Volume 42, Issue 3

November 2002


Features

Communication Similarities and Differences:
A Look at Technical Writing and Journalism

by Margaret Gorham, Freelance Writer

There has been some discussion on the STC Houston mailing list regarding the differences between the worlds of journalism and technical communication. I have found it very interesting because my degree is in journalism, and I have done a little work in the field. Yet, with all the differences between the two fields, similarities exist between journalism and technical writing.

Both require utmost accuracy

Any inaccuracy of information in the medical world could mean a patient’s life, especially in the operation of lifesaving medical equipment or in information on the latest medications. One pill may be fine; two may be toxic. Inaccuracies in instructions on how to use the latest computer software could cost company dollars.

It’s so irritating to read a newspaper article about a fire that gives the location of the tragedy as 1501 Anywhere Street when you know that it is 1301 Anywhere Street. Or you are one of the fortunate victims that survived that fire; your name is Joan Doe, and that infernal newspaper has your name as Joanne Doe. You are going to call that editor and give him a piece of your mind.

Needless to say, accuracy is important in any form of writing. One can imagine the kink in human politics, cost, and even potential loss of lives that might be caused by inaccuracies.

Both require interviewing and research skills

In technical writing, SMEs (subject matter experts) are a source for knowledge of the latest software or medical facts. Our job as technical communicators is to try to squeeze information out of these experts without appearing to do so. This requires knowing the right questions to ask and how to ask them to these oracles of information.

Sometimes the inventor of a product may be so intimately involved with his or her invention that the process is second nature. It may seem similar to thinking of the steps of how to get dressed in the morning or, perhaps, breathe. One needs to know what buttons to push.

In the journalistic world, it often is not that difficult, because sometimes the persons interviewed may not necessarily be experts in the subject covered; they might be witnesses who saw the fire and were scared out of their wits.

Of course, a reporter may need to ask a medical examiner whether the cause of a victim’s death was merely asphyxiation from smoke or whether there was actually a primary cause and the asphyxiation would not have been enough to actually cause the death.

Maybe there was not enough smoke in the area the person was rescued from to justify death in a normally healthy human being.

Both require top-notch writing skills

The quality of information is as good as its writing. The main purpose of writing is communication, even if entertainment is involved, such as writing a paperback novel. Even so, there is a level of communication in the fact that the author must communicate with his or her readers.

Technical writing and journalism require that the practitioners of the respective arts have knowledge of spelling, grammar, organization, and other writing issues.

A certain amount of creativity is needed for both forms of writing to be able to generate audience interest in the subjects covered. Nothing bores the layman more than dry reading. It may make the operator of a home computer want to send that latest Dell back.

Both require specialized knowledge and education

Journalism jobs usually require a college degree. Of course there are exceptions, especially for small start-up newspapers or stations. And if Larry, who has a high-school education but possesses a creative flair, knows Uncle Tony, who is the news producer at Channel 32, or if Sid, who led the neighborhood kids when he was five but dropped out of college, grew up knowing Myrna Goldstein, who is editor of the Daily Review, they may have special opportunities.

A degree in technical communication or an expertise in some technical area is needed. In fact, technical communication requires enough knowledge to understand a technical or scientific subject, talk to experts in a given field, and communicate it to the average layman.

Both require consideration of readership

Consideration of the audience or readership is important in any communication field. This is true in technical communication and journalism.

In journalism, the readership or audience is usually the public at large. Company newsletters and newspapers are generally written for employees or managers. But there are exceptions to the rule. It is important to reach a general audience without “dumbing down” the information. I have heard that the general readership reads at an eighth-grade level. (Please don’t accept that as fact until you research that yourself.)

In technical communication, one has to reach a target audience of users of a product and, sometimes, experts in a field. Technical writers act as a liaison between the users of a product, who are on various levels of education and knowledge, and the inventors or developers of that product. That liaison might require diplomatic skills, which brings us to the next subject.

