Monday, July 31, 2006

Who Needs Benefits When You Get Intern Luncheons?

Hello, my name is Marcus, and I'm a professional intern.

(In unison, "Hi Marcus!")

I think I have a problem.

I'm addicted to internships.

It started the summer after my senior year of high school.

I never had a job before because I used the excuse that I was too busy with school. But with college right around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to get a start on my resume.

I landed an internship with Warner Brothers Animation, in the Human Resources Department.

Talk about boring.

And at $7.50 an hour, I thought I was hot stuff.

That internship led to another internship the following summer at ESPN which eventually led to me spending the next three summers with the Worldwide Leader in various departments throughout three different states.

Before I knew it, I was taking semesters off from school (Sports Illustrated) and ignoring doctor's orders (Denver Post) to take internships.

Fast forward to 2006 and I'm entering my 10th month at my eighth different internship since I graduated high school. Currently I'm at BV and this has been my longest stint at any one place, and also my most hands-on internship where I have felt I have made the most impact because of the small staff.

But my internship mindset has gotten to the point where I turned down a full time job with the largest sports media giant in the world to stay as a intern.

Is there really such a thing as a professional intern?

Before people start going "Nig, is you crazy?" there were a couple of reasons why I turned down the offer.

The biggest one being that I still have three semesters before I receive my degree. That combined with the salary and I determined school wasn't important enough to throw away for what was being offered.

But are there times where it pays to be an intern making a steady salary and getting great experience instead of having a steady low paying job doing entry level work?

Posted by Vandy at 10:56 PM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

Waiting to Exhale

By all means, I was prepped for success today.

I'd eaten a hearty breakfast and gotten plenty of sleep the night before. I walked into my building in a smart trumpet skirt and heels, determined to make a good impression my first day in the new office.

But by noon, my desk sat somewhere beneath a trio of two foot piles of file folders, my back ached and my stomach buzzed with butterflies. And I still had a story to write.

This. Couldn't. Be. Happening.

Today, in a word: overwhelming. I knew I'd be expected to hit the ground running since our bureau is relatively small and we needed to fill the section pages. I'd already made up my mind to do a follow-up on a story I was doing that crossed over into my new beat. My plan was to make calls on that, write the follow up and then go get lost on my beat.

Things didn't quite happen that way.

When I came in, I first had to move my stuff from my old office, since the maintenance folks kindly neglected to do so, as I requested. At least the tech guys transferred my computer and extension and set up the network over the weekend, so I didn't complain.

Later, during our staff meeting, I felt the most useless I've ever felt. I sat quietly scratching notes onto a pad while my coworkers buzzed with centerpiece ideas and potential stories.

"It won't always be like this," I thought. "Stop being so hard on yourself. It's your first day."

The reporter who used to cover my new area tells me that whenever I get a chance, he has files and contacts to give me.

"Sweet," I think. It'll give me some reading to do in my downtime so I can get a flavor of the town.

I wasn't expecting the deluge of information. The reporter, bless his soul, kept bringing me files. Files he made. Files he'd inherited. Files he'd never laid eyes on but was sure related to West Warwick in some way. Budgets. Notes. Agendas. Fliers. And the explanations that went along with them. All mine.

"I feel a weight being lifted off of my shoulders," he said, handing me yet another pile of massive folders. "But I kind of feel bad for you."

"Thanks," I replied, placing the stack on the floor after running out of room on my desk. "But I'd rather we do this now. It is helpful."

And it was. Because of his primer (and a town tour last week) I have a rack of stories just waiting to be written, which will come in handy while I learn my way around.

But I still needed to write for tomorrow - the reading would have to wait. I start making calls on my story. No answer. I try calling the court house to get a copy of the appeal that had been filed there. The court house is closed. My boss tells me if I have anything for tomorrow to go into the network and update the budget.

I feel like I want to hurl.

"It's okay, Talia," I tell myself. "Just. Breathe. Everything will be fine."

I close my eyes and take a moment to center myself and pray. I block out all of the distractions. I exhale.

Then, the phone rings.

