#506DE- -30-

August 14, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

It’s only fitting that I headline the ending blog post in a course about writing for new media with an old media notation that is all but forgotten, hence the “-30-.”

No one really knows the origin of -30-, at least not conclusively, that I ever heard.  It’s likely a hold-over from telegraph days when the telegraph operator ended his transmission with XXX–30 in Roman numerals.  Some say it goes back to the days of writing in longhand.  X meant the end of a sentence.  XX indicated the end of a paragraph.  And XXX signified the end.  Whatever it’s origin, it’s end has come and gone in the computer age.

And now #506 has come and gone.  And I’m writing about (glorifying? pining for?) an arcane old symbol from an industry that has been decimated by the very new media that is the focus of this class and master’s program.  (It would  be politically correct to say the industry has been “changed,” rather than “decimated,” but Zinsser and Kalm have reinforced that there’s nothing to be gained from writing weakly     weakly stated thoughts are weak writing is boring and there is much to be gained for the writer and reader when positions are written strongly and with passion ;strong, passionate writing will keep your readers reading.)

The bottom line is no matter how much the the world has changed in terms of journalism and the way we all communicate with one another, writing well remains the key to success.   I fancied myself a decent writer before this class and I certainly appreciate the feedback I received (although, like all writers, I’m certain I would have benefited from more frequent feedback).

I certainly have a better handle now on what it will take to establish a personal brand online.  I remain a bit reluctant to dive in because I do understand what it takes to write well consistently.  At the moment, it’s about available time, or more precisely the lack of available time, to do my personal brand justice.

Clearly, this class has confirmed for me that if and when I find the time to establish that online brand, I could do it.  At the beginning of the term I responded to an email from you and said:  “Sometimes I even have the arrogance to think I might actually have something to say that will interest more than the few people who know me.  But not yet.  So, I’m in the ICM program to prepare for that day.”

I’m not backing away from that sentiment, which comes from a frustration and distaste for much of what is self-published on the web.  But this class, by forcing me to write, convinces me that I really could make a positive contribution to the public discussion in my niche.  As I re-read my blog entries, I liked much of what I wrote.  This class helped me crystallize my plans for my capstone project.  That’s no small accomplishment.

As your blog entries eloquently taught, writing is self-discovery.  Writing forced me to analyze and capsulize.  It forced me to fortify my musings with logic and facts.  The not-so-simple act of writing forces you to hone opinions into reasonable arguments that, one can hope, go beyond mere pontificating to perhaps adding some light on issues.  For that, this class was extremely valuable.

I will continue to write, but probably not on the blog until I can fully commit to creating and maintaining an online presence.  When I’m ready, I hope I can contact you for advice on maximizing my presence.

-30-

Social Media Campaign

August 8, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Being the dinosaur that I am, this assignment–to critique a current social media campaign–took quite a bit of research. Frankly, I spend very little time on Facebook, even less on Twitter and I am virtually unfamiliar with most others. So, I suppose I’m not exposed to a lot of social media campaigns. I’m not saying that social media isn’t a good thing. I have experienced several Facebook reunions, etc. that have been a real kick. I’m just a novice.

I know businesses are trying to capitalize on social media to advertise their companies and I’ve read about some efforts, but frankly the write-ups concentrate on the “coolness” of interacting and are slim on any data proving the efforts have boosted their bottom line. Especially when you consider that to maintain a vibrant social network presence on Facebook or Twitter takes constant effort (that is, an employee) it seems a lot of folks haven’t quite figured out how to make it work for them. In my field–news–TV stations and newspapers are trying desperately to use social media, but viewership and circulation continues to drop. I’d love to see more examples of true success stories and was hoping this program might provide that (but that’s a topic for another day).

All of that long, curmudgeonly preamble sets up the fact that I found a social media campaign that blew me away for its “coolness” and its potential to really affect revenue. Of course I didn’t know about it until I was doing research for this assignment, but I’m not in the target demographic, so why would I?