Both require people skills

People are creatures of moods, needs, and idiosyncrasies. We need to know how to deal with each other. Both journalism and technical writing require knowing the right word to say in due season or the correct word that will get a point across without ruffling feathers or insulting intelligence.

In journalism, one needs to know the language of the subject that is being covered in an article and to learn to speak it fluently. It may mean schmoozing with the mayor or talking to neighborhood locals. The sky is the limit, actually. Technical writing may require that one learn more “geek-speak” to be able to communicate with Gerald, the software engineer at ABC Company. But meeting the needs of people within a company who use that software is necessary, as well. One has to deal with fellow writers and editors. People have egos, and they need to be stroked, on occasion.

Next month: Differences between journalism and technical writing.


STC—Lifeline to Your Career

by Stephanie Donovan, Freelance Writer

When I was a young and budding technical writer, I stumbled upon a group called STC and discovered it to be a most worthwhile finding.

Just out of college, I had switched my career from journalism and was working as an assistant technical writer in Austin. A friend of mine was the hospitality chairperson at the meetings, and I thought that greeting people at the door each month would give this formerly shy girl a reason to be more outgoing with people.

What I discovered was so much more than I ever expected. As it turns out, STC was an invaluable resource to my professional career as a new writer. Here was a group of peers that I could learn from and network with to keep up on the market, the latest trends, and the best places to work.

My work in STC helped to “beef up” my resume while I was just getting started and had very little experience in the workplace. When I mentioned my STC involvement in interviews, interviewers took notice instead of just thinking I was another “newbie” to the field! The organization’s reputation elevated me above the pack.

As the years went by, STC was always a part of my career. I served as secretary of the Austin chapter. My contacts helped me transition to the Lone Star chapter and find a good job when my husband took a position in Dallas. There I remained active in STC for several years, again finding good job contacts and building a solid network of peers in a new city.

Today my life has totally changed again. After working as a lead writer for several years, I embarked upon a totally new challenge unlike any I had taken on before—parenthood!

After deciding to stay home with my son for several years, I had a lot of fears about walking away from my high-tech career. As a proudly professed workaholic who loved the fastpace chaos of a software company, I knew it would be a big adjustment.

Things change so quickly in our field; would my skills become outdated? Would I still be marketable in five years when I was ready to jump back into the workforce? How would I bridge that gap on my resume and find employment later on?

Then I made one of the best choices I could have made during this difficult transition. I chose to stay connected to STC. Many of my peers wondered why I wasn’t taking a break when I was not even working. Instead, I served as secretary of the Lone Star chapter and continued to be involved after I had my son.

Then another rough transition—my husband was offered a position in Houston, and we moved again. I would have to rebuild those contacts again in a city where I had never even worked while I was staying at home.

The thought seemed so daunting. How could I get my name around and network if I had not worked in Houston at all?

Once again the answer was STC. I attended the STC Houston new member lunch and was again amazed by STC members’ eagerness to network with new faces. I spoke to writers of varying backgrounds and learned about the job market in Houston.

I later attended the chapter transition meeting and the president, George Slaughter, hit me up to work with the Communications Committee. There was a need for someone to write PR releases, to get the word out about our great organization.

It couldn’t have been a better fit! I could use my journalism background and stay in touch with technical writing while I was at home!

Now I’m in my second term as external publicity coordinator. I am still at home with my son, who is now three years old.

Through STC I have learned about several job opportunities—some of which became part-time contracts that I have done from home to keep my skills up. I’ve used STC employment resources to get my name back out there to find other contracts that I can do from home.

At a time when I thought I’d be totally focused on the ABCs and potty training, I have found that my relationship with STC remains extremely invaluable. It is a primary lifeline to a career that I have put on hold to focus on family.

Over the years I have learned that giving just a small portion of my time to STC comes back to me in more positive ways than I could have ever imagined.

