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Archive for August, 2007
I can’t fight it.Â News is in my blood, and I’m making a return to TV reporting. I’ve been hired as a freelance reporter for HDNews. It’s a 24-hour high definition news networkÂ on the Dish Network.
Since the demise of Black Family Channel, I’ve debated whether or not to pursue any on-air opportunities. The news business is a serious grind to stay least.
In the meantime, I’ve been freelance producing, writing, doing voice-over work, and I’ve started my last semester of grad classes at Georgia State (though I’m getting my degree through the University of South Florida). The thing is, I’m always networking, and looking for work.
A few months ago I sent an e-mail to a friend from NABJ, William J. Wright (he’s second from the right in the pic above). Wright is a well respected former news director and is now the General Manager of HDNews. I dropped him a note to say “hello” and catch up, and I of course sent him a link to my resume reel.
He hit me back immediately, and asked if I had considered freelancing. I responded by telling him that I had just interviewed for a freelance position at another major network. I guess that was all he needed to hear because everything went into fast motion after that.
So now, I’m working as a backup reporter to Ken Watts (he’s third from the right in the pic), and I finished my first story earlier this week. It started last Thursday, when I was on my way to my part-time job. My phone rang. It was Mario Page, a freelance photographer with the network (he’s on the far right of the pic).
“I used to be an assignment editor,” he explained.
He pitched his story to me, and it sounded cool.
“Let’s just shoot it, and if they want it, I’m sure they’ll pay us for it. If not, let’s put it on YouTube,” Mario said.
That’s what I’m talking about. This guy is like me. The only problem, the first day of my “Screenwriting” class was starting Georgia State. Now normally on the first day, you get the syllabus, and get out out early. Not this time. The class ends at 3:30pm, and the professor had no intentions of letting us go a minute for then.
That didn’t discourage Mario as I’m texting him updates of my status. “I’ll pick you up after, and we’ll get started.”
Now, I haven’t turned a TV news story in more than a year, but the second I got into Mario’s SUV, that old feeling came back. The hunt was on. We shot our first interview, and it’s just like old times, sort of.
Since my schedule is busy, it took us about three days to get all of the elements, but everything fell into place. If I was working under normal news conditions there’s no way I’d have that much time to work on one story. A story a day is the minimum.
After I finished writing the script, Mario called management up, and they said they wanted the piece. That’s how I made my way back on-air. Mario by the way has also taken up a interest in social media, and just started his own blog, so check it out.
If you’re wondering about the story, it’s the controversy over the sag. You know, when cats wear their pants so low you can see their underwear. An Atlanta city council member wants to make the fashion illegal. I should be getting a copy of the finished piece, and I’ll try to post it.
By the way the other people in the photo above are photojournalist Jeff Moore (far left), editing supervisor Greg Inserillo (third from left), and yours truly (second from left).
If you’re on the Dish Network, check out HDNews. You just might see me.
The National Association of Black Journalists, and the Afrosphere Bloggers Association has the same request for mainstream media: Cover the Jena 6. It’s a case that is raising awareness of the good ole’ southern injustice that appears to still exist in the United States.
“The court’s decision in the “Jena 6″ case has the potential to be ground-breaking and shift attitudes about race and justice in the United States. It is critical that news organizations cover this court proceeding with the same dedication and persistence that is given to stories such as the upcoming presidential elections and the recent trouble surrounding the Atlanta Falcon’s Michael Vick.”
The AfroSphere Bloggers Association also wants the media to do a better job of covering this story. Today has been named ‘A Day of Blogging for Justice’ by the ABA which is group of socially conscious bloggers that represent the African Diaspora (My Urban Report is a member).
Though bloggers have been actively writing about the issue, the Afrosphere Jena 6 Coalition is asking mainstream media to step up to the plate and provide more coverage as well.
“This issue, like Katrina, highlights how some people receive deference in treatment over others. â€œThe Jim Crow style racism and government negligence, reflected in the Jena 6 case, are both quite worrisome.”
If you haven’t heard about what’s going on in Jena Louisiana, here’s the rundown. Back in September 2006, a black high school student asked to sit under a tree at Jena High School. It wasn’t just any tree though; it was a tree where white students traditionally gathered only. The next day three nooses were found hanging from it.
Tension on campus built up after this incident, and in December, a fight broke out after a white student allegedly taunted a group of Black students with racial slurs. The result – a beat down. What happened next? Six Black students were charged with attempted murder.
On June 28, 2007 one of the black students was convicted of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery. He faces up to 22 years in prison. The five other defendants are set to go to trial soon.
Of course there are two sides to every story, but we’re talking about a small rural town in the south that is still divided by racial lines, and an all white jury (in the first trial at least).
I encourage you to check the reported facts for yourself, and tell me what you think.
Link to Jena 6 Defense Fund.
I managed to leave my camera at home, so no video for this event; however I brought my laptop, and have a wireless contection, so I can live blog (my first attempt by the way).
A panel of international journalists are in Atlanta participating in a 3-week CNN Journalism Fellowship (CJF) where they’re fine tuning their craft.
They’ve been invited to Georgia State University to participate in the “World Media Forum.” It is a discussion of journalism, and world media issues. The panelists often contribute to CNN’s World Report.
