Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Go Ahead And Smile

I'm at the coffee house around the corner from my apartment (where Marcus and Aaron are currently napping after our long morning at the Washington Monument), sipping a vanilla chai latte and watching ABC's continuing coverage of today's inauguration festivities.

This whole weekend has been pretty amazing. And that's not lost on the people covering it. Every anchor that I've seen today has had a little bit of a smile on the lips, a glint in the eyes. It's warming and refreshing, given that journalists are usually seen as stoic, stone-faced and sometimes detached.

Aaron cheered at one point this morning (I can't remember why) and Marcus nudged him, teasing, "Come on, journalist. Be objective." We laughed. But I'm sure somewhere, someone is allowing the idea of objectivity to dictate the expression on their face. And the nudging isn't coming from a playful friend, but from a stern voice inside the head.

I think today is one of those days where it's okay to feel. The one thing I noticed, as we made our way from Columbia Height, down the Metro's Green Line, through Chinatown and on the trek down to the National Mall, is that goodness was oozing out of everyone. (Even out of the street vendor selling Obama hand puppets.) And when you're around such optimism, such comradery, it's pretty darn difficult to tell yourself not to cheer.

Besides, when you see that there's a bright, feel-good mood in the air and you share that with your audience, you're still being objective.

So go ahead, smile. Today is one of those days where it's totally okay.

Posted by Veronica Marché at 3:14 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration Day for the rest of us

I'm not in the Capitol, but that doesn't mean there's a void of inauguration coverage out there for those who will have to miss out on the historic event.

The New York Times put together an interactive time line of presidential inauguration speeches using the word bubble feature seen often in blogs. As you click on each president, you see which words he used most, and which words he used more in that speech than he did normally. Pretty sweet.

They also had this story -- which I heard about on NPR -- about how the president can choose whether to affirm his oath, or swear to it.

I'll admit, though, the Washington Post has been my go-to guide for all things Obama. I figure, who else better to cover Washington than the Washington paper? Their blog, 44: A Transition to Power, is bookmarked on my toolbar. Lots of cool, short stories with breaking news and fascinating little tidbits about PEOTUS.

Here's a by the numbers breakdown of the resources and support needed to pull off the inauguration compiled by the Washington Times.

In case you miss the entire thing all together, I'm sure this guy will be doing a recap of the highlights. Here's some of his earlier work. Not bad, huh?

And just for the hood's sake, a little something in case you need a soundtrack to the nonstop TV coverage on the inauguration weekend. And if you're looking for something a little more soulful? Try this. Or this.

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Posted by T Dot at 1:33 PM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inauguration bound

Darren, Marcus, Veronica and I will be in D.C. for the inauguration. Check back here over the next few days for updates ...

Preliminary itinerary:

Young Black Journalists Mixer @ Ozios - Sunday night
NABJ Reception @ NVLP Headquarters - Monday evening
Hip Hop Summit Party - Monday night
Inauguration Day Events - Tuesday

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Posted by Aaron Morrison at 11:30 AM | link | Tell us what you think [0]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pencil Me In

Wow. I think I just had a moment.

It's Friday at 6:42 p.m. I just filed my story for tomorrow's paper and, technically, I'm off the clock.

I was going through my calendar on Outlook to see what I needed to do for next week, and that's when it happened. I started to think I might have a handle on this whole journalism thing.

So, here's the deal: At the beginning of this month, my paper turned us all topsy turvy and stripped many of us of our long held beats and gave us new topical ones.

You know I was amped, right?

The heavens were shining down on me because I got assigned to the Justice team -- which I'm affectionately calling the Justice League. (Did you know there was a black woman on the squad?) And because I've been covering the Kent County Court system for about 18 months now, they let me keep it.


Well, not quite. See, before now, I've been covering Kent County kinda halfway. Keeping track of cases, but using West Warwick as my primary beat. Now, I'd be covering Kent County as my primary beat and a suburb called Smithfield as my secondary.

First week comes, I have no clue how to spend my day. I reach out to court reporter friends at the AP -- they give me some advice and I try to work their suggestions into my own routine. I spend a lot of time in Smithfield -- virtually -- and finally get out to the suburb to meet with the Superintendent and Town Manager. Come back with a gang of story ideas. But I still haven't made headway into the courts.

So I start making calls.

I call the Attorney General's office and speak to the PR guy there to get an idea of who I can talk to at Kent County to get the lowdown on cases. I call the police departments in my county to see if they can begin faxing over their weekly court calendars and dispositions. Some agree. I count it a success.

I piddle the rest of the week away, waiting for court dates that get moved at the last minute, and doing interviews for stories in Smithfield. By the end of the week, I'm depressed because here I am, with the chance to do exactly what I want to do, however I want to do it, and I'm falling back on municipal coverage because I don't know where to start. I gave myself until Janurary 26 to get my bearings and figure out what I wanted to do about this beat.

So, today, I sent an e-mail to my boss asking him to set aside some time this coming week to talk to me about what he expects from my court coverage. Then, I add the following recurring events on my calendar.

*Brainstorm Ideas for staff meeting
*Justice League Staff Meeting
*Go to courthouse to research cases
*Check court calendars

They're small, but it seems so big to me. I'm a lister. A planner. I need structure. I know I need to be in the courthouse to find the stories. But the anal retentive in me needs to have that time marked out on a calendar where it says I've set aside this time to do research. Sure, I can go more times, or at different times than when I've scheduled it on the calendar, BUT IT'S THERE. It feels concrete to me. And coupled with the court dates already filling my calendar from other cases I'm following, it makes me feel like I'm actually doing my job.

I like that feeling.

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Posted by T Dot at 6:40 PM | link | Tell us what you think [1]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Um, dude, there's, like, a plane in the water


zero casualties =


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Posted by Darren Sands at 9:02 PM | link | Tell us what you think [2]

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