Regular Features

Volunteer of the Month
Cathy Bettoney

by Paul Mueller, Senior Information Development Manager, NetIQ Corporation

Cathy Bettoney is the November 2002 Volunteer of the Month for STC Houston for her work as the Dateline Houston translation editor. During the past two program years, Cathy has converted our newsletter contributions from various formats into FrameMaker for our copy editors. She is always eager and willing to work with our layout editor to find better ways to populate our templates and make it easier for all the newsletter editors.

Being our translation editor is not an easy job. Cathy often needs to complete last-minute projects to ensure that the newsletter is delivered on time. She works through sometimes complex content issues and delivers what the newsletter team needs. We truly could not produce the newsletter without her. George Slaughter, our chapter president, had the following things to say about Cathy:

“Cathy Bettoney has done a great job helping the newsletter team, and we would love to see more volunteers like her. Cathy is eager to learn new tools and skills. She brings a lot of enthusiasm to the chapter, and I think she is most deserving of this award.”

Cathy is currently a technical writer at Millar Instruments, Inc. In her recent article, “Technical Writing as a Second Career,” (Dateline Houston, October 2002) Cathy describes how she moved from teaching geometry into exploring the technical communication field. Her enthusiasm and ability to quickly learn new skills shines through as she describes her journey.

STC Houston is pleased to honor Cathy Bettoney as November 2002 Volunteer of the Month.

Would you like to be a volunteer? See the "Help Wanted" list.


Letter from Linda
Do Your Negotiations Work?

by Linda Oestreich, Director-Sponsor, Region 5

Colleagues, I recently attended a class to help me learn negotiation skills. One of the new phrases I learned was BATNA, which means best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

For example, you are ready to buy a new car, but just can’t get the deal you want. What’s your BATNA? You can continue driving your old wreck, you can walk, you can take public

transportation—all are BATNAs to your buying a new car. Most car salespeople are hoping that all your BATNAs are unacceptable. If you can’t live comfortably with the BATNA, you’ll want to make a deal. They hope you’ll make one that’s more profitable to them than to you.

In the world of negotiating, an agreement must meet several requirements (Conflict Management, 1997. Vantage Training, www.vantage-training.com):

If your negotiated agreement meets these requirements, the process works and builds a strong relationship.

Another example: I take my cars back again and again to a particular shop.We have had several negotiations over the years, and through it all our relationship has become strong. I trust them.

So, what’s this got to do with our STC life? Well, each time we take on a volunteer position, we are negotiating to offer something to the chapter or the Society in return for something else. Many people avoid volunteering because they don’t see how their agreement with the chapter meets the agreement requirements. Let’s look at my agreement to be your director-sponsor:

Does it satisfy the interests of both parties?

I’m new, so that’s still being determined. I’m certainly happy from my side; only time will tell if you are happy from yours. I receive the chance to help others, make presentations on topics that I enjoy, and share my enthusiasm for STC with hundreds of people. So far, it meets this requirement.

Is it the least wasteful among a field of options?

Well, my field of options was to do volunteer work elsewhere, become a couch potato, learn to knit, take on a second job, or go back to school. I felt that doing STC volunteer work was the best route I could take toward my own professional growth. I had a good head of steam going, I was well known, and I loved the work. I couldn’t say that about much else in my list of options. So, yes, I believe it meets this requirement.

Is it legitimate for all parties?

Do I feel cheated or taken advantage of? Certainly not. I am excited and hopeful that my work in this job will be helpful to all members of Region 5 and to the Society. Whether you, the members, will feel cheated has yet to be determined. I’m going to do the best I can to ensure that you are as happy about this agreement as I am!

Is it better than my BATNA?

As I check my field of options once more, I say Yes! I believe it’s better than couch-sitting, returning to the life of a student, or moonlighting.

Are the commitments operational and durable?

I believe so. The commitment I have made is one that I know I am capable of carrying out. And I believe the commitment the Society has made to me is just as stable. The Society’s support, your help, and my ability to use my predecessors and fellow board members as mentors are all there for me to tap into. Yes, the commitments remain strong.

Is the process efficient and effective?

