Friday, August 29, 2008
Yeah, I said it.
I left Los Angeles in May 2005 with $44 in my name and my fingers crossed that my 1988 Honda Civic could make it through the Rocky Mountains.
After spending the summer interning in Denver, I settled in my home away from home, New York City.
But with my college degree in the mail and my professional career established, it's time to head back West.
Home of the palm trees and the chicken and waffles.
(And really, there is no comparison to women in Los Angeles. Woof, woof, New York.)
There is just one problem.
I'm at a company now that has an office out in Los Angeles but my team is located mostly in Washington, D.C.
I'm faced with the challenge of making a compelling case as to why it would make sense for me to relocate.
And then there is the situation as to what happens if they say no to my relocation request?
Do I stay in a city that I'm growing to hate on a daily basis or do I pack my things and hope to find a new gig in LaLa land?
Don't worry Darren, I'm not leaving you just yet. continue...
Thursday, August 28, 2008
It's election time and everything is coming up screwy in the town I cover. A few weeks ago, one candidate had some signs stolen. Another supporter got his car egged and some signs stolen -- then called the police.
I wrote the initial story saying the signs had been stolen. The supporter told me a tip -- the car likely belonged to the former police chief and it was his daughters and another candidate's son who were in the car.
Okay. Here's where I messed up.
I took the tip and that's pretty much it. I didn't want to write about the signs and dragging these kids through the mud didn't seem like my idea of fun. So I didn't tell my boss.
*Gasp* *Shock* *Horror*
I know. Not the best move.
Fast forward a week.
Said supporter calls the main newsroom and gets the ear of another reporter. Said reporter tells his boss, who tells his boss, who calls my boss asking why we didn't know about this.
Well, we did. I just didn't say anything.
My boss agreed that the story didn't need to be reported, but today, said that regardless, I've got to be more transparent with information I have.
Yeah. I guess she's right.
Oh, and said reporter wrote the story. It ran in today's paper.
No one is pressing charges, it seems.continue...
Background: When doing profiles of folks, I tend to ask random questions.
"What's your dog's name?"
"What time do you wake up in the morning?"
"Where did you get that shirt from?"
I ask lots and lots of often meaningless questions. The first reply I get is usually some variation of, "Why do you want to know that?"
There's a story behind most things, right? My fellow reporters know this to be true. Answers to some questions just have that funny way of giving us insight about an individual that we wouldn't otherwise have access too. To prove my point, O reader, I want you to post a comment telling us how you created your screen name.
Everyone, except Talia. And if you have her screen name you know why.
My best friend in high school was the first to start calling me D-Sands. It stuck. Then one week, the Celtics drafted Paul Pierce, whose number was 34. Dsands34. The other part of 34, of course, was that I am a huge Dave Matthews Band fan, and they had this cult classic called #34. Look it up.
So you know that I like DMB, am a basketball fan, and that my friends give me nicknames that have staying power.
What's your's all about? continue...
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
What ever happened to uniformity?
You all read how much I wanted Brett to come to New York. And how it really happened.
But in a post about the news that Michael Strahan staying retired, Marcus suggests, on his blog, that Brett Favre should have stayed retired, too.
My guess is that Strahan is staying retired just to spite all those, like Tom Rock, who thought that he might return because of a pending ruling in a divorce settlement that could still give his ex-wife several millions of dollars.
Talk about getting the last laugh. continue...
Monday, August 25, 2008
You'll have no problem, once you stroll down Flatbush Avenue, noticing the many corner grocery stores, often known to New Yorkers as bodegas. They're a one-stop shop for just about anything one could crave on a Sunday morning. An egg sandwich? Sure, coming right up. Hot coffee? How do you take it? The No. 3 scratch ticket? Here you go, good luck.
So when I strolled out of church and onto Flatbush, I thought I'd have no problem finding the Sunday edition of the New York Times.
I might as well had been looking for the Times Mirror of London.
Three stores in a three block radius did not carry the Times, just a few tattered copies of the Daily News. Newspapers were largely out of sight amid the muted bustle of this particular Sunday in Brooklyn; the manager at the ubiquitous drug store, Duane Reade, said they had stopped selling newspapers long ago. As a journalist, I felt as if my calling had no currency.