Ford is about to introduce a new car in the US at the end of this year, the Fiesta. It’s a subcompact and has been selling in Europe for a few years already. The target audience for this car will be young drivers, 20-somethings, the so-called millenials. At some point, Ford will use traditional advertising on TV and in print and they’ll have Car & Driver review the car, etc. But in advance of that and in advance of the car’s US debut, Ford has given 100 20-somethings a Fiesta to drive for six months

The lucky 100 were chosen from 4,000 who applied to be “agents” for the Ford Fiesta Movement Campaign. The applicants had to show they had a substantial online presence.  The winners get to drive the car for six months and are expected to update, blog and tweet about their life with the vehicle on their own accounts and on the Ford-sponsored Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr accounts.

How many people can cram into a Fiesta? 14. From Flickr.

Ford has promised to keep hands off and let people really write what they think.  This will be an effective way to cut through the advertising glut.  What is written by fellow-20-somethings will be regarded as more genuine and more trustworthy.  Even though they are being given the cars for six months their tweets and blogs and videos will be seen as unbiased and real and has the potential to build real buzz for the Fiesta when it goes on sale in a few months in the US.

Brand agents also are being directed by Ford to take their Fiestas on assignments–to clean up parks, etc–and then to blog and tweet or produce videos.  It all builds the “cool” around the car from the auto-maker that used to be joked about as FORD–Fix Or Repair Daily.

This campaign is (potentially) brilliant.  The photos, blogs and videos, seem fun, which is in itself a positive image for Ford.   Of course we’ll have to see if it really pays off in terms of revenue, but I suspect this campaign will go a long way to convince 20-somethings to at least look at the Fiesta.

Perhaps I can take a page from this campaign if and when I launch TVNewsTalent Coach.com.  If I give away some free coaching sessions or at least offer a cut rate in exchange for young reporters blogging, Facebook and Tweeting about my services, that might bring in some extra business.  In addition I would explore getting my reporting tips blog entries picked up by industry newsletters, like NewsBlues and TVSpy.

#506de-Pitch/Presentation

August 1, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

Not surprisingly I did a video.  You can see it here.

And here is the script:

Hi.  My name is Paul Lewis.  I want to tell you about an exciting new web site and business called TV Talent Coach-dot-com.

Quite simply, TV News Talent Coach will help you become the best reporter or anchor you can be.

If you’re ready to put in some time and effort—to invest in yourself—I will work together with you to give you the tools to become a confident, passionate and effective storyteller.

I see three main audiences for this website and business:

-Broadcast journalism college students who will soon graduate and look for employment,

-Young working journalists hoping to move to the next level,

-and print reporters who are learning how to tell video news stories.

If you’re in your junior or senior year of college or in a graduate program, TV News Talent Coach is for you!  You–and your parents–have invested perhaps as much as $200,000 on your education.

Don’t cheap out now!  Now is the time to top it off with practical advise from a veteran News Director who has hired more than 100 people.

You might ask: Why do I need TVNewsTalentCoach.com when I have my professors who are critiquing my work?

Let’s be honest…when was the last time your professors were actually in a newsroom?  How many reporters and anchors have they hired?  Some will be great, but if you are really committed to making it in this business make just a small investment in yourself through TVNewsTalentCoach.com.

You’ll get brutally honest feedback and practical tips that will help you hone your skills.  You’ll see a dramatic improvement quickly and you will be ready to search for–and find–your first job.

If you’ve already got two or three years under your belt or even 10 or 12 years, and you’re ready to move to the next level but can’t seem to make it happen, TV News Talent Coach is for you!  Sometimes it takes an outside eye to identify just a few things that will elevate your performance.  If you’re a seasoned veteran you know that sometimes you just need a little inspiration.

You also know that virtually every station has slashed its budget.  The few stations that used to have formal talent coaching just don’t do it anymore.  The bottom line is it’s up to you to invest in yourself.   I’ll work with you to maximize your skills.  I’ve got a proven track record of success.

If you’re a print reporter, struggling with new demands to tell your stories with video on your website, it can be a daunting adventure.  It’s not what you signed up for but you know you’ve got to do it to keep your job in a shrinking industry.  The good news is it’s not brain surgery.  It’s not easy but there are things you can do to make your video stories more effective.  I can show you how.

So what will the website be?  First of all, it will be simple and easy to navigate with just a few pages.

