product sets. Are you producing content about your products and services? Should we develop a plan to optimize that content for your audience and give it the best chance of being productive?

Interviews and profiles: There are seven billion human beings on the planet right now. That’s seven billion different experiences in the world, seven billion different perspectives on life, seven billion different stories to tell. My most-rewarding short-form work is done when I get to help someone tell their story though interview or profile. I’ve written prose and Q&A-style interviews throughout my writing life and would like to spend more time in the future helping people tell their stories to the world. Are there people in your orbit with unique perspective or skills, that we should highlight to your audience/customer base? Or do you have a story you want to tell?

Event reports: I’ve reported on cycling races across the US (and even a few in Europe) for cycling magazines and websites. There’s a journalistic satisfaction in writing a good race report; setting the scene for the reader, laying out the stakes for the competition, getting play-by-play from the finalists, producing the official results. The additional fun challenge in race reporting is also the timeliness; the attempt to publish the story as close to the completion of the competition as possible. Sure, it’s exhausting work, but once you develop a rhythm for writing competent race and event reports, the work is extremely satisfying and rewarding. The same editorial narrative style can be applied to any event coverage. Are you part of, or putting on, an event? I can help you tell its story; the how and why it exists, the timeline of how it played out, and capture the top moments so those who couldn’t be there can still get the sense of what they missed?

Newsletters and round-ups (subbing): The editorial term ‘subbing’ means, simply, summarizing a group of content into one article. When I was the mountain-bike editor of www.cyclingnews.com, the worlds most widely-read cycling news website, I would take product press releases and summarize that week’s race reports, interviews, and technical review into a weekly news round-up. Subbing is an art and I enjoyed doing it. The skill can be applied to any collection of material that would benefit from being turned into a newsletter or periodic review. A great example is the New York Times' Your Weekend BriefingCan you imagine sharing a periodic summary of content with your audience?

Whitepapers and book-length projects: Sometimes, a subject demands in-depth study. I’ve written two non-fiction books. Call Centers Made Easy was my attempt to help small businesses leverage communications technology to better connect and communicate with their customers. That book spoke to the fact that large customer-support-intense companies (airlines, insurance companies, banks) invested millions building out systems to optimize their management of customer interactions. It showed small businesses how those large centers did it and how they could emulate some of the technologies and concepts (to the same benefits) using small-business telecom systems. I also wrote a book called The Telecom Manager’s Survival Guide which spelled out how to, well, manage the telecommunications infrastructure for a large company. What subject in your life would you like to develop into a longer written project? Whitepaper (3-5k words)? eBook (5-25k words)? Full-length nonfiction project (50-100k words) you want to take to a publisher?

The price of a writer-for-hire

The cost for a writer to help you with any of these kinds of content projects vary. A writer looking to break in, or one that has the capacity for high-volume, short-turn-around work, could be quite inexpensive. You can find them online, as well as find marketplaces for freelancers to bid on your job. Hiring the most pedigreed writer in your field may be expensive.

I’m somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum. I work on freelance projects when I want to; when I like the project, the client/collaborator, and feel like I can produce interesting work. My fees are as follows:

  • Per word rate - Fifty-cents per word for short projects, plus expenses. That means, if I am contracted to produce a 500-word blog article, I may turn-in 556 words, but the client pays for the agreed-on amount of $250.
  • Flat fees - If a word-count price model doesn’t work (very short word-count projects, the editing of existing copy, or research-heavy book-length projects), I negotiate, in advance, either a flat fee or a financial arrangement tied to the income produced by the work (in the case of book-length projects).

Again, if you have a writing project you’d like to discuss, please contact me.

20Oct/180

VEGA COLLECTION

Oct 20, 2018 - Our Acquazero-treated VEGA winter clothing is your insurance policy for when nasty weather threatens to rob you of the joy of riding your bicycle.

Ignore the weather forecast and go for a ride

It’s easy to dress for cycling in summer; a short-sleeve jersey, your favorite Santini bib shorts, and a slather of sunblock are all you need. The job gets trickier in fall and winter. Even mildly cool air can throw off your training when you’re driving through it at twenty miles per hour. Throw in some moisture, up the wind speeds, or drop the temperatures near freezing, and riding a bike becomes a challenge that can only be solved with a hardy will and a proper system of protective winter cycling kit. Like Santini’s Acquazero-treated VEGA collection.

The VEGA collection of winter clothing includes long-sleeve jerseys, bib tights, a jacket, gloves, and shoe covers -- all designed to wrap you in a warm embrace without cloistering. The fabrics we chose are insulated, but breathable. Properly worn when you head out in cold weather, VEGA clothing is designed to keep you comfortable at the start and, as you warm up, release trapped heat and sweat to maintain ideal core temperature. The collection’s VEGA Xtreme jacket, a Polartec shell, adds a layer of protection for the worst of days.

The genius of the VEGA collection is our unique moisture-protection treatment called Acquazero, which allows cyclists to prepare for, but not be defeated by, challenging weather conditions. Chilly mornings? No problem. Foggy skies? Threat of rain showers? Pish-tosh. Acquazero-treated VEGA clothing is the solution to staying on your bike in winter.

Acquazero is an ingenious chemical bath that impregnates a flexible moisture barrier into our thermal fabrics. It’s a protective treatment designed to prevent light rain and road spray from getting to your core, where it can harsh the mellow of your riding experience. We’ve been using Acquazero on winter cycling clothing for years. It saves you from moisture beautifully and holds up to repeated (gentle-cycle) machine washes.