It's a source, returning my call. I got the court case faxed over to me and spoke to the other people I'd been waiting to hear from. I schedule an informational appointment with a major player in my new area and research the clips to prep myself on a meeting I'm covering tomorrow. I push the inherited files to the corner of my desk, giving myself some room to breathe and work. I put up some things to make me comfortable in the new space.

A few inspirational quotes. My purple paint swatch. A button from my alma mater.

Then, I pulled out my pretzels, opened a blank document and wrote my dateline.

It was time to get to work.

Posted by T Dot at 7:42 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Duck Says: "I'll Take the Pittsburgh Courier for $2 Million"

Forget about trying to break stories and land a plum reporter gig.

How about being able to say "I own the New York Observer"?

Jared Kushner is 25, a 2003 Harvard graduate, currently a law student at NYU, and now, the proud papa of a newspaper. He reportedly purchased a majority stake in the publication for $10 million.

It's not like he didn't already have an impressive resume. Kusher makes his millions as a a real-estate exec. He began buying and rehabilitating properties when he was 19, according to his bio on the Observer website. He's been involved with his father's real estate firm, Kushner Companies, and, in his own venture, created a group of investors that is planning to buy 20 buildings in Manhattan.

But becoming a publisher is Jared's first foray into journalism.

Peter Kaplan, editor of the Observer, said he's not apprehensive about Kushner's lack of experience or his youth. "His 25-ness is a huge asset," said Kaplan to the NYT. "He is not weighed down by the debris of conventional wisdom.”

Kushner has extolled the Observer in interviews with New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. But from jump, he asserted that his editorial involvement in the paper would be nil. His concern, he says, lies with the Observer's financial performace. (The paper hasn't turned a profit since its inception in 1987.) Kushner told the NYT: "It is up to the editors and reporters to decide what should be in the paper. The headline in everything we do should be integrity."

My guess is that Kushner is dropping buzzwords like integrity and pledging to steer clear of any editorial involvement partly because of his father, Charles Kushner. The elder Kushner, who was also in real estate and was a fundraiser for the Democratic Party, is currently serving a two-year prison sentence for tax evasion, illegal fundraising and tampering with witnesses.

Said Jared about his dad: “I love my father, but I have worked to develop a separate and distinct identity...."

The younger Kushner has said that his goals for the paper include building resources in order to cover more news beats, marketing the brand name of the Observer and increasing online traffic to the paper's site. In an e-mail to Observer staff, Kusher said he is excited about learning from and working together with them to create "first-rate journalism."

Said Kushner, "I look forward together to watching the media revolution from a shared front seat."

(Said Duck: "I look forward to looking at your cutie-patootie picture."

...sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Posted by Veronica Marché at 11:11 AM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why The Hate?

When I first got into journalism at the age of 17, I knew that I was entering a competitive profession.

The number of journalists is not that high, especially when you are talking about black journalists.

And I was fully prepared to fight my way to the top because I have a competitive nature at heart.

What I wasn't expecting though when I decided to pursue a career in journalism was, simply put, the haters.

I know you are going to have haters wherever you go.

I should look at it as a sign of you doing something right, because if you weren't on the top of your game, there would be nothing to hate about.

But damn.


Call me naive but I figured since there were so few of us to begin with, maybe we would help each other out from time to time.

But for the most part, it has been the total opposite.

Yes, I am probably guilty of not going above and beyond in helping my fellow black journalist.

My pet peeve is when people ask me "Is so-and-so where you are interning at hiring?"

My answer 99 percent of the time is "No." Whether it's true or not.

Other than that, even with my self-proclaimed "cut throat" attitude when it comes to this profession, I am by no means going to kick a man when he's down or better yet, try to sabotage what they have going on for them.

For example:

We started Ten95 a couple months ago and as of recently, we have really picked up the pace in terms of posting on the blog (except me).

So we felt confident enough in starting to put our blog out there to other journalists.

And what better outlet to reach a large number of black journalists than the YBJ listserv.