I should note, that it was the complete opposite to the feeling I had on of a recent visit to a quaint Northern Virginia neighborhood where it seemed that everyone was reading the Post's Style, Business or Sports Section over some sort of omelet, their dogs obediently chained to a fence. This, I thought, was pretty cool. Every bit the status symbol, I never thought I'd see the day where the newspaper was so sexy.
It was Jemele Hill who asked, "If you put a newspaper down in a barbershop, do you have any idea how many people will read it?"
The answer is a lot. Amazing how enthralling a free newspaper is, versus one that costs you 50 cents. If for nothing else, I bought the paper to make a statement: Newspapers aren't dead. Not there. Not in front of the No. 2 train on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.
Anyway, your probably wondering where I found the paper. Not at the bodega or Dunkin Donuts or Duane Reade.
There's a newsstand on the corner. continue...
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Said the senior editor to the 20-something producer.
It's my age. That's the one thing that makes me apprehensive in the production studio, sitting between the editor, the host, the correspondent on the phone and the engineer running the sound board. All these people in the room (some who've been in the game longer than I've been alive), and who's supposed to be in charge?
The funny thing is, it seems like I'm the only one so keenly aware of it. I'm the only one that feels awkward. Maybe it was growing up with the whole "respect your elders" thing. That, and the fact that I was in awe of some of these people when I was a mere sapling in college. Somewhere in me, there's a fear that a colleague who I highly respect and admire will look at me and sneer, "Who does this girl think she is?"... all because I tell them they have to do something over again because it sound quite as good as it could have.
But, as my editor's words showed me this morning (and at the start of the summer... and about a month ago... this has been a running theme, same advice, different sources), it's probably all in my head. This isn't the family dinner table, it's the newsroom. And when it comes to putting something on the air, worrying about stepping on someones toes just because they were born a few years before me should probably be the furthest thing from my mind.
I've gotta do my job.
And my job is to be confident. To be the boss. continue...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Somebody find the person who wrote this comment, get them together with a venture capitalist -- and fast!
(*does a "Halleluah" stomp)
GO!continue... Veronica and Talia were panelists on an internship forum. I captured most of it on film, and was excited to post Ten95's first video...with us in it. Alas, the sound captured with my trusty Aiptek HD-DV camcorder was terrible. (That camera, by the way, is awesome! Just not for capturing the panel.)
Well, mostly because the sound system in the convention center meeting room wasn't loud enough, and I had no way of "mic-ing up" the panelists or the moderator. Soooooo...when life presents you with lemons, you make another installment of Tech Corner. (Then you drink some lemonade.)
My paper had gone through buyouts in the years before I came to call it home. Our staff was already so thin, I knew that really, there was no fat to trim.
At Unity, as I went booth to booth hearing tales of recruiters who wanted to hire, but couldn't, I had a little bit of satisfaction in the fact that I had a job and for the moment, my newsroom was remaining in tact.
Not so much anymore.
Midnight was the deadline for employees willing to take the buyout that the company offered days after I left UNITY. I got the call that we'd be trimming some lean while I was at a court reporting conference in Reno.
I stepped out of the session to have my boss read me details on my buyout offer. I don't remember the details, but I think it was something like $4,000 and maybe another $4,000 in medical coverage.
Peanuts, even by industry standards.
So I chalked it up and readied myself for whatever would come. I had good clips and contacts, so I'd milk them dry if I got laid off. Until then, I was going to go back to my job and work like nothing had changed.
But things are changing.
Come Sept. 12 or so, the 22 people who took the buyout across the company (here, Dallas and Riverside, Calif.) will be gone. Among them will be my friends, Scotty and Mark. And I almost think I'm more sad about seeing them go than anything. I would barely make it past the cubicle pod they shared when I went down to visit the newsroom because I'd be wrapped up in conversations with them, laughing and joking and somehow learning at the same time. I'm going to miss that.
The 22 people who took the buyout may not be enough, as the company hoped for 10 more to take the offer. We'll find out in the coming days if we'll resort to layoffs. If so, part-timers will go first, and then jobs will be taken by seniority.
Mark spoke with The Providence Phoenix and offered these thoughts on the buyout. Says The Phoenix: He described how a previous buyout opened fresh paths for him, including the chance to cover the State House, and in terms of younger staffers, he says, "Now it's going to be their opportunity."
My God, I hope he's right.continue...