I hope that I’m doing my part. But for this to really work, communication must flow in both directions. You have to let me know whether you trust the relationship. If not, inform me so I have a chance to improve. Remember my example? If my mechanics make a mistake, it’s my job to tell them. Avoiding them or going somewhere else doesn’t do much good—and it destroys the relationship.

As you take on new volunteer work, think about what you would have if you don’t do the job, or help with the meeting, or sit on that council. What are your BATNAs? Are you being fair to  yourself? Do you really value the experience, feedback, and opportunity you receive as payment for your volunteer work? If so, you’ll realize that your negotiated agreements with your Society strengthen relationships —even if it’s the relationship you have with yourself. It’s good to feel proud of a job well done.


From the President
Society Meets Chapter

by George Slaughter, Information Developer, BMC Software

This month we recognize STC Houstonians who have been active on the Society level, and encourage you to join their ranks.

STC Houston’s Mount Rushmore

If you were to create a Mount Rushmore for STC Houston —recognizing those who have been movers and shakers on Society and chapter levels—the first two names must be those of the late John B. Colby and the late Marx Isaacs.

John and Marx were two of the founders of STC Houston back in 1962. Both became STC Fellows. John ultimately moved to Austin, but Marx remained in Houston and was a fixture at our program meetings, encouraging participation in chapter activities.

Another person who belongs on STC Houston’s Mount Rushmore is Janis Raymond Hocker. Janis led STC Houston to its first Chapter Achievement Award during her chapter presidency in 1978–1979. She is also the only STC Houston member to serve as Society president (1987–1988). Like John and Marx, Janis was elected an STC Fellow.

Faces in the Crowd

STC Houston today has many people who have served on the Society level and participated in Society-level activities. Most prominent among these is Linda Oestreich, another STC Fellow who currently serves as our Region 5 Director-Sponsor.

STC Houstonians also volunteer for select Society activities. Wayne Schmadeka, our treasurer, and Deborah Long, our immediate past president, are helping to review a treasurer’s handbook that the Society will share with chapter treasurers in the future. Last April, Sherri Smith, an STC Fellow, organized the international competitions judging events that took place in Houston.

Your Place in History

While Mount Rushmore has only four personages represented, STC Houston’s rendition of Mount Rushmore has room for many more, including you. Take a look around and see how STC Houston can help you master knowledge for success!


From the Editor
STC Houston Online Mailing List

by Rebecca Taylor, Product Marketing Analyst, Hewlett-Packard Company

Last month, I mentioned that editors are passionate people, and the last few months on the STC

Houston mailing list have certainly demonstrated that! I’d like to offer some suggestions to help everyone make the most out of our mailing list.

Message Volume

If you’re concerned about the volume of mail you receive from the list, you have a couple of options:

Mailing List Purpose

We’ve had some contentious debate lately about the purpose of the mailing list. There are three camps in the purpose debate:

I’m in the dialogue camp. We created the list with the intention of providing our members with a forum for discussing whatever is on your mind, so long as it relates to our profession.

Now, having said that, I want to know what you think. Is the mailing list serving its purpose, or do we need to consider alternatives? What would you prefer for our online discussion tools?

You can vote at www.stc-houston.org/newsletter/poll.shtml.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly with questions or suggestions!


From the Communications Director
Improving the Status Quo

by Rebecca Taylor, Product Marketing Analyst, Hewlett-Packard Company

Last year saw some big changes for STC Houston communications practices, a new expanded web site and exclusively electronic newsletter being the major ones. So while last year was a year of change and expansion, this year is one of improvement and building. This year our goal is to make your communication resources better than ever. So I’d like to let you know how my committee members are working to do just that!

Online Newsletter

Now that our newsletter is published electronically, we hope to offer an even broader newsletter that is entirely online and embedded in our web site. Starting with the September issue, the entire newsletter is posted on the website for you to browse, print, or download. A web-based format will make it easier for you to read the newsletter as it is meant to be read—online. Our newsletter committee is working harder than ever to bring you a timely, useful publication. Next time you see Cathy Bettoney, Melanie Boston, Jamie Diamandopoulos, Erika Frensley, Jim Hunt, or George Slaughter, give them a pat on the back. You can always send anyone on the committee, including me, your comments or suggestions.

