Introducing Joe and Joe.
At Isla Mujeres in Mexico for a few days of R&R after a hectic school term, soaking in some sun before heading home to Ohio for Christmas. I’m trying to get caught up on sleep, do a little scuba and read some books.
The first was a re-read of The Hobbit. I brought along my 1979 copy of the Tolkien classic – to bone up on all things Baggins, dwarf and Smaug before seeing the first of the three films this slimmest volume of the series has spawned.
Yesterday, Efrain, a waiter at the beachside Na Balam hotel restaurant noticed the book and said how much he loved the Lord of the Rings movies and was looking forward to seeing the new one. But he loves books even more. “Nothing is better than the imagination,” he said.
Last night, 16 graduate students in the Medill urban affairs reporting class fanned out across the city — from congressional candidate events to the Cook County Clerk’s office to the convention hall where President Obama would give his victory speech — reporting on events via blogging, tweeting and making instagram photos.
Check out their work here:
I was kept busy backfielding and managing the coverage from a laptop as posts and tweets fed in from all across the city.
It was an exciting and mighty busy night.
In the final days of the presidential campaign, winning boils down to getting people to actually go to the polls. With the political trench warfare at its most intense in Ohio, a crucial battleground state, voters are being courted, cajoled and pestered on the airwaves, on the phone and at their doors.
I joined New York Times reporters Monica Davey and Michael Wines in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, on the opposite end of the state from where I grew up in a rural/rust-belt county. Here’s my video report. In a quick two days (I had to get back to my students in Chicago and couldn’t stay longer), I managed to gather enough scenes to illustrate some of the exquisite details Davey and Wines gathered in their reporting, which showed a contrast between the two campaigns.
The Obama team was built on its successful operation in 2008 and has mounds of data and a neighborhood-by-neighborhood plan that puts volunteers in front of voters door-to-door. The Romney team is less organized, less granular, but has a challenger’s edge on passion among their the volunteers.
In my brief reporting trip, I met Obama volunteers preparing to canvass neighborhoods, Tea-Party-esque phone bank callers conducting surveys designed to convince people to vote against the president, and I caught up with a 20 year-old Americorps worker named Katie Peterson who is excited to vote for President the first time in her life. “I’ve been following presidential politics since the Clinton administration,” she told me.
In a news cycle dominated by coverage of the destruction of SuperStorm Sandy, I was surprised and pleased that the video piece led the New York Times site yesterday for an hour or so.
Sometimes you really enjoy producing a piece — and meeting the people who populate the story — and want to give it a little more attention. This is one of those pieces. In August, I met three of the 25 Republican delegates from Iowa as they were preparing to head to Tampa to their party’s national convention. All three are supporters of Ron Paul, and were part of a movement in Iowa that landed 21 pro-Paul delegates on the state’s slate of 25 in the GOP delegation. That made for some interesting dynamics at the RNC, where this story ran as part of the NYTimes’s TimesCast live program from the convention.