Unfortunately our plug, shameless as it might have been, was deleted by the YBJ listserv moderator based on a technicality on the listserv rules.

Rules or no rules, we were merely just trying to let other folks know about a project that us, as young journalists, started.

But dare someone have their 15 seconds of fame or do something successful with their life, because that's when the haters come out in full force and attempt to drag you back down to their level.

With NABJ right around the corner, I would like to make a challenge to everyone who is attending.

I want the students to find one professional, and vice versa, and agree to keep in contact with them after the conference.

It might seem small, but it could be a start of finally getting everyone together and on the same level.

We are all chasing the same goals - there is no reason why we can't reach that platform together.


Posted by Vandy at 10:11 PM | link | Tell us what you think [5]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sadly, they were right

I was standing outside the worship hall with a pen and my notebook, talking to the stories' photographer when the black dude from the the Boston Public Health Commission came up to me.

"I need your card. You know this story is going to be huge, right?," he said.

No, there was no way to know that seven days after I reported that the city of Boston was beginning to crack down on makeshift memorials, that 20-year-old Analicia Perry would get killed at one them. She was bending down to light a candle for her dead brother.

Someone shot her in the face.

I told the story of James Green's friends and family. They built a special memorial in the section of Dorchester where he was killed. It was taken down by the police, sparking a public forum in Dorchester on July 6. I was all over it.

During an interview, I asked the superintendent of the Police Department to explain why the memorials pose a public safety threat because I didn't understand why. Or maybe I didn't care. I had come to the conclusion through reporting the story that the memorials were good for the healing process, a positive display of solidarity.

After all, I watched young boys lead 50 people in prayer. I listened to friends talk about wanting to get out of the 'hood, but not knowing how. They knew now, that death was final. A sad lesson, but a lesson nonetheless.

The superintendent responded by saying that the memorials are dangerous because folks who didn't like the victim would know where to find the victims friends and family, among other issues that get explained in the story.

So when I learned that the girl who had been killed was in fact killed at a memorial for her brother, I became useless at the office. I got the call from a source who was just as shocked as I was. Turns out, all of the communities' greatest fears have been realized with this shooting -- the black dude was right, too. This issue and the story, is huge. The Globe's Adrienne Samuels talks to Perry's friends:

Members of the group did everything together: They went clubbing, made T-shirts with glittery letters from a craft store. For Perry's 20th birthday earlier this month, some of them had flown to Atlanta. It was the first time Perry had traveled in a plane. She had been enchanted by the city and seemed to see in it new possiblities.

The South End woman had mused about a future life there with her 4-year-old daughter as she and her friends walked down the sidewalk that night.

Minutes later, she was shot in the face as she knelt to light a candle on the fourth anniversary of the death of her brother, Robert Perry.

A woman was gracious -- and thoughtful -- enough to write this letter which ran in the paper the same day Perry was gunned down. Her letter will be read at a hearing and press confernce on the issue this afternoon at City Hall.

I'll be reading the Globe's coverage on the issue just like everyone else. (read my nickname on the side there) I completed the story on the eve (read: way before) all of the attention the issue is getting and honestly, I was hoping the black guy from the Public Health Commission was right. But not this right. Not one getting killed mourning another.


Editor's note: Here's today's coverage in the Boston Globe concerning the issue.

Posted by Darren Sands at 12:41 AM | link | Tell us what you think [6]

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fairness and Objectivity...that's the journalism way, right?....Right?

I pose this question because of a recent newsmaking event going on within the Delaware State University athletics department. Junior shooting guard Tracey Worley is leaving the men's basketball team to transfer to the University of New Orleans where he feels he has a better shot at recognition. Considering his stunning performance as a freshman in DSU's first ever NCAA tournament game against Duke in 2005 (13 points on six-for-six from the field, and CBS co-player of the game honors), you figure that would be enough recognition for a kid, but I digress.

That's not the issue where I sit however. My boss, one of two co-editors that will be heading up the staff next year, e-mails me from her internship to ask me why I didn't tell her that one of her favorite players, and the one she "likes," is leaving the program. I responded to her that I found out the same way she did, which is true, because I'm only at DSU now for three hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and her return e-mail troubled me.