The VEGA winter-riding collection

The collection includes the following items:

Thermal bib tights - Acquazero-treated. Perfect for temperatures between +5 and +15 Celsius (40 to 60 degrees fahrenheit).

Thermal jerseys - long-sleeve jerseys in Acquazero-treated Blizzard thermofleece. Our best-selling winter item, the VEGA thermal jerseys are good for temperatures between +5 and +15 celsius.

VEGA Xtreme jacket - For temperatures between -8 and +5 (15 to 40 degrees farenheit ), the VEGA Xtreme jacket is designed so you can ride in the harshest weather conditions. Made with Polartec’s Windbloc fabric, a 3 layer shield with an advanced microporous membrane for maximum breathability, Vega XTREME offers total protection from wind and rain.

Accessories - Blizzard thermafleece long-fingered gloves and shoe covers treated with Acquazero round out the collection.

Use our VEGA winter-clothing system to keep yourself on the road and protect your core in colder months, and reduce the total number of winter clothing items you need to own (and carry). Add base-layers underneath to ride in even the most unseemly conditions.

Original posted on www.santinius.com

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14Oct/180

Dear Twitter (a break-up letter)

I’m sorry, but I can’t see you anymore. It isn’t working between us. I need some space. And by space, I mean, I’m leaving. And I am not coming back.

I know this probably comes as a shock and I’m sorry to be so blunt about it, but I want you to understand that this is about me, not about you. I’ve reached a point in my life where I have to make some changes. Changes for my health, for my well-being, for my sanity even. I want to be happy, and I’m not happy when I’m with you. And honestly, I can’t believe you’re happy with me either. As much as it pains me to let go of a years-long relationship, I need a clean break.

Please don’t cry. We’ve had a good run haven’t we? It’s important to me that I believe much of the time we spent together was positive. In fact, when we first met and everything was still so new and fresh, you opened me up to a world I hadn’t been part of up until then. At first, we had the same friends, then you introduced me to a whole world of new people. I was drawn to the stories and the people that you knew and could get me access to. I met all kinds of other writers and artists and people I admired. You let me see practically inside their heads and how they thought about their work, their place in the world, and shared their successes. I even got to commiserate alongside them for their losses and missteps.

To be part of your life while you became famous was really special to me. I got to watch you grow, to ride along as you empowered people to change the worlds. You grew so powerful that you helped people literally overthrow their oppressive governments, settled debates among titans, and gave voice to the creative and the suffering. I fed off your power. I felt connected. I felt like because of my relationship with you, I had a bigger voice than I’d ever had before.

The truth is, as strong and powerful my love for you was, I was always reserved in our relationship. I allowed myself to be pulled by you. When we’d spend time together, I always let you choose what we saw and how we spent our time. You set the agenda. I was passive about it. Which is fine. I know this was my choice. But looking back, maybe that was a sign this relationship couldn’t last. I gave you too much power over my mental wellbeing. I didn’t contribute, I just consumed. Which made me feel weak and controlled. And I began to resent myself for it.

The wings of darkness are flapping over us

Then things turned. I know this is tough to hear, but it’s as if dark forces took you over. The Twitter I loved started to get moody and irritable. It wasn’t long before politics, fear, negativity, and hate replaced that beautiful window into the worlds of my creative and positive friends. All everyone wanted to do with you was fret and wring their hands about the world. Even though I still wanted to see you every day, I would leave our time together feeling bad about myself and scared for the future.

Your success, in the form of attention and growth in numbers, seemed like it was a drug to you. Even if you knew (I believe in your heart of hearts, you knew) that it was bad for you, you kept taking it. You acted like that attention was all that mattered. You didn’t seem to care that it was corrosive and negative and harmful to the great collective human soul. Attention was attention.

You are feeding on darkness. You have become infected with desperateness and mean-spiritedness. I catch a little more of it every time I am around you. Being with you, I allowed darkness to grow inside me. Which means, I am then feeding your need. It is a nasty cycle and I hate myself sometimes for both what being with you is doing to me, but also by what this co-dependency does to you.

Worst of all, you have started to take sides in some of the debate that you are enabling. You had never done that before. And I find myself almost constantly on the side you chose against.

So, for both our sake, I have to let you go. I’m making a clean break. I don’t trust myself to just take some time off or put us through a trial separation. It’s over. I’m leaving. I’m deactivating my account.

I know that this will have no real impact on you, I’m not naive. I was always just a teeny-tiny blip in your journey. You meant way much more to me than I ever meant to you. But I didn’t want to leave without you knowing why. I still love you enough for that.

I hope you understand my choice. And I hope that somewhere, maybe deep inside you, you know that I’m actually doing the right thing and you can be happy for me.

Anyway. Thank you. I love you. But goodbye.

Steve Medcroft

PS: The steps to deactivating a Twitter account are:

  1. Login to Twitter in a browser on your PC.
  2. Click on your profile image to open Profile and Settings.
  3. Select Settings and Privacy.
  4. To save your history, click on Request Your Archive. You will receive an email link that allows you download the history of your activity on Twitter.
  5. Click Deactivate Account. You will be taken to a confirmation window that notified you your username is reserved for 30 days

After deactivation, some of your activity may be available in search engines, internet archives, and the feeds of other people. You will receive a confirmation when the deactivation is complete. Then you’re free.