Web Site

Our illustrious webmaster, Theresa Duncan, is applying her expertise to our web site. Now that the site is established and well used, we want to make sure it provides the best online experience for you. We expect to do some usability and content analyses. If you have any suggestions regarding the web site and how we might improve it, please send your suggestions to webmaster@stc-houston.org.

Mailing List

We’ve seen a lot of activity on our mailing list lately. We’re also looking for ways to make your listserv experience smoother. Soon we’ll be publishing a set of informal guidelines for when and what to post. I’d like to thank Anne Smith for her hard work in making this relatively new communication method such a success!

Publicity

Our public relations manager extraordinaire, Stephanie Donovan, has been hard at work this summer updating our chapter brochures and streamlining our public relations process. Stephanie strives to publicize all of our events and announcements.

Phone Service

Last, but certainly not least, is our phone service. Judie Guy is the hidden voice on the other end of the line when a prospective member calls our phone line for information or assistance. Judie’s efforts are vital to keeping our prospective members and the public informed about the chapter’s services.

Chapter News

November Program Meeting
Web Design

Stefani Twyford, president of Ariel Graphics, a Web design and marketing firm, will share her knowledge about the basics of Web design.

Understanding the concepts, issues, and mechanics of Web design is important for creating an effective Web site. Initial design versus redesign, layout, navigation, color, typography, browsers, conceptualization, and logo integration are among the many factors to consider in Web design. Stefani will discuss tips, tricks, and best practices for designing a web site and talk about some of the common design pitfalls and solutions.

Stefani is president of the Houston chapter of Digital Eve and is a founding member of Digital Eve International. Her company, Ariel Graphics, has been providing Web design, online marketing, and e-commerce solutions for small- to medium-sized companies in industries ranging from art to management consulting since 1996. Ariel Graphics designed and developed www.kidsongs.com, a web site that sells video and audio products for children. In October 2000, NBC Interactive voted www.kidsongs.com the Best of the Web.

Send your questions to Cindy Pao at cindypao@earthlink.net.

Place:

Hilton Houston Westchase and Towers
9999 Westheimer Road

Date:

Tuesday, November 12

Time:

5:30 p.m. networking (hors d’oeuvres)
6:20 p.m. announcements
6:30 p.m. program

Cost:

$10 (members)
$13 (nonmembers)
$3 (student and unemployed members)
$6 (student non-members)

Tables:

During our networking hour, the tables will feature discussion groups on various web design topics. The topics are:

  • Creating web forms and databases
  • Frames
  • Chunking and Single Sourcing
  • Authoring Tools
  • Navigation Devices
  • XML, HTML, SGML, and ASP
  • Searching
  • Readability and Scrolling
  • Graphic Design
  • Metadata

Drawing:

A drawing for various prizes is held at the end of each general meeting. Proceeds benefit the Marx Isaacs Student Scholarship Fund.


STC Houston–Proud
Thanks to Our Volunteers

Thanks to the many volunteers who helped with STC Houston business during the past month. Your efforts are appreciated.

Drum Roll, Please

Thanks to Lisa Anderson, Cathy Bettoney, Melanie Boston, Lori Buffum, Phaedra Cook, Jamie Diamandopoulos, Stephanie Donovan, Theresa Dunson, Erika Frensley, Gary Foster, Mary Gwynne, Jim Hunt, Diana Jaques, Mary Kuna, Terry Lambert, Julia Land, Ann Liggio, Melody Locke, Errol Mayer, Linda Oestreich, Melinda Patrick, Brenda Pereira, Kim Lee Shaw, Deborah Silvi, Jennifer Smith, Jeff Staples, Rebecca Taylor, and Jocelyn Williams.

Know someone else who should be mentioned? Let your committee manager or director know about it, and we’ll publish their name.