On the “About” page, I’ll talk about my background.  I’ve been a broadcast journalist for more than 30 years.  I’m proud to say I’ve won a boatload of awards, from

A-P awards to Emmys to a Peabody.  I’ve been a News Director since 1996, so I know what News Directors are looking for when they hire reporters and anchors.  I know what it takes to stand out and I can get you there.

Can you get Talent coaching elsewhere?  Sure.  But most of the time it’s either very expensive or it’s offered by talent agents—many of them lawyers—who are really focused on finding you a job so they can take 6 or 8 percent of your salary as commission.  I’m not a talent agent and don’t want to be.  I’m just a News guy who loves the business can make you better at your craft.

On the “How It Works” page I’ll lay out the simple process.

Send me your DVD or links to where you’ve posted your work.  I’ll review it and we’ll set up a meeting by Skype.

Telephone conversations are OK, but I want to see your face and you’ll want to see mine as we drill down on your work.  I can have you read scripts and practice stand ups all by Skype.  I’ll send you off with concrete suggestions and you’ll put them into practice on your next piece.  We’ll meet again by Skype to review your next piece and I’m telling you will see an improvement.

So how much is all this going to cost?

Just 100 dollars.  That’s right, only a hundred bucks for a review and two Skype meetings.

I’m pricing it so low because I know students and young reporters don’t have a lot of excess cash lying around.  Think of where you throw away 100 bucks—a couple of nights at the bars, video games, whatever.

Isn’t it worth this small investment in yourself?

You’ll be able to see testimonials from several reporters and anchors from around the country who will talk about the value of my coaching.  These reporters are in medium and large markets like Hartford, Albany, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.

TVNews Talent Coach.com will also have dozens of links to other industry websites and a blog where I will comment on current issues, trends and challenges arising about broadcast journalism.

Getting people to this site will take some work, but I am pretty well plugged into the industry and will spread the word of this new site by contacting my friends and colleagues at industry newsletters and blogs and Facebook when it is launched.  I will also work with a network of journalism faculty around the country and use my extensive contacts in the print world to spread the word of -my new service.

TVNewsTalent Coach.com will provide a service that is sorely needed at an incredibly affordable rate.

Study: Newspapers Sink Below Internet and TV as Information Sources

July 30, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

That’s not my headline, that’s from “Editor & Publisher.” It’s really not a surprise.   And much as I am a fan of newspapers and I recognize the inherent ironies and inconsistencies, the fact is I’m part of the problem.

This headline tops a story of a survey of Internet users.  56% of them “ranked newspapers as  important or very important sources of information for them, down from 60% in 2008 –  and below the Internet (78%) and television (68%).”

Of course, this result shows a lack of understanding of where the information found on the Internet originates.  Even if someone relies completely on the Internet for his information, a lot of that information originally comes from newspapers.

18% of those surveyed (Internet users) said because they can now get the same content online, they stopped their subscription to a newspaper or  magazine.  That led the study creators to conclude that “print newspapers can be sacrificed by a significant  percentage of Internet users.”

Yup, that’s harsh but no shocker.  Circulation has been dropping like a stone at most American dailies.  Several have gone out of business altogether.  The advent of the iPad and Kindle will likely accelerate the death spiral for newspapers.

The study authors also conclude the horse has left the barn, noting “the difficulty of getting  Internet users to pay for anything that they already receive for free.”  I could bemoan this as a sad state of affairs, but the truth is I’m also to blame.  I no longer pay for a hard copy of the New York Times, not even on Sundays.  I get it for free online.

There was a time when I would spend all Sunday morning reading my local paper, the NY Times and Boston Globe.  I would come away with ink-stained hands and loved it.  There’s something magical about passing a few hours with your spouse in the same room, silent, except for the turning of news pages and the occasional “Listen to this…”    I suppose we could do that with dueling laptops or iPads, but we don’t.   I miss my newsprint stained hands.  But appreciate the extra few bucks in my pocket, just like everyone else.

More-Beware of Photographing Cops

July 30, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

I guess I’m not the only one to have been struck by the case of the Maryland man now facing 16 years in prison for videotaping cops stopping him for a traffic violation (see my last blog post).  The Washington Post this week wrote about how photography and cops make a troublesome mix in an article and great sidebar. Some of it is understandable hyper-security around government buildings–fear of terrorism and all–but it would sure help if the cops knew the law!