She believes that Worley is transferring because of one of Coach Greg Jackson's crown jewel recruits, former University of Cincinnati reserve Roy Bright, who's had one run-in with the law, and that resulted in his expulsion from Bearcat country.

First and foremost, for a school with some piss-poor graduation rates under former coach Bob Huggins, one wonders why he would choose a misdemeanor weapons possession charge to kick a kid to the curb, but again, digression is the road I am choosing. Secondly I must be fair in pointing out that my boss is *ahem* not exactly carrying melanin if you smell what I'm cooking.

So she responds "We should ask why one of the best players is being replaced by a convicted felon?" At which point I thought about correcting her that the charge was only a misdemeanor, but that's splitting hairs. I did go on to explain to her that throwing stones from a glass house isn't exactly a good way to make a name for yourself in this business. We are in no position to judge someone else based on the mistakes that they've made in their past.

I have yet to meet Roy Bright, don't know him from Adam, but what I've been told is he's contrite, he realizes he made a mistake, and he just wants a chance to hoop. Considering Coach Jackson is a man of tremendous and unshakable faith in God (his son is currently beating the hell out of sickle cell anemia, so there's your proof), I doubt he would take on Bright if the kid is that suspect.

That's lesson numero uno; we are not in this business to intentionally belittle, insult, or degrade anyone. Numero dos, Feelings are just that, nothing more than fee-hee-lings. Sorry for the Hammer Pepsi commercial interlude. You cannot allow yourself to develop feelings on a personal level for your subjects, regardless of what beat you cover. Clearly I'm not falling in love with any female athletes, but that's a stereotype, so let me hush that up.

My boss liked Tracey Worley in a crush kinda way. Too bad Tracey probably didn't know my boss existed, but at the same time the point I make is if you allow personal feelings to develop with your subjects and the beats you cover that go beyond being fair and objective, you're screwed like Superhead on video shoots.

And this is why I'm grateful for the experience I've gained doing what I do, so I can pass it on to those who have yet to learn this craft thoroughly. Otherwise fairness and objectivity will only be words you use when you're taking orders at McDonalds.

Posted by Chris at 4:09 PM | link | Tell us what you think [6]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Making Moves

I'm tired of moving.

In the last nine months, I've moved five times. At least this time, I won't be moving far. My next place is down the hall and to the left.

Yesterday, I was informed I'll be reassigned to another bureau, where I'll cover my fifth town since I've been in this teeny state. One of the other reporters is leaving so we were all waiting to see who would take his place in West Bay. I just never in a million years figured it would be me.

It is a promotion of sorts, without the money, of course. In my new bureau, I'll cover one town whereas now, I cover three. My new town is one of the more high profile cities in the state, with issues of an impending casino and lots of ties to Rhode Island politicos. And the section I'll be writing for is one of the most circulated in the state. My boss told me to take it as a compliment: it means they know I can handle parachuting into communities, smoothing relations with prickly sources and cover a community well. And they believe I'll do well on this beat, which as time goes on, will prove to be important to the Rhode Island economy.

The move is a good thing.

So, why aren't I happy?

Maybe it's because it seems every few months, I get uprooted. As soon as I feel I have a handle on my beat, know the major players and actually get people to start calling me with tips, my municipality changes. When I began here in October, I covered two towns. When our bureau moved in March, I was reassigned a new town and public safety in a city, and one of my old towns was stripped from me. I was just digging in deep, preparing for a major project on my public safety beat when I was told I'd be moving down the hall and to the left; my new town 45 minutes away from my old one.

As a new reporter, it's hard enough moving to a new state hundreds of miles away from everything you know. I'll admit it: I get attached to my communities. I smile at vacation stories from the police chief. I inquire about the town administrator's well-being when he has oral surgery. I don't even have to introduce myself when I call the town clerk's office - they know my voice.

In the absence of the things I know and love, I adopted the cares of my beat to fill that void. And now I have to let this beat go and refill the void with something new, yet again.