I'll explain later. continue...
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A number of media outlets are reporting that Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first African American woman to represent Ohio in Congress died today.
And these aren't podunk papers or TV stations who may not know better.
I'm talking CNN. Bloomberg. Shoot, I heard it on NPR.
Here's what Associated Content said: The Associated Press reported that she was discovered slumped over the wheel of her car, apparently after having suffered an aneurysm. As late as 12:30 PM ET, Market Watch quotes her office as reporting that Ms. Tubbs Jones was stable and receiving the best of care. Yet it was The Hill that speculated Stephanie Tubbs Jones would be taken off life support this afternoon. At 2:07 PM ET Politico reported that Tubbs Jones was indeed taken off life support and deceased. Nevertheless, MSNBC now suggest that the news is a bit ahead of life, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones is still very much among the living as of 2:41 PM ET.
In our effort to get it first, we're getting to wrong.
I heard the news in my car (said NPR news update I mentioned earlier) and when I got back to my desk, saw a flurry of e-mails from other journalists looking to confirm the news. So I did what any person of my generation would do -- I googled Tubbs Jones.
My first indication reports of her death had been exaggerated: Wikipedia. I didn't click on the link, but I could clearly see that there was not a date of death in the entry. Hmmm. I searched further.
I found maybe 3 stories that said she'd died, right next to stories that (rightly) said she had an aneurysm and was in critical condition with limited brain function. To their credit, I did another search and found that many of the news outlets had taken down the report of Tubbs Jones' death in the scant 15 minutes I spent searching. I did still find one article from CBS News that confirmed her death.
So in my final act to confirm, I went to the only source I know I can trust: the local paper. I figured if anybody got it right, or would be willing to correct the error, it would be the paper that Tubbs Jones reads every day herself.
From the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, the first African-American woman to represent Ohio in Congress, is in critical condition after suffering a burst aneurysm last night, officials said this afternoon.
Officials updated her condition this afternoon after conflicting reports that the congresswoman was dead. Numerous media outlets - including The Plain Dealer on its Web site cleveland.com, CNN and the Associated Press - reported that Tubbs Jones had died.
But that was as of 3:30 p.m.
Send up a few prayers for Tubbs Jones. And let's pray we get the story right next time.continue...
Tuesday, August 19, 2008Well T-Dot chose not to judge the the headline competition on her own story, despite several pleas. So I judged it. And the winner of the headline competition for T-Dot's collection plate thief story is actually a friend of mine from church, Keri Smith, a proud Jamaican, though, I suspect Usain Bolt has something to do with that.
I would now like to take a brief intermission.
Why is this cat winning races that he does not finish?
Now back to the post.
Keri's headline, "Man barters soul for $500" was great. It was innaccurate, because our friend Evan took a lot more than that, but she's not a journalist and so she's excused.
Nice job Keri. I know you'll enjoy this picture a lot more than we all think you will.
Monday, August 18, 2008like this has ever asked me if I was reporter while I was on the train.
A good friend of mine in New York City rides the A train from his apartment in Bed Stuy in Brooklyn to his internship this summer and, later this fall, to his law school Lower Manhattan.
For some reason this one day last week, he was writing in a reporter-style notebook. I presume he was writing himself thoughts or reminders, a grocery list or maybe even a recipe for egg foo yong. The point is I don't know.
As fate would have it, they had a long conversation about her art, about his law school training. In fact, I think they planned to meet up for lunch at some point.
What I do know is that personally, I write in my notebook all the time. I ride the subway everyday; on my way to games or other assignments, I jot down notes to myself if only to remember that I wrote it down sometime, somewhere. Either way, no one -- like this -- has ever came up to me and asked me about who I was.
You know my friend couldn't wait to tell me.
I just hope they talk about this. And where it's going to go in the Sanderberg living room or my bedroom. Marcus, what you think? continue...
Friday, August 15, 2008
Yes he will.
T-Dot, our caped crusader, voted most likely to be the first to take down a politician, nabbed this gem about a church employee who lifted one hand up to God and had the other in collection plate. The communion creep had $2,500 stashed in the crib! She writes:
Evan Berger, 18, of 152 Newell St., a salaried parish sexton — whose duties include maintenance as well as helping to coordinate Sunday collections — was arrested Aug. 7 on a felony charge of larceny over $500, said Capt. Stephen Lynch. Berger is free on his own recognizance pending action by the attorney general’s office, according to Lynch, who said a felony screening is scheduled for Aug. 28.But the headline is pretty vanilla. "West Warwick church worker accused of stealing from collection plate."