Caution-think twice before videotaping a cop

July 25, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

One of the great things about our new digital world is the democratizing power that technology brings.  Now everyone can be a publisher of words or video.  Personal video cameras are everywhere including palm camcorders, flip cameras and most cell phones.

When they capture suspects fleeing a crime scene, the cops love them and are thrilled average citizens are video-happy.  But turn those cameras on the cops?  Well, not so much.

A 25 year old Maryland man is facing 16 years in prison for videotaping the cops who stopped him for speeding on his motorcycle.  He happened to be taping his ride with an attached helmet-cam.  He acknowledges speeding and swerving from lane to lane.  The cops gave him a ticket but the trouble started when he posted the video of the cop drawing his gun on YouTube.

After the cops saw the YouTube video, they raided the motorcyclist’s home, taking his computers into custody and charged him with a felony. In Maryland it is illegal to record a conversation unless both parties agree to it–so called two-party consent.  State laws vary on this.  It’s not the video that’s the issue, it’s the audio.  These laws were enacted to safeguard privacy but the motorcycle stop happened on a public roadway where there is no expectation of privacy.

It’s not the first time something like this has happened.  A Miami journalist named Carlos Miller runs the blog Photography is not a Crime. He has tracked nearly a dozen arrests in the past three years of people videotaping cops doing their jobs.

It’s strange that cops are quick to offer dashboard video when it suits them but are fearful of citizens shooting video of them.  Government agencies and police are recording average citizens more and more.  It doesn’t make any sense that they can record us but we cannot record them when they are in public spaces.

Paywall problems for London Times

July 25, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · 1 Comment 
Newspaper executives have been kicking themselves for letting the Internet steal their readers and revenue before they knew what even hit them.  If only, some say, they had demanded registration and a fee for reading their product 10 or 15 years ago, life would be very different.
Well, we’ll never know.  But it’s clear that trying to put the proverbial horse back in the proverbial barn is pretty difficult.  Check out this headline from Britain this week:

Times loses almost 90% of online readership

Less than three weeks after the Times paywall went up, data shows a massive decline in web traffic

Of course this article was written in the Guardian, which took great joy in reporting the troubles of their chief rival.  Still, it’s interesting and perhaps instructive for American newspapers.

#506de – LeBron/ESPN too Cozy

July 18, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

It’s been several days but the bad taste lingers in my mouth.

I’m not talking about LeBron’s decision but the way that decision was transmitted to the world.  Like most of the sports-loving world, I watched LeBron James reveal his big decision on ESPN’s love-fest disguised as a news event.  I’ll leave it to sports columnists to comment on the actual move, its impact on the NBA, and the bitter gut-punch delivered to the city of Cleveland.

It’s the show that didn’t pass the smell test for me.  The self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports gave up its own turf.  There was no difference between the guy making news that night and the people supposedly covering it.  Jim Gray, the interviewer, is reportedly the one who actually set the whole thing up.   LeBron would get an entire hour with a creme-puff questioner–Gray–and no other journalists, especially from Cleveland, anywhere in sight.

Yes, it was nice that the advertising revenue from “The Decision” went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.  That’s good cover for ESPN giving up control of their own show and ignoring their journalism instincts.  And yes, I understand that the E in ESPN is for Entertainment.  Still, ESPN is a news organization and this event was treated like a game show.

The suspense was artificially extended worse than any episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (or in LeBron’s case a multi-gazillionaire).   Gray wasn’t so much an interviewer as part of Team LeBron, not just giving him a platform but helping him to look as good as possible at a controversial moment.

It’s just sports but it still doesn’t feel right.

#506de – Elevator Pitches, etc…

July 17, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

1. Elevator Pitch for TVNewsTalentCoach.com:

If you’re ready to invest some time and effort on yourself, I will work with you to give you the tools to become a more confident, passionate and effective storyteller.

Whether  you’re a college student, in the news business for a few years or a veteran, I’ll work with you one-on-one to pump up your on-air presentation.