This is really getting old.

I remember something my boss said to me when I was first hired: "It'll take at least three months before you feel you really have a hold of your beat, like you know what you're doing and you feel comfortable there."

She was right. Too bad I've barely passed the three month mark on any assignment before I've been uprooted. Though I am slightly pissed about being moved yet again, I think another reason I'm upset is that I'll have to leave my bureau. Even though I'm only going down the hall, I'll be the new kid, once again. At least here I had a tanch of seniority. I was comfortable with the people I worked with. I trust them. I know them. I LIKE them.

And now I have to start all over.

I know it won't be bad. It can't be. I'll do some great journalism and I'll make friends. But, I think, as soon as I do, I'll probably be moved again. And again. And again.

"Anything you want to say about the move," my boss asked me after giving me my new assignment.

I glanced at the notes I was scratching on the pad I'd brought with me. I raised my head to meet her gaze across the mahogany desk.

"There's not really anything for me to say," I said. "The decision has been made. I'll be in West Bay. And I'll make the best of it."

Today, I ordered my third reprint of business cards. In two weeks, I'll file the unfinished box from my current beat in my top drawer, next to my old cards, in front of the packing tape.

Posted by T Dot at 10:43 AM | link | Tell us what you think [3]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

And You, And You, And You... You're Gonna Read Meeeee....

I'm inclined to think that journalists and writers blog so they can publish all the stuff that the publications won't.

Isn't that kinda why we started this one?

Or maybe that's my own personal reason.

Either way, the people at Silence of the City have taken the electronic self-publishing concept, buffed it smooth and shined it up a bit for their site. The concept: To publish and provide an outlet for articles and writers rejected by the New Yorker. (The title is actually a play on the magazine's "Talk of the Town" section, since that's where SOTC's writers attempted to peddle their wares.)

But don't look for any witty sarcasm or criticism toward the mag. The site's creator told the Village Voice that it is a "tribute," and its "Who We Are" page offers the following:
We are a small group of writers and designers who are long-time subscribers to the New Yorker. When the magazine arrives at our doorstep each week, we read the Talk of the Town section first — and not just because it is in the front. It is also because we adore the section's tone, subjects, and treatment. We adore them so much our spouses have started to worry....
I wonder, if the site grows into some sort of phenomenon, will it too begin rejecting writers? Will another site spring up, perhaps entitled, "Talk Around the Silence"?

(And as a sidebar: SOTC seems pretty cool, but if I see anything else with "And/With/Of the City" in the title, I think I'm going to kick something.)

Posted by Veronica Marché at 4:16 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Advantage of Change

Last year, when WETA-FM announced that it would be switching from classical programming to a news-talk format, loyal listeners spoke out against it at the station's board meeting. Classical music aficionados wrote editorials in the Washington Post. And one guy with a piece of fluorescent green cardboard protested outside WETA's offices in Shirlington, VA, accompanied by a toddler who looked more interested in sidewalk.

But when I read WETA's press release, I thought of only one thing.

"Ooh! Jobs!"

Music lovers would like you to believe that it's a sign of the apocalypse when a public radio station backflips from classical or jazz programming and lands into news/talk. ("It's a sad commentary on life as we know it ceasing to exist," is how one listener said in June in a letter to the Hartford Courant, submitted when Connecticut's WNPR announced that it too was switching its sound.)

But for journalists, these switches translate into more jobs and more chances to cover stories that are overlooked by commercial broadcast media. Since last year, WETA has added a number of reporters and producers to its staff in an effort to develop programming of local and regional importance.

Local coverage, in fact, is one of the major reasons cited by management at several stations when they made that change. "We believe that this is a better way for us to serve our communities," said Jerry Franklin, president and CEO of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc. (the parent of WNPR) in an interview with the Courant.

Ken Stern, a VP of National Public Radio, told Reuters: "Local news has simply been abandoned by the commercial broadcasters and sometimes even the commercial newspapers. What you see as a trend is stations like WBEZ investing heavily in local news and information."