Current Volunteer Openings

If you are interested in getting your name in front of the Houston technical writing industry and in improving your interviewing and writing skills, we have a need for you! We need someone to interview new STC Houston members and publish their information in Dateline Houston.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the Online/Information Mapping Special Interest Group (SIG) or the Online Documentation SIG, we also need someone to help coordinate that group.

Want more info about where to volunteer? Check out the STC Houston web site at www.stc-houston.org or contact Volunteer Coordinator Mary Gwynne.


STC Employment Committee

by Gary Foster, Senior Technical Writer, Kitba Consulting Services

Mark your calendar! January 11, 2003, has been reserved at the Westchase Hilton for out second annual Employment Share The Knowledge (STK) seminar. Hours are between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. As the time comes nearer and plans are finalized, I will post more details.

An interesting discussion about recruiters and their ethics was a hot topic of discussion on the STC Houston mailing list the other day. Recruiters are paid to get job leads and to fill those positions. The discussion concerned the ethics of how a few recruiters get their job leads. The recruiter would tell potential employees that they had a job that was ideal except for one small area of expertise. The recruiter would then ask the potential employees to give information about hiring contacts from a previous employment—then not follow through with the potential ideal job.

Yes, this could very well be a scam. My advice is to know your recruiter and work closely with him or her. A recruiter can be your best ally or your worst nightmare. If you don’t know a reputable recruiter, ask an individual at one of our STC meetings (I haven’t been steered wrong yet.).

Prior to each program meeting (the second Tuesday of each month) we sponsor a get-together for people looking for employment. The get-together starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m. We discuss what works well in interviews and give advice on resumes and what the job market is like for Houston and the surrounding areas.

Our STC Employment web site is next to none. The web site enables you to see who’s looking for staff and who’s looking for work. We designed the web site so that it is easy to post job openings and to post your professional qualifications when looking for work. Houston has been fortunate this last year and has averaged at least two job postings per week.

Even if you are not looking for employment at this time, visit our Web site just to see what the job market is doing. My goal is to inform companies that when they need a technical communicator, they call one place—STC Houston.

Go to the STC Houston employment web site at www.stc.org/employment.html to access our employment resources, which include a bulletin board, jobs database, mailing list, and salary survey.


From the Members
Make Writing Pack a Personal Punch

by Marc Levinson, Freelance Writer

A lot of times we as communicators wonder whether there’s anyone on the “other end” of our communications. Here’s one story that proves there are.

I come from a background in television journalism. Even though TV is a mass medium, as a news producer I always tried to write to just one person. There’s an old trick to making your writing more personable: Imagine starting every story as though you were excitedly telling it to your best friend. “Hey Chris, did you hear what happened on the freeway this morning?” Then whatever comes next is how you start your script.

The theory is that this will get you out of the habit of “reporting” the news to your viewers and more into the flow of “sharing” the news with your friends. The twist is that you never know who your friends are. One of the most meaningful scripts I ever wrote had to be 10 percent good writing and 90 percent luck. It was back in June 2001, when all the media were going full-out covering Tropical Storm Allison and its aftermath. Although the rains had receded, Houstonians were now coping with a massive cleanup.

My TV station had a reporter doing a live shot from downtown Houston, and this is the essence of the lead-in I wrote for the anchor to toss to the reporter:

“Tropical Storm Allison hit downtown with the force of a George Foreman knockout punch. But by working together, businesses are pulling themselves off the canvas and starting to rebuild.”

Wouldn’t you know it—Foreman was watching our newscast that day. He later said he felt like the anchor was addressing him personally. George was moved. So moved that he got up, grabbed his checkbook, and wrote out a check on the spot to the American Red Cross for a quarter of a million dollars!

George wanted to make his donation anonymously (or as anonymously as one can when the signature on the check is that of the former heavyweight champion of the world).

But TV news being the self-promotional machine that it is, this donation became a story of its own. A couple of them, in fact. We did one story on the reason behind George’s donation, then another one when we presented his check to the Red Cross.