I’m a veteran News Director with more than 30 years as a TV journalist.  I’ve hired and coached more than 100 reporters, anchors and meteorologists. I know what News Directors want and I can help you get there.  I’ll give you brutally honest feedback, practical tips and together we’ll maximize your skills.  Take a look at my website and contact me through TVNewsTalentCoach.com.

1-sentence pitch for TVNewsTalentCoach.com:

If you’re ready to invest in yourself–to improve as an anchor or reporter, or to land a new job–check out TVNewsTalentCoach.com.

Promotional e-newsletter for TVNewsTalentCoach.com:

VETERAN TV NEWS DIRECTOR LAUNCHES WEB BUSINESS TO COACH ANCHORS AND REPORTERS — TVNewsTalentCoach.com

With all the cutbacks in TV newsrooms, the days of TV stations paying for coaching of their on-air talent are, for the most part, long gone.  Enter Paul Lewis, a veteran TV News Director with more than 30 years in the broadcast news business.

Lewis has launched TVNewsTalentCoach.com where anchors and reporters can arrange to get one-on-one performance coaching at an incredibly reasonable rate.  “If you’re ready to invest some time and effort on yourself,” Lewis says, ” I’ll work with you to give you the tools to become a more confident, passionate and effective storyteller.”

Lewis has had an award-winning career as a reporter, producer and news executive, including a Peabody and several Emmy Awards.  For 10 years he was the News Director at WTIC-TV in Hartford and for three years he was the News Director at WNYT in Albany.  “I’ve hired more than 100 people,” says Lewis.  “I know what News Directors are looking for and I can help you get there.”

TVNewsTalentCoach.com is targeting working TV journalists who want to get better in their current jobs or are ready to make the move to the next level.  Lewis also is making his coaching available to college students who will soon graduate and print reporters who now are struggling with demands to also tell their stories with video.

On his new website, Lewis presents testimonials from a dozen reporters and anchors he has coached through his career.  “Like a good coach, Paul pushed me with brutally honest feedback,” says Ted Greenberg, a reporter at WCAU in Philadelphia.  “He definitely helped me elevate my performance.”

Lewis left his News Director chair a year ago to return to school, getting a master’s degree in Interactive Communication and New Media.  He’s currently working for a philanthropy, teaching, coaching and writing.

According to the website, Lewis will review your work, coach you–giving specific tips–and then coach you again after you’ve put those tips into practice, all for just $100.  “Obviously I’m not going to make a lucrative living at this,” says Lewis, “but I want to give back.  I want to price this at a point where reporters and anchors will want to invest in themselves.”

In addition to laying out how his coaching service works, TVNewsTalentCoach.com includes a blog where Lewis comments on news and trends in broadcast journalism and gives tips for better writing and storytelling.

###

2. Elevator pitch for print reporters to come to TVNewsTalentCoach.com:

If you’re a print reporter struggling with new demands to tell your stories with video on your newspaper’s website, I can help.  Maybe you’ve been asked to appear on TV and that’s uncomfortable.  It’s not what you signed up for, but you know you’ve got to do it to keep your job in a shrinking industry.

It’s likely expectations are high but training is minimal and feedback is nonexistent.  So invest in yourself and shine.  TVNewsTalentCoach.com is for you.

I’ll show you the things you can do to make you and your video stories more effective.

I’m a veteran TV News Director with more than 30 years as a journalist.  I’ve hired and coached more than 100 reporters, anchors and meteorologists.   I’ll give specific feedback, practical tips and together we’ll maximize your skills.  Take a look at my website and contact me through TVNewsTalentCoach.com.

1-sentence pitch for print reporters to come to TVNewsTalentCoach.com

If you’re a print reporter struggling with new demands to tell your stories with video, check out TVNewsTalentCoach.com for expert coaching that will help you immediately.

Promotional e-newsletter for print reporters to go to TVNewsTalentCoach.com:

VETERAN TV NEWS DIRECTOR LAUNCHES WEB BUSINESS TO COACH PRINT REPORTERS IN VIDEO STORYTELLING– TVNewsTalentCoach.com

Reporters are now expected to produce across multiple platforms, including with video.  While most print reporters have been able to adjust to writing for the web, making the transition to using video has not been as smooth.