WBEZ is the latest station to switch to news/talk, abandoning the jazz format that made it a favorite of listeners in Chicago. As expected, there has been a backlash, the most prominent being in the form of a website that encourages listeners to sign a petition, boycott the station, and write rejection letters in response to WBEZ fundraising mailings. Listeners have accused station manager Torey Malatia of not listening to the public in regards to its preference for the station's programming.

Malatia told the Chicago Sun-Times that his ears have been open:

"We've been talking about this since 2000, 2001," he says. "And we've done lots and lots of public study before we would do anything like this. This is not a small thing, so it's not something you would do without thinking about it and
talking to people and working with the board and staff and advisory council and surveying the audience and all kinds of stuff."
Data from studies show that for public radio stations, switching to news/talk is a promising move, albeit a hotly contested one. The Station Resource Group released a six-year analysis of public radio stations, finding that all-news formats experienced a 55% growth in listenership between 1999 and 2004.

And Tom Taylor of Inside Radio told the Sun-Times: "[News/talk] may have more universal appeal in the sense that it sweeps across divisions. You don't have to be a classical fan, you don't have to like a particular kind of music... The history at other public stations suggests that this is a smart business move." WHYY in Philadelphia and WNYC in New York (which switched shortly after September 11) are some of the stations to which Taylor is referring.

More stations are sure to follow suit in the years ahead, of course not without the adverse reaction of music lovers. But underneath the protests lies more opportunity for radio journalists, as well as for reporters in other media (particularly those in print media who feel they face a dim future) and for those just getting started in the industry.

And with the mandate that public broadcasting outlets serve as diverse an audience as possible (as outlined in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967), the change also provides an opportunity for stories and issues of importance to minority communities to be brought to air. WBEZ, in particular, plans to draw in Black, Hispanic and youth listeners with their new programming, according to Reuters. WETA began broadcasting NPR's News and Notes (which before, wasn't available in the DC metro area) as soon as their format changed.

It's easy to understand why jazz and classical devotees would be unsettled by the removal of their favorite music from the radio. But in an age where most are repeatly receiving the same messages from dollar-driven media, the effort to bring more voices and more information to the air benefits more a much broader public. And for journalists, it's a prime opportunity to find more stories we know need to be told.

Posted by Veronica Marché at 7:19 PM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Anarchy in Anchorage

It never makes any sense to me when the boss doesn't know the rules. Ever.

Romenesko reports:

Police took more than 100 photos of the scene of a shooting at the Anchorage Football Stadium, then returned them to the McClatchy paper a few hours later after learning that the seizure violated a federal law that prohibits almost all searches of newsrooms. Editor Patrick Dougherty says he's offered police more than three dozen photos that have been published, but will resist a subpoena for those that haven't been published.

Posted by Darren Sands at 5:23 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Producers Just Wanna Have Fun

Talia gets police shootings, Darren gets community events and Marcus gets to interview celebrities with unique, um, talents.


I get baby corn and 74-year-old chimpanzees.

Gotta love being a public radio producer.

Don't mistake this for sarcasm. I adore being a freelance producer for NPR, and these quirky stories are one of the main reasons why. After we've shoved hours of Iraq and political coverage into your eardrums, there has to be some way to lighten up the mood of the network's newsmagazines. And that's when the fun stuff comes in.

Like yesterday on All Things Considered, where someone came up with the unusual idea of having a pirate movie reviewed by a ninja. (Apparently, there's some generations-long feud between the two kinds of bandits.) Or when Joe Palca twisted his head in a knot trying to figure out the physics of spinning eggs. And I can't forget about Morning Edition host Renée Montange going the way of Ashanti and having her voice digitally tweaked.

Where do we get this stuff from? A lot of times, these pieces are the result of searching for answers to personal ponderances.

"Is baby corn really, like, immature corn, or is it genetically altered or something?" (Asked during a conversation about food in an editorial meeting gone completely off-track.)

As as people, public radio folk don't take ourselves too seriously.

So while I may have "print and new media tendencies" (thanks for pointing that out, Darren), as long as I get to call up people to talk about finding love in the aisles of Home Depot, non-profit broadcasting will be where my kooky little heart lives.

