Medill Students Dominate Chicago/Midwest College Emmy Nominations

322Example6Medill School of Journalism students were well represented in the college categories of the Midwest/Chicago Emmy awards, and some of the nominees produced their work in my classes.

In the General Assignment Reporting category, Brandon Wilson won a nomination for ‘Graduation Day,’ a piece he reported in the video journalism class I teach. The story is about a high school senior and former soccer star who suffered a debilitating stroke. And Jesse Kirsch – who is in my video journalism class this quarter – is also nominated for a story he did for Northwestern News Network (NNN).

322example2NNN is an extracurricular news program produced by Medill School undergraduates. Their Election Show (which was a Bronze national Emmy earlier this year) was nominated in the Best Newscast Category along with their “Chicago Show” in in May.

In the Student Sports production category, Adam Mintzer got a nod for his story about NU crew. Reporting that piece meant he had to get up before dawn several days last spring quarter when he made the story in my spring video storytelling class.

In the long form category, two Medill-produced documentaries produced in my colleague Brent Huffman’s class and one longer-form story reported in Bolivia by Mathias Meier were among the five nominees. Mathias’ story – which he produced in the graduate-level advanced video journalism course – focused on child labor in Bolivia, which the country legalized last year. That story is set to publish on a major news site soon.


Twelve parents and activists on a hunger strike for their vision of a local school


I spent Wednesday of this week with some of the dozen parents and activists on a hunger strike to demand that the city reopen the Dyett High School in the Bronzeville neighborhood as a Global Leadership and Green Technology school. Chicago officials on Thursday said they would reopen the school next year, but as an arts-themed school, not the proposal the hunger strikers want. They continue their hunger strike, now into its 20th day.

The shooting assignment was for AJ+, who produced this piece.

Talking “Convergence” in China

On July 18th, I gave a lecture at Jinan University for the school’s media leadership conference. They asked me to speak about “convergence journalism,” a subject I know a lot about, even though I’m not a big fan of the word “convergence.” I emphasized that in the digital world we live in, many ways of storytelling have converged, and any news organization can work in practically any medium — text, photos, audio, video and interactive — with relative ease. So, essentially, all journalism is convergence journalism. Instead of dwelling on converging media, I urged the audience to be smart about finding the right medium for the story, rather than trying to shoe-horn a story into any individual storytelling method.

Photo by Zach Wise
Photo by Zach Wise

To make this point, I use a poem by Dylan Thomas, which has been used and adapted across various platforms. By reading it, listening to it being read, and seeing people (including the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield) perform it, we see the strength of each of the mediums and can then think about how that translates to news stories.

One of my favorite quotes of Dylan Thomas — who was known for this lilting baritone and the flourish of his reading aloud from his own work and that of others — is this:

“The printed page is the place in which to examine the works of a poem, and the platform the place on which to give the poem the works.”

In modern news reporting, we have so many platforms on which to give the story the works.

I was joined at Jinan by my Medill colleagues Scott Anderson, Michael Deas and Zach Wise, who made this collage of photos of attendees who came to speak to me after my talk.


Photos by Zach Wise

Field Report: New Orleans

From the levee in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans, you get a great view of downtown across the Mississippi River. With photographer Roger Herr.

This past week, I continued work on a series of pieces I’m doing in New Orleans for,  a news portal focused on education that will launch this Monday. (The 74 million refers to the number of children under the age of 18 in the USA.) Since so much of what I’ve been doing the past several years has been solo video journalism, it has been a while since I’ve had the luxury to work in the field with a correspondent, a photographer and a sound person.

Campbell Brown talks to Jamal Preston, a recent graduate of the Dr. King Charter School in New Orleans.
Campbell Brown talks to Jamal Preston, a recent graduate of the Dr. King Charter School in New Orleans.

I had the pleasure to work with former NBC and CNN reporter/anchor Campbell Brown, photographer Roger Herr, a former CNN colleague and Darryl Mitchell on sound. The last time Roger, Darryl and I worked together we got to stand on top of the head of George Washington on Mount Rushmore for a Discovery Channel show on Homeland Security.

I’ll tell you more about the New Orleans stories when they run in August.

Campbell Brown (third from left) with Jamar McKneely (far left), the CEO of InspireNOLA charter schools, and parents of children at the Andrew Wilson school in Broadmoor.
Campbell Brown (third from left) with Jamar McKneely (far left), the CEO of InspireNOLA charter schools, and parents of children at the Andrew Wilson school in Broadmoor.



Lessons from a lifetime of music collecting

Binder 1: From King Sunny Adé and the Afro Celts to Alejandro Escovedo and Cesária Évora


AFTER a few decades of music collecting, I have amassed about a thousand CDs (not including another stash of vinyl albums in boxes in the closet). At the height of my music buying, I would go to my favorite record store the Tuesday after payday (Tuesday is when new releases traditionally come out) and spend up to $100 on new music. That would be total some $200 a month. I don’t remember having that much disposable income, but that’s what I spent — buying six or seven compact discs at each visit, ranging from independent labels to perennial pop favorites, classical or jazz to hidden gems I had heard about from magazines (then list-serves, then websites), and word of mouth.

And that’s just what I spent on recorded music. I would also go out at least one night a week to a venue to hear a band.

When I worked at TIME and wrote a little (very little) about music and covered events like SXSW, I got on music publicists’ lists, and they’d send me new releases in advance. That made my collection balloon so much that I ran out of shelf space in both my office and Brooklyn apartment. They ended up in boxes. And, too lazy to sort through before I moved midwest, they were schlepped to my Chicago condo and have been sitting in closets.

All of that has tapered quite a bit these days. I don’t go hear live music as often as I used to (though I have lots of tickets for upcoming shows — including the Stones in Milwaukee in June — and I subscribe to the Chicago Symphony). And because I now have much of that collected music at my fingertips — either from the discs I’ve digitized in iTunes or via online music services — I don’t buy many CDs these days. That $200 I used to pay to support the music industry has dropped to my monthly Spotify $10.99 premium account payment.

I still buy the latest work of favorite artists at my local record store — to support both the artists and the shop (recent purchases include the latest releases from Lucinda Williams and My Brightest Diamond). And I make it a habit to buy the CD of any musician I hear at a live venue whose music I dig (recently, The Maytags from Iowa and Swedish Americana artist Sofia Talvik). It gives me a chance to chat with the musicians after, and to support them with a little gas money as they drive to their next gig. Continue reading “Lessons from a lifetime of music collecting”