Friday, November 17, 2006

Dreaming our dreams

The Manhattan fashion scene in the 1970s. The 1992-93 Chicago Bulls. Hip-hop in 1995. Bob Marley and the Wailers. The 1985 Bears. Nolan Ryan in the 1980s. The LAPD in 1992. USC Football in 2004. The Busing Crisis in Boston. King, Malcolm, Lewis and The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. The Reagan administration. The Reconstruction South. Apartheid South Africa.

We all have dream beats. We've got the one event or subject matter that we sometimes dream about covering. It's the event that got us wanting to do journalism. It's the one subject we or our parents were passionate about. It's the story that raies your profile, gets your blood moving and out of bed in the morning. It's the type of passion that wins awards.

The AP's Errin Haines wishes she was around for the building of the pyramids. (So she could tell if its builders were really black.) She'd like to have told the stories on a slave ship, or Ellis Island.

Keith Reed of the Boston Globe says he's close to his dream beat: sports business and consumer technology. Personal finance in minority communities interests him too, but he wanted to cover Katrina and was the first to "raise my hand" to go to New Orleans. Lots of us wish we were there for Katrina.

The reason we do journalism is partly because we are historians. Especially in the Internet age -- now more than ever, journalists are the providers of institutional working knowledge of historical events. Text books can't do on Katrina what the Times-Pic did on Katrina.

This all came out of a discussion with Julian about hip-hop, and how it is widely thought that the culture is dead. How, it would basically suck to cover hip-hop today, as opposed to 1995 when the art form and its commentators were at its peak. Then we started thinking about dream beats.

Our very own T-Dot wishes she could have covered AIDS when it began to spread in Africa. She's also interested in the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, and wonders if its going on in her own backyard. "I know there are women here in the US in these ethnic communities who are undergoing the same procedure and nothing is being done about it," she says.

Could you imagine covering Idi Amin or Adolf Hitler? Imagine the stories you'd tell? Although it should be noted that indulging in imaginary beats are contingent on the existence of a free press. No sense in protecting democracy where it doesn't exist.

It's not all that complex for some folks. Just give Sherlon Christie, president-elect for the Garden State Association of Black Journalists, an NBA team in a warm city: he'd be all set. Same for our own Chris "DSUorBust" Stevens: Philadelphia 76ers from 1976-1982, the first six years of Julius Erving's career. Stevens, an NBA historian, doesn't think he could stand the oversexed NBA of the 1970s and 80s. But at least it'd be worth it.

"Those teams had the most talent of anybody in the NBA," he said. "And they came up short for one reason or another every postseason until they traded for Moses Malone."

Sports writer North Carolina native Soraya McDonald knows she shouldn't be covering Carolina Basketball -- "because I love it too much." But when the NFL brings back the Los Angeles football franchise, her hand will be raised. Still, she couldn't resist wanting going back to cover the teams with Antawn Jamison, Ed Cota and Vince Carter right before Dean Smith retired.

So. What's your dream beat?

Posted by Darren Sands at 11:32 AM | link

Read or Post a Comment

The hip-hop scene, when it was first emerging twenty years ago. The music, the moves, the messages and most definitely the style. I think I would been in heaven as a 23-year-old in 1986. But alas, fate would have it that I be enrolled in day care at that time. Still, how cool would it have been to write into history something that people didn't think would last?

Posted by Blogger Duck @ 12:49 PM, November 19, 2006 #
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