Surely, our readers can do better than that. Have at it.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008tribute bands, all I have come up with in terms of photo assignment are to shoot a few bands at, you guessed it: a concert.
How boring is that?
Pretty damn boring.
What's a reporter to do? I admit. I'm not the best visual thinker. I can't use illustration to tell the story. The pictures in the newspaper are usually interesting to me. But that interest doesn't help when I've got a long form feature to bang out, and about six or seven pictures that have to go along with it. I just don't want six pictures of some band at some club on some random day in August. How do I help photo help tell my story?
Do I have a panel at NABJ next year on my hands?continue...
Monday, August 11, 2008
I love movies about journalism.
I love to see how other reporters go about their jobs. When I got into the game, I was pretty much going for what I knew. I was the lone ranger, a maverick cubby navigating an endless stream of people, places, games, events and editors whom I wanted to please. For the most part I just wanted to get it right.
In some ways that hasn't changed. I still feel like I am in this alone, but films about journalism provide an accurate picture of that loneliness. That's me on screen, if only for 120 minutes. Quite often, that's more than enough. But sometimes I just want to talk to real reporters and ask, "How did you get this story?"
Or I could just pop in Absence of Malice.
So yo, what's your favorite journalism movie?continue... turned this story on Brett Favre. I thought it was pretty good.
Maybe there's some hope for me after all.
So Ten95 readers. We wanna know:
Have you ever gotten in on a big story that wasn't on your beat and shined? How did you handle it? What was your editors reaction? Tell us all about it. continue...
Saturday, August 09, 2008Brett Favre has been reading Ten95.
No. 4 FAVRE Jets jerseys are flying off the shelves.
I was on a train heading into the airport and a TV reporter asked me if I was a Jets fan. Yes, I was on TV. She must not have cared much about her story, though.
"So what do you think about Brett Favre being traded to the Jets?"
*looks off mindlessly in the dark of the early morning*
"Good for New York?"
*looks off mindlessly again, shoving the mic in front of me again*
Shrugs. I answered the best I could.
I just want to write about Brett. So I can tell my grandchildren and stuff. No, seriously.
Paging Garry Howard.
To be continued...
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The room was packed. The kids were eager. The advice was super sound. Below are a few pics from event and our Top 20 lists of things to do -- and not to do -- while on a summer internship. The tips were written from a print perspective, but are applicable across mediums.
- DO learn who is who on the staff.
- DO understand that each staff is a living organism that you should easy your way into SLOWLY. Assertiveness is great but sometimes misplaced enthusiasm can rub some the wrong way.
- DON'T blog (Facebook or MySpace) about your internship. Your employer is watching and reading.
- DON'T feel a sense of entitlement while you're in a newsroom. Just because there are front page stories (or great packages) without writers, don't think that one is going to be yours.
- DO watch your editor to determine his or her work pattern and the best time of day (or week) to seek guidance and feedback.
- DO arrive 30 minutes early every day to get the best assignments. The early bird gets the worm. There are stories that your editor is probably waiting to assign as people come in for the day so make sure you're in the mix!
- DO cultivate a few relationships with people who understand your thought process well enough to be excellent references in the future and collect their business cards.
- DO offer to help out in any little way with a big story.
- DON'T jeopardize your credibility by having a romantic relationship during your internship --- especially not one with a permanent staffer.
- DON'T ever be hard to reach. Questions and opportunites can arise at any time.
- DON'T take criticism of your work personally. Work with your supervisors to make it better.
- DON'T say "I don't want to," and don't hesitate to say, "I'm not sure how, but I want to learn."
- DO make sure that you understand your assignment and ask detailed questions before you head out to report. You can write the best story in the world, but if its not what your editor requested, it won't earn you any points.
- DO make or beat your deadline.
- DO chat up other reporters. If you see a story someone did and you liked it or are interested in the process, ask them out for coffee or stop by their desk.
- DON'T forget to check every name, age, address and fact in your story, in addition to running spell check. No one likes messy copy.
- DON'T turn your nose up at any assignment. Small stories lead to bigger opportunities.