Enter Paul Lewis, a veteran TV News Director with more than 30 years in the news business.  Lewis has launched TVNewsTalentCoach.com where print reporters can arrange to get one-on-one coaching at an incredibly reasonable rate.  “If you’re ready to invest some time and effort on yourself,” Lewis says, ” we can work together to get you comfortable so you can effectively tell your stories with video.  I can also get you comfortable and effective appearing on-camera.”

Lewis has had an award-winning career as a reporter, producer and news executive.  For 13 years he was the News Director at TV stations in Hartford and  Albany.  “I have been involved with several cross-media initiatives,” says Lewis, “and helped several print reporters learn how to effectively present themselves and their stories with video on the web or on TV.  I’ll coach you voicing your stories and doing ‘stand-ups.’”

On his new website, Lewis presents testimonials from a dozen TV reporters and anchors he has coached through his career.   In addition, Ellen Burns, the former cross-media reporter for the Hartford Courant says: “Paul helped me grow from stiff and uncomfortable on camera to natural and effective. ”

Lewis left his News Director chair a year ago to return to school, getting a master’s degree in Interactive Communication and New Media.  He’s currently working for a philanthropy, teaching, coaching and writing.

According to the website, Lewis will review your work, coach you–giving specific tips– and then coach you again after you’ve put those tips into practice, all for just $100.  “Obviously I’m not going to make a lucrative living at this,” says Lewis, “but I want to give back.  I want to price this at a point where reporters will want to invest in themselves.”

In addition to laying out how his coaching service works, TVNewsTalentCoach.com includes a blog where Lewis comments on trends in  journalism and gives tips for better writing and video storytelling.

###

#506de–Reporting Tips…Find a Main Character

July 10, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comment 

This is another in an on-going series of tips that will make you a better, more passionate, more effective on-air reporter or anchor.

Find a main character.

We call them news “stories” for a reason.  Tell me a story about a person and it will be more interesting, more revealing and more compelling than just a news report filled with facts.

The key is to find a main character and tell the story through his or her eyes.

Let’s say you’re assigned to cover the shut-down of a factory in town; 100 jobs will be lost.    Most TV reports, in markets large and small, will look something like this:

Over opening wide shots of the factory–”The XYZ company has been a fixture in our city for 75 years….”  Include stats about the declining revenues in the past few years, how many people worked there at the company’s height, how many now, the latest unemployment figures for the area.  Mix in a soundbite with the owner tearfully saying he just couldn’t afford to keep the doors open anymore.  Add some shots of workers hugging and saying goodbye.  Include sound with a few of those workers saying they loved their jobs and don’t know what they’ll do now.  Maybe the mayor will be good for a bite about efforts to bring jobs back to town.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that story and it might even have some emotional tug if you get good sound bites.

But there is a better way.  A way that will make your story stand out from the other stations and make it memorable for viewers.  Tell that story through the eyes of a main character.  Don’t just recite a series of facts, intermingled with a few soundbites.  Tell the big story in microcosm through one person and you’ll make me care.

The owner might be a candidate for our main character–82 years old, 4th generation to run this company, rides a motorcycle to work in his starched shirt and bow-tie.  Yup, that would work.  But those producer fantasies rarely come true.  Besides, he mumbles and can’t put two coherent sentences together. Keep searching for a main character.  Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the mayor in my package.  If he says something important, outboard it after the package.

Talk with several workers, not just one or two.  You’ll find someone with a cool story to tell.   Maybe your story will start with your main character hugging fellow workers:

“Mary Jones has worked here for the last 17 years.  She put her two children through college on this  $14/hr factory job.  SOT: I loved it here. We made a quality product. The workforce has been shrinking along with profits over the past few years and now the final 100 workers are clocking out for the last time.  SOT Mary:    I’ve been volunteering at the Food Bank for the past year and now I might need to go there for a handout…”

That’s a story you’ll remember.  It’s still about the factory closing but it’s so much more interesting.  I want to come away from each of your  stories feeling as though I’ve met someone new—a neighbor.  You can get the facts in through the side door—how many were laid off,  how far in debt the company is, etc.  Do it all in and around your main character.

You won’t know those juicy facts about your main character unless you ask, so ask!  Be nosey!  Be a reporter.  Ask those personal questions.

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