I’m looking at:
Oren Aharoni, Israel – Correspondent & Reporter for Channel 2
Ciprian Dan Baltoiu, Romania – Sr. Political Reporter for Romanian National TV
Divya Iyer, India – Sr. Correspondent & Reporter for IBN
Mikolaj Jankowski, Poland – Reporter for Polsat TV
Hande Kolcak Kostendil, Turkey – Producer/Writer for CNN Turk
Tumaole Mohlaoli, South Africa – Jr. Reporter for ETV
Priyanka Nair – India – Assistant Producer for CNN-IBN
Lidija Pak, Slovenia – Reporter for ITV
Shameer Rasooldeen, Sri Lanka – Producer/Anchor for MTV(its not the same)
Ariane Reimers, Germany – CNN German Journalist of the Year & Correspondent for ARD
Rachael Rollo, Australia – Sr. Reporter for Channel 9
Leah Stern, Israel – IBA Correspondent
Mario Turic, Germany – Head of Foreign Desk for RTL
Israel Twito, Israel, Chief News Editor & Producer for Channel 10
After the introductions, they talk about the big stories in their respective countries.
Sri Lanka: Tsunami recovery.
Poland: Ongoing Parliment crisis; The prime minister is cleaning house.
Germany: Chancellor is traveling to China and Japan; fires in Greece, unemployment, social security, insurance, climate change.
Slovenia: Presidential campaign, taxes, social issues, EU, USA news.
Romania: Elections, EU issues, Iraq, Afghanistan.
Australia: Drought issues, water restrictions, upcoming general election (Prime Minster might lose), economy, high housing prices, poverty affecting indigenous people.
Israel: “Issues dealing with our neighbors,” Iran’s race for nuclear power, Palestinians, Lebanon & Syria, fighting between Hamaas and Fatah, deadly traffic accidents.
India: Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, border issues, social issues, festival period right now in India, terrorism (two bomb blasts recently).
Turkey: Military victory day, Northern Iraq, Iran.
South Africa: Controversial Health Minister (dealing with alcohol allegations), crime, World Cup, poverty, high inflation in Zimbabwe.
They are discussing U.S. relations and perceptions. Some countries are divided over war issues. Some governments support the war in Iraq, while the people don’t.
In Australia, celebrity news is big. Press is critical of gov’t for participating in the war.
Israel journalist says his country needs American money. Another journalist from the country says the people love America. Bush is Israel’s biggest supporter.
South Africa journalist says there is a lot of anti-war sentiment, anti-Bush sentiment, but the people are not anti-American. Iraq news is big; celebrity news is big. He says CNN in general doesn’t report on enough world issues, but says CNN International does.
Turkish journalist says people believe that U.S. has a master plan for the Middle East, and there is resentment over Iraq war. There is a fascination with American culture that this is a place where dreams come true.
Slovenia reporter says there’s a lot of criticizm of Iraq war; U.S celebrity news is big.
A journalist from India says the media is more cut throat and competitive there. The media is more experimental, and the news is more dynamic because of the Internet. Hindi speaking news is bigger than English speaking news in India, though media in general is growing.
My question: How are their news orgs handling new media?
Australia: New media, blogs, podcasts, etc. is big.
Romania: “If you’re not online you don’t exist.”
South Africa: Blogging mixed due to limited Internet access.
Israel: One-man-band VJ’s are popular.
Germany: RSS feeds, blogging, mobile phones, Editor-In-Chief even blogs, younger audience isnt’t watching TV so they have to move online.
Poland: Journalists write their own blogs; politicians blog; video blogs are popular.
Turkey: Developing new media like podcasts, ittakes man power; growing interest in citizen reporting. Internet is important for reporting.
Slovania: Trying to take advantage of new media. Politics is following new technology and using it well.
Question: How are reporters dealing with one-man-band reporting?
Israel VJ says it’s a challenge. No one else likes it. If your org is cheap you can get work.
Indian journalist says it’s important to know the other jobs, but doesn’t like the idea.
The South African journalist asks me about ethics and credibility issues related to blogs.
My turn to answer some questions.
The journalist from Sri Lanka offers final words, “check, check, and re-check your facts.”
I’m off to my next class – will spell check later.
Today marks the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and tonight CNN revisits New Orleans through the eyes of young people who are living in the aftermath. The one hour special is called Children of The Storm.
CNN special correspondent Soledad O’Brien and director Spike Lee explores how teens are surviving in the city, by giving them video cameras to document their individual experiences.
Amanda Hill, Deshawn Bradley, Brandon Franklin and Shantia Reneau show first hand how their lives are affected by poverty, crime, and a lack of resources. Each is working to beat the odds to achieve success.
My Urban Report previewed the special, and found it both innovative, and eye opening. The youth in New Orleans are dealing with tremendous obstacles.
Hill is an 18-year old high school senior living in a FEMA trailer with her grandmother who works at McDonalds to pay the bills. Bradley’s neighborhood is a concrete jungle, but he’s working to give teens a safe place to gather as violence continues to take young lives. Franklin, a musician, and teenaged father is trying to balance the responsibilities of family life with his music dreams. Finally, Reneau is a senior trying to find a better life through education, but is met with challenges as she tries to attend the college of her choice.
The producers did an excellent job collaborating with these “citizen journalists,” or amateur filmmakers. Though the video is sometime shaky and poorly lit, this type of television draws you in, because the subjects are telling the story from their perspectives.
My Urban Report has requested an interview with the producer to learn more about the project.
If you get a chance to watch the special, please share your thoughts. Do you think the teens are citizen journalists? Would the special have been better if O’Brien handled all of the storytelling in the traditional fashion? Do you think it worked?
Children of the Storm airs at 8pm tonight on CNN.
Click here for previews.