But the bottom line—and what I’m proudest of—is that, because of those few lines that I wrote, victims of one of the biggest disasters to affect our neighbors got a little more help in their efforts to put their lives back on track. And it’s all because I was trying to tell a story to a friend—a friend who turned out to pack quite a punch.

Please send your letters to the editor through our web form at www.stchouston.org/contacteditor.htm, or send them directly to rebecca.taylor@hp.com.

Society & Industry News

STC News

Join New STC Special Needs SIG

by Lori Gillen, Membership Co-Manager, STC Special Needs SIG

Dear fellow communicator: You are invited to join the new STC Special Needs SIG.

SNSIG Mission

Here is our mission statement:

(1) Provide resources, information, and support to technical communicators with special needs;

(2) Provide resources that will help technical communicators make the products they create accessible to end users with special needs;

(3) Provide strategic leadership in both areas through positive initiatives and open communication, both inside and outside of the Society. Those are lofty goals, but we have already made significant progress: a comprehensive Web site, a soon-to-be-released dynamic new online newsletter (Achieve!), the publication of Guidelines for Persons with Special Needs at the STC 49th Annual Conference, a highly successful progression at the same conference, and the publication of several articles.

How You Can Contribute

But we have much yet to do, and we need more members. If you have a disability, if you prepare communication products for users who do, or if you meet neither of those parameters but are committed to the concept of helping people take the “dis” out of disability, we urge you to join us.

By joining you will be added to the SNSIG immediately, meaning you can (with your permission, of course) be added to our robust and spirited mailing list, receive our online newsletter, and join our efforts to fulfill our mission. Even if you cannot contribute time as an active participant—at least, not immediately—we still ask for your support in joining us now as a Patron, thereby committing to include your SNSIG affiliation when you submit your STC membership renewal.

As a brand new SIG we not only face a daunting list of tasks, we also must overcome a significant budget challenge to fund those tasks. So if you want to support us but cannot commit volunteer hours, please consider joining us as a Patron. If you have a disability and are willing to share that information with us when you sign up, that would help us gather the data we need to focus our research and publishing initiatives in the areas that will benefit the most people. We urge you to join us and benefit from the information and resources we have already gathered, whether or not you are in a position to participate actively in our undertakings.

How to Join

You can join by sending an e-mail to either of us:

Lori Gillen, Membership Co-Manager STC Special Needs SIG
lori.gillen@McKesson.com 

Dan Voss, SIG Manager and Membership Co-Manager STC Special Needs SIG
daniel.w.voss@lmco.com

STC Mission Statement

The mission of the Society for Technical Communication is to improve the quality and effectiveness of technical communication for audiences worldwide.


Educational Opportunities

STC Telephone Seminars

Telephone seminars have been very successful in bringing cost-effective training to STC members and others seeking to improve their skills and knowledge. STC is offering 10 telephone seminars during 2002–2003. Two seminars will be offered each month through March 2003. This year, STC is offering online registration at www.stc.org/seminars.asp.

In the first seminar, Constance Billé will discuss “Getting Into Instructional Design.” The seminar will be held on November 7 from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The second November seminar is scheduled for November 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Entitled “Looking, Finding, Searching ... How Users Do It,” it will be led by Whitney Quesenbery.

Other seminars scheduled for 2002–2003 are as follows:

The cost for each seminar is $145. An additional $10.00 will be charged for registration received less than five days before the seminar.

A cost-effective and time-efficient way of improving your skills and knowledge, telephone seminars are much like a large conference call, but have a more controlled environment. Simply dial the 800 number from your telephone, enter the provided personal identification number, and you’re connected. Then sit back and listen to the presentation and join in the discussions.

For one registration, several employees at a company can benefit from the seminar presentation and develop their own interactive discussions. You can get more information, including an explanation of how telephone seminars work, and you can register online at www.stc.org/seminars.asp. As an alternative, you can complete the registration form in the October 2002 Intercom.


Networking Opportunities

If you have a networking opportunity to share, please tell us! Go to www.stc-houston.org/contacteditor.htm.