(Other favorites to check out: How a Man, a Rat and a Spider Learned to Fly by Robert Krulwich; Mole-Rats, Ants Making Science Headlines by John Nielsen; and 'Joggling' Adds Spice to Sport of Running, produced by yours truly.)

Posted by Veronica Marché at 10:57 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

A "Happy Alternative" or "Personal Hell"?

We've all had our share of reality checks after entering a field that we've romanticized ever since we had knobby knees. But this New York Times article suggests that travel guide writers have it especially hard.

So the next time I get aggravated about producing a piece from a last-minute reporter, I'll just remind myself that at least I'm not getting molly-wopped in the mean streets of Venezuela.

Caracas, son.

Posted by Veronica Marché at 10:30 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Fourth Estate

I could barely contain my excitement as I fired of the e-mail to two of my mentors.

I made a difference! Look!!!!

P.S. - I'll be doing a follow up soon.

Below those few sentences was a forward I'd recieved moments earlier from the state house reporter regarding a press release from the Republican Party.

A story I broke last week about five residents who filed declarations of candidacy for multiple elected offices (which is expressley prohibited by Rhode Island law) and the Board of Elections lacksidasical effort to regulate the filings - had garnered some attention.

The state Republican party was launching its own independent investigation into the conduct of the Board of Elections and to call for regulation of the declarations.

As paltry as the actual action was, since the GOP essentially has no power over state government, as I read the release, I felt a rush of excitement flow through my body.

Something I wrote held the government accountable. Something I wrote was going to make a difference. I was doing watchdog journalism.

And it felt pretty good.

These are the stories that keep journalism classes filled, despite dismal industry growth projections that tell future watchdogs to seek another profession.

On the grand scale, it manifests itself in stories like Watergate. Or on the smaller scale, in storeis about a local politician skirting the rules for his or her own benefit.

They're the stories that play to every journalist's superhero fantasy. Face it. No matter your medium, we all got into the business to save the world.

Instead of a cape and super strength, our powers lie in asking the hard questions and digging for answers.

Instead of fighting super villians, we fight to speak truth to power and shine light so people can find their own way.

And every so often, above the jeers and nasty e-mails we get in our inbox every day, above the bashing we endure on talk radio or on the Senate floor, every once in a while, our voices are heard.

Then, we make a marked difference.

And it feels good.

Posted by T Dot at 6:22 PM | link | Tell us what you think [3]

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Black, and powerless?

Norm Chad's Monday column in the Washington Post takes a funny, satirical look at the APSE study that revealed a grand total of four black sports editors in sports departments around the country. Chad, who is white, pokes fun at sports staffs saying they are "whiter than Newt Gingrich's Fourth of July barbeque."

Well since the numbers are so embarrassing--four black sports editors out of 305--I'm waiting to see what Chips Quinn, NABJ, APSE or SJI is going to do about it.

Do you help to really cultivate the careers of black students and young sports reporters, or just present the numbers as incentive to get people talking about the lack of diversity in newsrooms?

There are folks doing everything in their power to get minorities and women into sports journalism. As a black male who has been denied from the Sports Journalism Institute twice, I feel like I should be signing up young dudes in the streets for a sports journalism short course. Is there is anything I can do at all? I personally feel powerless, and I don't exactly feel the support pouring in, either.

And about the lack of editors: If a kid with average internships is struggling as a freelancer trying to get his or her clips up by covering a HS football game in Nov., where do they have room to be interested in management?

Posted by Darren Sands at 3:01 PM | link | Tell us what you think [5]

Monday, July 03, 2006

From H-O-U-S-T-O-N

Do yourself a favor and check out Marcus' work blog, covering this year's Essence Music Festival. Especially amusing are his thoughts on Bobby Brown and the New Edition debacle and Mo'Nique among other items. Be sure to catch the pictures of him profiling with various celebrities.

Marcus Vanderberg, the '06 Kelley Carter.

Posted by Darren Sands at 2:12 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

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