Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Journalism Resolution...what's yours?

Mine: to learn the inner workings of Flash and other programming/development skills that will help me to create a really good non-linear multimedia packages. Also, to become more financially smart.

What's yours?

--
Have a safe and blessed New Year's Eve, everyone!

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 9:52 AM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Top 10 Stories of 2007 ?

The Associated Press and it's members just released their list of top 10 stories in 2007...do you agree with them?

1. VIRGINIA TECH KILLINGS: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, who had avoided court-ordered mental health treatment despite a history of psychiatric problems, killed two fellow students in a dormitory on April 16, detoured to mail a hate-filled video of himself to NBC News, then shot dead 30 students and professors in a classroom building before killing himself. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

2. MORTGAGE CRISIS: A record-setting wave of mortgage foreclosures, coupled with a steep slump in the housing market, buffeted financial markets, caused multibillion-dollar losses at major banks and investment firms, and became an issue in the presidential campaign.

3. IRAQ WAR: The "surge" that sent more U.S. troops to Iraq was credited with helping reduce the overall level of violence. But thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of U.S. personnel were killed nonetheless during the year, and Iraqi political leaders struggled to make meaningful progress toward national reconciliation.

4. OIL PRICES: Oil prices soared to record highs, at one point reaching nearly $100 a barrel. The high prices, which burdened motorists and owners of oil-heated homes, nudged Congress to pass an energy bill that ordered an increase in motor vehicles' fuel efficiency.

5. CHINESE EXPORTS: An array of Chinese exports were recalled, ranging from toys with lead paint to defective tires to tainted toothpaste and food. Despite the high-profile problems, America's trade deficit with China was running at record-high levels.

6. GLOBAL WARMING: Warnings about the consequences of global warming gained intensity with new reports from scientific panels and a Nobel Prize to Al Gore for his environmental crusading that included the film "An Inconvenient Truth." Across the U.S., many state governments sought to cap emissions blamed for global warming.

7. BRIDGE COLLAPSE: An Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed during the evening rush hour on Aug. 1, killing 13 people and injuring about 100. The disaster fueled concern about possible structural flaws in other bridges nationwide.

8. PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: In a yearlong drama with shifting subplots, large fields in both major parties battled for support ahead of the caucuses and primaries that will decide the 2008 presidential nominees. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama led among the Democrats; some polls showed five Republicans with double-digit support.

9. IMMIGRATION DEBATE: A compromise immigration plan, backed by President Bush and Democratic leaders, collapsed in Congress due to Republican opposition. The plan would have enabled millions of illegal immigrants to move toward citizenship, while also bolstering border security. The issues remained alive in the presidential campaign.

10. IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM: Worried that the ultimate goal is a nuclear arsenal, the United States and other countries pressed Iran to halt uranium enrichment. Iran said it never had a weapons program. A U.S. intelligence report concluded there was such an effort, but it stopped in 2003.

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 6:09 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Readers are the best muckrakers

Oh, how I love reader responses. It's sometimes the only entertainment I get out of writing the weekend stories like this one. In fact, I turn three back-flips every time I open my inbox and find reader emails.

Bikers in leather chaps + donated toys + Santa Claus + pediatrics clinic = do no wrong

...not for this reader:
Yes, this was nice. Biker group brings gifts to kids in hospitals. But the front parking lot was closed to people who needed to get to the emergency unit. Traffic officers prevented anyone from entering the lot. I parked in the back lot, where I usually park when I visit my brother. I didn't mind, but the woman I met in the back lot did. She limped all the way through the building, and that is a long walk. She had told the officer she needed to get to the emergency but was turned away. You might pass this info on to Director (name omitted). It sounds like a policy of "Don't bother us. We are doing good!"

Zinger!

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 2:31 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Lesson in Journalism ... from an Athlete

It's been one of those days where it's easy to forget that you're a journalist, and just as easy to be irritated with your industry. No, scratch that, this whole week has been that way.

Today was the funeral of Sean Taylor, aired live on several local stations. I watched as his family, his teammates, his longtime girlfriend fought to get through the three-and-a-half hour service without breaking down. Some were successful. But most weren't.

Tears stung my eyes, while some spilled onto the cheeks of a coworker. It was hard. It was heartbreaking. A supervisor said she wasn't watching specifically because she didn't want to end up sobbing at her desk. And I wanted to turn away myself at times.

But what was keeping me glued in? The fact that for once, in this terrible, terrible week, Sean Taylor was being remembered for what he truly was, by people who truly knew him. Not being analyzed by desk-dwelling anchors. Not being examined by columnists who didn't know him personally. And not being dragged into the tired news narrative that implies everytime a young black man dies, it must have been because of the nature of his "thug" lifestyle.

Luckily, for Sean, his family and his memory, I wasn't the only one choked with frustration. With a bit of a swarm of media people at the service, those who had the opportunity took the chance to bite back at everyone who "reported" on Sean's "thug lifestyle" throughout the week.

Otis Wallace, the mayor of Florida City summed up the sentiment -- saying the media should be ashamed for jumping to conclusions merely on speculation. And he added that he hopes "the media gets a small lesson in grace and humility" from it all.

At my desk, I nodded in agreement and said a quiet "thank you." And an arena-full of mourners stood to applaud, loudly.

But I couldn't help but wonder -- how many times will that quote show up in tomorrow's papers? Will journalists be willing to examine themselves, just as critically as they examined Sean?

I did a Google search. The Washington Post's Jason La Canfora is the only one so far to do so, in his Redskins Insider blog.

I hope it won't stay that way.

When Sean was first wounded, journalists found it necessary report legal woes from years ago, stemming from an incident where he allegedly brandished a gun while trying to keep men from stealing his property. Some, in Sean's death, found it necessary to recount the times he got in trouble on the field. Their implication -- that Sean fell to a lifestyle that, as his loved ones say, he actually wasn't involved in.

So will those same journalists feel the need to report on the open criticism of their work (used loosely) at Sean's service? Will they note that Wallace's words, and the same sentiment from other speakers, drew the some loudest, most earnest applause?

I hope so. We're supposed to report the full story, right?

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Posted by Veronica Marché at 6:54 PM | link | Tell us what you think [7]

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