- DO ask for feedback. Midway through your internship, schedule a sit down with your editor/supervisor to discuss your performance to-date. What areas need work? In what areas are you excelling? What does your editor want to see going forward? Take the feedback to heart and work on the areas that need improvement.
- DO set tangible goals. Make a list that will serve as the roadmap to your internship. What skills do you want to learn? What particular stories or topics would you like to cover?
- DO come up with your own story ideas and pitch them to your editor.
(Photo captions from top to bottom: Talia answering a question on the panel; Chloe and Marlon dropping knowledge on the interns; Veronica keeping us all in line.)continue...
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
My plea? Can I get a little of that action?
It would be the biggest story of the NFL season. And who wouldn't want to be in on that? No, it's not my beat. But if I didn't want to get my hands a little dirty, I wouldn't be a reporter would I?
Come on, Brett. Come to New York. continue...
Tuesday, August 05, 2008Now. This is hot.
I'd probably do this for free:
Blog about beer? They say you should do what you love, but dang. It's great to see newspapers allowing their writers to blog about their passions. From one beer aficionado to another, Rob Kasper, of the Baltimore Sun, cheers. Now, this is random. But he writes:
But a beer with soft crab sandwich, topped with a slice of Maryland tomato -- that is a great marriage. I prefer a Pils, either Victory's Prima Pils or Clipper City's Uber Pils, with those dangling crab legs.Dude, you are talking my language. Who wants to hop the train down to Baltimore, catch an Orioles day game and get some crab? Like, enough to bring back to New York. continue...
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sorry, I had to do it. Sha-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!
It's time to change!continue...
2008 Online Journalism Awards - Finalists
For all you multimedia producers out there, that's the list of who you should be sending your resume and online clips to.
...long shot? Maybe not.continue... ...and the LA Times for that matter.
Romenesko posted the ramblings of a disgruntled former LA Times employee. Basically, the guy's talking major trash about the Times and about the industry. Some of it is funny. And some of it is just...well, I'll let you be the judge.
The Ex-LA T'er calls it a list of "42 Things [He] Know[s]".
#3 - ...the business model for newspapers is broken. (Agreed.)
#11 - Newspapers were unbelievably slow in embracing the Internet, even though younger reporters have been pleading with their bosses for years to embrace the Web. (I second that!)
#40 - I have no doubt my newsroom colleagues who I left behind can adapt to the challenges of the New Media environment.
On kicking journalism when its down:
If you leave the industry, because you say it's so broken, doesn't that mean you aren't around to revive or rebirth it?
I've never understood why veteran journalists -- even young ones -- critique the industry, just as they are leaving it. I don't get how that sort of criticism helps.
It's like being the head cook in a restaurant, quitting and then telling management to stop serving steroid-injected chickens because it isn't good for customers.continue...
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Well, if you're 22-year-old Luke Russert, your last name means everything.
The son of the late, great, Tim Russert, is in the news this week.
No, not because he was filling in for Stat Boy on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption." (By the way, cute dog, Luke.)
NBC announced this week that young Luke will serve as a correspondent for NBC News and cover youth issues at the upcoming Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Not a big deal, right?
Luke's temporary summer gig has sparked outrage within the NABJ community, especially from one member, who I won't identify by name, but let's just say if they made a "Boondocks" movie, he would make a great Uncle Ruckus.
Show me another recent college graduate who didn't have the last name of a prominent journalist who became a correspondent at-large for the #1 news network in the country based on an internship at ESPN and two years doing an XM Radio show? Was there any bright, talented and poised graduate at Unity provided a similar opportunity? Was there any Unity association member with two to three years of DAILY NEWS experience offered a similar gig? I'm just saying. We can come up with every kind of rationale possible, but we all know the real deal, so let's stop pretending.Nobody is hiding the real deal.
He got the gig because of his father's death.
Luke would be the first one to tell you that.
I understand the journalism industry is going through some tough times and a lot of qualified journalists are being laid off right and left.
But taking that frustration out on a kid who would much rather have his dad back than any NBC gig is not the answer. continue...
Friday, August 01, 2008
continue... Aaron: Why have you been holding back on me?
I'm in love with this thing. And I don't even have one.
Do you know how easy it is to learn how to edit video with this little piece of machinery? Retails at $179.99... continue...